Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Waiting for the i phone

My brother works in Portsmouth, NH at AT&T. He took this picture from his "normal" phone.
These people have been waiting since 9 pm last night for their i phone.

Do you think they know the surge isn't working?

The Surge is not Working

One hundred U.S. soldiers have died this month and the surge has lead to the most casualties (329) of any quarter since the invasion began in March of 2003.

General Peter Pace said today judging the surge by how many American casualties occur is not a proper measuring stick. Instead, he said: "measuring the level of violence in Iraq a 'self-defeating approach to tracking results' and added, 'What’s most important is do the Iraqi people feel better about today than they did about yesterday, and do they think tomorrow’s going to be better than today?'When asked if he actually knew how the Iraqi people currently feel about the U.S. occupation of Iraq he conceded, “I do not have that in my head.”

In a recent survey however, the Iraqis said:

39 percent of Iraqis said they feel their lives are “going well,” compared to 71 percent in November 2005.”
40 percent of Iraqis said the situation in Iraq will be “somewhat or much better” a year from now, compared to 69 percent in November 2005.

26 percent of Iraqis said they feel “very safe” in their neighborhoods, compared to 63 percent in November 2005.

82 percent of Iraqis said they “lack confidence” in coalition forces.

69 percent of Iraqis said coalition forces make “the security situation worse.”

Maybe the "coalition" needs a new measurement by September to keep the war going. Because in September the American people WILL revolt.

Blaming the Victim

This is vile. I would not normally put such trash on this blog, but we should know what is happening with the American people's airwaves. We own them and we should kick Bill O'Reilly off!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quote(s) of the Day: Breyer Slaps the Majority Pretty Good.

After reading a lot of the opinion (185 pgs.) it becomes clear Kennedy did not completely agree with the majority although he concurs, but says that to the extent that Roberts' opinion could be interpreted as foreclosing the use of race in any circumstance, "I disagree with that reasoning."

Justice Breyer does show them how wrong they are...

Justice Breyer:
These cases consider the longstanding efforts of two local school boards to integrate their public schools. The school board plans before us resemble many others adopted in the last 50 years by primary and secondary schools throughout the Nation. All of those plans represent local efforts to bring about the kind of racially integrated education that Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954), long ago promised -- efforts that this Court has repeatedly required, permitted, and encouraged local authorities to undertake. This Court has recognized that the public interests at stake in such cases are "compelling." We have approved of "narrowly tailored" plans that are no less race-conscious than the plans before us. And we have understood that the Constitution permits local communities to adopt desegregation plans even where it does not require them to do so.

The plurality pays inadequate attention to this law, to past opinions' rationales, their language, and the contexts in which they arise. As a result, it reverses course and reaches the wrong conclusion. In doing so, it distorts precedent, it misapplies the relevant constitutional principles, it announces legal rules that will obstruct efforts by state and local governments to deal effectively with the growing resegregation of public schools, it threatens to substitute for present calm a disruptive round of racerelated litigation, and it undermines Brown's promise of integrated primary and secondary education that local communities have sought to make a reality. This cannot be justified in the name of the Equal Protection Clause.

And again Stevens:
The Court has changed significantly since it decided School Comm. of Boston in 1968. It was then more faithful to Brown and more respectful of our precedent than it is today. It is my firm conviction that no Member of the Court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today's decision.

Also see Justice Stevens dissent in the recent free speech case. He said: "the current climate surrounding the war on drugs 'is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student." He goes on..."While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs,"

A Kiss is Just a Kiss?

A high school yearbook is always a source of a whirlpool of emotions. I remember fellow students counting how many times they were pictured in it, and who had the worst photo. some teams got great big pictures, while other school groups got a tiny snapshot. My high school was all-boys, and Catholic, so certain things just weren't in it. One of them was pictures of couples together, kissing, hugging, laughing. However, my brother and sister went to Rutherford High School, and their yearbooks looked completely different. Which brings me to another city: Newark.

In a New York Times editorial in today's paper, I just read about an unfortunate controversy that shows how controversial a kiss can be, especially when it's in a high school yearbook. The article describes how a Newark high school yearbook staff blacked out a kiss between two male students, and how the Superintendent of the Newark schools ordered the ink-out.

She was quoted as saying that the picture was "suggestive" and "fairly illicit." She did not have the yearbook staff blackout any other photos of heterosexual couples kissing. Upon questioning, Maria Bolden, the super, stated that she had not known about the other kissing photos, and if she had, would have had them blacked out also. That is not the point.

The gay student was quoted as feeling "hurt and embarrassed" by the action, which, in my thinking, was more than a misunderstanding, as Ms. Bolden claimed. In 2007, in a free society and public school system, one would hope for more enlightened thinking. Although, sometimes a kiss is not just a kiss, or so it seems.

A Country That No Longer Believes in Integration

In the year 2000 I did not vote for Gore. I was tired of the wimp democrats. And as the criticism mounted the argument was that we would regret our vote for Nader because of the Supreme Court. That did not turn out to happen, no Justices were appointed until, in my humble opinion, the election 2004 was stolen again. How bad has it gotten?

Chief Justice John Robers wrote the opinion in a sharply divided Supreme Court (5-4 of course) overturned school district policies that made race a factor in admissions. The School districts of Seattle and Louisville argued that their children were unfairly denied positions in "magnet" public schools because of their race. Chief Justice Roberts found (along with Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Alito) the school districts failed to show that classifying students on the basis of race was the only way to maintain racial diversity.

Think Progress has much more on the story. The decision is now available. Seattle was never the subject of a desegregation suit, but took it upon themselves to voluntarily try to allocate race as a factor and allow for more diverse groups of students in schools. Louisville (Jefferson County, Ky) was the subject of a desegregation lawsuit, but the decree was dissolved when the court found the "vestiges" of prior segregation had been eliminated to the extent possible. But, the school district adopted a plan in 2001 that still chose to integrate. Parents of these school districts who opposed the plan brought the lawsuit arguing using race as the single factor violates the fourteenth amendment equal protection guarantee.

