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Posts from — January 2011

As Expected

The Pensacola News Journal carries the report: Judge in Pensacola strikes down Obama health care.

Judge Roger Vinson is a Senior Judge on the local US District Court, and he gets all of the cases the other judges don’t want to deal with, like the terrorism cases against women’s health clinics and the local ordinance that banned The Last Temptation Of Christ. He is a literalist and doesn’t stretch the law at all, which is what you expect from an Annapolis graduate.

That is why he threw the entire law out, unlike Judge Hudson who only ruled the mandate unConstitutional. Judge Vinson didn’t see a severability clause, so the whole thing gets bounced. It was fairly obvious that this would be his ruling to anyone at the oral arguments.

This thing was always going to the Supreme Court and now you will have cases on their way to the 11th Circuit as well as the 4th so the hearing is closer.

January 31, 2011   7 Comments

End Game

I just want Mr. Mubarak to know that there are a number of very desirable properties available for reasonable prices in my area, and that the local Republican politicians have no problem with deposed dictators living in the area.

The Egyptian military has made an announcement that they would not use force against the demonstrators and that the demonstrators have “legitimate” complaints.

The new Vice President, Omar Suleiman, announced that he will be meeting with opposition groups to negotiate an ending to the current situation.

There are three, identifiable major players among the opposition groups:

The April 6 Youth Movement are the people that started the protests. They are a loose association of Internet savvy young Egyptians who are concerned with economic conditions and democracy. Politically, they can’t be placed because they aren’t politically inclined, i.e. they aren’t espousing any particular political ideology, they just want everyone to have the right to support their own politics without getting arrested and/or beaten up. More than anything they want decent jobs.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest opposition group in Egypt, and they are banned. They are definitely Islamists, Pan-Islamists actually, but they back non-violence. Many groups that are identified with the MB actually left because of the prohibition against violence. The MB are convinced that they are right, and will win in the end because they are right, so there is no need for violence. “There is no reason to steal what you will be given”. as someone once said to me.

Mohamed ElBaradei is new to the Egyptian political scene, but is well known to the world. He came out early in support of the protests, and while he lacks any deep political support among Egyptians, he would be very important to establishing the global credibility of any new government. He has Islamic credibility for telling the Hedgemony to stuff it on multiple occasions over Iran’s nuclear program. He would make a good “head of state”, as opposed to a prime minister in a parliamentary system.

We will have to wait to see what happens when Mubarak leaves, because it is certain that he is leaving now that the military has sided with the protestors.

January 31, 2011   4 Comments

Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Severe Tropical Cyclone YasiPosition: 14.1S 156.5E [ 9 PM CST 0300 UTC 1PM AEST].
Movement: West-Southwest [255°] near 25 mph [40 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 115 mph [185 kph].
Wind Gusts: 145 mph [230 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 185 miles [295 km].
Hurricane Wind Radius: 40 miles [ 65 km].
Minimum central pressure: 955 mb ↓.

Currently about 740 miles [1185 km] East-Northeast of Cairns, Australia in the Coral Sea.

A Cyclone Warning is in effect for coastal areas from Cooktown to Sarina.

A Cyclone Watch is in effect for coastal and island communities North and South of the Warning area from Lockhart River to Yeppoon and adjacent inland areas in Queensland.

This classified as a Category 3 Severe Tropical Cyclone, and if the forecasts are correct it will be a Category 4 or 5 by the time it makes landfall. The storm is spinning up over very warm water and is expanding, so it will affect a wide area, not just the center of the track.

The tracking is edging southward slightly from the last forecast and the eye is tightening.

Check the Australian BoM Cyclone page for the most current information.

January 31, 2011   6 Comments

Fill In The Blanks

Dr Cole has a good background piece, Egypt’s Class Conflict, up today, that everyone should read.

After you’ve read it, consider what has been going on in the US for the last three decades and then read it again.

Maybe Americans should be out in the street demanding the ouster of all government officials who have ever worked for the “too big to fail” banks, and the other criminals who have been given government jobs instead of indictments.

On an old-guy’s note, being “anti-terrorist” is the replacement excuse for being “anti-Communist”, that convinces the US to support dictators through out the world. Once again: “the enemy of your enemy” does not equal “your friend”.

January 30, 2011   4 Comments

Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Tropical Cyclone YasiPosition: 13.6S 164.4E [ 9 PM CST 0300 UTC 1PM AEST].
Movement: West [260°] near 18 mph [30 kph].
Maximum sustained winds: 75 mph [120 kph].
Wind Gusts: 90 mph [150 kph].
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 85 miles [140 km].
Hurricane Wind Radius: 35 miles [ 55 km].
Minimum central pressure: 975 mb ↓.

Currently about 1265 miles [2040 km] East of Cairne, Australia in the Coral Sea.

A Cyclone Watch is in effect for coastal and island communities from Cooktown to Yeppoon in Queensland.

