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Wednesday, April 30

Tunin' In, Turnin' On, Droppin' Out

From Geneva we hear of the death of Dr. Albert Hofmann, who was 102 years old.

Why do I bring this up, and what connection has it to the title? Dr. Hofmann was researching a grain fungus when he extracted a compound known nowadays as lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. He had the first scientifically documented LSD drug trip when a tiny drop absorbed into his fingertip.

Potent stuff.

LSD was at first offered as a tool in psychiatric health care, but was quickly corrupted when counterculture youth and others got hold of it.

And the rest, they say, is history.

What's that? Me, you say?

Pardon me; I was laughing. I've never tried it, or any other drug other than ethanol.

I'm crazy enough normally - IMAGINE me on drugs.

Dropping the Ball

This comes as no surprise whatever:

"Al-Qaida has rebuilt some of its pre-Sept. 11 capabilities from remote hiding places in Pakistan, leading to a jump in attacks last year in that country and neighboring Afghanistan, the Bush administration said Wednesday."

Doesn't surprise me a damned bit. We invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and had Osama and the main leadership of The Base treed up in the Tora Bora mountains, and then came the order.

Let him go. We're going after Saddam in Iraq instead.

So we let bin Laden and al-Zawahiri go, let them escape into the wilds of the Pakistani tribal areas where they could find shelter and a safe haven in which to rebuild their shattered infrastructure and be able to come back one bright day as Son of The Base, twice as powerful, three times as vindictive, and steam coming out of its ears.

I saw this coming, as did a lot of other people who like me were branded as "unpatriotic" and "liberal" and "fucking traitors."

So here we are - up to our necks in Iraq, possibly going to shove oil up over $200 a barrel if we attack Iran, mired in Afghanistan against a resurgent Taliban (The Students also took advantage of the priceless opportunity the Bush Regime gave them), and now faced with The Base, rearming itself and getting ready to commit more deviltry.

The President has done this to us. Another mass-casualty terrorist strike would put more blood on his hands.

But he could say, as Richard III did, "But I am in so far in blood, that sin will pluck on sin. Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye."

Appropriate words.

Man The Guns

New Ship a 'Reminder' to Iran: Gates

(newser) – A second US aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf yesterday, which Robert Gates says Iran should see as a "reminder." The defense secretary denied that the deployment of another ship in the Gulf amounted to an escalation of American forces in the area, Reuters reports, but hoped to get Tehran's attention with the extra vessel's presence.

The defense secretary told reporters in Mexico City that the US will only have two carriers in the Gulf for a short time, "so I don't see it as an escalation." Nevertheless the deployment comes at a tense moment in the standoff between the US and Iran. US ships have had confrontations with several small boats in the region in recent days, including some that the Pentagon has described as Iranian. SOURCE Reuters

For Obama Supporters

Does the Rev. Wright factor change your opinion about Obama or is this all politics as usual?

we knew this all along, right?

Hmmm. It's hard to ignore a headline like this:

‘Neglect of Farming Led to Rice Crisis’
BANGKOK - The headlines screaming about a global food shortage have not aroused surprise in a leading non-governmental organisation (NGO) working with farming communities across Asia. To its members, warnings of hunger on a biblical scale are hardly news.

After all, the Asia-Pacific arm of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), a global environmental lobby, has been raising the alarm about an impending rice shortage for years. Among its more recent campaigns was one launched to coincide with ‘’The International Year of Rice,” which was marked globally in 2004...

...PAN’s primary concern was the push towards rice cultivation on an industrial scale that promoted monoculture, where a few high-yield rice varieties that needed large doses of chemicals were held up as the answer to growing demand. Marginalised, consequently, were the small farmers, who came from rural communities that had used local knowledge over centuries to generate new varieties of paddy seeds that blended with the local environment.

‘’The high-yielding seeds prompted in the monoculture style of farming are not as hardy as local varieties produced through the ecological style of farming,” adds Westwood. ‘’This hybrid rice can only perform well under certain circumstances and they need a lot of fertiliser and pesticides and they are water intensive. These are their inherent weaknesses.”

A recent report by a regional U.N. body lends weight to PAN’s view about the high cost Asian governments are currently paying for neglecting the agricultural sector, where a bulk of the poor in Asia and the Pacific — some 641 million people — live.

‘’The rural poor account for 70 percent of the poor in the Asia-Pacific region, and agriculture is their main livelihood,” states a survey published by the Bangkok-based Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)...

And then it's hard to ignore the folks at CBS towing the party line on Monsanto's GMO work in their intro to an article on Monsanto stomping the snot out of small farmers who are unfortunate enough to have Monsanto's poison pollen get blown into their fields by the wind. I bolded some text in the following for emphasis.
American farmers have been growing genetically modified crops for years, from seeds engineered to resist pests and chemicals. These patented seeds produced bigger crops and profits for farmers who bought them from companies like DuPont and Monsanto, but for other farmers the seeds have created a host of problems.
Anyone else remember reading the revelation last week that Monsanto's GMO soy underperforms compared to conventional or organic?

I continue to wonder how journalists can live with themselves. "Hey, Monsanto's under fire for pushing shit underperforming product on vulnerable farmers. Let's trot out some old hat about how some farmers have problems with Monsanto suing them when the pollen blows into their fields. And for God's sake, don't investigate the monoculture problem and how Monsanto is in effect lessening the food supply, and how this has been predicted for years..."

Tuesday, April 29

Medicare "drifting towards disaster"

REUTERS: "(U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt) said the next administration will have to act to stop rising costs and get control of the $400 billion federal health insurance plan for the elderly, which now covers 44 million people."

And boygeorge and his pals breathed a collective sigh of relief at the mention of the words "the next administration."

Maybe voting for mcCAIN ain't such a bad idea? You know, that way it'd be keeping the hideous decayed rotten shitmess within the same political party and not having to listen rethuglicans blame it all on the Democrats?

McCain: Flip Flop

From Think Progress: Three years before Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was arguing for a 100 year presence in Iraq, he told MSNBC, “I would hope that we could bring them all home.” “I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence,” McCain said. “[A]s soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be.”

Meanwhile April has been the deadliest month since last September in Iraq.

The Myth of Voter Fraud

Voter ID Laws: A "Solution" in Search of a Problem
By Marty Lederman
Slate
I'm just beginning to read through the opinions in today's decision upholding the facial validity of Indiana's Voter ID law. Along with many others, I have argued that the law is unconstitutional because it imposes burdens on voting without advancing any governmental interest. Thus, to my mind the most noteworthy paragraph in Justice Stevens's lead opinion is the one in which he tries to adduce evidence of an actual problem that this law would address:
  • The only kind of voter fraud that SEA 483 addresses is in-person voter impersonation at polling places. The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history. Moreover, petitioners argue that provisions of the Indiana Criminal Code punishing such conduct as a felony provide adequate protection against the risk that such conduct will occur in the future...
For the first proposition, what does the opinion cite? Only this: An anecdote about in-person voter impersonation allegedly orchestrated by Boss Tweed in 1868. And for the second -- occasional "recent" examples? Justice Stevens tips his hat to the Brennan Center's showing that "much of" the evidence of such fraud "was actually absentee ballot fraud or voter registration fraud." Nevertheless, he states that "there remain scattered instances of in-person voter fraud." The evidence for this? That in the 2004 Washington gubernatorial election, a partial investigation confirmed that one voter committed in-person voting fraud. and so on
You have to read the comments after reading the story to see what an ill informed public we have in America today. I mean, they just read the story (I assume they did) and they still view voter fraud as a blight on America, as if Democrats are out to steal elections, as if Democrats are capable of orchestrating such a thing.

