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Texas Agriculture Law Blog Don't let the name fool you - there are lots of water issues in agriculture and Tiffany Dowell of Texas A&M University does a fabulous job with this important Internet resource. Give it a read - I do every day!
The Way of Water Oregon State University Geography PhD Student, Jennifer Veilleux, records her fieldwork, research, and thoughts about transboundary water resources development in the Nile River and Mekong River basins. Particular attention is given to Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Laos' Xayaburi Dam projects.
Thirsty in Suburbia Gayle Leonard documents things from the world of water that make us smile: particularly funny, amusing and weird items on bottled water, water towers, water marketing, recycling, the art-water nexus and working.
This Day in Water History Michael J. 'Mike' McGuire, engineer extraordinaire, NAE member, and author of 'The Chlorine Revolution', blogs about historical happenings in the fields of drinking water and wastewater keyed to calendar dates.
WaSH Resources New publications, web sites and multi-media on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).
Water 50/50 From Jay Famiglietti at UC-Irvine. Fifty lectures in fifty weeks: The 2012 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lectureship. A global lecture tour delivering the message about our changing water cycle, groundwater depletion, and the future of freshwater availability.
Watershed Moments: Thoughts from the Hydrosphere From Sarah Boon - rediscovering her writing and editing roots after 13 years, primarily as an environmental scientist. Her writing centres around creative non-fiction, specifically memoir and nature writing. The landscapes of western Canada are her main inspiration.
WaterWired All things fresh water: news, comment, and analysis from hydrogeologist Michael E. Campana, Professor at Oregon State University.
Western Water Blog The 'mystery blog' about Western USA water issues. What more can I say?
xAnalytical Doug Walker's xAnalytical blog:Turning Data and Information into Knowledge
"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." –Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked about weapons of mass destruction in an ABC News interview, 30 March 2003
President George W. Bush, distraught over Russia's attack on Georgia, implored Russian Prime Minister/Super President Vladimir Putin not to bomb Atlanta.
Both were attending the Beijing Olympics, and are shown in the ceremonial garb the Chinese force everyone to wear.
"For Christ's sake," Bush said, "If you're going to bomb a Georgia city, bomb some worthless place like Macon or Columbus. No - forget that last one, that's the capital of Ohio. Maybe Brunswick or Valdosta."
"Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and its economic hub. Its destruction would wreak havoc on the Southeast USA." Bush noted that the Atlanta area is also home to such national icons as America's Team, the Atlanta Braves; Peachtree Street; UN benefactor Ted Turner; Coca-Cola; the famed Varsity Restaurant and Drive-In (world's largest); the Big Chicken; Margaret Mitchell's home; and the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson International.
Bush noted that delays at HJI often snarl air traffic throughout the Southeast, and that is unacceptable. "That's why I don't fly to Georgia very much," he added, "My God, it makes O'Hare look like a church parking lot on a Monday morning. If you bomb it, that'll make the problem more worser than it is."
Bush said he realized that Russia was upset over Georgia's attack on South Carolina. But he also noted that South Carolina had been "asking for it", as they are a bunch of "atavistic terrorists" who have "made life miserable" for Georgia's President, Sonny Perdue, by frequently lobbing rotten, worm-infested peaches into Georgia. "Georgia is surrounded by unfriendly places, and you can't blame President Perdue for taking action," Bush said. "Don't misunderestimate Mr. Perdue, he's good at stratergerizing," he concluded.
He also expressed dismay that the fighing had spilled over into Georgia's western province, Alabama, with ethnic Georgians being driven out and flooding the Atlanta area.
"I looked into his eyes and saw his soul, and it sure looked like Gen. Sherman's." -- President George W. Bush, speaking of Vladimir Putin
Wish former Secretary of Defense Ronnie Dumsfeld a happy birthday today - he is 76.
Some of my favorite quotes of his [from About.com]:
"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."
"We know where they [Iraq's WMDs] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
"It is unknowable how long that conflict [war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." [said in February 2003]
"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."
"[Osama Bin Laden] is either alive and well or alive and not too well or not alive."
Those last two confused even the Dickster!
