Katrina vs Iowa Flood

After Katrina, the media blamed the lack of response on the Bush administration’s dislike of black people.

Can we then conclude from the lack of media coverage and response by the Obama administration that Obama doesn’t like white folks?

See Below:
Where are the Hollywood celebrities holding telethons asking for help in restoring Iowa and North Dakota and helping the folks affected by the floods? Where is good old Michael Moore?

Why are the media NOT asking the tough questions about why the federal government hasn’t solved this problem? Where are the FEMA trucks, trailers and food services?

Why isn’t the Federal government moving Iowa people into free hotels in Chicago and Minneapolis?

When will Spike Lee say that the Federal government blew up the levees that failed in Des Moines?

Where are Sean Penn, Bono, and the Dixie Chicks?

Where are all the looters stealing high-end tennis shoes, cases of beer and television sets?

When will we hear Governor Chet Culver say that he wants to rebuild a ‘vanilla’ Iowa…because that’s what God wants?

Where is the hysterical 24/7 media coverage complete with reports of shootings at rescuers, of rapes and murder?

Where are all the people screaming that Barack Obama hates white, rural people? My God, where are Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Oprah, and Ray Coniff Jr?

How come you will never hear about the Iowa flooding ever again? Where are the gov’t. bail out vouchers? The government debit cards?

There must be one hell of a big difference between the value of the people of Iowa and value of the people ofLouisiana.





Bin Laden’s luxury hideout

Osama bin Laden made his final stand in a small Pakistani city where three army regiments with thousands of soldiers are based not far from the capital – a location that is increasing suspicions in Washington that Islamabad may have been sheltering him.

The U.S. acted alone in Monday’s helicopter raid, did not inform Pakistan until it was over and pointedly did not thank Pakistan at the end of a wildly successful operation. All this suggests more strain ahead in a relationship that was already suffering because of U.S. accusations that the Pakistanis are supporting Afghan militants and Pakistani anger over American drone attacks and spy activity.

Pakistani intelligence agencies are normally very sharp in sniffing out the presence of foreigners in small cities.

For years, Western intelligence had said bin Laden was most likely holed up in a cave along the Pakistan-Afghan border, a remote region of soaring mountains and thick forests where the Pakistan army has little presence. But the 10-year hunt for the world’s most-wanted man ended in a whitewashed, three-story house in a middle-class area of Abbottabad, a leafy resort city of 400,000 people nestled in pine-forested hills less than 35 miles from the national capital, Islamabad.

Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said bin Laden’s location meant Pakistan had “a lot of explaining to do.”

“I think this tells us once again that unfortunately Pakistan at times is playing a double game,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

A senior Pakistan intelligence official dismissed speculation that bin Laden was being protected.

“We don’t explain it. We just did not know – period,” he said, on condition his name not be released to the media.

Extra security forces swarmed the city on Monday, adding to Abbottabad’s already massive military presence. Heavily armed trucks rumbled through, and police shooed children away from around the fortress-like compound.

Associated Press reporters saw the wreckage of one of the American helicopters that malfunctioned and had to be destroyed during the operation. Residents described the sounds of bullets, the clatter of chopper blades and two large explosions as the raid went down.

Hours after the operation, a soldier armed with a gun could be seen walking on the compound’s roof, as tense crowds of onlookers suddenly swelled in the narrow street leading away from the site.

It was unclear how long bin Laden had been holed up in the house with members of his family. From the outside, the house resembled many others in Pakistan and even had a flag flying from a pole in the garden, apparently a Pakistani one. It had high, barbed-wire topped walls, few windows and was located in a neighborhood of smaller houses, shops, dusty litter-lined streets and empty plots used for growing vegetables.

Neighbors said large Landcruisers and other expensive cars were seen driving into the compound, but they had no indication that foreigners were living inside. Salman Riaz, a film actor, said that five months ago he and a crew tried to do some filming next to the house, but were told to stop by two men who came out.

“They told me that this is haram (forbidden in Islam),” he said.

A video aired by ABC News that purported to show the inside of the compound included footage of disheveled bedrooms with floors stained with large pools of blood and littered with clothes and paper. It also showed a dirt road outside the compound with large white walls on one side and a green agricultural field on the other.

After nightfall on Monday, a single light shone from inside the compound.

Some residents were alarmed. “We’re very concerned for this town. It was a very safe place. Now there could be al-Qaida everywhere,” said Naeem Munir.

The compound, which an Obama administration official said was “custom built to hide someone of significance,” was about a half-mile (one kilometer) away from the Kakul Military Academy, one of several military installations in the bustling, hill-ringed town.

“Personally I feel that he must have thought it was the safest area,” said Asad Munir, a former station chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, in the northwest. “Abbottabad is a place no one would expect him to live.”

