Sunday, December 09, 2007

Meth Addiction: Hope and Horror

Missouri has been ground zero for the proliferation of meth labs and meth addicts in the last few years. If you live here, you probably have a family member or friend whose life has been impacted by meth addiction.

A woman I know recently died of the complications of a long-term meth addiction. She was beautiful and talented and was the envy of everone who knew her - before meth. The first time she tried the drug, she was hooked. Her family eventually deserted her, and her decline and eventual death from the effects of the addiction was a sad and lonely time.

Another friend has a son who is a meth addict. His daughter recoils when he enters the room. She is being raised by her grandparents, due to neglect by this man and his wife who is also addicted.

Tonight, 60 Minutes presented a segment on the Prometa treatment for addiction. I recently met a young couple who have received this treatment about six months ago. At first, I didn't believe that they were telling me the truth. This couple just did not look or act like meth addicts. They assured me that if I had met them a year earlier, I would not believe they were the same persons. They lost their home and children, and were basically on the skids. Their family heard about the Prometa treatment and scraped together the $15,000 to send them to Texas to undergo the treatment. Miracle of miracles, it has worked for them. According to them, it immediately relieved the craving for meth. They will be in therapy for a long time, and will probably attend 12-step meetings from now forward. But they have been given a chance for recovery due to Prometa treatment.

The 60 Minutes piece was more negative than positive about Prometa, interviewing just one addict who had allegedly been helped by the treatment. I'd like to see more coverage about this, pro and con. I know that if I had a family member addicted to meth, I would help get the funds together for them to receive the Prometa treatment.

Now, I'm going to say something nice about Aunt Norma. She recently sponsored legislation to make it harder to buy the over-the-counter medications used as ingredients by meth cooks. There is no reason that these drugs should not be strictly controlled by whatever means necessary. Legitimate purchasers of Sudafed and similar drugs are inconvenienced by having to show ID, and pharmacies are required to track sales and communicate with each other. This is a small price to pay, if it saves even one person from addiction to meth.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Schwarzenegger Vetoed Four Bills Increasing Firefighting Resources

Yet another example of Republican stupidity.

From the Brad Blog:

What the Governor failed to mention is that he vetoed four bills that would have increased staffing and fire resources after the Cedar Fire, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. A fifth bill, signed by Schwarzenegger, requires local governments to first submit safety plans to the California Department of Forestry and will not take effect until 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported in a May 20, 2007 article titled “Fire danger acute as 2003 lessons fade.” That article has since disappeared off the newspaper’s website, but a copy is here.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

National Guard Troops Denied G.I. Bill Benefits

Another fine example of this administration's failure to "support the troops."

National Guard Troops Denied Benefits After Longest Deployment Of Iraq War
Rhonda Erskine
, Online Content Producer
Created: 10/3/2007

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers. "

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days. Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school."

Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month," Anderson said.That money would help him pay for his master's degree in public administration. It would help Anderson's fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement."

I would assume, and I would hope, that when I get back from a deployment of 22 months, my senior leadership in Washington, the leadership that extended us in the first place, would take care of us once we got home," Hobot said. Both Hobot and Anderson believe the Pentagon deliberately wrote orders for 729 days instead of 730.

Now, six of Minnesota's members of the House of Representatives have asked the Secretary of the Army to look into it -- So have Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman.Klobuchar said the GI money "shouldn't be tied up in red tape," and Coleman said it's "simply irresponsible to deny education benefits to those soldiers who just completed the longest tour of duty of any unit in Iraq."

Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home."I had 23 guys under my command," Anderson said. "I promised to take care of them. And I'm not going to end taking care of them when this deployment is over, and it's not over until this is solved."

The Army did not respond questions Tuesday afternoon. Senators Klobuchar and Coleman released a joint statement saying the Army secretary, Pete Geren, is looking into this personally, and they say Geren asked a review board to expedite its review so the matter could be solved by next semester.Minnesota National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said the soldiers are "victims of a significant injustice."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chris Matthews: Bush Admin. Has "Finally Been Caught In Their Criminality"

At the 10th anniversary party for his Hardball show (Thursday evening 10/5/07), Chris Matthews had critical words for the Bush/Cheney gang. After seven years of BushCo directed madness and mayhem, all I have to say is--Chris, what took you so long? You have the damn microphone.

From the St. Louis Examiner article by Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin:

Matthews says Bush administration has "finally been caught in their criminality"

...After praising the drafters of the First Amendment for allowing him to make a living, he outlined what he said was the fundamental difference between the Bush and Clinton administrations.

The Clinton camp, he said, never put pressure on his bosses to silence him.

“Not so this crowd,” he added, explaining that Bush White House officials -- especially those from Vice President Cheney's office -- called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content.

"They will not silence me!" Matthews declared.

"They've finally been caught in their criminality," Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred...

When reached, the White House declined to comment and NBC refused requests to release video of the event...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mousie Cat Speaks

From the blog of one of my favorite neighbors, Evolving In Kansas:

Matt Blunt kisses Religious Right's ass

Missouri's Gov. Matt Blunt says he thinks faith-based groups do a better job of helping people than government-funded programs. So he's created a small committee to see how Missouri can work more closely with those faith-based groups. Why now? He's looking at a 2008 run against Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, and he desperately needs that "social conservative" vote.

For those who don't live in red states, "social conservatives" are people who vote based on only three issues: (a) abortion; (b) guns; and (c) taxes. They constitute the 34% of the American public who still think George W. Bush is doing a heckuva job. In other words, they are either (a) totally misinformed, thanks to Faux News; or (b) irremediably ignorant...

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Future Shock: Peak Oil in Mexico

Now that Greenspan has confirmed that the occupation of Iraq is about oil, it's time to pay close attention to the crisis in dropping oil production that some refer to as Peak Oil. Many say that oil production has already crested, and the evidence is clear and convincing.

Astute observers of the looming oil crisis are urging us to reconsider the way we build and site our homes and public buildings, the cars we buy and modes of public transport.

From James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, writing at Civitas: The Broadside of Civic Design and Politics, talks about Mexican oil production and what Mexican Peak Oil will bring to the already troubled U.S./Mexican relationship.

...Something very interesting and rather ominous is resolving out of blizzard of statistics, reports, scenarios, and competing interests in the background. This is the oil export crisis.

