— Posted by HN
Thursday, May 31, 2007
— Posted by HN
on memorial day, over 4,000 people visited the creation museum. the group responsible for this genius $27 million dollar museum: Answers in Genesis Creation.
step into the past with the Creation Museum Walk-through to bring the pages of the Bible to life!
my favorite exhibit-- dinosaurs aboard Noah's Ark-- asserting that all animals were vegetarians until Adam committed the first sin in the Garden of Eden.
see photo above of museum protesters: "support science not superstition."
Fred Kaplan wrote today on slate.com about how the Bush foreign policy has consisted of nothing more than an attempt to use PR and spin to convince other countries that the U.S. is great. Incidentally, Sidney Blumenthal also wrote on Salon.com that in order for the U.S. to restore its standing in the world their will need to be self-examination. In other words, a restoration of the ideals on which the country was founded.
Looking at the U.S. approval ratings around the world, we see that the PR effort has been a miserable failure. Approval of the U.S. has never been lower. It seems that foreigners do not buy the same separation of rhetoric from reality that half of the U.S. domestic population consumes with religious fervor. Kaplan argues, with the help of an ex-diplomat from the State Department in charge of PR, that foreigners actually judge the U.S. by its actions rather than its rhetoric. What an interesting concept!
My own theory, to which Kaplan also alludes, is that the religious zeal in the U.S. allows large portions of the population to separate actions from rhetoric. They drink the koolaid on faith, and faith alone. I believe that largely secular countries, such as France and Germany, actually make decisions based on facts, rather than rhetoric. This is a concept I will be reading more about in the "Assault on Reason" and "God is not Great: How religion poisons everything".
In the words of Noam Chomsky, "Three quarters of the American population literally believe in religious miracles. The numbers who believe in the devil, in resurrection, in God doing this and that -- it's astonishing. These numbers aren't duplicated anywhere else in the industrial world. You'd have to maybe go to mosques in Iran or do a poll among old ladies in Sicily to get numbers like this. Yet this is the American population."
Irrational thinking has had the upper hand for six years, its time for reason to guide our decisions.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Comment of the Moment
“Latest news is that there was another zoo escape, this time by an orangutan at a zoo in Taiwan. The 330 lb male orangutan knocked over a motorbike or two before being tranquilized. Maybe they shouldn’t show these escapes on the news. It just encourages more such behavior. You know, monkey see, monkey do.”
Posted by Robert Laden May 23th, 2007 9:22 am Top of the Charts for Escaped Gorilla
Gore on Keith. Keith does a great job of interviewing. But, stay around for Part II - the conversation gets better.
Part II - sounding like Thomas Paine and hopefully a Presidential Candidate. We need this dialogue as a country. No one else is providing it. And a shout-out to Keith from Al.
I say almost a caste because every one of these “scavenger-hunters” of a sort come, invariably, from the poorest neighborhoods, or even more likely, favelas, of Bauru. They pay no taxes for their finds, receive no benefits for their toil, and are, in many ways, outside of society. They exist, but are, in many ways, throughout Brazil, invisible.
Which brings me to another invisible people, the untouchables of India. I will not go into detail describing the lifestyle of one of these outsiders, the lowest of the low in the caste-based society that is India. What I thought of today was this: how different is India from Brazil with regard to the poorest of the poor?
I recently read that the largest and most powerful state in India had just elected an untouchable for its governor. This is, in many ways, a monumental and stunning achievement and change in Indian society. Twenty years ago, as the New York Times article pointed out, this event would be unthinkable. However, India is modernizing, and although poverty is still horrendous throughout the country, some barriers are finally being overcome. One of them is the stigma that class brings to a people, especially the people traditionally considered dirty and pariahs.
Coming back to Brazil, I began to wonder if this type of sea change could ever occur in Brazil. I remember my mother telling me about a former maid that became a Congresswoman a few years ago. I, myself, have never heard of a favelada or slum-dweller, ever making it to federal politics. It just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, the same families seem to produce the political class. And the cycle continues. So, can Brazil call itself a democracy, where every individual has a voice in government? I have to answer a resounding no.