"As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."
"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." [on looting in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, adding "stuff happens"]
For good measure I'll include a quote from Ronnie's former #1 deputy:
"The truth is for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason." -- Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz,Vanity Fair interview, 28 May 2003
And lastly, my closing quote highlights Dumsfeld's and the Bush Administration's shining accomplishments, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo:
"There are serving U.S. military officers today who are of the view that the first [two] identifiable causes of combat deaths in Iraq are Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo." -- Alberto Mora, former general counsel of the U.S. Navy, referring to their power as "recruiting tools" (quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, 27 June 2008)
I pulled this picture from a post by Alina on New York Times columnist Nick Kristof's MySpacepage (apologies to the heavy-metal band). I could not resist posting it. Not too many of these folks are still around - well, 4 of the 7 are gone.
We have these folks to thank for "Mess O'Potamia". Mission accomplished?
I'm now listening to Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker address Congress. I like them both, and they have more credibility than anyone else around.
Crocker has spent years in the Middle East, is fluent in Arabic, and was one of the State Department Arabists who were shunted aside by the Bush Administration folks and their neocon fellow travelers. Suddenly, someone realized that this guy knew the territory, spoke the language, and should be utilized.
Petraeus is especially amazing - Princeton Ph.D., exemplary soldier and leader. Thomas Ricks' description in his book Fiasco of Petraeus' "pacification" work in Mosul is telling; Petraeus had his 101st Airborne Division troops doing all the right things while everyone else was screwing around (or rather screwing up). Finally, his superiors essentially said "Okay, smart guy. YOU do it." If he had been in charge from the beginning, the Iraq landscape would likely be quite different.
I am ambivalent about Iraq. We made a mess of the place, and as Colin Powell warned Bush, "You break it, you own it." Well, we broke it.
I find it unfortunate that all this is happening during "9/11 Week". I'm afraid that the events of that day will be conflated with the war in Iraq, and the al-Qaeda in Iraq group will be confused with the al-Qaeda guys who attacked us. That's what the Bush administration would like.
Oh, yeah, don't forget The War On Terror. It was in Afghanistan and we bailed there to invade Iraq. Now the Taliban, who let al-Qaeda flourish, is on the road back to power. And the perpetrator of 9/11, the murderer of almost 3,000 people on our soil, is still free lo these six years.
I just finished Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. It is a fascinating book, going back to Egypt in the 1940s when the philosophical groundwork for al-Qaeda and like groups was laid. The book then leads us all the way to 9/11, and along the way, its treatment of the inability of the CIA and FBI to cooperate with each other is particularly depressing. I'd read all this before, but this time it angered me even more. The catastrophe of 9/11 might have been prevented if these two agencies had exchanged information and realized that they were on the same team. I'm wondering if anything has changed. I suspect not.
Next on my reading list is something uplifting - Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel. All reports indicate that this is a gem. My wife Mary Frances loved it.
After that, it's back to terrorism. I will tackle Alan B. Krueger'sWhat Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism, which I discussed in an earlier post (1 September 2007 post). Can't stay away.
“Any army of liberation has a certain half-life before it becomes an army of occupation.” – Gen. David Petraeus
"The regime . . . has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda. The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other." -- President George W. Bush, 17 March 2003
"We found the weapons of mass destruction." -- President George W. Bush, in an interview with Polish television, 29 May 2003
Some good news from Washington, DC, for a change: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned, effective 17 September 2007.
He'll be spending more time with his family, not because he used that as a reason (thank heavens!) but because he'll be out of a job.
Alberto Gonzales at a Senate hearing in July 2007 (photo courtesy of New York Times)
I won't dwell on Gonzales' shortcomings. But I am thankful that President Bush did not appoint him to the Supreme Court, since it had long been rumored that Gonzales was being "groomed" for that. I don't think any amount of "grooming" could prepare him for such a monumental task.
I hope that Bush will appoint someone with more integrity and intelligence who is less of a partisan hack. I also hope that the Democrats will neither gloat nor use the upcoming confirmation hearing as a way to extract some lucre from the beleaguered Bush administration. Hope springs eternal!