It is now apparent that oil exporting nations are seeing their exports falling at a much steeper rate than their production declines. The aggregate global oil production decline is running between 3 to 5 percent annually now, but the export decline is running above 7 percent. In five years, it may be as high as 50 percent. That means the major importing nations (the US, Europe, Japan, China, India) will only be getting half the imports they get now -- and bear in mind that the US imports more than two-thirds of the oil we use.

The poster-child for this problem -- as far as the US is concerned -- is Mexico. 60 percent of Mexico's oil production comes out of a single super-giant field, Cantarell, off the Yucatan in the Gulf of Mexico. Cantarell is the second largest oil field ever discovered (after Saudi Arabia's Ghawar). It came into production relatively late in the oil age and was subject to very aggressive drilling with the latest technology (horizontal bores, gas injections to keep pressure up) with the result that it was only depleted more efficiently. The aggressive production may have also damaged its geologic structure. The net result now is that production out of Cantarell is crashing very steeply, at a minimum of 15 percent a year. That means in six or seven years, Cantarell is finished. However, long before then, Mexico will lose its ability to export oil to the US.

That's going to be a mighty big problem -- or set of problems. For one thing, Mexico is America's number 3 source of oil imports (after Canada and Saudi Arabia). So, in two or three years, we will lose our number three source of foreign oil. By the way, there is no real evidence that "new discoveries" oil "new production" anywhere in the world will offset global production drops. The Mexican government depends on it's nationalized oil production (Pemex) for 40 percent of its operating revenue. So, what we're also looking at South-of-the-Border is the potential for a lot of economic and political turmoil as the Mexican government loses revenue and loses its ability to maintain its social safety net (which includes food subsidies).

The upshot of all this is that the US is likely to see a ramp-up in illegal immigration. The last time there was turmoil in Mexico -- the long revolution that ran from 1913 to 1940 -- one quarter of the Mexican population left, and most of them landed in the US. The population of Mexico then was about 23 million. Now it's over 100 million. If this turmoil escalates into violence, the US may even have a military problem with Mexico.

As this occurs, though, there will be plenty of other trouble with oil resources elsewhere around the world, and that will be reflected in global finance and the condition of national economies. The US consumes close to 20 million barrels of oil a day, and we produce less than 5 million.

Something will have to give.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thank You, Rachel Carson

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Abraham Lincoln

Thank you, Rachel Carson and Bill Moyers for reminding me of this quote.

Friday, September 14, 2007

An Enduring Relationship With Iraq

This morning's C-Span question was: Should we have an enduring relationship with Iraq?

We will have an enduring relationship with Iraq, especially with the millions of displaced Iraqi people, now refugees, who will teach their children to revile us.

We will have an enduring relationship with those Iraqis who are financially unable to leave, but desperately wish to move their families to safety.

We will have an enduring relationship with Iraqis who have lost loved ones as a result of our invasion and continued occupation of their country.

When we train and arm the Iraqi military and police forces, they turn those weapons on our troops. The Iraqis know where the IEDs and the ammo dumps are located, but they do not share that information with our troops. That speaks volumes about what our enduring relationship will be with Iraq.

It was an idiotic decision to go to war with Iraq, and every decision made thereafter has shown that same insight.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bush Befuddled in Australia

A really great example of why the U.S. is in such a mess.

From the Huffington Post:

Bush: OPEC or APEC
by Tom Raum, 9/7/07

SYDNEY, Australia —
President Bush had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at the Sydney Opera House.

He'd only reached the third sentence of Friday's speech to business leaders, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, when he committed his first gaffe.

"Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit," Bush said to Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Oops. That would be APEC, the annual meeting of leaders from 21 Pacific Rim nations, not OPEC, the cartel of 12 major oil producers.

Bush quickly corrected himself. "APEC summit," he said forcefully, joking
that Howard had invited him to the OPEC summit next year (for the
record, an impossibility, since neither Australia nor the U.S. are OPEC members).

The president's next goof went uncorrected _ by him anyway. Talking about Howard's visit to Iraq last year to thank his country's soldiers serving there, Bush called them "Austrian troops."

That one was fixed for him. Though tapes of the speech clearly show Bush saying "Austrian," the official text released by the White House switched it to "Australian."

Then, speech done, Bush confidently headed out _ the wrong way.

He strode away from the lectern on a path that would have sent him over a steep drop. Howard and others redirected the president to center stage, where there were steps leading down to the floor of the theater.

Regarding The Awaited Osama Bin Laden Video

Regarding the awaited Osama Bin Laden video:

If Osama Bin Laden is indeed still alive, and plotting to continue his jihad from the mountains of Afghanistan/Pakistan, why are we not moving heaven and earth to find and apprehend him?

We have bombed and stomped over practically every square foot of Iraq. Why has our military effort not been directed at stopping Bin Laden and his organization as our #1 goal?

The war on "terror" began as an effort to bring to justice this band of outlaws. Surely we could have accomplished this. The $64,000 question is, why haven't we?

This is the question I would like to have answered.

The incompetence of the Bush administration in this matter astounds and saddens me. Nothing Bin Laden has to say will change my opinion about that.

My only hope at this point, is that we will elect a Democratic president who will focus attention on neutralizing this band of outlaws, and return to diplomatic efforts in bringing peace in other trouble spots in the world.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hanging Chads 2000 Revisited by Dan Rather Report

Dan Rather did an hour long report, The Trouble With Touch Screens, for HDnet last week.

The first part exposed shoddy touch screen machines built in the Phillipines by ES&S. Thousands of these machines were produced using cheap parts in sweatshop conditions by workers who were paid $2.50 per day. Quality control consisted of shaking some (not all) machines to see if anything rattled.

Watch the video, or read the transcript for full details.

The last part put the spotlight on Sequoia Pacific, the company that produced the punch cards used in the 2000 presidential election. We all remember the hanging chads, and thousands of ballots in Palm Beach County alone that registered overvotes or no vote at all for the presidential candidate. Palm Beach County traditionally is a Democratic stronghold.

...some of the best engineering minds in the country, at IBM, ...perfected the old Votomatic punch card system decades ago. Those punch cards, when they had been used by IBM for data processing, had been precise enough to help land a man on the moon. That's how reliable they were.

But by 2000, in an avalanche of hanging and falling chads, the punch card voting system was proclaimed to be "unreliable", old hat, out with the old and in with the new. Yet seven years and billions of dollars later, the public, especially in Florida, the public is clamoring for paper ballots again.

Rather interviews seven former employees of Sequoia Pacific with 171 years combined experience working for the company. They spoke with pride about the quality of punch card ballots their plant had produced over the years, and the company's about face in 1999 when producing punch cards for the 2000 election.

