Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:

 

Conservative:

Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.

 

Liberal:

Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.

 

Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.

 

Reactionary:

Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.

 

Radical:

Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.

 

The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.

 

The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.

 

Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income

 

Capitalism:

Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

 

Socialism:

Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

 

Communism:

Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.

 

Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.

 

Democracy:

Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.

 

Republic:

Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.

 

Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President

 

Fascism:

Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

 
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Thursday, February 27, 2003



Go Read Mike's Blog today.... start at this link and work your way up. You will thank me later.

Sean: Thursday, February 27, 2003 [+] |
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Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Here we see that the Peace Left hasnt even half of a clue...

http://www.brain-terminal.com/articles/video/peace-protest.html

Sean: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 [+] |
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Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Immigration Disaster?

From the NY Times
BURLINGTON, Vt., Feb. 21
"Prompted by rumors of dragnets and by new federal deadlines that require male foreign visitors, principally those from Muslim and Arab countries, to register with the government, families that lived illegally but undisturbed in the United States for years are now rushing to Canada. They get across the border only to be bounced back into the hands and jails of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. It is an oddly reluctant migration toward a presumed safe haven by people who say they do not really want to go but feel compelled to for fear that they could be deported."

The Mirzas Head North
"As did hundreds of other Pakistanis fleeing a post-9/11 crackdown on illegal immigrants, Mr. Mirza quit his job, packed up his possessions and headed north rather than face a forced return to Pakistan.

The Mirzas are part of an unusual and chaotic exodus that has jammed land crossings from the United States into Canada over the past two weeks, overwhelming immigration officials and refugee aid groups on both sides of the border.

Once Jalil Mirza decided to leave the United States to avoid possible deportation, nothing happened quite as he expected, not even goodbye.

After a 16-hour bus ride from Virginia with his wife and seven children, he arrived at the Canadian border, hoping to take advantage of Canada's political asylum law.

But besieged Canadian officials told him to come back in two weeks. And when he dragged their suitcases back to the American side, United States immigration agents promptly arrested him and his two teenage sons, leaving the rest of the family wailing in despair in the icy cold.

Their common refrain, as was Mr. Mirza's, is that they love America and do not want to leave.But Mr. Mirza wanted to show, one last time, that his heart was in the United States. "I'm going to turn and salute the American flag," he said as he approached the border. "I love America"

The Sheiks Go North
"Mr. Sheik said that he could not return to Pakistan because he and his wife married against the wishes of both their families — "a love marriage," as he tearfully described it — and that he feared his wife would be killed by her father.

His wife, Erim Salim, shuffled silently around the crowded Salvation Army center in Burlington, where they had been reunited after she borrowed from friends and neighbors to pay his $5,000 bond.

"She is sick now, mentally," said Mr. Sheik, nodding toward her sadly. "Millions of people live here and are overstays. Why is it only for Pakistanis and Muslim people that they do this?"

Hiraj Zafer, a Pakistani cook from Salt Lake City who was also trying to enter Canada, gave an answer. "After 9/11, people hate us," Mr. Zafer said.

Mr. Sheik said: "Yes, they hate us. But we love America. We feel free here."

An American Tragedy
""This is one of the most tragic events I've ever witnessed, seeing this exodus of good, hard-working families," said Patrick Giantonio, executive director of Vermont Refugee Assistance, which had found the shelter for the Mirzas and dozens of other Pakistani families trying to reach Canada. "It's a tragedy not just for their communities," Mr. Giantonio added, "but for the American community."

The above passages should make an American citizen feel very, very uncomfortable. How did my parents get here? I doubt they had all their paperwork in order, heck I doubt they could read and write. I think we are begining to lose the American Dream in our attempt to protect it. This is in fact how the terrorists have "already won" (ok, I will go sit in the corner now for using that phrase).

Sean: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 [+] |
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Monday, February 24, 2003
Iraq 'will not destroy missiles' - report Saddam Hussein indicated in an interview today that he has no plans to comply with a UN demand that he destroy his banned Al-Samoud 2 missiles.


Sean: Monday, February 24, 2003 [+] |
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Saturday, February 22, 2003
News Flash, Notorious African Dictator Robert Mugabe "feels right at home" in France"

"We've had tremendous hospitality, we felt at home," said Mr Mugabe, who woke up yesterday, his 79th birthday, in the palatial Plaza Athénée hotel. "We leave with very good impressions about France."


Like any of us are suprised? In an interview on Feb 22 Robert Mugabe signed up to France's New World Order. This makes the second major world tyrant that has France's backing. Soon we will ALL be eating cheese and surrendering like monkeys.


Sean: Saturday, February 22, 2003 [+] |
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Thursday, February 20, 2003
Turkey wants more money to meet its NATO obligations.

"Washington has made clear that a northern front against Saddam is vital to their military plans. They offered Ankara $26 billion in grants, loans and loan guarantees.

Just a week ago, Turkish officials indicated that they would grant permission for the deployment.

Based partly on that, troop ships loaded with heavy armor and the 4th Infantry Division set sail for Turkey, but are now idling off the Turkish coast.

Early this week, the Turkish government unexpectedly raised its request for aid by $6 billion and refused to submit the staging question to Parliament for a vote until Washington agreed to the additional amount.

In public and in private, Washington said no."

