Should it be governments are not the answer? I think so.
They fuck people to an extent I could never.
Labels: radical lefty
Rojak posts, mostly political.
"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -- Thomas Mann
If so, I must be a writer.
Labels: radical lefty
A woman went to her doctor. The doctor, after an examination, sighed and said, ‘I’ve some bad news. You have cancer, and you’d best put your affairs in order.’
The woman was shocked, but managed to compose herself and walk into the waiting room where her daughter had been waiting. ‘Well daughter, we women celebrate when things are good, and we celebrate when things don’t go so well. In this case, things aren’t well. I have cancer. Let’s head to the club and have a martini.’ After 3 or martinis, the two were feeling a little less somber.
There were some laughs and more martinis. They were eventually approached by some of the woman’s old friends, who were curious as to what the two were celebrating.
The woman told her friends they were drinking to her impending end. I’ve been diagnosed with AIDS.’
The friends were aghast and gave the woman their condolences. After the friends left, the woman’s daughter leaned over and whispered, ’Momma, I thought you said you were dying of cancer, and you just told your friends you were dying of AIDS.’
The woman said, ‘I don’t want any of them sleeping with your father after I’m gone.’
That’s ‘Putting Your Affairs In Order’
Labels: John Foster Dulles
More aid is on the way to cyclone-ravaged Myanmar — but so is the heavy rain. A week after Cyclone Nargis flattened low-lying villages and killed whole families at a time, the military junta finally agreed Friday to allow a U.S. cargo plane to bring in food and other supplies to the isolated country. Myanmar gave the green light after confiscating other shipments, prompting the U.N. to order a temporary freeze in shipments.
The U.N. agreed to resume flights but relief workers, including Americans, were still being barred entry.
With phone lines down, roads blocked and electricity networks destroyed, it was nearly impossible to reach isolated areas in the swamped Irrawaddy delta, where the stench of unburied and decaying bodies added to the misery.
Heavy rain that is forecast in the next week is certain to worsen the plight of almost 2 million people awaiting food, clean water, shelter and medicine.
Diplomats and aid groups warned that the number of dead could eventually exceed 100,000 because of illness and said thousands of children may have been orphaned.
Survivors in one of the worst-affected areas, near the town of Bogalay about 20 miles inland, were among those fighting hunger, illness and wrenching loneliness.
"All my 28 family members have died," said Thein Myint, a 68-year-old fisherman who was overcome by tears and trauma as he tried to explain how the May 3 cyclone swept away the rest of his family. "I am the only survivor."
Survivors were sleeping amid the debris of their splintered homes in Bogalay, where more than 95 percent of the houses were destroyed.
You may not know Lincoln Davis from Pall Mall, Tenn., but you should, if you care about who’ll win the Democratic presidential nomination.
You may not know Fagafaga Langkilde of American Samoa, or Heather Mizeur of Takoma Park, Md., either.
But they, too, are people worth knowing.
All three and nearly 800 other Democrats are considered “superdelegates.”
Who gets to be a superdelegate?
Well, dear reader, maybe your aunt should be a superdelegate, but she is not, unless she happens to be one of the following:
* A Democratic governor, a senator, or a member of the House of Representatives
* A member of the Democratic National Committee, elected by party activists in her state
* A distinguished party leader, such as former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, or former House speakers Jim Wright and Tom Foley
* An at-large DNC member such as Richard Michalski, appointed by party chairman Howard Dean and ratified by the DNC membership
But, who’s Richard Michalski?
Michalski is the vice president of the 720,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, whose political action committee has given heavily to Democratic candidates. The Machinists union has endorsed Clinton.
Labels: cat blogging
Several hackers began posting on an epilepsy forum pictures of rapidly-flashing images.
“The breach triggered severe migraines and near-seizure reactions in some site visitors who viewed the images,” writes Wired. “People with photosensitive epilepsy can get seizures when they’re exposed to flickering images, a response also caused by some video games and cartoons.”
The FBI is investigating the breach.
Football legend Joe Montana is suing his ex-wife and a Texas auction house over the sale of love letters and memorabilia from the Hall of Fame quarterback's college days at the University of Notre Dame.
Height: 6' 2"
Arms: 22" (six inches larger than my thighs)
Off Season Weight: 260 lbs
Competition Weight: 235 lbs
China has reported 22,240 hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) cases so far this year by Thursday, resulting in 30 deaths, according to a Xinhua tally of local official figures.
The figure stood at 19,962 on Wednesday, Xinhua found.
Anhui Province in east China saw an increase of 738 HFMD cases on Tuesday, driving the total infections up to 7,283, with no new death report in the past week, according to the provincial health bureau.
A total of 3,780 patients have recovered and 2,218 others are still receiving treatment in hospitals there.
The worst-hit Fuyang City has registered 5,513 infections so far, including 1,340 being hospitalized. Doctors said ten of the patients are seriously sickened and three others in critical situation.
The municipal government has earmarked nearly 50 million yuan (7.1 million U.S. dollars) in medical cost reimbursement and disease prevention and control.