The company abandoned former suppliers of archival quality paper for a new supplier, and sub-standard rolls of paper, rejected by the plants quality control, were somehow ok'ed by upper management and used for those ballots.

To add to the insult of the inferior quality paper, E. Washington, a pressman at Sequoia for 26 years, relates that he was ordered to change the specifications for the cards bound for Palm Beach County, because they would "grow" in the Florida humidity...

E. Washington: We were told to run those cards short because they would grow by the time they got to Florida in the humidity.

Dan Rather: Running short didn't mean the cards were actually shorter. It simply means lowering, on the face of the ballot, the position of the chads. So the orders were for the ballots going to Palm Beach, don't make them meet the normal specifications?

E. Washington: Right. Because they would grow and if we met the normal specifications they would grow outside the specifications because of the humidity.

Dan Rather: Was this unusual?

E. Washington: Yep

Dan Rather: Were you surprised by it?

E. Washington: Oh yeah, I questioned it, and I even had the plant manager sign it. Because I was having arguments with quality control about the size. And so I said, 'The only way I am going to run it is if Brian comes out here and signs it.' He came out, he signed the 'okay' card to run 'em.

Dan Rather: Let me get this straight. You said, 'You are asking me to turn out a product that doesn't mean our usual specifications. To be sent specifically to Palm Beach, Florida'

E. Washington: Right

One employee speculates that Sequoia purposely produced faulty punch cards to give a jump start to sales of the touch screen machines, which so far had received a lukewarm reception.

Greg Smith: My own personal opinion was the touch screen voting system wasn't getting off the ground like that they, like they would hope. And because they weren't having any problems with paper ballots. So, I feel like they, deliberately did all this to have problems with the paper ballots so the electronically voting systems would get off the ground, and which it did in a big way.

Perhaps the company's greed was a factor in the failure of punch cards in Florida 2000. But given that the final "count" had Bush winning Florida by around 600 votes, it seems that something other motive is lurking in the shadows.

Management and employees involved in the production of these faulty ballots should be questioned under oath to determine exactly what happened. Our right to vote, and to have that vote counted is the foundation of this democracy. I, for one, would like to be reassured that when I step into the ballot box, my vote is counted. I'm sure millions of other voters feel the same.

Source: The Brad Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Planned Parenthood Supporters VS The Blunt Mini-White House

Over the years, many low-income women I know have used the services of the local Planned Parenthood facility for pap tests, gyn wellness exams and contraception. When Blunt took funding away from this program, I decided to make donations to our local Planned Parenthood as often as I can. Contraception is the key to preventing unwanted pregnancy. This is just a no-brainer for me.

The KY3 news last night had a story about Planned Parenthood supporters who live in the Springfield neighborhood where Blunt resides. They have posted pink signs signifying their support for Planned Parenthood. The KY3 Political Notebook blog has photos of the signs and a link to the news segment.

Governor and Mrs. Blunt refuse to live in the governor's mansion. It just doesn't suit them, they have grander visions. Instead, they have taken up residence in a mini version of the White House here in Springfield. The governor spends around four hours of each working day communting to Jeff City, in a caravan of gas guzzling SUVs. No wonder the state is in such a mess.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

RNC Letter to MO Democrat Raises Questions

Since Missouri voters do not register by party affiliation, there is confusion about the purpose of this RNC generated form letter, received by an elderly resident of Queen City, MO.

From Talking Points Memo:

RNC Voter "Audit" Letter Raises Questions
By Paul Kiel - August 10, 2007, 12:20 PM

What 83 year-old William Sidwell of Queen City, Missouri found in his mailbox last week scared him. It was a letter from the Republican National Committee, but it seemed to bear grave news: "Our records show that you registered as a member of our Party in Schuyler County, MO," the letter said. "But a recent audit of your Party affiliation turned up some irregularities."

Audit? Irregularities? Was he in trouble? Were they threatening him? Sidwell went immediately to his ask his son, Dennis, a licensed public accountant, for advice. You can see the letter, and the accompanying "Voter Registration Verification and Audit Form," right here. Particularly puzzling to the both of them, Dennis told me, is that his father is a life-long Democrat...

...The letter "appears to be in a gray area," David Becker, Director of People for the American Way's Democracy Campaign and a former voting rights attorney at the Justice Department, told me. "It could potentially run afoul of the law if it led an eligible voter to believe they're no longer eligible to vote." The letter, Becker said, "appears designed to give that mistaken impression..."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pearl Jam's Anti-Bush Lyrics Censored

Someone pointed out that the only ones who have "freedom of the press" are the ones who control the press. Hopefully, indidents such as this will help to Rock the Vote in 2008.

From Timothy Karr at the Huffington Post:

AT&T: Your World Censored

Over the weekend AT&T gave us a glimpse of their plans for the Web when they censored a Pearl Jam performance that didn't meet their standard of "Internet freedom."

Pearl Jam: Seen But Not Heard During the live Lollapalooza Webcast of a concert by the Seattle-based super-group, the telco giant
muted lead singer Eddie Vedder just as he launched into a lyric against President George Bush. The lines -- "George Bush, leave this world alone" and "George Bush find yourself another home" were somehow lost in the mix.

"What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it's about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band," Pearl Jam band members stated in
a release following the incident.

Indeed. AT&T routinely rails against Net Neutrality as a "solution without a problem." They say Net Neutrality regulations aren't necessary because they wouldn't dare interfere with online content. At the same time they tout plans to become gatekeepers to the Web with public relations bromides about "
shaping" Web traffic to better serve the needs of an evolving Internet.

Such spin needs to be held up to the light of experience. AT&T's history of breaking trust with their customers includes
handing over private phone records to the government, promising to deliver services to underserved communities and then skipping town, pledging never to interfere with the free flow of information online while hatching plans with the likes of Cisco, Viacom, RIAA and MPA to build and deploy technology that will spy on user traffic.

The moral of this story is never trust AT&T at their word. The company acts in bad faith toward the public interest and will do whatever it can get away with to pad its bottom line -- including sacrificing the freedoms its users have to choose where they go, what they watch and whom they listen to online.

The Future of Music Coalition have done
great work to mobilize hundreds of rock bands against such censorship but it's a threat that concerns everyone.

AT&T's vision of a better Internet -- "Your World Delivered" -- is not one that is shared by the more than
1.5 million people who have spoken out in favor of a neutral, affordable and accessible Internet for everyone. For us, the Internet isn't about one company delivering our world. It's about simply offering a real high-speed connection at reasonable rates -- and then getting out of our way.

