Friday, August 31, 2007

Health Is Not A Bush Administration Priority

HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads -

HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads
Formula Industry Urged Softer Campaign

By Marc Kaufman and Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, August 31, 2007; A01

In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department . Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter (pdf), the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were "grateful" for his staff's intervention to stop health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding," and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads.

The formula industry's intervention -- which did not block the ads but helped change their content -- is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month's testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating allegations from former officials that Carmona was blocked from participating in the breast-feeding advocacy effort and that those designing the ad campaign were overruled by superiors at the formula industry's insistence.

"This is a credible allegation of political interference that might have had serious public health consequences," said Waxman, a California Democrat.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Help Protect The Rights of Indigenous People

The UN General Assembly is about to vote on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Unfortunately, opposition led by Canada, New Zealand and Australia, is threatening the survival of the Declaration.  

I just sent letters to the Ambassadors from all three countries.

Rainforest Action Network, one of the most effective environmental organizations on the planet, is asking as people as possible to send letters supporting the Declaration.

There are 370 million indigenous peoples around the world who belong to 5,000 groups across 71 countries.  They live in some of the most biodiverse and pristine ecosystems on the planet, such as the Amazon rainforest and the Boreal in Canada.  

The Declaration, if passed, would provide rights and respect for Indigenous peoples' lands, languages, and cultural and spiritual survival.

Please, take five minutes join me by standing up for Indigenous rights. You can take action by following this link:

Hackers Attack Blog Sites

BBC NEWS | Technology | Bloggers battered by viral storm

Google's Blogger site is being used by malicious hackers who are posting fake entries to some blogs.

The fake entries contain weblinks that lead to booby-trapped downloads that could infect a Windows PC.

Infected computers are being hijacked by the gang behind the attacks and either mined for saleable data or used for other attacks.

The Blogger attack is the latest in a series by a gang that has managed to hijack hundreds of thousands of PCs.

Attack pattern

Security researcher Alex Eckelberry from Sunbelt Software first noticed the booby-trapped links turning up on Blogger on 27 August.

Now many hundreds of blogs on the site have been updated with a short entry containing the link.

Mr Eckelberry said it was not yet clear how the links were posted to blogs. The bogus entries could have exploited a Blogger feature that lets users e-mail entries to their journal.

The blogs themselves could also be fake and set up solely to act as hosts for spam.

Google has yet to comment on the attack and how it might have been carried out.

The entries on the blogs have the same text as some of the spam distributed by the group behind the attacks. These attempt to trick people into clicking on links and downloading booby-trapped files using cleverly crafted messages.

Some pose as YouTube links others claim to be looking for testers of software packages or digital greetings cards.

The group behind the attack on Blogger is thought to have mounted a huge series of attacks since January.

The first attack used a spam that purported to give recipients more information about the severe storms seen in Europe in January. This led to the virus used by the gang being dubbed the "Storm Trojan".

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Before You Laugh Too Hard At This ..

Think back to these prophetic gems.

" You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier... So long as I'm the dictator.
" There ought to be limits to freedom."
" My appointees to the [Texas] board of pardons and paroles reflect my no-nonsense approach to crime and punishment. They believe people who commit crimes against innocent Texans should pay the consequences; they believe sentences imposed by juries should be carried out."
" Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."
" This is an impressive crowd — the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base."

" I told all four [congressional leaders] that I felt like this election happened for a reason; that it pointed out — the delay in the outcome should make it clear to all of us — that we can come together to heal whatever wounds may exist, whatever residuals there may be. And I really look forward to the opportunity. I hope they've got my sense of optimism about the possible, and enthusiasm about the job. I told all four that there are going to be some times where we don't agree with each other, but that's okay. If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier... [Bush chuckles, audience laughs] ...just so long as I'm the dictator [more laughter]."
  • Online NewsHour interview, Washington, DC, (December 18, 2000)' during his first trip to Washington as President-elect. The last sentence is also included in Fahrenheit 9/11.

Remember - You Have Been Warned!

The Time To Act On Global Warming Is NOW

an excerpt from:

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Climate flooding risk 'misjudged'

Climate change may carry a higher risk of flooding than was previously thought, the journal Nature reports.

Researchers say efforts to calculate flooding risk from climate change do not take into account the effect carbon dioxide (CO2) has on vegetation.

Higher atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas reduce the ability of plants to suck water out of the ground and "breathe" out the excess.

Plants expel excess water through tiny pores, or stomata, in their leaves.

Their reduced ability to release water back into the atmosphere will result in the ground becoming saturated.

Areas with higher predicted rainfall have a greater risk of flooding. But this effect also reduces the severity of droughts.

The findings suggest computer models of future climate change may need to be revised in order to plan for coming decades.

Don't Just Remember

Two years after Katrina and thousands are still without homes

Urge your Senators to pass the Gulf Coast Recovery Bill of 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The recurring anniversary of wilderness

by Jim Gabour

The date has come round again, and in search of a fresh feelgood headline, national statisticians are reporting vast numbers in the news, indicating hugely increased percentages of returned population for New Orleans. They do this from afar, reading computer readouts compiled by other distant creators of factoids.

Those of us who live here can tell you the reported numbers are for the most part untrue. This is verified in a front-page article in the New York Times ("Patchwork City: One Billion Dollars Later, A City Still at Risk", 17 August 2007; also here), which has a graph showing two-thirds of the city still 50%-90% below its pre-Katrina population.

That documentation is welcome, because the cunningly inflated statistics from previous sources provided false hope for not only locals but also for those living outside New Orleans, for people living in the Real World. For people, that is, who want us off their backs, their minds, their cumulative consciousness.

People who thought that if New Orleans's population was coming back, things must be OK.

But the former population of the Crescent City is not coming back, not in anywhere near the positive growth figures flaunted by White House spokespersons. Figures are manipulable, and population is fluid. That is apparent on even the most superficial examination of the George W Bush administration's assessments.

And things are not OK.

