Friday, September 29, 2006

Reflections on Prayer

The following is an E-Mail Ministry message.
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The highest privilege ever afforded to man is the power of prayer.
...then why don't we pray?

The right to talk to the highest potentate in all the universe...
...then why don't we pray?

The most powerful force accessible to man is the potential of prayer...
...then why don't we pray?

The greatest longing in the heart of God is to talk to His children...
...then why don't we pray?

Nothing is impossible to those who pray...
...then why don't we pray?

No man ever fainted or faltered who gave himself to prayer...
...then why don't we pray?

Every sin is forgiven, every stain is washed clean, all guilt
diminished to the man who prays...
...then why don't we pray?

Hell moves farther away, satan flees from the man who prays...
...then why don't we pray?

Anointing will come, mountains will be moved, valleys made smooth,
rivers made crossable, the inaccessible made accessible, the
impossible made possible, dreams come through to the man who prays...
...then why don't we pray?

Jesus said that men ought always to pray...
...then why don't we pray?

Paul encouraged prayer without ceasing...
...then why don't we pray?

The riches of heaven are open to those who pray in His name...
...then why don't we pray?

Everyone can pray, the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the
strong, the weak, the child, the aged, the sinner, the prisoner, in
any nation, in any language, all can pray...
...then why don't we pray?

-- Author Unknown

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An InspiringThot

photo of a bridge in Ontario Canada courtesy of

Dear friends,

Title: Prayer for Autumn Days

Autumn often gets us into the mood of prayer. If so, this is a prayer I hope reflects your inner wish, which many of us desire but cannot

View Flash Movie at

Sing Cher Kwek

Prayer for Autumn Days

God of the seasons,
there is a time for everything;
there is a time for dying and a time for rising.
We need courage to enter into
the transformation process.

God of autumn,
the trees are saying goodbye to their green,
letting go of what has been.
We, too, have our moments of surrender,
with all their insecurity and risk.
Help us to let go when we need to do so.

God of fallen leaves
lying in colored patterns on the ground,
our lives have their own patterns.
As we see the patterns of our own growth,
may we learn from them.

God of misty days and harvest moon nights,
there is always the dimension of mystery
and wonder in our lives.
We always need to recognize your power-filled presence.
May we gain strength from this.

God of harvest wagons and fields of ripened grain,
many gifts of growth lie within the season of our surrender.
We must wait for harvest in faith and hope.
Grant us patience when we do not see the blessings.

God of geese going south
for another season, your wisdom enables us
to know what needs to be left behind
and what needs to be carried into the future.
We yearn for insight and vision.

God of flowers
touched with frost and windows wearing white designs,
may your love keep our hearts
from growing cold in the empty seasons.

God of life,
you believe in us, you enrich us,
you entrust us with the freedom to choose life.
For all this, we are grateful.

Autumn is a time for Prayer

Author Unknown

View Flash Movie at

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

60 Years to Restore the Ozone Layer Over Antarctica

by Stephen Leahy
Read the entire article at:
TORONTO - Another giant ozone hole has opened up over the Antarctic, while evidence mounts that 20 years of international efforts have finally helped the atmosphere to start to heal itself.

The "hole" over the South Pole -- actually an annual thinning of the ozone layer, which protects Earth from the sun's ultraviolet radiation -- measured about 24 million square kilometres, nearly the size of North America, according to the Sep. 8 estimate by the renowned British Antarctic Survey, a scientific organisation that has been studying the region for the past six decades.

"We know from the study we've just published that the Montreal Protocol (1987) -- the first major global agreement related to atmospheric change -- is working," Derek Cunnold, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the institute, announced in a Sep. 9 statement.

The Montreal Protocol, signed by 184 nations, was designed to return the ozone layer to normal by phasing out use of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and nearly 100 other chemicals that break down the three-oxygen ozone molecules in the Earth's atmosphere.

"The delayed recovery is a warning that we cannot take the ozone layer for granted and must maintain and accelerate our efforts to phase out harmful chemicals," said Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, in a statement issued in Geneva and Nairobi.

China has promised to investigate after EIA provided videotape evidence this year of Chinese chemical company officials explaining how they mislabel and misdeclare products for import into countries where they are banned, von Bismark said.

The production levels of this chemical has skyrocketed worldwide, and particularly in China, said von Bismark.

"As it stands, the global warming impact of world HCFCs and HFCs emissions will rival the total greenhouse gas emissions of the entire European Union within ten years," predicted the expert.

(*Stephen Leahy is a Tierramérica contributor. Originally published Sep. 16 by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)



Ten Years and Counting Down



Climate change: time to get real

by Tom Burke


re-published courtesy of




The science is clear, the technology is available. To meet the challenge of "the most serious threat to humanity since the invention of nuclear weapons," climate-change campaigners now need to win the political argument, says Tom Burke of E3G.


