Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Separation of Church and State

Interesting development today as reported by MSNBC, with FEMA said to be setting up guidelines for reimbursement of certain disaster relief expenses of "faith-based organi(z/s)ations" - OK, churches - responding to critical public requests for humanitarian services in their communities due to the hurricane(s).

As may be expected, divergent and critical viewpoints are aired in the story, and the whole thing should be read to catch their true flavor. The most illuminating bit, however, in my view is the final portion:
No income coming in
For some individual churches, however, reimbursement is very appealing. At Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Ocean Springs, Miss., as many as 200 evacuees and volunteer workers have been sleeping each night in the sanctuary and Sunday school classrooms. The church's entrance hall is a Red Cross reception area and medical clinic. As many as 400 people a day are eating in the fellowship hall.

Suzie Harvey, the parish administrator, said the church was asked by the Red Cross and local officials to serve as a shelter. The church's leadership agreed immediately, without anticipating that nearly a quarter of its 650 members would be rendered homeless and in no position to contribute funds. "This was just something we had to do," she said. "Later we realized we have no income coming in."

Harvey said the electric bill has skyrocketed, water is being used around the clock and there's been "20 years of wear on the carpet in one month." If FEMA makes money available, she said, the church definitely will apply.
Full disclosure: The writer serves both on the board and finance committees of a small (under 150 member) independent protestant church, and has some familiarity with church budgets, exclusive of the mega and mainstream varieties. This type of use is exactly why the church is there. The churches on this continent, and probably the world, could no more turn down a request from a public entity for this kind of emergency aid than they could promote a professional tractor-pulling contest - OK, they probably could do that in North Dakota or Saskatchewan - but you get the picture.

Almost no churches are so well-off they have enough funds available to live without regular giving (income) from their members for more than a short period, probably one to four months. Beyond that, to be prudent they would need to restructure their long-term debt, cash in CD's, adjust their payroll (cut people or hours back) and/or make other adjustments to their outgo. Just the fact they still have a facility to use for worship and service is truly a blessing.

That said, I would caution churches to be extremely careful if they decide to request any degree of reimbursement. Things like extra ministry or payroll support costs should be scrutinized, and only costs associated with specific line items or services requested in writing by the public entities, such as excessive janitorial, maintenance, utility and security expenditures - all clearly over and above like periods from previous years - should be submitted. The expense to replace fixtures or items accidently destroyed due to excessive or careless public use should be clearly prorated to reduce the amount sought by the extent of the known previous wear and tear.

Absolutely no storm damage or ministry opportunity costs or supplies should be included, no matter the amount. The occasion is simply a gift from God of an opportunity to serve others. What more could a church seek? Why else would we exist?

One other thing. Likely all requests will be classified as public records, meaning any unabridged financial records included could become fodder for every self-styled investigative anti-religious crackpot to travel down the pike for years to come. Figure out a way to comply with requests for cost or expense verifications that do not include submitting an intact annual financial statement. Or else refuse to submit the request.

Churches should gratefully use this opportunity to serve, care and demonstrate selfless love for their neighbors and community members without regard to financial gain. To do otherwise is to shame the name of the Lord we serve.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gaza Greenhouse Disorder

other suggested titles:
  • Hope Springs Eternal....................................no,
  • Stupid Is as Stupid Does...............................no,
  • A Fool And His Money....................................maybe!
I stumbled across this story sometime in the past few days, but for some reason cannot remember where. So I 'disgoogled' it again today in the Jewish Exponent. It's a sad, oft-repeated story, titled The Greenhouse Effect, about wealthy "liberals" thinking judicious applications of money, (thankfully this time their own $14M USD), could make a difference in evil peoples' lives.
If there is any one act that can serve as a symbol for the shattered hopes for a democratic Palestinian state, it is the sad fate of the greenhouses left behind by Israeli farmers forced to abandon their businesses in Gaza.

Rather than being dismantled like the settlements, the greenhouses were purchased for the Palestinians by American Jewish philanthropists. These wealthy individuals hoped this would allow a thriving agricultural business, which had been carved out of the sand by Israelis, might become an engine for Palestinian prosperity.

But it appears that the Arabs who might have benefited from these greenhouses had other ideas. Along with the remaining synagogue buildings, these structures were smashed by Palestinian mobs, who surged through the settlements after Israel pulled out. For them, destroying any vestige of the Jewish imprint on the land was more important than jobs and the economy.