Meanwhile, a virus lab has been put into initial operation in the city recently for research of EV71, a virus that can cause a severe form of the disease, according to the municipal center for disease control and prevention.
"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"
-- The Who
-- Won't get fooled again
Vladimir Putin was today confirmed as Russia's new prime minister by the country's lower house of parliament in a move that formalises his power-sharing role with the new president Dmitry Medvedev.
Deputies in Russia's state duma voted overwhelmingly to support Putin's candidacy – by 392 to 56 votes. Only the communists voted against. MP's from Putin's United Russia party then led a standing ovation.
Today's widely anticipated move follows the inauguration yesterday of 42-year-old Medvedev – Putin's close ally - as Russia's third post-Soviet leader. Immediately after today's vote Medevev said he would pass a decree formally naming Putin as head of Russia's new government.
Americans rank last in a new National Geographic-sponsored survey released Wednesday that compares environmental consumption habits in 14 countries.
Americans were least likely to choose the greener option in three out of four categories — housing, transportation and consumer goods_ according to the assessment. In the fourth category, food, Americans ranked ahead of Japanese consumers, who eat more meat and seafood.
The rankings, called "Greendex," are the first to compare the lifestyles and behaviors of consumers in multiple countries, according to the National Geographic Society.
It plans to conduct the 100-plus question survey annually and considers trends more important than yearly scores, said Terry Garcia, executive vice president of National Geographic's mission programs.
"This is not just a one-time snapshot," Garcia said. "Some of the most important information may yet be revealed."
India and Brazil tied for the highest score — 60 points out of a hundred. U.S. consumers scored 44.9.
In between, China scored 56.1, Mexico 54.2, Hungary 53.2, Russia 52.4, Great Britain 50.2, Germany 50.2, Australia 50.2, Spain 50, Japan 49.1, France 48.7 and Canada 48.5.
Results are based on 1,000 online respondents per country interviewed in January and February by GlobeScan, an international polling firm based in Toronto.
To see how you score, take an abbreviated version of the survey. It's at nationalgeographic.com/greendex.
Key war on terror architect Douglas Feith has now confirmed Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Wesley Clark in admitting that the so-called War on Terror is a hoax.
In fact, starting right after 9/11 -- at the latest -- the goal has always been to create "regime change" and instability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon so as to protect Israel. And the goal was never really to destroy Al Qaeda.
As reported in a new article in Asia Times:Three weeks after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then-under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith's recently published account of the Iraq war decisions. Feith's account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country's top military leaders.
Feith's book, War and Decision, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W Bush on September 30, 2001, calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing "new regimes" in a series of states...
General Wesley Clark, who commanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in the Kosovo war, recalls in his 2003 book Winning Modern Wars being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia [and Lebanon].
When this writer asked Feith . . . which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, "All of them."
The Defense Department guidance document made it clear that US military aims in regard to those states would go well beyond any ties to terrorism. The document said the Defense Department would also seek to isolate and weaken those states and to "disrupt, damage or destroy" their military capacities - not necessarily limited to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Where does Israel come in?
Well, the Asia Times article continues:Rumsfeld's paper was given to the White House only two weeks after Bush had approved a US military operation in Afghanistan directed against bin Laden and the Taliban regime. Despite that decision, Rumsfeld's proposal called explicitly for postponing indefinitely US airstrikes and the use of ground forces in support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in order to try to catch bin Laden.
Instead, the Rumsfeld paper argued that the US should target states that had supported anti-Israel forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas. [formatting/emphasis in original]
"The world must stop standing idle while the people of Gaza are treated with such cruelty."
-- Jimmy Carter
-- Former US President
"The White House action taken yesterday to rig any FEC enforcement decision concerning campaign finance questions that have been raised regarding the presumptive Republican nominee for President, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), constitutes
political obstruction of justice," according to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer.
"The White House action powerfully demonstrates why there must be a new approach to enforcing the nation's campaign finance laws," Wertheimer said.
Yesterday, the White House withdrew the nomination of "holdover" FEC Commissioner David Mason to continue to serve as a Commissioner on the FEC.
The White House got rid of Mason after President Bush twice had found him to be an acceptable Republican appointee to the Commission.
In December 2005, President Bush made a recess appointment of Mason to serve on the FEC. In January 2007, after the recess appointment ran out, President Bush nominated Mason for Senate confirmation to fill a Republican seat on the Commission.
The White House gave no explanation for why Mason, a previously acceptable nominee, had suddenly been withdrawn.
"It is clear why the White House threw Mason off the FEC," Wertheimer said.
"In a letter to Senator McCain earlier this year, Commissioner Mason had raised questions about McCain's request to withdraw from the presidential primary public financing system and about a loan that Senator McCain's campaign took out and the collateral provided for the loan," Wertheimer said.
"By just raising questions about enforcement matters relating to Senator McCain's presidential campaign, Commissioner Mason sealed his fate and lost his job," Wertheimer stated.
"The White House action taken to dispose of Mason was eerily reminiscent of earlier actions taken by the White House and the Justice Department to dispose of U.S. Attorneys whose enforcement actions or inactions they disagreed with," Wertheimer stated.