An insecure city

The west bank of the city, largely undamaged by Katrina, is indeed recovering remarkably well, and that area is the basis of many of the population-increase figures, though the majority of people who lived in New Orleans prior to the storm did not live there. They lived on the east bank, the portion more widely known to and visited by tourists.

Today the east bank is barely here. Sure, the French Quarter and much of the central business district and Garden District remain, but outside of a few brave enclaves of homes in isolated neighbourhoods, New Orleans is now basically the same sixteen-to-twenty-block-wide string of homes that followed the course of the Mississippi River in 1851.

Many, many fewer people. And yet that same east bank is the centre of the city's resurgence in crime.

The FBI released figures this past month which indicate that in 2006 New Orleans was the deadliest place in America, had more murders per 100,000 people than even the worst urban areas. Realise, that assessment was concocted with the statisticians inflating our population enough to say that we actually had multiples of 100,000 people living here.

In 2007, the homicide rate already runs well ahead of that in 2006. It seems likely that New Orleans this year will once again be named the "murder capital of America".

We do not relish this distinction.

The bloodbath continues in spite of the governor calling in a squadron of national-guard helicopters equipped with night-vision goggles and heat sensors to hover over the city, seeking out and tracking the Bad Guys. The army is still in our streets, their Humvees filled with automatic weapons. An almost completely-restored police department roams crime hotspots in donated cars. State police officers walk the tourist areas in groups of two or three. And now choppers hover over our homes in the darkness.

We are also armed with the ever-capacious mouth of our mayor, and with the seemingly limitless capacity for indecision, and bad decision, embodied by our local, state, and federal governments.

They seem to want us out of here, want us to go away. Since we threw out New Orleans's bloated system of seven separate assessors this past spring, the lame-duck bureaucrats have had their vengeance, with home assessments and taxation skyrocketing. Taxes on my own homestead-exempted house went from an average of $79 for the past twelve years to almost $4,000 for next year. Hurricane "insurance" is now an exponentially rising item on both water and electric bills. Homeowner's insurance, even in protected and undamaged areas, has doubled and trebled.

While the real people continue their exodus, there remains a never-ending line of politicians self-destructing, bloodying each other in their greed and arrogance, falling over each other in their eagerness to pick another dime from the corpse. In the weeks before the Katrina anniversary, yet another city-council member was led to jail for bribery and embezzlement.

And the other, armed, Bad Guys, undaunted, keep killing each other, and us, the foolhardy souls who continue living in the midst of gun-studded, bloody wilderness.

The edge of life

Wilderness. The Bayou Sauvage wilderness area, an anomaly since it is actually located within the city limits of a major metropolitan area, New Orleans, now fits a larger definition of that word. In 2007 it shares characteristics with the more traditionally urban mortar-and-stone structure of uptown and downtown New Orleans, as they spread from beyond the immediate environs of the river.

That is to say, Bayou Sauvage is barely functional as a living habitat for anyone or anything.

Prior to Katrina, Sauvage existed as a federal park, beautiful though fragile wetlands and swamps, barely above sea level, curled on the brackish southern periphery of Lake Pontchartrain. It swarmed with fish and gators, waterfowl, egrets, ibises and heron, and large predatory birds, including bald-headed eagles. It flowered in the spring and its short dunes held back the storms in the fall. Manatees had in past years made their way into its shallow protected waters.

My brothers and I boated and fished Bayou Sauvage on many occasions, taking joy in the completely untamed nature of the place. It was magnificent.


Until the Big One brought much of it to water level, poisoned the trees with salt and pollution, and destroyed nesting grounds and food sources. Though we continue to hope for its rebirth, and we try to coax life back into its perimeters.

Generous, big-hearted volunteers from across America are taking part in replanting, building up undergrowth to hold the dunes and earth in place. Most of the city's residents donated their 2006 Christmas trees to the wetlands efforts. The trees were bundled and sunk at the swamp's edge, so silt and sand buildup would again form over the years as a protective barrier to storm surge. But the key words here are "over the years".

For now and the immediate future, the Wilderness Area sadly, but more rightly, bears the name.

The roots are torn

Meanwhile, also within the city limits, 70% of the city's overall tree canopy was damaged or destroyed in the storm. City Park, second in size only to New York's Central Park, took much of the brunt, with many of the massive live oaks' and river oaks' root systems submerged in salty lake water for over two weeks.

The long corridor of oaks leading up to the New Orleans Museum of Art, a green canopy of dozens upon dozens of century-old trees, all died in the winds and immersion. Every tree is gone. The removal of the dead trunks and branches finally accomplished, workers began bringing in living replacements this summer. But oaks grow slowly, and they will not regain their past stature in my lifetime.

Elsewhere, the trees on St Charles Avenue became entangled in the streetcar lines and were brutalised by the flying steel poles and cables that powered the cars. When the army first entered the city, its mandate was to clear the streets. And so the soldiers did, though not gently. Hundreds of tons of limbs were removed and trucked to landfills. Even though the trunks of most of its tattered trees still stand, that landmark avenue is no longer the sculpturally-perfect shaded venue it was. The poles and electrical lines are being repaired at this very moment, but the trees themselves must do their own work, rebuild their own limbs and greenery.

Again, I will not live to see it restored to its former grandeur.

Even after two years of day-to-day living, it is quite hard to accept all this. The damage to both social and physical environments remains, even seems to expand.

I am grudgingly ageing, and while time is passing quickly, I have less than no faith in government and its machinations to help speed recovery here.

Consequently, today I am forced to realise that, in spite of good intentions and massive good faith on the part of so many loving and concerned individuals, I personally may never see New Orleans emerge again.

From the wilderness.

* * * * *

This article is re-published by permission of Jim Gabour and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines.

Crimes Statistics That May Surprise You

In an article for the Afro-Netizen Newswire, David Whettstone cites statistics that may confirm or disprove what you believe about race and violent crime in America. This report is alarming to say the least.

Whettstone reports:

" Violence in America has the remarkable characteristic of being done by those who are close to us. Prevailing perspectives are not always founded on solid perceptions. Crime for the most part is intra-racial (not inter-racial, as many fears and false reports present).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African Americans numbered about 35 million -- just over 12 percent of the total population -- in 2005.