I chuckle because I live on an island with more population than 19 states and we don't have to succumb to such nanny-state tactics when we vote. We are issued voter ID cards which no one asks for at polling places unless you're not on the list, we are mailed a card before every election with exact instructions on where to go at what time and on what date and when we get to the polls, our signature is on file. The number of voting booths for each district depends on how many registered voters there are for the area. It's pretty much a no brainer to vote. If you're not on the list, you get a provisional ballot. duh.

This voter fraud is such a non issue it makes me wonder who is trying to cover up what.

Skycaps and waiters find a legal champion

oddjob sent this piece of good news along this morning.

Boston Globe: Days after a federal jury ordered American Airlines to pay a group of nine local skycaps more than $325,000 in lost tips, the plaintiffs and their legal team celebrated with a boisterous dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House at Boston's Old City Hall.

[snip]

Since 2001, Liss-Riordan, a partner in a modest-size law firm in downtown Boston, has brought at least 40 lawsuits on behalf of waiters, bartenders, and other service workers in Massachusetts who say their employers cheated them out of tips.

She took an obscure 1952 state law that protects tip-dependent workers, who can legally be paid less than minimum wage, and has used it to reap millions of dollars in awards and settlements. Lawyers outside Massachusetts have adopted her strategy, including the lawyers who recently won a $100 million award for baristas at Starbucks cafes in California. continued
This is an issue that should see the light of day even if we don't work in a tip industry. Why? because when I leave a generous tip, I want the money to go to those who served my party, not the mgmt. If I wanted to tip the management, I would.

Impeachable Offense?

Australian politician admits sniffing woman's chair

Monday, April 28

The Jeremiah Wright Factor...

At the beginning of the primary season, I really considered Barack Obama for President. Those were the days when I heard audio that I could not differentiate Obama from a white person.
I really liked his message. Along the way however, I decided to support Hillary Clinton. We have an old saying: "It is bad with bad, but it's a lot worse without the bad". The problem I had was that I did not know Obama, and I still don't.

Through the campaign, I realized, Obama is a genuine person, a real human being, yet he is not defined. To day, I have serious doubts about him. Perhaps we're used to knowing candidates for President way before their campaign. Still, he has shown me no emotion. I don't doubt his sincerity; he really seems to mean what he says, but does not connect with me. You're allowed to differ.

Now comes is Jeremiah Wright, like a loose cannon, destroying everything this man (Obama) is standing for. From the beginning of his campaign, he tried very hard to avoid the racial issue, yet Wright brings it all back into the limelight. As I said from the beginning, I don't support Obama, because I don't trust the American people, to be able to overcome the racial issue. And I don't want the Democrats lose in November. We can't afford it.

Jeremiah Wright's demeanor, taps into the darkest emotions of the African-American audience: slavery. That is how he built his flock from 70 people to 6000 in 40 years. His sermons constituted one great affront to everything this nation stands for.
He speaks some truths that may resonate with some of us, but basically his sermons are a justification, supported by lines from the Bible of a black uprising. Once you differentiate your race from others, you're a racist.

When he cites the Government as an evil entity, he means all governments from Washington to G.W Bush. This is an anti-authority rhetoric, fueling people's darkest feelings and emotions about society. The unfortunate twist to all this is that his present rhetoric he taps into the darkest emotions of the white people in this country which Barack tried to avoid so hard for so long. This is what we were not looking for.

After watching Jeremiah Wright on television these past few days, I believe he is a self centered, narcissistic, ego maniac, with an ego bigger than the Sun.

Is It Just Me?

Or is this whole Iraq War thing sounding more and more like Viet Nam every day?

This morning the news was all about the body count: 38 insurgents killed in the fighting around Baghdad. Ooooooeeee, we're just kicking their asses, right? Nary a word about US casualties.

Well, then the afternoon's headlines: 4 U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad attack.

Dammit, I hate the way the "news" from this war is being massaged and managed.
Thanks to Konagod for the idea:

From a couple of years ago, done by the ACLU.
Click each to enlarge.




Wrigley's Sells Poisonous Aspartame Factories for 23BILLION -- fyi: ASPARTAME IS DEADLY - RUMFELD'S PLAGUE IS UPON US - THROW AWAY YOUR GUM

and diet sodas and the thousands of other food items that contain this harmful ingredient.

Did you know that Doublemint Gum (NOT A "SUGER FREE GUM") contains aspartame? I just found this out a few weeks ago. I've been screaming at my kids for years to stop chewing all the new "cool" looking packs of gum that come out cause they all have aspartame in them and it's bad for you and the FDA should never have approved it for consumption and if you only knew who was responsibe for getting it to market -- yeah that's right, yours truly. They aren't quite old enough to understand, or pay attention -- pretty soon. I did show them this video though -Super Size My Aspartame by trillion. It was very effective! This video was pretty extreme but got my point across also. I told them that if they still wanted to chew gum, they could have some of mine. I am, and always have been, a Doublemint Junkie. I always have a bonus pack in my possession and I will be glad to give them a stick. Then my youngest (she reads everything she can get her hands on) tells me that my Doublemint gum also has aspartame in it. "No sir" - "Yes sir" - "Does not" - "DOES TOO - see for yourself!"

I can't tell you how angry I was when I found out. I really felt duped. I've gone out of my way all my life to avoid anything sugar free because I will usually get a headache. It made me wonder if that was the reason I started getting migraines a few years ago. I always attributed them to the stress of moving back and forth to New Jersey. Made me wonder cause all those moves occurred in 2003 - the same time Wrigley added aspartame to my Doublemint. It just makes me wonder. AND it really pisses me off.

So.....after 4 generations, the Wrigley Family is out of the gum business. 23 BILLION - take the money and run boys! Go on believing that no harm is being done to the peeps - don't worry - you're covered --

Rummy took care of everything with the FDA years ago.



For those of you that are unaware of "Rumsfeld's Disease" and "The Rumsfeld Plague" --

pick your poison here


This discussion over at the skeptic forum is also chock full of links and all the dirty dealings that took place in bringing aspartame to the market. There is also testimony to its safety (I don't buy it though).


I particularly liked this comment:

A quarter of a century later Aspartame propaganda is tired and worn out. All shenanigans are a matter of public record. Everybody's sick of the denials after a quarter century of controversy, sickness, ruination and death. The world has had enough. The aspartame industry doesn't have to worry about economics. All they have to do is change the label to read rat poison. The world already knows it's a killer. What regulatory agency will finally have the courage to tell the truth. The Trocho Study in l998 shows not only does the formaldehyde converted from the free methyl alcohol embalm living tissue but damages DNA. When you damage DNA you can destroy humanity.

Dr. Betty



This is probably the best explanation given on the truth about aspartame. It is a video done by Dr. Russell Blaylock. You can also read his facts here in the Report on aspartame and children



David Oliver Rietz' site - DORway to Discovery has some very informative links

This one's hard to read - lots of chemical names (I flunked chemistry)


I'll stop now, and leave you with the Aspartame (NutraSweet) Toxicity Info Center

Am I Going Crazy?

An Unwelcome Realization.

antiwar mom speaks out

That would be moi.

A 19 year old Marine from Long Island was killed in Iraq. I didn't know him but he could have been any boy from Long Island or anywhere for that matter. He was so young. He had so much of life ahead of him. He's somebody's baby. Why the hell did this have to happen? Why did he enlist? Did his family only watch Faux News?

War is hell.
War sucks.
Illegal invasions suck even more.
Don't let your kids enlist.

As far as I am concerned, 18 is the new 14.
Raise the enlistment age to at least 21 so that informed decisions can be made by our young people about their future.

Just my little old opinion

Hamas has endorsed Barack Obama.

