Monday, October 31, 2005

USINFO - U.S. Department of State

An audio file
( of the
address can be accessed from the White House Web site.

A transcript of the president’s weekly radio address follows:

(begin transcript)


Office of the Press Secretary
October 29, 2005


THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week marked another important
milestone in carrying out our strategy in Iraq. On Tuesday, the Iraqi
election commission formerly certified the passage of the new Iraqi
constitution, after nearly 10 million Iraqis turned out to vote on it two
weeks ago. This is a moment of tremendous significance for Iraq, the
region, and the world. Three years ago, when Saddam Hussein ruled with an
iron grip, the prospect of Iraqis voting on a democratic constitution
would have been unthinkable. Now, the Iraqi people have shown that
individual rights and rule by the people are universal principles, and
that these principles can become the basis for free and decent governments
throughout the Middle East.

The new Iraqi constitution received support from Iraqis of all ethnic
and religious backgrounds. Iraq's largest Sunni political party endorsed
the constitution and urged its followers to approve the draft. Many more
Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections, and
the level of violence was also dramatically lower. Even those who voted
against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for elections in

Just 30 months removed from the rule of a dictator, and nine months
after they first elected their own leaders, the Iraqi people are resolving
tough issues through an inclusive political process. And this process is
isolating the extremists who wish to derail democracy through violence and

The terrorists were also watching the Iraqi vote. These brutal killers
follow a radical ideology that exploits Islam to serve a violent political
vision. They hope to establish a totalitarian state in Iraq that denies
all political and religious freedom, and they hope to use that country as
a base for attacks on all people -- Muslim and non-Muslim alike -- who
disagree with their twisted perversion of the Muslim faith.

The terrorists' goals leave no room for individual conscience or
democratic participation, so they threatened to kill any Iraqi who went to
the polls, including women and the elderly, and even those who opposed the
constitution. And they continue to use random bombings to try to break
the will of the Iraqi people and of coalition forces, as we saw again this
week, when the terrorists bombed two Baghdad hotels.

Instead of surrendering to intimidation, the Iraqi people once again
risked their lives for their liberty. Instead of turning against one
another, the Iraqi people turned out to express their will at the polls.
And instead of allowing their nation to become a haven for terrorists, the
Iraqis are choosing democracy and freedom for their country.

The political process in Iraq now moves forward. Iraqis will return to
the polls in December to elect a new government under their new
constitution. This government will be our ally in the war on terror, a
partner in the struggle for peace and moderation in the Muslim world, and
an inspiration for people across the Middle East to claim their liberty as

Our security at home is directly linked to a Middle East that grows in
freedom and peace. The success of the new Iraqi government is critical to
winning the war on terror and protecting the American people. Ensuring
that success will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve, and
it will involve more risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition

The progress we have made so far has involved great sacrifice. The
greatest burden has fallen on our military families. We've lost some of
our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each of them has
left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each loss of life is
heartbreaking. Yet these patriots have also left a legacy that will allow
generations of their fellow Americans, and millions of others who have
only known oppression, to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete
the mission and win the war on terror. We will train Iraqi security
forces and help a newly elected government meet the needs of the Iraqi
people. In doing so, we will lay the foundation of peace for our children
and grandchildren.

Thank you for listening.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

The Destruction of Dresden: A Multimedia Overview of the Firestorm - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

A Multimedia Overview of the Firestorm

The firestorm that destroyed Dresden on Feb. 13, 1945 wasn't an accident. Rather, it was the result of years of lessons learned and research. New aerial photos provided to SPIEGEL ONLINE from Keele University in England show the horrific extent of the damage.

Virtually the entire Dresden city center was destroyed in the bombing.
The bombers finally arrived in force in Dresden in the final months of the war. On the night of Feb. 13 to 14, the engines of 770 British Lancasters and 330 American B-17 "Flying Fortresses" droned over the so-called "Florence on the Elbe," so named for the baroque beauty of old Dresden.
But it wasn't just practice that made horrifically perfect in the case of Allied air raids. Once they realized that fire was a more effective method of doing damage to German cities than explosives, all research began focusing on the creation of firestorms from the air. In 1943, the US government contracted architect Erich Mendelsohn, an immigrant from Germany, to build exact duplicates of German houses -- complete with identical wood and building materials -- in the Dugway Proving Ground in the desert of Utah.

Sunday, October 30, 2005



SPECIAL REPORT: The Deadliness Below - Weapons of mass destruction thrown into the sea years ago present danger now - and the Army doesn't know where

The Army secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste.

Correspondents Report - Prince Charles speaks out on climate change

Reporter: Kerri Ritchie
HAMISH ROBERTSON: Prince Charles has never been afraid to speak his mind on subjects he feels strongly about. As a result, most of us now know where he stands on such issues as modern architecture and organic farming.

Well, last week, he made some uncompromising observations about climate change, which he called "the greatest challenge facing mankind."

The Prince of Wales was giving his vision for the future of the environment in an interview with the BBC.

He believes that not enough is being done to deal with global warming and, as Kerri Ritchie reports from London, he's worried about the world he's leaving behind for his grandchildren.

IOL: Bush 'light years behind' on climate change

US President George Bush is “light years” behind the rest of the world on tackling climate change, a leading British environmentalist claimed today.

Jonathan Porritt, chairman of Britain's Sustainable Development Commission, condemned the US president for refusing to sign up to the Kyoto protocol.

“I’m sorry to say that the Bush White House is now light years behind the rest of the world, and actually behind most of the rest of America now,” he said.

Porritt said there had been a distinct change in large sections of the US business community and political system, with people now acknowledging more needed to be done to tackle climate change. But the president had not caught up.

He dismissed suggestions that moves to combat global warming would harm the economy.

He told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “If we make the kind of investments that we could make now in energy efficiency and in cleaner, more sustainable technologies, it wouldn’t just be good for the environment and our grandchildren, it would actually be very good indeed for the economy.”

He added that Kyoto did not go far enough but it had set the right direction for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Health |

Sheryl Ubelacker
Canadian Press

October 29, 2005

1 | 2 | NEXT >>

TORONTO (CP) - Some Canadians who received transplants of bone, skin or tendons need to be tested for infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis after it was discovered the U.S. supplier of the products may have illegally procured them from corpses at funeral homes.

About 300 human tissue products from Biomedical Tissue Services Ltd. were exported to several Canadian companies, which supply tissue to hospitals and health professionals across the country for grafting during dental and orthopedic procedures.

This week, a Health Canada advisory said distributors that purchased human tissue from Biomedical have recalled the products.

The Fort Lee, N.J., company is under investigation for allegedly obtaining bones and other tissues from bodies trafficked from New York-area funeral homes. | Canadian weather machine heading for Red Planet News Staff

Mars is about to be invaded by Canada.

The Canadian Space Agency announced on Thursday the final contribution of $6 million to build a fully integrated weather station, known as MET, for the launch of NASA's Phoenix Lander mission to the Red Planet in 2007.

NASA says Phoenix will study climate at the northern latitudes of Mars, as well as the geological history of water and the potential of the soil to support life.

The Canadian weather station will be the first ever to have operated from the surface of another planet, and will use Light Detection and Ranging, or Lidar technology.

Designer Stephen Brown showed off a temperature gauge that will be part of the weather station.

"It's covered in insulation because it's been tested at Martian temperatures," he told CTV News.

MDA Space Missions of Brampton, Ontario is the prime contractor for the MET station, which will include instruments to measure pressure and temperature and assess climate patters in Mars' northern plains.

The Lidar instrument will analyze clouds, fog and dust plumes in the lower atmosphere. The Canadian science team is led by the Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering at York University.

Friday, October 28, 2005

UAF Newsroom: Study: Arctic undergoing holistic climate-change response

From glaciers to caribou, rivers to roads, Arctic climate change is having a broad effect on almost every aspect of life in the North. That’s the conclusion University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers and others outline in a paper to be published in the October 2005 issue of the journal “Climatic Change.”

The paper is a result of decades of research by dozens of scientists in multiple disciplines, said Larry Hinzman, a research professor with UAF’s Water and Environmental Research Center and the paper’s lead author. It is one of the first of its kind to present a comprehensive examination of the broad array of effects attributed to a changing climate within the Arctic and shows that warming has a cascading effect on the land, vegetation, animals, weather and human systems.

“This paper looks at how changes in one component can reverberate through an entire system,” said Hinzman. “It really makes the point that you can’t look at individual components; you have to look at the system as a whole.”

Those effects tend to be more obvious in the Arctic.

De la Vega, a Prosecutor Considers Libby's Indictment

[Note to Tomdispatch Readers: Tomorrow, I'll be releasing on-line a major piece by Elizabeth de la Vega, the cover story of the next Nation magazine. It considers how to hold the Bush administration accountable for fraud for taking us into the war in Iraq on false premises. So consider the De la Vega piece below a teaser for tomorrow's foray into Bush administration skullduggery.]

Implosion update: And so they fall: Tom DeLay just weeks back. Harriet Miers yesterday. I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby today. Prepare yourself. It's going to be a long, hard dive into deep waters that should, sooner or later, lead us back to the beginning. Think of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of the Vice President's Chief of Staff as but a judicial wade-in-the-water; and yet the charges against Libby already bring to mind the cover-up charges that unraveled the Nixon White House during the Watergate era. With this indictment, Americans begin their official trip into the sordid history of the planning and selling of the invasion and occupation of Iraq via a shadow government -- what Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, recently called a "cabal," set up out of Dick Cheney's office and Donald Rumsfeld's neocon-ridden Pentagon.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

New Scientist Lake algae confirm global warming link - News

ALGAL growth in remote Arctic lakes is confirming what ecologists suspected all along - that entire freshwater ecosystems are altering in response to climate change.