"Mason's removal from the FEC by the White House has sent a powerful and destructive message to the three pending Republican FEC nominees that even the slightest bit of independence will not be tolerated and that the job of a Republican FEC Commissioner is to protect the interests and needs of Republicans, not to implement and enforce the campaign finance laws," Wertheimer stated.
The Olympic flame for the Beijing Games was carried to the top of Mount Qomolangma [Everest] by Chinese climbers at 9:18 a.m. Beijing Time on Thursday. The Beijing Olympic torch relay is the longest and most ambitious ever planned.
As revelations of the Bush administration's illegal surveillance programs continue to expose the criminal nature of the regime in Washington, new reports suggest that House Democrats are preparing to capitulate to the White House on warrantless wiretapping and amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms.
Kudos to the Washington Post for looking into the mysterious behavior of the Yemeni government toward the guys implicated in the USS Cole bombing. As Newsweek reported last fall, Yemen even briefly [emphasis mine and briefly?] let Jamal al-Badawi, the al Qaeda planner in charge of the operation, out of prison. All told, "all the defendants convicted in the attack have escaped from prison or been freed by Yemeni officials," according to the Post.
Labels: USS Cole
Monsanto Co. is on track to double its gross profit by 2012, the agribusiness' chief financial officer said Tuesday.
Monsanto already dominates America's food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation's tactics- ruthless legal battles against small farmers- is its decades-long history of toxic contamination. We speak to James Steele, contributing editor at Vanity Fair.
Monday's top story on the popular financial website Kiplinger.com begins with this advice to potential investors: "Everywhere you look people are grumbling - and in many cases rioting - about the high price of food. Before you buy a 20-pound bag of rice at Costco, consider hording shares of Monsanto."
It's true - while the rising cost of food pushes millions around the world into deeper hunger and scarcity, agricultural companies like Monsanto are posting record profits. The top seed maker in the world, Monsanto's stock has gained ninety-five percent over the past year and sixteen-hundred percent over the past five years. Monsanto's profits topped one point six billion in the first quarter, up thirty-seven percent from the same quarter last year.
The US Federal Reserve today led another intervention to ease global liquidity by joining the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in efforts to flood the Continent with dollars while pumping a further $50 billion (£25.3 billion) into the American financial system.
Isolated Iran sees Latin America as a place to push back US influence, from which it could maintain a terrorist threat against the United States in the event of a conflict, a senior US official warned Wednesday.
Iran views Latin America as a chance to break out of some of its international isolation and defy Washington's major power status in its back yard, State Department official Thomas Shannon said in Washington.
"It's a way to push back on us," Shannon told a conference bringing together cabinet ministers and other officials from North and South America to promote greater economic integration.
Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said it also posed a threat there as he repeated charges that Iran was behind bombings against Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires in the 1990s.
Iran denies any links. [emphasis mine, but there is plenty in original]
Individuals with conservative ideologies are happier than liberal-leaners, and new research pinpoints the reason: Conservatives rationalize social and economic inequalities.
Regardless of marital status, income or church attendance, right-wing individuals reported greater life satisfaction and well-being than left-wingers, the new study found. Conservatives also scored highest on measures of rationalization, which gauge a person's tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities.
Just two months after local opposition thwarted its effort to build a massive outdoor training facility near San Diego, the private military company Blackwater USA is being accused of secretly trying to build a new one just blocks from the US-Mexico border. Blackwater received approval for the 61,000 square-foot indoor facility in Otay Mesa, California, by filing for permits using the names of two subsidiaries.
Her cell phone is ringing, but the display is turned off. She lightly pushes a small dot on the skin on her left forearm to suddenly reveal a two by four inch tattoo with the image of the cell phone's digital display, directly in the skin of her arm. She answers the call by pushing a tattooed button on her arm. While she's talking, the tattoo comes to life as a digital video of the caller. When she finishes, the tattoo disappears.
This Bluetooth device is permanently implanted beneath the skin. It is flat, flexible, silicon and silicone. Tightly rolled when it's inserted through a small incision, and then unfurled beneath the skin, it lies benignly between skin and muscle.
Through the same incision, two small tubes are attached from the implanted device to an artery and a vein. A coin sized blood fuel cell in the implant converts the blood's glucose and oxygen from the artery to the electricity required to power the device. Used blood returns through to the vein. The digital device's power source is the same as for all of the biological components in the body.
The surface of the implant that faces the underside of the skin is covered with a matrix of field producing pixels that activate a matching matrix of pixels tattooed onto the surface of the skin above the implant. The field penetrates the skin to drive the tattooed display, while the skin continues to provide its function of sealing the body from the world. The surface of the implant is also a touch screen control, pressed through the skin. Rather than ink, tiny clusters of microscopic spheres are injected, like tattoo ink, into the skin. Each sphere is filled with a field sensitive material that changes from clear to black when a field in the matrix is turned on.
U.S. border authorities no longer apprehend illegal immigrants only as they enter the country. Now they're catching them on the way out. At random times near the Tijuana-San Diego border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have been setting up checkpoints, boarding buses destined for Mexico and pulling off people who don't have proper documentation.
