Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Child Soldiers in Burma/Myanmar

excerpt from:

Child soldiers 'bought and sold' in Myanmar, report says

By Seth Mydans

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

BANGKOK: Add to the many hardships in Myanmar today one more danger: being a boy. According to a report that was to be released Wednesday, the military, struggling to meet recruiting quotas, is buying, kidnapping and terrorizing boys as young as 10 to join its ranks.

The report by Human Rights Watch, the New York-based rights group, says military recruiters and civilian brokers scour train stations, bus stations, markets and other public places for boys and coerce them to volunteer. Some may simply disappear without their families' knowledge and spend years on the front lines of a brutal war against ethnic insurgencies.

"Clearly the military is preying upon children and using children to form a substantial proportion of its forces," said a co-author of the report, Jo Becker, the children's rights advocate for Human Rights Watch.

Do You Believe That Rumsfeld Should Be Prosecuted?

If you do say so.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has filed a complaint against Donald Rumsfeld in France, charging him again with torture committed during the U.S. government’s so-called “war on terror” in Iraq and at Guantánamo.

As France has ratified the UN Convention against Torture, France has an obligation under domestic and international law to prosecute or extradite alleged perpetrators of torture.

But for the complaint to go forward, the national French Prosecutor must decide to open an official investigation. Please take a few minutes today to write a letter to the French Prosecutor telling him that Donald Rumsfeld must be held accountable for his crimes and that the French government should open an investigation into the torture he explicitly authorized.

Fax or call the French Prosecutor Jean Claude Marin and demand that he open an investigation into Rumsfeld's involvement in torture.

  • Fax: 011 33 1 44 32 77 66
  • Phone: 011 33 1 44 32 76 92

Road Rage Over A Small Matter

.. or a little news from down under.

Woman's 'small penis' slur from ad leads to road rage

By Mark Schliebs

A WOMAN giving another motorist the “small penis” hand gesture – popularised by a driver safety advertising campaign – provoked him lash out in an act of road rage, a court heard.

Simon Jardak was yesterday convicted and fined $400 for maliciously damaging property after throwing a bottle out his window in anger because the RTA hand gesture offended him.

The hand gesture was the basis of a New South Wales advertising campaign against speeding. (Watch video of the ad below.)

Jardak told Balmain Local Court that he felt emasculated by the woman’s hand gesture while driving over the Anzac Bridge in August.

“She started doing that hand gesture, you know, the RTA one,” Jardak told Magistrate Bill Bryden.

“And it offended me… because of, you know, ‘small’… she implied I had a small penis.”

The Faulty Logic in the Iranian Nuclear Discussion

Much of the discussion about the danger of Iran developing nuclear technology is based on the idea that one nation can, (or has the right to), prevent another nation from obtaining knowledge -- nuclear or otherwise. This is faulty logic.

The Bush Administration can no more control the information and technology flow into Iran than Hollywood can control the Chinese bootleg film market.

I'm no foreign policy expert but wouldn't it be more logical to assume that eventually any or all nations will have nuclear capabilities and make it our goal to convince them to use this technology, if they choose to develop it, for peaceful instead of aggressive purposes?

The following video clip highlight this faulty logic at work

Mischief Night at the Democratic Presidential Election Debates.

Last night the 2008 Presidential Election Debate Tour came to my hometown of Philadelphia and there was very little brotherly love on that stage -- at least not towards Hillary.

As always the forum moderators tried to throw out a few trick questions and the candidates ( you guess who ) threw out a few trick responses. There were also a few treats during the evening to satisfy the hunger of political candy junkies. There was even one really silly question about UFOs.

Surprisingly there were no questions on urban crime in the US which would have been timely given the unfortunate crime wave that we're experiencing in our city. But I guess that we don't need any more bad publicity this week.

If I wasn't feeling a little under the weather, I would have posted last night because this debate clearly demonstrated why I respect Hillary Clinton tremendously but she is not my choice for President. If you're following the campaign at all you've probably already heard that Hillary was caught in a little "double speak".

I understand that Hillary is a centrist but you can't play both sides against the middle of everything. Her vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment was wrong and so is her position on giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants in New York State. And waffling on both of these issues doesn't demonstrate a leader trying to reach consensus with opponents. It simply illustrates a politician who isn't willing to take a stand that might cost her votes in the general election.

In the following clip John Edwards points out Hillary's double-talk on NY Gov. Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants

Many of the pundits and the pollsters believe that Barack Obama won the evening. Barry certainly did come across as thoughtful and astute. In fact, he comes across as a Harvard law professor. These debate forums simply do not play to his strengths. If you have a chance to see him in a local town hall meeting please go see him.

Once again, Joe Biden proved why he must be our next Secretary of State. I know that this is not the job he really wants but it will be one of the most critical positions to the future of this country and the world. Joe Biden is a one of the most informed and eloquent speakers on foreign policy in this nation. He also has the guns to walk into a President's office and tell him/her when they're are wrong. His courage, intelligence and no BS approach is what the State Department desperately needs.

The following clip is John Edwards at his absolute best. Of course, I am biased.

And finally, a debate highlight reel courtesy of TPMtv

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just Who Is The Media Playing To?

All afternoon MSNBC's Nora O'Donnell hyped her "first ever cable tv interview with Elizabeth Kucinich.

And guess what Nora asked Elizabeth?

You're correct if you guessed she asked sophomoric questions about Elizabeth's age, her tongue piercing and why a beautiful girl like her fell for Dennis Kucinich.

I'm pleased to say that Elizabeth Kucinich made Nora look like she was conducting an interview for a high school newspaper. If a video clip becomes available I'll share it with you.

Questions about tongue piercings and why she knew Dennis was the one for her, give me a break.

Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters

Just who is the media playing to? or should I say playing for?

