This time the appointee was NASA Inspector General Robert "Moose" Cobb, refusing to allow further investigation of a 5 June 2002 incident in which the Shuttle Endeavour launched despite a "no-go" from both Air Force safety officers:
Two range officials—the mission flight-control officer and the chief of safety—are responsible for determining whether the command-destruct system is working and the public is protected. During the final poll before liftoff, both responded "no go" because of the system's problems.
[Brig. Gen. Donald] Pettit overruled them, however, and declared the range green "with little if any discussion," according to the briefing document drafted by investigators. Shuttle managers launched Endeavour without ever knowing of the safety officers' actions.
No one interviewed by investigators, or by the Orlando Sentinel, was aware of another example in the history of U.S. human spaceflight in which the range's top two safety officials were "no go" and the range commander overruled them.
But wait! There's more:
Cobb, a White House political appointee, is under investigation by an administration integrity committee after being accused of repeatedly quashing cases and retaliating against those who resisted.
Let's see...groupthink, suppression of dissent, bad decision-making, and a total inability to accept responsibility for dangerous choices. Yep, that's a Bush guy.
This week's Science has a special collection of stories about climate change. The evidence is getting better for a 1–3°C (2–6°F) increase in global average temperatures, with concomitant sea-level rises and significant shifts in local climates:
Recent research papers in Science and elsewhere are pointing to a major acceleration in the loss of mass from the world's great ice sheets. That means that the sensitivity of these giant storehouses of water to climate warming may be far greater than expected—with potentially dire sea level implications during the next several centuries.
Since the current administration doesn't believe in evidence, the new findings aren't likely to spur change here in the U.S. Fortunately, we will have a new administration in less than 1,033 days. One hopes Miami will still be dry by then.
The Economist has a (surprisingly cliché-ridden) story of Tuesday's primary election (sub.req.) in Illinois:
IT MAY be the Land of Lincoln, but it is a long time since Illinois had a leader of Honest Abe's reputation. Four of the state's governors have been indicted in the past half-century, and federal investigators are now looking into ties between fundraising by the current governor, Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, and the awarding of state contracts. Unfortunately for Mr Blagojevich's Republican challenger, Judy Baar Topinka, the state treasurer, her own party may be too damaged by infighting and past scandals to mount a serious challenge. Having won the nomination on March 21st, in a bitter and surprisingly close primary race, she now must find a way to circle her party's wagons.
[S]ince [Topinka's] ethics have now been questioned by Republican rivals, and given the investigation hanging over Mr Blagojevich's office, it may not be long before the whole race degenerates into wanton mudslinging. The Chicago Tribune, licking its lips, predicts a campaign that will be "absolutely brutal."
Of course, Illinois is 70% Democrat, so really the governor's race got decided Tuesday.
First, the local story: Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich will face Judy Baar Topinka in the November election. Former Chicago alterman Edwin Eisendrath, for whom I voted, polled 32% to Blagojevich's 68%; Topinka got 38% of the Republican vote to dairy owner Jim Oberweis' 32%. No one appears surprised by the results, nor will anyone be surprised when Blagojevich is re-elected.
Now, the international story: The Basque separatist group ETA has declared a permanent cease-fire, as the Irish Republican Army did a decade ago that ultimately led to the IRA renouncing violence.
The general who headed the effort to train the Iraqi military says Rumsfeld should resign:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.
In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.
Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.
You've got to hand it to USMC Chief Warrant Officer James Averhart: he's doing his part in the war on terrorism by tracking down Vietnam-era deserters:
A man was being held in a US military prison yesterday for deserting from the marines 38 years ago after being caught on the American-Canadian border amid a new drive to track down Vietnam-era deserters.
Since he took over the marine corps Absentee Collection Centre in 2004, Averhart has reopened cold cases and claims to have tracked down 33 deserters. "I have a different leadership style than the guys who have had this job. My job is to catch deserters. And that's what I do," he told Florida's St Petersburg Times.
Legal observers said the new drive to hunt down Vietnam deserters is designed as a deterrent for soldiers being sent to Iraq.
I mean, really.
The President's job approval is at 33% today, according to Pew.
And Garrison Keillor has a scathing op-ed as well.
Larry Johnson over at Talking Points Memo Cafe posited what Sunday's activity in Baghdad might look like if it were in New York instead. I have changed the numbers to reflect the relative sizes of Iraq and the U.S.:
03/12/06 AP: A roadside bomb hit a police convoy in White Plains, New York, 35 miles northeast of New York City, killing 8 patrolmen and wounding 32 others, police said
03/12/06 AP: U.S. forces also clashed with gunmen Sunday afternoon in New York City's upper West side, Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.
03/12/06 AP: In Newark, about 20 miles south of New York City, gunmen ambushed and killed a police major as he headed to work, police said.
03/12/06 Sixty four bodies were found with their hands tied and gunshot wounds to the head in Mineola, a suburb in eastern New York City, police said.
03/12/06 Reuters: Gunmen ambushed and killed a local football player (Vinny Testaverde) in Elizabeth City 40 km (25 miles) south of New York City, local police said.
03/14/06 Reuters: At least 320 people were killed and up to 1,000 wounded in three apparently coordinated car bombs at two markets in the Jewish section of Brooklyn on Sunday, police said.
These events actually happened in Baghdad on Sunday. This is our legacy in Iraq. The image of massed armies wearing blue and grey uniforms clashing on the fields outside Manassas should not guide our views of Iraq. It is a real civil war: neighbor against neighbor, multiple factions struggling for control, deaths by the hundreds.
Yesterday the President apparently blamed Iran for supplying some of the explosives that are being used in the ongoing Iraqi civil war:
"Iraqis have shown the world that they want a future of peace," Bush said.
Bush also accused Iran of providing material support to the insurgency in Iraq and vowed to continue to pressure Iraq's neighbor.
"Such actions, along with Iran's support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran, and America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats," he said.
Apparently he forgot that 350 tons of explosives went missing after we invaded, because the battle plan didn't leave time to guard them.
Occam's razor, Mr. President.
This habit he has of treating the American people like idiots may explain his 36% approval rating.
The Census Bureau estimates that as of the last week of February, world population exceeded 6.5 billion. They estimate also that the U.S. population will hit 300 million around November 25th. (Actually, they have a current estimate and a rate, which I used to compute a date. So check back in October to see how close this is.)