Automobile makers usually try to find the best way to build a car, but Mazda had the unenviable task of finding the best way to destroy over 4,700 brand new cars:
It all started about two years ago, when a ship carrying 4,703 shiny new Mazdas nearly sank in the Pacific. The freighter, the Cougar Ace, spent weeks bobbing on the high seas, listing at a severe 60-degree angle, before finally being righted.
The mishap created a dilemma: What to do with the cars? They had remained safely strapped down throughout the ordeal — but no one knew for sure what damage, if any, might be caused by dangling cars at such a steep angle for so long. Might corrosive fluids seep into chambers where they don’t belong? Was the Cougar Ace now full of lemons?
The Japanese car maker, controlled by Ford Motor Corp., easily could have found takers for the vehicles. Hundreds of people called about buying cheap Mazdas. Schools wanted them for auto-shop courses. Hollywood asked about using them for stunts.
Mazda turned everyone away. It worried about getting sued someday if, say, an air-bag failed to fire properly due to overexposure to salty sea air.
It also worried that scammers might find a way to spirit the cars abroad to sell as new. That happened to thousands of so-called "Katrina cars" salvaged from New Orleans’ flooding three years ago. Those cars — their electronics gone haywire and sand in the engines — were given a paint job and unloaded in Latin America on unsuspecting buyers, damaging auto makers’ reputations. [formatting in original]
Hungry people swarmed the few open shops and fistfights broke out over food and water in Myanmar's swamped Irrawaddy delta Wednesday as a top U.S. diplomat warned that the death toll from a devastating cyclone could top 100,000.
The minutes of a U.N. aid meeting obtained by The Associated Press, meanwhile, revealed the military junta's visa restrictions were hampering international relief efforts.
Only a handful of U.N. aid workers had been let into the impoverished Southeast Asian country, which the government has kept isolated for five decades to maintain its iron-fisted control. The U.S. and other countries rushed supplies to the region, but most of it was being held outside Myanmar while awaiting the junta's permission to deliver it.
1. Has no habeas corpus.
2. Does have rendition.
3. Doesn't guarantee trial by jury of one's peers.
4. Will incarcerate people without charging them.
5. Has a Congress with influence over the executive branch equal to mine.
6. Will kidnap American citizens.
7. Can declare martial law at the discretion of the executive.
8. Spies on Americans.
9. Can "legally" obtain bank account, medical and internet info.
10. May obtain DNA info to determine proclivities for medical problems.
11. Decides who and who can not fly on airplanes.
12. Is free to torture people.
13. Doesn't give a damn about its crumbling infrastructure.
14. Owes money it will take generations to pay off.
15. Has the respect of almost no other countries.
16. Might search your home without a court order.
17. Will possibly tap your phone even if you aren't suspected of criminal activity.
18. Offloads jobs to many countries.
19. Can't employee its own people.
20. Is losing market share in automobile sales.
21. Manufactures very little.
22. Raises food crops to produce biofuels.
23. Can't restore NOLA.
24. Sells more military hardware than any other country.
25. Believes pre-emptive military strikes are a good thing.
26. Kills thousands of innocent people.
27. Can't collect enough data on its citizens fast enough.
28. Is trying to tax the middle class into poverty while favoring the wealthy.
29. Listens to the neocon idiots.
30. Can't feed all its people.
31. Couldn't care less if you can get medical care.
32. Doesn't take care of its veterans.
33. Ignores opinions of scientists.
"While authors of the recently passed Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (H.R. 493) had good intentions, the bill inadvertently legalizes the sharing of genetic information without patient consent," says Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom (IHF). "It does so by applying HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] regulations to genetic data."
Blevins points out, "HIPAA regulations permit data sharing without patient consent in connection with treatment, payment, and oversight of the health- care system ('health-care operations'). Thus, by passing a bill that says HIPAA regulations apply to genetic information, Congress unintentionally legalized the sharing of information among many health-care 'covered entities' without patient permission."
The bill passed the Senate late last month, a year after the House approved its own version. Differences between the two were resolved May 1, and the final bill has been sent to President Bush.
In a letter published in the Baltimore Sun regarding the Senate's vote on the anti-discrimination bill, Janis G. Chester, M.D., president of the American Association of Practicing Psychiatrists, stressed: "...A person's genetic test results, and all of his or her medical data, should not be available to anyone without the patient's consent. One's employer should not even know he or she has had testing done, let alone know the results. The sad fact is that the regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA], which were intended to extend patient privacy as we moved from a paper-based system of medical records to a digital system, are a sham. HIPAA allows the routine release of personal health information without patient consent or knowledge, and even over a patient's objection..."
Chris Matthews: MSNBC bosses were 'basically pro-war'
The White House does not have archival copies of e-mails exchanged between administration officials during the weeks leading up to President Bush's decision to invade Iraq nor for the first two months of the war there, according to a just-released filing concerning millions of e-mails alleged to have gone missing or been deleted.
