Friday, January 16, 2009

2001 - 2009

Homer's 'Eagle Lady' dead at 85


HOMER -- Jean Keene, the 85-year-old "Eagle Lady" whose feeding program drew hundreds of bald eagles and scores of nature photographers to the Homer Spit each winter, died Tuesday evening in her Spit home.

Keene had been unwell but continued to feed fish scraps to the eagles this winter. In 2006, the city banned feeding of eagles, but allowed Keene to continue feeding until 2010. She had been at it for 30 years.

Keene's sudden passing leaves the city in an awkward fix. With several hundred eagles currently loitering on the Spit, a sudden halt to feeding could bring starvation or an invasion into local back yards, federal biologists say. It's probably too late in winter for them to go elsewhere.

"Some of the younger birds would probably not make it," said Vernon Byrd, a Homer-based biologist with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. "They'd have to forage around, start to get into more garbage and boats looking for food. People would come on the weak ones standing around."

City officials said Wednesday that an assistant who has been helping Keene with feeding will be allowed to keep going with existing food supplies, good for seven to 10 days.

The Man with No Morals

Congress Comes to YouTube

Have you ever wondered what your elected representatives actually do in Washington, D.C.? Ever pondered what day-to-day life on Capitol Hill consists of? Do you want to connect with your Senator or Congressman, but don't feel like sitting down to write a letter?

Starting today you can do all these things via YouTube. As the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many of your elected leaders are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill. And in conjunction with both the House and Senate, we're launching two new platforms that will help you access your Senator and Representatives' YouTube channels: The Senate Hub ( and The House Hub (

Learn more from the leadership of the House and Senate, here:

So, why are your elected leaders coming to YouTube? The short answer is: you. Your use of YouTube and other online platforms to speak up on political issues and hold your leaders accountable has shown just how powerful this medium can be. You've shown your elected officials that in order to be in contact with you, they need to come to the platforms you use most, and engage with you directly.

These YouTube channels have the potential to make Congress more transparent and accessible than ever before - but only if you continue to connect and engage with your government on the site. The House Hub and Senate Hub are the digital equivalents of a backstage pass to your government. Find your Senator and Representative on YouTube and make a connection... and if your elected representative doesn't have a YouTube channel yet, give them a call or an email and encourage them to get started.


Steve Grove
YouTube News and Politics

Bush's Most Fateful Day

As we ponder George W. Bush's final week as president, what was his most fateful day in office? One is that day in August of 2001 when he got word in a national security intelligence briefing that terrorist Osama Bin Laden was planning a major attack. Thirty six days later the warning came true.

A censored copy of the intelligence memo that Bush saw on Aug. 6 at his Texas ranch was released by the White House three years later. It was entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," and provided many details about his activities, including that members of his organization, Al-Qa'ida, "have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks." At least 70 FBI investigations were underway to find them, the memo reported to the president.

There was even a reference to Bin Laden's desire to hijack U.S. aircraft, although the memo did not foresee that hijackings would be used to crash into buildings, as happened a little over a month later to the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington.

Bush shuffled the CIA's warning over to his National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice -- and went bass fishing. He never called a meeting or followed up on the matter until nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. The day after the intelligence warnings in Augustthere was more recreation time, as Bush played golf and joked around with reporters.

"No mulligans, except on the first tee," Bush said to laughter as he hit a second drive on the first fairway. "That's just to loosen up. You see, most people get to hit practice balls."

Our One God

President-elect Barack Obama, the Rev. Rick Warren, and the Mythical 'Middle Ground'

by Steven Jonas, MD

Right-wing commentators such as the sometimes hard-to-categorize Pat Buchanan, the comedian Bill Kristol, the still-trying-to-shake-her "Reagan Hagiographer" label Peggy Noonan, and so-called "even-handed" cable news personalities such as "Morning Joe and Mika" of MSNBC were all het-up about why the "left" (these folks wouldn't know a real LEFT if they saw one) is so het up about Pres.-elect Obama's choice of Rick Warren to deliver the Inauguration Invocation. "It's a free country," they say. "There's a wide range of views on gay marriage" (which happens to be Rick Warren's least odious on-the-gay-question position) they say. "Obama is showing himself to be tolerant," they say. Obama is looking for "common ground," they say.