John McCain promises to be Hamas' worst nightmare.

This is something that makes me really not want McCain to be president.


Hat tip TPM

See also SOTT for an interesting opinion piece about Obama and Israel. While I don't agree with all the sentiments in the article, the rabid Zionism of many politicians is quite disturbing.

KKKarl Rove's Advice to Obama

Mr Rove wrote a letter to Obama in the Newsweek advising him on how to connect with the regular people. Of course while no one is as 'elite' as any of the Bush's, Rove explains to Barack how to overcome the "elitist" label. It only makes half sense.

"Even liberal commentators who adore you warn you can't win with a McGovern coalition of college students and white-wine sippers from the party's left wing. Saying small-town voters cling to guns, faith and xenophobia because of economic bitterness hurt you; it reinforced the growing sense you don't share Middle America's values. So did asking about the price of arugula in Iowa, dismissing the "true" patriotism of people who wear a flag lapel pin, being "friendly" (as your chief strategist, David Axelrod, put it) with a violent, unrepentant '60s radical and having a close relationship with an angry pastor who expressed anti-American sentiments."
All of the above were blown out of proportion by the so called "liberal media." Furthermore, Rove is implying that American's can't take the truth. I say that they can take the truth, but they are not getting it because the pundits are creating a class war and pretending that they know how regular Americans feel, when in fact they don't have a clue.
"You argue the son of a single working mom can't be an elitist. But it's not where you start in life; it's where you end up. After a prestigious prep school, Columbia and Harvard, you've ended up with the values of Cambridge, San Francisco and Hyde Park. So you're doing badly in Scranton, Youngstown and Erie, where ordinary Americans live."

Again. Hogwash. Ordinary Americans voted for Bush. If in fact they voted for him because they felt he was a reverse elitist, then America is more fucked up than anyone could ever have imagined. The 800 pound gorilla in the room is that Barack is black and racism is still alive and well in America today.

What really happened in the last 2 elections aside from the vote tampering, is that the so called "liberal media" or "government media" as I see it, actually brainwashed, through repetition, regular Americans into voting for a dufus. It was a gigantic slap in the face to most Americans who didn't even have a clue that the bushistas were making fun of them. Voting for an alcoholic you'd like to have a beer with was pure politics and had no bearing on what real Americans want. In actuality, if the pundits ranted that Americans wanted to vote for someone who was smarter than they are, Bush would have lost the elections by a landslide.

Go ahead and read Rove's Six points of advice to Barack Obama. I'll wait here.
He has a couple of good points which I disagree with anyway. And don't forget that "elitists" read Newsweek. "Regular" Americans read Time. I don't understand why Rove thinks his opinion would get anywhere in Newsweek.

Sunday, April 27

Yes RIOTS

I became aware of this story from All Spin Zone's Richard Blair

"Riots in Denver, the Democrat (sic) Convention would see to it that we don't elect Democrats," Limbaugh said during Wednesday's radio broadcast. He then went on to say that's the best thing that could happen to the country.

[...]

Limbaugh said with massive riots in Denver, which he called part of "Operation Chaos," the people on the far left would look bad.

"There won't be riots at our convention," Limbaugh said of the Republican National Convention. "We don't riot. We don't burn our cars. We don't burn down our houses. We don't kill our children. We don't do half the things the American left does."

He believes electing Democrats will hurt America's security and economy and appeared to call on his listeners to make sure that doesn't happen.

"We do, hopefully, the right thing for the sake of this country. We're the only one in charge of our affairs. We don't farm out our defense if we elect Democrats ... and riots in Denver, at the Democratic Convention will see to it we don't elect Democrats. And that's the best damn thing that can happen to this country, as far as I can think," Limbaugh said. From TheDenverChannel
Pretty radical words from the right... and considering he's talking about the "left" being the radicals, he sounds like he is inciting a riot at the DNC. Of course I first thought he meant the US military when he spoke of killing children and burning houses and cars.

As far as I know, there are no riots planned for Democrats for me to attend in Denver and I'm a pretty vocal anti-Republican. Operation Chaos? Who is behind this thing? I suspect that someone is trying to get the Democratic voters all worked up into a frenzy (probably Barack Obama supporters). I can't imagine Limbaugh's listeners, with their sedentary, fat, white asses going to Denver to pretend to be Democrats and risk being arrested for rioting. If he has any skinhead listeners, as I suspect he does, then perhaps there is something to be concerned about.
Radical fascists could incite a riot at a protest outside the convention. It's happened before. think 1968. Since it didn't happen in NYC at the RNC in 2004, I suspect Limbaugh is blowing wishful thinking out his big fat ass.

Regardless, Rush Limbaugh ought to be investigated by the Colorado AG and the Dept of Homeland Security to find out what "Operation Chaos" is. But surely he won't be given all the passes he's gotten for his illegal activities. Inciting a riot is only something to be investigated if a black person, a Muslim or a liberal does it. If a liberal radio host said the same thing, he or she'd be in jail by now.

Any protesting that ought to be done ought to take place outside his radio studio.

Sharpton vows to "close this city"

Massive civil disobedience is being planned after the 3 cops were acquitted of killing Sean Bell. meanwhile, Feds are considering a criminal case:
A federal lawsuit against the city and the five cops involved in the shooting that took the life of Sean Bell will be on hold until the Department of Justice decides whether it will bring a separate criminal case, according to attorneys for Bell's family.

The lawsuit, filed in July 2007 in federal court in Brooklyn, had already been held in abeyance awaiting Friday's verdict in the criminal case against three of the cops involved in the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting.

[...]
Saturday, attorneys Sanford Rubenstein and Michael Hardy, who are representing the plaintiffs, said that the federal civil rights lawsuit won't proceed until federal prosecutors in Brooklyn decide whether a criminal case will be filed under the civil rights law.

The lawsuit names as defendants the city, the NYPD and Cooper, Oliver and Isnora, as well as officers Paul Headley and Michael Cary. Though no specific damage amount was claimed when the case was filed, an earlier notice of claim given to the city specified $50 million.

Saturday, April 26

Detectives in Sean Bell killing acquitted by judge

The three cops who riddled an unarmed Sean Bell with bullets on his wedding day were acquitted by a Queens judge yesterday. The streets are eerily quiet, but then again, who can blame people for not taking to the streets with trigger happy NYPD out there. Al Sharpton to the rescue.

If I Were A Terrorist




From The Hillbilly Report

Friday, April 25

Second Headline From The Top

Right now at the Washington Post:

Joint Chiefs Chairman Says U.S. Preparing Military Options Against Iran

These people are clinically (and criminally) insane.

Satire becomes reality


Yet another way for American culture to "win" hearts and minds throughout the world and especially in war torn Baghdad. Build them an amusement park. Good lord. After what we've done to them, we're gonna build them an amusement park?
There are so many creepy things in the article from the Times UK below that I can't even begin to list them all.
I'll let you..
'Disneyland' comes to Baghdad
with multi-million pound entertainment park


Llewellyn Werner admits he is facing obstacles most amusement park developers never have to deal with – insurgent attacks and looting.

When you are building an amusement park in downtown Baghdad, those risks come with the territory.

Mr Werner, chairman of C3, a Los Angeles-based holding company for private equity firms, is pouring millions of dollars into developing the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland. “The people need this kind of positive influence. It’s going to have a huge psychological impact,” Mr Werner said.

The 50-acre (20 hectare) swath of land sits adjacent to the Green Zone and encompasses Baghdad’s existing zoo, which was looted, left without power and abandoned after the American-led invasion in 2003. Only 35 of 700 animals survived – some starved, some were stolen and some were killed by Iraqis fearing food shortages.