"Alberto Gonzales is stepping down, but he can't recall why." -- David Letterman
Well, I missed Vice President Dick Cheney's interview with Larry King a few nights ago, but got an excellent synopsis on The Daily Show. What more do I need?
Jon Stewart also showed some clips of Ronnie Dumsfeld's return to Capitol Hill, where Ronnie proved he can still obfuscate with the best of 'em.
Off to Chile
I am headed to Chile through August 13, where I will give some lectures as the guest of Universidad Santo Tomas(UST) in Santiago. I won't be posting much in the next ten days, although I do have my computer with me.
Perhaps things will look different from "down there".
"Every time Dick Cheney smiles, somewhere an angel is waterboarded." -- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show.
I couldn't avoid posting this item about ultra-FOG Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz's bungalow in Aspen, CO. It is now on the market for a $135,000,000, the most expensive home ever listed in the USA. His 56,000 square foot residence, larger than the White House, is the centerpiece of the 95-acre property, which also has several other buildings.
The Prince's asking price "trumps" Donald Trump's $125,000,000 beachfront property in Florida. But the record price may not last long, as Aaron Spelling's widow is rumored to be considering asking $150,000,000 for her California home.
Prince Bandar was Saudi America's....ooops.... I mean Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the USA for 22 years. He is now back in Saudi America...damn!...Saudi Arabia, where he chairs the kingdom's national security council and is the chief foreign policy advisor to the King Abdullah. He doesn't get out much anymore, so that is why he is selling his Colorado retreat.
To his credit, he was a great supporter of local causes and charities in the Aspen area.
Prince Bandar was well-connected in the USA, especially to the Bush family. He was often referred to as a member of the family. He gave great parties, both in DC and Aspen. The CIA considered him a prime Mideast "asset", and he was hailed as a "good Arab". He gained some degree of unwelcomed notoriety when he arranged to have Osama bin-Laden's USA relatives flown out of the USA on a private jet right after 9/11. Contrary to urban myth, the USA government cleared the departure after the relatives were questioned.
But I cannot forget that fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian citizens, including the ones who murdered my sister.
"He who dies with the most toys is, nonetheless, dead." -- Anonymous
Well, the Wolfster is out of a job, but I suspect he's not dumpster-diving for his next meal.
Sucking your thumb again, eh, Paul? (Courtesy npr.org)
In a statement seemingly written to honor someone who's retiring after a long, distinguished career, the World Bank's Executive Directors demonstrated what a bunch of spineless wimps they are by allowing FOG (Friend Of George) Paul Wolfowitz to resign while essentially absolving him of any wrongdoing. In fact, they made it sound as though he'd been a pillar of the Bank. Wolfowitz's "resignation" press release, about 2,000 words long, five times that of the Bank's, sounded like one written by someone who had just won the Nobel Prize.
His resignation takes effect on 30 June 2007.
The Executive Board could have voted to fire him, but lacked the gumption to do so. Its resignation statement bore the infamous words "Mistakes were made". Obviously, Alberto Gonzales had something to do with all this.
You can read the press releases and hear the NPR story at:
Lost in all this are the effects on Wolfowitz's companion, Shaha Riza. By every account, this very bright woman, a democratic Arab Muslim feminist (four words rarely in such juxtaposition) has gotten a raw deal. She had been at the Bank for eight years before Wolfowitz arrived in June 2005. She feels she has been damaged, and she's right. See
Alberto Gonzales, our inept Attorney General and Friend Of George (FOG), made an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee this week. Last month, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he set new a new standard for selective amnesia when he couldn't remember or recall answers to 71 questions.
This time, however, things were not quite as bad, primarily because the House Republicans, unlike their Senate counterparts, treated Mr. Gonzales with kid gloves. I have to admit here that I did not listen to his testimony, so I do not have first-hand information.
But he still messed up. He still could not or would not say who put David Iglesias, the fired U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, on the "hit list". I thought Chair John Conyers (D-MI) was going to have a cow. Like Rep. Conyers I find it incredulous that the "top man" does not know how or by whom a man he fired was put on the "hit list".
