Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 10/8/06 - 10/15/06

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Aloha from Alaska?

UPDATE: Prudhoe Bay could be shut down for days - This just posted on the Anchorage Daily News website:
Prudhoe Bay, the nation’s largest oil field, will remain out of service for several days as BP workers try to restore reliable electric power to well pads, processing plants and other facilities, a company spokesman said Wednesday.
So much for falling oil prices...

While many of us in Alaska LOVE Hawaiian weather, it's much safer for us if it remains in Hawaii.

From the Anchorage Daily News:
Authorities evacuated dozens of homes in several Seward-area subdivisions Monday as floodwaters from a two-day deluge rose to record levels.

The water's quick rise led to some harrowing moments, including a ride in the bucket of a front-end loader for some evacuees.

"We were afraid for our lives," said Sean Tanner, whose vacationing family -- all five -- rode in the scoop of the large piece of heavy equipment that rescuers used to fetch them from their rented cabin on Exit Glacier Road. The water had started pressing on the cabin's walls, he said, and he parked his rental van close by for access to the roof before rescuers arrived.
While the flooding in Seward provided some dramatic and downright scary pictures for CNN, it is far from the only community being devastated by this wacko weather:
Record rainfall, mudslides and snowmelt are hammering Valdez, where breached levees Tuesday prompted the evacuation of some 200 residents, and others remained stranded after officials closed nearly 70 miles of the Richardson Highway.

The wet, windy, unseasonably warm weather has walloped Southcentral communities like Valdez, Seward, and Cordova for days. In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, officials said while water rose along some troublesome creeks and rivers, no waterway reached flood stage.
One Valdez resident gave a description that allowed the rest of us to appreciate a little more how violent the water has become:
"The creeks here look like turbine jets," Kinney said. "When I walk out my door, it's thunderous. I'm looking out at probably 20 waterfalls coming down from 6,000 feet."

BP even had to shut down the Pipeline on Monday:
From flooding in Seward to mudslides in Valdez and high winds around Anchorage, Mother Nature continues to beat down on Alaska. Today’s temporary closure of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was just another consequence of the elemental whipping the state has submitted to over the last several days.

Oil production in Prudhoe Bay was disrupted today and flow through the pipeline was halted. Both the largest U.S. oil field and its artery to production were shutdown today due to poor weather at both ends of the 800-mile pipeline.

Starting on the north end of the pipeline, around 3 a.m. today, gusts up to 70 mph caused a power outage at Prudhoe Bay, forcing oil giant BP to shutdown production.
Those of us in Anchorage, especially the Hillside and those along Cook Inlet, have experienced high winds. These have ranged from gusts to 65 mph at my house in Mid-town to...I kid you not...gusts of 100 mph in the higher elevations.

For those of you keeping track, those rise to the intensity of hurricane-level winds.

We have another High Wind Warning for the higher elevations in effect for tonight and until late this afternoon, there is a Flood Warning for the Susitna Valley, however the temperatures are somewhat lower and hopefully, by the end of the week, will be closer to normal.

I know that I was praying for the snow to hold off until after Halloween, but this is ridiculous!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

USS Eisenhower deployed to Persian Gulf under a cloud of suspicion

Progressive radio talk show host Thom Hartmann discussed the deployment of the USS Eisenhower to the Persian Gulf as a possible sign that the US is preparing for war with Iran.

I disagree, if one is looking at that event alone.

Per GlobalSecurity.org (which is not a government website, by the way):
In September 2006 it was reported that the Eisenhower Strike Group was under orders to depart the United States in early October 2006, slated to arrive in the Persian Gulf on or aabout 21 October 2006. Some observers were alarmed that this was part of the Bush Administration's plans to attack Iran's WMD facilities immediately prior to the November 7th Congressional election. This seems improbable. In recent years the Navy has normally stationed one carrier in the Persian Gulf to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The IKE will replace the Abraham Lincoln in this role.

Global Security was correct when looking at that specific deployment. However, as they mentioned, there are others out there who don't believe this is "situation normal."

If one links a combination of recent events with that deployment, one might find more of a story here.