A recent study by the Center for American Progress said that racial minorities benefit from racially balanced schools and learn more and racial integration is a rare case where an educational policy appears to improve educational equity at little financial cost.

The majority court thinks otherwise. "In his opinion for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts writes, 'Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.' But, Justice Stevens challenges him and says in his dissent: "The Chief Justice fails to note that it was only black schoolchildren who were so ordered; indeed, the history books do not tell stories of white children struggling to attend black schools. In this and other ways, the Chief Justice rewrites the history of one of this Court's most important decisions."

And Justice Breyer argues in his dissent (taken from Think Progress:

Finally, what of the hope and promise of Brown? For much of this Nation’s history, the races remained divided. It was not long ago that people of different races drank from separate fountains, rode on separate buses, and studied in separate schools. In this Court’s finest hour, Brown v. Board of Education challenged this history and helped to change it. For Brown held out a promise. … It sought one law, one Nation, one people, not simply as a matter of legal principle but in terms of how we actually live. […]

Many parents, white and black alike, want their children to attend schools with children of different races. Indeed, the very school districts that once spurned integration now strive for it. … The plurality would decline their modest request.

The plurality is wrong to do so. The last half-century has witnessed great strides toward racial equality, but we have not yet realized the promise of Brown. To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown. The plurality’s position, I fear, would break that promise. This is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret.
Abortion advocates should be very nervous what this court will do with a woman's right to choose. Everything we hold dear is being shredded.
See here, however Congress is considering legislation to fix recent supreme court rulings.

Countdown: Worst Person in the World June 27, 2007

I just love Keith.

CNN Covers CNN Covering Paris Hilton

Wolf Blitzer broke from an interview with Bill Cosby talking about inner city poverty to cover Paris Hilton entering CNN studios for an intervew with none other than Larry King. "CNN ran a full segment catching viewers up with what Hilton had been doing since getting out of jail yesterday (holing up at home; giving an exclusive interview to People for $300,000 (undisclosed terms)...a magazine which also happens to be owned by Time Warner, just like CNN. Oops, they didn't mention that."

The Huffington Post reported this story and said "Wolf Blitzer, looking like he wished he were somewhere else and then said: "how many most trusted name in news' jokes can you make before it makes you sad? Hilton, shot from outside heading into the building, was lobbed from one camera to another as she walked into the building, wearing a feminine lace-edged dress and smelling — get this — a white rose passed to her by her handler. The camera tracked her to the elevator, but if you happened to miss that, well, Costello confirmed it: "You see her going up the elevator to meet with Larry King, to talk to him before the interview." Embarrassing

Wolf Blitzer then says: "Thanks for that" supposedly not breaking his pledge to never utter the words "Paris Hilton" on his newscast. And I say news mockingly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

r u b e e ' s c l o s e t -- hoboken's style secret is out!

step into rubee's closet on 720 monroe street in hoboken & you will find many treasures... including its owner beverly alonzo, the creative force behind rubee's closet (lovingly named for her grandmother). the store is ultra comfortable, airy and calm. there's no pressure to buy unlike other boutiques i've encountered. try on some items -- the dressing rooms are cozy with furry, shag-type throw rugs. you won't find your typical trendy, overpriced designers here... rubee's carries independent and reasonably priced labels. she also has a select choice of jewelry, handbags, sunglasses and other beauty items.

i spoke with beverly aka rubee (at right, you can call her either name) and she shared her story with me... she's a risk taker with a fiercely independent streak. just what hoboken needs to nurture, especially in this newly developed part of town (where condos continue to take over, let's hope this neighborhood keeps its character).

cashing in her IRA with almost no business experience, she wrote a plan and launched rubee's closet with a love of fashion, style and creativity. beverly created her own line of tie-dyed tee-shirts in high school and sold them to friends. she grew up with a love for hand sewing, often buying vintage pieces of clothes and sewing on details, fabrics and more to revive the item, creating something new. she later studied at the school of visual arts in the city and worked as a photographer.

in 2004, she starting selling clothes out of her apartment. then in may 04, she rented space upstairs in the monroe center with other artists... and finally, in april 2007, she moved into the current street level space.

check out my recent purchases... (you can shop online or go visit rubee's yourself, you won't be disappointed!)

a cool 2-layered design, long sleeved tee-shirt (on sale!) from drifter (which i wore for 3 days straight).
a skull necklace (at left) from colombian designer mercedes salazar
(which i wore to a wedding & i think i got funny looks for it).

Senate Subpoenas White House, Vice President's Office and the Justice Department.

It is getting ugly for this administration.

The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont issued subpoenas today for the White House and the V.P.'s Office for documents related to the warrantless eavesdropping program. Also named in the subpoenas were the Justice Department and the National Security Council.

"Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection," Leahy said in his cover letters for the subpoenas. "There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee."

The subpoenas come in light of James Comey's testimony reported all over the blogosphere and much stalling by the White House on providing the Judiciary committee with information. Today Patrick Leahy is my hero.

As Housing Depreciates, It's Cheaper to Rent

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) today released an updated Housing Calculator. It enables users to compare owning a home with renting in 379 metropolitan areas.

"CEPR's calculator provides potential homeowners with an easy way to calculate how much a new home will cost them over time. It compares the amount of additional cash available to a renter with the amount available to a home buyer who sells a home at a specified time in the future. Users simply punch in data such as house price, region, down payment, mortgage rate, tax bracket, and the year they expect to resell the house."