They're working awfully hard to convince the American public that Hillary has the race for the Democratic nominee all but locked up.


Immunity for Blackwater?

Shadow Company

Does this news really surprise anyone?

Ok, I'm back on the subject of Blackwater, AGAIN. You knew that it wouldn't take me long

excerpt from:

US State Dept Granted Blackwater Immunity in Killing of 17 Civilians

This post, written by Siun, originally appeared on FireDogLake

Remember that Blackwater killing of 17 Iraqi civilians - and the oh so independent investigation that was supposed to dig out the truth (yeah, right).

Well, it seems the investigation is stalled because:*

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.
The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.
* * * * *

If that bit of news doesn't convince you to sign the petition asking the US Congress to demand that the State Department and the Dept. of Defense cancel all Blackwater contracts then maybe the following clip can:

From the producers of Shadow Company :

In the late 20th Century the distinction between soldier and mercenary became blurred. The recent use of private military companies (PMCs) in Iraq has been more extensive than at any time in modern history. The brutal killing of four PMC employees in Fallujah in April 2004 made it clear that these “contractors” are not merely workers in a foreign land. But are the lives of such men the only thing at risk when we privatize warfare?

Shadow Company explores the moral and ethical issues private military solutions create for PMC employees, for the Western governments who foot the bill for their salaries, and for everyday citizens like you. The filmmakers traveled the globe to expose all sides of the issue, interviewing PMC staff, owners and lobbyists, former mercenaries, academics, journalists and top authors.

This movie is a definite "must see". Check out their website

Related posts:

If the Iraqis Hate Them and Troops Don't Care For Them Why Are They There?

Blackwater May Chose Not to Renew Their Contract in Iraq

Three Cheers for CCR

Use of contractors by U.S. State Dept. has soared

Monday, October 29, 2007

Edwards touts corporate responsibility as 'Main Street is drowning'

excerpt from:
Edwards touts corporate responsibility as 'Main Street is drowning' ::
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Jennifer Hunter

DES MOINES, IOWA -- He has defined himself as a champion of the poor, and now Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says he wants to help middle-class Americans redeem the prosperity and jobs that have been lost due to global trade agreements and diminishing corporate responsibility.

"This is way beyond politics," he said in a speech Friday. "This is the moral question of our time.

"The statistics say our economy is growing, that the economic tide is rising. But if you look around, the only thing rising with it are the yachts. Everyone else is taking on water.

"Profits are skyrocketing on Wall Street, but Main Street is drowning under a sea of cost and debt."

The lot of the middle class can be improved, he says, through:

•  •  Universal, portable retirement accounts that require businesses to enroll workers and contribute. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has a similar plan.

•  •  Creating universal health care.

•  •  Making corporations more responsible by strengthening shareholder rights, creating more transparency, capping huge executive pensions.

•  •  Creating a Family Savings and Credit Commission to oversee financial service products marketed to families.

•  •  Making imported food, drugs, toys and other products safer.

"Decades of deregulation in Washington have weakened consumer protection laws, leaving Americans vulnerable to malfeasance and abuse by corporations, banks and lenders," he said.

Friday, October 26, 2007

War Profiteering's Poster Boy

"During the Civil War, President Lincoln stated that those profiteering from defective weapons 'ought to have their devilish heads shot off."

They may never actually prosecute Dick Cheney and Hunt or Ray L. Hunt but they've caught David H Brooks and he needs to be tried for treason.

excerpt from:
One Down: Obscenely Decadent War Profiteer Hauled Off in Handcuffs

America's most ostentatious war profiteer is no longer a free man. In a long-anticipated move, FBI agents arrested bulletproof vest maker David H. Brooks in his Manhattan apartment at dawn on Thursday. In the tradition of Al Capone, Brooks was nabbed on allegations of financial shenanigans, despite strong suspicions that the defense contractor has much more serious crimes on his hands.

Brooks emerged as the poster boy for shameless war profiteering in November of 2005 when he blew some $10 million in profits from military contracts on a celebrity-studded party for his daughter. Leaked details of the bash drew national attention, including a description of Brooks' pink suede suit and photos of his daughter on stage with the rapper 50 Cent. A New York Times editorial compared Brooks to the ill-fated Marie Antoinette.

And indeed, while Brooks won't face a guillotine for his greed, he could spend up to 70 years in prison if convicted of all charges. The 71-page indictment ( PDF) alleges that while Brooks was chief executive of DHB Industries, a leading provider of military body armor, he pocketed more than $185 million from insider trading, fraud and tax evasion. He is also charged with using millions of dollars in DHB funds for personal expenses.

A sampling of the charges authorities say Brooks concealed from shareholders and the IRS:

  • $7,900 for a facelift for Brooks' wife
  • more than $1 million for expenses related to his 100 trotting and breeding horses
  • $101,190 for a belt buckle studded with diamonds, rubies and sapphires
  • $101,500 for an armored vehicle for his family's use
  • more than $1 million for numerous family vacations, including frequent stays at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and various Caribbean and European villas
  • $31,802 to transport one of his daughters and her college friends to Halloween parties in Madison, Wisconsin, using a private jet
  • hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonus checks drawn on a DHB bank account handed out by Brooks at a company Christmas party to non-DHB personnel, including his horse trainer
  • and of course the predictable $10,000 here, $5,000 there for purchases at Luis Vuitton, Gucci, Gianni Versace, and Prada boutiques around the world

Related posts:

This Must Be Against the Law

When War Is On the Horizon, Follow the Money

What Would Lincoln Say Now?

Don't Let Their Last Years Be Sad Years

an excerpt from:

Confronting Sadness in Seniors

By Matthew Shulman
1 hour, 17 minutes ago

A bit of sadness is a common companion of aging. Over time, after all, seniors may lose vigor, independence, and even loved ones. But when melancholy becomes outright depression, the elderly are at risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even suicide. It's often up to their unofficial caretakers--their children--to spot depression's signs and take steps to address it.