I ask, what is the good of NATO, or the UN? Supposedly the Alliance established “automatic” defense protocols, such that when one was threatened, all responded. However, in the only ever test of this alliance, 9-11 and the US response in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US has been reduced to the ages old method of bargaining and purchasing support, whether that nation was NATO or not. I argue that NATO and the UN are myths, harmful delusions of well-intentioned people. They need to be scrapped with all due haste and new, bi-lateral deals struck upon the honest principles mutual back scratching.

Sean: Thursday, February 20, 2003 [+] |
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Chirac Fallout

"All right, Monsieur Chirac. Perhaps we are poor. Perhaps we were not raised properly. We do not know about fine wine and the various directions of avant-garde art. But we do not repay those who have helped us and who continue to help us with ingratitude." -Neatkariga Rita Avize, Latvia

"It seems France, the nation with old pedagogical traditions, decided to continue educating the European juniors." -Verslo Zinios, Lithuania

"Jacques Chirac's degrading message to the candidate countries can actually be taken as a compliment. The French President admitted defeat in his rage. Suddenly the 15 [EU members] succeeded in resolving within a couple of hours a matter on which they were not able to agree for months. It was the "new Europe" which forced "the old" to overcome itself." -Sme, Slovakia

"When [Chirac] reproached the candidate countries for not having discussed their attitudes with the others to a minimal extent at least, he forgot that it was mainly France and Germany who, since the very beginning, have taken a negative stance on a possible use of force against Iraq and on Turkey's request for ... military aid without asking about positions of other countries." -Narodna Obroda, RU

"Neither Slovakia, nor any other candidate country will enter the EU to keep silent but in order to make their voice be heard more... After enlargement, the EU will be different. Less French or German, less Chirac's. However, not worse for that." -Pravda

Check the BBC for more

Sean: Thursday, February 20, 2003 [+] |
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Bouncing Baby!

I am back from Ireland early. My wife emailed me on Valentines Day that she is "expecting". I pulled out all the stops and raced across the country from Galway to Dublin and begged my way on to a flight home. I just made it back to the States when the big snow storm hit. Whew! I then took an interview with a software company back home in Portland. We shall see how that goes. I guess school is now out of the question and it is back to the salt mines for me! Ah well, its a pretty good reason to go back to work, no? Now if only Bush would stop talking about dividend taxes and actually do something for this economy, NOW! mmm... a nice war against a tyrant might be just the thing....

Sean: Thursday, February 20, 2003 [+] |
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Tuesday, February 18, 2003
The Trouble With Europe

Sitting on the train from Galway to Dublin I desperately searched for something to read, then something else, then anything with print not nailed down... I have now read every tabloid and "real newspaper" in the country of Irelan (and the UK, they share more than just water space). And I can see a very clear cause of European inanity. They have no news. All they have is commentary. I tried to explain it to my B&B host in Ennis (fastest growing city in Europe)... you see, in America, when we want opinion on news we turn to the Opinion section of the paper. She looked at me with out comprehension. Ahhh, now that I have read all these papers I know why. They have no opinion sections. Instead, EVERY "news article" is laden with the opnion of the author/"journalist". And the opinions are pre-set and etched in stone. And the European readership never changes its paper of choice. So, if you are a Sun reader you will have one opinion, a Star reader will have another, etc. Even the "big papers," like the Irish Times, simply allow their "reporters" to ladel in as many spoonfulls of their illinformed personal viewpoints as they wish. From an American perspective it is nuts. One side effect of all this angst and passion in the papers is that NO ONE has an amorphous viewpoint, everyone has HARD and FAST and VERY emotional opinions about EVERYTHING, from farm subsidies, to the latest telivison soaps, to the War ON Iraq. Ahh... I get it now...

Sean: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 [+] |
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Borrowed from Mike at www.michaeltotten.blogspot.com

The Ugly German

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said to Donald Rumsfeld on TV yesterday, "Excuse me. I am not convinced."

Well. Some people are more dense than others. Some are both dense and sinister.

Columnist and Atlantic Monthly editor Michael Kelly digs up the dirt on Mr. Fischer. The guy is a real piece of work. Before he became Germany's foreign minister he was a violent, Jew-hating, terror-sympathizing street thug. Caught on film beating police officers. Plausibly accused of throwing Molotov Cocktails not at tanks or storefronts but at live human beings. Hiding the Red Army Faction in his house. Chumming it up with genocidal terrorists in Algiers.

This is the guy who sneered at Donald Rumsfeld on TV yesterday. He is Germany's Foreign Minister.

Sean: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 [+] |
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British Humour

This is the Castle in Dublin... from which the British ruled Ireland for 700 bloody years.



This is the floor of Dublin City Hall Rotunda...



This reads, essentially, correct me any Latin speakers out there, "An Obedient People Make a Happy City."

In the basement is a museum including the infamous "Free-man Roll", a list of those people living in Dublin City who were "free". That is, the fast majority of th citizens were Catholic, who did not have "the freedom of the city". This meant that they could not enter or leave the city gates with out the approval of a Protestant. And they could only open their stores or sell the goods and services on designated "shop days", whilst Protestants could do business on every and any day except Sunday. Up till the 19th century Catholics could purchase their freedom, but this was ended under Queen Victoria. She was SUCH a sweet heart!


Sean: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 [+] |
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Peace Protest Galway Ireland

Note the massive crowd streinging to get into the church yard to protest... ok, actualy they have their backs to the church and are straining to get to the head of the crepe line for lunch. It was like this all day. Mmm...