Neal Michelutti and his colleagues at the University of Alberta in Edmonton collected 30-centimetre core samples from the bottom of six lakes on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. From levels of chlorophyll a in the sediment, which they measured using a technique called reflectance spectroscopy, they deduced that plant life in the lakes began to increase 150 years ago and is now growing almost exponentially year by year.

The most likely reason for the change is climate warming, Michelutti says. Cycles of plant and alga growth in the lakes last only a few weeks, and lengthening that period by even a few days would be noticeable in the sediment, he says.

Past experiments have failed to show a convincing link, either because they covered too short a geological period or because they were conducted in areas where human activity could have affected the results. The core samples of Michelutti's experiment contain 5000 years' worth of data from an area almost untouched by human activity.

"These are pristine lakes that mankind hasn't directly affected," he says. "But there has definitely been an indirect effect."
From issue 2523 of New Scientist magazine, 29 October 2005, page 19

Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations

An unclassified draft of a US nuclear doctrine review that spells out conditions under which US commanders might seek approval to use nuclear weapons.

This document was removed from a Pentagon website in September of 2005 "because even in an unclassified world this is not the kind of thing you want flying around the Internet," according to a Pentagon Spokesman.

We believe this is exactly the kind of document which ought to "fly around the internet," and so present you the draft report complete with tracked changes.

Sample nuggets of the collective wisdom of the warplanners:

"Executing a nuclear option, or even a portion of an option, should send a clear signal of United States' resolve. Hence, options must be selected very carefully and deliberately so that the attack can help ensure the adversary recognizes the "signal" and should therefore not assume the United States has escalated to general nuclear war, although that perception cannot be guaranteed."


"Friendly forces must receive advanced warning of friendly nuclear strikes."


The immediate and prolonged effects of nuclear weapons including blast (overpressure, dynamic pressure, ground shock, and cratering), thermal radiation (fire and other material effects), and nuclear radiation (initial, residual, fallout, blackout, and electromagnetic pulse), impose physical and psychological challenges for combat forces and noncombatant populations alike. These effects also pose significant survivability requirements on military equipment, supporting civilian infrastructure resources, and host-nation/coalition assets. US forces must prepare to survive and perhaps operate in a nuclear/radiological environment.

Download PDF
Authors: US Joint Chiefs of Staff
Date published: 23 September 2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

CIA leak investigation

With Patrick Fitzgerald widely expected to announce indictments in the CIA leak investigation, questions are again being raised about the intelligence scandal that led to the appointment of the special counsel: namely, how the Bush White House obtained false Italian intelligence reports claiming that Iraq had tried to buy uranium "yellowcake" from Niger.

The key documents supposedly proving the Iraqi attempt later turned out to be crude forgeries, created on official stationery stolen from the African nation's Rome embassy. Among the most tantalizing aspects of the debate over the Iraq War is the origin of those fake documents -- and the role of the Italian intelligence services in disseminating them.

In an explosive series of articles appearing this week in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, investigative reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d'Avanzo report that Nicolo Pollari, chief of Italy's military intelligence service, known as Sismi, brought the Niger yellowcake story directly to the White House after his insistent overtures had been rejected by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2001 and 2002. Sismi had reported to the CIA on October 15, 2001, that Iraq had sought yellowcake in Niger, a report it also plied on British intelligence, creating an echo that the Niger forgeries themselves purported to amplify before they were exposed as a hoax.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Warm Oceans Threaten Caribbean Coral Reefs - Los Angeles Times

Caribbean corals bleaching at unprecedented rate

This year's notably warmer-than-usual Atlantic waters -- fuel for 2005's intense hurricane season -- have been devastating some life below the waves as well. Water temperatures have remained elevated for about 15 weeks, causing coral reefs to bleach from the Florida Keys to Puerto Rico to Panama. The micro-algae that feed corals, and give them their bright colors, leave or are ejected when the water is too warm. Current stress levels are double what corals normally face, and may kill 80 to 90 percent of reef structures in some parts of the Caribbean. With about 80 percent of the Caribbean's reefs already lost to development, pollution, and other factors, researchers seem to be -- not to put too fine a point on it -- freaking out. "These levels are like nothing we've ever seen" in 20 years of monitoring, says NOAA Coral Reef Watch coordinator Al Strong. "We are talking extremely high percentage of bleaching and what seems to be extreme mortality."

Andrew Moroz's Blog: Einstein's Autobiographical Notes (*****)

The following are excerpts of the only autobiographical writings Einstein produced (mind you, there are many biographical writings); they appear in print only in the book Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, where they are translated from Einstein's handwritten German. These remarks appear in whole nowhere on the web; thus, after selecting the passages below, I pieced them together from various online sources--and some I typed myself. Much of the Autobiographical Notes actual deals with fairly technical aspects of physics and epistemology, which I have omitted; what remains are, in my opinion, his most striking, generally-relevant thoughts.

By Albert Einstein

HERE I sit in order to write, at the age of 67, something like my own obituary. I am doing this not merely because Dr. Schilpp has persuaded me to do it; but because I do, in fact, believe that it is a good thing to show those who are striving alongside of us, how one's own striving and searching appears to one in retrospect. After some reflection, I felt how insufficient any such attempt is bound to be. For, however brief and limited one's working life may be, and however predominant may be the ways of error, the exposition of that which is worthy of communication does nonetheless not come easy--today's person of 67 is by no means the same as was the one of 50, of 30, or of 20. Every reminiscence is colored by today's being what it is, and therefore by a deceptive point of view. This consideration could very well deter. Nevertheless much can be lifted out of one's own experience which is not open to another consciousness.

Even when I was a fairly precocious young man the nothingness of the hopes and strivings which chases most men restlessly through life came to my consciousness with considerable vitality. Moreover, I soon discovered the cruelty of that chase, which in those years was much more carefully covered up by hypocrisy and glittering words than is the case today. By the mere existence of his stomach everyone was condemned to participate in that chase. Moreover, it was possible to satisfy the stomach by such participation, but not man in so far as he is a thinking and feeling being. As the first way out there was religion, which is implanted into every child by way of the traditional education-machine. Thus I came--despite the fact that I was the son of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents--to a deep religiosity, which, however, found an abrupt ending at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic [orgy of] freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude towards the convictions which were alive in any specific social environment --an attitude which has never again left me, even though later on, because of a better insight into the causal connections, it lost some of its original poignancy.

It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the "merely-personal," from an existence which is dominated by wishes, hopes and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckoned like a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in devoted occupation with it. The mental grasp of this extra- personal world within the frame of the given possibilities swam as highest aim half consciously and half unconsciously before my mind's eye. Similarly motivated men of the present and of the past, as well as the insights which they had achieved, were the friends which could not be lost. The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has proved itself as trustworthy, and I have never regretted having chosen it.

What I have here said is true only within a certain sense, just as a drawing consisting of a few strokes can do justice to a complicated object, full of perplexing details, only in a very limited sense. If an individual enjoys well-ordered thoughts, it is quite possible that this side of his nature may grow more pronounced at the cost of other sides and thus may determine his mentality in increasing degree. In this case it is well possible that such an individual in retrospect sees a uniformly systematic development, whereas the actual experience takes place in kaleidoscopic particular situations. The manifoldness of the external situations and the narrowness of the momentary con- tent of consciousness bring about a sort of atomizing of the life of every human being. In a man of my type the turning-point of the development lies in the fact that gradually the major interest disengages itself to a far-reaching degree from the momentary and the merely personal and turns towards the striving for a mental grasp of things. Looked at from this point of view the above schematic remarks contain as much truth as can be uttered in such brevity.


For me it is not dubious that our thinking goes on for the most part without use of signs (words) and beyond that to a considerable degree unconsciously. For how, otherwise, should it happen that sometimes we "wonder" quite spontaneously about some experience? This "wondering" seems to occur when an experience comes into conflict with a world of concepts which is already sufficiently fixed in us. Whenever such a conflict is experienced hard and intensively it reacts back upon our thought world in a decisive way. The development of this thought world is in a certain sense a continuous flight from "wonder."

A wonder of such nature I experienced as a child of 4 or 5 years, when my father showed me a compass. That this needle behaved in such a determined way did not at all fit into the nature of events, which could find a place in the unconscious world of concepts (effect connected with direct "touch"). I can still remember or at least believe I can remember--that this experience made a deep and lasting impression upon me. Some- thing deeply hidden had to be behind things. What man sees before him from infancy causes no reaction of this kind; he is not surprised over the falling of bodies, concerning wind and rain, nor concerning the moon or about the fact that the moon does not fall down, nor concerning the differences between living and non-living matter.

At the age of 12 I experienced a second wonder of a totally different nature: in a little book dealing with Euclidean plane geometry, which came into my hands at the beginning of a school year. Here were assertions, as for example the inter- section of the three altitudes of a triangle in one point, which --though by no means evident--could nevertheless be proved with such certainty that any doubt appeared to be out of the question. This lucidity and certainty made an indescribable impression upon me. That the axiom had to be accepted unproved did not disturb me. In any case it was quite sufficient for me if I could peg proofs upon propositions the validity of which did not seem to me to be dubious. For example I remember that an uncle told me the Pythagorean theorem before the holy geometry booklet had come into my hands. After much effort I succeeded in "proving" this theorem on the basis of the similarity of triangles; in doing so it seemed to me "evident" that the relations of the sides of the right-angled triangles would have to be completely determined by one of the acute angles. Only something which did not in similar fashion seem to be "evident" appeared to me to be in need of any proof at all. Also, the objects with which geometry deals seemed to be of no different type than the objects of sensory perception, "which can be seen and touched." This primitive idea, which probably also lies at the bottom of the well known Kantian problematic concerning the possibility of "synthetic judgments a priori," rests obviously upon the fact that the relation of geometrical concepts to objects of direct experience (rigid rod, finite interval, etc.) was unconsciously present.