Depression often manifests differently in the elderly than in younger people. Rather than expressing feelings of sadness, depressed seniors may describe physical complaints--increased aches and pains, headaches, weakness, and, commonly, trouble sleeping. "Look for changes in levels of interest, too," says Dan Blazer, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center. Increases in anxiety, irritability, withdrawal, and a decrease in attention to appearance are also common signs. Sometimes, depression arises because of a physical health problem, says Gary Moak, president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry and a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. For example, he says, "as many as 40 percent of stroke victims will develop depression, because many [strokes] occur in an area of the brain that's closely related to the processing and management of emotions." Overall, about 1 in 5 people age 65 and older has depression, according to Moak. The vast majority don't receive the professional treatment they need.

FEMA's Attempt To Be Relevant

Is everyone in Washington trying to prove that they are still relevant?

Now FEMA has had to stoop to holding a fake press conference.

Everyone is putting their ideas forth on the lessons that were learned from the handling of the emergency created by Hurricane Katrina, so here's mine.

The most important lesson that California and every other American citizen learned from Hurricane Katrina was to "handle it yourself" and not to wait for FEMA.

Massive Kudos to the Governator!

Maybe we should reconsider the law on presidential eligibility!

an excerpt from:
FEMA's fake 'news conference' - First Read -

On Tuesday, FEMA held what was called a "news briefing" on the California fires, but the questions asked did not come from reporters. They were asked instead by FEMA staffers.

Apparently, the FEMA briefing was called with little lead-time and reporters didn't get there fast enough. Instead of acknowledging that reporters were not there they apparently pretended and even used the typical practice of calling a "last question."

The briefer, FEMA's Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson, did not indicate that the questions were coming from staff who were in essence playing reporters. Six questions were asked and the phrasing and subject matter were not typical for a news briefing give and take.

African FootPrint Opening in New Orleans Nov. 1

Enjoyed by over 250 million viewers around the world, (except apparently Nicholas Sarkozy) South Africa ’s longest-running show is finally coming to the North America.

AFRICAN FOOTPRINT will kick off its North American tour at ‘Contemporary Arts Center" in New Orleans on November 1, marking the city’s first major theatrical event since Hurricane Katrina.

Academy Award-winning star of stage and screen Louis Gossett Jr., an avid supporter of the production, will host the gala premiere, and all following New Orleans performances. The tour, presented by Corey Ross, will continue through the Spring of 2008, with stints in a variety of U.S. and Canadian cities.

AFRICAN FOOTPRINT tells the vibrant and diverse history of South Africa through a breathtaking blend of Afro- and Euro-centric music and dance. A cast of 30 energetic performers has created a show so exciting and entertaining that critics have dubbed AFRICAN FOOTPRINT “The Riverdance of South Africa ”.

Since its splashy conception, AFRICAN FOOTPRINT has played for seven years in South Africa , 2½ years touring Europe, as well as numerous engagements throughout Australia , China , Israel and India . The show has been seen by over 250 million audience members, including luminaries such as Bill Clinton, HRH Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela

Tellement tous mes chers amis à la Nouvelle-Orléans célèbrent mon anniversaire pour moi et laissez les bons temps roulez

Do You Know Your State's Water Management Plan?

Sadly most people will answer, no. That needs to change, immediately. Just ask the residents of Georgia ( in southeastern US ) many of whom face the threat of running out of water in less than 90 days.

Some politicians think that the answer is privatization -- selling public water to private interests. That would certainly seem to get the politicians off the hook for decades of ignoring the problems of urban sprawl, eroding infrastructure and lack of planning. But what happens to the consumer when the private corporation that owns your water supply decides that it will be more profitable to sell your water to another buyer? Or that it's not in the interest of their stockholders to invest in improving the infrastructure in your area?

Will you allow your elected representatives to pave the way for the day when you can't afford water?

* * * * *

excerpt from:
New to Being Dry, the South Struggles to Adapt - New York Times

Published: October 23, 2007

Correction Appended

ATLANTA, Oct. 22 — For more than five months, the lake that provides drinking water to almost five million people here has been draining away in a withering drought. Sandy beaches have expanded into flats of orange mud. Tree stumps not seen in half a century have resurfaced. Scientists have warned of impending disaster.

And life, for the most part, has gone on just as before.

The response to the worst drought on record in the Southeast has unfolded in ultra-slow motion. All summer, more than a year after the drought began, fountains sprayed and football fields were watered, prisoners got two showers a day and Coca-Cola’s bottling plants chugged along at full strength. On an 81-degree day this month, an outdoor theme park began to manufacture what was intended to be a 1.2-million-gallon mountain of snow.

By September, with the lake forecast to dip into the dregs of its storage capacity in less than four months, the state imposed a ban on outdoor water use.

Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia declared October “Take a Shorter Shower Month.” And Saturday, Mr. Perdue declared a state of emergency for more than half the state and asked for federal assistance, though the state has not yet restricted indoor water use or cut back on major commercial and industrial users, a step that could cause a significant loss of jobs.

These last-minute measures belie a history of inaction in Georgia and across the South when it comes to managing and conserving water, even in the face of rapid growth. Between 1990 and 2000, water use in Georgia increased 30 percent. But the state has not yet come up with an estimate of how much water is available during periods of normal rainfall, much less a plan to handle the worst-case event — dry faucets.

“We have made it clear to the planners and executive management of this state for years that we may very well be on the verge of a systemwide emergency,” said Mark Crisp, a water expert in the Atlanta office of the engineering firm C. H. Guernsey.

But a sense of urgency has been slow to take hold. Last year, a bill died in the Georgia Legislature that would have required that low-flow water devices be installed in older houses before they are resold. Most golf courses are classified as “agricultural.” Water permits are still approved first come first served.

