I'm Old Greg!
This clip is very funny but also pretty creepy. It's more the former and less the latter the second time you watch it. If nothing else, be sure to watch the last minute or so. I think you're a nice, modern gentleman. Enjoy.
Problems dogging a mission to the International Space Station have been eased following a space walk and a computer reboot.
. . . Russian cosmonauts have now successfully rebooted vital ISS computer systems that had crashed.
. . . Despite the delays, managers are confident they will be able to complete the ISS before the shuttles' 2010 retirement date.
Nasa plans to fly 15 more missions to the station to deliver large components, spare parts and other supplies. In addition, one final servicing call to the Hubble Space Telescope is planned for September 2008.
A mother of two in this suburb of Chicago does not have to turn on the news for an update on NASA's space mission. She just flips on her baby monitor.
. . . "It's not coming straight from the shuttle," NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said. "People here think this is very interesting and you don't hear of it often — if at all."
. . . Meilinger silenced disbelieving co-workers by bringing in a video of the monitor to show her class on Tuesday, her students' last day of school. At home, 3-month-old Jack and 2-year-old Rachel do not quite understand what their parents are watching. "I've been addicted to it and keep waiting to see what's next," Meilinger said.
Moscow has demanded the release of a Russian space agency official who was arrested in Salzburg, Austria, this week on suspicion of spying.
The Russian was suspected of receiving sensitive information from an Austrian military officer, who was also arrested, Austrian officials said. Russia said he had diplomatic immunity because he was attending a UN meeting in Vienna at the time of his arrest.
. . . The man was a member of the Russian delegation to the 50th session of the UN's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Russia's space agency said.
The US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has confirmed the US will go ahead with plans to install parts of a missile defence shield in eastern Europe. He said Washington viewed a Russian offer to use a base in Azerbaijan as an additional capability not a substitute. The US says the shield is necessary to protect against any missile attacks from "rogue states". Russia recently threatened to target missiles against Europe if the US went ahead with the shield.
. . . Nato has now ordered plans to be drawn up for a possible short-range missile defence system for Europe's southern flank. Russia has said the American plan is a threat to its own security and a challenge to its influence in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia might aim its own missiles at Europe, but then offered the use of a former Soviet base in Azerbaijan for the US system instead of Poland and the Czech Republic.
"The less we try to intervene and shape Palestinian politics, the better off we will be," said Robert Malley, an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the International Crisis Group. "Almost every decision the United States has made to interfere with Palestinian politics has boomeranged."
When Arafat died at the end of 2004, Abbas won the elections to replace him as president of the Palestinian Authority. Despite deep Israeli misgivings, the United States encouraged Abbas to hold Palestinian legislative elections -- and Abbas invited Hamas to participate, believing he could beat them at the polls. But Hamas won, giving Hamas control of the cabinet and of the powerful prime minister's post that had been created at the behest of the United States. Then, Washington organized a financial boycott of the government, in an effort to showcase Abbas as a moderate alternative in his role as president. But the financial squeeze engendered Palestinian ill will toward the West, not Hamas, and Abbas earlier this year agreed to a unity government with his opponents. The United States had just begun delivering nonlethal aid and training to security forces loyal to Abbas when Hamas decided to strike and seize Gaza.
An explosion leveled a Sunni mosque Saturday in Basra, residents said, in the second retaliatory attack in as many days for the toppling of minarets at a prized Shiite shrine in Samarra. Iraqi police did not immediately respond to the bombing of the al-Ashrah al-Mubashra mosque, witnesses said, raising fears that the city's Shiite-dominated security forces were unwilling to stop sectarian attacks on Sunni landmarks.
Private security companies, funded by billions of dollars in U.S. military and State Department contracts, are fighting insurgents on a widening scale in Iraq, enduring daily attacks, returning fire and taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives. While the military has built up troops in an ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad, the security companies, out of public view, have been engaged in a parallel surge, boosting manpower, adding expensive armor and stepping up evasive action as attacks increase, the officials and company representatives said. One in seven supply convoys protected by private forces has come under attack this year, according to previously unreleased statistics; one security company reported nearly 300 "hostile actions" in the first four months.
It was like there was a major war being fought out there, but we were the only ones who knew about it.
If Arafat had chosen differently, Palestine would now be a member of the United Nations, its capital in East Jerusalem. It's people would be able to travel freely between the West Bank and Gaza. It's airport and seaport would be operating. Palestinian refugees would be receiving compensation and help in resettling. Instead the Palestinians have their legalisms, their misery, and their terror.
The West: "We'll just starve Hamas; they are terrorists" -- The United States refused to recognize the election results and led in cutting off funds for Palestine. And Israel withheld the money owed to the Palestinian government. Eventually the European Union followed suit. Deutsche Welle carried the story earlier this year (4/11/07) on EU aid to Palestine, headlined "EU Says No to Aiding Palestinian Unity Government" To quote:
New Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad has failed to convince the European Union to agree to resume aid to the Palestinian Authority despite what he called a "very acute financial crisis".
Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, Fayyad, a respected independent and a former senior World Bank official, warned that the Palestinian coffers only had about a quarter of the funds required for 2007, a shortfall of around a billion euros ($1.3 billion)...
The EU was the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian government until the Hamas militants came to power in March 2006. The Quartet of Middle East mediators -- the European Union, United States, United Nations and Russia -- then suspended direct aid to the Palestinian authority.
Palestinian pie gets cut in even smaller pieces -- The results could have been predicted. As the situation for the people of the West Bank and Gaza became more and more desperate, the basic resources for day to day to life got more scarce. The two factions were competing for power over very limited necessities. They had never been able to functionally unite to govern. And now they, like Iraqis, are in what seems like a civil war. This is that story from yesterday: Yahoo! News/Reuters (6/14/07) with the headline, "Hamas overruns Fatah security command." To quote:
Hamas fighters overran one of the rival Fatah movement's most important security installations in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, and witnesses said the victors dragged vanquished gunmen from the building and killed them in the street...
The capture of the Preventive Security headquarters was a major step forward in Hamas' attempts to complete its takeover of all of Gaza. Hamas later called on Fatah fighters to surrender the National Security compound within the hour...
Israel was considering backing Fatah forces in the West Bank, but did not elaborate. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he discussed the possible deployment of a multinational force in Gaza with the Security Council on Wednesday.
And here we are today: So much for democracy overrunning the Middle East. The United States' misguided foreign policy under the current administration has been an unmitigated disaster. It had been marked by ineptitude, foot-dragging, neglect and interference, ignorance of history and lack of sophistication. Now most of the neocons have fled the scene. This morning's sorry headline in The New York Times reads, "Palestinian split deepens; government in chaos." To quote:
The Palestinian territories seemed headed Thursday to a turbulent political divide. Masked Hamas gunmen took control of the Gaza Strip and the Fatah president dissolved the 3-month-old unity government, declaring a state of emergency and plans for elections.
An aide to President Mahmoud Abbas announced the decrees, including the firing of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas, at a West Bank news conference after Hamas militias overran Fatah strongholds in Gaza, dragging men into the street and shooting them.
It will take years for the next U.S. president even to begin to clean up the debris. Voters might think about checking all the candidates' foreign policy credentials before casting their votes.
Update: The latest news on the situation from Reuters will not stay current very long, but here it is anyway.
Let me take this other glove off
As the vox humana swells,
And the beauteous fields of Eden
Bask beneath the Abbey bells.
Here, where England's statesmen lie,
Listen to a lady's cry.
Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans.
Spare their women for Thy Sake,
And if that is not too easy
We will pardon Thy Mistake.
But, gracious Lord, whate'er shall be,
Don't let anyone bomb me.
Keep our Empire undismembered
Guide our Forces by Thy Hand,
Gallant blacks from far Jamaica,
Honduras and Togoland;
Protect them Lord in all their fights,
And, even more, protect the whites.
Think of what our Nation stands for,
Books from Boots and country lanes,
Free speech, free passes, class distinction,
Democracy and proper drains.
Lord, put beneath Thy special care
One-eighty-nine Cadogan Square.
Although dear Lord I am a sinner,
I have done no major crime;
Now I'll come to Evening Service
Whensoever I have the time.
So, Lord, reserve for me a crown.
And do not let my shares go down.
I will labour for Thy Kingdom,
Help our lads to win the war,
Send white feathers to the cowards
Join the Women's Army Corps,
Then wash the Steps around Thy Throne
In the Eternal Safety Zone.
[J]ust one in five believe the country is on the right track, which is the lowest number on this question in nearly 15 years.
An internal FBI audit has found the agency violated rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data on domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, The Washington Post reported on Thursday...
The vast majority of newly discovered violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request and were not authorized to collect, the Post said...
FBI officials said the audit found no evidence that any agent knowingly or willingly violated the laws or that supervisors encouraged such violations, the Post reported. Rather it showed that many agents did not understand or follow the required legal procedures and paperwork requirements when collecting personal information, the Post reported.
In a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration’s central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism, a federal appeals court ordered the Pentagon to release a man being held as an enemy combatant.
Twenty-six Americans and six Italians are accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from Italy and sending him to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured.
The American CIA agents and military personnel will be tried in absentia. Italy has not announced if it will seek their extradition to the Milan trial.
US President George W Bush arrived in Italy hours after the trial began.
In a report issued Friday, the lead investigator for the Council of Europe gave a bleak description of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe with information he said was gleaned from anonymous intelligence agents, many of whom wanted to unburden themselves...