If thus it appeared that it was possible to get certain knowledge of the objects of experience by means of pure thinking, this "wonder" rested upon an error. Nevertheless, for anyone who experiences it for the first time, it is marvelous enough that man is capable at all to reach such a degree of certainty and purity in pure thinking as the Greeks showed us for the first time to be possible in geometry.


And now back to the obituary. At the age of 12-16 I familiarized myself with the elements of mathematics together with the principles of differential and integral calculus. In doing so I had the good fortune of hitting on books which were not too particular in their logical rigor, but which made up for this by permitting the main thoughts to stand out clearly and synoptically. This occupation was, on the whole, truly fascinating; climaxes were reached whose impression could easily compete with that of elementary geometry--the basic idea of analytical geometry, the infinite series, the concepts of differential and integral. I also had the good fortune of getting to know the essential results and methods of the entire field of the natural sciences in an excellent popular exposition, which limited itself almost throughout to qualitative aspects (Bernstein's People's Books on Natural Science, a work of 5 or 6 volumes), a work which I read with breathless attention. I had also al- ready studied some theoretical physics when, at the age of I7 I entered the Polytechnic Institute of Zurich as a student of mathematics and physics.

There I had excellent teachers (for example, Hurwitz, Minkowski), so that I really could have gotten a sound mathematical education. However, I worked most of the time in the physical laboratory, fascinated by the direct contact with experience. The balance of the time I used in the main in order to study at home the works of Kirchhoff, Helmholtz, Hertz, etc. The fact that I neglected mathematics to a certain extent had its cause not merely in my stronger interest in the natural sciences than in mathematics but also in the following strange experience. I saw that mathematics was split up into numerous specialties, each of which could easily absorb the short life- time granted to us. Consequently I saw myself in the position of Buridan's ass which was unable to decide upon any specific bundle of hay. This was obviously due to the fact that my intuition was not strong enough in the field of mathematics in order to differentiate clearly the fundamentally important, that which is really basic, from the rest of the more or less dispensable erudition. Beyond this, however, my interest in the knowledge of nature was also unqualifiedly stronger; and it was not clear to me as a student that the approach to a more profound knowledge of the basic principles of physics is tied up with the most intricate mathematical methods. This dawned upon me only gradually after years of independent scientific work. True enough, physics also was divided into separate fields, each of which was capable of devouring a short lifetime of work with- out having satisfied the hunger for deeper knowledge. The mass of insufficiently connected experimental data was over- whelming here also. In this field, however, I soon learned to scent out that which was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things which clutter up the mind and divert it from the essential. The hitch in this was, of course, the fact that one had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect [upon me] that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year. In justice I must add, moreover, that in Switzer- land we had to suffer far less under such coercion, which smothers every truly scientific impulse, than is the case in many another locality. There were altogether only two examinations; aside from these, one could just about do as one pleased. This was especially the case if one had a friend, as did I, who attended the lectures regularly and who worked over their content conscientiously. This gave one freedom in the choice of pursuits until a few months before the examination, a freedom which I enjoyed to a great extent and have gladly taken into the bargain the bad conscience connected with it as by far the lesser evil. It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe that it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly.


Before I enter upon a critique of mechanics as the foundation of physics, something of a broadly general nature will first have to be said concerning the points of view according to which it is possible to criticize physical theories at all. The first point of view is obvious: the theory must not contradict empirical facts. However evident this demand may in the first place appear, its application turns out to be quite delicate. For it is often, perhaps even always, possible to adhere to a general theoretical foundation by securing the adaptation of the theory to the facts by means of artificial additional assumptions. In any case, however, this first point of view is concerned with the confirmation of the theoretical foundation by the available empirical facts.

The second point of view is not concerned with the relation to the material of observation but with the premises of the theory itself, with what may briefly but vaguely be characterized as the "naturalness" or "logical simplicity" of the premises (of the basic concepts and of the relations between these which are taken as a basis). This point of view, an exact formulation of which meets with great difficulties, has played an important role in the selection and evaluation of theories since time immemorial. The problem here is not simply one of a kind of enumeration of the logically independent premises (if anything like this were at all unequivocally possible), but that of a kind of reciprocal weighing of incommensurable qualities. Furthermore, among theories of equally "simple" foundation that one is to be taken as superior which most sharply delimits the qualities of systems in the abstract (i.e., contains the most definite claims). Of the "realm" of theories I need not speak here, inasmuch as we are confining ourselves to such theories whose object is the totality of all physical appearances. The second point of view may briefly be characterized as concerning itself with the "inner perfection" of the theory, whereas the first point of view refers to the "external confirmation." The following I reckon as also belonging to the "inner perfection" of a theory: We prize a theory more highly if, from the logical standpoint, it is not the result of an arbitrary choice among theories which, among themselves, are of equal value and analogously constructed.

The meager precision of the assertions contained in the last two paragraphs I shall not attempt to excuse by lack of sufficient printing space at my disposal, but confess herewith that I am not, without more ado [immediately], and perhaps not at all, capable to replace these hints by more precise definitions. I believe, however, that a sharper formulation would be possible. In any case it turns out that among the augurs there usually is agreement in judging the inner perfection of the theories and even more so concerning the degree of external confirmation.


Remark. The speed of light c is one of the quantities which occurs as “universal constant” in physical equations. If, however, one introduces as unit of time instead of the second the time in which light travels 1 cm, c no longer occurs in the equations. In this sense one could say that the constant c is only an apparently universal constant.

It is obvious and generally accepted that one could eliminate two more universal constants from physics by introducing, instead of the gram and the centimeter, properly chosen “natural” units (for example, mass and radius of the electron).

If one considers this done, then only “dimension-less” constants could occur in the basic equations of physics. Concerning such I would like to state a theorem which at present can not be based upon anything more than upon a faith in the simplicity, i.e., intelligibility, of nature: there are no arbitrary constants of this kind; that is to say, nature is so constituted that it is possible logically to lay down such strongly determined laws that within these laws only rationally completely determined constants occur (not constants, therefore, whose numerical value could be changed without destroying the theory).

Monday, October 24, 2005

He's the Boss

Dominic Da Vinci has been forever railing against city hall. Now he's running the place.

It's the brashest career move on Canadian television in years: Morphing Da Vinci's Inquest into the new series Da Vinci's City Hall. The creative shift will transfer the inscrutable Da Vinci -- still portrayed by Nicholas Campbell, naturally -- from his duties of crusading coroner into the post of newly elected mayor of Vancouver. The lesson here: Be careful what you ask for.

"It's a pretty strange position for someone like Da Vinci, who's always fought against the system," says Campbell. "So now he's the mayor, and a lot of the issues he's dealing with are the same things he's been yapping about for years. Now he has the chance to put up or shut up, and maybe put his big plans into play. Of course it doesn't go the way he thought it would."

But if the first episode of Da Vinci's City Hall is any indication, the character's vocational change is bound to please the legions of Da Vinci fans across Canada. They've supported the show for seven seasons because there's nothing like it on television.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Did global warming cause Katrina?

Bradenton Herald | 10/22/2005 | Did global warming cause Katrina?Some scientists say a trend toward warmer oceans is creating more-intense hurricanes


Knight Ridder Tribune News Service

SEATTLE - With nearly two months to go, the 2005 hurricane season is already one of the most active - and deadly - on record.

Christopher Landsea, science and operations officer for the National Hurricane Center, attributes the spike to a natural cycle. Things started picking up in 1995, he said. If the historical pattern holds, the number and ferocity of hurricanes will remain high for the next 10 to 20 years.

But a growing number of scientists suspect nature may be getting a nudge from global warming.

Two studies this summer found the destructive power of hurricanes has been increasing worldwide, in parallel with a rise in ocean and air temperatures.

"The fact that this seems to be associated with more-intense storms isn't surprising," said Judy Curry, co-author of one of the studies and chairwoman of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Warm water is the fuel that powers hurricanes. Called typhoons or cyclones in other parts of the world, the swirling storms form only where there's a deep layer of water at 80 degrees or hotter.

Theory and computer models have long predicted global warming will boost the storms' intensity - as measured by wind speed and rainfall - but not their frequency.

Tropical ocean temperatures worldwide have increased about 1 degree since 1970, and up to 4 more degrees of warming is predicted over the next century.

Hurricane Katrina's deadly punch grew as it passed over the Gulf of Mexico, which was up to 5 degrees warmer than normal in August. Hurricane Rita also got a boost as it passed over a meandering Gulf current of unusually warm water.

"It went: Boom. From Category 2 to Category 5 in one afternoon," Curry said.

She and her colleagues examined worldwide records and found no change in the number of hurricanes over the past 35 years. But the biggest storms - categories 4 and 5 - nearly doubled, from about 10 per year in the 1970s to about 18 per year during the past decade. The shift toward stronger storms occurred in every ocean basin.

Atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also calculated a power index for hurricanes in the Atlantic and North Pacific back to 1949. Beginning in the 1970s, he found, destructive power began climbing and is now nearly double what it was four decades ago.