This story could serve as a wake-up call for the well-intentioned souls who believe that economic development is the key to peace. They need to remember that, for Israel's foes, the hope of prosperity still ranks a distant second to hate.
See also this LA Times story, earlier. In the past, some liberal readers have objected to my earlier post vis-à-vis mental disorders. And I freely agree that many ultra conservatives seem to be linked closer to escapees from a funny farm than participants in a rational discussion. That said, why is it so many liberals cannot see the fallacy of Jewish Philanthropists (or anybody else) expecting any other result in Gaza from the giving of this expensive 'gift'?

Hate trumps reason every time. Remember this! Even when it apparently doesn't, it eventually does! Ultra unthinking, blind-faith liberalism is akin to a mental disorder! One may be as nice as pie and smart as a whip, but to deny the existence of evil and hate when the evidence is so overwhelming is just plain sick!

We criticize those in New Orleans reluctant to leave their homes even though told the rising waters, etc., would kill them. They 'wasted' too many public resources, we said, trying to convince them to leave. We asked the question: "How many others could have been rescued with those same resources?"

I ask the same question of blind-faith liberals. "How much more justice and freedom could have been wrought with your 'wasted' resources if you had used better sense? How many man-hours of 'property protection' time were wasted trying to protect these greenhouses? Could the money have been better spent?"

Please note, I'm not accusing them of hating Israel, hating the US, or hating Bush. I'll leave those judgmentss to others. I do accuse them of being terminally stupid. It will probably take some additional years to prove my point, but remember, you saw it here first.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

People With Too Much Time and Money on Their Hands

In what can only happen when the collective mind suffers too many attacks from the "slings and arrows" of modern big city living, New 'Yawkers' are currently being treated to the inspiring view of a barge disquised as an 'island' being drug around by a tug boat in the waters off NYC. Read it and wonder at the mind set that sees a significant societal 'benefit' from this experimental art form.

Now if they would only charge an admission fee for an hour's ride on the floating hay bales, the idea might turn out to be of some use. But the 'artsy' mind doesn't appreciate the commercial value of that type of thing. Too practical.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

FEMA, You read it here, first

Its time now for two specific predictions from the 49er.

Prognostication one. FEMA, as we now know and love it, will be replaced under a new law creating a “newer, better, more responsive agency” sometime within the next six months – or my name is Abner Doubleday.

And forecast two. Somewhere within the new law, as it is crafted by a crafty congress, will be provisions for el presidente to federalize an entire disaster area when certain conditions are met.
  1. The disaster area is widespread, and covers significant portions of more than one state, and
  2. The governor of at least one of the involved states requests such action, or
  3. The anticipated potential loss of human life or property exceeds - say 200 persons or one billion dollars.
You can bet on it, and you read it here, first.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Saints Go Marching On

Just finished reading a piece at the LA Times website. 1. This is unusual because their site is normally only open by subscription; and 2. By principle I refuse to register for any subscription news site, so do not waste much time reading news I consider universally biased and too far out on the left for my taste. (This system works surprisingly well). And 3. It was sports news. (That might be why it was free).

What I read was a fresh story about the New Orleans Saints, which by definition are a US based National Football League football team formerly based in New Orleans, Louisiana, which once upon a time existed somewhere between the Mississippi gulf coast and Galveston, Texas. Before some woman named Katrina blew into town and sort of wrecked things. But I digress.

Many of you reading this blog do not know much of anything about the National Football League OR the New Orleans Saints football team. The writer does not know very much about the NFL or the ‘Saints’, as they are lovingly referred to by some three hundred or so faithful fans. But I do know they need more fans. And since they are from (accent on the from) New Orleans, I’d like to suggest a fun experiment. One we can all play and enjoy. Even the kiddies. And the vicar. (Extra points when you involve the vicar).

The experiment is “Let’s everybody get together, regardless of which sports team we really, really like, and for one full football season make the New Orleans Saints “North America’s Team” (as contrasted to the Dallas Cowboys whom some marketing genius years ago labeled “America’s Team”, even though they weren’t and still aren’t.

Here is a link to the story that today inspired me so fatefully. And here is a link to some information about the team. Those of you who join in and faithfully swear or affirm we will on our honor support and respect the on the field efforts of the 2005 New Orleans Saints Football Team will be eligible to win huge prizes after a gigantic post-season raffle drawing (void where prohibited) in front of a community Red Cross office somewhere, or in the parking lot of a Salvation Army post, whichever at the time seems most convenient or appropriate.

Prizes will not be limited to just an all expense underwater tour for two of the former New Orleans superdome, but may actually be limited to simulated rides for four through the eye of an artificial hurricane in authentic replicas of U.S. Hurricane hunting aircraft. Thrilling, isn’t it?