Monday, July 30, 2007

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

Roy Blunt doesn't think people earning the minimum wage of $5.15 deserved a raise, but he has no problem with approval of a hefty annual pay raise for congress.

From today's Turner Report:

Blunt: Nothing wrong with Congressional pay increases
Some members of Congress are putting themselves on the record as opposing their upcoming $4,400 pay increases, but not Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt: Defending the raise, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said, "Every member has some obligation to the institution for the compensation to, as much as possible, keep pace with inflation. I think this should be as good a job when I leave it as it was when I took it."

Here is Blunt's view on the minimum wage 1/10/07 from the Columbia Tribune Politics Blog:

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, who came out today against the minimum wage increase.

"The last thing Congress should do is pass legislation that imposes an unfunded mandate on small businesses that employ millions of American workers and are the backbone of our economy," Blunt said in a news release.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Fairness Doctrine

We have two radio stations in our listening area that have 24 hours a day of Republican sponsored programming that ranges from obnoxious and misinformed to hate-filled invectives against the Democratic party and any viewpoint other their own. Anyone who disagrees is generally shouted down or ridiculed, with no effort to have a meaningful exchange of ideas.

I listen to those radio stations, and take note of sponsors so I can choose not to patronize them. My eye doctor was advertising on one particularly awful program, so I changed doctors. That's the only fairness I can derive from this hi-jacking of the air waves by right-wing loud mouths.

When people are unwilling to listen to each other and attempt to reach a middle ground, then the democratic process goes by the wayside. When one side has carte blanche to denigrate the other and present only their own viewpoint, no one is benefited.

I know most of the media people are not in favor of the Fairness Doctrine because they have to work harder to be inclusive of all view points. It's a "free speech" issue, they say. When one political party commandeers the airwaves, it would seem to me that the rights of the other party to speak are disregarded.

Some version of the Fairness Doctrine could help to remedy this situation.

Friday, July 20, 2007

News-Leader Omits Address of New Democratic Headquarters

The News-Leader noted today that the Greene County Democratic Central Committee will hold a grand opening and open house Sunday, July 22 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm to celebrate the move to its new headquarters.

They failed to mention the location for those who wish to attend. According to their website,, that location is 1764 S. Fremont Ave. in Springfield.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blunt Staff Misuses Highway Patrol Spokesman to Criticize AG Nixon

From Howard Beale at Fired Up Missouri:

Blunt Takes Page Right Out of Bush's DOJ Playbook

Today's KC Star has a fantastic story by Tim Hoover about the Blunt administration's misuse of state government in pursuing its own partisan political goals. The nut:

Gov. Matt Blunt’s staff last month pressed the Missouri Highway Patrol to issue a public statement criticizing Attorney General Jay Nixon, Blunt’s likely Democratic challenger in 2008.E-mails obtained by The Kansas City Star through an open records request detail how deeply Blunt’s office was involved in crafting a June 7 patrol statement that bolstered Republican criticism of Nixon for deciding not to file criminal charges in the December 2005 Taum Sauk reservoir collapse...

The story goes on to excerpt various emails that show Blunt's office leaning hard on law enforcement agents to alter public statements in a way that would make them more critical of Attorney General Nixon...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nike, Sweatshops and Slave Labor

A Running Commentary is a new blog from a local journalist Matthew Lemmon. He and his wife are training for the Nike Women's Marathon, which will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Each person entering the marathon must raise $3800 to be eligible. I've been approached for contributions by two young women from the area who are also scrambling to raise the money to enter this race.

Nike, along with mega-retailer Wal-Mart, have been deservedly criticized in reports of human rights abuses in their factories in third world countries. People who create the shoes and other products for Nike are virtual slaves. They work long hours, often 7 days a week, for a few cents per hour.

From a 2005 report from the New Zealand Herald, Nike Admits Sweatshop Conditions:

In a 108-page report the company, based in Beaverton, Oregon, presented a surprisingly frank audit of labour conditions at 569 of 830 factories worldwide where Nike-branded footwear, apparel and sports equipment are made.

Nike's "corporate responsibility" report doesn't make for a pretty picture. From excessively long work weeks and wrong wage calculations to verbal abuse and curbs on toilet visits, the findings confirm a pervasive culture of exploitation. At risk are as many as 650,000 workers in factories located from Australia and China to the US and Vietnam. Most of them are women aged between 19 and 25.

In 2006, Nike spent $476 million dollars on celebrity endorsements, and CNBC reported Investors Fret About Nike Endorsements. The total Nike advertising budget for 2006 totaled $1.7 billion. A perfect picture of corporate greed and disregard for basic human rights, because, after all is said and done, profits count more than people.

Maybe Mr. Lemmon and his wife have not seen the PBS programs about sweatshops. Mainstream media seldom bothers to report on the inhumane working conditions in third world factories. The two young girls who asked me for a contribution for their Nike Marathon have never considered what happens to their counterparts who fall asleep on the job, like these two young girls in the documentary China Blue.

Before free trade agreements allowed the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, many of the shoes and clothing in U.S. retail stores were made in local factories. U.S. workers were protected by our labor laws and many of them also had unions looking out for their interests. U.S. factories were also required to abide by OSHA safety standards and prevented from large scale pollution of the environment. Third world countries have none of these impediments to profit.

Perhaps Nike is trying to brush up it's tarnished image by getting well-meaning people like these local marathoners involved in a charitable cause. Maybe, as they laboriously train for this marathon, in the far recesses of their memory bank, they know that their wonderful and charmed life is subsidized by human misery on a vast scale.

These people with good intentions are the ones who could and should say no to Nike, demand transparency and accountability. By all means, give to the deserving Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation. But why not channel that energy used in marathon training into bringing attention to much needed change. These human rights abuses allow our stores to be filled with cheap merchandise, and companies like Nike to give people like Tiger Woods $20 million for an endorsement, while giving virtual slave laborers 20 cents an hour to produce their goods.

I already give yearly donations to several cancer charities. So, after considering these requests for donations to Nike marathoners, I have decided to give instead to a group called Educating For Justice who have produced a film (soon to be released) called SWEAT.