From CEPR:

"Over the last decade, there has been a record increase in U.S. house prices, with prices rising by more than 70 percent after adjusting for inflation. By contrast, rents have risen only slightly more than the rate of inflation over this period. People who buy a home at a bubble-inflated price -- and then see the price plummet in the crash -- may lose much or all of their equity, which comprise the bulk of most household's wealth. Homeowners are still taking on mortgage debt rapidly, even as their homes have largely stopped appreciating in value. Homeowners increased their mortgage debt at a 5.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2007, adding debt at an annual rate of $510 billion. This pushed the ratio of equity to value to a record low."

I did the math and my/we savings on renting instead of buying is $175,000 in the New York Metropolitan area. Try it.

paterson's E S S E N C E C A R S O N

rutgers scarlet knight basketball captain essence carson handled the don imus affair with dignity and grace... a high ranking graduate of rosa parks high school and a sports star of eastside high school, essence is the model student-athlete. she studies music at rutgers (she plays the piano, sax, guitar and drums) as well as kicks ass on the court. recently, essence was honored at a paterson board of education meeting... and may 25, 2007 was proclaimed "Essence Carson Day" throughout the paterson public schools.

Elizabeth Edwards confronts Anne Coulter

She shows what a fool and hateful person Anne Coulter is worth the watch and listen. And because she cannot leave well enough alone, she goads Mrs. Edwards into REALLY confronting her. The conservative crowd behind her actually cheers for Mrs. Edwards. Any network that still puts this hatemonger on on is also engaging in the "language of hate."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

m y b o y SEAN GREEN s a v e s t h e d a y ! !

sean green saves the day (and the game) by hitting a walk off homer last nite... check out reyes and the boys waiting to greet him at home plate! GO METS!

Henry Waxman is My Hero (at least for today).

Sorry to harp on Cheney, but he deserves it.

Henry Waxman who is the Chair of the Government Oversight Committee wrote a letter today to White House Counsel Fred Fielding outlining the White House and the Office of the Vice President has "flaunted multiple requirements for protecting classified information." In the letter Waxman disputes the claim by Dana Perino that the Office of the Vice President and the President are complying with all rules and regulations; the only part of the Executive Order not being followed is the "small portion" of the Oversight Responsibilities of the Information Security Office at the National Archives (the infamous - the office of the VP is not part of the executive branch).

Waxman disputes this claim in his letter dated today. He states numerous times the White House has been "dangerously inadequate" with respect to "security violations, corrective action following breaches and physically securing classified information."

The letter highlights include:

White House security officers blocked from inspecting the West Wing. The National Archives is not the only agency ensuring that White House officials comply with the requirements for protecting classified information. The White House Security Office (WHSO) also shares this responsibility. Waxman reports today that WHSO employees “have been blocked from conducting inspections in the West Wing of the White House, where most of the President’s most senior advisors work.”

Karl Rove has had his security clearance renewed. Karl Rove has admitted that he publicly disclosed Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA officer. Under guidelines issued by President Bush in 2005, the “deliberate or negligent disclosure” of classified information can be a “disqualifying” condition to receive security clearance. Yet Waxman reports that Rove has had his security clearance renewed “and not altered in any respect.”

White House ignored security breaches, condoned mismanagement. Management at White House Security Office has been unwilling to “take actions that could embarrass White House officials,” a practice “condoned” by the White House, Waxman writes. For example, the office repeatedly ignored security breaches that were reported by the Secret Service or CIA agents, such as when a “White House official left classified materials unattended in a hotel room.” As a result, there was “plummeting morale among White House security officers,” half of whom quit last year.

Waxman says if the White House does not respond and grant interviews as the Oversight Committee has been trying to arrange he will bring a motion to subpoena by June 28.

See this Daily Show video about DICK. At the five minute mark see Cheney using executive privilege to shield from revealing information.

Countdown: The World of Dick Cheney

I thought I might post on this, but saw this and of course Keith does a better job than I could do. If we are not screaming from the roofs about this we should all give up our citizenships. Watch it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

p l e a s i n g p r o d u c t s -- C h O c O b A n A n A s

i have a very active sweet tooth and lately it can't get enough of the lovely, tasty casali choco bananas. i bought them once at a local A & P, then whoosh, they took away the foreign items mini aisle. so i obsessively searched the internet and found no line deli, a wonderful site to buy foreign tasty treats, including my austrian "schokobananen."

while i love the combination of chocolate and real chiquita banana bits (!!), especially when kept in the freezer, creating a sort of frozen banana a la the bluths of arrested development (see george michael, hel-loh "annyong" and maeby working at the stand), but what really gets me obsessed is the packaging... bright colors to inspire the tropicality of it all, the matching blue label of the chiquita banana, reminding you of the healthy aspect-- real bits of banana inside-- and the perfectly compact & aligned rows of candy awaiting you as you tear open the side strip.

i wondered why the packaging intrigued me as much or more than the product itself, and then i remembered beer frame, one of my favorite zines from the nineties. this zine, created by paul lukas, was a journal of inconspicuous consumption where he reviewed products by "deconstructing the details of consumer culture -- details that are either so weird or obscure that we'd never see them, or so ubiquitous that we've essentially stopped seeing them. this can mean anything from a bizarre canned good, like sauerkraut juice, to a beautifully designed light-industrial object that we've always taken for granted, like the Brannock Device (that gizmo they use to measure your shoe size)."

check out this link for an interview with paul and access his past columns (this month's review-- heinz' green ketchup).
UPDATE: score!!! i just found the 12 pack schokobananen in the garden of eden on washington street (thanks to a tip from our ex-mola cafe favorite barista, eli) and two other flavors -- orange and strawberry... let's just say i bought a few to stock in the freezer...