Sean: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 [+] |
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Wednesday, February 12, 2003
I am in Killarney, enjoying their national park at the Lake Laurne... this is idyllic country.














Sean: Wednesday, February 12, 2003 [+] |
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Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Its All About Oil...

Let me show you under the Euro rug, will yah? I have been tooling around Ireland now for a week and already I have seen some dirt poking out from the tassles. It goes something like this...

Ireland is awash in money and debt right now. Basically they are still in the internet and high tech bubble boom that the US just left. They took 10 years of EU subsidies and built high speed data lines to the US and Europe. Then they educated all there kids to college level, including multiple foregin languages. Then they sold their children's labor for cheap to high tech, banks, and insurance companies to service Europe and the US.

Now they all have jobs and decent, study pay. So they all took out loans for new cars and houses. Now the countryside is filling up with tract homes (all be it pretty ones made of stone) and the roads are all filled with new BMW's, Renaults, and, dredfully, SUV's. Talk about roads, every one has a death toll listed, and every one is thusly being widened or having a "flyway" added. The scent of exhaust, mortar, and pavement is now the national cologne.

One advantage of having been poor for so long is that they never really industrialized before now. They dont have the American effect where some towns have state of the art turn of the century 2000 plumbing, some 1900, and some 1800. Rather, the entire nation is comming into money now, all at once. And the entire island is being modernized "all of a piece". The net effect is that everything feels slick and modern, from Dublin to the smallest beack town. Even the smallest pub has automatic flushers and electric hand dryers. Everyone has a cell phone, even if, especially if, they dont have a land line. And all the clothes are the latest fashion, and so are the cars. It has the effect of showing an American what England could be like if it were all done up to three star standard, in even the smallest of towns. Or, alternatively, what the US could be like if it were given large sums of cash by aliens and the auto had been kept at bay till yesterday. It truly is something astounding!

But the other side of this is HYPOCRACY! Rampant. While watching the local news and TV, from Ireland and federal Europe, I have been struck over and over by how the rhetoric doesnt match the actions here. Let me explain:

I was at a discotech in Kilkenny. It was very nice, slick even, but with the "class" that comes from the decor beng made of plaster and stone long ago, and not from plastic and concrete by Disney* yesterday. The hotel was a turn of last, last century manor house. They had converted a beatiful Empire era ballroom into an ultra hip, Euro-modern, dance club.

All the kids wore levis and dress shirts with the sleave cuffs undone. They all sported close cropped hair cuts and some light facial hair. The ladies all wore low-low cut hip hugger pants and drop neck tops. Big earings and heavy make up were the rage. And EVERYONE had a cell phone. Their fingers played the touch type text dance the entire time they shuffled their feet a swung their butts to the Village People and Snoop and Pink and...

Let me remind you that they all arrived in brand new SUV's, burning Texaco gas, and they all paid Your O's deducted from VISA accounts via ATM's for every drink.

Amongst all this glit and glammor is this thought... nearly all their clothes, jewelry, watches, and phones were made of plastic, an oil based substance. They arrived in plastic cars driven by petrol. They wore oil based make up. They listened to the latest American pop, disco, and classic rock. They watch The West Wing and 24 on TV. And they will all be in the theatres for Daredevil next week. They all work for Eli Lilly and Intel. And of course, they all speak English.

These are Americans.

Do you follow my drift? These people are living the "The American Dream". They have a college education, health care, and jobs at American companies. They all have a ranch house in the suburbs and drive an SUV, the station wagon of the 21st century. They wear Levis and listen to Britney Spears. They watch our cinema and TV. Heck, they even follow American politics as closely as their own -or at least as closely as we do. They also made lots of money off the stock market. And they take full advantage of living on the fringe of a Europe gaurded by the US Army and rebuilt US dollars.

To take this more literaly, Ireland is free from Britain today in large part due to arms, money, and poltical support from America, supplied via the Finnians, Clan Ne Gael, small parishes from Boston, NY, Philly, Chicago, and San Francisco, and the White House. But they seem oblivious, indeed, I doubt their schools even teach them any sense that they owe ANYONE for what they have today. I am sure, in fact that they teach their kids that they made this all happen by their own effort and intellegence - not that I wish to take anything away from these people, California has squandered more than a little Federal assistance and forieng dollars and have come up with little to show for it. But the truth remains that these people, as with the whole of Europe, live an American lifestyle bought and paid for by American tax dollars and protected by the US Army.

Meanwhile, as we line up to die in the dessert to move another chapter in the war against Islamic facism and they bombers they bread... we have to gaurantee again and again that French-Iraqi oil deals will be honored after the war. We have to assure the EU that they will be major players in a "New Iraq". And yet still, "Old Europe" pokes their finger in the eyes of the West and says "cant you all just get along?" All the while they ignore the suffering of innocenct Iraqis, Afghans, etc... while dancing to the Divas in the discos. When Europe does pay attention to us all they merely blather on about "unsophisticated Americans" and the war monger in the White house. When faced with a statement about Saddam's brutality they glibly agree, yes yes, "but it is all about oil" and "daddy being shot at".

Well, I have news for Europe.