In the years that followed, the zoo and the surrounding al-Zawra park became an occasional target for insurgent attacks. But in recent months, families have begun to return cautiously for weekend picnics. Renovations have already begun on the zoo, with cages being repainted and new animals arriving, including ostriches, bears and a lion.

Mr Werner, who has been sold a 50-year lease on the site by the Mayor of Baghdad for an undisclosed sum, says that the time is ripe for the amusement park. “I think people will embrace it. They’ll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they’re Shia or Sunni. They’ll say their kids deserve a place to play and they’ll leave it alone.”

Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Government, is equally optimistic: “There is a shortage of entertainment in the city. Cinemas can’t open. Playgrounds can’t open. The fun park is badly needed for Baghdad. Children don’t have any opportunities to enjoy their childhood.” Mr al-Dabbagh added that entry to the park would be strictly controlled.

The project will cost $500 million (£250 million) and will be managed by Iraqis. Under the terms of the lease, Mr Werner will retain exclusive rights to housing and hotel developments, which he says will be both culturally sensitive and enormously profitable. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t making money,” he said. “I also have this wonderful sense that we’re doing the right thing – we’re going to employ thousands of Iraqis. But mostly everything here is for profit.”

A $1 million skateboard park, the first phase of the development, will open in July. Parts for 200,000 skateboards and materials to build ramps will be shipped from America to Iraq for assembly at state-owned factories and distributed free to Iraqi children along with helmets and knee pads.

The larger entertainment park, designed by Ride and Show Engineering Inc, will follow in phases, part of a strategy launched two years ago by the Iraqi Government and the US to attract private investment into the country’s 192 state-owned factories.

The factories were closed in 2003 by Paul Bremer, then the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, who believed that private enterprise would take their place. Instead, industries withered and half a million skilled workers were left jobless.

A task force headed by Paul Brinkley, Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for Business Transformation, is now attempting to revive Iraq’s factories – a task undermined by persistent violence.

But Mr Werner, whose company manages several hundred million dollars of equity, sees Iraq as a great opportunity. “Iraq to me is an open field. I have never in my life seen an opportunity with the potential that Iraq has with its skilled workforce and oil reserves.” He has begun partnerships with several Iraqi factories in the last year, investing tens of millions of dollars in joint ventures. But the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience could prove the most ambitious. General David Petraeus, head of US forces, is said to be a “big supporter” of the project, according to Mr Brinkley.

“There are all sorts of investment opportunities all over Iraq. But it’s not just hydrocarbons. Half the Iraqi population is under the age of 15. These kids really need something to do,” Mr Brinkley said.

City break

— Before the invasion there were two amusement parks in Baghdad, one in Rusafaa and one in Karf. They now only open on public holidays

— Al-Zawra park and its zoo, (the site of the new park), are among the city’s most popular attractions. There are fountains, sculptures, coffee shops and children’s playgrounds

— The Cross Swords park, a favourite meeting place before the invasion, is now locked inside the green zone

— On warm evenings, Iraqis flock to the city’s three lakes, al-Habanya, al-Therthar and al-Razaza

A Special Place in Hell for Scalia? I hope so.

One reason I'm not a rabid atheist, but rather a reluctant atheist, is because my human nature wants there to be a HELL for people like this:


Think Progress: This Sunday, CBS’s 60 Minutes will air an interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who discards his usual disdain for the press to hawks his new book, “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.” When reporter Leslie Stahl asks about the infamous Bush v. Gore decision, Scalia lashes out, “Get over it. It’s so old by now.” Watch it

Scalia has said in the past, “I and my court owe no apology whatever for Bush versus Gore. We did the right thing. So there.”

Thursday, April 24

Ruh-Roh, Scooby

Conspiracy Alert!!!

Got an email from a good friend who is heavily involved in politics here in Pa. He says he heard from a couple of lobbyists;

If John McCain wins the presidency, look for him to step down within the first 2 years to allow his vice-presidential pick to become president. And this has been the plan of the RNC for a while.

What do you think?

It's dusk in the Age of Aquarius

From Huffington Post:

Costco and Sam's Club Rationing Rice

Peter of Lone Tree posted an item quite a while ago about food rationing and hoarding because of probable world shortages. There were some here who laughed it off as a conspiracy theory. No more laughter.

The bullshit that has been foisted on American and the world about biofuels may be the real conspiracy. A conspiracy by government(s) in cooperation with oil companies.

The U.S. used to be the breadbasket of the world. Once big corporations started taking over the farming and drove the smaller farms out, prices started to rise and profits for the big corporations rose accordingly. But that wasn’t enough for them. To insure increased profit, big farming had Congress allow laws to be passed to pay most farmers NOT to grow certain food (that would increase the supply and lower their profits). I lived on a farm owned by a radical Republican farmer who was paid $40,000 a year NOT to grow any food crops. The going rate at the time was $100 per acre and he had 400 acres. However, he was allowed to grow alfalfa to sell to a nearby mushroom farm to be used as fertilizer. For these bales, he received $125.00 each and provided over 300 each planting cycle and he could plant and harvest twice in one summer. So he made$75,000 more than for planting and selling corn. This was in the 80s. He made out very well from the government by taking advantage of the system. And all the time he ridiculed those who were on welfare and received food stamps for being freeloaders!

Over the last few years, we’ve been told through a wonderfully arranged propaganda stint that we need biofuels, especially all the corn we can convert so we can keep running our 10 mpg SUVs a block to the store to pick up those necessary items we all just can’t live without. (Feel free to fill in the necessary item of YOUR choice YOU can’t live without). And we bought into it lock, stock and $120 barrel.

Now the farmers are getting paid more money to sell their corn to big oil for conversion to SUV food than to sell it for human consumption. The result was predictable yet many ignored it because they really, really needed to waste gas getting that quart of Häagen-Dazs at 10:30 at night.

And who is making out by creating a food shortage? I don’t have to say, do I? In addition to them, add the gun manufacturers (because we’ll all need guns to keep our starving neighbors from looting our food!).

I can envision things becoming so desperate that armed guards will patrol cattle ranches and farms with orders to shoot to kill anyone they think might poach or steal. Can you say Blackwater?

We need to stop the non-growing farm subsidies. We need to stop the ethanol conversion and work toward other renewables that DON”T starve the world. But we won’t because the Republicans want business to prosper even at the expense of lives of expendable people. The Democrats have been spayed and neutered and will act accordingly. And we will continue to ignore people as conspiracy theorists who predict things we don’t like. And because we don’t like them, we all know they won’t happen!

It’s becoming increasingly evident that more drastic action needs to be taken. People like Denny Hastert could feed a family of 4 for a couple of months; Cheney, maybe 2 months. Others could provide soup bones.

Heinlein’s Valentine Michael Smith may have had the right idea.

The Global Food Crisis -- (excuse me while I put my tinfoil hat on for a moment.....)

....I’m hoping it will stop my head from spinning. I really don’t know how much more of this I can take. I got caught up in a few articles this morning:

The End Is Nigh and The Biofuels Scam, Food Shortages and the Coming Collapse of the Human Population


After reading these, am I the only one who is thinking about going out to the grocery store and buying up as much food as I can afford, you know....“just in case”? Probably not. I really hope people don’t start going too crazy like last time with the duct tape and plastic wrap. But can you imagine when people start over reacting to these stories? I'm glad I happened upon Colbert’s Global Food Shortage episode before I went on to read more -he just does. me. in!!

I am a bit concerned though. When you start reading up on biofuels, biodiesel, corn, ethanol, BIG TIME SUBSIDIES to farmers to grow corn, etc., etc., etc., you really begin to wonder. I do at least.