Suspicions that Pakistan harbors militants have been a major source of mistrust between the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI, though the two agencies have cooperated in the arrests of al-Qaida leaders since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including several in towns and cities outside the border area.

“Why had Pakistan not spotted he is living in a nice tourist resort just outside Islamabad?” asked Gareth Price, a researcher at Chatham House think-tank in London. “It seems he was being protected by Pakistan. If that is the case, this will be hard for the two sides to carry on working together. Unless Pakistan can explain why they didn’t know, it makes relations difficult.”

Relations between Pakistan’s main intelligence agency and the CIA had been very strained in recent months after a CIA contractor shot and killed two Pakistanis in January, bringing Pakistani grievances out into the open. Since then, a Pakistani official has said that joint operations had been stopped, and that the agency was demanding the Americans cut down on drone strikes in the border area.

The U.S. has fired hundreds of drones into the border regions since 2008, taking out senior al-Qaida leaders in a tactic seen by many in Washington as vital to keeping the militant network and allied groups living in safe havens on the back foot.

While tensions may run high, it is unlikely that either nation could afford to sever the link completely. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and the U.S. needs Islamabad to begin its withdrawal from Afghanistan this year as planned. Pakistan relies heavily on the United States for military and civilian aid.

Some of the strongest allegations about ISI involvement in sheltering bin Laden were made in Afghanistan, where President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly said that more of the American focus should be across the border in Pakistan.

“For years we have said that the fight against terrorism is not in Afghan villages and houses,” said Karzai. “It is in safe havens, and today that was shown to be true.”

There was no evidence of direct ISI collusion, and American officials did not make any such allegations.

“There are a lot of people within the Pakistan government, and I am not going to speculate about who, or if any of them had foreknowledge about bin Laden being in Abbottabad but certainly its location there outside of the capital raises questions,” said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.

Some analysts suggested that Pakistan would have little interest in sheltering bin Laden. They contrasted the al-Qaida leader with Afghan Taliban leaders, whom Pakistan views as useful allies in Afghanistan once America withdraws. Al-Qaida has carried out scores of attacks inside Pakistan in recent years.

Last month, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, accused Pakistan’s military-run spy service of maintaining links with the Haqqani network, a major Afghan Taliban faction.

Hours later, a Pakistani army statement rejected what it called “negative propaganda” by the United States, while army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said his troops’ multiple offensives against insurgent groups in the northwest are evidence of Pakistan’s resolve to defeat terrorism.

Kayani also told graduating cadets at the Kakul academy that their force had “broken the backbone” of the militants.

But Pakistan’s government and army are very sensitive to concerns that they are working under the orders of America and allowing U.S. forces to operate here. One Islamist party staged a protest against bin Laden’s killing, but there was no sign of a major reaction on the Pakistani street.

“Down with America! Down with Obama!” shouted more than 100 people in the southwestern city of Quetta. “Jihad, jihad the only treatment for America!”

The Pakistani Taliban, an al-Qaida-allied group behind scores of bloody attacks in Pakistan and the failed bombing in New York’s Times Square, vowed revenge.

“Let me make it very clear that we will avenge the martyrdom of Osama bin Laden, and we will do it by carrying out attacks in Pakistan and America,” Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told The Associated Press by phone. “We will teach them an exemplary lesson.”

The U.S. closed its embassy in Islamabad and its consulates in the cities of Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar on Monday for fear of unrest.

Many Pakistanis doubted the U.S. account of the raid, with some refusing to believe that bin Laden was dead.

“It is not possible. Like other incidents, I think this is faked,” said Mohammad Bashir, a 45-year-old cab driver in Abbottabad. “It seems that in the coming days, suddenly Osama will come out with a statement.”

Reduce, Reuse, Diffuse: Make Your Own Flash Diffuser from an Old Film Container

The Ingredient list


* Camera with a pop-up flash
* White film container — We got free used ones by sweet-talking the clerk at our local photo lab.
* Ruler
* X-acto knife

Step 1: Measure your flash

measure flashMeasure the width of your flash so you’ll know how wide to make the cut in your film container.
Step 2: Cut the film container

cut film containerUsing a sharp blade, carefully cut a notch in the side of the film container (take the lid off first). Make the notch just slightly wider than the depth of the flash. Click on the photo to see the finished result.
Step 3: Slide it on

put canister over flashSlide the film container onto your flash, and put the lid on to hold it in place. If the fit is too snug, make the cut a little wider. If it’s too loose, a little tape should keep it on.
Step 4: Go take pictures!

canister on cameraGet out there and shoot!

Take photos as you would normally. The film container will diffuse our flash’s harsh light. Your camera should automatically adjust exposure to make up for the reduced light output.