Turning to the US, my country, I would have to answer the same resounding ‘no’ to the same question: is The U.S.A. a democracy, and can anyone play a part in the governing of the country, no matter what class they come from? Just take a look at how many millionaires are in the Presidential race.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
In a scathing diary yesterday to Daily kos Cindy Sheehan says goodbye to the peace movement. She says it was all well and good to criticize the Republicans, but when that criticism lay at the hands of the democrats she was called by her own constituency "a media whore." No longer is she the darling of the left. She paid the ultimate sacrifice losing her son to this dreadful war and her 29 year marriage to boot; she should be free to criticize whomever she wants.
See above the entire article, but below is the most heartfelt attack on our country: "The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."
I hope she changes her mind. We need her.
In other news eight more deaths in Iraq brings the total of casualties to 113 this month and 3464 total U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. The minimum of Iraqi civilian casualties is now up to 64,533. This is a minimum, I remind you some Iraqi civilian counts estimate over 600,000.
Monday, May 28, 2007
I have to be honest: I have never watched an entire episode of '24,' and I don't plan to. The show is, without my help, wildly popular in Brazil, where I live right now, and, of course, throughout the US. One place it is especially watched is West Point, and here is where an interesting story unfolds. A story that illustrates the power of TV to shape discourse, culture and the Army's own mentality. The Raw Story brought it up with an article about Dick Cheney's speech to cadets at West Point, and he definitely didn't help things with regards to torture. He just backed up what Jack Bauer has been teaching soldiers for seasons now.
Here is an excerpt from the article: "Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States," the Vice President said in the Saturday morning speech. "Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."
As the piece points out, this quote was stated in connection with moral and ethical lessons to be learned in war. The vice-president, a leader of the self-proclaimed light of democracy and civilization, the US, offers an interesting point of view. His ideas, however, do not stray far from what West Point dean General Patrick Finnegan deals with daily at the Academy. He spoke to The New Yorker in February, and described what could be called "The 24 effect."
Here is what The Raw Story reported: "This past November, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind '24,'" wrote Jane Mayer in the magazine. "Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors - cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by '24,' which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, 'The kids see it, and say, ''If torture is wrong, what about '24?''"
On this Memorial Day, something to chew on.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
The New York Times reported today that the Bush administration has rejected an offer from Germany to a proposed framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. It was pretty clear from the outset that Europe (Germany, Italy, France, and Britain) was going to agree to the framework. The interesting bit of news was the addition of Japan to that group. That leaves, among major emitting countries, the United States and China as the resistors. The Bush administration not only rejected the offer, but rebuked the Germans for "crossing multiple red lines" in the offer.
Apparently, the U.S. has now isolated itself even further from the rest of the world. One diplomat was quoted saying, "The United States, on this issue, is virtually isolated". Well we do have some company, China, and perhaps India.
Now we are part of our own axis, the axis of assholes!
Friday, May 25, 2007
The release of the pre-war CIA intelligence report today detailed the potential dangers of invading Iraq, which the Bush administraion summarily ignored. Criminal negligence? Perhaps, but also a big reminder of exactly who is "putting our troops in harms way". In fact, the report predicts much of the boodshed and difficulties we face in Iraq today. Therefore, the blame for the current situation rests with one side of this funding debate, President Bush, and the debate over funding is now occuring only because of his negiligence. With the President's incompetence in mind, this debate is not as simple as it appears.
With regard to the funding bill, granted, the dems have not taken the principled stand and fought Bush for every dollar of funding he has requested. I concede that in an ideal world, they should have done that. However, they are not operating in an ideal world. They are operating in a world where no one actually knows the best solution in Iraq and any withdrawal is going to require diplomatic finesse and strategic planning. Two areas you do not want delegated to President Bush.
An interesting position is the one taken by Congressman Andrews. Congressman Andrews (D-NJ) released a statement explaining why he voted yes on the funding bill yesterday. explains the tension felt by each democratic member in this vote, and why he chose the realpolitick approach of providing the funding. Principly the vote was intended to avoid the debate over "cutting off funding to the troops". As cliched as that argument has become, it is an enormous distraction that would require educating 50 percent of the American public, a task not possible in a short time frame. Representative Slaughter also provides a thorough explanation of the vote and why democrats could not, and should not, have blocked the bill.
Obviously, any thinking person knows that whatever happens to the troops is Bush's decision, and his alone. If the troops are stranded on a battlefield, that is Bush's decision. Congress will be more than happy to spend whatever it costs for a safe, or safe as possible, withdrawal from Iraq. Therefore, the "cutting off funding" debate, althought totally irrelevant, will actually take the political pressure OFF the republican congresspersons who are needed for the veto-proof majority.