Of course, the first question I have is who started this? I’ve read it’s those liberals and I’ve read it’s the bush administration. I also wonder, like Stephen does, why this isn’t huge news?
(excuse me while I tighten my hat) but this sure seems like some really fucked up nonsense going on here. What’s wrong with subsidizing our farmers to grow food for it’s citizens so we can BUY LOCAL and not be dependent upon anybody for anything -- WTF AM I MISSING HERE??

Who’s zooming who?

Even Yahoo has an open question on this:
Why are people calling this a food shortage?


Here is more related commentary --

Up to 10% of biofuel exports from the US to Europe are believed to be part of the rogue scheme reaping big profits for agricultural trading firms.

The "splash and dash" scam involves shipping biodiesel from Europe to the US where a dash of fuel is added, allowing traders to claim 11p a litre of US subsidy for the entire cargo. It is then shipped back and sold below domestic prices, undercutting Europe's biofuel industry.

The trade is not illegal, but flouts the spirit of producing green fuel by transporting it needlessly across the Atlantic at a time when campaigners are voicing concern about emissions from global shipping.


The Hidden Agenda behind the Bush Administration's Bio-Fuel Plan

Twenty In Ten: Strengthening America's Energy Security

Ethanol And Hunger
(Iowa farmers and the politicians who love them (for the record, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama support the biofuels subsidies while John McCain opposes them) will tell you that it's not just ethanol driving up the price of corn.)

Obama and Lugar introduce 'American Fuels Act' (2006) READ THE COMMENTS - you may think differently about Obama afterwards.




So, FUBAR or what???? THIS IS INSANE
That’s what sparked an investigation last year by the European Biodiesel Board into a practice that was an open secret among biofuel firms. The EBB has been making noises since late last year about taking the dispute to the World Trade Organization, and wants the European Union to retaliate with import duties on U.S. biofuel.


US dumping of biofuels will ruin us, says UK firm




Blame on both the US and EU from e-citizen
Some More Mud Pancakes? --Who’s to blame? - The US and the EU who insanely subsidise their agricultural exports which has progressively destroyed little farm exploitations in poor countries as they could no longer face this unfair price competition…

Our little tiny western farmer population is hence doing rather good while the vast majority of farmers in the rest of the world…well…is eating mud pancakes



WHO IS ZOOMING WHO?

THEY ARE ALL ZOOMING US - The politics of biofuels



The Ethanol Scam



The Carlyle Group and Riverstone Holdings, to Fund Development of the First World-Scale Bioethanol Plant in the U.K.



Bush's Biofuel Scam


oh......

don't forget about the water thing -

Why politics, not science, is driving the biofuels boomSo, not only are biofuels an energy inefficient way to burn food, but they could lead to a future water crisis. David Trouba, a spokesman for the Stockholm International Water Institute, put it very well. He asked: “Where will the water to grow the food needed to feed a growing population come from if more and more water is diverted to crops for biofuels production?"

Back on April 20...

...under the title "Dear God" the Dark Wraith over at the Big Brass Blog posted this photo with an invitation to readers to caption same:

Herewith is my belated offering:
"Esmerelda and Quasimodo"

Top News

Petraeus promotion keeps nation on its war course
WASHINGTON - President Bush is promoting his top Iraq commander, Army Gen. David Petraeus, and replacing him with the general's recent deputy, keeping the U.S. on its war course and handing the next president a pair of combat-tested commanders who have relentlessly defended Bush's strategies.

Abbas to appeal for more US help in peace process

WASHINGTON - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants the Bush administration to press Israel to stop expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank — a step he says is needed to make progress in Mideast peace talks.

Israeli law would pay settlers to leave West Bank
The idea is to get a head start on the evacuation of West Bank settlements that would have to be dismantled anyway in a final peace deal with the Palestinians. Olmert and the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank are trying to conclude such an agreement by year's end, despite enormous obstacles.

Democratic leaders may add unemployment benefits to war bill
WASHINGTON - House Democratic leaders have a plan to try to add extended unemployment benefits and new education funding for veterans to President Bush's war funding bill while dropping lots of other party priorities.

Ford swings to $100M profit in 1st-quarter, beats view
DEARBORN, Mich. - Ford Motor Co. surprised Wall Street on Thursday with a $100 million profit in the first quarter as strong results from Europe and South America helped offset the impact of a slumping U.S. economy that cut car and truck sales in its main market.

Masturbation may prevent prostate cancer

SUMMARY: Researchers find that men who masturbate frequently are at a reduced risk of cancer.

EPA scientists complain about political pressure
Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists say they have been pressured by superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey released Wednesday by an advocacy group.

McCain fails to vote on defeated equal pay for women Senate bill
NEW ORLEANS — Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning through poverty-stricken cities and towns, said Wednesday he opposed a Senate bill that sought equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits.

oh god. I feel a rant coming on

We do live in a futuristic dystopian novel in America in the 21st Century. Gosh the century is a couple of years old and already it's happening with a bang. Bring on the apes, for god's sake.

Rupert Murdoch is moving in on my local paper, Newsday which is owned by the Chicago Tribune. Newsday is one of the nation's largest newspapers (remember that Long Island is more populated than 19 states on a measly 1400 square miles.) I was hoping that the government would step in and stop this foreigner from buying yet another NY newspaper or even any more US media for that matter. He owns the crappy NY Post and recently purchased The Wall St Journal. I subscribe to the Journal and the Newsday. It is really bugging me that yet another one of my morning reads will fall into fascist hands. I used to get the Times but got really pissed off at them in the lead up to the Iraq war and canceled my subscription. I read it online. Like today. Maybe I should just go green and read the news online and skip the clutter on my kitchen table.

More icky news
According to the NY Times: "Mortimer B. Zuckerman, owner of The Daily News, the arch rival of The Post, will make a counteroffer next week." Oh great, another crappy newspaper owner wants the Newsday. aargh. The NY Daily News is a local tabloid like the Post and can't even give away that paper. They call all the time begging us to receive it for free. As if. Doesn't anyone with integrity and fairness want us?

Someone told me I was an elitist recently because of my disdain at Murdoch buying our local paper. feh. If I wanted to read a tabloid, then I would pick one up at the supermarket checkout to see who goes along with those fat thighs on the cover or who had a baby with an alien/animal hybrid.

But seriously, how long until NY goes "red?"

Boston Legal Meets teh Supreme Court

This was simply my favorite (fantasy) episode where James Spader as Alan Shore faces teh Supreme Court. He's full of attitude and has a few things to say to the wingers there.

If it weren't for Boston Legal, I'd have no use for ABC.

The Job

TheJobTheShort.com The immigration debate just got a little funnier.




Hat tip to deebee

Wednesday, April 23

The World According to Student Bloopers

I know a couple of you have seen this before, but for those who haven't, it's funny...but maybe sad. These are our future.


The World According to Student Bloopers

Richard Lederer
St. Paul's School

One of the fringe benefits of being an English or History teacher is
receiving the occasional jewel of a student blooper in an essay. I have
pasted together the following "history" of the world from certifiably
genuine student bloopers collected by teachers throughout the United
States, from eight grade through college level. Read carefully, and you
will learn a lot.

The inhabitants of Egypt were called mummies. They lived in the Sarah
Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that
the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert
are cultivated by irritation. The Egyptians built the Pyramids in the
shape of a huge triangular cube. The Pramids are a range of mountains
between France and Spain.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the
Bible, Guinesses, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of
their children, Cain, asked "Am I my brother's son?" God asked Abraham
to sacrifice Issac on Mount Montezuma. Jacob, son of Issac, stole his
brother's birthmark. Jacob was a partiarch who brought up his twelve
sons to be partiarchs, but they did not take to it. One of Jacob's sons,
Joseph, gave refuse to the Israelites.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led
them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread
made without any ingredients. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide
to get the ten commandments. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing
the liar. He fougth with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in
Biblical times. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 500 wives and 500
porcupines.