The forecast is for Yasi to continue to intensify as it approaches the East coast of Australia. The Australians currently classify it as a Category 2 Cyclone.

Check the Australian BoM Cyclone page for the most current information.

January 30, 2011   Comments Off on Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Anthony On Shore

The ABC reports Cyclone crosses coast near Bowen

Tropical Cyclone Anthony has crossed the north Queensland coast near Bowen, bringing with it strong winds and flooding rain.

Areas between Ayr and Mackay have experienced wind gusts of up to 155 kilometres an hour [95 MPH].

Power has been cut to about 10,000 properties in areas including Bowen, Airlie Beach and Sarina.

Cyclone Anthony, which crossed the coast shortly before 10:00pm (AEST)[6AM CST 1200 UTC], has since been downgraded to a category one system [tropical storm] and is expected to weaken into a tropical low as it moves further inland.

Forecaster Ben Annells says heavy rainfall has been recorded.

“[The] highest falls being around the Clarke Range, 171 millimetres [6.73 inches],” he said.

Damaging wind gusts are continuing along coastal and island communities between Ayr and Proserpine.

I inserted the conversions in square brackets [].

It intensified and came ashore as the equivalent of a category 1 hurricane. Of course, rainfall in soggy Queensland is the real danger. The dams are at capacity, but river levels have fallen, so it is a matter of how much rain and where it falls that will determine the damage level.

There is the possibility of another cyclone hitting Queensland latter in the week, so it is going to be a long season.

January 30, 2011   5 Comments

Egypt Bans Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera English reports that Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera bureau

The Egyptian authorities are revoking the Al Jazeera Network’s licence to broadcast from the country, and will be shutting down its bureau office in Cairo, state television has said.

“The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered … suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,” a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government. The network received notification from the Egyptian authorities on Sunday morning.

“Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt,” the statement said.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless.

There is nothing dictatorships dislike more than the truth, so this wasn’t unexpected, especially following the Internet and cell phone shut downs. The excuse is always to prevent the “terrorists” from organizing, but the reason is to prevent people from finding out what is actually occurring.

I would note that all of the international media I read have mentioned this shut down, but the US corporate media do not seem to have noticed.

January 30, 2011   11 Comments

Egypt Update

The soprano isn’t even warming up in the wings. This will continue.

Mubarak has appointed Omar Suleiman as his Vice President, the first one he has had since coming to power. Generally people refer to him as Mubarak’s intelligence chief, but his brief seems to be broader than that, and National Security Advisor is probably a more accurate description for Americans, but in the sense of Kissinger, not Rice.

The new prime minister is Ahmad Shafiq, the former head of the Egyptian Air Force, adding a more military feel to the government.

The police have withdrawn from the streets. They weren’t able to deal with the protests, but it is also appears to be a psyops move, making people afraid for their safety, as there is no police presence anywhere in the major cities. There are reports that, in case the normal criminal element was laying low, plain clothes Interior Ministry officers have been out and about looting. There has also been a rash of jails that someone forgot to lock.

Egypt has a draft, and the military is tied closely to the population. There have to be serious doubts in the minds of the military leaders as to what would happen if they were ordered to fire on the protesters. Draftees are not an ideal force to use against the population. The Soviets and Chinese organize their military by regions, and don’t allow draftees to serve in their own region, or to interact a great deal with the civilian population where they do serve. I doubt that the Egyptians have a similar policy, so the lower ranks of the military units being deployed probably have friends and relatives in the crowd, and want to be able to go home at the end of their service.

I heard some Republican Congresscritter on the news at my Mother’s saying that the US wouldn’t accept an Egyptian government controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Yeah, right, like we wouldn’t accept Hamas winning the elections in Palestine. News flash: Egypt isn’t ours, so we don’t get a say. At this point, talk like that from US officials will probably help the Muslim Brotherhood in the polls. They were very late endorsing the protests, and they might succumb to a Mubarak offer to join a “national unity government”. Such actions would seriously erode their popular support, which was never great. I don’t doubt that a significant number of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood are employees of the Egyptian Interior Department.

January 29, 2011   Comments Off on Egypt Update

Double Trouble

From the ABC: West readies to take first hit as cyclones close in

Australia’s east and west coasts are preparing to be hit by two tropical cyclones in the next two days, as a third, larger system continues to lurk off the coast of Fiji.

Tropical Cyclone Bianca is forecast to hit south-west Western Australia on Sunday and Tropical Cyclone Anthony is expected to cross the coast north of Townsville, in Queensland, on Monday.

Bianca formed on the North coast of Australia and then headed West. It has now curved around and is expected to come ashore near Perth on the Southwest corner. It is of Tropical Storm strength, but the rains could be a problem.

Anthony headed East after forming in the Coral Sea off the Queensland coast and then degenerated to a low due to wind shear. It has now regenerated and is headed towards Queensland, which definitely does not need any more rain at the moment.