"A White House declaration filed late last night ... makes the stunning admission that the White House failed to preserve ANY backup tapes for the period March 1, 2003 through May 22, 2003, a period of time during which the U.S. went to war in Iraq," says a release from Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, a watchdog group suing for public records concerning the disappearance of internal White House e-mails.
Without computer backup tapes from this critical pre-Iraq war period, future researchers may be deprived a vital resource as the delve into the inner workings of the Bush administration as it decided to invade a country that had not attacked the United States and possessed no weapons of mass destruction.
Labels: Bush administration
The last time 1,000 people worked at one company in Houghton, they were building minesweepers at a shipyard along Lake Washington.
That was more than 60 years ago during World War II, in a town that long ago was swallowed by Kirkland.
So having a business come in with that many workers is kind of a once-in-a-century deal.
The effect may be even more profound this time around because of the business. It's Google.
By early next year, some 195,000 square feet of offices along Sixth Street South, on the site of a former Navy depot and door company, will be occupied by Googleites. They will move into three office buildings in a campuslike setting near downtown Kirkland between Lake Washington and Interstate 405.
The development is expected to have major impacts on both the city and the region.
"There are going to be several hundred well-paid people coming to town," said Andy Loos, development manager for SRM Development, which developed the Google property.
But the implications of Google's expansion go far beyond numbers of workers, said Ellen Miller-Wolf, Kirkland's economic-development manager.
"It's a really big deal," she said. "It's a change in the way of thinking about Kirkland."
Google's move is a transformative step toward the city's own vision of being a community where people can work, live and play all in the same place, she said, and where people walk more and sit in traffic less.
"Most important in the future of a city like Kirkland is driving foot traffic and downtown activity," said Dave Despard, an IBM vice president and member of the Kirkland Downtown Association. "Our biggest push is to attract and retain this level of employers and employees to the downtown."
The city already has taken steps toward that goal in developing high-density housing, she said. The number of multifamily housing units in the central business district jumped from 39 in 1995 to 1,170 in 2007.
Evidence of Kirkland's evolution is visible at restaurants like the Purple Cafe and Cactus, both within easy walking distance of many downtown businesses, including Google and Bungie Studios, where the "Halo" games of Xbox fame were developed. The restaurants fill up with a jeans- and shorts-clad crowd for lunch and dinner.
Peter Wilson, Google site manager in Kirkland, says the decision to grow in Kirkland came in part because the city matches the company's inclination toward low-rise buildings and informal, people-friendly environments.
"Kirkland kind of fits," he said, noting that he lives along Lake Washington Boulevard and commonly walks to work.
On a recent tour of Google's existing Kirkland offices, Wilson points to rooms filled with pool tables, video games, free food and even massage stations.
Surging prices for copper, zinc and nickel have some in the U.S. Congress advocating the steel-made pennies of World War II because it costs more than a penny to make one and a nickel costs 7.7 cents.
"It's not that the genie is out of the bottle — it's that 100 genies are out of the bottle," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Normally known for optimistic forecasts of lowering oil prices, Mr. Yergin's firm now says the price could rise to $150 a barrel this year.
Saying Daniel Yergin is an optimist is like saying Chris Matthews is annoying. Yergin basically thinks peak oil is Luddite crankery and that new technology will allow us to continue increasing production for at least the next several decades. He's the Pollyanna of the oil patch.
Now, I'm sure he'd say that his current pessimism is based not on a fundamental reevaluation of recoverable reserves, but instead on "aboveground" issues: political instability, terrorism, lack of investment, and so forth. Still, if even Daniel Yergin thinks oil prices are headed upward, it's a pretty good guess that oil prices are headed upward.
Lawmakers are debating legislation to give national security officials full control over whether to move research of highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease from an isolated island laboratory to the U.S. mainland near herds of livestock.
The Bush administration requested the change, which would erode the role of the Agriculture Department in deciding the safest location to conduct research involving one of the world's most contagious animal viruses. The virus does not infect humans.
Under current law, the secretary of agriculture would issue a permit to move the research from a lab on isolated Plum Island, N.Y., only if he determined the move to be necessary and in the public's interest. The Senate's version of a farm bill would direct the secretary to approve the permit, so the Homeland Security Department could move ahead with its plans to build a new research facility on the mainland.
The House version of the same legislation would leave in place the agriculture secretary's discretion.
The Senate proposal was jointly requested by the departments of Agriculture and Homeland Security, said Erin Hamm, spokeswoman for Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. The Senate plan would prevent the agriculture secretary under the next presidential administration from easily interfering with the lab's relocation to the mainland.
Chambliss, the Senate Agriculture Committee's top Republican, supports moving the virus research, and Athens, Ga., is one of the candidate sites for the government's new lab. The other possible locations are Manhattan, Kan.; Butner, N.C.; San Antonio; and Flora, Miss.
Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, some community activists and some livestock groups say it's too dangerous to bring foot-and-mouth research near commercial herds, although the livestock industry is divided. The committee asked 103 livestock groups whether they support moving the lab; only 19 responded: Eight were undecided, seven opposed it and four favored the move.