"You'se guys" (which is what they would say to us lefties if they spoke Noo Yawk) are just a bunch of whiners. Or worse, you are just as bad as the Christian Fundamentalists, except I cannot remember when any of the above listed "authorities" ever criticized the latter group for anything. For example, when Gov. Huckabee, the funny man, was riding high for a bit during the Republican primaries last winter, he was on the cable news shows a lot. And thus I saw him a lot. I don't remember one question ever being asked him about the fact that he is not just a run-of-the-mill Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist (which fact itself never came up in questions), but that he had major Dominionist backing. (Dominionists believe that Constitutional government in the United States should be replaced by the "Dominion of God," based upon their particular so-called "literal" reading of a particular translation [usually the King James Version] of the Bible, in other words institution of a theocracy). No questions there. But that's another story.

These folks then proceed, not surprisingly, to talk about Warren only in the context of his opposition to gay marriage. They trot out all of the traditional arguments in defense of the position (whether it is theirs or not is often left unclear) that "traditional marriage" is "between a man and a woman" and thus should not be/cannot be changed. There are two problems here, folks. First, if that were the only way that Warren demonstrated his antipathy towards gays and equal civil rights for them, one could have a rational argument with him and the people he represents, using one or more of the usual arguments in favor of the gay-marriage-is-just-fine position.


Greenpeace Buys Land To Block New Heathrow Runway

By Dave Demerjian


Greenpeace announced today that it has bought a parcel of land that sits directly in the path of a proposed third runway for London's Heathrow Airport. It's the latest move in a long-running battle between environmentalists who say expanding Heathrow would be an environmental catastrophe, and expansion advocates who say without a new runway Europe's top airport will become an antiquated also-ran.

Greenpeace's plan for the 0.4-hectare parcel, which it purchased from an undisclosed owner, is sure to have expansion advocates reaching for the Rolaids. The group will sell off the land in tiny pieces to environmentalists, celebrities, and anyone else who feels like buying in. This means that if the UK government were to exercise eminent domain laws to acquire the land, it would have to deal with thousands of different landowners and the lawsuits they would be sure to bring. Regardless of where you stand on the expansion issue, you can't deny that Greenpeace's move is a brilliant one.

Among those that have already bought a chunk of the land from Greenpeace are actress Emma Thompson. "I don't understand how any government remotely serious about committing to reversing climate change can even consider these ridiculous plans," she told Sky News.

Misery Accomplished

Unfinished business

Arkansas democrat-gazette
by Gene Lyons
No sensible person wants to see the United States become the kind of country where "regime change" means flinging the party out of power into dungeons.

That said, it's nothing short of pathetic to observe pundits who urged President Bill Clinton's impeachment for lying about a private sexual matter rending their garments over the prospect of holding Bush administration insiders responsible for war crimes including kidnapping, torture and even murder.

Excuse me, make that "extraordinary rendition," "enhanced interrogation" and a series of regrettable accidents. Or something. Even the Bush administration seems not to have invented a bureaucratic euphemism for prisoners found beaten to death in solitary confinement. And how did President Bush, who claimed a dictator's power to imprison thousands purely on his say-so, determine them to be "enemy combatants"?

Not by anything resembling evidence in many cases. Some were certainly guilty of plotting against the United States. Many have confessed, although confessions obtained by torture aren't worth the blood they're written in-one reason several hundred "detainees" remain in military prisons in Guantanamo and Afghanistan today. Others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or belonged to the wrong tribe. Some were grabbed up by Afghani and Pakistani warlords eager to collect $5,000 U.S. bounty payments.

Others, such as Canadian telecommunications engineer Maher Arar or German national Khaled el-Masri reportedly were snatched because their names resembled somebody else's, stripped naked, drugged, beaten, transported to secret "black sites" and brutalized. Although guilty of nothing more than being of Middle Eastern descent, by the time U.S. authorities admitted his innocence and returned him to Canada, Arar had signed numerous false confessions of plotting with al-Qa'ida in countries where subsequent investigation proved he'd never been.

Bush Presidency Highlight Reel

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