(However) Blacks were victims of an estimated 805,000 nonfatal violent crimes and about 8,000 homicides in 2005. This would amount to 49 percent of all U.S. murder victims during that year and 15 percent of all non-fatal violent crimes -- the latter category includes victims of rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault.

Males made up 85 percent of all Black murder victims. (And) another demographic indicated that more than half (51%) of Black homicide victims were between the ages of 17 and 29.

The report indicates that 93 percent of Black murder victims and 85 percent of White murder victims (in single victim/single offender matches) were slain by someone of their own race.

It states, “About four-fifths of Black victims of nonfatal violence perceived the offenders to be Black. About 12 percent of Black victims perceived the offender to be White, while about eight percent thought the offender was neither Black nor White.”

The report indicated that Blacks (78%) were more likely to be victims of intraracial violence than Whites (70%).

It also stated:

Black males were more likely to be violently victimized by strangers than Black females. Black female victims of violent crime were more likely than Black male victims to be victimized by an intimate partner. Intimate partner violence accounted for 21 percent of violent victimizations against Black females, compared to about five percent of victimizations against Black males. The gender disparity for intimate partner violence among Blacks was similar to that for other victims [of other races].”

National Take A Stand Day -- Tues., August 28th

On Aug. 28th, join hundreds of thousands of Americans as they speak out and call on their representatives to Take A Stand to End the War in Iraq.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Am They

graphics by Tim Nyberg

Have you ever been discussing an issue when suddenly someone starts using phrases like "those people", "you know that they all...", and, " I can never understand them"? You get my point.

Well I was recently in one of those conversations and I felt an overwhelming need to loudly proclaim that "I Am They".

It was in that moment that I understood why I can't stop writing about Katrina, or Rwanda, or Sudan, modern slavery, illegal rendition, violence against women, abused children, the preyed upon elderly and oppressed people everywhere. I understood why I can't just "lighten up" or " give it a break for awhile". I understood why I simply can't consume and acquire loads on inexpensive products that have been produced by mistreated and underpaid workers.

I think I've finally understood my faith.


And I am not alone in feeling this way. The following is an excerpt from the article "Shouting Underwater" which expresses these thoughts far more eloquently than I.


an excerpt from
Shouting Underwater
by Walter Mosley

" We are coming up on the two-year mark since the Katrina debacle in Louisiana and Mississippi. I hesitate to call this date an anniversary because the word implies, in some way, a celebration, a birth. What we are scratching on the calendar is more like a notch on a raw gravestone, a count of the days and years that have passed without a reckoning for those who died, those who lost loved ones and for a city that is still in critical condition.

Not only did our government fail to answer the call of its most vulnerable citizens during that fateful period; it still fails each and every day to rebuild, redeem and rescue those who are ignored because of their poverty, their race, their passage into old age.

The disaster named after the hurricane is not confined to the areas affected. Every emergency room, empty bank account and outsourced life's work could be named. We live in a country rife with ignored and condemned poverty. The rich, high on their great corporate steeds, ride over us believing that they are out of the reach of global warming and its symptoms, of terrorism and dwindling natural resources. When government officials tell them to evacuate, they drive their cars, board their corporate jets or simply climb to higher ground with ease. At this very moment they are looking down on Baghdad and New Orleans, Pakistan and Sudan, you and me. The feeling of invulnerability that these people have is unfounded, but nonetheless it makes them reckless. They take chances and cut corners believing that everything will come out all right. Their delusions of grandeur and ultimate power put us in ever more dire straits.

If we call ourselves Americans (and mean it), then we are all victims of Katrina. If we breathe the air or eat fresh fruit, if we call on our cellphones, drink water from a plastic bottle or just nibble on a chocolate bar, then we are Katrina; we are the rising waters around the ankles of this world. "

Was It Fire For Profit?

According to an article for ABC ( Australian Broadcasting Co.) the fires in Greece may have been set for profit

The article reports:

" Seven people have been charged with starting bushfires in Greece that have claimed the lives of more than 60 people and caused a national catastrophe.

They were among 10 people arrested since the fires began raging through southern Greece on Friday, firefighter spokesman Yannis Stamoulis told a press conference.

A further 26 people have been charged with offences linked to a series of fires that have blighted Greece since early July.

Greek authorities fear the blazes have been started deliberately.

The media is speculating that criminal gangs are seeking to use the fires to clear forest and allow development to take place.

The Government has offered a reward of up to one million euros ($AU1.64 million) for information leading to arrests of arsonists.

The four-day inferno has left thousands homeless and 63 people have been killed, with more feared dead, trapped in villages cut off by flames, the fire brigade said"

Roger Goodell's Nightmare

Atlanta Falcons VS Cincinnati Bengals
on Monday Night Football
August 27, 2007

Isn't It Ironic!

" It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everthing blows up"
-- Alanis Morissette

Let The Truth Be Told

The following message by Jason Whitlock is so important that I had to reprint it in it's entirety.  There are so many of us in the African-American community who are sick and tired of the attempts by a small segment who try to blame all the ills in black society on racism and the history of slavery in American. 

Yes, slavery, and colonialism in general, has left its legacy around the world.  Yes, groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis etc. still exist.  And yes, anyone who repeatedly has to tell you the they are not a racist, probably has unaddressed issues.  But NO way has the Mike Vick case itself, (not counting some of the ignorant comments made in its aftermath ), had anything to do with racism.

Bad behavior is bad behavior and that's all there is too it.  And groups like the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP and their ilk need to get their priorities straight and start contributing to the solution and not the problem.

Thank you Jason Whitlock, Bill Cosby and anyone else who is out there speaking the truth. 


FOX Sports on MSN - NFL - Real Talk: We must learn from Vick's fall
by Jason Whitlock

We've been here before. It was November 7, 1991, Magic Johnson stood before hundreds of cameras and told the world that he was HIV positive.