So everybody clear your calendars for the next !@~ months, and come back here every week for an enlightening discussion of just what football is, at least in the NFL’s point of view, and we jointly learn how to be brainless sports fans just like those in Boston and Edmonton, (unless, of course, you live in Boston or Edmonton – and then we’ll be emulating people who live in Chicago or Green Bay – a state just south of Saskatchewan).

There is no charge to participate in this fun event, but think of the 'discussion points' you'll accumulate, allowing you to show off in front of the ladies as you 'hang' around the cracker barrel at a Tim Horton's, or sip your double latte at Starbucks. Simply Priceless!

Our next post will discuss what is usually called "the game coming up this week-end", with enough information that it might actually hit you somewhat like a too-fragrant shrimp louis from an overly hyped french quarter cafe. Stay tuned and tell your friends! They will be excited to be part of history in actually cheering for a down and out American team.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Louisiana Office of Homeland Security 'craps out'

According to this on Right Wing News the Lousianna state office of emergency services specifically barred the Red Cross before the flooding began from taking critically needed supplies to the Superdome and Convention Center in the Crescent City because they "wanted people to evacuate," not hunker down for the duration (my words).

Since this supposedly was broadcast live on Fox News there should be sufficient independent confirmation of the information.

Could it be as simple as a state bureaucrat making a critical and fatal mistake in judgement?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

49er's Updated Grades

NOTE: None of what follows will be supported by links or references. Mainly, because most of it has been freely available to everyone wishing to look. Later, if challenged, I reserve the right to look it up and add it – if it suits me, and I can find the time.

After bouncing around between the net and the tube, including some of the side stories that have yet to receive wide spread recognition, the 49er has come up with the following weighted governance grades IN HIS OPINION for the period beginning three days before Katrina blew through FL, until midnight NOLA local time yesterday, 9/5/2005:

NOLA governance C minus
Orleans parish governance D minus
LA governance F
FEMA relief efforts D minus
GWB relief efforts C minus
Neighboring states’ relief efforts A
Other national statesmen’s efforts D minus
MSM local coverage efforts B plus
MSM national coverage efforts C minus
Kicking people when they’re down efforts A
International responses A minus


Here is his reasoning, much of which is repetitive from other postings (He’s tried to depersonalize this as much as possible).

The city of NOLA receives good marks for forcefully telling everybody to leave town ahead of time, and later for warning those going to the superdome to take food, water and blankets because they would be there on their own for several days and it would be ‘rough’.
They receive bad marks for earlier in time allowing the installation of a police radio system that could fail so completely during the foreseeable disaster they’ve since suffered. Whoever spec’ed out and okayed that system should be investigated criminally for neglect of duty. An emergency response force is useless if they can’t communicate on multiple levels. Many reports suggest the only communications left to them were primitive line-of-sight single-frequency “tach” channels. Cops outgrew those in the 1940s.
They receive a failing mark for saving their buses but not their citizens. Reports say during planning meetings when they came to the question of how to help evacuate the poor, the answer was silence. Effective leadership would have years earlier directed a team of action people to resolve that dilemma. No evidence has yet surfaced that this was attempted. (And, yes, besides reading of the city buses that were driven to safety, 49er saw the photo of the school bus yard containing over 300 partially flooded school buses). [He hates it when arrogant “suits” make final decisions based on their limited knowledge and ability. It still happens to him, and he’s retired – for crying out loud].
The city receives good marks for ‘getting with it’ once the scope of the flood was finally understood. When your power is out and you are operating on batteries, and your emergency services people can’t talk and report back at will because their communications are down, leaders are blinded and naturally hesitant. They recovered from that problem fairly rapidly, apparently, so he gave them the benefit of the doubt.
NOLA also receives good marks for making a controversial decision to oppose anarchy by forsaking some safety and recovery efforts, and directing increased enforcement resources back against looting, crime, etc. The humanitarian drama steals our emotions, but anarchy is extremely insidious and once it had been allowed to gain a foothold the human cost could easily have been worse and longer lasting than from the flood.
And they receive good marks for yesterday realizing their emergency responders were wearing out and badly needed personal and recreational time away from the disaster zone. Sending them to Atlanta and Lost Wages was a good idea. Their local knowledge will be vitally needed as the body recovery program begins in earnest, and when they return they should have clearer eyes and strengthened hearts.