SWEAT is the athlete’s version of Erin Brokovich, The Insider and Serpico. In 1997, a soccer coach at St. John’s University said no to taking part in a $3.5 million dollar deal to endorse Nike products because of Nike’s use of sweatshop labor. He was forced out of his job and outcast from the coaching ranks. People told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about, that work in a Nike factory was a “great job for those people.” He went to find out for himself. In the summer of 2000, he and a friend took off to live with factory workers in a slum in Indonesia and they lived on the workers’ wages, $1.25 a day. They lost 40lbs collectively in the month, but more importantly, by living in solidarity with workers, they built bonds of trust. Over the course of three research trips, workers shared the real human suffering behind the Nike success story. Together with workers, they have spent the past four years educating tens of thousands of people about this issue and fighting to end the injustice that Nike’s workers face each day.

It's difficult to find a running shoe that isn't made in a third world country by slave labor. Nike is the leader in the field of athletic shoes. If they make changes for the better, the industry as a whole will be challenged to follow. Hopefully this film will make an impact, but basically it like a voice crying in the wilderness of sweatshop factories.

Think, Nike marathoners, with every step you take, if your energy and determination could truly be channeled to making a major difference in the world.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Eight Things

Eight things you don't know about me:

1. I wanted to be a concert pianist.

2. I'm a very poor correspondent. Before starting this blog, I had not written more than a brief note or business letter since graduating college in the 60's.

3. My eyesight is bad, so I have difficulty reading blogs with black or navy background, even at 150 magnification.

4. I have never baked a pie.

5. I do not own a cell phone or digital camera.

6. About half of my friends do not own a TV, but all of them have the internet.

7. Since Dan Rather pointed out that CBS has "dumbed it down and tarted it up" I now watch the CBS evening news exclusively.

8. Every room of my house is populated with stacks of books.

I think most everyone in my local blogosphere has completed this little exercise, so I'll let the tag rest.

Hate Radio Is A Part Of Republican Strategy

In an interview in Mother Jones, GOP media strategist David All talks about his efforts to boost the right's utilization of the internet as a campaign tool. He confirms, once again, that hate radio is considered an integral part of GOP strategy:

... We've never needed the Internet before. When talk radio emerged in '94, it was a very taboo thing, and it wasn't until Newt Gingrich brought talk radio hosts into the Capitol that people started to engage talk radio. Now there's an entire strategy focused on it. The White House has a talk radio person, the RNC does, and it's seen as an effective medium. But the Internet-we haven't needed to run around the mainstream media like we do now.

As noted in my post from 9/18/06:

President Bush summoned several hate radio talk show hosts to the White House this past Friday for a 90 minute off-the-record chat.

According to Neil Boortz, " the subject matter ranged through domestic policy, immigration, the war on terror, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Jordan. President Bush talked of the leaders of countries ranging from Great Britain to China to Japan to Iran."

Also in attendance were Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mike Gallagher and Michael Medved. Rush Limbaugh was invited, but was unable to attend.

As someone recently remarked about the Fairness Doctrine - "Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair".

HT: Missouri Politics

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Race to the Bottom

From Think Progress:

The economic American dream “that children would be more prosperous than their parents, is in question as perhaps never before.” Since 1973, “median family income has been essentially flat,” and men in their 30s “earn roughly $5,000 less than their father’s generation.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bush Asks For Excessive Earmarks

From an article in The Hill:

Bush is criticized for requests from the White House for earmarks to be inserted into legislation. "Legislators say that while Bush has warned them about earmarks, behind the scenes he seeks them just as eagerly as the members of Congress he criticizes."

Bush called out for his earmarks
By Alexander Bolton
June 28, 2007

Democratic and Republican appropriators are accusing President Bush of urging Congress to pack spending bills with pet projects despite his high-profile crackdown on earmarks this year.

A House Appropriations Committee report accompanying legislation funding the Department of the Interior shows that Bush requested 93 of the 321 earmarks in thebill. A panel report for the financial services and general government spending bill showed that Bush requested 17 special projects worth $947 million, more than any single member of Congress.

Senate appropriators have identified
more than 350 earmarks in the military construction spending bill requested by the president. Lawmakers say these lists of earmarks are inconsistent with Bush’s tough talk on earmarks this year...

Read the article here.

While financing an irresponsible and immoral war on the U.S. credit card, he has the nerve to demand earmarks. What Republican party is this? It's a different kind of political animal. Have they shunned the elephant and adopted the pig?

Republicans are Creepy, And I'm Not Voting For Them Anymore

I used to be an independent voter. I'm socially liberal, but do tend to be fiscally conservative favoring smaller government and disciplined spending. In the past, I have voted for Republicans who mirrored those views.

During my drive time, I often listen to Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage. Today, Hannity was conversing with a Senator (didn't catch his name) about immigration. The Senator could not get out a full sentence before Hannity was all over him like a mad dog.

Republicans court these creepy media people. This is their "base". The Ann Coulter/Elizabeth Edwards exchange is the perfect example. Republicans have made this woman wealthy; they invite her to give speeches, buy her books, and hang on her every word. But, hey, it's a free country. So...

They can forget about getting my vote until they clean up their act. If I can't stomach the Democratic or Independent candidates in a particular race, I'll just abstain.

Elizabeth Edwards Vs. Ann Coulter

These observations from Shamanic at Newshog do a great job of illustrating the bulk of the right-wing sponsored content that saturates the air waves.

Illustrating the Obvious

Yesterday I saw this video of Elizabeth Edwards' call to Hardball guest Ann Coulter, which revealed Coulter's inherent, vapid nastiness in all its glory. Chris Matthews kept Coulter's feet to the fire, but the bigger question is why he had her on to begin with, and why anyone should consider his show to be even remotely serious about politics as a result.

I do think the episode is revealing for what it illustrates about the state of partisan politics and the media today. Here's my big-picture take on the exchange:

Democrat: I think we should focus on substantive issues instead of personal attacks.

Republican: What personal attacks? Just because your husband dines on the raw corpses of dead babies and molests little boys doesn't mean I think he's a bad guy.

Democrat: This is the kind of negativity that drives people out of the political process.

Republican: YOU WANT TO CENSOR ME!!!

Democrat: Um, are your pens all filled with bile instead of ink?


Media Guy (doing an excellent impression of a concerned citizen): Why exactly did you say that "The Democratic party works constantly to destroy America, and anyone who votes for a Democrat should be dragged from his house under cover of darkness, hung in the town square, and stoned to death by a grateful community of patriots"?

Republican: Could you read me the sentence?

Next time Chris, instead of asking Coulter questions about the adjectives she uses, invite a real guest on instead. Think of it as donating to charity instead of sending flowers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Iraq Refugee Crisis

The good news is that several million Iraqis have escaped the killing field that is now Iraq.