His announcement rocked the sports world. Allegedly Magic's johnson taught us all a lesson about irresponsible sex, groupies and the pitfalls of a celebrity lifestyle. We vowed to do better.

Nothing changed.

Last week we learned that 28-year-old Travis Henry, a decent NFL running back, has fathered nine children by nine different women in four different states. In America, especially among superstar athletes, sex is still mostly thoughtless and unprotected.

Worse, 16 years after Magic's announcement, there are far more average Americans chasing the lifestyle that nearly killed Magic, incarcerated Paris and drugged Lindsey Lohan.

So, forgive me, I'm not all that hopeful that we will implement anything we've gleaned from Michael Vick's reality TV show.

As I watched Monday as Vick contritely apologized for the actions that will seemingly land him in jail and cost him more than $100 million, I thought of Earvin Johnson, who, like Vick, performed magic with a ball.

Vick's comeuppance and remorseful, four-minute, post-guilty-plea mea culpa shook the sports world to the same degree as Magic's tear-provoking press conference. Obviously, there were few tears shed for Vick. Unlike Magic's misdeeds, many of us cannot see ourselves making the same mistakes as Vick.

But the bottom-line reaction is the same: We hope that young people, particularly young athletes — and, in the Vick case, most particularly young black athletes — will choose a different course of action based on lessons learned from Vick's fall.

"I'm more disappointed in myself, if anything, it's because of all the young people, young kids, I've let down, who look at Michael Vick as a role model," Vick said. "To have to go though this, and put myself in this situation, I hope that every young kid out in the world watching this interview right now or who has been following the case will use me as an example to use better judgment and make better decisions."

Vick is singing the right tune. Unfortunately my hope of a cultural awakening is tempered by the knowledge that too many young black boys will have the Vick story defined to them through the prism of white racism.

White racism is our kryptonite. It's our excuse for nearly every malady. It's our excuse to deflect and remain in denial. Within minutes of Vick's guilty plea, ESPN's Doug Stewart could be seen and heard shouting on TV that because the police walked in the Rodney King beating, black people believe Vick is being dealt with too harshly.

I'm not making this up.

Never mind that Jayson Williams killed a limo driver and is free like O.J. Never mind that O.J. walked, and we were spotted on TV wildly cheering the release of a man who wouldn't stop to tinkle if we were all piled in a blaze of fire.

Vick will not serve as a lesson unless we reject the myth that racism is always the main lesson. We never go to math or social studies or science or English because we want to take the class we know we can ace, the class that is still extremely relevant, but it's a subject that needs context and an understanding of the big picture.

The big picture here is that we have a youth culture in crisis.

More pertinent to the Vick case, we have a black youth culture — hip hop — that is in crisis, self-destructive, filled with self-hatred and celebratory of criminality. We, black folks, must stand up and object to this culture, redirect this culture, or there will be more Michael Vicks.

Now all of that is indisputable, and reliving Rodney King won't do a damn thing to solve the problem. We have to take control of our culture and our destiny. We have to spell out reasonable and appropriate expectations for our young people and our athletes. We can no longer sit back, accept whatever behavior they offer up and blame racism when we don't like the results.

Too many of our athletes are being reared in a culture that does not prepare them for the fame, fortune and scrutiny that is handed to them. Vick is a prime example.

Here's what Michael Vick didn't figure out until Monday: All the actions he took on his way to a $130 million NFL contract were not appropriate.

That seems rather simple. But most of you have never experienced receiving a million-dollar contract at age 21 or 22. It warps your brain. It can reinforce negative values. An outsider can recognize that Michael Vick became an NFL star because God blessed him with uncanny athletic ability, not because Vick's work ethic was better than, say, Chris Leak's, not because Vick surrounded himself with better people than did his brother, Marcus.

Until all of this, Vick likely thought he had taken most of the proper steps. Why else would he be so blessed?

Talent, like beauty, can be a horrible curse. It can hide so many shortcomings, limit your intellectual evolution, compromise the way your friends, family members and co-workers interact with you, prevent you from dealing with problems that are frighteningly obvious to objective observers.

Michael Vick will now have time to ponder all of this. Let's hope his rational thoughts are not drowned out by the idiots who will enthusiastically tell him that racism put him in this jam.

In A World Where Everything Has A Price ... Nothing Is Secure

an excerpt from:

Chinese Seek to Buy a U.S. Maker of Disk Drives - New York Times

A Chinese technology company has expressed interest in buying a maker of computer disk drives in the United States, raising concerns among American government officials about the risks to national security in transferring high technology to China.

The overture, which was disclosed by the chief executive of one of the two remaining drive makers in the United States, William D. Watkins of Seagate Technology, has resurrected the issues of economic competitiveness and national security raised three years ago when Lenovo, a Chinese computer maker, bought I.B.M.'s personal computer business.

Tensions have been increasing lately between the countries over China's ambitions in developing its military abilities and advanced technologies for industrial and consumer uses.

Although disk drives do not fall under a list of export-controlled technologies, the attempted purchase of an American disk drive company would require a security review by the federal government, according to several government officials.

In recent years, modern disk drives, used to store vast quantities of digital information securely, have become complex computing systems, complete with hundreds of thousands of lines of software that are used to ensure the integrity of data and to offer data encryption.

That could raise the prospect of secret tampering with hardware or software to make it possible to pilfer information via computer networks, intelligence officials have warned.

Seagate has recently begun selling drives with hardware encryption abilities.

Mr. Watkins did not identify the Chinese company. But he said that the possibility of an acquisition had sent alarm bells ringing at some government agencies.

"The U.S. government is freaking out," Mr. Watkins said during an interview on Thursday.

Reached Friday night, Treasury officials declined to comment on possible Chinese overtures for an American maker.

While Mr. Watkins said that Seagate, which is the largest drive maker in the United States, was not for sale, he also said that if a high enough premium was offered to shareholders it would be difficult to stop.

Reasons I Support John Edwards

John Edwards answers a question about Health Care in Portsmouth, N.H. on August 26, 2007. This stop came as part of his "Fighting for One America" New Hampshire bus tour.