In addition, any withdrawal precipitated by a funding debate will not be well planned and organized, but rather, will be hapahazard and dangerous. Remember that a withdrawal, even if precipitated by Democratic resistance in congress, will be implemented by Bush. Will he be capable of formulating a wise and strategic withdrawl, without a veto-proof congressionally-designed withdrawal plan? Something to think about.
In contrast, if the dems provide the funding, as they have decided to do, and gaurantee a re-assessment of the situation in September, then the debate stays focused on the ground in Iraq. Support will build for a phased withdrawal and a veto-proof majority will likely coalesce around a sound withdrawal plan. I would much rather a withdrawal plan organized and thought through by Congress than one put together by a reluctant Bush because he doesn't have enough money to continue his reckless war.
My heart is with the democratic critics who are sickened by the thought of funding this war another day. However, the reality requires a more complex strategy than simply forcing a withdrawal as soon as possible. This is like negotiating with a demented bus driver, when you are on the bus, and he has control of the wheel. It may be wiser just to wait for him to run out of gas, rather than wrestle the wheel from him! Its easy to say simply cut off the funds, but if you actually had to vote and think about the realities associated with such a vote, you might want to come up with a better plan. Maybe I am wrong, but I see why this is a very difficult vote for democratic members of Congress trying to end this war in a responsible manner.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
New York is becoming, or actually has become, a tale of two cities. Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire, is just one of the filthy rich running a city that counts 25% of its population under the federal poverty cutoff line. Herbert interviewed some students who dwelled in a world where fear of gangs, safety, and getting food stamps were commonplace.
I have listened to the candidates wax on about many things, but poverty, like Mr. Herbert reports, doesn't get much space. Maybe the politicians just don't believe that anyone votes with poverty on their mind.
Speaking about voting, last night hundreds of millions of votes were cast to decide the outcome of American Idol. The show is something that seems to cross all divides. It is definitely on American minds. Being poor in New York, well, that is a whole different show.
I would head down to St. Mary’s with my dad, and people would be still arriving with last minute donations of turkeys, canned goods, stuffing, and other seasonal staples. There was always a feeling of friendliness, and everybody seemed happy, if also a little rushed and stressed, what with Thanksgiving preparations and all. The other volunteers at the church would greet us, and we would get down to work, sorting what went to the different destinations. I would just try not to get in the way, and help out whoever told me they needed a hand. It was nice.
Then, there was the loading. Frank, a friend of my dad’s, had a trucking company, and he would bring down a truck, which would get stocked to the gills with the goods. We, the volunteer crew, would start up an assembly line, and pack up the truck. And soon, phase three would be ready to roll. The delivery. I would usually ride down with my dad in the Taurus, follwing the truck, and we would head to our drop-off spots, downtown Passaic and Central Ward Newark.
These places, when I was a kid, seemed like another world from my little town of Rutherford. They were big, dark, and kinda scary. They were so different. Driving up Springfield Avenue in Newark in the late 80s was quite an experience. Newark hadn’t started its “rebirth” yet, and there were endless vacant lots with garbage-can fires, drug dealers on corners, and people hanging out in front of broken-down buildings. But, when we got to St. Anne’s church, everything was OK. Juanita, our greeting committee, was always there to meet us. Seeing her livened everything up.
We would unload all the bags, chat for a while, and hope back in the car. And head back to the suburbs. Back to the world we came from.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The abolition bill passed the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee by an 8-2 vote on May 10th. "The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass S-171, a bill to replace the death penalty with life without parole, to the full Senate floor. The vote came after several hours of public testimony featuring members of the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission, which was formed when New Jersey lawmakers enacted a moratorium on executions last year."
Celeste Fitzgerald, Director of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said the Committee looked at the facts and heard from the people of New Jersey "that it was time for the death penalty to go."
Today's editorial in the Trenton Times recounts a stunning letter from surviving family members of murder victims submitted to the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee as it considered the S-171 legislation. Speaking out for change, these family members declare that "the death penalty is a broken and costly system. New Jersey doesn't need it, and victims' families like ours don't want it."
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
after you check out the exhibit (from 6/1 to 7/31), breathe in some serious history by walking up a short hill to the stunning great falls of the passaic (see photo, top left), the spot where, in 1791, alexander hamilton founded the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) & the US industrial revolution was born.
