Wednesday, June 07, 2006

World Cup Links

1950 World Cup poster

Tomorrow we head to Germany! Whee-hoo! Today I bought Eddie Bauer heavy-duty rain ponchos (weather has been lousy in Germany, so hopefully by going super-prepared, it will be hot and sunny while we're there), two big nylon American flags to drape ourselves in, three new soccer magazines (thank you Barnes & Noble) and a notebook for the trip. I've been doing this lately, taking a small fits-in-your-purse notebook on my trips. I find myself recording my meals, the weather, funny things that happen, and I draw something every day. Whiles away long train rides, and a great record when you get home.

Anyway, here are my favorite links of the day:

Clint Dempsey aka The Deuce has a website. Did you know that he rooms with Eddie Johnson? John O'Brien with Tim Howard?

Wayne Rooney cleared
to play for England. My prediction is that he will be about as effective as David Beckham was in 2002 -- not very.

Secret footage of the Italian team training for the Cup. Too funny.

My favorite player DaMarcus Beasley profiled in WaPo: On the Eve of the World Cup, Beasley's Full of Anticipation

NTimes World Cup Blog has a daily rundown of injuries, team by team.

Cisse, the French striker who missed most of Liverpool's 2004 season with a broken left leg, has sadly broken his right leg in the friendly against China. Big blow to France, and your heart has to go out to Cisse.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whew, That Was Close

The most exciting thing in Middlesbrough, a big blue bridge (I kid you not)

Gooch not yet signed with Middlesbrough, he tells Yanks Abroad: ONYEWU COOLS BORO SPECULATION

"Nothing has been worked out in my eyes," Onyewu told YA in response to published reports from that he was on his way to the Riverside. "That is just like I was signing with Manchester (United) earlier."

His agent Will Sherling was equally cool on the proposed transfer of the Standard Liege man

"There is interest from a number of clubs in England and throughout Europe," he told YA. "There are options but as of now there is no deal done."

Previous post: Gooch to Middlesbrough? (June 5, 2006)

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land

Housing and development are creeping up to the bluffs of Red Mountain in St. George.
(Mark Boster / LAT)
May 3, 2006

Bills are pending in Congress to sell federal lands to private developers and give the money to state and local governments. Selling out our national heritage for a few bucks, so we can afford taxcuts for billionaires, and give rich people a place to build and buy more McMansions. What kind of a public policy is this? The excuse here is that the proceeds go to state and local governments. But why are they so starved for money? Because the feds keep issuing unfunded mandates, because the feds don't have the money to pay for the programs they pass, because they've got to pay for taxcuts for billionaires. Crazy.

And Democrats are pushing these crazy bills too. Lobbyist money rules. Go to page 2 of the article, and read about the guy who owns millions of dollars of land that's an endangered species preserve. He's hired Bruce Babbitt, former Democratic Interior Secretary, and "a succession of Washington lobbyists" to get the private benefit he wants.

Eyes in the West Are on Federal Land Sale
Proceeds from U.S. acreage outside Zion park would be used for local development.

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Its mild climate, stunning scenery and proximity to several national parks have helped make Washington County one of the five fastest-growing counties in the nation. But like many rural Western counties, it has little room to expand: 87% of its land is owned by the federal government.

Now, Utah's congressional delegation has a plan to remedy the problem, one that is being closely watched by nearly a dozen Western counties with similar growing pains. The plan is also being scrutinized by conservationists who warn that it would set a dangerous precedent, making thousands of acres of public land available for private development as well as offering a windfall for local agencies and special deals for politically influential officials and property owners.

The proposed Washington County Growth and Conservation Act would sell up to 40 square miles of federal land and use the proceeds to finance a multimillion-dollar water pipeline and other local projects. Utah Republican Sen. Robert F. Bennett and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson are expected to introduce the bill in coming weeks. Waiting in the wings are nearly a dozen similar bills for counties in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and New Mexico where population pressure is fueling the demand for more developable land.


For conservationists, however, the bill is part of a dangerous trend.

"People hoorah these projects on the local level, saying, 'We are going to do this for our people,' " said Janine Blaeloch, director of the Western Lands Project, a Seattle-based group that monitors the sale of federal lands. "But small groups benefit, and those are developers, paving companies and golf course developers. Where federal land has been taken over for development, it ends up being used for second homes and high-end development."

Here's a statement by James Doyle, the developer, made before the Committee on Resources Subcommittee on National Parks & Public Lands in 2000.

OSHA, EPA & City Failed New Yorkers Cleaning Up Ground Zero

I missed this story on Sunday. The New York Times published a long article on the reason why so many Ground Zero cleanup workers now have lung disease. They didn't use respirators.

