Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Talking entry

This is a talking entry. Let me start with the big topic first, Iraq. 14 visitors e-mailed the public account about the two Republican senators who came out calling for some degree of troops home. Why wasn't that in the snapshot? 5 visitors think that I missed the fact that a group has claimed credit for the Baghdad hotel bombing yesterday.

Staring with the hotel bombing. I didn't miss that. I was on the phone with a friend from AP when Reuters broke that news this afternoon. (Click here.) I'm going to assume Reuters broke the news because I was told, "Reuters is reporting . . ." and if AP had already reported it, I would have been told about an AP report due to whom I was speaking to. It didn't make it into the snapshot. One visitor thinks it didn't because I'd noted that morning that there was no announcement.

That's not why it didn't make it. Why it made it in this morning was because friends serving in Iraq brought it up the night before (daytime for them) repeatedly. Officers or enlisted, if they bring something up, it tends to make it up here. That's why we called out the bridge bombing to begin with (when the press was treating it, this is months back, as just another explosion). That's why we hit hard here on the helicopters. On the latter, it was common knowledge that helicopters were under attack. But the military flacks were issuing their repeated denials (including that the means to bring down a helicopter didn't exist in Iraq). The military wasn't addressing it privately (while spinning in public) and people were being endangered by it. (And thanks to the inquest in England, we learned this month, on the record, that the means to bring down a helicopter has been in Iraq, and used to do just that, since May of 2006. For those who remember the start of this year, you may remember the US military flacks repeatedly stating that it just wasn't possible. It was possible and had been happening.)

In terms of the hotel bombing. That was big news. That was an attack in the Green Zone. This wasn't mortars lobbed in. This wasn't even a storming of the Green Zone (like in June 2006 which prompted the start of the endless 'crackdown'). This was someone demonstrating that they could and would attack inside the Green Zone. When Parliament's cafeteria was bombed, that should have been obvious. But here was an attack and the site included not just China's embassy (which is why all this talk about "Well, we'll guard it now" is nonsense but the press isn't going to call that out) but also Western journalists. This was big news and it will have many repurcussions.

It was obvious the minute the bombing went off that it was big news. If you really believe an organization would wait a day to come forward, would wait and thereby miss the chance of being included in all the press detailing the horrors of the bombing, then you really have to believe those responsible had no idea what they were planning. (Or maybe you believe they were using their cam for i.m.ing in some sex chat room?) Today, a group came forward, very late, and they want to claim they are responsible, they want the credit. That doesn't mean they are the ones behind it.

If they are, they have demonstrated that they are very unorganized and very new (or inept) because other groups make sure that they get their announcement out in time to get 'credit' for their actions.

Were they responsible? They may be. They may have truly thought the bomber wouldn't be able to get into the hotel. But the claim is suspect due to the delay.

Let's turn to Senator Richard Luger. He was noted this morning here, but not in the snapshot.
The other one? I don't suffer long term memory loss. I remember 2002 very well. The other one made big statements and then caved. (Under commercials about him being French.) Those who make a point to cave under pressure don't get noted here (regardless of party). We noted Luger who doesn't have a history of embarrassing himself.

It didn't make the snapshot. Nor did the claim by a group. Today we emphasized women. Alissa J. Rubin noted two deaths in her Monday report and we noted them on Monday. That was going to go in the snapshot at some point. While McClatchy Newspapers may note female deaths, the New York Times hasn't been overly interested. A friend told me about the IPS report on Monday (highlighted today) and I didn't have time to include that Monday. So I was already determined to pair the two for today's snapshot. Bridge bombings were going to be mentioned the second I learned of the press release from the military. The Washington Post had covered children that morning. Women was the destruction the illegal war and occupation had allowed to take place -- their rights are destroyed and they are regularly targeted. The bridges are the current targets by Iraqi resistance. Children have to do with the future. That section was going in. And I left out a column -- no time for it today -- by an Arab broadcaster commenting on the abuse of the special needs children. I'd hoped to work that in but time ran out.

Time runs out with every snapshot. On a slow day, Luger would have made the snapshot. The other? I wasn't interested. (And still haven't mentioned his name.) I also knew Wally was going to pitch that topic to Cedric for their joint-post (which they ended up going with, see Cedric's "Titanic" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY THINKS HE'S LEO!") So it wasn't a pressing thing for me. Yesterday, making sure that the war resister's story airing on Showtime (and it will continue to air there) was pressing. That had to go in on Monday (because the film began airing Monday night).

But the above is why somethings get included and somethings don't. I make the choice. And time limits what is possible. (Which is why we noted the report but haven't discussed it again. The 12 part report, not the one from the 'left' think tank.)

In terms of e-mails. I went through five pages of the public acocunt. That's 25 a page, so I read the first 125 when I logged in. I've asked Shirley, Martha and Eli to hit the members accounts. Ava, Jess, Wally and I are on the road speaking. Ava and Jess, who usually work the e-mail accounts, are a couple (romantic couple) and they should have time to have fun, all the more so when Wally is along for the trip. So I'm the only one hitting the public account this week.

In terms of the members account, Shirley passed on that there's an issue for community members in Dallas. I didn't have time to read through those e-mails but called four members. Dallas, Texas has gotten rain for the last few days. Yesterday afternoon, a warehouse caught fire. It's not technically downtown to most people because it's in the area that sometimes floods (they're not at the flooding point yet). Most see the back of the buildings on Young Street (and a few streets behind) as downtown proper. It is several miles from downtown. It caught fire yesterday. Supposedly it was in the process of being demolished.