And Georgia is not at the back of the pack. Alabama, where severe drought is even more widespread, is even further behind in its planning.

* * * * *

A Water Privatization Overview
courtesy of Public Citizen

Rather than taking the dramatic action necessary to protect precious water resources, governments around the world are retreating from their responsibilities. Instead of acting decisively, they are bending to the will of giant transnational corporations that are poised to profit from the shortage of water. Fortune magazine has predicted that "water is the oil of the 21 century" and corporations are rushing to invest in the water business.

Giant water, energy, food, and shipping companies have plans to buy water rights, privatize publicly owned water systems, promote bottled water, and sell "bulk" water by transporting it from water rich areas to markets desperate for more water. At the same time, to ensure maximum profits, these companies are lobbying to weaken water quality standards, and pushing for tradeagreements that hand over the U.S. water resources to foreign corporations.

Right here in the United States, where some regions are already suffering from serious water shortages, corporations from Vivendi to Nestle are poised to make a profit on water. Some corporate interests even want to sell bulk water from the Great Lakes, the world's largest freshwater system. The Great Lakes have suffered from pollution, lost two-thirds of their extensive wetlands and experienced a catastrophic loss of biological diversity. Only 3% of the shorelines are suitable for swimming.

Water resources in Wisconsin and Michigan have been targeted by giant bottled water companies like Perrier. Selling bottled water is one of the most successful revenue generating schemes for private corporations. As drinking water has been degraded, the bottled water industry is promoting its expensive product as the solution.

Unfortunately, bottled water is not adequately regulated, and tap water is actually subject to more rigorous testing and safety standards. A 1999 study of bottled water found that bottled water is no safer than tap wader, and sometimes is less safe. Meanwhile, companies like Coca-Cola are selling purified tap water as a healthy option, and they believe that in the long run selling water will be more profitable than selling Coke.

Heroes Are An Endangered Species

Tonight, I watched one of my favorite movies, "The Insider" and was reminded of one of the harshest realities to which many Americans have had to adjust since 9/11. Over the past six years, we have had to live with the knowledge that the news sources that we once trusted can bow to corporate and political influences. And that's been a very,very painful lesson for baby boomers who grew up believing that if a story was seen on "60 Minutes" or CNN it had to be true.

The journalists were the heroes of our generation. They opened the doors that we could not enter. They asked the questions that we all wanted answered.
We believed that they were on the front line of our on-going struggle for democracy. We believed that saying: "the pen is mightier than the sword".

We were such news junkies that our generation gave birth to the 24 hour news network. We mixed our music with our news and hence, Rolling Stone magazine. We even mixed our sexuality with our news to the point that men actually got away with claiming that they read Playboy magazine for the articles.

As much as we loved our athletes, movie stars and musicians we equally loved to see Dan Rather or Mike Wallace out some corrupt person right in front of our eyes. We believed that government should be transparent and corporations should be accountable to the public. And if either of the aforementioned got out of line, the journalists would hold their feet to the fire. We knew that the corporations owned the media outlets but somehow we lived under the illusion that the journalists were immune to their influence.

And now we have FOX News. We have a media that outs CIA agents not because of their questionable actions in some foreign country, but as a favor to a political party. We know that CBS betrayed Dan Rather. We know that the mainstream media was complicit in selling us the argument for the Iraq war. We know that media outlets are trying to dumb us down with the never-ending tales of Britney and Paris. We know that, more often than not, the news outlets that we used to trust bow to the interests of their corporate masters, the advertisers or the White House. And we know that the best journalists can be blackballed and cast into the netherworld at a moment's notice.

So what should we do when we think that we've found that rare journalist that still reports the facts and speaks truth to power? We need to value them and more importantly, protect them.

A hero is a rare thing.


excerpt from:

Journalism and its discontents |

By Sidney Blumenthal

Editor's note:
The following is the author's afterword for a reissue of Walter Lippman's "Liberty and the News," to be published this month by Princeton University Press.

Ninety years after Walter Lippmann first railed against the complicity of the media in wartime propaganda, we're back at ground zero.

"Everywhere today," Lippmann wrote in Liberty and the News, "men are conscious that somehow they must deal with questions more intricate than any that church or school had prepared them to understand. Increasingly they know that they cannot understand them if the facts are not quickly and steadily available. Increasingly they are baffled because the facts are not available; and they are wondering whether government by consent can survive in a time when the manufacture of consent is an unregulated private enterprise."

Lippmann had witnessed firsthand how the "manufacture of consent" had deranged democracy. But he did not hold those in government solely responsible. He also described how the press corps was carried away on the wave of patriotism and became self-censors, enforcers, and sheer propagandists. Their careerism, cynicism, and error made them destroyers of "liberty of opinion" and agents of intolerance, who subverted the American constitutional system of self-government. Even the great newspaper owners, he wrote, "believe that edification is more important than veracity. They believe it profoundly, violently, relentlessly. They preen themselves upon it. To patriotism, as they define it from day to day, all other considerations must yield. That is their pride. And yet what is this but one more among myriad examples of the doctrine that the end justifies the means? A more insidiously misleading rule of conduct was, I believe, never devised among men."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

US Justice Dept Still Won't Admit Its Mistake

I apologize for the delay in update you on the case of Maher Arar. There are so many things happening in the world but I am still watching this very closely.

Maher Arar received a public apology from U.S. lawmakers on 10/18 for being detained by the U.S. and deported to Syria, where he was tortured and interrogated on false terrorism allegations but the US Justice Department still refuses to do the right thing.

The following video is the full hearing on Mr. Arar's case and the issue of extraordinary rendition

If you agree that the Justice Dept. should formally apologize to Maher Arar and end the practice of extraordinary rendition, please sign this petition

This should have never happened in America and should never happen again.

