Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Fever

Has Sports Illustrated given Jacoby Ellsbury the SI jinx? He's on the extended cover shot, but on the fold-out half, so technically he's not on the cover. Looking forward to a great ROTY season.

Boston Globe Photo Gallery: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Jacoby Ellsbury

Boston Globe Video: The Jacoby Ellsbury Factor

Brockton Enterprise News: Ellsbury Kid Dynamo for Sox in center
Red Sox rookie Jacoby Ellsbury is ready to take center stage this season.

Boston Herald: Safe to say Ellsbury had ’em at hello

The Oregonian: The 'second coming' of Jacoby Ellsbury
Despite a comparison to Ted Williams, the former OSU star just wants to be an improved version of himself

Boston Globe: Ellsbury on the fast track (with video)

Bangor Daily News: Speed marks Ellsbury's career

Sign the FEC Complaint Against John McCain

John McCain signed up for public financing for his campaign in August of 2007. In October of 2007 the McCain campaign got a $4,000,000 line of credit. He pledged the matching funds as collateral.

Then in January he wrote to the FEC stating he was opting out of the public finance system. But you can't do that after you've pledged your public funds to get a loan. In essence, McCain is claiming that the rules don't apply to him. But once he used the promise of public financing to get that loan, he was committed to following the rules.

He's violating the rules of the campaign finance system; the very one he's been claiming to reform for years.

You can sign on to the complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission here:

firedoglake: Sign the McCain FEC Complaint Letter

Friday, March 28, 2008

4,000 US Soldiers Have Died In Iraq

Nico Pitney, Huffington Post

The official US death toll in Iraq is now over 4,000 US soldiers; but also

[] In addition to the 4,000 dead American soldiers, the following fatalities have also occurred in Iraq over the past five years:

* Journalists: 135 fatalities
* Non-American military coalition forces: 308 fatalities
* Non-military contractors: At least 1,001 fatalities as of June 30th, 2007
* Iraqi Security Forces: At least 8,057
* Iraqi military forces: During the invasion, between 15,000 and 45,000 Iraqi military personnel died.
* Civilians: Between 400,000 and 650,000 as of June 2006, and over 1,000,000 now.

We are way, way past 4,000 deaths in Iraq.
The non-civilian death toll, including journalists, all coalition military forces, contractors and Iraqi security forces, currently stands at a minimum of 13,501, or about 15 every two days since the start of the war. The civilian death toll is actually the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Rwanda genocide, and possibly since even before then (I don't want to start ranking genocides). Somewhere between 4% and 5% of the Iraqi population has died what is termed an "excess death" since the start of the Iraq war. For the sake of comparison, Pennsylvania represents just under 4% of the population of the United States.

Also, keep in mind that these are just deaths, and damage has been done in many other ways. Nearly four million living Iraqis are now refugees, roughly 16% of the population, 40% of the middle class, and larger percentages of religious and ethnic minorities. Between 60% and 70% of Iraqi children suffer from psychological trauma. Tens of thousands of American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, have been injured. And oh yeah, the war will cost more than two trillion dollars.

Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses

An image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegration taken from the British Antarctic Survey's Twin Otter aircraft reconnaissance flight. Credit: Jim Elliott, British Antarctic Survey

Biggest news (no pun intended) of my week off is the collapse of a portion of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Variously described as "seven times the size of Manhattan" (National Geographic), "the size of the Isle of Man" (BBC News), "bigger than the city of Montreal" and "twice the size of Prince Edward Island" (AP/The Globe and Mail), and "the size of Northern Ireland" (Independent uk), the piece that collapsed is merely the edge of the larger Wilkins Ice Shelf which is "'hanging by a thread' and may soon break up". British scientists predicted the collapse in 1993, but they thought it would take 30 years; it took 15.

The Antarctic peninsula, which stretches north from the frozen continent towards South America, has experienced unprecedented warming over the past 50 years.

Six other ice shelves have already been lost entirely — the Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and Jones shelves.

But the Wilkins shelf is farther south than other ice that has retreated, so should be better protected by colder temperatures.

Vaughan said: "It's bigger than any ice shelf we've seen retreating before, and in the long term it could be a taste of other things to come. It is another indication of the impact that climate change is having on the region."

During the break-up, the Wilkins Ice Shelf broke into a sky-blue pattern of exposed deep glacial ice. This true-color image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was taken by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on March 6, 2008. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center