Orleans Parish seems to be almost completely composed of the downtown portion of the Crescent City. 49er has found little to clarify its relationship with NOLA city governance. It may be that some city officials wear two hats, similar to the city and county of San Francisco, but he cannot confirm that at this hour. Never the less, the parish portion of the job seems extremely poorly done. For a parish that lived for decades under the threat of total disaster if a hurricane of a certain size descended upon its neighborhood, disaster planning was terribly lackluster and incomplete. Their web-page was/is a laugh. The term “second rate” gives it too much praise. As the interim level between city and state, it should have been jumping the gun to get things going days before Katrina hit, and then once again when the levies were breached. To this day he can find no record of them responding. Curiously, 49er can find response activity records for neighboring St. Bernard, Jefferson, and Plaquemines parishes, just not Orleans.

State governance did a good job of facilitating the original motorized evacuation a couple of days before Katrina’s second landfall. That went by plan and was pretty smooth. Personal friends that were in it said it was slow at first, but they reached Houston safely in well less than a day, and were pleased with the support they received.
LA state authorities were given access to resources and “federal disaster area” legal status a full day ahead of time by the feds, but seemed to “sit on it”, rather than take pre-cautionary actions. Why this failure to act occurred will be interesting to determine. It is probably the worst and most critical failure noted. A state can always step in and override a parish or city, but the feds cannot override a state without approval from congress.
The worst failure of the state, in 49er’s HO [Ok, tm is right. He’s not that humble], is for years accepting the limited safety of a defective levy system that was too low and too old. (A new type of system – originating in LA –for reinforcing their bases with permeable clay and building up levies was only partially used in and around the mighty Mississip, before it was imported to other river cities such as Sacramento and St Louis, etc.) If a levy is too low, it is TOO LOW. If it is too old, it is TOO OLD. The state of Louisiana failed miserably to make that dangerous situation a matter of the national conscience. That was their collective duty. They blew it.

FEMA is too full of bureaucrats (sorry, Q). There is a place for them, but that number should make up less than 1/5th of the staff. Instead, they seem to run it. And the way they run it is about three decades behind the times. Two examples. First, officials in St. Bernard Parish, east by southeast and seaward from New Orleans, as of midnight last night had still to hear a from anybody at FEMA even though they had been leaving phone messages at FEMA headquarters for five days.
Second, for any flood victim to apply for aid – as of 5 PM yesterday – required them to phone or email for a packet, WHICH WOULD BE MAILED to the claimant’s address for them to complete and mail back. So now to qualify for disaster aid, a citizen must not be in so much of a disaster as to lose either phone or email service, and/or a bona fide mailing address. Ridiculous. FEMA needs a good flushing of its top-level administrators. They don’t need to just administrate “smarter” (the old saw), but they need to administrate “realer”, to coin a phrase.

Interesting comment last night on Fox from Newt Gingrich, when asked why the delay in response from GWB. His reply, “He was getting too much conflicting information”. Since 49er and others believe that has been true for two or three years, it is easy for them to accept. If he learns otherwise, he reserves the right to alter his grade.

Texas, Mississippi, Alabama all came through this with their states performing like champs --even though vast areas of the last two had been wiped out. Was the flooding the only difference? Maybe, maybe not.

Life on the Bayou and Gulf Coast always brings out vile and pesky critters that can prove to be very bothersome. They are considered nuisances. Some of the nuisances do not have wings or feelers, but instead ride around in limos and hang out in the halls of congress. Those critters are now coming out in force hoping to put a political spin on anything done in the name of humanity. If we only hadn’t rid ourselves of the protection afforded by DDT, maybe they wouldn’t be so pesky.

These last grades are based on much shorter observation time periods, and are therefore subject to adjustment, later, as warranted.

Great job (in 49er’s opinion) by national, regional and local media in bringing accurate and timely local stories to light. Kudos to several for informing the world – and the authorities – of problems not previously known to exist.

On-the-other hand their big media brothers back on the least coast have wasted little time in ‘spinning’ negative comments and critical specials. Exceptions noted were MSNBC and FOX, but 49er is probably biased. (He feels we don’t need to be told what to think. Given facts we are capable of reaching our own conclusions, apparently unlike the vast hordes national MSM talking heads are trained to inculcate).

The Al Sharpton wannabe brigade has been hard at work, winning stellar marks for turning tragedy into race-baiting opportunity. When will a national black leader with the courage to tell it like it is – both ways – emerge?

Lastly, the response from almost every quarter of the world has been enlightening and edifying. Most peoples – if not their governments – truly wish to be kind to the down-and-out, and their communications and offers of help have been extremely heartwarming.
Good show!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Grading the Gap

Caught up as I was in the late night response effort on other blogs commenting on the governance failures surrounding Katrina, at one time recently I graded the response efforts as follows:
NOLA city goverance - D minus
LA state goverance - D
US Admin governance - C minus

which was based on this initial rationale:
US law places upon local and state administrations, and not the feds, the responsibility for performing every manner of disaster planning and response. The fed support was in place and available. But the local effort was ill-planned.