The report, which says the prisons were operated exclusively by Americans in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2006, relies heavily on testimony from CIA agents who justified grim treatment to investigators: "Here's my question? Was the guy a terrorist? 'Cause if he's a terrorist, then I figure he got what was coming to him"...
A trial that charges American and Italian secret agents with kidnapping a radical imam opened Friday in Milan, in the first prosecution of the contentious U.S. policy of abducting terror suspects for interrogation elsewhere, Ian Fisher of The New York Times reported from Rome.
With a 148-5 vote in favor and four abstentions, lawmakers present at the Wednesday session of the 290-seat parliament approved that "producers of pornographic works and main elements in their production are considered corrupter of the world and could be sentenced to punishment as corrupter of the world."
The term, "corrupter of the world" is taken from the Quran, the Muslims' holy book, and ranks among the highest on the scale of an individual's criminal offenses. Under Iran's Islamic Penal Code, it carries a death penalty.
The "main elements" referred to in the draft include producers, directors, cameramen and actors involved in making a pornographic video.
WASHINGTON -- As President Bush attempts to revive the controversial immigration reform bill he supports, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Republicans are abandoning the president, which has dropped his job-approval rating below 30 percent -- his lowest mark ever in the survey.
But he isn’t the only one whose support is on the decline in the poll. Congress’ approval rating has plummeted eight points, bringing it below even Bush’s. And just one in five believe the country is on the right track, which is the lowest number on this question in nearly 15 years.
In the poll, Bush’s approval rating is at just 29 percent. It’s a drop of six points since April, and it represents his lowest mark ever on this question in the NBC/Journal poll.
Democratic pollster Jay Campbell, who works with Hart, attributes this decline to Republicans. Back in April, 75 percent of Republicans approved of Bush’s job performance, compared with 21 percent who disapproved. Now, only 62 percent of Republican approve, versus 32 percent who disapprove.
The proposal came from the Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, which requested $7.5 million to develop a so-called "gay-bomb." Using the Freedom of Information Act, Edward Hammond, director of the U.S. office of the Sunshine Project, obtained a copy which was "part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons." If completed, the bomb would release a chemical aphrodisiac "and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical... soldiers would become gay." This would cause their units to break down as the troops "became irresistibly attractive to one another." In addition to a "gay bomb" the proposal also mentions using chemicals which could make bees angry so that enemy forces would be attacked not only by our troops but also swarms of stinging insects.
QUESTION: You think he should go to jail?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, let me tell you what I think about Scooter Libby. I think he's served the country really well. I think he did it to the best of his ability. I think that he is going through an extremely difficult time with his family and for him. And you know, I'm just desperately sorry that it's happening to him and I -- you know, the legal system has spoken, but I tell you, this is a really good guy who is a good public servant and ought to be treated in accordance with that.
The top American military commander for the Middle East has warned Iraq’s prime minister in a closed-door conversation that the Iraqi government needs to make tangible political progress by next month to counter the growing tide of opposition to the war in Congress.
In a Sunday afternoon discussion that mixed gentle coaxing with a sober appraisal of politics in Baghdad and Washington, the commander, Adm. William J. Fallon, told Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that the Iraqi government should aim to complete a law on the division of oil proceeds by next month. [...]
In the meeting, Admiral Fallon focused on Iraq’s oil law, assuming it was closest to completion. "Is it reasonable to expect it to be completed in July?" he asked. "We have to show some progress in July for the upcoming report."
"He will survive today's vote only because it is non-binding, because Republicans will close ranks to protect one of their own, even one whose conduct has been as reprehensible as Gonzales's, and because he still enjoys the support of the president -- likely because Bush loves to surround himself with sycophants, of which Gonzales is one of the more repugnant, and because he hates to give in to pressure from his critics, that is, because he is stubborn.
As Joe Sudbay of AMERICAblog points out, such coyness about party choice is “just not done in GOP world. Loyalty comes first.” Apparently, Powell didn’t get the memo. Or maybe he’s just seen what havoc can be wrought through loyalty.
Maybe this strategy will work like a charm. Maybe Sunni militias will be effective in battling al Qaeda and will never turn on those they consider “occupiers.” Maybe we’ll support those who were up until recently killing Americans, and they’ll consider us, for now, the enemy of their enemy. Maybe they’ll eventually lay down arms and agree to some kind of reconciliation in an Iraqi political context. We’ll see.
But in the meantime, I have a question: if Sunnis in Iraq are anxious to take up arms in order to drive al Qaeda from their country, what are we still doing there? If counter-terrorism is the goal, and we can withdraw and let Iraqis do it themselves, why don’t we?
"A partial commutation would send the message that we insist on being truthful, but in the name of a justice that still cares about individual circumstances, we will not insist on being vindictive"