Related posts:

Muslim Canadian citizen Was Falsely Accused, Detained and Tortured

Update On Canadian Citizen Tortured And Falsely Accused Of Terrorrism

Update On The False Arrest & Torture of Maher Arar

Aung San Suu Kyi Meets With Burmese Minister

excerpt from:

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Suu Kyi meets Burmese minister Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has held her first meeting with the senior military official appointed to liaise with her.

She spent just over an hour with former general Aung Kyi, state media said.

Aung Kyi was given the task of liaising between the government and Ms Suu Kyi earlier this month, in an apparent concession to international pressure.

Burma's junta has been heavily criticised by the UN for its crackdown on anti-government protests last month.

The government said 10 people died during the crackdown, but diplomats believe the toll was much higher. Thousands more - many of them monks - are thought to have been detained.

The Whole Story On Race

The following is an excellent review of Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint's book, "Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. "  It is clear that Alan Jenkins has actually read the book and did not just pick out a few sensational and racially charged quotes on which to comment.   plk.

excerpt from:

The Whole Story On Race

Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of
The Opportunity Agenda

Opportunity in America is a two-way street. Each of us has a responsibility to do our best, pursuing whatever pathways to success are available to us. And our society has a responsibility to keep those pathways open and accessible to everyone, irrespective of race, gender, or other aspects of what we look like or where we come from.

That balance of personal responsibility and self-help on one hand, while demanding fairness and equity on the other, has always been crucial to the African-American quest for opportunity. That's why Malcolm X and the Million Man March continue to occupy such important places in the black consciousness, and why civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the National Urban League continue to promote educational and self-help programs along with advocacy and anti-discrimination efforts.

Given that reality, it's disappointing that the media coverage of Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint's new book, Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, seems to be telling only half the story when it comes to the state of black America.

Cosby and Poussaint's book offers important advice to African Americans on topics from staying in school, to having dinner with your children, to staying away from drugs and guns, to eating healthily. And it notes that past and present discrimination continue to affect black people's opportunities, even as it urges black folks to rise above those obstacles. But the media coverage of the book—of Cosby himself of late—ignored that balanced message, painting a misleading and stereotypical picture of universal black dysfunction rooted solely in millions of bad individual choices, and detached from our country's societal choices, which also powerfully affect the nation's people, including African Americans.

Cosby and Poussaint's recent appearance on Meet the Press is an example. Quoting from the book, host Tim Russert and the authors recited a litany of familiar and all-too-accurate statistics: "One out of three homeless people are black…. Homicide is the number one cause of death for black men between 15 and 29 years of age and has been for decades….Although black people make up 12 percent of the general population, they make up nearly 44 percent of the prison population. At any given time, as many as one in four of all … young black men are in the criminal justice system— prison or jail, on probation or on parole."

The authors stressed, correctly, that African Americans must work to turn these numbers around, through the kind of "group uplift" that has served our community since the time of slavery. But the interview failed to reveal another set of numbers that begins to explain what the black community is up against, and why individual responsibility is necessary, but not sufficient to solve these problems. Consider, for example, these findings from The Opportunity Agenda's State of Opportunity in America report:

  • Although rates of drug use are roughly equal among African Americans and whites, extreme laws addressing drug related and nonviolent crimes have disproportionately affected African Americans; between 1990 and 2000, the number of African Americans incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses increased by over 80 percent, to 145,000, a number that is 2.5 times higher than that for whites.
  • A 2000 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development study found that whites were favored over similarly qualified African Americans in rental housing 22 percent of the time. In housing sales— traditional steppingstone to the middle class— received favorable treatment over African Americans 17 percent of the time.
  • A study that assessed whether a criminal record would damage job chances found that white applicants with criminal records were more likely to receive callbacks from employers than African Americans who did not have criminal records .
  • A study by the Boston Federal Reserve Bank found that, even after controlling for a variety of applicant, loan, and property characteristics, the rejection rate for African-American and Hispanic applicants was 82 percent higher than for white applicants.

These barriers to opportunity stack up, one on top of the other, and reveal why, at the societal level, equal effort does not produce equal results for the black community. They are compounded, moreover, by persistent trends toward public disinvestment in increasingly segregated public schools, unequal access to health care and greater environmental hazards facing African-American communities.

The Good News That CNN Has Kept Strangely Quiet TVNewser

Christiane Amanpour Honored By Queen Elizabeth II

Amanpour 2.jpgCNN's Christiane Amanpour was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) today by Queen Elizabeth II. The investiture took place at a ballroom at Buckingham Palace.

The honor is for "services to journalism." And, just in case you're wondering, I'm told the correct way to address Amanpour would be "Christiane Amanpour CBE".

"I'm incredibly thrilled and very proud," Amanpour told CNN. She said the Queen asked about CNN during the ceremony, and Amanpour "reminded her that she had actually opened the CNN London bureau, our new London offices, back in 2001 and she had a broad smile when I reminded her of that."

*  *  *  *  *

In fact, has anyone else noticed that since the talk of a possible invasion of Iran began that Christiane and Michael Ware have been eerily absent from CNN's coverage.  I guess it's just their busy schedules. 

If you miss them like I do why don't you drop CNN a line.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

After the Shock of the Fires What Comes Next ?

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.
They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country
and our people, and neither do we."
George W. Bush -- Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
(Watch video)

Now that Naomi Klein has explained the "Shock Doctrine" and Naomi Wolf has explained the blueprint to ending democracy, there is enough available information for the America people to be sufficiently warned. Now Americans should be waiting for the next move.

Does the following sound familiar?

In the following video Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio discuss George Bush, the Republicans and Fox news trying to terrorize Americans again by implying that Al Qaeda is linked to the Southern California wildfires.