Per Wonkette:
Here’s a tale that makes Mark Foley seem absolutely harmless in comparison: U.S. warships are headed for the coast of Iran, just in time for a late-October war. Maybe even a nuclear war. A nuclear war started by the White House. You know, to make sure Iran doesn’t develop dangerous nuclear weapons that could be brazenly used against some country or another.

Today, the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group leaves port in Norfolk for the Persian Gulf. The group includes the USS Anzio, the guided-missile destroyers USS Ramage and USS Mason and the attack sub USS Newport News. Time and The Nation are among the mainstream mags saying this is the beginning of the war. We’ll tell you what some less-mainstream sources say, after the jump.

Wonkette goes on to correctly state that the Ike is reportedly heading there to relieve the USS Enterprise, not the Abraham Lincoln, as Global Security states, which is presently in dry dock in Puget Sound. (A surprising error, I may add.) Wonkette also includes links from media sources like "Time Magazine" and "The Nation" who point to possible signs of a brewing first strike in Iran.

From The Nation:
According to Lieut. Mike Kafka, a spokesman at the headquarters of the Second Fleet, based in Norfolk, Virginia, the Eisenhower Strike Group, bristling with Tomahawk cruise missiles, has received orders to depart the United States in a little over a week. Other official sources in the public affairs office of the Navy Department at the Pentagon confirm that this powerful armada is scheduled to arrive off the coast of Iran on or around October 21.

That by itself is not a story. Every Nimitz class nuclear carrier has evolved into a "Strike Group." The Ike is reportedly relieving the Enterprise Strike Group...another "armada."

However, this does make it a little more alarming:
The Eisenhower had been in port at the Naval Station Norfolk for several years for refurbishing and refueling of its nuclear reactor; it had not been scheduled to depart for a new duty station until at least a month later, and possibly not till next spring. Family members, before the orders, had moved into the area and had until then expected to be with their sailor-spouses and parents in Virginia for some time yet. First word of the early dispatch of the "Ike Strike" group to the Persian Gulf region came from several angry officers on the ships involved, who contacted antiwar critics like retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner and complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress.

"This is very serious," said Ray McGovern, a former CIA threat-assessment analyst who got early word of the Navy officers' complaints about the sudden deployment orders. (McGovern, a twenty-seven-year veteran of the CIA, resigned in 2002 in protest over what he said were Bush Administration pressures to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.

The interesting thing is that, when you check the Enterprise websites, it does not give even an estimated date as to when they might actually return from deployment.

Sure, the official website confirms that the "Big E" is on a six-month deployment:
The nuclear powered Enterprise and embarked Carrier Air Wing 1 departed Naval Station Norfolk May 2 for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.

The Enterprise Strike Group is currently operating in the northern Arabian Sea in support of maritime security operations and Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

That six months doesn't end until sometime in November.

However, my understanding is when another carrier is on the way as relief, the returning carrier is a little more public with scheduled return dates.

Another aspect of the Enterprise deployment...much of what they have been doing revolves around operations in Afghanistan. Looking at it from the standpoint of a potential Iranian conflict, the fact that the US turned over command of 12,000 troops in Afghanistan to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (NATO-ISAF) makes chilling sense. In essence, the Bush Administration may be quietly extracating itself from major responsibility in Afghanistan, possibly leaving forces free for "other assignments."

And "quietly" is the operative word. It adds a new angle as to why the Administration has made no comment about the transfer...allowing NATO to break the news on its website.

Also of note: The USS Harry S. Truman will be coming out of its DPIA (Dry Dock Incremental Availability), ambiguously stated "this Fall," and will be available for deployment. What's interesting about this is that their entire deployment history has been in the Persian Gulf and each one approximately 6 months starting in October, November or December.

If the Truman deployment remains consistent with their past deployments, this could possibly overlap with both the Enterprise and the Eisenhower.

However, the Ronald Reagan Strike Group had their maiden deployment to the Persian Gulf from Jan - July 2006. They should be available for their second deployment by Jan 07. Also, the USS John C. Stennis Strike Group is currently completing its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). This is an intense training requiring all parts of the Strike Force to work together as a team and is done so in final preparation for deployment.

The Enterprise Strike Group had just finished their COMPTUEX training before their deployment in May 2006.


- We know for sure that the Enterprise and the Eisenhower will be in the Gulf at the same time, even if it's just for a short overlap.