But Bush is not going to fire Alberto. He's too valuable to him. Not because he is a good AG, but because: 1) he's a good punching bag, and since he's a loyal soldier he'll keep taking a beating for his boss; 2) his presence will help keep the Democrats distracted from the real issue - the pathetic mismanagement of the Iraq war; and 3) Bush does not want to have to nominate an AG because the nomination hearing will be an embarrassment to Bush as the Democrats will use it to unearth all sorts of things in the Department of Justice.
Some Democrats don't want Gonzales to resign because he's now an emasculated AG and will remain a convenient whipping boy. Feeling down today? Hey, let's have a few laughs and drag Alberto up here for some testimony.
And Alberto won't resign because: 1) as stated above, he's a loyal soldier; and 2) his wife won't let him - she can not bear returning to Texas under such humiliating circumstances.
Alberto Gonzales will be sticking around for a while, so get used to it. In a couple of years, Alberto can then obtain a sinecure as Dean of Regent University's law school. That is Pat Robertson's school, and that's about Alberto's speed.
"Mistakes were made." -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
George Tenet, still making the rounds promoting his book At the Center of the Storm and trying to win friends and influence people, was on The Daily Show on 8 May 2007. But he was still throwing up bricks.
Host Jon Stewart devoted over half the show to the interview, and started off with something novel: a video pastiche of Tenet's previous talk-show appearances (O'Reilly, Russert, et al.). Very effective. In most of the appearances the host treated Tenet with disdain or disbelief as he peddled his tale. "Air Ball" often appeared to be in a state of extreme discomfort; I almost started feeling sorry for him.
He gave a credible performance on the show, but nothing he said caused me to decide that my new nickname for him should be anything other than "Air Ball". I still would love to know why he kept his mouth shut all those years while that perfidious pair Bush and Cheney led us down the treacherous road into Iraq in pursuit of WMDs, democracy in the Middle East, or whatever the raison du jour is.
He did have a sense of humor. Must be laughing all the way to the bank.
"That makes me cry a lot." -- George Tenet, when told by Jon Stewart that Douglas Feith is upset with him.
"Well, you're a little better looking." -- George Tenet, when asked by Jon Stewart if this is how White House meetings went.
I've been thinking about this post for a week after reading three articles about George "Slam Dunk" Tenet in the 28 April 2007 New York Times, including Maureen Dowd's column, appropriately entitled "More Like An Air Ball". George has been on the news and interview shows since then, plugging his new book At the Center of the Storm. I figured that everyone is tired of ol' "Slam Dunk" by now, as he laments about how he and the CIA have been scapegoated by the Bush Administration (but not by Bush himself, whom he lionizes), especially Dick Cheney.
Tenet acknowledges that he did utter the words "a slam dunk case" but was referring to obtaining information about WMDs in Iraq, not the presence of WMDs. Besides, by that time, plans for war were well underway. These words have been taken out of context and quoted countless times, primarily by Dick Cheney. It is interesting to note that Tenet uses the word "scapegoat"; Gwen Ifill observed on PBS's Washington Week on 4 May 2007, the term "scapegoat" implies "innocence". To his credit, Tenet does admit his and his agency's mistakes. That's probably a first for an ex-Bush administration official (but recall Tenet was appointed by Clinton).
Tenet suspects that the "WMD excuse" to invade Iraq was just that - an excuse. He feels that the real reason was the neocon blather about installing a democracy in Iraq, which would then blossom throughout the Middle East. Along with the Dickster, people like Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith (I love the term "Feith-based analysis", a wonderful double-entendre), and Richard Perle come across poorly (I'm being kind). Tenet recounts Perle saying on 12 September 2001 that "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility." Tenet readily admits that "the intelligence then and now" showed "no evidence of Iraq complicity" in the 9/11 attacks.
He also asserts that there was never a serious debate about the Iraq threat, and the consequences of a prolonged occupation in Iraq. Nor was there a plan for the peace. He claims to have warned L. Paul Bremer about Bremer's misguided attempt to "de-Baathify" the Iraqi army.
Tenet's critics claim "Foul!", stating that he was not privy to all that was happening or that he is employing selective memory.