Without the Greeks, we wouldn't have history. The Greeks invented three
kinds of columns - Corinthian, Doric and Ironic. They also had myths. A
myth is a female moth. One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped
him in the River Stynx until he became intolerable. Achilles appears in
"The Illiad", by Homer. Homer also wrote the "Oddity", in which Penelope
was the last hardship that Ulysses endured on his journey. Actually,
Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people
advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.

In the Olympic Games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and
threw the java. The reward to the victor was a coral wreath. The
government of Athen was democratic because the people took the law into
their own hands. There were no wars in Greece, as the mountains were so
high that they couldn't climb over to see what their neighbors were
doing. When they fought the Parisians, the Greeks were outnumbered
because the Persians had more men.

Eventually, the Ramons conquered the Geeks. History calls people Romans
because they never stayed in one place for very long. At Roman banquets,
the guests wore garlic in their air. Julius Caesar extinguished himself
on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March killed him because they
thought he was going to be made king. Nero was a cruel tyrany who would
torture his poor subjects by playing the fiddle to them.

Then came the Middle Ages. King Alfred conquered the Dames, King Arthur
lived in the Age of Shivery, King Harlod mustarded his troops before the
Battle of Hastings, Joan of Arc was cannonized by George Bernard Shaw,
and the victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. Finally,
the Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the
same offense.

In midevil times most of the people were alliterate. The greatest writer
of the time was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verse and also wrote
literature. Another tale tells of William Tell, who shot an arrow
through an apple while standing on his son's head.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of
their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at
Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death,
being excommunicated by a bull. It was the painter Donatello's interest
in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance. It was
an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the
Bible. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented
cigarettes. Another important invention was the circulation of blood.
Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

The government of England was a limited mockery. Henry VIII found
walking difficult because he had an abbess on his knee. Queen Elizabeth
was the "Vir- gin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When Elizabeth
exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted "hurrah." Then her
navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespear.
Shakespear never made much money and is famous only because of his
plays. He lived in Windsor with his merry wives, writing tragedies,
comedies and errors. In one of Shakespear's famous plays, Hamlet rations
out his situation by relieving himself in a long soliloquy. In another,
Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to kill the King by attacking his
manhood. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Writing at
the same time as Shakespear was Miquel Cervantes. He wrote "Donkey
Hote". The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote "Paradise
Lost." Then his wife dies and he wrote "Paradise Regained."

During the Renaissance America began. Christopher Columbus was a great
navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His
ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe. Later the
Pilgrims crossed the Ocean, and the was called the Pilgrim's Progress.
When they landed at Plymouth Rock, they were greeted by Indians, who
came down the hill rolling their was hoops before them. The Indian
squabs carried porposies on their back. Many of the Indian heroes were
killed, along with their cabooses, which proved very fatal to them. The
winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and
many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

One of the causes of the Revolutionary Wars was the English put tacks in
their tea. Also, the colonists would send their pacels through the post
with- out stamps. During the War, Red Coats and Paul Revere was throwing
balls over stone walls. The dogs were barking and the peacocks crowing.
Finally, the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis.

Delegates from the original thirteen states formed the Contented
Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two
singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin had gone to Boston
carrying all his clothes in his pocket and a loaf of bread under each
arm. He invented electricity by rubbing cats backwards and declared "a
horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is
still dead.

George Washington married Matha Curtis and in due time became the Father
of Our Country. Them the Constitution of the United States was adopted
to secure domestic hostility. Under the Constitution the people enjoyed
the right to keep bare arms.

Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother
died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his
own hands. When Lincoln was President, he wore only a tall silk hat. He
said, "In onion there is strength." Abraham Lincoln write the Gettysburg
address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an
envelope. He also signed the Emasculation Proclamation, and the
Fourteenth Amendment gave the ex-Negroes citizenship. But the Clue Clux
Clan would torcher and lynch the ex-Negroes and other innocent victims.
On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot
in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed
assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposedly insane actor. This ruined
Booth's career.

Meanwhile in Europe, the enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltaire
invented electricity and also wrote a book called "Candy". Gravity was
invented by Issac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in the Autumn, when
the apples are falling off the trees.

Bach was the most famous composer in the world, and so was Handel.
Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very
large. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Beethoven wrote music even
though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long
walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven
expired in 1827 and later died for this.

France was in a very serious state. The French Revolution was
accomplished before it happened. The Marseillaise was the theme song of
the French Revolution, and it catapulted into Napoleon. During the
Napoleonic Wars, the crowned heads of Europe were trembling in their
shoes. Then the Spanish gorrilas came down from the hills and nipped at
Napoleon's flanks. Napoleon became ill with bladder problems and was
very tense and unrestrained. He wanted an heir to inheret his power, but
since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn't bear him any children.

The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in
the East and the sun sets in the West. Queen Victoria was the longest
queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. He reclining years and finally
the end of her life were exemplatory of a great personality. Her death
was the final event which ended her reign.

The nineteenth century was a time of many great inventions and thoughts.
The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up.
Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick Raper, which did the work of a
hundred men. Samuel Morse invented a code for telepathy. Louis Pastuer
discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturailst who wrote
the "Organ of the Species". Madman Curie discovered radium. And Karl
Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

The First World War, cause by the assignation of the Arch Duck by a
surf, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.

Money Well (Mis)Spent

The United States Department of Homeland Security (Heimatsicherheitshauptamt des Vereinigten Staaten, for those of you who want the original German, or maybe Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del if Russian's more to your taste) realized that it had a minor problem a few years back - a massive wave of illegal immigrants moving north from Mexico. These immigrants are not all Mexicans, mind you; they're from countries as far south as El Salvador and Panama.

Why were they headed north? Because America is the Land of Opportunity (says so right on the label), and conditions in their own countries are just marginally higher than completely dreadful, that's why. They are escaping a plethora of social ills by headed to where they think they can start life anew.

So, what do we try to do? Be a good neighbor and offer aid and assistance in the hope that these countries can solve their social ills and keep these people at home so they won't risk their lives trying to get across the desert?

Hell no!

We'll build a fence!

Anyone with a mere moiety of their marbles might draw a parallel between our much-touted "border fence" and the Great Wall of China, primarily the fact that neither are/were any good at keeping out the immigrants, be they Huns, Mongols or Guatemalans. But facts have never deterred the Bush Regime, and they called for bids for a "virtual fence" - not an actual barrier, but a skein of electronic devices and cameras that could alert the Border Patrol to people crossing our borders.

The contract was let to Boeing, for $860 billion dollars, and they set up a pilot project ("Project 28" - original, huh?) along a 28-mile stretch of boundary. At a cost of $20 million. DHS Secretary Chertoff accepted the pilot project on February 22.

So guess what?

It doesn't work:

"The government is scrapping a $20 million prototype of its highly touted "virtual fence" on the Arizona-Mexico border because the system is failing to adequately alert border patrol agents to illegal crossings, officials said."

So it's back to the drawing boards, on a project that could have been mooted simply by helping other countries keep their people at home.

Your (and my) tax dollars at work.

How can you know what to believe anymore?

Stories from Freepress.net
I see a pattern here.

Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand
Hidden behind an appearance of objectivity in reporting about the occupation of Iraq is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used certain analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance.
David Barstow, New York Times

Free Press Calls for Congressional Investigation into Pentagon Pundits
Government-sanctioned propaganda violates every conceivable standard of journalism. That it has been allowed to continue unquestioned and undisclosed for years is an indictment of both this White House and a docile American media.
Free Press

Pentagon's Media Manipulation on War Extended to Newspapers
What may go overlooked in the aftermath of the New York Times article about the Pentagon propaganda machine's control of TV news is that all of the leading newspapers also use the same cabal members.
Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher

New York Times Investigation Exposes Pentagon Pimps and Propaganda Operation
The New York Times used 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records, accessed through suing the Pentagon, to expose the Pentagon's control over access and information.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, The Nation

Pentagon Propaganda & Antiwar Analysts
Detailing the massive, secret coordinated campaign by the Pentagon and all the leading television news channels to sell and defend the administration's Iraq policy is a critical piece of investigative journalism.
Ari Melber, The Nation

Murdoch,Ink.
With a redesigned Wall Street Journal, mogul Rupert Murdoch is launching an old-fashioned newspaper war against the New York Times. Not since William Randolph Hearst took on Joseph Pulitzer have we seen such a fight.
Johnnie L. Roberts, Newsweek


Murdock is trying to turn NY red, I swear. What happened to the FCC rules? And it's not like this guy is even an American. sheesh.
Murdoch’s Newsday Deal Is Bad News for New York
WASHINGTON -- According to numerous press reports, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is close to completing a $580 million deal to purchase the Long Island daily Newsday from Tribune Company. S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press, made the following statement:

"Completion of this backroom deal between Rupert Murdoch and Sam Zell would give one company, News Corp., control of Newsday, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and two TV stations in the New York market. And that doesn't even take into account Murdoch’s ownership of the Fox network, Fox News Channel, and all of his other holdings in cable TV, movies, local TV stations and newspapers worldwide. That’s too much power in too few hands.

“The sale of Newsday to News Corp. is a clear violation of even the severely weakened FCC limits on how much media one company can own in one market. This sale should not be permitted under any circumstances. New York, like the rest of America, needs more media choices, viewpoints and competition -- not more consolidation.”

NYPD Captured a Beaver on Pope Watch

NY police on Pope watch snatch river beaver

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York police guarding the United Nations during Pope Benedict's visit on Friday made a rare discovery and rescue -- of a beaver struggling to swim past the world body's headquarters.
I hope they frisked him or at least made him open his trunk.
Soon after the pope left the United Nations, police harbour and scuba units patrolling the East River spotted the four-foot (1.20 metre) long, 40-pound (18-kg) animal. Beavers have only recently returned to the city with the first sighting of one in more than 200 years made in February 2007.
Lt. John Harkins, commanding officer, NYPD SCUBA, said in a statement that the animal had been tilting unnaturally and showed "laboured breathing." After securing it in a safety noose the officers pulled it aboard their vessel.
He did not say "laboured breathing." He said, "labored breathing." Dis is Noo Yawk, gaddammit.
"It has pretty big claws," Harkins said of the beaver which will be taken to an animal hospital.

I've never seen a beaver in the wild, in the NY metropolitan region in my life. This must be some sort of omen.

Delegates

Road to the White House

TOTAL DELEGATES















1,694
Obama

1,556
Clinton



1,331
McCain

267
Huckabee


1,464
Pledged:

1,302
Pledged:



1,246
Pledged:

264
Pledged:


230
Superdels:

254
Superdels:



85
Unpl. RNC:

3
Unpl. RNC:




Needed to Win: 2,025

Needed to Win: 1,191

Tuesday, April 22


Secretary of Defense Gates Hating the Troops?

Well, not specifically the troops, but he laid a dissing on the United States Air Force in a speech yesterday. In the speech he praised the USAF for its contributions, but turned right around and said that it could do more, like beef up its inventory with unmanned drones like the Army and Marines "instead of focusing mainly on future threats."

That's a quote there.

I'll be the first to suggest that our Military-Industrial Complex is still stuck somewhere beteeen 1975 and 1989 in terms of its strategic thinking, when it comes to forecasting what our potential adversaries may be and how to fight them. After all, the USAF pushed for the


F-22 Raptor air-superiority fighter despite the fact that few of our potential adversaries can field anything comparable (honestly, where was the Iraqi Air Force in 2003? Or the Afghan Air Force in 2001?) and at a hideously high cost per unit.

And the Air Force isn't the only branch with this big-ticket problem. The Navy unveiled its new Virginia-class submarine; at $8.1 billion a pop it'll do a wonderful job against al Qaeda's navy - oh, wait. Al Qaeda doesn't have a navy. The Marines have the V-22 Osprey, which has had so many teething problems you'd think the Germans after WW2 left the plans around as revenge for losing the War. A story surfaced that the Osprey is used only for ferrying VIPs - who won't be missed from the war effort should the plane crash.
Gates' assertion that the USAF is stuck in the past regarding drone aircraft harks back to the original raison d'etre of the Air Force - it has people in it who fly planes, Dumbass. Who's going to join an air force that doesn't have all that nifty piloting stuff that you see when the Thunderbirds precision team comes to town? I can see the recruiting posters now - "Join the Air Force, It's Just Like a Video Game." Ever since 1947, the Air Force has jealously guarded the fact that it controls land-based fixed-wing aircraft; the Army got the helicopters and (later) the drones. Otherwise it'd still be the Army Air Force.
Give it some time, Gates; the USAF will eventually swallow their pride and admit that swarms of small, inexpensive planes make better economic sense than giant Stealth bombers that burn like torches on Guamanian runways. Of course, we'll all likely be dead by then.

***
On a related note, it seems that the Army and the Marines have recruited more felons last year, even going so far as to pick up people who have sexual crime convictions and the like.
I'm going to go off on a historical rant here, folks, please bear with me.
Rapine has always been the traditional payment of armies, and we've seen an upsurge in sexual assaults ever since the Iraq War started. It's only going to get worse before we pull out of that country, lick our wounds and try to figure out our mistakes. Okay, enough of that; I am not even going to attempt to rationlaize or defend such behavior. All I will say is be prepared for more of the same.
Now, let us hark back (I know, tired analogy time) to Imperial Rome. As the proletariat in Italy decided it was better to go to the city and live off state-supplied food and games, they lost interest in serving in the military. The gaps in the ranks of the legions were filled by provincial levies, criminals and foreign mercenaries. Entire Germanic tribes were recruited into the Roman Army.
Which eventually came back to haunt the central government in Rome when they found that the Army and its generals no longer took orders, but started giving them. Then the generals got surprised when the legions stopped taking orders and instead gave their loyalties to whoever could pay them the most.
So where does that leave our military?
We have an upsurge in criminals being allowed into our military (some are gang members who, sources report, are being told to join up so they can learn military tactics and bring them back to their gangs).
We are seeing immigrants in the ranks (join the military, become a citizen if you don't get blown away first).
We may start seeing mercenaries (those enlistment incentives and bonuses look pretty good on paper).
All of which adds up to a historical analogy I do not wish to see.

here ya go



hat tip to Brooke (but that's not she and her cat.)

Monday, April 21

the oil bubble

from WSJ.com Bears Baffled by Oil Highs
"...some analysts continue to warn that oil prices are teetering close to a steep fall -- at least back near $80 a barrel. For these observers who see the world's oil supply-and-demand balance loosening and weighing on prices, the red-hot rally is nothing short of astonishing.

"I personally think this is the mother of all bubbles," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc., a consulting firm in Amherst, Mass. He expects prices to pull back to $80 a barrel by late June, and in the long run step down to $50 as pent-up supply in Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela and other underproducing exporters starts to flow.

For Tim Evans, an energy analyst and inveterate bear at Citigroup in New York, that bubble is "still expanding," filled with sentiment that seems to ignore signs of what he views as a supply surplus through the end of this year.