- We know that the Harry Truman is scheduled for deployment "sometime in the Fall" and has only ever been deployed to the Gulf.

- We know that the Ronald Reagan will come to the end of a normal docking cycle in December and that Jan of last year was when they were deployed to the Gulf for 6 months.


- We know that the John C. Stennis is completing an exercise which is normally used as the final preparation for deployment.

We also know that:

- The US has turned over most of its command and control in Afghanistan to NATO

I guess only time will tell if these are all coincidences or part of a coordinated plan.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Korea goes nuclear...another Bush diplomatic failure

Overnight, North Korea claimed to have detonated a nuclear test. The BBC has the text of the N. Korean government's announcement:
"The field of scientific research in the DPRK (North Korea) successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, Juche 95 (2006) at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.

"It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under a scientific consideration and careful calculation.

What got me was the last paragraph:
"It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the area around it."

Mmmmmm Kay...

Flash back to 2003, when the military and scientists were alarmed to find a little "present" from the DPRK:
The warhead of a long-range missile test-fired by North Korea was found in the U.S. state of Alaska, a report to the National Assembly revealed yesterday.

"According to a U.S. document, the last piece of a missile warhead fired by North Korea was found in Alaska," former Japanese foreign minister Taro Nakayama was quoted as saying in the report. "Washington, as well as Tokyo, has so far underrated Pyongyang's missile capabilities."

The report was the culmination of monthlong activities of the Assembly's overseas delegation to five countries over the North Korean nuclear crisis.

This is from The North Korean Times, as it's almost impossible to find U.S. mainstream media documentation of this event. The American Free Press, in a 2003 article about the Alaskan discovery, documents an all-too-familiar trend of the Bush Administration and his MSM lap dogs, referring to the previously linked article from the Korea Times:
The Bush administration is ignoring reports from South Korea and Japan that the North Koreans have test-fired a nuclear-capable, intercontinental ballistic missile, which landed in or near the state of Alaska.

The White House has not commented on a report in The Korea Times that the warhead of a “long-range missile test-fired by North Korea was found in the state of Alaska.”

The discovery of the missile warhead was reported to South Korea’s National Assembly and was culled from “a U.S. (presumably intelligence) document,” the paper said.

If the report is accurate, the warhead could be from a North Korean three-stage Taepo Dong 3 ICBM, which is, according to U.S. intelligence sources, capable of striking targets about 9,300 miles away

If you read the N. Korean article, you can see specific quotes from members of U.S. Congress.

While scientists have assured us that the type of nuclear device they must have used in last night's test would be much too heavy to load onto a long-range missile, I must say that is small solace to an Alaskan. It will eventually be feasible.

Regarding to the overnight detonation, the BBC describes the devastating effect this step by North Korea will have on world deplomacy:
North Korea's nuclear test has thrown efforts to restrain it into further confusion, presenting particular problems for not just the United States but China as well.

The effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons across the world has also taken a blow.

For the Bush administration, the fact that one of the countries described by the president as part of an "axis of evil" has apparently confirmed its membership of the nuclear weapons' club means that, short of military action, there is little it can really do to enforce a change of policy.

The BBC is actually being kind. What they could have said was something like, "This test is the result of 3 1/2 years of an inept U.S. Administration, with the help of the British Prime Minister, putting all of its efforts into a failed Iraqi policy and ignoring the diplomatic opportunities for peaceful solutions to other potential crises."

Of course, the Bush Administration will ignore reality (again) and try to spin this as "proof" that we need the Republicans to "defend us against the terrorists."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Carl Moses is pulling a "Lieberman"

After losing a primary race so completely tied that it had to be decided by flipping a gold coin onto a seal pelt, State Representative from Western Alaska Carl Moses has decided to possibly muck it up for the Democrats and run as a write-in candidate. This would pit him against Republican challenger Ron Browers and winner of the coin toss, Democratic candidate Bryce Edgmon. This gives a Republican challenger who had little chance of winning in a rare Democratically-dominated Alaska area a better possibility of success.

Of course, this is especially infuriating, since Mr. Moses crawled out of his sick bed not long ago to fly to Juneau and cast a tie-breaking vote (meaning that some Republicans had crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats), giving the oil companies a win on a controversial oil and gas tax bill.