Any complex storm is the result of so many factors - some of them random - that no one can point to a single cause. That's why scientists look beyond local weather to broader, statistical patterns when trying to sort out global warming's impacts.

Like rolling loaded dice, global climate change should increase the odds of more-intense hurricanes. But just as it takes repeated tosses to realize a pair of dice is loaded, the effects of global warming will show up only over time.

Landsea of the National Hurricane Center isn't convinced by the evidence so far, which he says is based on shaky records.

Early hurricane data often came from ships' captains, who probably overstated wind speeds. Emanuel corrected for this in his analysis but may have gone too far - with the result that past storms appear weaker than they really were, Landsea said.

Curry and her colleagues didn't look at storms before 1970, so they didn't take into account the fact that the current upswing in hurricane intensity in the Atlantic fits a natural cycle that has alternated between quiet and active periods back to the mid-1800s. The cycle is driven by shifts in currents and trade winds, Landsea said.

But even if a natural trend is at work in the Atlantic, that doesn't explain why hurricanes are getting stronger around the world, said Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. A 35-year veteran of hurricane research, Holland said he was skeptical of the impact of global warming impact until recently.

"If you look around the globe, this is a consistent change that's happening everywhere, which leads me to say what's going on in the Atlantic may not be a (natural) oscillation. It may be a trend related to global climate change."

Breakup Of Glaciers Raising Sea Level Concern

Corvallis OR (SPX) Oct 21, 2005
The rapid structural breakdown of some important parts of the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica is possible, has happened in the distant past, and some "startling changes" on the margin of these ice masses has been observed in recent years � raising disturbing concerns about sea level rise.

In a new report to be released Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Oregon State University and four other institutions in the U.S. and Europe outline dynamic mechanisms of glacial change that appear to be under way, could significantly speed up the melting of major ice sheets, and have not been considered in current projections for sea level rise.

A possibility, scientists say, is that the melting and collapse of floating ice shelves near the coasts of Greenland and Antarctica will continue and in the process destabilize the ice sheets behind them.

This could cause a much more rapid flow of ice to the sea and lead to melting events that transcend those now anticipated due to global warming. Based on this, the researchers say that current projections of sea level rise should be considered a minimum to expect, and the levels could be much higher and happen more quickly.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Satellite images reveal Amazon forest shrinking faster |

New methods detect twice as much logging as previously estimated
By Peter N. Spotts | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Brazil's Amazon rain forest - one of the most biologically productive regions on the planet - is disappearing twice as fast as scientists previously estimated.

That is the stark conclusion ecologist Gregory Asner and his colleagues reached after developing a new way to analyze satellite images to track logging there.

The team traces the additional loss to selective logging, which some environmental groups say is occurring illegally. The technique removes trees piecemeal from a forest, rather than carving large swaths. This has made it easier to hide. This project is the first time satellites have been used to track selective logging. [Editor's note: The original version identified selective logging as illegal. Not all groups agree that the practice always occurs illegally.]

Friday, October 21, 2005

Revealed: the true devastation of the rainforest

The satellite technique developed by the scientists at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution allows the scientists to peer through the dense forest canopy to find out what is happening underneath.

The signals they have exploited show how much green vegetation is in the canopy, how much dead material is on the forest floor and how much bare soil there is, Dr Asner said.

Over the course of four years, the scientists amassed the first full survey of selective logging across the Amazon basin. "We found much more selective logging than we or anyone else had expected - between 4,600 and 8,000 square miles every year of forest spread across five Brazilian states," said Dr Asner.

To make sure their assessments were correct, the scientists went out into the field to compare their satellite data to what they could observe from the ground.

The findings confirmed their worst suspicions - that conventional satellite photography has missed about half of the damage caused by illegal logging. » Radioactivating Mosol, Iraq

According to the International Action Center article Iraqi cities ‘hot with depleted uranium’ reporters have measured radiation levels that are between 1,000 and 1,900 times higher than would normally be expected in parts of Iraq.

The Dutch are concerned about this, as they plan to send troops to Iraq. They are slated to be stationed in the small town of Al-Samawah, where the U.S. insists it has not used D.U. However, according to the above referenced study, a Dutch journalist was able to confirm that when the U.S. Army fought Iraqi forces there, D.U. ammunition was “widely used.”

According to the American Gulf War Veterans Association, half of the soldiers who have returned to the U.S. since serving in the Gulf War have reported “serious illnesses.” About 30% of those suffer from chronic illness–a surprising number since the military screened soldiers for chronic conditions like asthma, cancer, diabetes, birth defects and heart conditions, before they were inducted. This unexplained incidence of chronic illness, therefore, has many believing it is related to exposure to D.U. radiation.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/20/2005 | Wal-Mart goes more eco-friendly

Wal-Mart goes more eco-friendly

The retail giant is leading a switch from petroleum-based plastic packaging to corn-based. High oil prices are at the root.

By Harold Brubaker

Inquirer Staff Writer

Wal-Mart is going green.

The retail giant, which is also the nation's largest grocery seller, is beginning to switch from petroleum-based to corn-based plastic packaging.

The first substitution, starting Nov. 1, involves 114 million clear-plastic clamshell containers used annually by the retailer for cut fruit, herbs, strawberries and brussels sprouts, Wal-Mart executive Matt Kistler said yesterday at a conference in Philadelphia.

"With this change to packaging made from corn, we will save the equivalent of 800,000 gallons of gasoline and reduce more than 11 million pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions," said Kistler, vice president for product development and private brands for the company's Sam's Club division.

"This is a way to make a change positive for the environment and for business," he said at the Sustainable Packaging Forum at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel.

The adoption of environmentally friendly packaging at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has an unparalleled ability to mandate change in the consumer-products world, is a huge win for NatureWorks L.L.C., a Minnesota-based division of agricultural commodity giant Cargill Inc.

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground: "Hurricane Wilma continues across the western Caribbean towards Mexico as a extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane capable of massive destruction. Wilma is currently undergoing a collapse of her inner eyewall, which will cause a short weakening trend that may last the remainder of the day. The inner eyewall of eight miles diameter is collapsing, and a new eyewall of 40 miles diameter is forming. This will reduce Wilma's peak winds to perhaps 135 mph today, at the low end of Category 4 strength. We'll have to wait until the next hurricane hunter mission arrives around 4 pm today to verify if this is the case.

As Wilma's eye reforms at a much larger size, the hurricane should begin to intensify again, and a return to Category 5 strength by Friday afternoon is a possibility. The larger eye will result in a much larger area being exposed to the extreme winds of the eyewall. If Wilma makes landfall along the Yucatan Peninsula, a stretch of coast perhaps 50 miles long will experience extreme damage."

Operation Mockingbird - SourceWatch

Allegations worthy of consideration ...

From an undated analysis by Mary Louise posted at (

"Starting in the early days of the Cold War (late 40's), the CIA began a secret project called Operation Mockingbird, with the intent of buying influence behind the scenes at major media outlets and putting reporters on the CIA payroll, which has proven to be a stunning ongoing success. The CIA effort to recruit American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda, was headed up by Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, and Philip Graham (publisher of The Washington Post)."

From an undated piece by Steve Kangas titled "The Origins of the Overclass" (

"Journalism is a perfect cover for CIA agents. People talk freely to journalists, and few think suspiciously of a journalist aggressively searching for information. Journalists also have power, influence and clout. Not surprisingly, the CIA began a mission in the late 1940s to recruit American journalists on a wide scale, a mission it dubbed Operation MOCKINGBIRD. The agency wanted these journalists not only to relay any sensitive information they discovered, but also to write anti-communist, pro-capitalist propaganda when needed."

"Perhaps no newspaper is more important to the CIA than the Washington Post, one of the nation's most right-wing dailies. Its location in the nation's capitol enables the paper to maintain valuable personal contacts with leading intelligence, political and business figures. Unlike other newspapers, the Post operates its own bureaus around the world, rather than relying on AP wire services. Owner Philip Graham was a military intelligence officer in World War II, and later became close friends with CIA figures like Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles, Desmond FitzGerald and Richard Helms. He inherited the Post by marrying Katherine Graham, whose father owned it."

"Sig Mickelson was a CIA asset the entire time he was president of CBS News from 1954 to 1961. Later he went on to become president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, two major outlets of CIA propaganda."

"The CIA also secretly bought or created its own media companies. It owned 40 percent of the Rome Daily American at a time when communists were threatening to win the Italian elections. Worse, the CIA has bought many domestic media companies. A prime example is Capital Cities, created in 1954 by CIA businessman William J. Casey (who would later become Ronald Reagan's CIA director). Another founder was Lowell Thomas, a close friend and business contact with CIA Director Allen Dulles. Another founder was CIA businessman Thomas Dewey. By 1985, Capital Cities had grown so powerful that it was able to buy an entire TV network: ABC."

"For those who believe in 'separation of press and state,' the very idea that the CIA has secret propaganda outlets throughout the media is appalling. The reason why America was so oblivious to CIA crimes in the 40s and 50s was because the media willingly complied with the agency."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

VOA News - Greenpeace says Global Warming Threatens China's Yellow River

By Daniel Schearf
10 October 2005

Environmental group Greenpeace says global warming is threatening the main source of China's Yellow River and causing serious damage to the environment and people's livelihoods. The group says carbon-dioxide emissions must be reduced or the river and the livelihoods of people who rely on it will be at risk.