"There's no supply-demand deficit," Mr. Evans said.

The case for lower oil prices is straightforward: The prospect of a deep U.S. recession or even a marked period of slower economic growth in the world's top energy consumer making a dent in energy consumption. Year to date, oil demand in the U.S. is down 1.9% compared with the same period in 2007, and high prices and a weak economy should knock down U.S. oil consumption by 90,000 barrels a day this year, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

continued
I only hope that when the prices come down, that we consumers continue to consume less gas.


Remarkable!

so food is what it comes down to

I've been sitting back for the most part, observing the media feeding frenzy over food prices. They like to mix up the stories about Al Qaeda's #2 guy getting hit for the umpteenth time, and Bush taunting Iran, etc, with local stuff on occasion. And since there's such a liberal bias against faith, and we're kind of poped out, and hey it segues into the politicking of Hillary, Barack, and Little John ('let me prove to you just how clueless I am and that I haven't bought my own groceries for the last decade, word!')... the focus is on foodstuffs, their exponential leap in pricing, and what it means to working poor, worldwide.

Seeing as this was going to be a problem, I started buying more bulk goods last month. Flour, yeast, oats, powdered milk, beans, rice, masa, cornmeal. About roughly half of it is organic.

Incidentally, when's the last time anyone heard the liberally-biased media mention that rampant monoculturing is killing our soil, ruining food for everyone, and destroying otherwise fertile habitat for plants and critters worldwide? Yeah, me neither. I mean, we read about it on the OCA website, and we've all heard interviews with Michael Pollan for his current book, In Defense of Food. (Oh! I take that back, I think I saw a very brief factoid about how diabetes might be traced to consumption of corn syrups. I think I blinked and missed 95% of it, it was so brief, in fact.)

In the past year I've had one of those moments of clarity, as regards the food I prepare and consume. It started when I found a copy of Slow Food Nation by Carlo Petrini, read it at the laundromat on Sundays, and started to wonder when the hell I was led astray from what should be common sense. Michael Pollan's dictum of 'eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables' is something I lived by for years without realizing it was something noteworthy. And even better, I was cooking everything.

But... we've been told we don't have time to cook, in our 'busy lives'. All of these modern conveniences, and yet we have no time? When did that start? I must admit I owe quite a bit to Nigella Lawson as well as Carlo Petrini. Forget Martha Stewart... Nigella tells it the way it is in her How to Be a Domestic Goddess baking book, and in How to Eat. In a nutshell, cooking is good for you. It is easy to learn, it is grounding, it is meditational in fact. And for fuck's sake, of course we have time for it; just make time and be done with it. Alice B. Toklas was also by turns reassuring and inspiring. I found Alice's classic cookbook which is also a travelogue and memoir, in a recycling bin, last year. What a bloody brilliant read, once you learn to ignore her quirk of referring to Gertrude Stein as 'Gertrude Stein' incessantly.

But back to slow food... I used to think these guys were kind of nuts. After reading an account of a local Slow Food event hosted by Alice Waters where the writer described how the fish they prepared had been fed especially for the event for a couple weeks, and was killed just that evening, and all these other foods served along with it were harvested, threshed, aged, fermented, prepared just that very afternoon, all in the most florid detail possible I swear, I rolled my eyes and muttered, "yeah, we all think we're French in Berkeley..." That was several years ago, and I'm seeing that the French way or whatever you want to call it (I call it common sense 'eat as you purchase and prepare', more than anything else) is actually more practical than it is nutty or snooty.

Why? It forces you to eat foods in season, and to stay in season. The benefits are multiple:
1. it reintroduces an awareness of why we eat certain foods at certain times of the year which helps us get over our warped relationship with food (the US really does not grok food; we have all manner of food porn on tv at all times with cooking shows, cooking competitions, and the like, but we're obsessed with dieting and not eating too much, and no one cooks?),
2. it lessens pollution because food does not have to travel as far as it would if you were getting off-season items from, say, Chile or New Zealand,
3. it gives smaller local farms more of our business and helps them to stay in business (and it is no coincidence many of those locals are organic), natch,
4. (this it the big one) eating within season reinforces the finite nature of the foods we grow and prepare. In Japanese, there's this term 'mono no aware' which refers to the transitory nature of things. Food's that way. We've forgotten this, culturally, to everyone's detriment. Maybe I can get the same damn mesclun salad mix in Tehachapi that I'd get in Philly, but why am I fixated on getting the same damn mesclun salad mix? What's really going on here? Or let's say I went to 25 different Denny's diners across the country... would any of those be selling local foods? Or how about McDonald's? The answer is a resounding no.

Food's a commodity like scrap metal, or petroleum; it's no longer just sustenance once it rakes in the money, so Big Ag goes to some lengths to make it predictable, uniform, and maybe even a medium for using up some side-effects, or by-products, of factory farming. Let's look at soy for example. Okay, we grow soy for its unsaturated oil (which we more often than not mess up with hydrogenation, rendering it patently bad for us). For the protein. Look at how many manufactured foods contain it, or its derivatives. That Hershey's bar has soy lecithin in it, as an emulsifier. You may even have some body care products that contain lecithin. Some people take it as a nutritional supplement, because we've been sold on soy being good for us. Factory-baked breads contain soy flour, because the bleached and enriched flours used in them have lower protein content. Infant formulas contain soy. Most 'vegetarian' foods that contain a meat substitute have soy in them, be it tofu or TVP (textured vegetable protein). And this is before we get to the world of soy milks in non-recyclable aseptic packaging... (If you want to read further on soy being a problematic and overexploited food, Terrain magazine did a good article and supplement to that, last year.) Go to Asia, and not so much soy is consumed. What is consumed is not messed with, much. Tofu, the cooked beans, some milk, no big whoop. It doesn't predominate in the way that anything that is remotely good for you does, in this culture.

How about corn? Bush and his damned scorched earth ethanol aside, how many products can you count which contain corn syrup? Breads contain corn syrup, as do juices, sodas, canned fruits, jams, ice creams, yogurts, pastries, cookies, canned soups, baked beans, marinades, sweet mustards, instant mac & cheese, pasta sauces, baking mixes, maple-flavored syrups, candies, chocolates, yada yada yada, and look at how many adults and children are diabetic.

So, I'm ranting. Monoculture really screws with our sustenance strategies.

(Geez, Sara has a real bug up her ass about food today, it's just FOOD for pete's sake. Someone hand her a sandwich and maybe she'll shut up).

No, it's not just food. When food is commoditized in the way we've done, fewer people eat healthfully; look at the US for proof of that, and look at the health decline in nations like China, which did not used to eat the foods we do. The major factoid of the day, which I heard on Democracy Now this morning, is that GMO soy produces 10% less edible product than conventionally grown/farmed soy beans do. Can you imagine what the yield is when the beans are grown organically in naturally-amended/fertilized soil? Holy cow. But give the mainstream media a day and they'll squash that information like a roach under Madonna's stiletto.

Michael Pollan's commentary is that when we walk into the grocery store, the real foods are on the periphery of the market. You know. The dairy products are on one side, the meats at one side, the veggies and fruits at one side. And then it's an aisle closely parallel with one side that usually has all the baking ingredients. HUGE market. And in the remainder of the aisles in the center, once you get past the charcoal, and paper products, and kitchen items, and personal hygiene... it's a bevvy of 'edible food-like substances'.

My person feeling is that if we continue to frequent the aisles full of food facsimiles, we'll bring on the food armageddon that much sooner, because we'll be supporting the efforts of a few large companies that control farming and food production.

(And to think, I didn't even bring up the topic of meat and feedlots... that's a post unto itself. Meat is behind some of the food shortages being seen, by the way, because people are eating more of it.)