Update: Bianca has weakened and will come ashore as a weak tropical depression [Cyclone warning cancelled for WA]

Anthony is on track to come ashore as a strong tropical storm [Cyclone Anthony barrelling towards Queensland]

Be aware when reading the articles that a category 1 Cyclone is the equivalent of a Tropical Storm. The Australian and US systems of categories are different.

January 29, 2011   Comments Off on Double Trouble

What A Great Idea

Over at the Agonist Quiet Bill wonders After Egypt, Will U.S. Get ‘Internet Kill Switch’?. This was another brilliant idea by LIEberman, the genius behind the Department of Homeland Security.

I think this is greatest idea since the neo-cons under the Reagan regime decided to train and fund a bunch of religious whackoes to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Much better than the neo-con idea to fund Saddam Hussein and give him weapons of mass destruction to oppose Iran. With genius ideas like those, what could go wrong?

Of course, if you install the “switch”, you will need to test it. April 15th and June 30th would be good test dates, because people really seem to want to use the Internet backbone on those days.

Naturally, as ‘Noz points out, there are always naysayers, like the Technolog at MSNBC: Net-less Egypt may face economic doom Monday

Egypt’s government must return Internet access to the country by Monday or perhaps suffer massive economic damage, as banks and other economic institutions return to work without the ability to conduct commerce.

Hey, if I’m willing to sacrifice I Can Has Cheezburger? for a few days, Wall Street can absorb a little financial pain. Come on, you really didn’t want to use your credit or debit cards.

We have seen how effective Egypt’s “Internet Kill Switch” has been in controlling the protests.

[Yes, this is sarcasm about unintended consequences. Note there is a lot of traffic on the Internet backbone that is not part of the World Wide Web.]

January 29, 2011   4 Comments

Too Little, Too Late

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak finally made a statement, but it won’t work.

The BBC reports that Mubarak sacks cabinet and defends security role

President Hosni Mubarak has defended the role of Egypt’s security forces in suppressing anti-government protests which have rocked the country.

Mr Mubarak also dismissed his government and said a new cabinet would be announced on Saturday.

It was his first statement since the protests – in which at least 26 have died with hundreds injured – began.

Tens of thousands took part in protests in Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and other cities.

Protesters set fire to the headquarters of the governing NDP party and besieged state TV and the foreign ministry.

“I have asked the government to present its resignation today,” Mr Mubarak said, adding that he would appoint a new government on Saturday.

He also said he understood the protesters’ grievances but that a thin line divided liberty from chaos and he would not allow Egypt to be destabilised.

He won’t accept that he is what people want changed, not his cabinet. Here’s a news flash for you, Egypt has protests in full swing in all its cities which is not the sign of a “stable” country.

Al Jazeera English is still the go-to site for up-to-date reporting on the situation. The BBC is hampered by the Egyptian security forces arresting and/or beating up their reporters. I think that Al Jazeera figured out early on that the police would target them if they identified themselves as journalists.

The Egyptians are using proxies to get around the government’s attempt at blocking the Internet. Remember: the Internet’s original purpose was to stay connected during a nuclear war, so it routes around “problems”. On the ground people are using that ancient peer-to-peer network called conversation, to plan and organize when nothing else is available, now that they know each other.

January 28, 2011   Comments Off on Too Little, Too Late

WTF ‽

Semaphore WTF

“Win The Future” ‽

More of that brilliant staff work from the Obama White House.

Update: Sigh, Fallenmonk got this out last night. I’m 0 for 2 today.

January 28, 2011   Comments Off on WTF ‽

Egypt

Watch the revolution as it happens: Al Jazeera English: Live Stream.

Dr. Cole is uncharacteristicly brief while Sean Paul at the Agonist is live blogging.

From the BBC: Egypt severs internet connection amid growing unrest

According to internet monitoring firm Renesys, shortly before 2300 GMT on 27 January virtually all routes to Egyptian networks were simultaneously withdrawn from the internet’s global routing table.

That meant that virtually all of Egypt’s internet addresses were unreachable.

Egyptian authorities seem to have managed this by shutting down official Domain Name Servers (DNS) in Egypt. These act as address books and are consulted by web browsing software to find out the location of a site a user wants to visit.

Messages circulating in Egypt pointed people towards unofficial DNS servers so they can get back online.

Mobile services are also affected.

A statement issued by Vodafone Egypt said it had been instructed to suspend services in some areas.

“Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it,” it said.

[Read more →]

January 28, 2011   4 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Wishing & Hoping

Friday Cat Blogging

Siiiiggghhh…

[Editor: This little guy is watching a squirrel that is about 30 feet up in a water oak. There is zero probability of his catching that squirrel, but hope springs eternal.]

Friday Ark will be back next week

January 28, 2011   10 Comments