The public argument on climate change has been transformed by a series of recent interventions by scientists. First, James E Hansen, the global doyen of climate scientists, announced that the world has only ten years in which to take decisive action on the climate. "I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most," he told the Climate Change Research Conference in Sacramento, California


Second, John P Holdren, the incoming president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said in his inaugural address that the world is already experiencing dangerous climate change.


Third, Britain's national academy of science, the Royal Society, sent a letter to the oil company ExxonMobil asking it to stop supporting organisations that were deliberately distorting the science of climate change.


We are much more accustomed to scientists entering the public debate about risk to say that our fears are exaggerated. There is no precedent for the kind of interventions we are now witnessing. They are a mark of the growing panic within the scientific community at the deepening abyss between what they know about the climate and what governments are doing.


Two things are now becoming clear. The climate is changing faster, and the impacts of this change are going to be nastier, than we first thought.



The hole we're in


But other, more hopeful, things are also becoming clearer. We may no longer be able to avoid dangerous climate change, but we can avoid catastrophic climate change. We already have the technologies we need to keep the eventual temperature rise to around two degrees Centigrade. But we need to deploy them with great urgency.


We also know that we can afford to do so. Economic analyses of the cost of tackling climate change suggest that it will require the equivalent of around 1% of GDP. This is well within the margin of error of these figures and would simply delay the arrival of the same level of wealth by a few months. Estimates of the economic damage resulting from a rapidly changing climate are often five times as much. It will not cost the earth to prevent catastrophic climate change, but it will cost the earth not to do so.


The problem is neither the economics nor the technology: it's the politics. Preventing catastrophic climate change requires nothing less than the complete transformation of the global energy system in the next forty years. We must both reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and stop the carbon from the fossil fuels we do use from entering the atmosphere.


We currently add about seven billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere each year. If we continue to fuel our expanding economy as we do today this will become fourteen billion tonnes a year by 2050. Agriculture adds another two-and-a-half billion tonnes that cannot easily be removed. The oceans and plants annually absorb some five billion tonnes of that carbon. By 2050, therefore, we must remove eleven-and-a-half billion tonnes of carbon a year from our economy, emitting close to zero from our energy use. Then we have to keep it there, effectively for ever.


This is certainly a daunting prospect. But the consequences of failure are terrifying. In the face of such difficulty there is much glib talk about adaptation. Some suggest that instead of trying to meet such a difficult challenge, we should concentrate our efforts on learning to live with a changing climate. This is a shallow and deceitful proposal.


It is a fantasy to expect already fragile governments in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia to peacefully manage and adapt to the disruption (including migration) caused by climate change. The politics of insecurity in countries affected there will erupt into factionalism and conflict; Darfur is already one stark example of this reality. Californians may be able to adapt to the loss of melt waters from the Sierra Nevada by building hugely expensive, and energy-intensive, desalination plants. But that option will not be available to the hundreds of millions of Indians and Pakistanis who depend on Himalayan melt waters.


Some adaptation will be inevitable, as the climate is already changing. We who live in the rich world must be willing to help the poorest among us to deal with the consequences of climate change; this is an additional and obligatory, not a discretionary, responsibility for the industrialised nations that have benefited most from the profligate use of fossil fuels.


Since adaptation is not an option, we must address head on the difficult politics of prevention. The first step is to recognise that climate change is not just another environmental problem. It is a fundamental threat to prosperity and security. An unstable climate threatens the social and political stability on which all prosperity depends. Equity will suffer as the poorest are hit first and worst. Opportunity will contract rather than expand as the stresses of a rapidly changing climate divide rather than unite nations and communities.


Politics is often referred to as the art of the possible. Meeting the climate challenge means expanding the realm of the possible dramatically. David King, chief scientific advisor to Britain's prime minister, is right to say that climate change is a bigger problem than global terrorism. In fact, it is the most serious threat to humanity since the invention of nuclear weapons. In fuelling and responding to that threat the world has invested many trillions of pounds over the past sixty years. To respond to climate change, we have yet to invest more than a few billion.



The way out


It is time for those engaged in the battle for a stable climate to get real. Political battles are essentially battles for resources.


We face a shared dilemma. To ensure wellbeing for a growing population with unfulfilled needs and rising expectations we must grow our economies. Should we fail, conflict and insecurity will be the result. To grow our economies we must continue to use more energy. Much of that energy will be in the form of fossil fuels. If we use more fossil fuels we will accelerate climate change. If the climate changes rapidly we will destroy the very prosperity and security we are trying to build.


There is a way out from this narrow ground between rock and hard place. It involves the very rapid expansion of energy efficiency, of biofuels and other renewables and of carbon capture and storage. Left to itself, the $17 trillion that will be invested in energy technologies by 2050 will add the other seven billion tonnes of carbon a year to the atmosphere. To keep our climate stable we are going to have spend enough public money to make those technologies carbon-neutral.