It is all about oil. Your oil. The US gets only 1/4 of its oil from the Gulf. None of it from Iraq, almost all from Saudi Arabia and the emirates of the gulf. But most US oil comes from Alaska, Texas, California, Mexico, and Venesuala. We also buy about as much from the British in the North Sea as we do from the Gulf. On the other hand, Europe gets a MAJORITY, about 90%, of its oil from Iran and Iraq.

And it is also about imperialism. European imperialism. Let me remind everyone that the Shaw of Iran got his start as the pawn of the British Empire, not the US. And Iraq is a British imperial creation, three states forced together and a phoney king propped up on a throne by the British RAF and Navy. We can also thank Britain for Jordan and Israel and the ongoing "Palestinian problem". Heck Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emerates, Egypt, and the Suddan all have Independence Day marked on their calenders. From whom? Why, from the Brits of course. Add to this list Afghanistan. Then we have the French fiefdoms of Syria, Lebannon, Algeria, and Sierra Leon. For fun, look up the recent history of all these lands and you will find nothing but bloodshed and violence.

Now look up US involvement. We are guilty of only one thing, being last to the table. In an attempt to hold together the mess of European imperialism against a Soviet threat, we ended up propping up a series of their pseudo states and other players. Whether it be our support for the Mujadeen, the Shaw, or Iraq and Egypt, even Israel, we got involved in this part of the world because Russia had its eyes on it all and Europe was unable, or unwilling, to defend and manage its client states. And control of the oil of this region was indeed vital to the defense of Western Europe, and the "Free World," both ourselves and the Russians knew this.

Another major force that drew us into this part of the world was continued, bungled European imperialism. Such as the British and French attempt to use Israel to invade and hold the Suez Canal. We had to step in and force Israel to give the Egyptians back the Sanai. In fact, we STILL guard the Egyptian border from the/for the Israelis. And we give Egypt and Jordan as much economic aid, $2billion, as we do Israel.

So, I am dammed enough tired of hearing rich, over sophisticated (read: snobish and boring) Europeans telling us knowingly that "it is all about oil," or imperialism, or American war mongering. America has always been a bit player in these arenas, compared to our European cousins

* that is to say that it is not class at all. These people simply dont every tear anything down. I have passed farms where a succession of identical four-square farm houses have been built in a row along the road. When one building fails they build another, and let the old one dilapidate. Well, if you restore, or upkeep, an old building here you get what Americans think of classy old world "style". We value these ever so more because they are "authentic", having been built as they were when they were, not after the fact. But what we dont realize is that it takes very little effort, or intent, by the Euros to have these buildings. Simply put, this is what they have, they have it because it is here. And in fact, when these buildings were originally built they may well have had all the "class" of a post-war ranch house in the States, I am sure that many Parisians considered the Louvre to be tacky and too "new". In fact, when we think of the Old World buildings, architecture, and food, covetously, as "classy", we are mistaken, it often literaly is trash, old rubbish, kept up to use as best as they can because they cannot think of, or afford, anything new. Add to this that European snobbery, cynicism, and post-modern psuedo-intellectualism tends to deconstruct and undermine anything fresh and new that they do come up with. Oddly, I begin to grow an appreciation for brash (read: honest) North American modernism, even as I admire the old world "charm" here.

Sean: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 [+] |
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Monday, February 10, 2003
An Unattractive Irish Girl...

Sean: Monday, February 10, 2003 [+] |
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Saturday, February 08, 2003
I'm in Kilkenny today...

High St.




Killkenny was the "one-time-capitol-of-Ireland". It is the home of the Butler family... which ruled much of the south from here for 700 years. Yes, they get their name because one of them was... you guessed it, the King of England's butler. Much the same as the Stuart line, from Scotland, who got their name because one of them was the King of England's steward. The seat of the Butler's here is the Castle

Main entrance to the castle, with 18th century re-worked gate:


The main yard:



The famous Long Gallery... where the Earl's of Ormound would party into the wee hours:




Inside the gallery:




The garden side:



Sean: Saturday, February 08, 2003 [+] |
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Friday, February 07, 2003
Newgrange, north of Dublin, is a passage tomb built around 3200 BC. It is older than the pyramids. It's special feature is a light shaft that sends the rays of the winter solstice sunrise into the champer for 17 minutes for 4 days each year. Recently scientists and engineers tried to duplicate this set up with modern skills and tools. They built many an attempt and then gave up!







St Kevin's Kitchen, Glendalogh, south of Dublin in the Wicklow Mountains. St. Kevins is part of Glendalough monastary. The monastary was founded by St Kevin in 498. It was a center of learning for centuries and was also a prime target for raiding vikings.



The Round Tower at Glendalogh. This round tower is 110 ft tall. It served as a watch tower and warning bell tower to gaurd against raiding Vikings. In this it was an utter failure, as the monestary was raided repeatedly!


Sean: Friday, February 07, 2003 [+] |
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God Bless the UN, or damn them to hell!

I hope everyone recalls the tale of the Iraqi scientist who jumped into a UN SUV to ask for asylum, but the UN let him be hauled away by the Iraqi soldiers and has only asked Saddam for a "report".

Down with the UN! All those patuli smelling, dread lock wearing, hypocrites who fly a UN flag on July 4th.... suck on this!




Sean: Friday, February 07, 2003 [+] |
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Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Like a Fish Back to Water

Man, I feel something like a fish finally dropped BACK into the bowl! Mike has always insisted that I am an American through and through and would find more culture shock in Ireland than I might have expected, more so than in NY. Well, he was wrong!