Keith Olbermann and Richard Wolffe discuss Bush's request for additional money for the Iraq war and Dick Cheney's threat to attack Iran

If you have not read "The Shock Doctrine" the following video by Naomi Klein will give you a great synopsis of the theory she outlines in her book.

And finally, in the following video Naomi Wolf author of "The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot" discusses the tactics used to breakdown a democracy during a lecture given October 11, 2007 at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus.

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
George W. Bush

An Oddly Timed Attack on Cuba

excerpt from:
Bush offers oddly timed attack on Castros

President George W. Bush issued a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power merely shifts from one Castro brother to another rather than to the Cuban people.

"Life will not improve for Cubans under their current system of government," he said. "It will not improve by exchanging one dictator for another. It will not improve if we seek accommodation with a new tyranny in the interests of stability."

But Cuba specialists said the president's warning seemed oddly timed and his analysis outdated, part of a policy with dwindling domestic support that is meant to isolate Cuba but that increasingly leaves the United States as the international odd man out.

Bush's remarks at the State Department constituted an unbending response to the political changes that began in Cuba more than a year ago, when Fidel Castro, 81, underwent surgery and handed power to his brother, Raúl, 76.

While administration officials said Bush's speech was aimed at the Cuban people, and could be heard on the radio there, it appeared equally directed at the Cuban-Americans who form a powerful Republican voting bloc in Florida, and more broadly at U.S. conservatives, for whom fervent opposition to Fidel Castro is an article of faith.

Canadian & Iraqi Taken Hostage During Attack on Chinese Run Oil Field

This will definitely get the world's attention

an excerpt from:
BBC NEWS | Africa | Sudan rebels 'hold China oil men'

A Darfur rebel group has claimed it has attacked a Sudanese oilfield in the Kordofan region, taking a Canadian and an Iraqi oil worker hostage.

The group, the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), said it attacked the facility, run by a Chinese-led consortium in the Defra oilfield.

Jem said its action was a message to China to stop helping the Sudanese government with their war in Darfur.

China is a major investor in the energy industry in Africa.

But it has faced some criticism for maintaining close links with the Sudanese government in Khartoum as international concern over the situation in Darfur has continued to rise.

The Canadians and the Iraqi both worked on the oilfield run by the Chinese-led consortium, the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company in Sudan's Defra oilfield.

Unite With Others Marching for Peace & Justice

Saturday, October 27th, tens of thousands are expected to participate in a coordinated day of opposition to the Bush Administration war in Iraq.

New York, NY, October 9, 2007 — United for Peace and Justice, the largest anti-war coalition in the U.S., today announced plans for 11 massive anti-war rallies to take place around the nation on Saturday, October 27th 2007. As polls indicate that 70% of the U.S. population disapproves of the widely unpopular war, organizer’s believe the October 27th action will provide a platform for those who have remained silent thus far to express their message of disapproval to the Bush Administration and demand decisive action. Participating organizations include veterans and military family groups as well as hundreds of national and local peace groups.

Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice said, “Never before have we seen anything like this. In regional centers throughout the nation people will gather in an expression of the wide spread opposition to the war. This war, with its senseless death and destruction in Iraq, is draining our communities as resources we need here at home are squandered every day. It is time to bring our troops home.”

Tens of thousands are expected to participate in the coordinated day of opposition to the Bush Administration war in Iraq. The protest will take place in 11 regional centers including New York, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Jonesborough (TN), Seattle, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Several other cities are conducting smaller gatherings for those who are unable to travel.

UFPJ Mobilization to End the War NOW!!

Bring All Our Troops Home!!

In Philadelphia, join the Human Chain For Peace, which will extend between the V.A. Hospital on Woodland Ave and Independence Mall, and will begin to assemble starting at noon. At 1:00pm, the March to the rally will begin at the V.A., picking up the "links" in the Chain as it proceeds North and East towards Independence Mall.

Or join the big Rally/Concert on Independence Mall from 2:00 to 5:00 pm, with speakers and music/poetry at this landmark event!

Or join the Rally in Camden NJ in the morning, and the GRAND MARCH across the Ben Franklin Bridge to Independence Mall in Philadelphia!

For more information visit their website

How the GOP Controls Debate and Limits Dissent.

Once again the wimpy Democratic leadership has bowed down in the face of controversy.

Yes, I agree that someone needs to raise the level of civility in political discourse. But when someone like Pete Stark stands up in Congress and says what millions of Americans would love to say, the Democrats do a disservice to those they represent when they berate him for his actions.

Pete Stark's comments weren't polite and the ad wasn't kind but neither is a war with no apparent end and a budget deficit that threatens to bankrupt a nation.

Did Stark's comments detract from the discussion on SCHIP? No.

Stark's comments touched on the heart of the matter -- the misplaced priorities of the Bush administration.

If the Democrats can't stand their ground on the issue of "free speech" then how on earth are they going to win the battles that really matter? The answer, I'm afraid, is that they can't.

The reality of US politics is that both the GOP and the Democrats serve the same god -- corporate American and special interests. And just like sports athletes if someone's comment or action threatens to cut off their endorsement deal then that person needs to be shutdown or cast aside.

And now the GOP has all but anointed the Democratic 2008 Presidential nominee. No surprise here, when Clinton campaign advisor Mark Penn's PR firm also represents Blackwater.


an excerpt from

The Art Of The Hissy Fit | Campaign for America's Future

I first noticed the right's successful use of phony sanctimony and faux outrage back in the 90's when well-known conservative players like Gingrich and Livingston pretended to be offended at the president's extramarital affair and were repeatedly and tiresomely "upset" about fund-raising practices they all practiced themselves. The idea of these powerful and corrupt adulterers being personally upset by White House coffees and naughty sexual behavior was laughable.

But they did it, oh how they did it, and it often succeeded in changing the dialogue and tittilating the media into a frenzy of breathless tabloid coverage.