This will be easier than many think. A relatively small carbon tax will yield vast amounts of revenue. That revenue can be dedicated to paying the difference between carbon-intensive technologies and those which are carbon-neutral. As the switch is made, the need for the revenue will decline and the tax can be reduced.


Europe currently spends 46% of its annual budget on a problem it has already solved: food security. It spends practically nothing on a problem that threatens the livelihoods and wellbeing of every single citizen in the union: climate security. It is time to look to the future rather than remain trapped in the past. That means a radical reallocation of European funds from the common agricultural policy into a climate security fund. Some of this can, of course, be spent to enhance the role farmers can play in preventing climate change.


Successful campaigning requires the relentless hammering away at a deliverable goal that can easily be understood. The present cacophony of ideas coming from climate campaigners simply confuses the public and lets governments off the hook. Good campaigning builds public awareness and then leverages it to compel specific actions. There is no shortage of public awareness about the threat to the climate. But this has not yet been leveraged by the campaigners. It is now time they focused that awareness on three simple questions: how much governments need to spend, on what, and by when.


This article is re- published with permission of the author Tom Burke, and under a Creative Commons licence.  You may republish it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines 

Monday, September 25, 2006


By Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind,
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
Wth foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers rough and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly, You are either here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.
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Understanding Religious Views of God

So how do you view God?  
Americans and the God question |
Commentary>The Monitor's View
from the September 25, 2006 edition
Most Americans (85 to 90 percent) believe in God. A large majority prays and almost half attend church or other services at least monthly. But how do they view God, and does it affect social and political attitudes?

A new survey from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, called "American Piety in the 21st Century" probes this subject. Conducted by Gallup pollsters, the survey is receiving deserved praise for its depth of questioning.

The most innovative aspect of the Baylor study is how its questions turned up four ways in which people conceive of deity.  The survey offered 16 words to characterize God, such as motherly, wrathful, and severe.  It supplied 10 descriptions relating to God's involvement in the world, including "a cosmic force in the universe," "removed from world affairs," and "concerned with my personal well-being."

--  Type "A" is authoritarian, metes out punishment, and is highly involved in world and personal affairs (the view of about 31 percent).

  --  Type "B" is benevolent, also active in the world and individual lives, but more forgiving (23 percent).

  --  Type "C" is critical, not engaged but still passing judgment - which individuals will discover in a later life (16 percent).

  --  Type "D" is distant, neither active nor judging - but a force which set the laws of nature in motion (about 24 percent).

The study found that even people within the same denomination hold different concepts of God - which may explain schisms over dogma.  Evangelicals and black Protestants, however, hold the most uniform views (a majority sees God as authoritarian).

It also found that the "four Gods" track more closely with political and social attitudes than do traditional indicators such as church attendance.  The study found, for instance, that the closer one moves toward the authoritarian model, the more likely one finds abortion and gay marriage are "always wrong."

Baylor plans more such surveys, and there's still much to plumb.

Some religion experts, for instance, suspect a certain superficiality in Americans' religiosity. 

How might they weigh in on the import of the Sermon on the Mount or the Ten Commandments?

And then there's the growth in nontraditional and nonJudeo-Christian faiths, especially among young people.

Americans know theirs is a religious country.  This, and future studies, can help act as a mirror to help them better appreciate common bonds as well as differences in what they worship.

The more people know how God is reflected in individual lives, the more understanding they will have toward others.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


A Movement to End Affirmative Action

Where do you stand on this issue I would love to hear our thoughts?  plk
A Fight To Define Equality

By George F. Will
Sunday, September 24, 2006; B07

Read the entire article at:



DETROIT -- A feisty 29-year-old white woman and a pugnacious 67-year-old black man are performing two services this autumn for Michigan and the nation.

Their Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) is promoting colorblind government.

And they are provoking remnants of the civil rights movement, which now is just a defender of a racial spoils system, to demonstrate its decadence, even thuggishness.

In November Michiganders will vote on this ballot initiative: "A proposal to amend the state constitution to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes."

Almost identical measures were passed by referendums in California in 1996 and Washington state in 1998, in similar conditions to those here: They were opposed by both parties, all so-called civil rights organizations, most newspapers and many business leaders.

It endorsed her argument that it was an unconstitutional denial of equal protection of the law for the university to add 20 points to the scores of black, Hispanic and Native American applicants.

Ward Connerly is a California businessman and former member of the University of California Board of Regents.

He propelled to victory the measures mandating colorblind government in California and Washington state.

With Gratz as its executive director and Connerly lending hard-earned expertise, MCRI collected 508,000 signatures, more than ever have been gathered for a Michigan initiative.

In response, some opponents of MCRI have adopted four tactics, none of which involves arguing the merits of racial preferences and all of which attempt -- in the name of "civil rights," of course -- to prevent Michiganders from being allowed to vote on MCRI.

 -- Pressuring signers of MCRI petitions to say they did not understand what they were signing.

 -- Violently intimidating the state Board of Canvassers, which certifies that initiatives have qualified for the ballot.