We liberals are just SO Unfair

I simply could not resist this.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Troops Allowed To Enter Pakistan -- Old News

Troops allowed to enter Pakistan - Focus on Pakistan -

"Newly uncovered "rules of engagement" show the U.S. military gave elite units broad authority more than three years ago to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.

The documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a detailed glimpse at what Army Rangers and other terrorist-hunting units were authorized to do earlier in the war on terror. And interviews with military officials suggest some of those same guidelines have remained in place, such as the right to "hot pursuit" across the border."

* * * * *

The Associated Press is stating that this information is "Newly Uncovered"?

I'm sure I wasn't the only one who watched the August 7th MSNBC Presidential Forum . While Clinton and Dodd were busy beating up on Barak Obama for his comments about going into Pakistan, Joe Biden set the record straight. The moment occurs at little after the midway point of the following clip.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Selling War -- Part II

In a recent article for the Christian Science Monitor, staff writer Scott Peterson points out that the Bush administration is pressing the case for moving against Iran in the midst of the voices of reason that are urging caution.

Peterson writes: " US charges against Iran's role in Iraq are mounting. But analysts say that a history of unsubstantiated US claims against Iran should serve as a cautionary tale. The lesson to be drawn is not that Iran is guiltless in Iraq, they say, but one of restraint as a familiar drumbeat sounds.

The latest step in the Bush administration's intensifying campaign to depict Iran as a disruptive force in Iraq is a decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard force a "terrorist" group. That label, and a push for more UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, and continued charges of training, funding, and supplying anti-US militants in Iraq, experts say, could harm Iraq security talks between US and Iranian diplomats in Baghdad."

And as the following video points out the media machine that sold the Iraq war to the public is gearing up for more shock and awe.

Don't let them get away with it!

Sign the open letter to the major television networks urging them to NOT follow FOX's lead to another war.

The Fighting For One America Tour Rolls On

Ok, you knew that I was going to give John equal time :)

Oh The Stories The Media Makes Up

Barak Obama discusses silly news headline with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Know Who You Are Calling

A Story That The Mainstream Media Thought We Couldn't Handle.

If you live outside of the Knoxville, TN area you may have never heard about the heinous murders of Hugh Christopher Newsom, Jr., 23, and Channon Gail Christian, 21.

You were probably being deluged with stories about Anna Nicole Smith, Don Imus or Paris Hilton. But a story like this that combines the elements of race, murder and rape is not going to quietly fade away. Now the story that network news was afraid to tell us is being posted on blogs, YouTube, social networks and widely circulating via email.

By avoiding this story the mainstream media has acknowledged that it just doesn't know how to handle "black on white" crime without making it an issue of race. And by their silence, the media has fueled the fires of racism and feelings of victimization in the white community.

The media itself missed the opportunity to give Americans the opportunity to judge the individuals in this case by the content of their character and not as a reflection of their race, religion or ethnic group. Dr. King's dream is still not a reality.

It's hard to find articles on this story but both Wikipedia and provide very good synopses.

Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia post. Warning the following is a graphic depiction of the crime:

According to news reports, Christian and Newsom had gone on a date at a local restaurant on Saturday, January 6, 2007, but did not return home. During their night out, the couple was "hijacked, bound and blindfolded and taken back to Lemaricus Devall 'Slim' Davidson's rented house on Chipman Street."

Christian's parents found her abandoned Toyota 4-Runner two blocks away from the Chipman Street house on Monday, with the help of her mobile phone provider. An envelope recovered from the vehicle yielded fingerprint evidence that led police to Lemaricus Davidson and 2316 Chipman Street. When police went to the address on Tuesday, January 9, they found the home unoccupied and Christian's body in a trash can in the kitchen. Christian had been strangled to death. According to the grand jury presentment, Christian had also been raped vaginally, orally, and anally. One of the suspects, Vanessa Coleman, later told police that "she witnessed Christian's mouth being cleaned with a bottle of some type of cleaner," in an attempt to remove DNA evidence Coleman also said that she had seen "clothes that were stained with blood and smelled of gas being put in the washing machine at the house." Newsom was shot three times, "his body wrapped in a blanket, set afire and dumped alongside nearby railroad tracks." He had also been anally raped.

* * * * *

My prayers are with the family of Hugh Christopher Newsom, Jr., 23, and Channon Gail Christian, 21 and I hope that justice will be served.

While the Media Focused on Mike Vick -- Texas carries out 400th execution in 31 years

BBC NEWS | Americas | Texas carries out 400th execution

Texas carries out 400th execution
Johnny Ray Conner
Conner asked for forgiveness before he was put to his death
Texas has carried out its 400th execution since the US Supreme Court reintroduced the death penalty in 1976.

Johnny Ray Conner, 32, was put to death by lethal injection for the 1998 fatal shooting of a grocery store clerk.

Conner was pronounced dead at 1820 (2320 GMT), eight minutes after the lethal mix of drugs was injected.

Earlier this week, the EU urged Texas to end the "cruel and inhumane" practice. Texas's governor said it was a "just and appropriate" punishment.

System 'broken'

Members of Conner's family and that of the victim, Kathyanna Nguyen, witnessed the execution through windows in the death chamber.

Before he was put to death, Conner - who had always maintained his innocence - asked for forgiveness and expressed love to his family and Ms Nguyen's family.

Two Years After Katrina, Billions in Relief Funds Are Missing

Of course since the US government is unable to account for nearly $9 billion dollars in Iraq reconstruction funds this story should not be a surprise.  It is also not surprising that the government was able to find $592 million to bill the US Embassy in Iraq.

AlterNet: Two Years After Katrina, Billions in Relief Funds Are Missing

Two Years After Katrina, Billions in Relief Funds Are Missing

By Jeffrey Buchanan and Chris Kromm, AlterNet
Posted on August 23, 2007, Printed on August 23, 2007

This article is taken from the new report compiled by the Institute for Southern Studies called, "Blueprint for Gulf Renewal," giving a voice to grassroots advocates calling for greater federal accountability in the Gulf Coast rebuilding process. The report is available at:

When pressed on the slow pace of recovery in the Gulf Coast, President Bush insists the federal government has fulfilled its promise to rebuild the region. The proof, he says, is in the big check the federal government signed to underwrite the recovery -- allegedly more than $116 billion. But residents of the still-devastated Gulf Coast are left wondering whether the check bounced.