The bad news:

From the Independent:

UN warns of five million Iraqi refugees
Half of displaced people have no access to food aid
By Patrick Cockburn
June 10, 2007

Across Iraq, millions of people are looking for safer places to live, and not finding them. The United Nations High Commission for Refuge (UNHCR) reported last week that 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced out of their homes.

There are also ominous signs that the four-month-old US security plan for Baghdad is failing to reduce the level of violence despite an extra 17,000 US troops in the capital.

"The situation in Iraq continues to worsen," the UNHCR announced, "with more than two million Iraqis now believed to be displaced inside the country and another 2.2 million sheltering in neighbouring states."

The Iraqi refugee crisis is now surpassing in numbers anything ever seen in the Middle East, including the expulsion or flight of the Palestinians in 1948...

This crisis created by our invasion and continued occupation of Iraq has resulted in a refugee population which now outnumbers those of Darfur. Since half of the refugees have no food aid, it is certain that we will see a humanitarian crisis of mammoth proportions.

George W. Bush, this will be your legacy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

McClatchy Headlines

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau: Some of the best coverage available of the Attorney General and DOJ, and Carl Rove misdeeds.

Justice official accused of blocking suits into alleged violations
By Greg Gordon McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Mon, June 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — A former Justice Department political appointee blocked career lawyers from filing at least three lawsuits charging local and county governments with violating the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, seven former senior department employees charged Monday...

And from yesterday:

Missing White House e-mails may have violated law, panel says
By Ron Hutcheson McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Mon, June 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — Presidential adviser Karl Rove sent more than 140,000 e-mails
through the Republican National Committee's computer system, circumventing a federal law intended to guarantee the preservation of presidential records, House of Representatives investigators have concluded...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

John Perkins' career as an economic hit man (EHM) has taken him all over the globe. He details his activities as an EHM in his best-seller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and in his new book just released, The Secret History of the American Empire.

His job as an EHM was to persuade third world governments to accept huge loans for modernization programs that would supposedly bring prosperity and economic growth. He was employed by a large contracting firm, MAIN, (no longer in business) similar to Haliburton or Bechtel. In essence, his instructions were to present falsified and very rosy statistics to seal the deal. The unstated goal was to set up a sweetheart deal for U.S. contractors and corporations to build the mammoth infrastructure projects and exploit the labor and natural resources of the countries involved.

The EHM worked in concert with the underbelly of the U.S. government to influence governments in these vulnerable third world nations by whatever means necessary.

Perkins joined the Peace Corps fresh out of college and was assigned to work with the indigenous inhabitants of the rain forest in Ecuador. It was a profound experience and one that gave him unique insight into the lives and struggle of exploited peoples in the countries he would later encounter as an EHM.

His seduction by the money, power, beautiful women and prestige he enjoyed as an EHM was never total and complete. His culpability for the exploitation of the people and devastation of the environment that were the end results of his EHM deals weighed on his conscience.

The end result of his EHM successes resulted in the funnelling of vast amounts of wealth to his corporate masters, and to the corrupt and elite people in positions of power in the countries he had signed deals with. Those governments he failed to persuade were targeted for assasinations and coups fomented by the covert operatives he refers to as "jackals".

Eventually, he resigned his EHM job and moved on in life. After expressing his intention to write about the activities of his former profession, he was alternately threatened and bribed to stay silent. After the events of 9/11, John Perkins felt that his story must be told, whatever the personal consequences. He wrote Confessions of an Economic Hit Man in secret, and after being rejected by every mainstream publisher, finally found a smaller publisher who was willing to risk it.

If you have not read his books, I highly recommend that you do so. The Secret History of the American Empire is just hitting bookstores. It picks up where Confessions left off, and ends on an optimistic note with suggestions about what each of us can do to begin to set things right.

Everyone I know who reads Confessions is profoundly affected to learn of the extent of the global political/corporate corruption described. Most of us sort-of know that the goods we buy at Wal-Mart, other big-box retailers, and malls are produced by people who are little more than virtual slaves working and living in squalid and inhumane conditions, but seldom is anyone in-your-face with proof of it. If this is not a wake-up call, I don't know what will move people to take action, and make changes in their buying habits. The expose of Nike factories is particularly heartbreaking, and they are just an example of the horrendous conditions in most third-world factories producing goods for the U.S. market.

Local blogger Bob Ranney (An Even Keel) has a few observations:

I have recently begun reading a book that will most likely end up next
to "Flyboys" on my list of required reading for all citizens. It is John Perkins', "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man".

In it he describes his recruitment, training and actions as an EHM as he and his colleagues call themselves.

It's worth a read just to learn about the existence and day-to-day doings of these folks, but he also includes a good bit of information about the effects of what they do, and the only conclusion a sane person can draw from it all is that our country has long been embarked on a soulless journey that drags everyone it touches through unnecessary hell. Our politicians spout high and mighty morality stories, but the results of their actions are pure evil.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

"Today we see the results of this system run amok.

Executives at our most respected companies hire people at near-slave wages to toil under inhuman conditions in Asisan sweatshops.

Oil companies wantonly pump toxins into rain forest rivers, consciously killing people, animals, and plants, and committing genocide among ancient cultures.

The pharmaceutical industry denies lifesaving medicines to millions of
HIV-infected Africans. Twelve million families in our own United States worry about their next meal.

The energy industry creates an Enron.

The accounting industry creates an Andersen.

The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world's population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995.

The United States spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimates that for less than half that amount we could
provide clean water, adequate diet, sanitation services, and basic education to every person on the planet.

And we wonder why terrorists attack us?

Bob Ranney ends his remarks with a call to conscience for each of us:

"Putting your life on the line so we can rape another country is not patriotism, it is madness. Isn't it time we stopped? If we want to show our patriotism, why not show it to the world and not just to one country? Why not stand up and shout, "Enough?"

I hear you, Bob.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thor Hearne's Ties to ACVR Erased on Wikipedia

From today's Brad Blog:

Wikipedia Entry for GOP 'Voter Fraud' Front Group
Co-Founder, Thor Hearne, Scrubbed of References to ACVR

Latest Edit Performed by Someone at Hearne's Lawfirm, Lathrop & Gage, According to Rick Hasen of
Election Law Blog...

Mark F. "Thor" Hearne must really want to hide something about
his discredited past as the front man for the GOP front group calling themselves the
American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR).