We are a Country of Idiots

Large numbers of Americans still believe in Saddam-9/11 link in this Newsweek poll: "Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in ten Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection. A majority of Americans were similarly unable to pick Saudi Arabia in a multiple-choice question about the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers were born. Just 43 percent got it right -- and a full 20 percent thought most came from Iraq."

The results of the survey are here. They are shocking and disgusting. The assclown of the week goes to the American people, us. We are a bunch of idiots. It is certainly partly the media's fault, but the information is there if we want it. We simply believe what we want to believe. We are a mass of people living in denial repressing truth because of an authoritarian government that no longer represents the people. What do we do? We believe what they tell us though the truth stares us in the face.
Update: Maybe it is the media's fault? Michael Moore is cancelled Wednesday night on CNN's Larry King because Paris Hilton has agreed to an interview. CNN has cancelled an interview with a filmmaker about his film Sicko and America's broken health care system because of an "incarcerated socialite" who served time in prison because of her own selfish behavior? A report I heard is the Today show was offering 1 million dollars for the interview. Did CNN pay more? CNN has not rescheduled the interview with Moore. Unbelievable.

Embargoed Graffitti

Havana, Cuba. If you live in the US, these two words are synonymous with failure and dictatorship. It seems that, at least in the mainstream media, nothing positive has ever come out of Cuba, except maybe some great baseball players. I have never been to Havana, and I am not writing this post to rally around Fidel Castro, but in light of the release of Sicko by Michael Moore, I thought I would publish a photo from Os Gemeos, two Brazilians, who are twins, and amazing artists. they went to Cuba, and painted the above mural. Art, like free health care, does somehow exist in Cuba. even with Fidel. This world we live in is not one of black and white. It is the gray that is most fascinating. And the colors in between. Enjoy some today, and check out Os Gemeos and Sicko.

the morass in your mailbox...

hopefully you've picked up some canvas totes and tossed your plastic habit. ok, now it's time for the mailbox... i for one love getting personal mail but that letter writing habit has been crushed by emails and texting... so if a mass of junk mail greets you every day, why not try to eliminate the unwanted stuff and make room for the good stuff! according to the ideal bite, the average american gets 1.5 personal letters each week and 10.8 pieces of junk mail (produced by 100 million trees a year).
here are a few easy ways to save some energy and stop the clutter ... courtesy of ideal bite ...

trust the internet - pay those pesky bills online and stop paper copies. - free, quick way to get your name off commercial mailing lists. - opt out of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers online or by phone: 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

EcoLogical Mail Coalition - helps businesses stop mail addressed to former employees.

Native Forest Network's Guide - five easy steps to stop junk mail.

The Supreme Court Again Sides Against the People (three times) 5-4 with Breyer, Stevens, Ginsberg and Souter Dissenting in All Three

Think Progress (maybe the best news blog) headline reads, "Supreme Court Sides with Administration, Corporations in New Decisions." But, the Supreme Court more importantly is siding against the people, everyday working people. This info. is mostly from Think Progress with a link to the decisions.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the federal government can avoid its responsibility to protect species under the Endangered Species Act by handing off authority to the states.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court “barred ordinary taxpayers from challenging a White House initiative helping religious charities get a share of federal money.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court loosened restrictions on corporate- and union-funded television ads that air close to elections, “weakening a key provision of a landmark campaign finance law.”

Think Progress (maybe the best news blog) headline reads, "Supreme Court Sides with Administration, Corporations in New Decisions."

Lara Logan on What A Journalist is Supposed to be Doing

I found a better link to the video.

It is Nice to See Real Journalism for a Change

See this article that somehow escaped my viewing. A story by CBS' Lara Logan on the treatment of Iraqi special needs children in an orphanage. The boys were laying naked on the grounds with flies all over them, some tied to cribs while brand new clothes are in wrapped plastic bags ready to be sold to an Iraqi market. American soldiers came to the rescue of these young children and the director of the orphanage is currently on the run.

See Lara Logan discuss the incident and the trouble she had actually publishing the story. See it on Crooks and liars. She then answers a question on the coverage of the war that is a lesson to any journalist now covering Iraq or our government in any capacity. She is a credit to journalism. Some of the images are shocking, but the story ends well and her "lecture" to journalists and Americans is worth every second.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

g a y r i g h t s has a presidential champion

"I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me... I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage.''

hurrah hurrah! elizabeth edwards did it... she spoke out to support same-sex marriage and even acknowledged that her view is at odds with her husband's conflicted view. (he supports civil unions but hasn't openly supported gay marriage.) she spoke today, at a kickoff event, for san francisco's gay pride parade.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum - Cheney Out, Jeb In

i love R A C H E L !! she's the reason why i get outta bed somedays. listen to her recent conspiracy theory...

Fuel Efficiency

The pending Congressional legislation known as the "Energy Bill" does a lot of important things. One of the most important is to increase CAFE standards, corporate average fuel economy standards.

In a nutshell the bill would increase mile per gallon standards required by car producers, from 27.7 currently, to about 35 mpg by 2020. Incidentally, in Europe, cars on average get 40 mpg, compared with 20.4 mpg for U.S. cars. So all we are attempting to do is not even reach the European level of fuel efficiency within the next 12 years . . . not that ambitious.

However, it is apparently too ambitious for some. The bill is currently being debated in congress, with amendments being proposed by Senators Pryor, Bond and Levin that would potentially weaken the, already modest, CAFE standards in the bill. Disgracefully, two of those CAFE weakening Senators are Democrats! The notion that economic interests trump environmental, health, and national security concerns is apparently a bi-partisan position.

When it comes to CAFE standards, the unwillingness on the part of the public and politicians to make even the most conservative sacrifices for the common good is disheartening, at best. A crude cost-benefit analysis on increasing CAFE standards is revealing.