Tenet's observations beg the obvious question that he has failed to answer adequately: if he knew what a mess things were, why did he wait until now, almost three years after his resignation, to speak up? Did he tell his buddy George Bush what a mess things were while he was CIA Director? Why didn't he "do the right thing" - resign out of principle? Kind of makes you wonder why it just so happens he's waited until the release of his book.
It's apparent to me that George Tenet and Colin Powell were the two members of the Bush Administration who knew the "real story" behind the Iraq War. Neither one had the integrity or guts to stand up to the neocons and Bush and tell the American people the truth. They both checked their principles at the door.
Maureen Dowd's characterization of "Slam Dunk" as the butler from Remains of the Day, scurrying about, playing the President's sycophant, is spot-on.
"Slam Dunk"? I prefer to think of him as "Air Ball".
!Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror" -- President George W. Bush, 6 September 2006.
I listened to much of Attorney General's Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was sad. This guy is our top law enforcement official who heads the second most important department of the federal government (some might say the most important one, ahead of Defense), yet he came across like a nincompoop who could not explain why he fired some of the U.S. attorneys and had difficulty recalling events on 70 or so occasions. Sound familiar?
At one point, he even said: "I now understand there was a conversation with myself and the president." Duhhhh...
But his was no partisan grilling. Republicans and Democrats both seemed exasperated with Gonzales and contributed tough questions. Even Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), hardly a liberal, called on him to resign.
Gonzales is a guy who got his job because he was a FOG - Friend Of George. But today, he was in a daze. It's hard to tell whether he's just plain inept, or a toady of Bush and Rove, or both (I vote for this), or what.
British Prime Minister Tony "May I hold your coat, Mr. President?" Blair has had a rough go of it the past few years. Even his Conservative opponents have been trashing his Iraq policy. One Conservative pro-war MP, shadow foreign secretary William Hague (The Economist, 3 February 2007, p. 59), went so far as to say the Iraq experience
"...was a lesson to us all for the future that embarking on military action alongside another power requires confidence...that our allies have a satisfactory plan."
Hague continued to say that there were lessons to be learned "about the management of our relationship with the United States" and that the case for a high-level Privy Council inquiry into the war into the Iraq war was "overwhelming".
So Tony Blair announced that 1,600 UK troops will withdraw from southern Iraq in the next few months. This announcement came during one of those nifty "question time" sessions they have in the House of Commons (sometimes I find myself wishing we had a parliamentary form of government, but that thought quickly dissipates, thank heavens).
Washington (Dick Cheney et al.) hailed this as a sign of success in Iraq. But that is not the case. The UK has had responsibility for the Shia-dominated four southern provinces. After some initial success at "pacification", things have gone downhill fast. The fighting there is among rival Shia militias, as well as criminal gangs. It is far less secure than it was a few years ago. The Brits are simply giving up.
Perhaps we should withdraw troops and declare it a success, too.
Senator Jim Webb's response to the State of the Union address was excellent. I especially love this passage, which could come only from one who has borne arms in defense of his country:
Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues - those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death - we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.
We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.[emboldening mine]
Those emboldened words ring oh so true! Kudos to Senator Webb!
Finally, I'm reminded of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's (Sr., not Jr.) plea to President Lyndon Johnson to get US troops out of Vietnam. When Johnson sarcastically asked Mr. Mayor exactly how this might be done, the mayor's reply was classic Daley: "Mr. President, you put the fuckin' troops on the fuckin' planes and fly 'em out of there!" I don't recall Johnson's response, although I suspect he might have been speechless.
My "Backwards Bush" countdown timer has finally dropped below 700 days.
"Well, we both use Colgate toothpaste." -- George W. Bush, when asked what he had in common with Tony Blair (23 February 2001)
Circle of Blue Circle of Blue uses journalism, scientific research, and conversations from around the world to bring the story of the global freshwater crisis to life. Here you’ll find new water reports, news headlines, and hear from leading scientists.
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Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Since 2002, the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) has brought together federal, state, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors to advance our understanding of the nation’s water resources and to develop tools for their sustainable management.