The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary (BAMN) disrupted the board's deliberations, shouting and overturning a table.

 -- Asking a court to rule that MCRI committed "fraud" because many who signed the petition supposedly were confused -- the signers were presumably not competent to read and understand the initiative, the full text of which was printed at the top of each petition.

A federal judge -- Arthur Tarnow, a Bill Clinton appointee -- sadly said he could not rule that way because, although he thinks MCRI is a fraud, whites as well as blacks were confused about it, and even if all signatures gathered in majority-black cities were invalidated, there still were enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot.

So Tarnow contented himself with an extrajudicial smear of Gratz, charging that her "deception" had confused all Michigan voters, regardless of race.

It might, they say, eliminate single-sex public schools (Michigan has none; eight of 3,748 schools have a few voluntary single-sex classes) and breast-cancer screening or might stop a Department of Natural Resources program aimed at helping Michigan women become hunters (the initiative concerns only hiring, contracting and public schools).

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


Friday, September 22, 2006

New Flash Movie

photo of a country road in Ireland courtesy of Photos To Go

September 22, 2006 #116

Dear friends,

A flash movie to usher in Autumn.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and share it with your loved ones.

View Flash Movie at

Sing Cher Kwek

Title: Autumn

The Summer flowers are fading,
The land is slowly changing;
As Autumn shows its face
All nature's re-arranging.

From the trees the rustling leaves
Are slowly drifting down;
Russet, bronze and amber
And yellow turning brown.

As they fall upon the ground
They carpet field and fold,
And in their resting place
The earth seems dipped with gold.

We say goodbye to Summer,
Welcome mellow Autumn days
With the beauty all around us
God's handiwork we praise.

Copyright © Marian Jones 9/03 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Make Your Voice Heard On The Issue of Government Wiretapping.

If you are a US citizen, select your viewpoint to send a message and register your vote in each of these Action Polls.
Then visit to see the latest results.
Should Court Orders Be Required for Wiretapping?
The Senate Judiciary committee approved two bills.
One that allows warrantless wiretapping of calls and one that requires special court warrant approval. Which bill should the Senate pass?
Click on the link below that best reflects your view on the issue. 

Picture Your Issue on
You oughta be in pictures. Or your issue.  Write to Pres. Bush about any issue, plan, idea, complaint or praise. We will select the most compelling story or picture and feature it on in our "What's on Your Mind" section.   Submit your message and picture here.  Or visit to see the latest pics and issues.

Election Season is Here
Be sure to
register to vote and find out who is on the ballot in your state this November.

More information on Congress activities can be found each day on

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thoughts For The Week

graphic courtesy of

Sorry for the delay in getting out this week's "Thoughts For The Week". A nasty little computer virus attacked one of my pcs this past weekend and kept me pretty busy. You can read about this little adventure of my other blog Pam's Coffee Conversation.

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"Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. " - Matthew 7:5 (New Living Translation)

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“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
- Ephesians 4:29

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People are often unreasonable, illogical,and self-centered;
forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,there may be jealousy;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,it is between you and God;I
It was never between you and them anyway.

- Mother Theresa

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Muslim Canadian citizen Was Falsely Accused, Detained and Tortured

And to add insult to injury, when Maher Arar filed a lawsuit in US court for false imprisonment the court dismissed his case on the grounds of "national security".   This is not a case of national security it is a case of national fear and deception.    
The story is Maher Arar illustrates the same type of prejudice and fear that led to the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans and Canadians during World War II.   You would think that both nations would have learned their lessons but apparently they have not.   Of course Canadian officials are hiding behind the excuse that they did not think that the Americans would turn Maher Arar over to the Syrians.  
The Bush Administration used Condoleezza Rice to sell the fiction that they do not condone torture just as they used Colin Powell to sell the fiction of WMDs.  Colin Powell walked away from the madness and is now speaking out.   The real question now is what We the public will do.   Will the American, Canadian and British people speak out against this?
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Canadian Was Falsely Accused, Panel Says -

After Tip From Ally, U.S. Sent Muslim to Syria for Questioning

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, September 19, 2006; Page A01
Read the entire article at:
TORONTO, Sept. 18 -- Canadian intelligence officials passed false warnings and bad information to American agents about a Muslim Canadian citizen, after which U.S. authorities secretly whisked him to Syria, where he was tortured, a judicial report found Monday.

The report, released in Ottawa, was the result of a 2 1/2-year inquiry that represented one of the first public investigations into mistakes made as part of the United States' "extraordinary rendition" program, which has secretly spirited suspects to foreign countries for interrogation by often brutal methods.

The inquiry, which focused on the Canadian intelligence services, found that agents who were under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, falsely labeled an Ottawa computer consultant, Maher Arar, as a dangerous radical. They asked U.S. authorities to put him and his wife, a university economist, on the al-Qaeda "watchlist," without justification, the report said. 
Arar was also listed as "an Islamic extremist individual" who was in the Washington area on Sept. 11.