In fact, they became so good at the tactic that they now rely on it as their first choice to control the political dialogue when it becomes uncomfortable and put the Democrats on the defensive whenever they are winning the day. Perhaps the best example during the Bush years would be the completely cynical and over-the-top reaction to Senator Paul Wellstone's memorial rally in 2002 in the last couple of weeks leading up to the election.

With the exception of the bizarre Jesse Ventura, those in attendance, including the Republicans, were non-plussed by the nature of the event at the time. It was not, as the chatterers insisted, a funeral, but rather more like an Irish wake for Wellstone supporters — a celebration of Wellstone's life, which included, naturally, politics. (He died campaigning, after all.) But Vin Weber, one of the Republican party's most sophisticated operatives, immediately saw the opportunity for a faux outrage fest that was more successful than even he could have ever dreamed.

By the time they were through, the Democrats were prostrating themselves at the feet of anyone who would listen, begging for forgiveness for something they didn't do, just to stop the shrieking. The Republicans could barely keep the smirks off their faces as they sternly lectured the Democrats on how to properly honor the dead — the same Republicans who had relentlessly tortured poor Vince Foster's family for years.

It's an excellent technique and one they continue to employ with great success, most recently with the entirely fake Move-On and Pete Stark "controversies." (The Democrats try their own versions but rarely achieve the kind of full blown hissy fit the Republicans can conjure with a mere blast fax to Drudge and their talk radio minions.)

But it's about more than simple political distraction or savvy public relations. It's actually a very well developed form of social control called Ritual Defamation (or Ritual Humiliation) as this well trafficked internet article defines it:

Defamation is the destruction or attempted destruction of the reputation, status, character or standing in the community of a person or group of persons by unfair, wrongful, or malicious speech or publication. For the purposes of this essay, the central element is defamation in retaliation for the real or imagined attitudes, opinions or beliefs of the victim, with the intention of silencing or neutralizing his or her influence, and/or making an example of them so as to discourage similar independence and "insensitivity" or non-observance of taboos. It is different in nature and degree from simple criticism or disagreement in that it is aggressive, organized and skillfully applied, often by an organization or representative of a special interest group, and in that it consists of several characteristic elements.

* * * * *

Dana Perino on the Public Health Benefits of Global Warming

No I am not making this up! I am starting to feel like I'm trapped in an episode of "The Twilight Zone".

When I read Josh Marshall's report that White House press secretary " Dana Perino responded to charges the White House "eviscerated" CDC Director Gerberding's testimony on global warming with a comment about the cool health benefits of global warming ...", I had to see it to believe it.

See for yourself

Now just to cut Dana a little slack I concede that many of us mispeak when confronted with questions that make us uncomfortable. But not many of us hold the position of White House spokesperson.

"The public health benefits of global warming".

Is Dana aware that the Southern California wildfires are probably worse than normal because of weather conditions that could be attributed to global warming?

Is she aware that in addition to the extreme lost of property, thousands of people are seeking medical assistance for respiratory problems resulting for the smoke filled air?

Of course, if waterboarding and subjecting persons to extreme temperatures is not torture then I guess there can be many health benefits to global warming.

P.S. "Vehicles are very important"

And This Will Be the Bush Administration's Legacy

"We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

an excerpt from:

War costs may total $2.4 trillion -

WASHINGTON — The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $2.4 trillion through the next decade, or nearly $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate scheduled for release Wednesday.

A previous CBO estimate put the wars' costs at more than $1.6 trillion. This one adds $705 billion in interest, taking into account that the conflicts are being funded with borrowed money.

The new estimate also includes President Bush's request Monday for another $46 billion in war funding, said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., budget committee chairman, who provided the CBO's new numbers to USA TODAY.

Assuming that Iraq accounts for about 80% of that total, the Iraq war would cost $1.9 trillion, including $564 million in interest, said Thomas Kahn, Spratt's staff director. The committee holds a hearing on war costs this morning.

"The number is so big, it boggles the mind," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill

* * * * *

"The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within
what you are trying to defend from without."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

How to Help Those Displaced by the So. CA Fires

To volunteer or donate, contact the following state agencies and regional Red Cross organizations:

courtesy of

Today's Word: Profiteering

1) profiteer. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
...One who makes excessive profits on goods in short supply. Inflected forms: prof·it·eered, prof·it·eer·ing, prof·it·eers To make excessive profits on goods in short...

2) vulture. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
...head and neck and generally feeding on carrion. 2. A person of a rapacious, predatory, or profiteering nature. Middle English, from Old French voltour, from Latin...

courtesy of

Before Congress approves one more dime for the Iraq war could they at least pretend to ask the White House/Pentagon/State Department to account for the $9 billion of missing Iraq reconstruction funds?

And while you're at it ask them about the billions missing in Iraq oil revenues?

Or better yet, ask them why they needed a $600 million embassy in Iraq?

If American families need to find a way to pay their mortgages, food, health insurance, and home heating oil without an increase in wages then the Pentagon and the State Department need to find a way to finance the Iraq war with their existing budget.

I'm sure that if the White House calls their friends at Haliburton, Blackwater, DynCorp and in the oil industry they can get together and scrounge up another $46 billion to keep going. What do you think?

What do you say Congress?

Let the White House find a way to creatively finance their war while the rest of America finds a way to rebuild the Gulf Coast, replace our highways, provide heathcare for uninsured children, get water to the drought stricken Southeast and help the thousands who have been displaced by the fires in Southern California.


" Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired,
signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,
those who are cold and are not clothed. "
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Related posts:

When War Is On The Horizon Follow The Money

Awaken Sleeping Giant

What's The Message?