What gives me the right to grade these efforts, you ask? I'm a US citizen and I have EVERY right to grade them, that's why - I respond.

But further than that, in previous lives I've had many years of fleet and system planning experience, spent several years on the board of an outstanding ambulance (and first responder) service, spent years as a CA trained county peace officer and supervisor, and volunteer each year to oversee the public and volunteer transportation segments of at least two internationally known public events - duties which require months of preparation each year, even though they are basically repeats of a previous year's successful efforts.

In the next few days I plan on revisiting and revising this subject based on information obtained in the interim.

Cheers

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A brief hiatus - - - -

---seemed in order. Mrs. Dweet's medical condition ended up occupying most of his time the past three weeks, and the result has been practically zilch in the "land of blog". Thanks to those who've been so kind over this period. Dweet has appreciated it more than mere words convey.

Since two of the Monterey Bay volunteer events Dweet pretends to be involved with run later this month, he will be away even longer. But by Labor Day things should be back closer to 'normal'. Yeah, like that's gonna happen!

Cheers

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Breaking News: The Chemist is cleared - Bush implicated

Al Jazeera reports today that Egyptian agents - after an extremely thorough and comprehensive examination - have been able to determine the chemist orginally suspected of involvement in the London bombings is actually completely innocent.
"Egypt has said that a detained chemist wanted by Britain for questioning over the London bombings has no links to the attacks or to al-Qaida. Government spokesman Magdy Rady was quoted by Egypt's Middle East News agency as saying that a cabinet meeting on Tuesday reviewed an Interior Ministry report that "made clear that there is no link between Egyptian chemist Magdy El-Nashar with al-Qaida or the bombings".
Asked to explain the discrepancy created because exact traces of the explosives used in London were found in the drain assembly of Mr. El-Nashar's bathtub in Leeds, a spokesman for the Egyptian Securities Ministry stated, "We have no need to discuss that. Isn't Leeds north of London? Wasn't George Bush in Scotland when the bombings occurred? And isn't Scotland also north of London. Could not George Bush have had time to "plant" the explosive traces in Mr. El-Nashar's bathtub drain around the time of the bombing? What is there to prove or disprove? George Bush the Liar is the mastermind behind the bombings, and we will have three million witnesses saying that they saw him do it by this time tomorrow."

London authorities in Scotland Yard are now exploring various options as to just how they will be able to criminally charge George Bush for masterminding the bombings.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tube Terror III

SBC Yahoo News today provided this AP report that tends to confirm my earlier posts speculating on a smallish striker team, with possibly as few as four terrorists directly involved Looks like I was wrong about their home base, too. Leeds over London. But they were all seen together at King's Cross station just 20 minutes before the three blasts.

OK, I was also wrong about discovering who they are/were by one day. This is Tuesday - 5 days - not the four I predicted. And they really aren't 'pinched' yet, but if three of their four bodies are room temperature because of the blasts, we only need to be concerned with the last. Read this entire link from the BBC. Still and all good work by the lads and lassies of the Yard. Particularly since they had to go through at least 2500 video tapes.

And it's looking even more as if the bus blast occurred because #4 had been thwarted in boarding his assigned train only because his colleagues had succeeded in shutting down the entire tube operation before his train could arrive in station, but that - too - needs to be worked out.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Tube Terror II

I extend my sympathy to Londoners over the increasing body count, up to 49 now, and to the considerable numbers of families still not knowing the whereabouts of loved ones/victims, ala 9/11. They have our prayers and best wishes. Note: in some posts the names and photos of those listed as missing seem to include many that could be Muslim.

OK, the timing of the tube blasts has been changed, and they are now considered to have gone off virtually simultaneously in three diverse underground locations, so either they were manually detonated or set-off by clock mechanisms. May be wrong, but due to the depths I'm ruling out remote-control bursts. This indicates pretty sophisticated coordination. Don't have enough data on the Piccadilly blast to know the actual BP, but if it was exterior of the coaches it could have involved a (former) employee (track worker - lots of them hired from poor neighborhoods). If not, we need to allow for one more wacko on the team.

The other two blasts could have been timed blasts set by one guy, or two. (Guy gets on carrying some bundles at one station before the car fills up, and sits down. One bundle is pushed somewhere under/alongside where it can't be easily seen. Guy gets off, and waits on platform for following train, gets on that one and stands/sits with remaining bundle for next blast. Or other variations.

