|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Saturday, November 12, 2005
Pssst ... Nobody Loves a Torturer:
"Ask any soldier in Iraq when the general population really turned against the United States and he will say, "Abu Ghraib." A few months before the scandal broke, Coalition Provisional Authority polls showed Iraqi support for the occupation at 63 percent. A month after Abu Ghraib, the number was 9 percent. Polls showed that 71 percent of Iraqis were surprised by the revelations. Most telling, 61 percent of Iraqis polled believed that no one would be punished for the torture at Abu Ghraib. Of the 29 percent who said they believed someone would be punished, 52 percent said that such punishment would extend only to "the little people." ..
today, what angers friends of America abroad is not that abuses like those at Abu Ghraib happened. Some lapses are probably an inevitable consequence of war, terrorism and insurgencies. What angers them is that no one beyond a few "little people" have been punished, the system has not been overhauled, and even now, after all that has happened, the White House is spending time, effort and precious political capital in a strange, stubborn and surely futile quest to preserve the option to torture." 11:40:39 PM
A Threat Worse Than Terror: "A flu pandemic is the most dangerous threat the United States faces today," says Richard Falkenrath, who until recently served in the Bush administration as deputy Homeland Security adviser. .. One makes a threat assessment on the basis of two factors: the probability of the event, and the loss of life if it happened. On both counts, a pandemic ranks higher than a major terror attack, even one involving weapons of mass destruction. ..
The total funding request for influenza-related research this year is about $119 million. To put this in perspective, we are spending well over $10 billion to research and develop ballistic-missile defenses, which protect us against an unlikely threat (even if they worked). We are spending $4.5 billion a year on R&D—drawings!—for the Pentagon's new joint strike fighter. Do we have our priorities right? ..
The World Health Organization should become the global body that analyzes samples, monitors viruses, evaluates cures and keeps track of the best practices. Yet the WHO leads a hand-to-mouth existence, relying on the whims and grants of governments. A year ago its flu branch had five people. Now it has 12. It needs a much, much larger staff and its own set of laboratories around the world that would allow it to fulfill this clearinghouse function" 11:37:45 PM
Palo Alto group cuts greenhouse gases:
"An odd-bedfellows coalition of Silicon Valley government agencies, businesses and organizations -- from major corporations to the local Sierra Club chapter -- has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 744 million pounds in the past year, according to a new report to be released Wednesday. The energy saved in the process is enough to heat 233,500 homes, according to an early summary of the "Sustainable Silicon Valley," a 19-partner effort with offices in San Jose at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group headquarters. The effort -- launched in partial response to a perceived vacuum of leadership at the state and federal level in "greenhouse gas" emissions -- is the first-ever combined local effort to respond directly to global-warming concerns. The CO2 reduction initiative aims to cut emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels within the next five years.
In addition to the City of Palo Alto, organizations based in or near Palo Alto include the environmental group Acterra, ALZA Corporation, Roche Palo Alto, Hewlett-Packard Company, Agilent Technologies and the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club. NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View also is part of the coalition, along with several regional and countywide agencies and PG&E, Lockheed Martin and Oracle" 10:20:15 AM