Funny, thing, I shaved my head before I left and grew a beard. Honestly, I kinda was afraid of fitting in TOO well, if that makes any sense, and I kinda counted on an extreme coffiure to help me stand out a bit. Well, I got here and found that shaved heads are the third most common hair style for men, right after "1 week past shaved" fuz! Dammit, I look just like EVERYONE here -after all that!

Well, at least I have this... in Ireland, at 5'8", I am not short! Can you believe it? Sure, there are taller men, but there are many shorter. I am about mid of the taller group! Hee hee! Everyone has dark hair, blue eyes, and my build. I feel very much at home!

Meanwhile everyone drinks like fish and hams it up as soon as anyone pays you any attention! I also find that my style of argument, confrontation, good humor, and easy forgiving nature is the norm here too. So, when I talk I don't get into trouble, I make friends!

Hee hee, I LOVE it here!

But alas, I also do certainly love Oregon, Portland, and I am proud to be an American... the last Europeans (um, well, white people.... um, well not all white... ah, heck, you know what I mean... Westerners) with BALLS!!! So, UP AMERICA! Next stop Baghdad!

Hey, it is also rainy and cold here, feels like how our Oregon winter SHOULD have been!


Sean: Wednesday, February 05, 2003 [+] |
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Farking Morons!


January 31st a 50 year old Irish woman scaled a chain link fence at the Shannon airport and attacked the nose cose, wheels, and hydrolics of a US transport plane refueling at the airport. It has been long standing policy, for decades, to allow planes of all kinds, military as well, from many nations, to refuel at Shannon.

The woman, who I will not dignify with a name, disagrees. Aparently she feels, and the Green Party of Ireland, agrees, that damaging a US plane, and perhaps putting the lives of US service men, the pilots, mechanical crews, not to mention anyone in the path of a US C-130 crashing into the outskirts of say, Dublin, is fully justified because the US plans to incinerate Iraqi children any day now.

Irish Green Party leader Trevor Sargent gave his support to Kelly, saying: “It is sometimes justifiable to damage property if, for example, a door has to be forced to access a burning house to save life. In relation to the U.S. war effort intent on killing innocent civilians in Iraq, there is in a similar way a legal excuse for non-violent direct action.

Non-violent? She attacked a plane that was refueling with a hatchet! That strikes me as pretty violent. Especially if her damage to the hydrolics is mis-repaired, or one instance on one line is not noticed, and the plane crashes while landing in Turkey. These people need to learn what real violence is. Attacking a plane that humans ride in over other humans' houses, is violence, period.

Meanwhile, the US dropping bombs on Iraqi war planes, chemical weapons depots, and Saddam's "palaces" places very few, if any "innocent Iraqis" in harms way. Mainly it puts inanimate objects, objects used to repress the Iraqi people, gas Kurds to death, and invade their neighbors such as Iran and Kuwait. Our attacking these sights may well save the lives of untold thousands.

Whereas, attacking our planes as they refuel doesnt save lives, the plane will be repaired and the war will go on no matter, but it does put lives at risk, the crew, the support people, and anyone in the flight path!

These people need a clue, or three.

Sean: Wednesday, February 05, 2003 [+] |
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Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Everything is wonderful in Ireland. This is the nation on Earth with the best looking women in the world! I had the pleasure to watch a step dance crew at work. OK, I realize that dancing with your arms at your sides looks silly, but man, those girls are in shape! They have legs of smooth alabaster wrapped around steel cables whoever they choose to date are lucky, lucky men, or in the hospital! Meanwhile I met a lass from Cork who boasted that Irish girls shagg whomever they feel like! And man can they shake their booty! Bellies and bums are the watch word of fashion here, despite the snow! Now I know why few succeded in truly conquering the Irish, they kept marrying all the women and becoming Irish in the process. That's one way to resist, fark the enemy!


Sean: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 [+] |
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Jesse James Was An Irishman

Stepped in to the Temple Bar in Temple Bar (I know, not very creative) and was immediately approached by an older chap in a cable knit sweater, 5 inch greying locks swinging drunkenly against his forehead, his eyes a bit glazed but still soft blue, wiskey and beer on his breath -or was that his clothes, or both? He took my hand in a crushing grip and told me something damned important, but with his gaelic brogue I had no idea what he said.

I smiled and told him my name and where I was from, Sean from Oregon. The old drinker looked somewhere near my eyes and said "Ah, the Ore ee gun Tray ale, aye... my great grand uncle died on the Oregon Trail (he remembers who his great uncle was!?)... he left me a saddle and a banjo when he died. "Aye, Jessee James was an Irishman, dont ya know?"

He told me all aboput his contact with an American solicitor, or rather his mother's trouble with collecting the inherittance. And I was left to assume that the great wealth from Amerikay was lost on the usual, women and drink.

I bought Padraic and his mates a round of beers, dont assume nuthing... they were drinking Heinikens! And we proceded to egg on another old drinker as he danced a reel in front of the band -who themselves were not too pleased to share the spotlight with a drunk!

Then talk turned, as it always will in Ireland, to politics... the war, our nasty president, and the poor Iraqis. I was warned that Padraic was a professor and Lavinnia was a PHD canidate, these were not ignorant people! But then they proceded to whip out every old saw that I ever did hear about Iraq and W. Being me, I didnt back down, but rather proceded to attempt to paint the other side of the picture frame.