In the latest chapter of a string of attempts by Hearne to cleanse his public record as lead snake-oil salesman of the mysteriously-funded "non-partisan" group that he founded to push propaganda about a massive (if non-existent) Democratic 'voter fraud' epidemic, it seems his Wikipedia page has been expurgated of all references to the ACVR...

Read the entire article here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Please Say No To School Vouchers

The Turner Report has given us two recent summaries of Matt Blunt's attempt to load the State Board of Education with voucher supporters, exemplified by his recent nomination to the board of yet another voucher supporter, former state rep, Derio Gambaro.

The governor's resolve to do away with public education in Missouri is fueled by big donations from wealthy supporters of a voucher system. Now that there are no upper limits on campaign donations, their money is filling up Blunt's campaign chest to overflowing.

With a roll-over Republican majority in the state legislature , vouchers could be foisted on the people of Missouri before they can blink an eye.

Concerning Blunt's first appointment to the State Board of Education, Randy Turner has this to say:

Unfortunately, no one put the governor's first board appointment, Debi
Demien of Wentzville, under the microscope. She was promoted as a former public
schoolteacher and director of marketing for Demien Construction. A little bit of
digging would have shown that the Southwest Missouri State University graduate
is far more than that.

It appears all three of the governor's choices are closely in line with his
thinking on vouchers, meaning he most likely has the power to move state
education in whatever direction he wishes.

Mrs. Demien was appointed to the board in March. While it was noted that
she was involved in the family business, Demien Construction, what wasn't noted
is that she is director of marketing for the company's Building God's
Way division, which builds churches and Christian schools
. Any sort of
movement of public money into private schools will obviously benefit Mrs.

Seven years ago, she wrote a book entitled Stealing America, the
National Takeover of the
Economy, Education and State
, which primarily criticizes the school-to-work programs
being used in public schools. She is an outspoken critic of Missouri's A+
program, which allows students involved in the program to receive free schooling
at Missouri community colleges.

Please read The Turner Report articles linked below for his excellent coverage of the voucher issue:

Voucher Supporters Are Blunt's Biggest Contributors (6/11/07)

Blunt Appoints Another Voucher Proponent to State Board of Education (6/08/07)

It Started Before Donayle Whitmore-Smith (12/17/06)

Blunt Appoints Leading Voucher Proponent to State Board of Education (10/26/06)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Al Gore's 'Green' Nashville Home

From Tennessee Guerilla Women :

Here's the photo of the new solar roof on Al Gore's Nashville home.

This is the home that houses the office from which Al Gore runs his world-wide campaign to combat the climate crisis.

the far right Tennessee Center for Policy Research unleashed its attack of lies on Gore, the former Vice President was still petitioning for outdated zoning laws prohibiting the installation of solar panels to be changed. (Apparently, solar panels weren't 'pretty' enough for the neighborhood!)

The zoning laws were finally changed, and once again, Al Gore has helped to bring a little bit of Tennessee out of the 19th century.

Just imagine what Gore could do if he were president.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Al Gore, the environmental activist stung by criticism over his house's energy efficiency, said Friday that renovations are nearly complete to make it a model "green" home.

"This plan has been in the works for a long time," the former vice
president said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The only thing that has changed is that we're more public about it because of the misleading attack by a global-warming denier group."

Gore's renovation project, which he said has been in the works for months, seeks to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The former Vice President picked up another award this week. Gore was awarded Spain's prestigious Principe de Asturias prize for his unprecedented success in raising the global awareness about the climate crisis.

As predicted, Gore's new book -- The Assault on Reason -- is number one on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Next month, NBC and its affiliates will broadcast Gore's Live Earth Concerts to a worldwide audience of some two billion people!

Greenland Provides Clues To Tipping Point In Arctic Meltdown

From the June 9, 2007 Washington Post:

In Arctic Ice, Lessons on Effects of Warming
Researchers Drill, Map, Blast In Greenland in Hunt for Clues

Manhattan floods, it may start here, on an ice field that
stretches in frozen silence to every horizon.

Global warming is working away at the Greenland ice cap. The frozen
interior of the Arctic island is shedding ice much faster than simple melting
should explain...

As ice on glaciers moves over rock, it snags and lurches. That creates
"icequakes" measurable in the same way as earthquakes. In 1993, there were seven such quakes in Greenland. In 2005, as the ice accelerated, there were 32.

"For a long time it was thought that a change of climate could affect
the ice sheets very slowly," said Meredith Nettles, a scientist from
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at
Columbia University, who monitors a large glacier in eastern Greenland. "Now we believe the Greenland ice can respond to changes in climate much more quickly than anyone thought."

In geologic terms, "quickly" still means decades or centuries. But some scientists say the Earth is approaching a point when the process cannot be stopped. Only in recent years did scientists conclude that sea levels are rising twice as fast as they had estimated, said H. Jay Zwally, a senior research scientist from
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"We are seeing things taking place in the ice now that weren't expected, that five years ago we didn't even know about," said Zwally, who will spend his 14th summer on the Greenland ice cap this year. "I think eventually Greenland will reach a point that the change is irreversible in the current climate."

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bushes Missing Simple Wisdom

From the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Peggy Noonan opines the decline of the GOP's conservative coalition. She presents a harsh analysis of the Bush reign. Both father and son receive a lashing.

...One of the things I have come to think the past few years is that the Bushes, father and son, though different in many ways, are great wasters of political inheritance. They throw it away as if they'd earned it and could do with it what they liked...

...The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and
actually at this point in history we don't need hacks...

Interesting that it should take her so long to reach this conclusion. I had W pegged with the first couple of sentences that I heard come from his mouth.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Griffin Resigns AR U.S. Attorney Post

In today's report from McClatchy Washington Bureau, Tim Griffin will resign his post effective June 1.

Justice Department investigators broaden their inquiry
Margaret Talev and Greg Gordon

...In other development, the Justice Department said Wednesday that Tim Griffin, the interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., since last December, would resign his post effective June 1.

Griffin, a former Republican Party opposition researcher, has been a controversial figure in the firing controversy because of his close ties to White House political adviser Karl Rove and allegations that he was part of a GOP effort in 2004 to get minorities knocked off of voting rolls. Republican Party officials have denied any impropriety.

To make way for Griffin, the White House and Justice Department
last year sought U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins' resignation.