This Must Be Against The Law

Use of Contractors by U.S. State Dept. Has Soared

Use of contractors by U.S. State Dept. has soared

excerpt from:
Use of contractors by U.S. State Dept. has soared - International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON: Over the past four years, the amount of money the State Department pays to private security and law enforcement contractors has soared to nearly $4 billion a year from $1 billion, administration officials said Tuesday, but they said that the department had added few new officials to oversee the contracts.

It was the first time that the administration had outlined the ballooning scope of the contracts, and it provided a new indication of how the State Department's efforts to monitor private companies had not kept pace. Auditors and outside exerts say the results have been vast cost overruns, poor contract performance and, in some cases, violence that has so far gone unpunished.

A vast majority of the money goes to companies like DynCorp International and Blackwater USA to protect diplomats overseas, train foreign police forces and assist in drug eradication programs. There are only 17 contract compliance officers at the State Department's management bureau overseeing spending of the billions of dollars on these programs, officials said.

A Smart Move

It's how the game is played.  And no where in the world do they need to play to win than in Africa.

excerpt from:

BBC NEWS | Business | Nigeria eyes review of oil deals

Nigeria's top energy adviser, Rilwanu Lukman, has said deals with foreign companies to extract Nigerian oil should be reviewed.

Nigeria produces billions of dollars worth of crude oil every year in partnership with Western companies such as Mobil and Shell.

Mr Lukman said he wanted to improve the conditions of oil deals to be even more mutually beneficial to both sides.

Nigeria is Africa's top oil exporter and a key supplier of crude to the US.

Speaking to reporters in Abuja, Mr Lukman did not name specific companies.

"We have to look at what is on [the] ground now and see which way we can improve the conditions so that our relationship will be even more beneficial to both sides," he said.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Couldn't Resist.

I've refrained from bombarding you with too many John Edwards posts but I just couldn't resist this.

The Edwards' recently welcomed two new members to their family. In this photo, taken earlier this month, Elizabeth holds Rufus, while Lily rides with Emma Claire.

... and John on Real Time With Bill Mahr 10/19/07

The great thing about supporting John as a candidate is that you don't have to spin for him.

Americans -- Are You Tired of Being Pimped?

Sorry to be so crude but the verbiage applies when you work only to turn your money over to a government that doesn't care what you think; doesn't care what you want; doesn't really want to see you improve your life; threatens you if you don't go along with the program; and, keeps demanding more and more and more....

The Bush Administration today asked for a mere $46 billion more to fund the Iraq war and in the same breath proposed a 44% cut in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a move which threatens to endanger the lives of thousands of poor children and the elderly. These announcements came on the same day that the New York Times reported that "tuition and fees at public and private colleges and universities rose at more than double the rate of inflation".

Is this picture coming into focus for you?

All of the aforementioned news stories fit within the mission of the Bush/Cheney administration -- to make sure that the rich get richer, the working class gets poorer and the poor stay that way.

The mission -- to preserve the powerful, wealthy ruling class, an easily managed working class and a permanent underclass that will perform the hard manual labor.

warning: the following video contains some profanity.

So, if you're tired of being pimped, it's time to arm yourself with knowledge.

Here's a reading list to get you started.

I encourage everyone to purchase them as soon as possible, before these books are banned.

Everything American Government Book: From the Constitution to Present-Day
Elections, All You Need to Understand Our Democratic System

by Nick Ragone

Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens
by Marianne Williamson

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich, Arlie Hochschild, Shara Kay (Editor)

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
by Jeremy Scahill

The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot
by Naomi Wolf

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
by Naomi Klein

Come on, People!: On the Path from Victims to Victors
by Bill Cosby, Alvin F. Poussaint

Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis
by Jimmy Carter

The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization
by Diana West

Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water
by Alan Snitow, Michael Fox, Deborah Kaufman

What God Wants: A Compelling Answer to Humanity's Biggest Question
by Neale Donald Walsch

Big Pharma: Exposing the Global Healthcare Agenda
by Jacky Law

More GOP Family Values

Now the Bush Administration wants to cut the " Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program" by 44%. What else do you think is on his agenda before January 20, 2009?

an excerpt from:

Dan Brown: Bush's "Poor Kids First" Kept Sick and Freezing
- Politics on The Huffington Post

Bush took less than a week to prove through his actions that he could not care less about poor kids at any level of poverty, and is in fact, actively working to keep them sick, freezing, and unable to elevate themselves. "Poor kids first" is hogwash.

Using the pathetic trick of releasing the mean-spirited announcement on a Friday evening, the week's lowest-buzzing moment of news coverage, the Bush Administration wants to cut the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a move which will literally leave 30 million low-income households in the cold this winter.

Oil costs are rising, and the Bush administration's response is to pull the plug on homes that can't afford the market-priced heat.

Reuters reports, "LIHEAP has an interim annual budget of $2.16 billion, but the White House wants to cut the program to $1.78 billion for the 2008 spending year that began on October 1."

LIHEAP was founded in 1981, but its funding has not kept up with inflation or energy costs. If it did, its budget would be $4.2 billion. Rather than expanding the program to meet the needs of struggling Americans, Bush wants to contract it.

The president's fears of middle-class freeloaders getting government help do not apply here. The households using LIHEAP are poor by any American standard. About two-thirds of the households that receive LIHEAP assistance have annual incomes of less than $20,000. One day Bush says "poor kids first," and then the next, moves to shut off their heaters. And you can be sure that no one who supports Bush's cutback has ever himself spent an icy winter without access to heat.

In a stirring Boston Globe editorial, Deborah A. Frank and Joseph P. Kennedy II point out a devastating statistic:

"Young children in poor families who receive energy assistance through the federal LIHEAP are 32 percent less likely to require admission to the hospital on the day of their visit to the emergency room than eligible families who do not receive LIHEAP."

This program lets people live. How can the Bush Administration propose to cut it by 44% from its 2005 funding level? Don't they have money for this vital program?

* * * * *

related posts:

This Is What The GOP Calls Family Values