I reminded the group that the US has yet to take land in military conquest ala any European empire (with minor differences in perception on Hawaii and PR, but that is another discussion). I reminded them that we saved Europe with out asking for much more than land in Normand to bury our dead. I reminded them that Saddam is no De Velara... but is a brutal dictator who openly admires both Stalin and Hitler. I noted that in the areas that have been taken from his control by British and American enforced "no-fly-zones" there now exists something like Democracy. And I asked them if they recalled Patrick Henry and his request to be given either "Liberty or Death", I even noted that Irishmen had themselves risked a great deal to win their freedom from the British, and I asked if they thought that Iraqis were somehow different and preferred life over liberty?

Then I fielded some responses from the group, especially Vinnie. She reminded me that the Irish love Americans. She said they dont want to us to die either. Padraic brought up Rummy's "Old Europe, New Europe" comment... (oh the indignation that one brought out!). Then there were the usual lines about Bush being a monarch, a bully, and a greedy lout.

Well, he may be a lout I agreed, but he is hardly a monarch, he was elected (no matter how you see that one) by 50% of the vote, he has served only a few years of his first 4 year term and he may only serve one more, if he wins it. On the other hand, I asked, when has Chirac NOT been the leader of France? And the president of Ireland serves a 7 year term and can have two of those, that is 6 years LONGER than any US president can serve!

They also made a comment about not being fooled by one's government, (it seems they dont trust Brussels far as you can throw it) and I replied that I am not, I even accept that my government may have other motives than I do, but right now we both agree on the end result... spreading democracy and overthowing dictators.

I was asked, do all Americans really believe, as they said that I did, that "your freedom means our freedom"? I said, not that, but rather... "so long as one man remains oppressed, no one is truly free" and that my health, wealth, and hapiness as a "rich American" wasnt worth a damn if I wasnt willing to risk life, limb, and paycheck to help others... especially if our own security interests matched the result and especially if we had ANY hand in helping a dictator stay in power, that being the case, our risking our life to help Iraqis rid themselves if Saddam was the "right thing" to do. I also noted that Irish-Americans have a history of filling the roles of cop and fireman in the States, so I assumed that my sentiment must have something of a following in Ireland.

I also responded to ingorance of the true civilian death toll in the first Gulf War (about 850 by the count of the Iraqi ambassador to the US, contact him vie web as you wish) and the "body bag" count for the US was only about 200. That is, not that many people need to die to save Iraq. So, the upcomming peace marches in Europe, with the sanctimonious blatherings about "innocent Iraqis" and bombs, will be tre repsone of admittidly goof hearted people all hot and bothered about a fiction. This is not WWI, Baghdad is not Dressden, and we are not goign to "bomb Iraq" or even make war on Iraq -we are going after Saddam. And if the recent NY Times articles about Iraq and Kurdistan are any indication, these people are more concerned that we WONT attack Saddam then that we might!? How can Europe fight the wishes of Iraqis and Americans both and still claim any kind of moral high-ground?

To their credit, if not to mine, they truly appeared to listen! And when I was told by Vinnie to listen to Padriac, Pat, bless his heart said, "He is, he is!"

Eventually, I was allowed to count a tactical victory on the debate. That was, that Russia and France are more concerned about their oil deals with Saddam than they want you to pay attention to. And that China, the indader of Tibet and slaughterer of its own student protestors; Russia, the butcher of Grozny; and France, the colonial boot heel of Africa are the wrong people to look to for a moral judgment on war with Saddam.

Hapily through out all of this heated debate no one lost their good humor. I left the group with hugs and kisses, and a reminder that not all of Europe "hates America"... these people insisted that they loved us more than we do... But, I was really pleased that they DID seem to be willing to listen to our side of the story.

I was left thinking "Has the Bush team made ANY attempt to sell its argument in Europe?" Any? Or do they only worry about Germany and France? What they may have forgotten is that Jesse James was an Irishman... where as France may deride W as a cowboy, Padraic inherrited a saddle and Banjo from the Ore ee gun Tray ale!

Sean: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 [+] |
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Well, I am in Dublin!

The plane ride was fine. Met some interesting people. Most intrigueing was an older woman who works as a chemical biologist. She works with Elephants and dolphins! She has been to nearly every country that you can imagine. She was last in New Zealand a few weeks ago and she was on her way to an aquarium in Florida. We had alot of simpathetic political views, including ye olde war on terror. Interesting!

Our plane did a quick stop in Shannon, in the West of Ireland. Then it took of for Dublin. The stop was actually a good thing, as the next leg of the journey allowed me an arial view of the land. My first thought was that the countryside looked just like the pictures and ads show, patch work fields and little houses. It was friken adorable. My next thought was that this was a miniature country built to please American tourists. And then I noticed the lack of trees, the I saw woods which were stripped in lines in stone walled fields. Ireland is a completely man-formed land. At least the great interior farmland tween Shannon and Dublin. Every mile held the same vista, patchwork farms, stone walls, clusters of houses. Even the "mountains" had stone walls and roads marking fields all the way to the top. Even when these hills had snow on the top and woods, the snow and the trees occupied man delinated plots! Oh, and did I mention how flat the land was?

Once you land and resume human hights the land actually become a bit more hilly, thank god!