The report concluded that he had no involvement in Islamic extremism and was on business in San Diego that day, said the head of the inquiry commission, Ontario Justice Dennis O'Connor.

"This is really the first report in the Western world that has had access to all of the government documents we wanted and saw the practice of extraordinary rendition in full color," he said in an interview from Ottawa.  He said the individual Canadian officials should be held accountable: "Justice requires no less."

Since Sept. 11, the CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3,000 people in its effort to dismantle terrorist networks.  Many of them have been secretly taken by "extraordinary rendition" to other countries, hidden from U.S. legal requirements and often subject to torture.

The practice is generating increased opposition by other countries; Italy is seeking to prosecute CIA officers who allegedly abducted a Muslim cleric in Milan in February 2003, and German prosecutors are investigating the CIA's activities in their country.

Although details of the renditions and the destinations of those held are secret, President Bush has confirmed the existence of CIA-run prisons throughout the world.

The report said agents of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police "overstated" Arar's importance in the broad investigation they began of potential Canadian suspects after Sept. 11.

They did not appreciate the fact that the branding of someone as a 'target' or 'suspect' or 'Islamic extremist' to Americans in 2002 could lead to disastrous consequences."

Arar filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court, but the case was dismissed by a judge citing "national security" issues.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer

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If you think that what happened to Maher Arar can't happen to you think again ! There's a mouse trap in the house.     plk



A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his
wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to
discover that it was a mouse trap. Retreating to the farmyard the mouse
proclaimed the warning: "There is a mouse trap in the house, a mouse
trap in the house! "The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head
and said, "Excuse me, Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to
you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mouse trap in the
house, a mouse trap in the house!" "I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse,"
sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can do about it but pray.
Be assured that you are in my prayers." The mouse turned to the cow. She
said, "Like wow, Mr. Mouse. A mouse trap. Like I am in grave danger.

So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the
farmer's mouse trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout
the house, like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey. The
farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did
not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The
snake bit the farmer's wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever.
Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the
farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.
His wife's sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit
with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well and a few days later she passed away.
So many people came for her funeral, that the farmer had the cow
slaughtered, to provide meat for all of them to eat. So the next time
you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not
concern you, remember that when there is a mouse trap in the house, the
whole farmyard is at risk.

-- Author Unknown

Monday, September 18, 2006

Join the Receipt Revolution--Use Your Gas Receipts to Demand Fuel Efficient Vehicle Choices!

I thought you might be interested in this alert from the Union of Concerned Scientists. You'll need your gas receipt to tell Congress that America wants more fuel-efficient cars and
trucks. If you go to the URL below you can check out the details and send your own message.

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Don’t toss that gas receipt!
Join the revolution.


Now is the time to let your senators know that you are tired of automakers’ empty promises for more fuel-efficient auto choices. Take action today and join the Receipt Revolution!

It’s easy. I put my gas money where my mouth is—you can click here to see a .pdf copy of my letter to Senators George Allen and John Warner (apologies for the poor penmanship).

Now I need your help to make sure Congress hears us loud and clear. Increasing the fuel economy of America’s cars is the best near-term solution to address our oil dependence and automotive pollution. Help ensure this issue is at the forefront of our decision-makers’ minds before they leave town for congressional recess.

Here's what you do:

The clock is ticking on this senate session, so make your voice for fuel-efficient choice heard today!

Thanks for all you do,

Scott Nathanson
National Field Organizer
Clean Vehicles Program

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Then please forward this email to all your friends. We really need your help to spread the word--that's the key to making this a success. Get the whole story at

Take action on interest rate caps to protect US troops

A measure capping annual interest rates for loans made to
military borrowers has passed the U.S. Senate and is now being
debated in conference committee. Ask the House of
Representatives to approve this provision and protect our troops
from abusive payday loans and other financial scams.

Click the link below to send your own message to Capitol Hill.

Help end female genital cutting

Dear Friends,
Some stories are headline news for a few months and then they
just seem to disappear.  This is one of those stories.
Female genital cutting, also called female circumcision, has
affected more than 135 million women and girls worldwide.
Complications can include severe bleeding, infection, long-term
difficulties with intercourse and childbirth, even death.
"Female circumcision, or mutilation of the genitals, is one of the most
political areas of women's health. Worldwide it is estimated that well
over 100 million women have been subjected to it.  Supporters of the
practice say it is done for cultural and religious reasons, but opponents
say that not only is it potentially life-threatening - it is also an extreme
form of oppression of women. "

There's no getting around it. The practice of female genital cutting is
difficult to talk about.  But every day, as many as 6,000 women and
girls risk undergoing this painful, debilitating procedure.

I just signed a petition to stop FGC. I hope you'll help me fight this
practice by signing your name to the petition as well!