More and more it looks like home-grown wackos. If that's the case, their photos are on thousands of CCTV tapes and it is only a matter of time. That is if they still exist, and have not assumed room temperature.

Re: the bus blast, that looks like it was a mistake, or possibly there are others that should have gone off, and didn't! Time will tell on this one, too. Have read comments from the driver of the bus, (a Pakastani?) who doesn't know why he wasn't killed. Think I nailed this in my earlier blog. The stairwell assembly - which is reinforced for the steps - shielded his back-side.

Still going with a smallish striker team and early apprehension. Clock is running and only time will tell. Could be wrong on both these speculations.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tube Terror in London

Just finished going over this BBC story on the blasts. Something seems to me to be significant about the locations of the London tube bombings. What it is I haven’t quite figured out, yet – as if I ever will. But humor me a little. This is based on my limited knowledge of London trains and buses and my previous life's experiences - which are too tame to recall here.

The first blast was on the westbound Circle line, just after the Circle joins the right-of-way of the Hammersmith and City line and turns west toward the west end. The two rights-of-way then run east to west parallel with each other for a few miles, and though I’m not sure of their relative elevations underground, would presume they are close (within 50’) of each other in height, and abut or overlay one another most of that way.
If the bomb had gone off 20 seconds or so earlier it would probably have cleared the other right-of-way, most likely doing a lot less collateral damage – if indeed any at all. So that blast was cutting it pretty close; just a few yards difference in time by being earlier would have significantly increased the tracks’ separation – doing less damage. Was this planning? Or coincidence?

The second blast was five minutes later on an outbound Piccadilly train that had just left Russell Square and was almost half-way to its next stop, King’s Cross. This was the deadliest of the explosions, presumably doing the most damage.
The Piccadilly line does not run next to any other in this area, BUT the next station, King’s Cross, (probably less than 45 seconds away) is a major linkage point for the Hammersmith and City, Circle and Northern lines. They are all at different elevations than Piccadilly, and the Northern is not on the same level as the other two, but they could – or might not – be side by side or one atop the other in the King’s Cross station – I just didn’t look that up yet because that wasn’t as important, I believe. But how significant is the proximity to the Hammersmith and City or Circle lines? Could this location have been picked because it was not the Circle line?

The third blast was twenty one minutes later and again on the Circle line, just as it was leaving the Edgeware Road station. This blast was so powerful it blew a hole through a wall separating the Circle train from another – most likely a Hammersmith and City. Why was there so much time between blasts two and three? Why not detonate earlier? Was this one timed and unattended?

This ends the blasts on the trains.

The fourth blast took place exactly 30 minutes later aboard a double-decker bus on a surface street that runs north of Russell Square station and was coincidently (?) almost midway between Russell Square and the main road to King’s Cross. Fairly close geographically (but on the surface) to blast two (which was deep underground). There has been some initial speculation this could be the work of a suicide bomber, but time will tell on that issue.
From available photos it looks to me as the bomb site on the bus was near the rear portion of the upper level seating area, which would not be extremely close to the driver. It was one of the new type one-person crew buses (the old “Roadmasters” require a two person crew. a driver forward and a conductor at the rear). On the new buses the stairwell is directly behind and partially above the driver, and would afford a slight amount of blast protection from above and to the rear.
Since reports state the roof of the bus came loose and flew up in the air, it seems most likely to me the bomb was topside. One note: The modern buses all have good multi-camera closed circuit TV monitors feeding into the driver’s compartment, but obviously a back-pack or small bundle could have been stuck down between or under a seat in a location not completely covered by the CCTV view.

Another note: Many London bus riders carry aboard all kinds of packages, including shopping bags, back-packs, luggage, diaper bags, etc., etc. In fact the modern coaches all have built-in luggage storage racks across the aisle from the driver’s window on the lower level (above the left front wheel well). If the blast site were found to be lower level, this would have been my choice of locations, but from photos it looks more like the rear. A blast on the lower level here should not have lifted off the entire roof section, two panels above.

ANALYSIS: The bus bomb was most likely either a ‘left-behind’ or suicide. My vote is ‘left-behind’. If so, it was more of a nuisance or random bomb timed to go off and spread the terror, than an attempt to take out a bunch of riders. Early reports say the body count at the fourth site is two. But time will tell.

This leads back to the other three bombs. It seems to me all three blast sites were on or adjacent to the Hammersmith and City line and/or the adjacent Circle line. Since the bombers at this stage are thought by some to have completely slipped under the radar of the rather excellent UK counter-terrorism force, I would bet they were personally in-country for a very short period of time. Just long enough to learn the lay of the land, strike and hunker down.
Or they were home-grown and a small enough group to keep their assignment bottled up for a brief period.