One thing that neither the Times article nor the excellent analysis by Confined Space point out is that respirators are safety issues themselves. They make it difficult for workers to communicate with each other. Therefore, employers must be especially vigilant when requiring their use, because workers aren't going to want to use anything that makes it harder to yell "Watch out!" and be heard. The worker recognizes the immediate safety threat of the difficulty in communicating; they don't necessarily assign the long-term threat of lung disease the same priority. Employers care far about the cost of the job than anything else. That's why government agencies, who are aware of the health threat, must be involved in requiring these safety devices. At Ground Zero, the government failed utterly, starting with Christy Todd Whitman, head of EPA, who declared the air around Ground Zero safe to breathe when it was, in actuality, toxic.

Anthony DePalma, NYTimes: Air Masks at Issue in Claims of 9/11 Illnesses

With mounting evidence that exposure to the toxic smoke and ash at ground zero during the nine-month cleanup has made many people sick, attention is now focusing on the role of air-filtering masks, or respirators, that cost less than $50 and could have shielded workers from some of the toxins.

More than 150,000 such masks were distributed and only 40,000 people worked on the pile, but most workers either did not have the masks or did not use them.


From legal documents presented in the case, a tale emerges of heroic but ineffective efforts to protect workers, with botched opportunities, confused policies and contradictions that failed to ensure their safety.

Lawyers representing the workers say that there was no central distribution point for the respirators, no single organization responsible for giving them out, and no one with the power to make sure the respirators that were distributed got used, and used properly.

By contrast, at the Pentagon, workers not wearing proper protective gear were escorted off the site.

Confined Space: World Trade Center Recovery: Dereliction of Duty

The problem began with a statement by then EPA administrator Christie Todd Whitman assuring lower Manhattan workers and residents that the air was safe to breathe. DePalma reports that "the agency's inspector general concluded in 2003 that Ms. Whitman's statement was far too broad and could not be scientifically supported at the time she made it."

Personally, I think DePalma's being a bit too nice. The IG actually found that White House officials instructed the agency to be less alarming and more reassuring to the public in the first few days after the attack than EPA officials originally wanted to be. And earlier this year, Judge Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court found that Whitman had deliberately mislead the public when she reassured the public after the collapse of the World Trade Centers that the air was safe to breathe in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The result of Whitman's lack of concern were devastating for recovery workers, according to Dave Newman of the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health who argues that after Whitman's statement, employers "had a green light to say, 'We don't need to use respirators because the E.P.A. says the air is OK.' "


But the real culprit here is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency tasked by Congress to ensure the health and safety of American workers. And you can look long and hard at the Occupational Safety and Health Act without finding any exception for federally declared disasters:

As the magnitude of the recovery operation grew clearer, attempts were made to bring order to the operation. On Sept. 20 the city issued its first safety plan, and it asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to take charge of distributing respirators. In what would become a controversial move, OSHA used its discretionary powers to decide not to enforce workplace safety regulations but to act in a supportive role that would not slow down operations.

Previous posts:

9/11 EPA Victims
(May 16, 2006)

First Death Officially Linked to 9/11 Clean-Up
(April 12, 2006)

Have a Nice Day, Christy Todd Whitman (April 12, 2006)

Liars (April 9, 2006)

Too Bad This Isn't a Criminal Case. Christy Todd Whitman Should Be in Jail.
(February 2, 2006)

Republicans to FDNY: Drop Dead
(November 15, 2005)

Environmental Protection Agency Also Run By "Inept Political Hacks"
(September 11, 2005)

Christy Todd Spineless (March 23, 2005)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Gooch to Middlesbrough?

Gooch gives Borgetti "The Stare"

Oh, Gooch, don't do it, Middlesbrough is a godforsaken shithole of a town. Wait, go to a town closer to London. Or buy a train pass and expect to do some traveling. Make sure you have high speed internet and a really big TV 'cause there's nothin to do up there, man.

Well, at least you get to play with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank and (if he sticks around) Mark Viduka. But Middlesbrough? Did you go there before you signed?

NYTimes World Cup Blog: Gooch to Middlesbrough?

SkySports: Boro Move for American Ace

Middlesbrough look to have tied up a shock deal for USA star Oguchi Onyewu.

The 23-year-old, know as Gooch, is currently playing in Belgium for Standard Liege - but Boro are now understood to have tied up a deal for the highly-rated central defender.

Onyewu is set to partner Eddie Pope at the heart of the USA defence at the World Cup finals this summer - and a big tournament is being predicted for the giant defender.

After coming through the college system in America, Onyewu was snapped up by French side Metz - but he never settled and joined La Louviere on loan.

His form with La Louviere earned him a move to Standard - and he has been a regular with them for the past two seasons.

A number of clubs including Manchester United and Charlton Athletic are thought to have scouted Onyewu along with Boro - but understand the Teessiders have now made their move and a deal is now in place. Boro closing in on Onyewu

Clubcall: Boro to land USA international?