The Homeland Security Department "claims to have the support of the livestock industry to move foot-and-mouth disease to the mainland, but our survey shows that some of that support may have been written in disappearing ink," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Foot-and-mouth virus can be carried on a worker's breath or clothes, or vehicles leaving a lab. The existing lab is 100 miles northeast of New York City in the Long Island Sound, accessible only by ferry or helicopter. Researchers there who work with the live virus are not permitted to own animals at home that would be susceptible, and they must wait at least a week before attending outside events where such animals might perform, such as a circus.
If even a single cow signals an outbreak in the U.S., emergency plans permit the government to shut down all exports and movement of livestock. Herds would be quarantined, and a controlled slaughter could be started to stop the disease from spreading.
Infected animals weaken and lose weight. Milk cows don't produce milk. They remain highly infectious, even if they survive the virus.
When I donate to charitable and relief organizations, I look for those with the least amount of money put into exorbitant executive salaries, fancy offices and other overhead; and that don't plow a sizable percentage of donations back into additional fundraising. In looking for such groups to help the Myanmar relief effort this morning, I found a few of them:
One relief group with a high fund-raising efficiency (and #2 on Forbes' list with 99% charitable services after expenses) that has already issued a press release outlining its efforts is Direct Relief International, which has already contacted its partners in the area about helping.
International Medical Corps is #7 on the Forbes list, with 94% charitable services after expenses). IMC is already targeting donations to Myanmar cyclone relief.
Brother's Brother Foundation, a nonsectarian foundation whose mission is "to promote international health and education through the efficient and effective distribution and provision of donated medical, educational, agricultural and other resources.
All BBF programs are designed to fulfill its mission by connecting people’s resources with people’s needs." They deal primarily in donated medical and related supplies, but also accept cash donations to help purchase containers and pay shipping costs. Forbes Magazine profiled the foundation last December, calling it "as efficient as they come on our list of the country's 200 largest-by-private-donation nonprofits." I don't know what programs they specifically are doing for Myanmar, but you could contact them and find out.
Usually the American National Red Cross is first out of the gate at times like this, but it is one of the least efficient charities. So I thought it'd be worth the investment of time to come up with some where your money actually has a shot at going to help the people who need it instead of the executives running the foundation.
In an outdoor garden we ordered sweet, fresh orange juice and shared plates of chickpea dip, salads and grilled meat and chicken. For the first time in a long time we went out as an office and stayed out what could be called late in Baghdad. We were living on the edge. We didn't get home until a whopping 8:45 p.m.
Labels: Weblog Awards
The cyclone death toll soared above 22,000 on Tuesday and more than 41,000 others were missing as foreign countries mobilized to rush in aid after the country's deadliest storm on record, state radio reported.
Up to 1 million people may be homeless after Cyclone Nargis hit the Southeast Asian nation, also known as Burma, early Saturday. Some villages have been almost totally eradicated and vast rice-growing areas are wiped out, the World Food Program said.
Images from state television showed large trees and electricity poles sprawled across roads and roofless houses ringed by large sheets of water in the Irrawaddy River delta region, which is regarded as Myanmar's rice bowl.
"From the reports we are getting, entire villages have been flattened and the final death toll may be huge," Mac Pieczowski, who heads the International Organization for Migration office in Yangon, said in a statement.
Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns wielding knives and axes joined Yangon residents Tuesday in clearing roads of ancient, fallen trees that were once the city's pride. And soldiers were out on the streets in large numbers for the first time since the cyclone hit, helping to clear trees as massive as 15 feet in diameter.
President Bush called on Myanmar's military junta to allow the U.S. to help. The White House said the U.S. will send more than $3 million to help cyclone victims, up from an initial emergency contribution of $250,000.
"We're prepared to move U.S. Navy assets to help find those who have lost their lives, to help find the missing, to help stabilize the situation. But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country," he said.
Bush spoke at a ceremony where he signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar's military regime has signaled it will welcome aid supplies for victims of a devastating cyclone, the U.N. said Tuesday, clearing the way for a major relief operation from international organizations.
But U.N. workers were still awaiting their visas to enter the country, said Elisabeth Byrs of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"The government has shown a certain openness so far," Byrs said. "We hope that we will get the visas as soon as possible, in the coming hours. I think the authorities have understood the seriousness of the situation and that they will act accordingly."
The appeal for outside assistance was unusual for Myanmar's ruling generals, who have long been suspicious of international organizations and closely controlled their activities. Several agencies, including the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, have limited their presence as a consequence.
Allowing any major influx of foreigners could carry risks for the military, injecting unwanted outside influence and giving the aid givers rather than the junta credit for a recovery.
However, keeping out international aid would focus blame squarely on the military should it fail to restore peoples' livelihoods.
A Taser gun doesn't routinely kill people, although the conducted energy weapon delivers electric current up to 85 times what's lethal, an American electrical engineer told a public inquiry in Vancouver Monday.