A study commissioned by Greenpeace and produced by the Chinese Academy of Sciences says rising temperatures in the Tibetan Plateau are melting glaciers in the region, which are the main source of water for the Yellow River.

The study says that in the past 30 years, 17 percent of glaciers in the region have melted and the rate of melting ice is 10 times faster than it has been in the last 300 years.

Greenpeace says global warming also is melting permafrost in the region, draining lakes, turning grasslands into deserts, and destroying the river basin's capacity to hold water.

Climate change victims 'could sue for damages'

The effects of climate change are becoming so obvious that victims could sue for damages
October 19, 2005, 20:30

The effects of climate change are becoming so obvious that victims could sue for damages in a court of law, a British climate expert said this week at a climate change conference north of Johannesburg.

Myles Allen, a physicist at Oxford, showed that the heating effect of greenhouse gases increased the risk of dying during a recent heat wave in Europe by more than half - which was all that was required for courts to allocate blame and damages to respondents charged with having caused an injury.

"Over the coming decade, both the cost and the inevitability of climate change will become clearer, fuelling demands for compensation for flooding and droughts, heat wave damages and deaths, threats to water supplies, coastal erosion and hurricanes," he said.

This gave developing countries a strong bargaining position in global debates, said Allen. He urged that these countries should look carefully at the current Kyoto agreements, and ask themselves whether they were being bought off with ineffectual development aid.

CBC Toronto - Toronto man charged with Rwandan war crimes

A Rwandan man living in Toronto has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, making him the first person to be charged under five-year-old Canadian legislation.

* INDEPTH: Rwanda

The force says the man was arrested in Toronto on Wednesday in connection with events in Butare, Rwanda, in 1994, when one of the deadliest genocides in the century left more than 800,000 people dead in 100 days.

* INDEPTH: War crimes

Désiré Munyaneza, 39, faces seven charges under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, including:

* Two counts of genocide.

* Two counts of crimes against humanity.

* Three counts of war crimes.

An RCMP news release said the arrest resulted from a five-year investigation by the force's War Crimes Section that included interviews with many witnesses in Rwanda, Europe and Canada.

BBC NEWS | Business | Google drops Gmail address in UK

Gmail, the free e-mail service run by internet search giant Google, will change its name for new UK users.

Following a trademark dispute the mail account will be renamed Google Mail.

London-based Independent International Investment Research says it started using the Gmail name for a web-mail application two years before Google.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

UCSB Press Release: "Link Between Tropical Warming and Greenhouse Gases Stronger Than Ever, Say Scientists "

October 13, 2005

Live plankton †
Click for downloadable image
Live plankton †

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) – New evidence from climate records of the past provides some of the strongest indications yet of a direct link between tropical warmth and higher greenhouse gas levels, say scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The present steady rise in tropical temperatures due to global warming will have a major impact on global climate and could intensify destructive hurricanes like Katrina and Rita.

The new evidence linking past tropical ocean temperatures to levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases is published in this week's Science Express, the on-line publication of the journal Science. The authors are Martin Medina-Elizalde, graduate student in the Department of Earth Science and the Interdepartmental Program in Marine Science at UC Santa Barbara, and David Lea, professor in UCSB's Department of Earth Science and the Marine Science Institute.

The link between increased atmospheric greenhouse gas and global temperatures underlies the theory of global warming, explained the authors. This link can be established by computer climate models or modern observations. Another way to study the link is through paleoclimate observations where past climate is reconstructed through natural archives. This latest study is based on such paleoclimate observations; the scientists analyzed the chemical composition of fossil plankton shells from a deep sea core in the equatorial Pacific.

"The relationship between tropical climate and greenhouse gases is particularly critical because tropical regions receive the highest proportion of solar output and act as a heat engine for the rest of the earth," said Lea.

Modern observations of tropical sea surface temperature indicate a rise of one to two degrees Fahrenheit over the last 50 years, a trend consistent with rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to fossil fuel combustion, according to the authors. The paleoclimate evidence from this new study supports the attribution of the tropical temperature trend to the ever-increasing greenhouse gas burden in the atmosphere.

The research described in this week's article demonstrates that over the last 1.3 million years, sea surface temperatures in the heart of the western tropical Pacific were controlled by the waxing and waning of the atmospheric greenhouse effect. The largest climate mode shift over this time interval, occurring ~950,000 years before the present (the mid-Pleistocene transition), has previously been attributed to changes in the pattern and frequency of ice sheets.

The new research suggests instead that this shift is due to a change in the oscillation frequency of atmospheric carbon dioxide abundances, a hypothesis that can be directly tested by deep drilling on the Antarctic Ice Cap. If proved correct, this theory would suggest that relatively small, naturally occurring fluctuations in greenhouse gases are the master variable that has driven global climate change on time scales of ten thousand to one million years. - Oil gains on fresh US storm concerns

By Maria Silander
Monday, October 17, 2005
Posted: 07:20 AM EDT (12:20 London)

Crude oil prices on Monday had their biggest gain in four days on concern a new storm may enter the Gulf of Mexico, distrupting oil production, which is already severly affected by the hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

IPE Brent for December delivery gained $1.40 to $60.88 a barrel in early afternoon trade. November Nymex West Texas Intermediate crude climbed $1.36 to $63.99 a barrel in electronic trade. The benchamrk WTI futures has declined 9.5 per cent since reaching a record intra-day high of $70.85 a barrel on August 30, the day after Katrina made landfall. WTI has risen 48 per cent this year.

Tropical storm Wilma, the 21st named storm this year, formed from a depression in the Caribbean and could move into the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week, the US National Hurricane Center said on its website.
Read more - page 2 >>

The latest investor in green energy - the CIA |

Within hours, solar and wind energy units can be up and running in war or disaster zones.
By John Dillin | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
ARLINGTON, VA. – What if you had a power unit that generated substantial electrical energy with no fuel? What if it were so rugged that you could parachute it out of an airplane? What if it were so easy to set up that two people could have it running in just a few hours?

Now there is such a device - built by a small Virginia start-up - and the federal government has taken notice.

SkyBuilt Power Inc. has begun building electricity-generating units fueled mostly by solar and wind energy. The units, which use a battery backup system when the sun is down and the wind is calm, are designed to run for years with little maintenance.

Depending upon its configuration, SkyBuilt's Mobile Power Station (MPS) can generate up to 150 kilowatts of electricity, says David Muchow, the firm's president and CEO. That's enough to power an emergency operations center, an Army field kitchen, or a small medical facility.

Privately owned SkyBuilt now has a new investor - In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm set up by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 - BUSINESS

With Alps and Northwest warming, are Rockies next?
By Katy Human
Denver Post Staff Writer

Colorados ski season kicked off at Loveland Ski Area on Friday. The state should plan for dwindling snowpacks like Europe and the Pacific Northwest are seeing, some experts say. (Post / Karl Gehring)

The little Swiss ski resort of Andermatt, desperate to save its best ski runs, turned this summer to yards and yards of white fleece.

Ice climbers stretched the thin, insulating fabric over an ice face to protect the toe of the Gurschen glacier, which rises 5,000 feet above a stone and stucco village of 1,400.

"Some, they said we're crazy," said Urs Elmiger, chief financial officer of the Andermatt ski area. "We needed a solution."

From the Alps to the Sierra Nevada, the ski industry is scrambling to cope with increasingly warm and rainy winters that cut into the ski season and may be another sign of human-driven global warming.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Opinion: God and global warming

Science and religion may differ on how we got here, but increasingly there is little disagreement on where we are headed if we don't begin to address the causes of climate change. Scientists have long warned of the dangers of global warming attributed to our profligate use of fossil fuels. Now, one of the nation's most influential religious groups is delivering the same message, if based on an alternative standard of proof.

"I had a conversion experience on the climate issue not unlike my conversion to Christ," Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, told the environmental magazine Grist. "I was at a conference in Oxford where Sir John Houghton, an evangelical scientist, was presenting evidence of shrinking ice caps, temperatures tracked for millennia through ice-core data, increasing hurricane intensity, drought patterns, and so on. I realized all at once, with sudden awe, that climate change is a phenomenon of truly biblical proportions."

The 30-million-member association, which Cizik says is one of the strongest voices in the Republican Party, isn't just talking about global warming. It is taking action. Calling the doctrine "creation care," the association is conducting a scripture-based campaign to convince its members that they are "commissioned by God the Almighty to be stewards of the earth."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Abuse, Forced Labor Rampant in New Orleans Justice System

Retired New Orleans school teacher Robert Davis displays on Sunday the wounds dealt by police who viciously beat and arrested him the night before. Davis, whose ordeal was caught on videotape, is just one of nearly 1,000 people to have been shoved into inhumane conditions, many of them beaten in detention and railroaded into forced labor, by New Orleans authorities. (Photo: Jessica Azulay/NewStandard)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oil and Gas Online News for oil and gas professionals

: "San Ramon, CA - Chevron Corporation announced that it is proceeding with the development of the Blind Faith Field in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The field will be developed using a semisubmersible production facility, with first production expected during the first half of 2008. Chevron is the operator and holds a 62.5 percent working interest.

Blind Faith is located in approximately 7,000 feet of water, about 160 miles southeast of New Orleans, on Mississippi Canyon blocks 695 and 696. The discovery well was drilled in June 2001 and encountered more than 200 feet of net pay in Miocene sands at depths of 20,900 feet to 24,300 feet. A successful appraisal well was drilled in 2004. The field has an estimated gross resource potential exceeding 100 million barrels of oil-equivalent.