Philly Fans Rule

Finally found a picture of the entire, stretching across the left field stands sign held up in Philadelphia last month for Barroid* (via cnn):

"Ruth did it on hot dogs and Beer. Aaron did it with class. How did YOU do it?"

Will Congress Give Paris Hilton A Tax Break?

Congress poised to give her millions

Our economy is in a tailspin, the Iraq war is pouring money into the hands of private contractors and draining the treasury. What do Republicans want? Give the mega-rich another tax cut! Only makes sense if you are rich -- like the Bush Administration members who stand to save millions.

Paul Krugman, NYTimes: Shameless in the Senate

The Senate almost voted to repeal the estate tax last fall, but Republican leaders postponed the vote after Hurricane Katrina. It's easy to see why: the public might have made the connection between scenes of Americans abandoned in the Superdome and scenes of well-heeled senators voting huge tax breaks for their even wealthier campaign contributors.

But memories of Katrina have faded, and they're about to try again. The Senate will probably vote this week. So it's important to realize that there's still a clear connection between tax breaks for the rich and failure to help Americans in need.

Any senator who votes to repeal the estate tax, or votes for a "compromise" that goes most of the way toward repeal, is in effect saying that increasing the wealth of people who are already in line to inherit millions or tens of millions is more important than taking care of fellow citizens who need a helping hand.


Who would benefit from this largess? The estate tax is overwhelmingly a tax on the very, very wealthy; only about one estate in 200 pays any tax at all. The campaign for estate tax repeal has largely been financed by just 18 powerful business dynasties, including the family that owns Wal-Mart.


In the interest of stiffening those spines, let me remind senators that this isn't just a fiscal issue, it's also a moral issue. Congress has already declared that the budget deficit is serious enough to warrant depriving children of health care; how can it now say that it's worth enlarging the deficit to give Paris Hilton a tax break?

Full article: Ed Strong.

Sebastian Mallaby, WaPo: Reward for the Hereditary Elite . . .

It doesn't matter if you are liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. There is no possible excuse for doing what Congress is poised to do this week: Abolish the estate tax.

The federal government faces a future of expanding deficits. Thanks to the baby bust and medical inflation, spending is projected to rise by nearly 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2030, a growth equivalent to the doubling of today's Medicare program. What is the dumbest possible response to this? Take a source of revenue and abolish it outright.

fuzzy and blue: EstateTaxRepeal: GOP prays at lucre alter

[] Estate tax repeal would save the estate of Cheney between $13 to $61 million, according to the publicly available data on his net worth. It would save the estate of Rumsfeld between $32 to $101 million. The estate of retired Exxon Mobil chairman Lee Raymond would pocket a cozy $164 million. As for the late Sam Walton's kids, whose company already makes taxpayers foot the bill for the medical expenses of 1000s of its employees, the cost to the govt for not taxing their estates would run into the multiple billions. []

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Next Time, Let's Not Elect the Class Clown

A friend sent me this in an email, with the text: Ever wonder where Alfred E. Newman went?? He grew up!!

When There's No Plan B Contraception, What Does A Woman Do?

For want of this pill, she had to have an unnecessary abortion

This 42-year old mother of two had to have an abortion after her physicians refused to give her a prescription for the emergency contraception pill known as "Plan B". So for this poor woman, Plan B was having an abortion. This is what happens when we let the religious right hijack our government.

Dana L., Washington Post: What Happens When There Is No Plan B?

I'm still in good health, but unlike the last time I was pregnant, nearly a decade ago, I'm now taking three medications. One of them, for high cholesterol, is in the Food and Drug Administration's Pregnancy Category X -- meaning it's a drug you shouldn't take if you're expecting or even planning to get pregnant. I worried because the odds of having a high-risk pregnancy or a baby born with serious health issues rise significantly after age 40. And I thought of the emotional upheavals that an unplanned pregnancy would cause our family. My husband and I are involved in all aspects of our children's lives, but even so, we feel we don't get enough time to spend with them as it is.

I felt sick. Although I've always been in favor of abortion rights, this was a choice I had hoped never to have to make myself. When I realized the seriousness of my predicament, I became angry. I knew that Plan B, which could have prevented it, was supposed to have been available over the counter by now. But I also remembered hearing that conservative politics have held up its approval.

My anger propelled me to get to the bottom of the story. It turns out that in December 2003, an FDA advisory committee, whose suggestions the agency usually follows, recommended that the drug be made available over the counter, or without a prescription. Nonetheless, in May 2004, the FDA top brass overruled the advisory panel and gave the thumbs-down to over-the-counter sales of Plan B, requesting more data on how girls younger than 16 could use it safely without a doctor's supervision.

Apparently, one of the concerns is that ready availability of Plan B could lead teenage girls to have premarital sex. Yet this concern -- valid or not -- wound up penalizing an over-the-hill married woman for having sex with her husband. Talk about the law of unintended consequences.