"$116 billion is not a useful number," says Stanley Czerwinski of the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm.

For starters, most federal money -- about two-thirds -- was quickly spent for short-term needs like debris removal and Coast Guard rescue. As Czerwinski explains, "There is a significant difference between responding to an emergency and rebuilding post-disaster."

That has left little money for long-term Gulf Coast recovery projects. Although it's tricky to unravel the maze of federal reports, our best estimate of agency data is that only $35 billion has been appropriated for long-term rebuilding.

Even worse, less than 42 percent of the money set aside has even been spent, much less gotten to those most in need. For example:

  • Washington set aside $16.7 billion for Community Development Block Grants, one of the two biggest sources of rebuilding funds, especially for housing. But as of March 2007, only $1 billion -- just 6 percent -- had been spent, almost all of it in Mississippi. Following bad publicity, HUD spent another $3.8 billion on the program between March and July, leaving 70 percent of the funds still unused.
  • The other major source of rebuilding help was supposed to be FEMA's Public Assistance Program. But of the $8.2 billion earmarked, only $3.4 billion was meant for nonemergency projects like fixing up schools and hospitals.
  • Louisiana officials recently testified that FEMA has also "low-balled" project costs, underestimating the true expenses by a factor of four or five. For example, for 11 Louisiana rebuilding projects, the lowest bids came to $5.5 million -- but FEMA approved only $1.9 million.
  • After the failure of federal levees flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received $8.4 billion to restore storm defenses. But as of July 2007, less than 20 percent of the funds have been spent, even as the Corps admits that levee repair won't be completed until as late as 2011.

The fact that, two years later, most federal Katrina funds remain bottled up in bureaucracy is especially shocking considering that the amounts Washington allocated come nowhere near the anticipated costs of Gulf rebuilding.

For example, the $3.4 billion FEMA has available to recover local public infrastructure would only cover about one-eighth of the damage suffered in Louisiana alone. But this money is spread across five states -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas -- and covers damage from three 2005 hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Congress has acted on some of the money holdups, like changing a requirement in the Stafford Act that mandates local governments pay 10 percent of rebuilding projects up front before receiving federal aid. The Bush administration had refused to waive the rule -- like it did for New York after 9/11 -- grounding countless projects. The effect of the rule was particularly devastating in the hardest-hit places like Mississippi's Hancock County, where communities lost most of their tax base after the storms.

Many in Washington claim that state and local governments are to blame: The money's there, they say, but the locals just aren't using it. And it's true that there have been problems below the federal level. For example, Louisiana's "Road Home" program -- created by Congress but run by the state -- has been so poorly managed that 18 months after the storms only 630 homeowners had received checks. Closings have sped up since then, but administrators admit many won't see money until 2008, if at all -- the program is facing a projected $3 billion shortfall.

But the White House and Congress have done little to exercise oversight of these federally backed programs, much less step in to remove red tape and make sure taxpayer money gets to its intended destination.

This is especially true when it comes to tax breaks and rebuilding contracts. Included in the $116 billion figure is $3.5 billion in tax breaks to jump-start business in Gulf Opportunity Zones -- "GO Zones" -- across 91 parishes and counties in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. But many of the breaks have been of questionable benefit to Katrina survivors, like a $1 million deal to build 10 luxury condos next to the University of Alabama football stadium -- four hours from the Gulf Coast.

Federal contracts for rebuilding and recovery have also been marked by scandal, fraud and abuse. An August 2006 study by the office of Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., identified 19 contracts worth $8.75 billion that experienced "significant overcharges, wasteful spending or mismanagement."

For thousands of Gulf residents, the end result is that federal support for recovery after Katrina's devastation has been insufficient, too slow and hasn't gotten to those most in need.

"Where did it go?" says Tanya Harris of ACORN in New Orleans when asked about the $116 billion. "Tell me. Where did it go?"

Jeffrey Buchanan is communications officer with the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights. Chris Kromm is executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies. This report was part of ISS's "Blue Print for Gulf Renewal."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Veterans Respond to President Bush's Speech to the VFW

IAVA - Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America - Veterans Respond to President Bush's Speech to the VFW

Veterans Respond to President Bush's Speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
President Bush Fails to Adequately Address Urgent Issues Facing Veterans Today 

NEW YORK –Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released the following statement in response to President Bush's remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City today:

"President Bush failed to adequately address many of the urgent issues facing veterans today.  The last thing these veterans needed was a history lesson.  They remember America's wars because they actually fought them.  Instead of making references to previous conflicts, we need the President to take more seriously the myriad of issues facing veterans and their families right now.  There were glaring omissions in his remarks, including answering who will replace Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson when he steps down in October," said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA Executive Director.  "Instead of offering a history lesson, President Bush should be specific about taking immediate action on the recommendations of the Dole-Shalala Commission to fix the deplorable conditions and poor care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  These are matters of life and death for America's newest generation of veterans, but on these critical issues, President Bush came up short."

IAVA Director of Government Affairs, Todd Bowers, attended President Bush's address to the VFW.  "While IAVA commends the Veterans of Foreign Wars for hosting such an important gathering, we were disappointed by what President Bush said, and more importantly, did not say this morning.  It's critical that President Bush place a higher priority on implementing the recommendations of the Dole-Shalala Commission to ensure that veterans receive the honor and care they deserve." 

Product safety group recalls more toys made with lead paint - Aug. 22, 2007

It's time to just clean out the toy box.  plk

excerpt from:

Product safety group recalls more toys made with lead paint - Aug. 22, 2007

More toys recalled for lead paint hazards

SpongeBob journals, spinning tops and children's jewelry manufactured in China found to contain excessive lead levels.