'The project demonstrates our strong commitment to continue to invest in the Gulf of Mexico to develop new energy supplies, as well as our ability to advance significant capital projects in areas where we are well positioned for future growth,' said George Kirkland, Chevron Corporation's executive vice president, Upstream and Gas.

Added Ray Wilcox, Chevron's North America Exploration and Production Company president, "Blind Faith is part of our upstream strategy to grow profitability in our core areas and build new legacy positions. This project is a key asset in our deepwater portfolio and is expected to provide significant new oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico."

Total capital costs for the project will be approximately $900 million. Chevron's partner in the Blind Faith project is Kerr-McGee Corp., which holds a 37.5 percent interest.

Initial production is expected to be approximately 30,000 barrels of oil per day (b/d) and 30 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcf/d). The semisubmersible facility will have a production capacity of approximately 45,000 b/d and 45 mmcf/d. The topsides can be upgraded to a capacity of 60,000 b/d and 150 mmcf/d to accommodate production from satellite discoveries or third-party tiebacks.

Chevron is the largest overall leaseholder in the Gulf of Mexico and one of the world's leading energy companies. With more than 53,000 employees, Chevron subsidiaries conduct business in approximately 180 countries around the world, producing and transporting crude oil and natural gas, and refining, marketing, and distributing fuels and other energy products.

SOURCE: Chevron Corporation

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New Scientist SPACE - Breaking News - China launches two 'taikonauts' into orbit

: "Read about China's 50-year-long space programme, its desert launch site, a sprawling oasis in the Gobi desert, and Shenzhou, the 'divine ship'.

Whatever the itinerary, Cheng says the flight means there's “another player' in the elite group of countries working on human spaceflight. 'The Chinese are saying Shenzhou V was not a flash in the pan - China intends to maintain a manned presence in space,' he told New Scientist.

Indeed, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao told the astronauts before the flight: 'You will once again show that the Chinese people have the will, confidence and capability to mount scientific peaks ceaselessly.'

China spends about $2 billion a year on its human spaceflight programme. It says it is likely to send the first woman taikonaut into space in five years and ultimately plans to build its own space station."

news @ - Amazon hit by worst drought for 40 years - Warming Atlantic linked to both US hurricanes and rainforest drought.

Warming Atlantic linked to both US hurricanes and rainforest drought.

Michael Hopkin

A boat tries to make its way through a section of the Amazon River suffering from lower water levels near Uricurituba, in northern Brazil, on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005.
© AP Photo/A Critica, Euzivaldo Que
Parts of the Amazon rainforest are enduring the worst drought for 40 years, prompting local government to declare several cities in the Brazilian state of Amazonas as disaster areas. Researchers say that rising sea temperatures in the North Atlantic, perhaps prompted by climate change, are probably to blame.

Researchers at a forest monitoring station in Santarém, where the Amazon and Tapajós rivers meet, report that water levels are some 15 metres lower than usual.

"Everybody has been taken by surprise," says Paul Lefebvre, a researcher at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, which runs the station.

Droughts in South America are often associated with El Niño climate events - oscillating changes to weather patterns that occur as a result of periodic warming of southern Pacific waters. But researchers have not spotted any such warming this year, Lefebvre says.

Instead, rising surface temperatures in the North Atlantic could be the culprit. The waters have been unusually warm this year - as shown to devastating effect by this year's unusually destructive tropical hurricane season.

The pressure's on

The warm waters tend to encourage evaporation, leading to low pressure systems over the Atlantic. This creates storm conditions that carry water and energy towards the United States. But it also sets up high pressure systems over neighbouring regions further south, such as the Amazon. High pressure systems tend to carry less cloud and provide less rainwater.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

NASA and GLOBE: Observing the Sky for Science | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

NASA and GLOBE: Observing the Sky for Science | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

Monday, October 10, 2005

VOA News - Greenpeace says Global Warming Threatens China's Yellow River

By Daniel Schearf
10 October 2005

Environmental group Greenpeace says global warming is threatening the main source of China's Yellow River and causing serious damage to the environment and people's livelihoods. The group says carbon-dioxide emissions must be reduced or the river and the livelihoods of people who rely on it will be at risk.

A study commissioned by Greenpeace and produced by the Chinese Academy of Sciences says rising temperatures in the Tibetan Plateau are melting glaciers in the region, which are the main source of water for the Yellow River.

The study says that in the past 30 years, 17 percent of glaciers in the region have melted and the rate of melting ice is 10 times faster than it has been in the last 300 years.

Greenpeace says global warming also is melting permafrost in the region, draining lakes, turning grasslands into deserts, and destroying the river basin's capacity to hold water.

Li Mo Xuan is a works on climate change and renewable energy campaigns for Greenpeace in China. She says the degradation to the source of the Yellow River has turned people in the region into "environmental refugees" and if left unchecked it could destroy the Yellow River completely.

As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound - New York Times

"the newest study of the Arctic ice cap - finding that it faded this summer to its smallest size ever recorded ":

The Globe and Mail: Space tourist returns to Earth

: "Arkalyk, Kazakhstan — The seven-day space sojourn of an American millionaire scientist came to a close as he and a Russian-American crew undocked from the international space station and sped back to Earth, landing early Tuesday on the windswept steppes of Kazakhstan.

The bone-jarring descent brought an end to Gregory Olsen's space station visit, the third trip by a private citizen to the orbiting laboratory. The Soyuz spacecraft that carried them covered the approximately 400 kilometres from the station to Earth in 3½ hours.

Mr. Olsen, American astronaut William McArthur and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev blasted off from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Oct. 1 and docked with the space station two days later.

Mr. McArthur and Mr. Tokarev will stay aboard the station for six months, while Mr. Olsen returns with John Phillips and Sergei Krikalev, who were there since April." » Upscale Bay Harbor’s Toxic Turmoil

This 7,000-foot area along Lake Michigan’s sandy coastline just happens to be near old, buried kiln dust piles. And, it just so happens that portions of the exclusive Bay Harbor resort and park were developed right on top of the well-known, hidden heaps of kiln dust. The kiln dust mounds, which have caused highly alkaline seepage and toxic heavy metal pollution, is a waste product left behind by the old Penn-Dixie Cement Company which operated at the very site of Bay Harbor’s development for decades until the 1960s.

For more than 100 years the Penn-Dixie Cement Company and mining operations spoiled and disfigured in excess of 1,200 acres and five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline on Little Traverse Bay. The retired cement plant, which lay abandoned for 35 years after closing its doors back in the 1960s, left a desolate moonscape consisting of asbestos, coal, chromium brick, and 2.5 million cubic yards of kiln dust.

This contaminated eyesore sat unchanged until 1993 when David V. Johnson, Bay Harbor Company Chairman, joined forces with CMS Energy and began what was, and still is to this day, North America’s largest land reclamation. Together, Johnson and CMS Energy attempted to do what most true environmentalist advocate. Instead of destroying existing forests, farmable fields, and the very habitats necessary to support native wildlife, Bay Harbor was developed over a desolate, environmental blemish that no one else wanted to mess with. l

New Scientist Breaking News - ESA considers rebuilding lost CryoSat satellite

The European Space Agency is considering rebuilding its lost CryoSat satellite, which crashed into the Arctic Ocean on Saturday after the failure of its launch vehicle.

CryoSat was designed to measure the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice to an unprecedented level of accuracy, providing valuable new data to climate scientists. But it was lost when its Rockot launcher, built by a German and Russian joint venture called Eurockot, failed shortly after launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northwest Russia.

The problem appears to lie with the rocket's second stage. It failed to shut off as planned and did not separate from the vehicle's upper stage, causing the satellite and conjoined stages to splash into the ocean north of Greenland.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

KING5 Seattle News | KING5 HealthLink

: "03:57 PM PDT on Thursday, October 6, 2005

03:57 PM PDT on Thursday, October 6, 2005

Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska - It may not take much longer for one of the world's most-visited glaciers to calve and melt out of its scenic toehold in Mendenhall Lake.

The Mendenhall Glacier could come out of the lake "in the next few years, or less," said Roman Motyka, a University of Alaska Fairbanks glaciologist based in Juneau.

The Mendenhall's hasty retreat - 656 feet lost on its east side in 2004 and 269 feet lost on its west side in 2005 - is attracting a lot of curiosity from visitors around the world, federal tourism officials said this week.

About 366,000 people visited the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center this year. More than ever before, "We got the question, is the glacier melting because of global warming?" said Laurie Craig, a naturalist at the visitor center, which is operated by the U.S.

Forest Service.

Craig and her colleagues at the center said Tuesday that they want to begin providing visitors with scientific resources that help answer their questions about the causes, as well as the potential effects, of the Mendenhall's retreat.

"We're not qualified to say this. We want (to provide visitors) the sources," Craig said.

Their quest for information is coming at a time when Motyka's work at the Mendenhall is coming to an end. He wraps up his studies of Juneau-area glaciers this year.

His studies so far have pointed out the rapid melting of the glacier.

Less ice is accumulating at the top of the Mendenhall and less is coming down to its base, according to mass-balance measurements by Motyka and his colleagues.

Motyka has also instructed the visitor center staff and Juneau residents on how Mendenhall Lake can play a vital role in controlling the glacier's massive calving periods, as it did last summer.

"This year, calving is much reduced," Motyka said. The glacier "has been pushed into a shallower area of the lake," he said.

Deeper water against the glacier accelerates calving.

Though more people seem curious about the Mendenhall's retreat than ever before, there isn't much funding in place yet to continue research at the Mendenhall.