You’ll be everyone’s favorite photographer once they see how good you make them look!
Before: Shiny & Pasty

before pictureHarsh flash washes out skin and highlights flaws. Seriously, you can see stains on somebody’s soul with that thing.
After: Lovely & Pleasant

after pictureDiffused light makes skintones look more natural and lets the unflattering details slide.
Want some more ideas?

Here are a couple more ways to diffuse that blinding flash…

* Have a look at Instructables user ve2vfd’s tutorial for further details.
* No film canisters on hand? If you’re a smoker, you may be in luck. (10-to-1 that’s the last time we say that). Check out monkeywithagun’s guide to crafting a diffuser from an empty cigarette pack.

Gaza’s Surfer Girls

At dusk, the beach outside Gaza City is packed. Thousands of bodies cram the narrow Mediterranean shoreline, while bellowing touts ply candied apples, cotton candy, and baked yams. Rawand Abu Ghanem and I are sitting by the water.

The 13-year-old looks up at me from where she has been tracing patterns in the sand. “What do you wear when you swim in America?” she asks. I hesitate before replying, “Not much.”

Rawand nods sagely. “When you surf in America, do people stare at you?”

“No,” I answer.

“They do here,” she sighs.

Rawand is one of four girls learning to ride the waves of the Gaza Strip. They are the newest members of the Gaza Surf Club, a community of two dozen surfers in the Palestinian coastal enclave of 1.5 million. We were supposed to surf together tonight, but Rawand took one look at the crowded beach and decided against it. “Too many people,” she declared.

Sitting in her family’s living room later, Rawand tries to explain: “It’s a great feeling when I surf, but I won’t surf when there are a lot of people around. It’s so weird for them to see a girl surfing. It gets crowded, and I just can’t handle everybody looking at me.”

A lifeguard’s daughter, Rawand grew up watching her male relatives ride Gaza’s waves; recently, she remembers, “I thought, Okay, everybody’s surfing, why shouldn’t I?”

But in a place where few women even swim, Rawand’s adolescent reasoning carries complicated consequences. Since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007, the militant group has been working to inculcate conservative Islam in an already traditional society. As a result, the daughters of the strip’s male surf community must navigate ever more treacherous waters.

“Our society is different than others, there’s no way the girls can surf on a crowded day,” says their surfing teacher, Al-Hindi Ashour. “To their parents they are still kids, but some people here look at them like adult females already … They may say things about them in the future.”

Rawand’s cousin Shurouk Abu Ghanem is also 13. On land, she wears a hijab, the Muslim head scarf. In the water, Shurouk stuffs her long brown curls into a cap.

All of the girls surf clothed from head to foot. They prefer to practice in groups of other surfers and swimmers (their male cousins, brothers, and fathers), reasoning that the more people in the water, the less likely that anyone on shore will notice girls on a board.

“I’m not doing anything wrong. No one has the right to say anything to my daughters or me. But in the end, I can’t live outside the traditions of my society. There are limits to where we can have our freedoms here,” Rajab, Shurouk’s father, tells me.

So the girls and their parents agree—they won’t be able to surf after they turn 17. “Doing something only boys do means I’m unique. I’ll go to another hobby—that’s the way it works here,” Rawand says. “But I will have the same confidence. I won’t change.”

Early the next morning, we enter the water in mass. Nine surfers share three boards. A phalanx of pint-size boys accompanies us on boogie boards, forming an army of attention-deflectors moving through the water together.

Next to me, Rawand squints, gulps air, and pushes her board down, surfacing on the other side of a wave. Nearby, Shurouk swims through the surf. We line up.

It’s my turn on a windsurf board sans sail. And I’m up, adrenaline pumping, as I struggle to keep my balance in three layers of wet clothing (undergarments, a tank top tucked into spandex tights, and then a long-sleeved shirt and hiking pants on top of that). I have to bail to avoid the boogie-boarding boys—the downside of our protective detail—but it’s enough. I’m the first adult woman anyone here has seen surf, and the pack beams in unison when I rejoin them.

Marines in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Three NATO troops were killed Friday in Afghanistan in a surge of attacks that raised the death toll to 17 in three days for international troops in the country. One service member died Friday in an insurgent attack in the east and another was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, an alliance statement said. It did not give nationalities or exact locations of the attacks. On Thursday, eight NATO troops were killed in a spate of attacks, including four separate roadside bombings. It has been the deadliest year for international forces in the nine-year Afghan conflict. Troop numbers have been ramped up to turn the screws on insurgents and casualties have mounted. The escalating toll — more than 2,020 NATO deaths since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion — has shaken the commitment of many alliance countries, with calls growing to start drawing down forces quickly. Getty Images photographer Scott Olson is with the Marines of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment who are responsible for securing the area near the Kajaki Dam on the Helmand River.