Dublin is beautiful! It is a miniature European capitol. Which makes sense, if you think about it... whilst the rest of Europe was building capitol cities Ireland was a back water of the British Empire. Thus Dublin feels like a provincial capitol thrust into the role of national capitol at the last minute. So, while the picture boosk show many a grand building, Four Courts, the Post Office, the Castle, and these look impressive the photos, in person they all look built to one quater scale! And the city is flat, not a skyscraper to be seen! This city was all built in the 18th and 19th centuries, the hey day of the British Empire and the apex of British control over the city. So all the buildings are old. And then missed out on any building boom since independence, till today. But the advantage of all these points is that the entire city is human in scale, and beautiful. This is the coziest international quality city I have ever been to. It is wonderful!

Last night I did the required pub crawl through Temple Bar! I went to some hip spots, some luxury watering holes and some seedy joints as well! All Dubliners are 25, gorgeous, and loaded with beer money. Did I mention they are all "beautiful to the point of ill health". And with plenty of beer money? Man, you just TRY to keep up with a local! Another sore point is that condoms cost about ten bucks. So a real debate for them must be "another pint or a prophylactic". The pint must win a lot. I met two young fillies of 23, good looking, shaking their bodies, wow! Then one of them showed me the Chinese character of her daughter's name tattoed on her bum! Pint, or...?

And then I crawled home to my hotel to enjoy the sounds of a fire alarm, drunkards comming home, and two street sweepers who argued over who had the right to scrub Temple Bar! "Get out of my street you wanker!" Nice.

Well, I will get you some pictures today and figure out how to post them. Till then...

[still to come... Jesse James and the Banjo and Loving You and Hating Bush....]

Sean: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 [+] |
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Saturday, February 01, 2003

I Have A Specific Gripe With The Appeasenik Left...


specifically when they say that it is completely unreasonable to expect any form of democracy to rise up in a Post-Saddam Iraq.

Oh sure, you see, they give a couple of reasons: on the one hand they claim that we will simply leave after Saddam is killed, captured, or flees and so a near clone of Saddam will simply rise up in his place; or they say that we will stay but WE will put a near clone; or they simply claim that a nation that has never known Democracy before cannot possibly put it in place successfully, help from us or no.

These are moronically inaccurate assessments. Let us take each one apart in turn

First, Some Other Saddam Rises Up In His Place

First we have to assume that there is another Saddam, or as those moralizing Lefties will tell you with their big saucer round eyes… EVEN WORSE!

Come ON! Let us give the man credit were it is due. Saddam has proved himself to a uniquely vicious and crafty leader. He has been at times part Hitler, part Stalin, and part Gilligan or Hogan's Hero. He can stage a mass murder of his cronies to ensure the loyalty of the rest, he can gas an entire minority population simply because he doesn't like them, and he can craft wars to stay in power.

He is a unique monster. And the chances of someone like him waiting in the wings, so to speak, are even more reduced because HE WOULD NEVER TOLERATE such a man that close to him. No, we are fairly safe in assuming that the likelihood of some "just like him", or "even worse" are slim to none.

But let us assume that somewhere there is another colonel with a bushy mustache and bad hip. Fine. How does he get to office? Lets see the first scenario the Lefties give us is that he simply rises up in the power vacuum and seizes control. Picture any successful invasion and toppling of Saddam.

Or, lets take the Afghan model: We come in with massive air power, let the rebels do the work, and then leave..

So we assume a massive air campaign for several days and then a small ground force moves in and seizes the oil fields and a few key military sites. We support a Kurdish sweep in from the North towards Mosul, Kirkuk, and Saddam's home town of Tekrit and neighboring Sammarra. We also support the Shia minority in the South (with Special Forces, since they have no Kurd style militia) as it rises up and seizes Basra, Sasiriyya, Najaf, and Kerballa. And Saddam's own troops rebel, hang him in front of one of his own massive portraits, and declares Baghdad a "free city".

Ok, so now Iraq is in the hands of two rebel ethnic minorities and a group of Army colonels in the capitol. What do you think will happen next, assuming that there has been only a limited involvement of US ground troops which stick mainly to holding the oil fields and tracking down WMD sites? Obviously anyone associated with power in the Saddam regime will be hunted down, those that don't flee will be killed in the streets, in their offices, or in their homes.

And the new regime? Well, again the nation will be effectively split into three regions, Kurdish Mosul, Shia Basra, and Sunni Baghdad. The Kurds already have an autonomous democracy, with a Prime Minister, and a semblance of an Army, no doubt given a last minute polish by this war. They will continue to hold the North and to exercise a rather benign authority. The Shia south? Well that will be their own experiment, but it couldn't possibly hurt their chances for creating a decent civil state in that there will be a plethora of US troops (and will have had to have had a great deal of assistance from US Spec Forces during the war because they do not have a Kurd style local militia). And around Baghdad? Well I can only imagine the flood of foreign advisers, French, Russia, and the like, who will rush to the capitol following Saddam's ouster.

Or, in the other scenario, where we stay, but WE put in "another Saddam"

Picture a replay of the first half of the Gulf War. Lets say there is a massive US invasion with only a limited use of Kurd and Shia rebels. Lets say there is a siege of Baghdad and some Elite Republican Guardsmen actually fight for a few days?

Well, still, inevitably, the Saddamite resistance will fail, crushed by time and firepower. Saddam will probably go out like Hitler, with cyanide in a bunker or maybe even his own VX gas? Still, the nation falls into the absolute control of the US military.