A couple of University of Alaska Southeast professors want to install a climate station and "glacier cam" at the top of the glacier, and take over Motyka's measurements of its retreat.

"There are just very few glaciers (in North America) that have this. Keeping the record going is important," said Eran Hood, a hydrologist at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Hood said he is teaming up with fellow UAS researcher Matt Heavner to seek funds for the climate station and regular measurements at the Mendenhall.

Satellite to Study Polar Ice to Launch

: "MOSCOW -- The European Space Agency was set Saturday to launch an ambitious satellite that scientists hope will gather unprecedentedly accurate data about polar ice and lead to new understanding of the effects of global warming.

The satellite, called CryoSat, is set to be blasted into space from the Plesetsk launch facility in northern Russia. It is to orbit about 430 miles above the planet and reach latitudes just 2 degrees off the poles.

The satellite is to spend three years surveying polar ice using radar altimeters, which project manager Guy Ratier said will be able to assess both the comparatively thin sea ice in the polar regions and the miles-thick ice sheets that cover Greenland and the Antarctic land mass. Previous satellites have been able to assess only sea ice, he said.

'It is an advance in the sense we are not only looking at sea ice,' he said Friday by telephone from Plesetsk. He also said previous satellites surveying polar regions had flown at lower latitudes.

Sea ice, usually only a few yards thick, influences temperatures and ocean currents. The much thicker ice sheets covering land masses can raise sea levels if they melt significantly."

Chicago Tribune | Americans moving into harm's way

Chicago Tribune | Americans moving into harm's way: "A Tribune analysis finds a boom in population growth in coastal counties in the hurricane zone

By John McCormick
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 8, 2005

DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. -- A scientific debate remains about whether the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts are being pummeled by hurricanes of greater intensity than in the past, but there is no question that more Americans are moving directly into the path of the storms.

When Hurricane Katrina hit here nearly six weeks ago, about 250 homes in this planned community along the Gulf of Mexico were destroyed and another 500 were left uninhabitable.

With its warm weather and relatively low taxes, as well as palm trees, tennis courts and 36 holes of golf, Diamondhead typically adds about 200 new homes a year.

'You used to know every neighbor here,' said Clay Guidroz, 76, a longtime resident whose home lost a few shingles and a fence in the storm.

With a population of about 8,500, Diamondhead is big enough to have a ZIP code, and it helped boost the surrounding county's population by an estimated 6.9 percent between 2000 and 2004.

Reflecting a trend fueled by the nation's love of waterfront property, the availability of undeveloped coastal land and the region's general abundance o"

Tropical Storm Stan kills 276 in Central America, Mexico

Tropical Storm Stan kills 276 in Central America, Mexico

Global warming's storm role debated

Global warming's storm role debated: "The hurricanes roaring out of the tropics are being matched by an equally ferocious debate in the world of science. One of the nation's most widely known hurricane prognosticators, Colorado State University's William Gray, told a U.S. Senate hearing last month that talk of global warming is 'bogus science and media hype' driven by 'scientists who were willing to bend their objectivity to obtain government grants.'

From the other side, Georgia Tech atmospheric researcher Peter Webster said some global-warming skeptics and their allies in the Bush administration are sowing doubt as 'an excuse for inaction. If you don't have to worry about global warming, you don't need an energy policy.'

Another global warming researcher, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Gray lacks the expertise to back up some of his pronouncements. 'You can find renegade scientists that are willing to say anything, and unfortunately Dr. Gray falls into that category,' he said.

But Emanuel said he respects skeptics such as National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, who told Congress that the recent spree of storms stems from 'natural fluctuations . . . not enhanced substantially by global warming.'"

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ending Biblical Brainwash | Betterhumans

magine that you're a psychiatrist. A new patient comes to see you and says that he regularly talks to an invisible being who never responds, that he reads excerpts from one ancient book and that he believes wholeheartedly that its contents must be accepted implicitly, if not taken literally.

The patient goes on to say that that the world is only 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs never existed. He brazenly rejects modern science's observations and conclusions, and subscribes to the notion that after death he will live in eternal bliss in some alternate dimension. And throughout your meeting, he keeps handing you his book and urging you to join him, lest you end up after death in a far less desirable alternate dimension than him.

Is this a mentally healthy person? If you were a responsible psychiatrist, how could you answer yes? These symptoms border on delusional schizophrenia, which the American Psychological Association's DSM-IV describes as involving a profound disruption in cognition and emotion, assigning unusual significance or meaning to normal events and holding fixed false personal beliefs.

Torture of Iraqis was for ‘stress relief’, say US soldiers - [Sunday Herald]

FOR the first time, American soldiers who personally tortured Iraqi prisoners have come forward to give testimony to human rights organisations about crimes they comm itted.

Three soldiers – a captain and two sergeants – from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Mercury near Fallujah in Iraq have told Human Rights Watch how prisoners were tortured both as a form of stress relief and as a way of breaking them for interrogation sessions.

These latest revelations about the torture of Iraqi detainees come at a time when the Bush administration thought it could draw a line under the scandal of Abu Ghraib following last week’s imprisonment of Private Lynndie England for her now infamous role in the abuse of prisoners and the photographing of torture.

The 82nd Airborne soldiers at FOB Mercury earned the nickname “The Murderous Maniacs” from local Iraqis and took the moniker as a badge of honour.

The soldiers referred to their Iraqi captives as PUCs – persons under control – and used the expressions “f***ing a PUC” and “smoking a PUC” to refer respectively to torture and forced physical exertion.

Bush said God told him to invade Iraq, Arab leaders say / Palestinian officials confirm comments from documentary

Why GWB thinks he is a latter day Moses. Well, there was God speaking to him from out of a bottle....I have heard the cry of your rich friends against government using their money, taken by taxes, to help others, and you George are going to be my spokesperson to lead them out of this oppression by the government and give them freedom from their oppressors. You will dismantle any government program that does not enrich your friends. I will get you elected President and you will lead your country to liberate the wealthy. And I will give you further instructions along the way... (It wan't a burning bush, but otherwise the parallels are so striking!) "President Bush was saying that, 'Having been imbued with a message of God to free the people of Afghanistan and then Iraq, I have a calling now to give the Palestinians a state of their own and their freedom, to give Israel security and bring peace to the Middle East,' " Shaath told The Chronicle, confirming the accuracy of the BBC report. Submitted on October 7, 2005 1:13 p.m. by anymouse. [UserTrolls]

SPIEGEL's Daily Take: World's Chief Nuclear Inspector Named for Nobel Peace Prize

Mohamed El Baradei, after being a political pariah in Washington for doubting Bush's search for the infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction, has just been paid the highest honor by scooping the Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile Al Gore warns that democracy is dying in America. We give you the chance to get creative with Bush's words from God. And the latest from the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Climate Change: European Satellite to Measure Polar Melting - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

By Damien McGuinness in Berlin

The polar ice caps are disappearing. New data this year showed a sharp decrease in the size of the Arctic ice cap, and respected scientists fear it could disappear

Clone-Generated Milk, Meat May Be Approved

Favorable FDA Ruling Seen as Imminent

By Justin Gillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 6, 2005; Page A01

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to rule soon that milk from cloned animals and meat from their offspring are safe to eat, raising the question of whether Americans are ready to welcome one of modern biology's most controversial achievements to the dinner table.

Hundreds of cloned pigs, cows and other animals are already living on farms around the country, as companies and livestock producers experiment and await a decision from the FDA.

Elvis, a calf cloned by ViaGen Inc. of Austin and groomed for breeding.
Elvis, a calf cloned by ViaGen Inc. of Austin and groomed for breeding. (By Carol Guzy -- The Washington Post)
/nation Grade D-N-A
Companies say they're ready to turn cloning into a routine tool of production agriculture.
From Science Fiction to Fact

Clones abound in nature, including human identical twins. Scientists created artificial clones from embryo cells starting in 1894, but adult mammals weren't cloned until 1996. Farm animals have been cloned by the hundreds recently, and companies want to use them in food production. Mammal cloning milestones:

1996: Dolly the sheep (made public in 1997)

1998: Mice, cattle

1999: Goats

2000: Pigs cloned; using mice, clones of clones are produced

2002: Rabbits, cats

2003: Horses, rats

2004: Adult human cloned to create embryos, which are destroyed to extract cells

2005: Dog

SOURCES: ViaGen Inc.; Washington Post research talk

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The agricultural industry has observed a voluntary FDA moratorium on using the products of clones, but it has recently become clear that a few offspring of cloned pigs and cows are already trickling into the food supply.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Animals 'hit by global warming'

Climate change could lead to the extinction of many animals including migratory birds, says a report commissioned by the UK government.

Melting ice, spreading deserts and the impact of warm seas on the sex of turtles are among threats identified.


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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Vancouver ranked as world's most livable city

If you must live away from home, Vancouver is the best place in the world to live, according to the Britons who publish The Economist.

Or the least bad. The honour is based in large part on an absence of awfulness.

Despite what is described as a small petty-crime problem, Vancouver tops a list of 127 cities ranked from most livable to most dreadful by the magazine's Economist Intelligence Unit.

Calgary and Toronto are in a six-way tie for fifth place with Zurich and three Australian cities.

Montreal is in a four-way tie for 16th place with Paris, Hamburg and Tokyo.

No U.S. city is in the top 25.

EU launches climate change project in Russia - Gateway To Russia

The European Union is launching a Russian project which aims to build the capacity of the Russian Federation to implement the Kyoto Protocol. The project is estimated at EUR 2 million, the European Commission’s delegation to Russia said today.

