Natural Disaster

Chinese Dissident Of The Day, Pt. 4
August 13, 2008

Name: Huang QiDate of Incarceration: 6/3/00-6/4/05; 6/10/08-present  Crime: In June of 1998, Huang and his wife started a website,, devoted to tracking down the victims of human trafficking. Despite the site's numerical reference to the 6/4/89 Tiananmen Square massacre, it was at first praised by the Chinese media.

Chinese Dissident Of The Day, Pt. 2
August 11, 2008

Name: Liu ShaokunAge: 54Duration of Incarceration: Started a one year sentence on June 25.Crime: After China's devastating earthquake in May, Liu, a teacher, posted online photographs of collapsed schools in the city of Deyang. Although the government promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the schools' poor construction, it instead cracked down on groups calling for reform.

Letter Of The Day
August 05, 2008

  Ted Stevens might be a pariah in Washington, but he got a hero's reception returning to Alaska yesterday: Bush praised him by name, a group of thirty veterans riding Harleys tenderly welcomed him to his campaign office in Anchorage, and he got to wake up this morning to this letter of support in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, lovingly titled "Thinking of Ted": Last night, I drove out to the dike behind the airport to watch the Tanana River. The river was raging and was about two-thirds of the way up the banks of the dike. Reportedly it was the highest it has been since the 1967 flood.

Killer Corn Hits The Gulf
July 31, 2008

The activists lashing out against corn-based biofuels can update their talking points with this worrying new fact: the size of the Gulf of Mexico's "Dead Zone" is almost the largest on record. The fast-expanding Dead Zone--an area off the Louisiana coastline with too little oxygen to support marine life--would have broken the 2002 record had it not been for Hurricane Dolly churning the Gulf last week. The oxygen-depleted waters are the result of the fertilizer run-off from the Mississippi River watershed, which has dumped habitat-disrupting nitrogen into the Gulf.

Not With A Bang But A Whimper
July 25, 2008

Mount St. Helens finally stopped erupting last week...a mere four years after it began. The crater started trembling on Sept. 23, 2004, but it was only this month that scientists said that the eruption was finally over, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tells us. Everyone had been fearing a reprise of the 1980 catastrophe when the tremors first began. (CNN kept cutting away from Kerry vs. Bush to the steaming mountain, the story notes.)  But Mount St. Helens has confounded the world's volcanists by keeping it at a slow burn for the past 40 months: More than anything, scientists say, Mount St.

Don't Stand Too Close
June 19, 2008

Ambinder: Sen. John McCain will tear up his Thursday schedule and head to Columbus Junction, Iowa tomorrow to inspect flood damage. President Bush will also be in Iowa tomorrow, but the two won't cross paths. A scheduling issue, perhaps? Or did The Firm foresee the problem way back in 1985?   --Christopher Orr

The Slam-dunk Case For Pawlenty
June 18, 2008

I just wanted to post a quick supplement to my profile of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, which appears online today. In the piece, I briefly assert that a McCain-Pawlenty ticket makes a ton of sense but generally leave the case implicit. Obviously I'd encourage you to read the piece and draw your own conclusions.

Cloud-seeding In L.a.
June 16, 2008

Los Angeles has a new idea for how to combat drought: cloud-seeding. The county plans to spend $800,000 on a plan to increase rainfall in the San Gabriel Mountains by shooting a whole bunch of silver iodide into the air. This may sound like a harebrained scheme to you, but luckily county officials have really thought things through: While many think of airplanes seeding clouds, the county plans to use ground-based generators, another common method. The generators will be placed along the base of the San Gabriels and will use flares or propane burners to spray particles.

Nimby-ism As Environmentalism
June 16, 2008

Seventeen years ago, a storm knocked out Klingle Road, a crucial east-west artery in Washington D.C. Property owners adjacent to the road realized that their property had suddenly become far more valuable, as it now abutted a quiet park rather than a busy street, and used their political capital to prevent the city from repairing the street. In a triumph of spin, they have even renamed the street "Klingle Valley Park." And the "Klingle Valley Park" property owners' interest in maintaining their inflated property values is more intense than the general interests of D.C.

Gasbaggery On Iran
June 13, 2008

In case you thought conservatives weren't serious about energy action, here's a wingnut crack at resolving the crushing cost of gas today. From theNY Sun: Legislation is circulating in Congress, backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that would punish oil traders and transporters that sell refined gasoline to Iran. Iran, like a handful of fellow OPEC nations, has a deeply deficient intranational oil refining infrastructure. Only 40 percent of their crude is processed in the country, the rest being imported or reimported from abroad as gasoline.