Lets assume the predictions regarding global warming are true, or even that there is a 10% chance that they are true. To sum up those predictions, the environmental costs are enormous! On the one hand we have total global devastation.

What could we do to dramatically reduce the likelihood of global devastation? Simply drive certain cars that are no less capable, safe or comfortable. Doing so would not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce our dependency on foreign sources of oil, reduce transportation costs and improve air quality. What more motivation do we need to improve CAFE standards????


The bill passed the Senate last night, without amendments. The CAFE standards would increase to 35 mpg, which although modest, is a victory nonetheless. The bill goes to the House next week and is ecpected to pass in its current form!

Cheney is a Dictator

“Your office may have the worst record in the executive branch for safeguarding classified information,” Mr. Waxman wrote to Mr. Cheney.

Dick Cheney is beyond the rule of law. He is proving it. He engages in activities we used to read about in communist Russia, Cuba or Saddam's regime. This is startling. Cheney has resisted the routine oversight of his office's handling of classified information. Please read this article.

When the National Archives objected, Cheney suggested abolishing the oversight unit, Henry Waxman of California reported yesterday according to released documents. The information Oversight Unit at the National Archives appealed the issue and the Justice Department has not yet ruled on the issue. Waxman, who is the chair of the Government Oversight Committee disclosed the information in an eight page letter to Cheney yesterday.

The letter said after repeatedly refusing to comply with classified document requests Cheney blocked an inspection at his office that routinely occurs in the Executive Branch. Now, Cheney amazingly is claiming that his office is not part of the executive branch because it has executive as well as legislative functions.

His audacity calls to mind dictators and authoritarians from a bygone age or another part of the world. Why on earth do we allow this person to run our country in to the ground and no one challenges him except for Henry Waxman?

Friday Humor

Jon Stewart is a genius. we all know this, and that is not the news. Absurdity isn't either. Both join in the pursuit of humor this Friday, June 22. Enjoy the Daily Show's host and his take on the current US military offensive. Priceless.

"Let's begin tonight in Iraq, where the United States armed, sorry...coalition forces are staging a massive attack against al Qaeda in the Diyala province, now considered Iraq's most violent region. Which is something akin to being, say, The Village People's gayest member"

Bush Hitting Rock Bottom?

This from Political Wire:

According to the latest Newsweek poll, President Bush’s approval rating has reached a record low. Only 26% of Americans, just over one in four, approve of the job he is doing; while, a record 65% disapprove, including nearly a third of Republicans."The only president in the last 35 years to score lower than Bush is Richard Nixon. Nixon’s approval rating tumbled to 23% in January 1974, seven months before his resignation over the botched Watergate break-in."There's bad new for Democrats as well: "Only 25% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ice cream and kung-fu

I remember a place called The Roadrunner. I loved that name, and still do. It stood where a laundromat now stands, on Park Avenue, in Rutherford, the town I grew up in.

My mom used to take us, me, my brother and sister, there, when I was real young, like 8 or 9. Somewhere around that age when things just went slower. And you had more time to pay attention to the little world that was yours. The place was a semi-restaurant, slightly ice-cream parlor, kinda bar. I really am vague on what it was.

Anyway, we would head on in, and there was a friendly owner who used to always seem happy to see us. But I don’t remember him so well. What I do recall is the arcade game…kung-fu. That, to this day, is the stuff of Fogarty family lore. It had two possible options, red team or blue team. You would come together on a mat, and a fat old Asian ref would simply say, with a baritone voice: “Begin.” Whoever won the match would be rewarded with “red (or blue) team wins.”

We used to play that great game every time. It was so much fun that the ice cream became almost a secondary motive for going to the Roadrunner. But stepping into that cool, dark, and slightly mysterious place on a scorching summer day was heavenly. Whether it was for ice cream or kung-fu.

c a n U "b a g t h e h a b i t" ?

we're all guilty of it -- taking a plastic bag from a store when we don't really need it. even if we reuse 'em, these bags take almost 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. instead of tripping over the mind numbing stats of how many bags we use or how many gallons of oil produce them (12 million), i think the visual impact of photographer chris jordan's new series, "running the numbers", can shock us into submission. the image here is a bunch of digital photos matched together to show 60,000 plastic bags, "the number used in the US every 5 seconds." jordan's other series of mass ultra-consumption images (from cell phones to toothpicks to cigarette butts to cars) will leave you speechless. he writes, "So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake."
so, as you look for an alternative to lug your groceries, try this funny "i'm not a plastic bag" or any basic tote will do... for a specially designed one, try jersey city's own bag the habit. and check out their REDUCE exhibit if you are in nyc.

Sweet Home GoreObama

The Dream Team?

Ghost by Jasmine

this self-reflective short film is part of a series of students' work from silk city media workshop, an afterschool program in paterson, nj, created by the passaic county community technology center and the paterson ymca.

Saying Goodbye Isn't Easy - Biodiversity

There is a chorus of news coming out regarding the disappearance of many animal species. We are seeing, among other things, the rapid decline of various bird species, the unsustainability of many fisheries, colony collapse disorder in bees. How does this affect human populations?

The answer is that loss of biodiversity affects humans in so many unpredictable ways that we can't even pretend to fully understand it. Nevertheless, we try to understand it and, not surprisingly, the outlook is bleak. Here are a few examples:

First, as we have all heard by now, I hope, bees pollinate a large portion of our food supply. For over a decade, as a result of the decline of wild bee populations, many farmers use commercially released bees to pollinate their crops. Without those bees available, its not clear exactly how we would pollinate food.

Second, birds help in the process of decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal. Most birds eat large amounts of insects, which may affect plant species survival. In fact, biologists attribute the loss of carrier pigeons to a substantial increase in Lyme disease. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

Finally, fish provide an incredibly rich source of food, economic industry and recreational enjoyment. The current biological consensus is that fish species, that is, ALL currently fished species will experience a TOTAL population collapse by 2048 if current trends continue! That bit of news is....troubling, to say the least.