August 22 2007: 5:09 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- Following the recent recalls for toys made in China with loose magnets and lead paint, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued more warnings, this time recalling thousands of SpongeBob SquarePants journals, various spinning tops and children's jewelry.

According to the commission, 250,000 SpongeBob SquarePants character address books and journals, manufactured in China and imported by U.S. company Martin Designs, contain excessive levels of lead, violating a federal lead paint ban

Is it Caring Or Insanity?

Over the past few years, a small group of Americans have scratched their heads in bewilderment over the lack of mass resistance to the Bush Administration.  When it came to light that torture was being condoned, habeas corpus had been suspended, and the government was spying on its citizens where was the mass public outrage, the protests in the streets, the rising of the masses shouting that "we're mad as Hell and we're not going to take it any more"

I guess Norman Solomon has finally answered our question.

an excerpt from: - Warfare State Is Part of Us

by Norman Solomon,

August 22, 2007

While trying to understand the essence of what so many Americans have witnessed over the last half century, I worked on a book (titled "Made Love, Got War") that sifts through the last 50 years of the warfare state... and, in the process, through my own life. I haven't learned as much as I would have liked, but some patterns emerged—persistent and pervasive since the middle of the 20th century.

The warfare state doesn't come and go. It can't be defeated on Election Day. Like it or not, it's at the core of the United States—and it has infiltrated our very being.

What we've tolerated has become part of us. What we accept, however reluctantly, seeps inward. In the long run, passivity can easily ratify even what we may condemn. And meanwhile, in the words of Thomas Merton, "It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared."

The triumph of the warfare state degrades and suppresses us all. Even before the weapons perform as guaranteed.

Something You Won't See Everyday

Senator Barak Obama spends a day walking in the shoes of a home healthcare worker.

Maybe There Is Hope!

When Will Americans Have Had Enough?

courtesy of Billy Vegas


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Money Myths and The Debt Deception -- What Are We Learning?

In March, 2005 I posted an excerpt from the article “The Debt-Peonage Society”. The article written by Paul Krugman for the NY Times addressed the Senate bill that stiffened US bankruptcy laws at a time when more and more consumers were facing layoffs and foreclosures.

After reading that post, a friend emailed me with the following comments:

“Most debt except in emergencies is voluntary. How are we doing about learning this lesson?”

And when recently asked about the foreclosure rates and credit crisis caused by sub-prime mortgage lenders, President George Bush blamed borrowers for not understanding the documents that they had signed.


So let’s see what are we doing about learning this lesson?

Pop Quiz

Is this only a problem in the US?

Are you “A Revolver”?

Do you believe that having a good credit score indicates that you are a “financial success”?

Do you think that having a platinum credit card means that you are affluent?

Do you believe that the banks are happier when you save or when you borrow?

Do you think that your government really wants you to get out of debt?

Do you believe that your government has a tangible commodity ( such as gold, etc.) to back up the currency in circulation?

What is one of the fastest growing businesses on Wall Street?

Before you answer watch the following videos. What you see and hear may change everything you thought that you knew about your finances.

The Money Trap - How the banks lure you into debt
(BBC Panorama 2006)

A BBC broadcast “Panorama” shares revelations about the lending practices of the high street banks. An insider reveals an industry driven by ambitious targets to sell borrowing to customers.

Elizabeth Warren discusses James Scurlock movie on the American consumer debt crisis "Maxed Out" on NightLine

and finally

Money As Debt

Paul Grignon's 47-minute animated presentation of "Money as Debt" tells in very simple and effective graphic terms what money is and how ii is being created. This should be mandatory viewing in every junior high school economics class.

Related posts:

Around The Kitchen Table - Debt

Drowning In Debt & Maxed Out

50 Good Things About Being Out Of Debt

Bush Administration in Collusion With China on Consumer Safety Issues

an excerpt from:

 Efforts to crack down on lead paint thwarted by China, Bush Administration

The Bush administration has hindered regulation on two fronts, consumer advocates say. It stalled efforts to press for greater inspections of imported children's products, and it altered the focus of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), moving it from aggressive protection of consumers to a more manufacturer-friendly approach.

"The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it," said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. "That's been the philosophy of the Bush administration."

Today, more than 80 percent of all U.S. toys are now made in China and few of them get inspected.

"We've been complaining about this issue, warning it is going to happen, and it is disappointing that it has happened," said Tom Neltner, a co-chairman of the Sierra Club's national toxics committee.

Other posts on this topic:

China Bashing - A Diversionary Tactic

Another Reason to Boycott Walmart

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Real Report On "The Surge"

The following is an op-ed piece written by a handful of non-commissioned officers who have and are at the end of their service in Iraq in the 82nd Airborne Division.  Now ask yourself who are you going to believe?

an excerpt from:

The War as We Saw It - New York Times

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the "battle space" remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers' expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

Israel turns away Darfur refugees

" Speaking to CNN, Israeli government spokesman David Baker described
them as 'economic refugees from Africa.' "

Pastors from the religious right in America, like John Hagee of San Antonio, TX,  will Sunday after Sunday tell his congregation that God commands Christians to support Israel.  But will these pastors also tell their congregations that the government of Israel is knowingly turning it's back of Sudanese Christian refugees.  I doubt it. 

The Jesus that I follow would speak out against this. 

Yes, Sudan's Muslim government is "an enemy of Israel".  But as David Baker clearly knows, those being killed in the genocide and those seeking asylum in foreign lands are overwhelmingly black Sudanese Christians. 

As the article states dozens of Israeli lawmakers and members of the Israeli military recognize that these are not "economic  refugees" and that the Israeli government is failing to show the support for a persecuted group that it is always asking of from the world.   Hypocrites, Brood of Vipers!

As always I will pray for the peace of Jerusalem and I will pray for the Israeli people.  But when their government is wrong, I will say so. 


excerpt from:

Israel turns away Darfur refugees

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel on Sunday rejected 50 Africans -- most of them reportedly from Sudan's Darfur region -- who had illegally entered the country from Egypt, a government official said.