I hope you'll join me. Click on the link below to take action
Pamela Lyn

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The Leader in Online Campaigns

Friday, September 15, 2006

FDA Warning To Discard Fresh Bagged Spinach

E. coli outbreak in 10 states tied to spinach - Infectious Diseases
WASHINGTON - Federal health officials worked Friday to find the source of a multistate E. coli outbreak and warned consumers that even washing the suspect spinach won't kill the sometimes-deadly bacteria.

One person died and dozens of others were sickened in the ten-state outbreak, linked by Food and Drug Administration officials to bagged spinach. "We need to strive to do even better so even one life is not lost," said Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, FDA's acting commissioner.

The FDA warned people not to eat bagged spinach and said washing it wouldn't solve the problem because the bacteria is too tightly attached. "If you wash it, it is not going to get rid of it," said Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition.

The original outbreak was reported Thursday in eight states. On Friday, Ohio and Kentucky brought the tally to 10, as additional reports trickled in to state and federal health officials.

Ohio health officials reported seven cases --- one serious --- while Kentucky officials knew of a single case involving a 17-year-old girl being treated in neighboring Tennessee.

Meanwhile, supermarkets around the country began pulling packaged spinach from store shelves. "We pulled everything that we have spinach in," said Dan Brettelle, manager of a Piggly Wiggly store in Columbia, S.C.

Officials believes the spinach may have been grown in California, and federal and state health officials were there trying to pinpoint the source of the contamination.

E. coli is commonly present in animal manure. Brackett said the use of manure as a fertilizer for produce typically consumed raw, such as spinach, is not in keeping with good agricultural practices.  "It is something we don't want to see," he told a food policy conference.

Ten states were reporting a total of at least 58 cases of E. coli, according to the latest tally Friday. 
The death occurred in Wisconsin, where 20 people were reported ill, 11 of them in Milwaukee.
The outbreak has sickened others --- nine of them seriously --- in Connecticut, Kentucky, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon and Utah.  In California and Washington, health officials were investigating a single case in each of the two states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Wisconsin health officials alerted the FDA about the outbreak at midweek.  A special effort is under way in the Salinas Valley of California, a major leafy-vegetable growing region, to look for any possible source of contamination there.

Most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, although some people --- including the very young and old --- can develop a form of kidney failure that often leads to death.

Anyone who has gotten sick after eating raw packaged spinach should contact a doctor, officials said.

"We're telling people if they have bagged produce and they feel like it's a risk, throw it out," Michigan Department of Community Health spokesman T.J. Bucholz said.

E. coli lives in the intestines of cattle and other animals and typically is linked to contamination by fecal material.

The disease-linked strain of the bacterium causes an estimated 73,000 cases of infection, including 61 deaths, each year in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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U.N. Human Rights Committee Denounces U.S. Indigenous Policies

By William Brennan Thomas
 World Indigenous News ---   A leading United Nations human rights body has issued a report blasting the United States for its systematic abrogation of its treaties with Native Americans, stealing of reservation land, and the loss of billions of dollars of Native American money, among other things.

It demanded that the United States grant American Indians and Native Hawaiians the same basic protections under U.S. law that it grants to nonindigenous Americans.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee is a panel of 18 independent experts set up to monitor implementation of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The ICCPR is one of two international covenants on human rights that form the cornerstone of an extensive series of internationally binding treaties.

The most recent review relied upon submissions by nongovernment organizations, the testimony of a U.S. delegation, and a U.S. government report that was submitted seven years after it was officially due.

Of primary concern to the committee was the ability of the U.S. Congress to extinguish recognized tribal property rights without due process and fair compensation.

This capacity stems from the 1903 Supreme Court decision Lone Wolf vs. Hitchcock, which held that Congress has absolute authority to unilaterally negate treaties it has signed with Indian nations.

The Human Rights Committee found that the denial of Native Americans' right to effectively control their lands and resources was a violation of Article 1 of the ICCPR, which recognizes "the rights of all peoples to self-determination and by virtue of that right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development."

Native rights are also protected under Article 27 of the covenant, which protects the rights of minorities to enjoy their own culture, profess and practice their own religion, and to use their own language.

The rights guaranteed in these two articles often require control and use of traditional land, a right the U.S. government has denied to American Indians for over a century.

According to Tim Coulter, executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center, who made a presentation to the committee, "The relationship between the U.S. government and Indians is an involuntary permanent trusteeship with no accountability.

The committee also cited the Department of the Interior's mismanagement of so-called Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts, which hold accumulated income from land that was "given" to individual Indians when reservations were broken up in the late 1880s.

The abuse of IIM accounts has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars that belonged to native peoples.