It sure makes you hope we, humans, know what we are doing.

14 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq

The U.S. Military announced the deaths of fourteen U.S. soldiers raising the total of U.S. casualties to 3545 and 68 this month. The deadliest attack came in a roadside bomb killing five U.S. solders and four iraqis.

The AP reports:

Four other U.S. soldiers were killed and one was wounded Wednesday when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb in a western neighborhood in the capital, the military said separately. Southwest of Baghdad, two U.S. soldiers were killed and four were wounded Wednesday when explosions struck near their vehicle, according to a statement earlier in the day. Two Marines also were killed Wednesday while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the military said.

The Iraq Body Count is up to 72,165 civilians in Iraq killed since the beginning of the war. Of course this number is only the countable civilians, who knows how large this number really is? In other news on Iraq a new survey ranks the nation as the world's 2nd most unstable nation. Afghanistan placed eighth.

And a story I have been reluctant to tell, the wife of a missing soldier in Iraq is facing deportation. Yaderlin Jiminez is the wife of Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, who has been missing since his unit was attacked by insurgents in Iraq on May 12. Mr. Jiminez had petitioned for a green card for his wife, Yaderlin, whom he married in 2004. These two grew up a mile from me in Lawrence, Massachusetts a city struggling from the industrial revolution's escape from the northeast to Latin America and China. Yaderlin came to Lawrence from the Dominican Republic and married Alex, a citizen here whose roots are tied also to the Dominican Republic. Senators Edward Kennedy and Kerry have come to her aid.

How more tragic a story can they tell? Her husband missing in Iraq, most likely kidnapped, tortured and killed and now the Department of Homeland Security begins deportation proceedings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stem Cell Research Vetoed

Suddenly, a new Assclown emerges

For the second time Bush vetoed legislation to expand federal funding for stem cell research. This is a popular idea (if it can pass this Congress it has to be). Think Progress says: to win some political cover Bush will issue an executive order to increase research in "regenerative medicine." But, it appears to be largely symbolic. The NY times reports: there is no money attached and scientists were instantly skeptical.

The picture to the right is just a dream, a dream of a better day.

Veteran Homelessness on the Rise

I am certainly not an avid reader of, but this is a crisis that we are going to have to deal with very soon. And is one of the only places taking it seriously. Though, Barack Obama seems to be stepping up. How can the American public be so blind to this government that "supports the troops" only when they are talking about funding for the war, but when it comes to VA benefits or in this case homeless veterans they could care less.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to a sharp rise in the number of homeless military veterans, a recently completed Congressional Research Service report on homeless veterans says, and lawmakers are beginning to take notice.

The report shows female veterans were as much as four times more likely to become homeless than non-veteran women, with male veterans nearly twice as likely to become homeless than non-veterans. Though many believe homelessness plagues Vietnam draftees disproportionately, the largest group of homeless vets comes from those who enlisted after Vietnam, the May 31 CRS report showed.

"Research has determined that homeless combat veterans were no more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD than combat veterans who were not homeless," CRS said. Since Vietnam, most veterans do not normally become homeless within the first 10 years of separation, the CRS report said. But a December 2006 "Iraq Veteran Project" study prepared by the Swords to Plowshares veterans' advocacy group, troops who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming homeless sooner than their predecessors - seeking housing services within months after returning from Iraq.

"New veterans are falling through the cracks, and they are shocked and angry at the lack of care afforded them," said Iraq Veteran Project report author, Amy Fairweather. "They stand at the precipice of chronic homelessness unless there is a concerted effort to address their needs." And Congress is taking notice.

Illinois Democrat and presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, told the Associated Press at an April 6 campaign rally that "veterans are far more likely to be homeless than non-veterans and part of it is because we're not providing services to them as they transition out of the service," "Part of it is because there is just not enough affordable housing," he added.

According to the Iraq Veteran Project report, the VA has created a list of factors that can help prevent homelessness, including employment assistance, transition assistance, rehabilitation, medical care, commensurate employment, compensation award and work therapy.

The CRS report adds there are currently five federal programs specifically designed to assist homeless veterans, these programs will require about $270 million in 2007, and future costs are on the rise. Other research indicates that VA homeless programs have already served as many as 600 returning OIF/OEF veterans and over 1,000 more have been identified as being at risk of becoming homeless, CRS added. This leaves many veterans' advocates concerned that the current VA budget and infrastructure will not be able to respond to the needs of an ever-increasing number of homeless and at risk veterans in the coming years.

"VA has consistently underestimated the homeless veteran problem," said Larry Scott, veterans' advocate and founder of "VA" "And, even when presented with hard data on the number of homeless vets in America, VA continues to under fund outreach, rehabilitation programs and facilities designed to help this vulnerable population."

Giuliani is the Reigning Assclown

I thought Assclown of the week might go to Joe Lieberman for his Iran comments. But, it is kind of old news. So, I thought maybe it is Hillary for her ridiculous campaign song. But, I thought she redeemed herself by trashing big mouth Chris Mathews in front of an AFSCME audience. Then I saw the article about Rudy Giuliani who was too busy fundraising to participate in the Iraq Study Group. You see Rudy last May resigned his post on the Iraq Study Group after just two months on the panel and not showing up for an official meeting. James Baker, the chariman of the group told him "attend the meeting or quit."

So, what did Rudy do? He quit. Why? He said his previous time committments precluded him from attending meetings. What you ask could preclude him from attending a group tasked with ending or fixing (which they did not do) the greatest foreign policy disaster in recent memory? I will let Newsday describe it: Giuliani’s alleged “previous time commitments” were simply fundraisers that conflicted with the Iraq Study Group’s meetings. The ISG held three sessions during Giuliani’s tenure in 2006 but that he did not show up for: working sessions on April 11 and 12, and May 18 and 19. “The sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani’s lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.”