If it were my call, I’d sure be spending quite a few assets looking for newcomers and discontents in the numerous Muslim enclaves scattered all over London’s west end and north-side and likely convienent to or adjacent to the Hammersmith and City or Circle lines. A review of the ubiquitous traffic, commerce and transport depot CCTV tapes for the past 30 days from these areas would likely be extremely productive.

Further speculation alert. Irrespective of support staff, this could have been a striker team of no more than three madmen - maybe even two.

These people aren’t rocket scientists, even if they’re deadly. I’m betting they will be pinched in less than four days.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Bringing up the rear of the 4th of July Parade

Had forgotten just a little how smallish cities and towns and hamlets celebrate our glorious 'Fourth'. There must be a parade, and everything that isn't permanently painted must be Red, White and Blue.

Had a glorious time this morning in our state's first capitol's version of an annual display of hometown patriotism and pure corn. It was great. Truly rejuvenated the soul. And being unit #97 in a #99 unit parade (where the city streetsweeper is always relegated to be tail-end charley-for extremely good cause-means the wait was just that much more enjoyable. Drove a cart while about 20 kids marched. They had just as much fun as did I, it seemed, and were probably fresher when it was over.

Must make it a note to do this again. God bless America. Maybe the 'blues' aren't as bad as they seem. On days like this I can like them more. But they'll likely assume I'm "phobic" about something or other again in a day or two, and for that bit of logical laziness I'll revert back to calling them mentally disordered.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Statesman or Politician?

Only one glance is needed to take the full measure of Paul Martin, pm of the near north, if one reads all six points here from Canadi-anna. The shame of our northern cousins is that their msm and libbies know no shame. Stay in power by any trick possible! Canadian governments of the 21st Century shame her noble past. What has happened to her national psyche? One wonders when the formerly-courageous-but-now-sleeping canucks will finally awake?

Quite possibly not until after the Tories learn to keep their mouths shut around traitorous newshounds. Foot-in-mouth disease apparently comes to other species than four-legged.

The ap is at it again

This story was gleaned from the ap and 'rooters' on the battle in a mountainous corner of Kunar province in Afghanistan, and illustrates 'newsthink' in the so-called mainstream media.

(For a much better diagnosis and discussion read Wretchard here under Missing Recon Team).

A missing team of 4 special forces men and the loss of a helicopter with 16 aboard attempting the team's extraction is seen by the newsies as a "stinging loss" to American interests, apparently, and the sense of the story could lead a perceptive reader to expect the Taliban to shortly overthrow the US, Afghan and Pakistani authorities and once more rule their former domain. But don't count on it.

As you read the story pay close attention to the final paragraph. Notice the word "unprecedented"? Is this an appropriate or verifiable use of the word in this story? I don't think so. Now look at the final sentences. Seems to me a body count reflecting a 10 to 1 disparity in losses is much more significant than the deaths reported here. Not less tragic, just more significant.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Working through the fog

Have been absent too long from this site due to recent scary health issues concerning my beloved. Out of a clear, blue sky - typical almost year round in the afternoons in the Monterey Bay area - came major bad stuff - known as PAP, a rare pulmonary disorder. But God has been good and we are out of the first set of woods and now waiting on pending visits to the west coast version of the fount of all medical knowledge for further instructions and care. So far the gap seems to be almost manageable.

Will update this situation here as events unfold. Will also try to get caught up on pending 'stuff' at my earliest. Have passed off major duties for two upcoming volunteer activities to gifted, hard-working and intelligent people, and should be able to just step in at the last minute as the events occur and take all the credit for their successes without having had to break a sweat. Well, it COULD happen that way!

Great post today from New Sisyphus. Classic refutation of the gap between reality and the illogical Liberal position vis-a-vis Iraq and Bush. A must read if you want to clearly understand why we should NEVER announce a timetable for the conclusion of events in Iraq. Any thinking person knows this, but - after all - Liberalism is a mental disorder. Why else are so many demanding a "timetable?"

Our northern C(A)ousins are preparing for their own version of "Alice in Wonderland" as their parliament takes one step closer to a permanent gap by adopting SSM as the law of their land. See this. Query: Is it really true Canadian churches will be required under law to perform marriages on individuals with whom they are out of fellowship? Even those who are in revolt to a body's statement of faith? Will try to get that answered, but talk about a scary issue? We may be seeing droves of Pastors and Elders and Trustees and Deacons and Bishops and Priests going to prison in the near North. Talk about civil disobedience. And of course we'll see a large number of "social Christian" church leaders [why do they insist on shaming His name?] announcing their compliance with this latest feel-good government religious dogma, too.