The U.S. delegation, predictably, was dismissive of the committee's complaints.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Darfur -- Rwanda in the making

It's too late to say the hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children that were slaughtered in Rwanda. It's even too late to save the hundeds of thousands that have already died in Sudan. But there is still time to prevent a full scale genocide in Sudan. Please act now and demand that thethe UN, the US and Europe stop sending the message that terrorism and genocide is alright as long as they keep it in Africa. plk

Darfur - Rwanda in the making
September 13, 2006
courtesy of Talking Points a publication of the American Progress Action Fund

The world may be only two weeks away from another Rwanda. On Sept. 30, the under-manned and under-funded African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur is set to leave the country. Those 7,000 A.U. troops—dispatched over a region the size of Texas—are the only forces moderating the attacks in Darfur, during which "civilians are usually killed, injured, raped, abducted or forcibly displaced." During the last two weeks, the Sudanese government has "dramatically intensified" its air strikes and worked "to drain the region of witnesses," including foreign journalists. If the AU forces leave on Sept. 30 as scheduled, as Eric Reeves warns, "this is a genocidal black box." President Bush cannot let this happen on his watch. (Take a moment to sign up with and the Genocide Intervention Network, and see how your members of Congress have voted on Darfur at

  • The Sudanese government is preparing to start the mass killings. The U.N. “plan to deploy as many as 17,500 U.N. troops and as many as 3,300 civilian police is contingent on consent by the government of Sudan, which has categorically rejected calls for U.N. forces in Darfur." "Ominously, the Khartoum government is preparing a new, massive military deployment, ostensibly to put down rebel forces before any U.N. peacekeepers arrive," writes the New Republic’s Tim Fernholz. "But Khartoum's tactics have not been those of counter-insurgency, or even total war. They have been the tactics of genocide." Fernholz cites a recent Amnesty International report describing "indiscriminate and disproportionate bombings on civilians and how the Janjaweed, government militias operating alongside the Sudanese army, target exclusively civilians."

  • U.N Ambassador John Bolton has failed to lead on Darfur. "Silence gives consent," U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters after the recent Security Council resolution passed. These are high-minded words for an ambassador who has consistently failed Darfur. In October 2005, Bolton blocked senior U.N. officials from briefing the Security Council on possible human rights violations in Sudan's Darfur region. "Bolton’s move was starkly opposed by Secretary General Annan and 11 Security Council members, including US allies." Last February, while Bolton was serving as president of the Security Council, his blustering approach "failed to persuade even some US allies in Africa and Asia to join the United States to authorize the deployment of UN troops to Sudan's Darfur province.

  • While there are no simple answers, much more can be done to stop the genocide. Ending the "world's worst humanitarian crisis" will require a comprehensive political solution, and those take time. But there are simple, effective steps that can be taken immediately. President Bush needs to use his bully pulpit and organize maximum pressure to be placed on Sudan’s government to accept the U.N. forces. He needs to place an effective ambassador at the United Nations who can mobilize the international community—including Russia and China—to take action. Congress can also act—a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that passed on Thursday will allocate $20 million for the African Union and acts to “facilitate the air-lifting of [AU] forces into the Darfur region as quickly as possible.” Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) has introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for President Bush to appoint a presidential envoy to Sudan and establish a no-fly zone over Darfur.

To visit the Talking Points archives, please click here.

Landmine casualties up , virtuall all were civilians

Landmine casualties up despite record clearing
Read the entire article at:
GENEVA (Reuters) - A record area was cleared of landmines worldwide last year, but casualties caused by the weapons rose by 11 percent to 7,328, with almost all the victims civilians, many of them children, a report said on Wednesday.

Despite stepped-up clearance work, efforts to implement a 1997 international treaty banning the use of the anti-personnel weapons could slow without higher levels of funding, according to the Land mine Monitor Report 2006.

"Families affected by landmines want to see words become reality: they want to walk, play and live without fear, once and for all," said Sylvie Brigot, executive director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), one of the humanitarian groups which produces the annual report.

Rebel groups are the largest users, with Myanmar being the country where government forces are known to have planted mines over the past year, authors of the report told journalists.

Children account for 20 percent of the victims reported in nearly 60 countries.

"We continue to believe the true number is at least two times this (the reported figure)," said Steve Goose of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

"The longer states take to clear these mines, the longer these mines wait in the ground for innocent civilians to step on," said Jody Williams, ICBL ambassador and 1997 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate for her work in setting up the movement.

The total area cleared in 2005 was 740 square kilometers (300 square miles), approximately the size of New York City.

Some 470,000 landmines, including about 450,000 anti-personnel mines, and 3.75 million explosive devices were removed.

But funds for de-mining and for assisting victims fell for the first time since the treaty came into force to $376 million, $23 million less than in the previous year, the report said.

The European Union, the United States and eight other major donors cut back on help for de-mining activities.

The steepest reductions were seen in Iraq, down 53 percent at $30.9 million, followed by Afghanistan and Cambodia.

The United States, Russia and China, all major arms producers, are not signatories to the pact.


To learn more about the campaign to ban landmines visit the International Campaign to Ban Landmines website

Remember That Place Called Somalia

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | AU backs 8,000 troops for Somalia
Read the entire article at:
AU backs 8,000 troops for Somalia The African Union has approved plans to send 8,000 peacekeepers to Somalia to support the interim government.