The nationalities of the 50 sent back Sunday were not released, but the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing figures from the Israeli military, said nearly all of them had escaped the genocide in Darfur.

Speaking to CNN, Israeli government spokesman David Baker described them as "economic refugees from Africa."

Baker told The Associated Press that Darfurians would not be immune from Israel's ban on unauthorized immigrants.

Israeli law denies asylum to anyone from an enemy state, AP reports. Sudan's Muslim government is hostile to Israel and has no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Eytan Schwartz, an advocate for Darfur refugees in Israel, told AP that about 400 have entered Israel in recent years. Baker said they would be allowed to live in Israel, and that the ban applied to new arrivals.

Dozens of Israeli lawmakers recently signed a petition urging the government not to deport Sudanese refugees.

Arab militias supported by Sudan's government have committed numerous human rights atrocities, U.N. officials say, including the slaughter and gang rape of civilians, destruction of water sources, looting and burning of buildings and crops.

Earlier this month, Israel's Channel 10 interviewed Israeli soldiers who said they had witnessed Egyptian security officers executing several Darfur refugees.

According to Channel 10, their testimonies were backed up by Israeli military security cameras that showed Egyptian soldiers shooting and killing several asylum-seekers.

Channel 10 did not air the video.

Military commanders tell Brown to withdraw from Iraq without delay

Independent Online Edition > Middle East

By Raymond Whitaker and Robert Fox

Published: 19 August 2007

Senior military commanders have told the Government that Britain can achieve "nothing more" in south-east Iraq, and that the 5,500 British troops still deployed there should move towards withdrawal without further delay.

Last month Gordon Brown said after meeting George Bush at Camp David that the decision to hand over security in Basra province – the last of the four held by the British – "will be made on the military advice of our commanders on the ground". He added: "Whatever happens, we will make a full statement to Parliament when it returns [in October]."

Two generals told The Independent on Sunday last week that the military advice given to the Prime Minister was, "We've done what we can in the south [of Iraq]". Commanders want to hand over Basra Palace – where 500 British troops are subjected to up to 60 rocket and mortar strikes a day, and resupply convoys have been described as "nightly suicide missions" – by the end of August. The withdrawal of 500 soldiers has already been announced by the Government. The Army is drawing up plans to "reposture" the 5,000 that will be left at Basra airport, and aims to bring the bulk of them home in the next few months.

Before the invasion in 2003, officers were told that the Army's war aims were to bring stability and democracy to Iraq and to the Middle East as a whole. Those ambitions have been drastically revised, the IoS understands. The priorities now are an orderly withdrawal, with the reputation and capability of the Army "reasonably intact", and for Britain to remain a "credible ally". The final phrase appears to refer to tensions with the US, which has more troops in Iraq than at any other time, including the invasion, as it seeks to impose order in Baghdad and neighbouring provinces.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"We The People Won't Back Down"

a video by peacetakescourage

Is It Food Aid or Just An Agricultural Subsidy?

US food aid is 'wrecking' Africa, claims charity - Independent Online Edition > World Politics

Critics of US food aid subsidies say they help cause obesity among Americans and starvation among Africans.

Now Care, one of the world's biggest charities, has announced that it will boycott the controversial policy of selling tons of heavily subsidised US produced food in African countries. Care wants the US government to send money to buy food locally, rather than unwanted US produced food.

The US arm of the charity says America is causing rather than reducing hunger with a decree that US food aid must be sold rather than directly distributed to those facing starvation. In America, the subsidies for corn in particular, help underpin the junk food industry, which uses corn extracts as a sweetener, creating a home-grown a health crisis.

The farm lobby meanwhile has a stranglehold on Congress, which has balked at making any changes that would interfere with a system that promotes overproduction of commodities.

Critics of the policy say it also undermines African farmers' ability to produce food, making the most vulnerable countries of the world even more dependent on aid to avert famine.

Under the system Washington buys tens of millions of dollars of surplus corn and other products from agribusiness. The food, which can only be exported on US flagged ships, is then sold by charities to raise money to pay for emergencies.

Globally, about 800 million are chronically hungry and the number is rising every year. US farmers love the present system, but it is slow and unresponsive when there are food emergencies.

Care has caused a huge upset in the American charitable sector by deciding to phase out the practice. It has also upset US agribusiness and shipping interests, which benefit to the tune of some $180m a year from the practice.

Attempts to get Congress to end the policy, as it debates a new farm bill that will last for the next five years, have failed.

Alina Labrada, a spokeswoman for Care said: "I don't think that Americans who generously donate want people to go hungry at their expense."

Care's decision has led to a rift with some of the biggest US charities, including World Vision, Feed the Children and Africare, who rely on the system to fund a large part of their budgets. They argue that it keeps hard currency in impoverished countries and stops food prices rising.

The US claims to be the world's most generous provider of food aid, giving $2bn annually. Much of that aid lost in the overheads of shipping it to Africa.

Not only does subsidised US food hurt African farmers, but food purchased in the US regularly takes four months to reach the destination where there is an emergency. In contrast food bought locally takes only days to arrive.

Friday, August 17, 2007

John -- We're Going To Hold You To Your Word

Edwards to end investments with lenders - Yahoo! News

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who has called homeownership "the foundation of the American dream," said Friday he will divest his holdings in funds linked to lenders that have foreclosed on Hurricane Katrina victims.


"I will not have my family's money involved in these firms that are foreclosing on people in New Orleans," he told the Associated Press.

Edwards has reported $29.5 million in assets, millions of which are invested in the hedge fund Fortress Investment Group., a company that paid him nearly half a million dollars last year for consulting advice.

Fortress has investments in lenders that offer subprime mortgages, higher priced loans for borrowers considered greater risks. The Wall Street Journal on Friday identified 34 New Orleans homeowners who face foreclosure actions from lenders connected to Fortress.

"My reaction is I'm going to help these people," Edwards said in a telephone interview. "I just learned about this. I don't know the details, I will find out and I will find a way to help them."