PYPP's mission is
The governor of Oregon took and is taking his position to heart. He has led a movement, taken up by some others in Congress, to live on the allocated food stamps amount: $21 a week. DailyKos, another reason I am proud to be American, wrote up some of the lessons learned by a Kulongoski disciple, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. The highlight of Ryan's week long journal was when he checked in at the airport and the security guard held onto his peanut butter and jelly. He realized that he had almost no money and had lost 4 meals with the confiscation.
Sometimes, the distance between the Third-World and the US is not so distant after all. As the DailyKos blog notes, inflation keeps going up, and the minimum wage has not increased in ten years. At least some politicians are trying to feel the actual pain felt by the richest country's poor and neglected. Hopefully more will follow. It would be nice if a few would do the same in Brazil, but I doubt that will happen any day soon.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
"What we must know is organic architecture is not found in books. It is necessary to have recourse to Nature with a capital N in order to get an education. Necessary to learn from the trees, flowers, shells - objects which contain truths of form following function. If we stopped there, then it would be merely imitation. But if we dig deep enough . . . we arrive at secrets of form related to purpose that would make of the tree a building and of the building a tree." -Frank Lloyd Wright
Friday, May 18, 2007
I think there are a whole lot of people with a whole lot of time on their hands.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Today the New York Times and the Washington Post have called for complete investigations into the matter. Glenn Greewald has dissected this issue as well as anyone and calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. He also points out the siginificance of the Washington Post, a conservative paper supportive of the administration, actually accusing the administration of potentially criminial acts.
As the blogosphere and the newspapers have had time to digest the testimony, the inconsistencies between Gonzales' story and the facts are becoming more disturbing. As much as people would like to avoid the truth, partly due to the damage it will do to the institutions involved, it is becoming impossible to deny the crimes that have occurred. (Check out Greenwald's work on the subject, it is worth it! He should win a pulitzer prize, if such a thing exists for bloggers.)
With these words, Eugene V. Debs synthesized my feelings toward war. And in saying these words, the five-time presidential candidate got himself thrown in prison for ten years under the premise of the Anti-Sedition Act, which is not very different in content from the current Patriot Act. He was 64 at the time. I long for a politician with half the inspiration and courage of Debs, and for a populace with half the zeal of the Midwest of the 1900s, a place where Appeal to Reason, Debs' publication, had a circulation in the hundreds of thousands. The US used to be a place where reason had a home. That time has long gone.
What happened to the dream of the Supreme Court in 1954? Has it faded into the past, another lost attempt at a utopia which is not to be for NJ or anywhere in the US? From my vantage point, public schools in NJ cities have not exactly become bastions for racial diversity. If you live in a suburb, most likely your public school is mainly white, and if you happen to live in a place like Jersey City, it is probably black and latino.
Politics, it seems, and court rulings, do not change the economic and racial realities of our population.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Comey testified that Attorney General Gonzalez while, white house counsel tried to strong arm then Attorney General Ashcroft to sign off the NSA wiretapping of American citizens while he lay critically ill in the hospital for pancreatitis. The Attorney General had already transferred power to Comey who refused to authorize the program as did Ashcroft. But, while he was ill Gonzalez and Andrew Card tried to make Ashcroft sign off while in his hospital bed to overrule Comey thinking, as Comey insinuated he may not understand what he was doing.
The highest advisors to the President in the government (seemingly with the authorization of the President) tried to pull a coup d'etat of the highest ranking law enforcement official in the United States. Shocking. As it turns out Ashcroft sat up in his bed and refused to sign reiterating his concern with the program. Andrew Card and Gonzalez then called Comey to come for an emergency meeting at the President's office. Comey said he would, but not without counsel and brought the Solicitor General of the United States.
As it turns out the NSA wiretapping authorization occurred without either Ashcroft or Comey's signature anyway. These people care nothing for Democracy or the rule of law (two tenets of which our government rests) and will stop at nothing to achieve their policy objectives.
We must speak out about this. Thanks to philasurfer for the updated headline.
And meanwhile the scenery would pass by. We would pass by backyards, fallen trees, quiet houses, and over the quiet waters. Once and a while, I would put my hand in the moving waters, just to feel the coolness. Birds would pass by, maybe a fish would come to the surface, and our canoes would move slowly through it all. When we got hungry, all of us would stop to eat our bagged lunch of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies and a plum. Then, we would head back, bickering amongst ourselves, but still having plenty of fun.