A meeting at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, agreed that the first soldiers should be in place by the end of the month.

The approval for the force by the African Union Peace and Security Council also appears to fly in the face of a shaky agreement between Somalia's interim government and the Islamic courts not to allow any foreign intervention.

Somalia has been without any effective government for the past 15 years divided into fiefdoms controlled by rival warlords.

The interim government has the support of the UN, but it controls only a small area of the country around its base in Baidoa, about 250km from the capital and a powerful local warlord has ordered them to leave.

The Islamists accuse the government of bolstering its defences with troops from Ethiopia, while they in turn have been accused of using military backing from Eritrea.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Did You Know That Haiti Had to Pay for Its Independence

" In 1825, France charged Haiti for its independence.
It took Haiti 122 years to pay off the debt, gobbling up as much as 80 of the country's revenues in some years--at the expense of investment in education, healthcare, and infrastructure. It's time to pay Haiti
back, say two members of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti."

For years I've heard the arguments contributing Haiti's extreme poverty to its corrupt leaders and the influence of voodoo. However, until I read the following article I had never heard of the "independence tax" imposed on Haiti by France. It's clear that when France set the slaves free they intended to keep them in financial bondage for generations. Makes you think twice about the proposals of financial restitution to Native Americans or the children of the African slave trade, doesn't it?

Justice for Haiti
by Anthony Phillips and Brian Concannon Jr.
September 01, 2006

Anthony Phillips works with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). Human rights lawyer Brian Concannon Jr. directs the IJDH, found at is an analyst with the IRC Americas Program.

A meeting of international diplomats and financiers in Port-au-Prince this summer ended up with a commitment of $750 million in foreign aid to Haiti over the coming year. This generosity will build badly needed roads, schools and hospitals, which will make a real difference to ordinary Haitians—the poorest people in the Americas—in the short-term. But what Haiti really needs to permanently end centuries of misery is not the world’s charity, but its justice.

The July donors’ meeting refused to discuss the one fair and lasting solution to Haiti’s grinding poverty: restitution of the independence debt imposed by France in 1825. The debt—calculated at $21 billion in current dollars—dwarfs current aid commitments and its payment would allow Haitians to develop their economy without the attached strings that keep poor countries dependant on international aid.

Haiti won its independence from France in 1804, through a bloody 12-year war, becoming the second independent country in the Americas and the only nation in history born of a successful slave revolt. But world powers forced Haiti to pay a second price for entrance into the international community. They refused to recognize Haiti’s independence, while French warships remained off its coasts, threatening to invade and reinstitute slavery.

After 21 years of resisting, Haiti capitulated to France‘s terms: in exchange for diplomatic recognition, Haiti’s government agreed to compensate French plantation owners for their loss of “property,” including the freed slaves; compensation to be paid with a loan from a designated French bank. The debt was ten times Haiti‘s total 1825 revenue and twice what the United States paid France in 1803 for the Louisiana Purchase, which contained seventy-four times more land.

The debt was a crushing burden on Haiti’s economy. The government was forced to redirect all economic activity to repay it. A huge percentage of government revenues—80 percent in some years—went to debt service, at the expense of investment in education, healthcare and infrastructure. The tax code and other laws channeled private and public enterprise to export crops such as tropical hardwoods and sugar which brought in foreign currency for the bank but left the mountainsides barren, the soil depleted and the population hungry.

Haiti did not pay off the independence debt until 1947. Over a century after the global slave trade was eliminated as the evil it was, Haitians were still paying their ancestors’ masters for their freedom. After the debt was paid, Haitians were left with a chronically undeveloped economy, rampant poverty, and a spent land—today relatively minor environmental stresses like tropical storms cause catastrophic damage in vulnerable Haiti.

Economic instability has engendered political instability. Haitians have endured more than 30 coups since 1825, and most of the resulting rulers have been malignant dictatorships.

The independence debt was not only immoral and onerous, it was also illegal. In 1825 aggression and oppression did not violate international law, but the reintroduction of slavery—the threat underlying the debt agreement—did. It had been banned by three treaties that France had signed by 1815.

Haiti has a new democratic government, and an opportunity to make a clean break from the past. The $750 million that the international community has promised towards this transition is a lot of money, but it is less than a year’s interest on the $21 billion dollars that France owes Haiti. Moreover, if the past is any guide, not all of the promised money will arrive, and much of it will come with strings attached—loan repayments, import tariff reductions, privatization of government services, etc.—that will perpetuate Haiti’s dependence on international help.

If the international community really wants to help Haiti, repayment of the independence debt will be at the top of the agenda, not off the table. A just repayment of the independence debt, by contrast, would allow Haiti to develop the way today’s wealthy countries did—based on national priorities set inside the country. It would also right a historical wrong, and set a strong example of good neighbor policies for a global neighborhood.