The principal goal of this project is to help the Russian government implement the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The main implementing partner for the project is Russia's economy ministry.

Dutch Canadian Conference on Climate Change 2005

OTTAWA, Oct. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - On October 6-7, 2005, the Governments of
the Netherlands and Canada will convene a multi-stakeholder conference on
"Innovation in Combating Climate Change". The conference will be held at the
Lester B. Pearson Building in Ottawa.
The timing of the Dutch Canadian Conference on Climate Change presents a
very important opportunity to transmit concrete implementation experiences at
the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Montreal from November 28 -
December 9, 2005.
Both the Dutch and Canadian Governments recognize that great strides have
been made to address climate change to date. However, there is a need to build
and improve on what we have accomplished nationally and internationally.

Cities Gather For Climate Change Summit (from This Is Local London)

REPRESENTATIVES from more than 20 of the world's major cities are meeting in London today to discuss climate change.

The World Cities Leadership Climate Change Summit will discuss ways of addressing what London Mayor Ken Livingstone said were the "inevitable effects" of climate change.

Those taking part in today's event include - London, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Curitiba, Delhi, Florida, Kingston, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, Saint Denis, San Francisco, San Paulo, Shanghai, Stockholm, Toronto, Victoria, Zurich.

Mayors and senior figures from the cities will exchange ideas and develop strategies to tackle the effects of climate change.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nobel Prize in Physics for Two Americans and a German

Two Americans and one German won the 2005 prize for their work in quantum physics and the study of optics, the Nobel Committee announced on Tuesday. Their discoveries could help build better lasers, develop 3-D holographic movies, and improve communication and navigation both on earth and in space. The announcement follows the Monday awarding of this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Australian researchers for proving that a bacterium, rather than stress, caused stomach ulcers and gastritis.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Literature Page - Read classic books by famous authors online

The Literature Page - Read classic books by famous authors online: "The Literature Page is your place to read classic books, plays, stories, poems, essays, and speeches online, brought to you by the creators of The Quotations Page. Our collection currently includes 233 works from 85 authors"

A battle to rebuild looms in New Orleans - The Boston Globe

Officials compete to have say in plan

By Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff | October 2, 2005

NEW ORLEANS -- Sensual, complicated, fascinating New Orleans is mostly silent and sterile now, more like an abandoned Hollywood back-lot than the vibrant palette of cultures and lifestyles that have made this city unique.
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Rebuilding ''The City That Care Forgot" represents the greatest urban renewal project in American history, but nearly everyone with a stake in the city's future agrees that the outcome is far from certain: Will officials oversee a process that yields a stunning model for 21st-century living, or will fighting among special interests produce a more homogeneous, tourist-centric New Orleans?

''The positive side of this is that it's unprecedented," Kurt Weigle, executive director of the Downtown Development District, said of the rebuilding project. ''No one will be able to say that it can't be done." But where Weigle envisions mixed-income, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that retain a sense of history, some residents fear city officials will tilt New Orleans toward a Las Vegas-style entertainment mecca at the expense of its hard-hit working class.

Lining up for battle, which many observers said could pit developers against preservationists, affluent against poor, and business interests against the neighborhoods, are bureaucratic forces from city, state, and federal government. So far, those forces have been reluctant to put aside their turf and philosophical differences to reach consensus in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

On Friday, Mayor C. Ray Nagin announced the creation of a 17-member, racially mixed commission to draft a broad rebuilding plan by year's end. Nagin urged his fellow New Orleanians to return home, but he also acknowledged that parts of their city will never be rebuilt. ''We're finding some pretty startling issues," Nagin said of the city's battered housing stock. In some neighborhoods, he said, more than half of the housing stock has serious structural damage.
Pop-up Housing units Pop-up Racial_breakdown Pop-up Federal poverty level

In addition to the city's plan, the state is certain to want input in the redevelopment of its largest city and greatest source of tax revenue. And the federal government, which Governor Kathleen Blanco has petitioned for $250 billion in statewide aid, is expected to monitor reconstruction closely in a city infamous for crippling corruption.

Geoff Coats, cofounder of the Urban Conservancy, which works to preserve the textured fabric of New Orleans life, said he is not confident that harmony of purpose will be found. ''People from across those divides didn't necessarily trust each other before this," Coats said. And Kalamu ya Salaam, a writer and black resident of the city's Algiers section, is gloomily pessimistic. To his thinking, most black residents evacuated from New Orleans will have no chance to effect the planning process. ''These people didn't have the money to leave, so what makes you think they'll have the money to come back?" he asked. ''They're not going to put 150,000 poor black people back in one place. It's not going to happen again."Continued...

In Salaam's view, the hurricane has given the monied powers the chance to reconfigure a crime-plagued city whose population, before the storm, had been 67 percent black and 28 percent below the federal poverty line. ''We've seen the end of an era," Salaam said. ''Our way of life is gone."

Compounding the worries over racial politics and bickering is a concern that the city's architectural magnificence could fall prey to developers who see golf courses, strip malls, and cookie-cutter homes where shotgun houses and Creole cottages now stand vacant. Because 53 percent of the city's housing units were rented, community activists said, absentee owners will be tempted to pocket their insurance settlements rather than rebuild. Such a scenario would be devastating, said Meg Lousteau, executive director of the Louisiana Landmarks Society, because no other US city can boast of such a splendid mix of use and design that extends to even the city's poorest neighborhoods.

''You're looking at layers of history here. You can't come in and bulldoze that," said Lousteau, as she drove along deserted streets in the Lower Ninth Ward, a predominantly black neighborhood that was among the city's hardest hit. ''You're surrounded by architecture that is just mind-blowing."

Coats said one concern is that New Orleans will be transformed into a ''theme park" lacking a complex human element that has sustained it for nearly four centuries. Minus a middle class and its lower-income population, Coats said, ''we'd have a very different city. In the worst case, you'd have this strip that hugs the river that includes the French Quarter and is fun for tourists and the conventions and becomes a caricature of itself."

What makes New Orleans so special, Coats said, is a blend of incomes, races, and architecture that is the antithesis of new, generic development across the country.

In the Treme neighborhood, a racially mixed enclave near the French Quarter, Lousteau pointed out the variety of housing on one block of Ursulines Avenue. In succession, a blue Greek Revival home, a beige Creole cottage, a five-bay shotgun house, a white Italianate home, an Italianate-Victorian mix, and a Creole cottage that now is a Baptist church combined to form a detailed row of diverse but harmonious neighbors.

None of the residents have returned to this block, and water had flooded some of the structures, but Lousteau was adamant that a way must be found to repair and preserve homes like these across the city. ''We would be fools to do anything else," she said.

Alphonso Jackson, the Bush administration's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, touched a nerve last week when he questioned whether the Lower Ninth Ward should be rebuilt. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Jackson also questioned whether New Orleans would retain as many black residents as it once did.

''Whether we like it or not, New Orleans is not going to be 500,000 people again," said Jackson, who is black. ''New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

Other observers have speculated that the Lower Ninth Ward might never be rebuilt and that its low-lying property will be razed to form a natural buffer against future floods. But to Lousteau and Coats, such a move would rob New Orleans of irreplaceable architecture and the cultural wellspring that creates this city's legendary music and cuisine.

''Where do you think the musicians live who play in the clubs? They don't live in the French Quarter. The cooks, too," Coats said. However, he added, ''we may have to make very difficult choices as to whether some areas get rebuilt or not and how they get rebuilt. . . . They're going to be very painful and very hard."

The pain is likely to be felt by the newer and poorer sections of New Orleans, which were built on lower ground than older neighborhoods such as the French Quarter and Uptown. Those areas, because of their higher elevation, fared better when the levees breached in Katrina's devastating aftermath and onrushing water flooded 80 percent of the city.

In New Orleans East, for example, residential development in the 1970s and 1980s created a sprawling neighborhood of mixed races and incomes. But developers built most of the homes on concrete slabs with lighter-density wood, Lousteau said, instead of the raised foundations and sturdier building materials used in older parts of the city. The result was devastating flood damage that threatens the return of a black middle class, considered essential to a racially diverse New Orleans.

Salaam said mistakes made in the development of New Orleans East must be considered when the new city is conceived. ''What they did didn't work," he said. ''There was absolutely no [flood] protection there."

As much as some preservationists want to duplicate the pre-Katrina city, many residents believe such hopes are neither practical nor desirable. Scott Veazey, a real estate investor who restores old homes, suggested that parts of the Lower Ninth Ward be razed for flood control and that its residents be relocated to vacant housing in the city's less-damaged parts. ''I would really like [planners] to pay attention to the high ground," Veazey said. Much of the older construction in New Orleans, he said, occurred there ''for a reason."

In the end, Weigle said, the vibrancy of the ''new" New Orleans will depend on its economic opportunities. If the jobs are there, residents will return to a place that he predicted will not regain its prestorm population for a decade. And jobs, Weigle said, ''will attract people of all classes back."

In the meantime, Weigle and other observers said, urban planners have a chance to mix the best of the past with a creative blueprint for the future. ''We have to make sure," Weigle said, ''that as we are rebuilding these neighborhoods, even if there are some we can't save, that they are built according to principles of good urban planning."

Those principles include neighborhoods with mixed uses, mixed incomes, pedestrian mobility, and accessibility to public transportation, Weigle said. ''I'm just confident that building that ideal city is just such a powerful idea that it will help to overcome some of the [political] problems we've encountered in the past," he said.

Lousteau, the preservationist, agreed. ''The world will be watching," she said.
© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
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