Assclown - Assclown - Assclown.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

p o p p i e s

i just love this painting by femi ford, a local artist, so i bought the limited edition, embellished giclee reproduction on canvas...

this work was part of a show at galeria GOBA, a wonderful, cozy gallery housed in the right angle picture framing shop at 320 washington street in hoboken. right angle and GOBA promote the local art community while providing professional framing services. friendly, helpful and artistically inspired staff advised me on framing two pieces, see below.

check out their current show, gaia:

lovely framing work by right angle's pablo godoy (miles horton's highlander school, paterson ymca collage)-- it perfectly compliments the colors of the prints!

Hillary Clinton's Campaign Song

Hillary Clinton's campaign song is "You and I" by Celine Dion. That is a disqualifier to me and a serious lack in judgment. That might be right up there with the Iraq war authorization vote. She did this in my mind as a stunt to appeal to young voters. Assclown?

Democracy Now! YIFAT SUSSKIND - Funding the Shiites

This has just been reported in the mainstream media, but this video is from March 2007. Democracy Now! is a service to the public dialogue like no other.

the Corporation

This may be the most important movie made in the last five years. It shows that the Corporation is THE most dangerous element in our society and compares the Corporation to a psychopath. Run and see this movie. Of course you will be depressed for months afterwards.

Monday, June 18, 2007

White House in Violation of the Presidential Records Act

U.S. House of Representative investigators have learned that use of the RNC emails (by white house officials) is much more extensive than previously learned. Karl Rove personally sent over 140,000 emails from these accounts. And that the RNC has overseen the "extensive destruction" of emails including from all 51 White House official accounts.

For the last few months the Government Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman has been investigating whether White House officials violated the Presidential Records Act by using and maintaing email accounts at the RNC and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign for official White House communication (ostensibly to avoid scrutiny). Today's findings by investigators confirm the emails were used for official purposes such as communicating with federal agents about federal appointments. For more go to the wonderful site at Think Progress.

Paterson students serve the community--The Herald News

by diane haines (4/16/07), herald news

The "Y" morphed into a "V" and then back into a "Y." Jacob Urena, 6, of School 25 in Paterson was doing his writing class homework assignment at the YMCA's after-school program. It was lucky that his pencil had an eraser, which he used frequently to correct mistakes pointed out by his teenage tutor.

Jacob was one of eight students being helped with homework by a group of high school students who volunteer their time to earn community service credits. Jacob was being assisted by Ruby Polano, 15, a sophomore from HARP Academy. His assignment was to print the letter "Y" and draw a picture of something that starts with it, like a yo-yo or yak. But first he had to master the formation of the letter. Jacob said he would rather skip the homework part of the after-school program to participate in arts and crafts, swimming or practicing on computers. But that's not an option. Homework comes first, then play time.

For most of its 115 years the YMCA has featured some type of after-school program. But it was only six months ago that the YMCA started to encourage teenagers to help the younger children.

Dionne Johnson, volunteer coordinator, says she asked students from HARP, the Sports Business Academy and MPACT to volunteer time to help satisfy the 200 required hours of community service work they need to graduate from the three specialized academies in Paterson. Another teenager from Paterson Catholic High School reached out to the YMCA looking for community service work. Students at HARP are preparing to become health-care professionals and those at MPACT are aiming for careers in communications and technology.
Community service is only a requirement at some of the city's career-oriented academies.

Johnson says, "I found doing the interviews that the teenagers felt like they were helping a little brother or sister. Young people are able to communicate best with the children," she explains, adding that they can identify with the children because they are only a few years older.

Johnson and other staff members wear red T-shirts with white letters proclaiming the goals of the YMCA: "We build strong kids, strong families and strong communities."

The after-school scene is one of noise and controlled chaos. About 90 kids descend on the YMCA at about 3:30 p.m. The youngest are 5-year-olds. Roughly half the youngsters spend the first half of the afternoon doing homework and the rest of the day at sports, arts and crafts or computers. Movies are also offered. The program operates daily during the 10-month school year and serves children between the ages of 5 and 12. They are bused from public schools.

One of the homework rooms has drab beige walls and a brown linoleum floor, which are brightened by a red rug featuring hopscotch and checkerboard designs. A second red rug depicts trains and planes. Round tables are scattered around the room and packed bookcases are spaced along the walls. Students' drawings of dogs and pandas are taped to the wall along with a Velcro word game intended to teach sentence formation.

The eight youngsters, ages 6 to 8, are paired with an equal number of high school students. The children were talking to themselves and each other as they tackled homework on a recent afternoon.

Isaiak Hargrove, 7, from School 13, was working on completing sentences given to him by his teacher while Tremaine Lopez, 8, of School 21, wrote a note to a friend about things he likes to do. He said he enjoys going for a pizza and to Six Flags Great Adventure. He told his instructors, "I'm smart. I can do this on my own."

Like most of the other high school students, Ruby Polano says she started to participate to complete her public service commitment but has come to enjoy the mentoring sessions. "Sometimes they don't listen well or they have a hard time understanding," she says. The experience has taught her patience.

Crystal Kucuk, 15, from HARP, was coaching a volleyball game. The excited shouts and cheers from the participants were deafening. She says she has learned that she needs to explain things two or three times to the children she tutors. "I have to find new ways that are specific to the subject," she says.

photo at left: Ryan Spellen, 8, works on his math homework with help from volunteers at the Paterson YMCA. The Y’s homework program began in 2006.