The fire was still burning when I spoke to members. The first is sending up huge plumes of smoke. They are traveling several miles to downtown. WFAA and the old Dallas Morning News building first got exposed to the smoke around 5:15 yesterday evening. They've just sworn in a new mayor and also had City Council elections (some were re-elected, some are new members). But the community members I spoke with do not feel Dallas is taking the problem seriously. [From the location of the fire to City Hall, it's approximately one-and-a-half miles.]

There's been talk (on TV) about an EPA report being requested.

And in the meantime?

It rained all day yesterday and today and the fire continues at a supposedly empty warehouse. Not a skyskraper. The smoke was there (downtown) this morning. With a heavier rain this evening, it was still traveling the miles to downtown. With regular and repeated rain since the fire started, it continues. (Everyone stressed they were not criticizing the fire department on this, but were wondering why rain hadn't put it out or the efforts of the fire dept?)

Democracy Now! has been hitting on the damage done to New Yorkers as a result of no one warning them about the problems with the air following the attacks on the World Trade Center.
This has many wondering about these clouds of floating smoke (which darkened downtown Dallas yesterday) and whether there's any risk factor involved? An EPA report coming down the pike's not helping. (Read on, there's no report. There is an unofficial 'call' from the EPA. And, to be clear, they aren't comparing this to the Twin Towers' destruction. It wasn't terrorism and it wasn't a skyscraper. They are thinking about the issue of the air because of the work Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez have been doing.)

Is the local news covering it? They're more focused on the rain and, today, tornado warnings. Yesterday, they had to sit through footage on all four stations (local evening news) of the rain before they could get to the fire (which three had no idea of until they left downtown buidlings).
From Shirley's summary of the e-mails, no one was asking, "Write about this!" But this is a talking entry, we've covered Iraq, and a number of Dallas members have written in about it so we can and will mention it.

The big concern is what is in the warehouse? Are chemicals the reason it continues to burn for a second day, still sending up clouds of smoke? (There's an elevated -- highly elevated -- section of I-35 that passes it and one member said he chokes and coughs, just driving on that section due to the clouds of smoke.) It's not a black cloud. Today or yesterday. It's more of a grey cloud with brown in it. After whether or not chemicals were in the warehouse, the big question is, since it was an older building, what about abestos?

No one knew if any convention was going on but downtown Dallas has Reunion Arena (and Reunion Tower, the tall building with the ball on it, for those who watched the TV show Dallas and remember that in the opening credits) and the Convetion Center which both regularly book conventions and the smoke is flowing to them as well. (City Hall is also downtown, it's on Young St. as is the Convention Center which is right next to City Hall.) Is there a danger?

If there is, will everyone find out after an EPA report? When it's too late?

This Dallas Morning News article tells you that the smoke went as high as 300 feet over the warehouse (that's up, that's not the miles long drift to downtown), and it tells you that the roof, at least, was 60 years old and had been tarred repeatedly. Hours and hours after Dallas residents breathing burning tar isn't a health hazard? I think it is. When it stopped being visible from downtown and moved in at 5:15 pm yesterday, people were coughing and, explained one member, "It wasn't just that your throat clenched, you could feel it on your skin."
The article tells you:

At one time, the Alford complex was one of the largest refrigerated storage centers in the Southwest. The structures were built in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, and some warehouses contained more than 1 million square feet and were almost a half-mile long.
Ms. Twarzynski said the fire Monday took place at the largest of three warehouses owned by Matthews Southwest.

You're also informed that an eye witness believes a spark lit the trash on the floor inside.

It may not be a health hazzard, but it has worried Dallas community members and they don't feel that the news is informing them or that the local government is being active on this issue. (All noted, the new mayor was just sworn in yesterday.)

If there are any mistakes in locals above, my apologies. I tried to follow, and I have been to downtown Dallas, but I have no idea on the area the fire is in. When we did the Texas trip last March, we did speak in south Dallas so I'm sure we drove past it, but I'm not remembering that area. (That's not an insult to that area. I was on the phone anytime we were in a car.)

Oh, a friend just called to note this, from Matthew Haag's "Smoke from warehouse blaze deemed not toxic" (Dallas Morning News):

The smoke from a stubborn warehouse fire still ablaze Tuesday night near downtown Dallas isn't toxic, environmental and fire officials have determined. But the lingering haze could worsen symptoms for people with asthma and emphysema.
City of Dallas and fire officials said an Environmental Protection Agency official who happened to see the smoke and went to the site Monday determined the smoke from the blaze was safe to breathe.

The article, however, tells you that the visit by EPA wasn't an official visit (which means the agency can deny that it was an official opinion) and that the EPA official was not reachable by phone. You can click here for a satellite photo (via Google) of the area. I'm told the smoke blew north so if you play with the bar on the side of the photo, you can zoom in and out of the area.

Lastly, please read Tony Peyser's "The Column Arianna Huffington Doesn't Want You To Read" (BuzzFlash). I'm too angry to address the topic but Peyser addresses it quite well. The Huffington Post needs to figure out how to prevent attacks on people with special needs from going up in posts to begin with. That piece of trash never should have made it up to begin with. The fact that it did should be an indication that some guidelines are lacking.

3567 is now the current total (ICCC) of US service members who have died in the Iraq war since the illegal war began and 90 is the total for the month thus far which puts it ahead of the tolls for January, February and March already. The US military announced today: "One Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed June 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

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