Mayor Jorge Zambrano pulled up to the Manta City Hall in his black Ford Explorer (SUVs are everywhere), expecting to find a rally in support of the American military outpost that runs drug-surveillance flights from this gritty port city. He left an hour later behind a wall of riot shields and a cloud of Mace, as police fended off banner-waving protesters who crashed the event in March. With 18 months left on its decade-long contract, the U.S. Forward Operating Location in Manta has few friends in this South American nation - and fewer still who believe that the agreement has any hope of being extended.
At a time when parts of the world are facing food riots, Big Agriculture is dealing with a different sort of challenge: huge profits.
On Tuesday, grain-processing giant Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. said its fiscal third-quarter profits jumped 42 percent, including a sevenfold increase in net income in its unit that stores, transports and trades grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans.
Monsanto Co., maker of seeds and herbicides, Deere & Co., which builds tractors, combines and sprayers, and fertilizer maker Mosaic Co. all reported similar windfalls in their latest quarters.
The robust profits are emerging against the backdrop of a food crisis some experts say is the worst in three decades. The secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, on Tuesday called for the creation of a high-level global task force to deal with the cascading impact of high grain prices and oil prices. He said that countries must do more to avert "social unrest on an unprecedented scale" and should contribute money to make up for the $755 million shortfall in funding for the World Food Program, which feeds the world's hungry.
President Bush told reporters Tuesday that he's "deeply concerned about people who don't have food abroad," and all three presidential contenders have recently cited high food and energy prices as causes for concern. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican candidate, has said he favors scrapping the 51-cent per gallon ethanol tax credit and a 54-cent per gallon tariff imposed on most imported ethanol, ideas abhorred by farmers and many politicians.
The crisis stems from a combination of heightened demand for food from fast-growing developing countries like China and India, low grain stockpiles caused by bad weather, rising fuel prices and the increasing amount of land used to grow crops for ethanol and other biofuels rather than food.
Food companies say they're not to blame for the soaring prices and are committed to working toward a solution. They say bigger profits can be used to develop new technologies that will ultimately help farmers improve productivity. Monsanto says it's designing improved genetically modified seeds that can squeeze even more yield from each acre of planted grain*, while ADM says it's investing in tools that can mitigate supply disruptions. "Maybe the question should be not, "Are you making money?' but, 'What are you doing with the money that you make?'" says Victoria Podesta, vice president for corporate communications at ADM.
A review of Claire Hope Cummings' Uncertain Peril
In October 1996, a spokesman for Monsanto told Farm Journal why his company was buying up seed companies left and right: "What you're seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it's really a consolidation of the entire food chain."
Today, Monsanto is the world's largest seed company -- and makes more money selling seeds than chemicals. The company's biotech seeds and traits accounted for 88 percent of the worldwide area devoted to genetically modified seeds in 2006 -- and Monsanto earns royalties on every single one. No one needed to tell Monsanto: Whoever controls the first link in the food chain -- the seeds -- controls the food supply.
What better way to understand the perilous state of industrial food and farming than by starting with the seed? Claire Hope Cummings' new book, Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds is a sharp and elegant analysis of the biotech seed debate.
Beginning with the tragic story of how the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq led to the destruction of Iraq's seed bank, and the subsequent dependence of Iraqi farmers on U.S. aid and multinational agribusiness, Cummings explains what's at stake when farming communities lose the crop diversity that they've nurtured and managed for thousands of years.
How do you talk? How do you say different things?
Check on your dialect and see if you might have crossed over to the “other side”! Simply click on the correct answer. As you go, the quiz will automatically interpret each answer to show you what your answer implies about you. When you are done, press Compute My Score. Your score will be calculated as a percentage: 0% is pure Yankee and 100% is pure Dixie.
Almost 4,000 people were killed and nearly 3,000 others are unaccounted for after a devastating cyclone in Myanmar, a state radio station said Monday.
Foreign Minister Nyan Win told foreign diplomats at a briefing that the death toll could rise to more than 10,000, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was held behind closed doors.
Tropical Cyclone Nargis hit the Southeast Asian country, also known as Burma, early Saturday with winds of up to 120 mph, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
Myanmar's ruling junta, which has spurned the international community for decades, appealed for aid on Monday. But the U.S. State Department said Myanmar's government had not granted permission for a Disaster Assistance Response Team into the country.
When I was sitting in a humvee in Baghdad two years ago, we had plenty of time to talk. While the conversations varied between musing about the morning's chow, the stifling heat or what type of truck we were going to buy when we got home, one theme remained constant. Everyone said they were going home to get that college degree that Uncle Sam promised us when we enlisted.
Last December, a year and a half late, I finally graduated. I still laugh when people ask me whether the military paid for my education. When I tell them how meager the actual education benefits are, their shock always make me feel like I just told a child that there is no such thing as the tooth fairy. Unfortunately, many of my battle buddies realized the hard way that the GI Bill isn't what it used to be. The education benefits for troops are so low that they either never enrolled, or dropped out of school because they couldn't handle working two part-time jobs or living back home on Mama's couch to afford to attend school.
My fellow veterans are struggling because the current GI Bill is woefully inadequate. Service members are forced to take out loans just to start classes, and then wait months to get any reimbursement. Even then, the benefit only covers 60 to 70 percent of the cost of a four-year public university. For expensive private schools, the GI Bill is barely a drop in the bucket. And every year, the GI Bill is losing value because education benefits have failed to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of education . . . .
Labels: Bush administration
[Patrol car flashing lights at curb. Small group of high-schoolers corralled against wall]
Police officer: So what happened --what did you see?
Sharp teen: No hablo inglés.
Officer, in perfect Spanish: Entonces, que pasó? Qué viste?
Smart teen: No hablo español!
Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.
The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.
Professor Barney Gordon, of the university's department of agronomy, said he started the research – reported in the journal Better Crops – because many farmers who had changed over to the GM crop had "noticed that yields are not as high as expected even under optimal conditions". He added: "People were asking the question 'how come I don't get as high a yield as I used to?'"
He grew a Monsanto GM soybean and an almost identical conventional variety in the same field. The modified crop produced only 70 bushels of grain per acre, compared with 77 bushels from the non-GM one.
The GM crop – engineered to resist Monsanto's own weedkiller, Roundup – recovered only when he added extra manganese, leading to suggestions that the modification hindered the crop's take-up of the essential element from the soil. Even with the addition it brought the GM soya's yield to equal that of the conventional one, rather than surpassing it.
The new study confirms earlier research at the University of Nebraska, which found that another Monsanto GM soya produced 6 per cent less than its closest conventional relative, and 11 per cent less than the best non-GM soya available.
A growing global food crisis has not curbed the appetite of Canada's newest biofuel plant, which is busy stockpiling a mountain of wheat near this town west of Regina. Huge trucks loaded with grain roll into the $130-million plant, weigh in, then swing round and add to the growing pile of wheat behind a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.
That's right folks. To save a family of four $70 this summer, (according to HIllary) or $37 (according to most far more reputable sources) Hillary will cut the federal gas tax for three months. In exchange for that fiasco, gas companies can push up prices, knowing that $4.00 is not even a psychological barrier anymore.
But here's the real good news. 350,000 US citizens, (possibly far more - see below) many of you union workers, will be fired this summer. Anyone who lays tar, pours concrete, makes and ties rebar, fills pot holes, does welding to repair cracks in bridges, builds new roads, or fixes and expands existing ones, every single one of you will be fired this summer.
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Sunday dismissed the "elite opinion" of economists who criticized her gas tax proposal, using a term that has dogged rival Barack Obama in recent weeks.
The Iraqi Government seemed to distance itself from U.S. accusations towards Iran Sunday saying it would not be forced into conflict with its Shiite neighbor. And Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki ordered the formation of a committee to look into foreign intervention in Iraq.
Having crushed the planet's peasants and converted food into just another commodity for global manipulation, the Lord's of Capital have unleashed upon humanity the threat - no, certainty - of mass starvation. The criminal mega-enterprise is centered in the United States, the former "breadbasket of the planet" whose massive conversion to biofuels has caused staple crop prices to skyrocket beyond the reach of hundreds of millions of the world's poor. The death of millions translates into profits in the trillions for the Lords of Capital, killers on a mass scale whose only talents lie in "the production of overlapping calamities, each more lethal than the last."
"No amount of emergency aid is sufficient to make up for the wild price rises that have already occurred." [formatting in original]
The U.S. military has drafted and won approval for attack plans in response to an Iran attack.
Western diplomatic sources said the U.S. military's Central Command has submitted plans for an air and naval strike on Iran, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said the plan envisioned escalating tensions that would peak with an Iranian-inspired insurgency strike against U.S. military assets in the Gulf.Comment: So that's what all the recent allegations about Iran being involved in Iraq are about: they are, as we suspected, part of the necessary propaganda to carry out the war plan already approved, signed and rubber-stamped. They just needed an excuse to invade and now they have decided which one that will be.
Meanwhile, on April 29, a second American aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, steamed into the Gulf in what officials termed a show of force. They said the U.S. Navy plans to withdraw a carrier group, USS Harry S. Truman, from the region.Comment: Aircraft carriers are not moved around the globe for no reason.
"There is tremendous tactical benefit to us to operate the two side-by-side in restricted space," Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday. "We can generate more sorties, some of them strike, some of them reconnaissance, some of them to perform other operations."
"This is not some grand scheme to destroy the Iranian regime and its nuclear program," a source said. "It is a practical plan on how to respond to an Iranian strike or a provocation."Comment: It has already been decided that an Iranian "provocation" will take place - whether the Iranians like it or not.
Officials said the Defense Department has sought an update for plans to attack Iran amid what they term its "increasingly hostile role" against the United States. The officials cited the weapons flow to insurgency groups in Iraq as well as confrontations with U.S. ships in the Gulf.
"I have reserve capability, in particular our navy and our air force so it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
Under the plan approved by the Defense Department, Central Command would be allowed to retaliate for an Iranian attack with U.S. air strikes. The sources said the plan contained a series of options that range from a limited to full-scale attack.
"We are not taking any military elements off the table," Mullen said.