CAUTION: Some comments on the linked sites may not be suitable for reading, or may have been posted on the sites after my linkage and are therefore beyond this author's knowledge or control.

Also recommended: Daily, before anything else, read Backup Belmont Club for astute and reasoned "history and history in the making". Brilliant work by Wretchard the Cat who seems to be able to chew gum, think and write intelligently at the same time, without attempting to constantly prove his own ego. His ability to identify and neutralize gaps is simply amazing.

If you are still reading a daily newspaper for the news, (other than sports or comics) or watching the evening newscast on one of the locals, and think you are "in the know" about what is going on in the world, go back to sleep. It is probably too late for you. Nothing broadcast or printed by the MSM in the past dozen years has been straight news. News is now "opinionized" for your edification and amazement by people who know much better than do you just how things should be 'going down'. So go to sleep. And meanwhile, watch the gap expand between what is said, and reality.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Multitasking

Been 'minding' quite a few gaps the past few days, what with family stufff, volunteer stuff, church stuff, and all, but should be able to respond to my recent "tag" by a northern cousin sometime over the week-end.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Why "Minding the Gap"?


This ubiquitous sign appears on platforms everywhere at "tube" stations such as this on the London Underground. Even more alarming, the warning notice is audibly repeated by means of automated or real-time public address announcements on loudspeakers at virtually all of the railway stations in the United Kingdom.

Gaps between trains and platforms can indeed be dangerous. But even greater than the hazard of uneven spaces afoot between railcars and station platforms are the differences separating our dreams from reality. The disparity between what we intend to do, versus what is eventually done. There-in lies an interesting and challenging "gap"; a space whose exploratory analysis could prove immensely profitable to a careful sifter of fact.

This web log is loosely dedicated to considering the human drama created when we attempt to bridge the vast gap between our collective triumphs and universal failures, all the while urgently living out our lives in this common endeavor. Minding gaps may sometimes prove to be a pundit's delight.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Hero or Heel?

Mark Felt has now slipped out of his closet as the long sought-after “deep throat”, of Watergate fame. But according to MSNBC for a long time he wondered if he had done the right thing:
  • “A statement from the family, read by Felt's grandson, Nick Jones, described how conflicted he was over whether his role was noble or dishonorable. ‘Mark had expressed reservations in the past about revealing his identity and about whether his actions were appropriate for an FBI man,’ Jones said. ‘But as he recently told my mother, 'I guess people used to think Deep Throat was a criminal. But now they think he's a hero’.' "
Well, not exactly. Scott at Power Line has a well-referenced post that points out the likelihood Felt’s ulterior motives were not benign, but instead were bureaucratically political in nature. Since he had been passed over for the directorship (at the time of Hoover’s death), Felt was not adverse to creating mischief for the president’s appointee-du-jour, L. Patrick Gray.

(Read the whole thing to discover how the MSM still doesn’t get it).

Felt is now 92, so he may be forgiven further flogging. But there is no denying what he did so many years ago tarnished his cherished institution so badly it will probably never recover its glory days.

When a law-enforcement organization – at any level – plays politics, then truth, justice and the American way simply can’t survive. That principle has been proven in this country for almost two centuries, in big cities, small towns, rural counties – everywhere. So when Felt casually threw away the FBI’s reputation over petty politics, instead of justice, he gave away the store and started his own agency on a gradual downward slide that might never end.

NOTE: Nothing in this implies that every agent is tainted. Absolutely not. What it DOES say is that the culture is now in place so that the mere suspicion of political machinations makes it easy for public talk to rear up and haunt the agency’s proponents whenever it is involved in politically sensitive investigations. So now, how do they un-peal the bell?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

On the difference between a liberal and conservative

Quite simply, if while engaged in your life's work you can cause a grevious error without being required to pay a cost, 9 out of 10 times you are a "liberal".

If instead your error causes you embarrassment, loss of prestige or financial drain, then you are almost guaranteed to be "conservative".

This defining trait seems to ring true no matter where on the globe you reside, and towards which political persuation you think you lean.

For their entire life liberals seem to function on OPM, while conservatives habitually keep an eye out for the "bottom line". Apparently. it is just that simple.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The latest definition of a Senate Republican't

With a hat tip to Steve, of The Black Republican, for the best and most complete current description of the new Senate Republican'ts, try this link.

Beware, it's not very flattering.