Of course, Mr. Moses claims that the $3,000.00 campaign contribution from VECO Corp only a few days before had no influence on his decision.
Days before an ailing Rep. Carl Moses flew from Anchorage to cast the deciding vote on a contentious oil and gas tax bill last month, six Veco Corp. executives contributed $3,000 to the Unalaska Democrat's campaign.

Four of the six executives have been linked to an FBI investigation that resulted in raids of six legislators' offices Aug. 31

Of course, one of the search warrants executed by the FBI was related to the tax bill:
One of the 20 search warrants executed in the FBI raids links the investigation to the tax bill passed last month by the Legislature and the draft natural gas pipeline contract proposed by Gov. Frank Murkowski and BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Conoco Phillips.

The warrant called for seizure of documents concerning any payment, contracts, agreements, gifts or employment provided by Veco or company executives Bill Allen, Rick Smith, Peter Leathard and Roger Chan

These names should be familiar to Moses:
On Aug. 2, Allen, Smith, Leathard, Chan and Veco personnel manager James Slack each contributed $500 to Moses' campaign, according to Alaska Public Office Commission records. Then, on Aug. 7, Thomas Corkran, Veco's chief information officer, donated $500 more.

By the way, Carl Moses was the ONLY Democrat who received ANY VECO contributions this year, while at least 18 other Republicans received comparable amounts.

Mr. Moses is also pro-Pebble Mine...a project strongly opposed by the majority of Western Alaska over fears of what the operation may do to the fishing industry.

The fact that Mr. Moses is willing to risk losing that seat to a Repub rather than bow out graciously after his primary loss, no matter how close, shows a selfish addiction to power over all else.

Are we sure he's not really a Bush Republican (as in George W, not Alaska Bush) after all?

Of course Democrats are not calling for Hastert's resignation over Foley...it's better for them if he stays!

This is from FOX NEWS a few days ago:
Internal Poll Suggests Hastert Could Devastate GOP

WASHINGTON — House Republican candidates will suffer massive losses if House Speaker Dennis Hastert remains speaker until Election Day, according to internal polling data from a prominent GOP pollster, FOX News has learned.

"The data suggests Americans have bailed on the speaker," a Republican source briefed on the polling data told FOX News. "And the difference could be between a 20-seat loss and 50-seat loss."

Most GOP lawmakers have stood by Hastert, pending a full airing of the facts in his handling of the Mark Foley affair, in which the former Florida representative was caught exchanging salacious messages with teen pages in Congress. The new polling data, however, suggests that many voters already have made up their minds.

The GOP source told FOX News that the internal data had not been widely shared among Republican leaders, but as awareness of it spreads calculations about Hastert's tenure may change.

Then there is yesterday's published Newsweek poll:

More worrisome still, the Foley fiasco is jeopardizing the party’s monopoly on faith and power. For the first time since 2001, the NEWSWEEK poll shows that more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror. Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican. And while the race is closer among male voters (46 percent for the Democrats vs. 42 percent for the Republicans), the Democrats lead among women voters 56 to 34 percent.

I call this the "Mama Bear" factor. Nothing will piss a woman off more than if she thinks her kids are threatened! Some of those woman are going to be difficult votes to win back in just 4 weeks.

And more revelations via The Washington Post and ABC:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's chief of staff confronted then-Rep. Mark Foley about his inappropriate social contact with male pages well before the speaker said aides in his office took any action, a current congressional staff member with personal knowledge of Foley and his behavior with pages said yesterday.

The staff member said Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, met with the Florida Republican at the Capitol to discuss complaints about Foley's behavior toward pages. The alleged meeting occurred long before Hastert says aides in his office dispatched Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.) and the clerk of the House in November 2005 to confront Foley about troubling e-mails he had sent to a Louisiana boy.

Sadly, this is a gift that just keeps on giving.

The Republican pundits and members of the "unbiased" mainstream media who are attempting to pass-off the fantasy that Democrats are the ones calling for Hastert's resignation don't understand the most basic of concepts, "If it works, don't fix it."

The Democrats allowing the Repubs to fight among themselves is working just fine.