Griffin at one point might have stayed on through the remainder of
Bush's term. But when it was revealed that he was installed using a change to the USA Patriot Act that took away the Senate's power to reject him, Griffin said he would stay on only until a permanent replacement was nominated. As of Wednesday, it was unclear who that nominee would be. The Justice Department notified Congress that Griffin's first assistant, Jane W. Duke, would serve as acting U.S. attorney.

Griffin could not be reached for comment.

Said Michael Teague, spokesman for Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.: "This is a positive development, and Senator Pryor looks forward to restoring credible leadership in the U.S. Attorney's office."

Darfur: It's The Oil, Stupid

I caught a minute of Bush on TV yesterday, and before I hit the mute button I heard him mention Darfur. That's odd, I thought. I hadn't really heard anything lately about Darfur from any elected officials, much less our appointed President.

This chilling analysis of the situation in Darfur is from the
Asia Times:

Darfur: Forget genocide, there's oil
By F William Engdahl
May 25, 2007

...The case of Darfur, a forbidding piece of sun-parched real estate in the southern part of Sudan, illustrates the new Cold War over oil, where the dramatic rise in China's oil demand to fuel its booming growth has led Beijing to embark on an aggressive policy of - ironically - dollar diplomacy. With its more than US $1.2 trillion in mainly US dollar reserves at the Peoples' National Bank of China, Beijing is engaging in active petroleum geopolitics. Africa is a major focus, and in Africa, the central region between Sudan and Chad is a priority.

This is defining a major new front in what, since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, is a new Cold War between Washington and Beijing over control of major oil sources. So far Beijing has played its cards a bit more cleverly than Washington. Darfur is a major battleground in this high-stakes contest for oil control...

The US government repeatedly uses "genocide" to refer to Darfur. It is the only government to do so... only Washington and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) close to it use the charged term "genocide" to describe Darfur. If they are able to get popular acceptance of the charge of genocide, it opens the possibility of drastic "regime change" intervention by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - read Washington - in Sudan's sovereign affairs...

The United States, acting through surrogate allies in Chad and neighboring states has trained and armed the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, headed until his death in July 2005 by John Garang, trained at the US Special Forces school at Fort Benning, Georgia.

By pouring arms into first southeastern Sudan and since discovery of oil in Darfur into that region as well, Washington fueled the conflict that led to tens of thousands dying and several million driven to flee their homes. Eritrea hosts and supports the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the umbrella NDA opposition group, and the Eastern Front and Darfur rebels...

VW Created 282 MPG Car in 2002

From Canadian Driver:

The most economical car in the world
By Greg Wilson
June 5, 2002

A few years ago, Volkswagen took on a task that many people thought was impossible: they decided to develop a fuel-efficient, road-going compact car that could achieve an average fuel consumption of just 3 litresper 100 km (94 mpg). Not only did Volkswagen achieve this milestone in 1999, but they had an even larger goal in mind: an ultra fuel-efficient car with a super stingy fuel consumption rating of just 1 litre per 100 kilometres (282

After three years of development in secret, the 1-Litre-Car was unveiled in April in Hamburg, Germany at Volkswagen’s annual stockholder meeting. To prove that it is a viable, road-going automobile and not just a pie-in-the-sky concept, VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech himself drove the
1-Litre-Car from Wolfsburg to Hamburg to join the shareholders meeting averaging just 0.89 litres per 100 km (317 mpg) along the way..

HT Cryptogon

The Republican Plan For 2008

Thom Hartmann muses on GOP strategies leading up to 2008 elections. What are the Democratic plans to build on the gains of 2006?

Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 by
The Republican Plan For 2008 Begins Today
by Thom Hartmann

It’s difficult to watch Democrats play checkers while Republicans
play chess with Iraq. It’s particularly difficult on Memorial Day as more
Americans and Iraqis die. But the Republican Party has been playing politics
with Iraq since the day after the Supreme Court installed George W. Bush in
office in 2001, and they have no intention of stopping now. They may have
borrowed some techniques from Richard Nixon, but they have no intention of
repeating his mistakes.

The political calculus being pursued by Karl Rove and the
Republican Party with regard to Iraq and the 2008 elections is a simple
four-step process:

1. Shift “ownership” of the downside of the “war” and occupation of
Iraq to the Democrats.

2. Begin to wind down American involvement in the occupation of
Iraq no later than mid-2008.

3. “Claim victory and get out” of direct combat in Iraq by the
early fall of 2008.

4. Win big in the 2008 elections by having “won” a

Step one was accomplished last week...

Read Thom's complete remarks here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Monica Goodling Points to Tim Griffin Caging Involvement

In a special report for the Brad Blog, Greg Palast points out that Monica Goodling dropped the bomb when she spoke of her knowledge of Tim Griffin's involvement in vote "caging" intended to defraud the 2004 election.

Goodling testified that Gonzales' Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: Sampson denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin's "involvement in 'caging' voters" in 2004.

Greg Palast knows about the caging because he has the caging lists via emails mistakenly sent to a website maintained by his friend John Wooden. Examples are posted with the story at Brad Blog. The caging story was covered by Greg Palast on the BBC, but was completely ignored by the U.S. press.

Therefore, when Ms. Goodling spilled her guts about caging, it went right over the heads of the committee, and no probing questions were asked to clarify the matter.

According to Palast:

Here's what you need to know --- and the Committee would have
discovered, if only they'd asked:

'Caging' voters is a crime, a go-to-jail felony.

Griffin wasn't "involved" in the caging, Ms. Goodling. Griffin,
Rove's right-hand man (right-hand claw), was directing the illegal purge and challenge campaign. How do I know? It's in the email I got. Thanks. And it's posted below.

On December 7, 2006, the ragin', cagin' Griffin was named, on Rove's personal demand, US Attorney for Arkansas. Perpetrator became

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

McCaskill Tours Missouri This Weekend

From the Chicago Examiner:

McCaskill heading on 14-city tour to study veterans' health care

Sen. Claire McCaskill is getting back on the RV, only this time it's not for a campaign trip.

She plans to spend the Memorial Day recess on a four-day, 14-stop tour of Missouri to check on the state of health care for veterans.

Inspired by revelations of poor outpatient care conditions at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, McCaskill wants to learn more about the experiences veterans have had at military health facilities in Missouri.

"I thought the best way to do that was to try to go all over the state and make sure the veterans knew that this was an opportunity they had to come and tell me their story - the good, the bad and the ugly," McCaskill said.

At each stop on the tour, McCaskill is inviting veterans and their families to describe any problems or obstacles they have faced in the Department of Veterans Affairs system and other military hospitals and clinics.