After all this trouble with Saddam, does anyone REALLY think we would simply put another guy like him in power? Another military man? Not a chance! In fact, it is very, very likely, obviously, that we would follow much the same route as in Afghanistan, finding a non-military man of some local respect as an interim leader, and then directing the Iraqis to reform their society, rebuild any infrastructure damage, and elect a new leader.

As far as economic aide, I realize that Afghanistan hasn't gotten much (from Europe and others, mainly, largely the US has delivered its portion of promised funds), but Iraq is a different egg. Essentially the don't need any economic aid dollars. Really. All they need is the embargo lifted and their economy will take off with a start. Unlike Afghanistan they have working cities, working banks, working markets, etc. Unlike Afghanistan, they have oil. All they need is to be allowed to sell oil and buy goods and they are "good to go".

And it doesn't much matter if the US stays as an occupying force for very long. I realize this goes against conventional wisdom and event he plans of the Bush Administration. But really, if the US actually follows through with the current threats of action with real military force, what post-Saddam regime will forget that? Do we really need to hold their hand after kicking their butt? I don't think so.

Any way you conceive of it, once Saddam falls Iraq will have plenty of opportunity, and military and economic incentive, to join the fold, as it were, and to create a new, reformed, democratic society.

You Say Democracy Cant Work In the Middle East, because they have no experience with this?

For those of you who say "How can they, with out any past experience of this in Iraq, or indeed in the Middle East?!". Well, I would like to point out the obvious to us all. When the 13 colonies revolted against the British Crown they were a first. America had never really experienced Democracy itself. The political rule of the colonies had been that of near absolute monarchy itself.

Think about it, each colony had a Governor General appointed by the Crown of England. This governor exercised absolute authority. In a few of the colonies local assemblies in the counties and towns might have exercised some autonomy. On the other hand, there were no established political parties, and those assemblies that did meet were limited to landed male gentry. Many towns were essentially ruled by the churches or even by one powerful minister.

In the colonies' neighborhood Democracy was also just as unknown. In the French sections of Canada the French Crown exercised much the same rule as the British with appointed absolute rulers. In Mexico the Spanish Empire exercised absolute military control. And in the hinterlands lived a fast multitude of very different native tribes, some of which practiced a democracy of sorts, others of which were organized around a military warrior culture. And back in Europe the only democracy in 1776 was the Swiss federation, itself alternately under the thumb of French military authority. In truth, how does this scenario differ much from that of Iraq today?

In another comparison to the birth of the United States let me point to the role of the French. The French were ruled by an absolute monarch during our entire revolt. This was in itself a tough position for the French Crown to take, siding with subjects against their king. But he did so for the geopolitical gain of applying pressure against his English rivals. And the colonists were in a touch position, taking the assistance of an absolute monarch to support their liberal rebellion, but we took this aide because we needed it.

After our successful revolution the French soon followed suit. And we had no problem allying ourselves with the new French authorities. From both directions, when the French assisted us, and when the French revolted themselves, an argument could be made that the support of the rebels was contrary to past policies of supporting the established regimes. However, at that time, maybe people were better about using their heads to change their minds when their values, new info came in, and geopolitical realities allowed for a change of tune.

In Conclusion

The fact that a people have never yet known successful civilian and democratic rule is no argument for not helping them to a position where they can try it out themselves. Having once helped their tyrant secure his rule over a people is ZERO reason not to see the light, change your ways, and help the people overthrow the tyrant.

The Iraqis deserved to be allowed an opportunity to try REAL democratic self-rule. They may indeed fail, and what would stop us from redeploying troops then? But they have every likely hood of succeeding, as much as we did! And they do have the Kurdish example in the North. At any rate, they deserve to try and we should help them to secure this opportunity.


Sean: Saturday, February 01, 2003 [+] |
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Space Shuttle Colombia Lost Over Texas






The oldest and most venerable US space craft, the shuttle Columbia, exploded during reentry at about 9:00 am this morning.

Columbia is the oldest of NASA's shuttle fleet, first launched in 1981. It was on its 28th mission. The shuttle underwent an extensive, 17-month overhaul that began in September, 1999.

Today's mission was the 88th successfull space shuttle mission since the Challenger disaster of January 28, 1986. In 42 years of US human space flight, there had never been an accident during the descent to Earth or landing.

The shuttle had just completed a successfull two week mission to space. They completed over 80 scientific and medical experiements. And the crew included Israel's first ever astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon. It was on its way to a perfect landing in Cape Canavaral, FL.



Pilot William C. McCool reported problems with "tire pressure", astronaut lingo for a undesirable reading on a gauge on the dash, we don’t yet know what he was referring to.

An unnamed NASA source revealed that Mission Control lost data from the Shuttle Columbia's three auxiliary power units minutes before the loss of the Shuttle's telemetry. The power units are fueled by a highly combustible and toxic fuel called hydrazine.

A suggestion has also been made that the angle of reentry was somehow responsible or related to the break up of the craft.

The largest piece of debris recovered thus far was about 4 ft in diameter in a parking lot in Nacodoches, TX.

All seven crew members are dead.





http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/01/national/01WEB-SHUT.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2716369.stm

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=374650

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1044093781279

Sean: Saturday, February 01, 2003 [+] |
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