Current TV

A friend turned me onto this site Current TV. It is both a network and a video website. And is democracy in action. Anyone can make a video and try and air it on the network. Here is a video called Homo No Mo that is both liberating and sad. And this one Fake Iraq is preposterous, absurd and wow.

It seems to be non-partisan and is a great vehicle for those trying to gain exposure or show a certain viewpoint. Thirty percent of the viewership create videos for the network, are voted on and then aired. The network is the brainchild of a Vice President and former Presidential candidate, you guessed it Al Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt. After the 2000 Presidential election Gore and his business partner wanted to create a conventional cable network, but were disenchanted with the current networks. The plan evolved into a viewer generated network. Gore said of the network: "The new network would not have political leanings, but would serve as an "independent voice" for a target audience of people between 18 and 34 "who want to learn about the world in a voice they recognize and a view they recognize as their own." Other reports said that Gore hoped that the channel would help change the tide of "consolidation and conglomeratization" of the media by leading the change to "democratization." The news network was said to be a combination between CNN, MTV, and blipverts." I don't know what blipverts is, because well it is out of my demographic I guess.

More than anything the network is a blend of the internet and TV. Check it out.

O'Reilly Kicked Out of Mets Clubhouse

The New York Daily News Reported:

O’Reilly, the FoxNews Channel talking head, got inside the visitors’ clubhouse before Stadium security realized that he was not wearing a credential granting clubhouse access. He and his party then were escorted out of the room.

According to a reporter from The Record of Hackensack (N.J.), the Big Righty complained to the security officer, “You don’t have to escort us out - we’re going.”

Coincidentally, If there is some irony surrounding the incident, it’s that MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann was in the Mets’ clubhouse before Friday night’s game. Olbermann hosts the left-leaning “Countdown” on MSNBC and he and O’Reilly have frequently exchanged barbs on their respective programs.
I knew the Mets were my favorite national league team for a reason.

Fatah v Hamas

“We cannot stand idly by and let a free and democratic people decide (yes, DECIDE) to go communist.” - Henry Kissinger-

A post this morning at the Huffington Post (actually June 16) made my blood boil regarding the recent civil war in Palestine with the Fatah party and the democratically elected Hamas party. I will summarize this article and the Robert Fisk article at the UK/Independent on the crisis. You should read them for yourself, but they are almost opposite sides of the spectrum and what I see in the Thatcher article repeating the same old arguments is a refusal to accept Palestinians as humans.

The article by Zachary Thatcher criticized the New York Times for criticizing Israel. He attacks the Times for siding with the Fatah party over Hamas because it accepts Israel's right to exist. Thatcher (as wish washy and pale yellow as the Times editorial is) does not accepts this and says that: "Who started the second intifada after Arafat's refusal for an agreement in the Camp David Accords of 2001? That was a pure Fatah play, with Hamas as wary participants. Why have thousands of missiles rained on Israel from Fatah-controlled territory in Gaza for the past several years...Sadly, it isn't hard to imagine Fatah eagerly invading Israel, should it be military weakened from an attack by Syria or Iran. Attacks they openly acknowledge planning and which the West is powerless, or unwilling, to halt."

Basically, Thatcher argues Israel is at the will of the terrorist state of Palestine, a ridiculous argument that is repeated over and over and over and American journalists. This line of thinking is akin to religious thought when one tries to have an intellectual discussion on the actual existence of God. And we are told merely to just believe. In this instance we are told not to investigate what exactly is going on in the West Bank and could a people under such subjugation be engaging in the only resistance they know how - electing the people who actually represent their interests.

Robert Fisk is the preeminent journalist on the middle east, much to America's chagrin. He writes, first we demand the Palestinians elect a democratic government. They "embrace" democracy, but elect the wrong party, Hamas. The U.S. won't negotiate with a party that does not accept Israel's right to exist. So, now Hamas wins a "mini-civil war and presides over the Gaza strip.

Palestinians have the right to ask a question Fisk argues: "No one asked - on our side - which particular Israel Hamas was supposed to recognise. The Israel of 1948? The Israel of the post-1967 borders? The Israel which builds - and goes on building - vast settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, gobbling up even more of the 22 per cent of “Palestine” still left to negotiate over ?"

So, our goal is to not accept the government of Palestine, but to recognize the previous one that the Palestinian people threw out. They did not do so because they wanted an Islamic state, they did so because of Fatah and its corrupt leadership and the rotten nature of the Palestinian Authority. But they voted for Hamas, which declines to recognise Israel or abide by the totally discredited Oslo agreement. Welcome to the Middle East.

We do so in almost every country we are involved with Fisk says. We love Harmid Karzai with his war lords and drug barons, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt who tortures the opposition (why would the U.S. have a problem with that) and has the support of George Bush, Muommar Khadafi of Lybia, King Abudullah's "unconstitutional" goverment in Jordan, these men all dictators in their own right with distinction.

It is NEVER about Democracy, it is about control Fisk asserts. What will happen in Palestine now? Will we ever have the stomach to criticize our ally Israel and restore a real two-state solution where both states exist with autonomy. Or are we moving down a road where we will now support the "reoccupation" of Palestine and be done with diplomacy. Palestine just does not know how to elect the right governments. If only we could teach them the right form of democracy.

After all Americans are doing such a great job of electing the right government.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


over 200 vendors from all over the country gathered saturday and sunday at the mccarren park pool in brooklyn to sell their handmade goodies... i ventured out there saturday from hoboken, nj, met some friends and spent beaucoup bucks on lovely, one of a kind treasures.

some of the highlights (click the links to see vendor websites and purchase your own stuff):

rosybird where i bought this owl clutch.

bossanovababy where i met my new friend, cathy, seamstress extraordinaire and creator of sassy belt buckles like this...

fisk and fern where i found colorful citrus cards.

mccarren park pool where i saw cool urban graffiti and urban renewal.