Afterwards, everybody piled into the family station wagon and headed back up to Rutherford. Tired, hot and happy.
May is National Bike Month!
The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 14-18 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 18. See bike league for ideas to celebrate transportation on two wheels...
I don't bike now but I miss the carefree days when it was a regular habit. Hoboken is a mile squared so I walk everywhere or take the PATH, NJTransit light rail or commuter train. Here's a special shout-out to our friend, a public interest attorney in NYC, who bikes from her apartment to the ferry which takes her to work in Staten Island. Go Bike Lady, ride like the wind!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Another General is speaking out. This will run in many districts including Senator Susan Collins who Lieberman is supporting (see below).
Monday, May 14, 2007
and after you take your test, check out what one portland, oregon based sandal company does with their excess materials! http://www.sijournal.com/recycledmarkets/7237386.html
In Hightstown, New Jersey a different experience for immigrants is unfolding. Much of the press in New Jersey regarding immigration policy has been angry superficial rhetoric directed at immigrants, mainly of persons of spanish speaking backgrounds.
But, in Hightstown, lead by its Mayor the town has embraced the mostly spanish speaking newcomers. Because of an unexpected raid on immigrants two years ago by federal agents the 1,300 immigrants in a town of 4,000 residents shied away from reporting crimes and asking for municipal services. The Mayor along with the city council approved a resolution that local officials were forbidden from inquiring into the immigration status of anyone not suspected of a major crime.
The mayor began taking spanish lessons inquiring into the concerns of the spanish speaking residents and has lead to a vibrant community. The community is not without its problems of course, but the decision to embrace the community is an enlightened response compared to other towns, not the least of which is Morristown.
if you want to read the entire clavicle article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/10/fashion/10clavicle.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
John Edwards (whether you are considering voting for him or not) is calling for us to reclaim patriotism by demanding an end to this war. This Memorial Day John Edwards is calling for action to make our voices heard and tell Congress to support the troops by bringing them home. Watch the video and consider reclaiming patriotism.
Love him or hate him, Michael Moore makes you think and react. He makes everyone sit up and listen, and that includes our current leadership (or lack thereof). Which means that "SiCKO," Moore's newest documentary, which comes out on June 19, and will be shown at Cannes on May 19, has already stirred up plenty of bad feelings. To be more specific, it has enraged President Bush to the point that the filmmaker is being investigated by the Treasury Department.
For what? Good question. Moore took some September 11 emergency and cleanup crew members to Cuba to get them treatment. You see, they, like 45 million Americans, don't have a health plan. That is the main thrust of the new documentary: the corrupt and failed health care system of the world's richest country. Mr. Moore is being investigated for breaking the US embargo of Cuba by taking his crew and these individuals to Fidel's place. Moore, who recently wrote to the Treasury Department, finds it strange that the administration did nothing until two weeks before the release of the film, when they knew about it since October 2006.
Check out the letter:
The Yankees have even gone so far as to place chains in the aisles to restrict movement. Plain clothes cops and ushers watch if fans move from their seat and are not paying appropriate tribute to the flag and our beloved xenophobic nation. This is not illegal as the Yankees are a private entity, but it does raise the question of allowing a baseball team to restrict the movement and therefore the speech of baseball fans (the Yankees are not the only ones as my beloved Red Sox are doing something similar, but they are by far the worst). The Yankees are the only team that plays "God Bless America" at all home games during the seventh inning. I am with Carlos Delgado of the cross-town rival Mets, the song is inherently political and he will not stand and be forced to observe a war that Americans have been involved in longer than World War II. I will be following his lead.
I am attending Red Sox/Yankees on May 22nd at the stadium. I won't be standing for God Bless America.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
And as the Daily Kos www.dailykos.com is reporting 265 troops are dead since the escalation. 3393 troops dead since the invasion. And as the Iraq Body Count reports at a minimum 63373 civilians reported killed during military intervention in Iraq. http://www.iraqbodycount.net/
Done in our name, under our watch...oh I tremble for my country because I know that God is just...-Thomas Jefferson-
Friday, May 11, 2007
Watch the clip at Rawstory, it is worth it.
Also (from one of our DC correspondents) more on this story at Think Progress: