ThePoliticalCat

A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Science - Effects of Global Warming

Vol. 168 of Science News reports that June 2003 saw the highest temperatures Switzerland had experienced in 250 years. The following August, temperatures soared to 104F in France, and remained high for weeks. According to scientists, some 30,000 Europeans died in that heat wave.

Climate research following that episode has shown that plants in the region had one-third less green foliage in the following year, compared to the average in the three previous years. Scientists calculate that as a result, European plants probably absorbed some 1.8 billion metric tons less carbon dioxide than they had in previous years.

Yet another consequence of global warming.

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Science - Abuse, Neglect, And Memory Loss


Volume 168 of Science News reports that neuroscientist Tallie Z. Baram of UC Irvine has shown that young animals exposed to stress resulting from inadequate parental care suffer memory declines and disrupted cell communication in the hippocampal area of the brain.

Perhaps marijuana would help with the hippocampal disruption.

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Politics - Impeach

Impeach the thieves and thugs who are finding $190 billion dollars to fund the war in Iraq (for how long?) but refuse to spend $7 billion to give children health care!

This makes me furious. We will beggar the working masses so we can kill people, but we won't spend a cent to cure the sick! How can this be? When we, the people, can't give our own most vulnerable population - our children - the right to medical treatment when needed, how dare our politicians raid our wallets to make bullets and bombs to kill our children as well as the children of other people whose country we invaded with no plan, no mission, no purpose, just an overweening greed for their oil. How dare they!

And when I calm down enough to write without rewriting every third word, I realize the incredible penny-wise pound-foolishness at the bottom of this stupid allocation of resources. All it takes is for one uninsured child, whose parent or relative works in the service industry, to get some highly contagious and deadly disease. Like Spanish flu. Or avian flu. Or SARS. If that kid is in school or daycare, as well, it could start an epidemic that could infect a significant proportion of the population in a very short time. And we would have no one to blame but ourselves - well, our elected idiots of the Republican flavour, mostly - for the resulting mess.

And on that note, I give you this lovely site, that I just discovered: Impeach for Peace. That's their logo up above - my favourite fruit, the peach.

These fine folks are reporting that Yale alumni have formed an organization to push for impeaching Bush and Cheney. Wait a minnit, isn't Preznitwit Stupie McDumbass a Yalie? Wonder if he's attending any Yale functions any time soon?

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Science - Pain And The Brain

Image from this site

As you may remember, if you've been visiting for a while, I'm dealing with chronic pain, and have been for about four years now. It makes me crabby. So I was overjoyed to find an article in Vol 168 of Science News, titled "Brain Training Puts Big Hurt on Intense Pain." Hey, I don't title the articles, I just report them.

The article reports on work done by neuroscientist Sean C. Mackey of Stanford and his colleagues. In essence, it posits that brain-imaging technology allows people to use mental exercises to control the neural region associated with pain perception. Regrettably, more testing is needed before this technique is considered a treatment for chronic pain.

Experiments conducted by the team showed that high levels of pain were accompanied by pronounced blood flow (a sign of intense neural activity) in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex.

The article notes that biofeedback techniques (which I had hoped to investigate and possibly adopt, having been told they were effective) are not successful in reducing pain. I'll update this post if I come across any relevant or useful information in my research.

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Entertainment: Leave Britney Spears Alone!

Actually, no, it's Jenna Bush, bringing on the crocodile tears in an interview with the Times of the UK, in which she snivels that we should leave Li'l Boots alone:
ONE of the twin daughters of President George W Bush has spoken of the heartbreak she feels about the Iraq war and the criticism of her father. “He is a totally different person to me than what they portray him as,” said Jenna Bush. “I mean, he’s my dad.”
It appears incomprehensibility runs or, more likely, staggers in the family. In other words, to quote the Naked Would-be Emperor himself, she came by it honestly. Take that, you malignant maligners who have hinted for years that Laura is nothing more than Stupie McPoopie's "beard," and her darling girls the result of artificial insemination with Ronald Reagan's sperm! Obvy, she was artificially inseminated with Li'l Boots' sperm.

Further evidence, if needed, of brain deficits in comprehensibility and articulateness regions of brain:
“Nobody wants war. I definitely, and my father doesn’t want war. But it’s a horribly complicated situation.” She added: “I can say it’s devastating . . . I think everybody can agree on that . . . Obviously, all of this breaks my heart.”
I wonder if I should send this to Holden, or if he's already eviscerated the blonde buffoon?

Jenna, it would be real nice if you could break your heart over the number of people your father is directly responsible for killing and injuring. At last count, that was approximately 1 million Iraqis, and 4,000 (might be more, if they counted the contractors) Americans dead, 4 million Iraqi refugees, and some 40,000 "coalition" and contractor personnel injured. Oddly enough, no one seems to have counted the number of Iraqi wounded. They're expendable, I guess. Arabic News reported that the U.S. military had reported a total of 26,000 "killed or injured" by Iraqi insurgents/aQI as of October 2005. But, as the writer of the article wryly points out, the military report neglects to mention how many Iraqis have been killed by the U.S. military. Figures from Wikipedia, please take with the proverbial grain of salt.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Caturday!

(c) 2007 K Smokey Cormier

Boomer. Sometimes Boom Boom. He is blasé. He doesn't care if I walk towards him. He doesn't care if I'm making noise right beside him in the kitchen. He lies down and doesn't move. He relaxes. He's not a big snuggler. But he does love to lie on my legs when I'm reading in bed or on the couch. His coat is sooooo handsome! He has the driest meow ... you know, that Siamese-y kinda meow. He's an explorer and can climb on anything in my home. Anything. He loves to sit on my highest bookcase and look down at the rest of us.

Favorite pastime: Sucking Cosmo's flank.

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Science - Vitamin C And Cancer

Linus Pauling insisted that Vitamin C was an effective anti-carcinogen. However, research has not backed him up - so far. New studies from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda Md show that although people quickly clear Vitamin C from their bodies when they take it orally, intravenous doses showed blood concentrations up to 70 times as high. The high blood concentrations do not show any adverse effects.

To test how higher concentrations of Vitamin C might affect cancer, Mark Levine of the Institute applied Vitamin C at concentrations similar to those of the injected volunteers to healthy human and mouse cells and various types of cultured cancer cells. They found that an hour's exposure killed 50 per cent of cancer cells in 5 out of 10 cancer-cell cultures. Further tests showed that cancer cells converted Vitamin C into hydrogen peroxide, which kills cells. Report from Science News, Vol. 168.

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Global Warming - Bush At The Climate Change Conference

No one could have put it better than the Guardian, doing a great job, as usual, of reporting the news. On the recent climate change conference convened by the Naked Emperor Wannabe, the Guardian reports :
George Bush was castigated by European diplomats and found himself isolated yesterday after a special conference on climate change ended without any progress.
Wow, someone actually called the Naked Twit on his lack of clothing. Not that you'd know it if you were reading the American media.
The conference, attended by more than 20 countries, including China, India, Britain, France and Germany, broke up with the US isolated, according to non-Americans attending. One of those present said even China and India, two of the biggest polluters, accepted that the voluntary approach proposed by the US was untenable and favoured binding measures, even though they disagreed with the Europeans over how this would be achieved.

A senior European diplomat attending the conference, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting confirmed European suspicions that it had been intended by Mr Bush as a spoiler for a major UN conference on climate change in Bali in December.

"It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade," the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure."
Meanwhile, our good neighbour Canada referred to the fiasco as "The Skunk at His Own Garden Party." The report by Stephen Leahy, from IPSnews, stated:
BROOKLIN, Canada, Sep 29 (IPS) - After years of denial, the U.S. White House-sponsored summit on climate change ended Friday with President George W. Bush admitting that global warming was real and humans were responsible and asking for heads of state to join him at yet another summit next year (when his presidency ends).

It's doubtful if anyone of consequence will attend that future gab-fest since President Bush continues to push voluntary cuts to greenhouse gas emissions when the rest of the world, including much of the business sector, has already said that approach simply doesn't work.

"President Bush has so little credibility on climate change," said Chris Flavin, president of the Worldwatch Institute, a U.S.-based environmental group.

Only mid-level officials from 16 countries, the European Union and the United Nations participated in the meeting Thursday and Friday.
It makes me cringe to think that this buffoon is representing this great nation in all fora. Everywhere, all over the world, people undoubtedly look at their tvs or computers or listen to their radios or read their papers and wonder why someone with the cunning of a rat and the intelligence of a planarium is in charge of a world that is killing itself slowly. Why does the American media continue to gloss over his failures? He is, without a doubt, the most boorish, unpleasant, savage little bully the world has ever seen.

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Human Rights - Mutiny in Myanmar?

Via Raw Story comes a report from Newsdesk Special that the army in Myanmar is mutinying, refusing to shoot protestors and turning their guns against each other. If this is true, it is good news for this small, troubled, isolated country. The article states, in part:
The organisation Helfen ohne Grenzen (Help without Frontiers) is reporting that "Soldiers from the 66th LID (Light Infantry Divison) have turned their weapons against other government troops and possibly police in North Okkalappa township in Rangoon and are defending the protesters. At present unsure how many soldiers involved."

Soldiers in Mandalay, where unrest has spread to as we reported this morning, are also reported to have refused orders to act against protesters.
It is long past time that this repressive military regime were gone. Let us hope that the Burmese people can resolve their problems in a peaceful way, that the military junta is disempowered permanently, and that Aung San Suu Kyi regains her rightful position as the elected leader of Burma.

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Science - Memory, Marijuana, and Happy

Volume 168 of Science News reports that experiments conducted at the University of Saskatchewan have shown that marijuana and a drug that stimulates the same receptors in the hippocampus a hundred times more strongly have been shown to reduce anxiety and depressionlike behaviour in rats.

Shoot, they could have just ASKED some of the anxious, depressed ex-pot smokers who spent a few years in a happy fog and are now forced to ask their doctors (if they have any) for Welbutrin and Prozac and Lexapro and such, now that their happy-fog-makers are on the wrong side of the law. Oh, yeah, I forgot - they also appear to spur neurogenesis, causing the brain to grow new nerve cells.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Nailah Franklin

To find all posts about Nailah Franklin, type "Nailah Franklin" in the box at the top left corner of this page and hit RETURN. To find all posts about Reginald Potts, type "Reginald Potts" and do not include his middle initial or honorifics. Thanks.

Nailah Franklin's family has updated the Web site that they set up for her with a press release (PDF format) that requests that those of us who cared about Nailah keep her family in our thoughts as they prepare to bring closure to this tragic event.

They express their gratitude to the authorities and the community for keeping Nailah in their thoughts and prayers.

I long to know what happened. I will keep searching and posting as I find out. I thank all of you who came to this site to search for information about this lovely young woman. Thank you for caring.

Latest update here.

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Racism Still Alive And Well


I hope this is a complete and total bullshit story, and given that it's reported on Fox News, I am wavering between believing it and screaming and totally rolling my eyes.

According to Infowars, school guards in Palmdale assaulted a teenage girl for dropping a piece of cake in the cafeteria and failing to clean it up properly. They slammed her onto a table, breaking her wrist and yelling, "Hold still, nappy-head."

This is sickening. Fox did not report that part, of course. Let's see if any other media organizations pick it up. The video is available at Fox News (click first link). It was taken by a classmate of the girl, who was then also assaulted by the school guard.

Why are grown men beating up teenage girls? I'd really like to know.

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Nailah Franklin Update

Well, the news is bad. I just hope it's wrong, but perhaps all hope is extinguished now. MSNBC reports that the autopsy results have confirmed, based on dental records, that the body found in Calumet City, is Nailah Franklin's. It's very sad. She was so lovely and talented, and had so much to live for.

Now those who were touched by her story must keep up the pressure to ensure that her murderer is brought to justice.

NBC's video coverage available here. Latest update here.

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Transgender Rights: United We Stand!


There is a bill that was introduced in Congress in April saying that it would be illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on the person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Apparently there are some members of Congress that need to be schooled on the concept of unalienable rights: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." They want to exclude ... in a sneaky manner ... the part about gender identity. They are quietly trying to remove the rights of transgender people from this bill (Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA).

Nine national LGBT organizations announced Thursday they would fight any attempt to strip protections from the transgendered from the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. The groups include:
  • Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Stonewall Democrats
  • National Coalition for LGBT Health
  • Pride At Work (AFL-CIO)
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects
  • Mautner Project
  • National Center for Transgender Equality

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is threatening that if Congress passes a bill stripping rights from transgendered folks he will put forth an amendment adding rights for the transgendered. However, the nine organizations oppose this strategy and say they will oppose any bill that excludes transgender people:
"While we don’t doubt the sincerity of congressional leadership’s intent to take action and be helpful to the LGBT community, we cannot disagree more with this strategy. We will continue to work with LGBT-supportive members of Congress to urge their colleagues to immediately drop this strategy."
If you'd like to read more about this issue, please click here.

I wholeheartedly agree with the nine organizations. We in the LGBT community need to stick together on this one. Don't let them start dividing us. We have a whole lot in common ... you know ... fighting all those bigots that have rigid ideas of how you express yourself around masculinity and femininity ... and who you should sleep with.

Reminds me of this postcard I used to have up on my wall. In a bar, a woman is sidling up to a man that is dressed as a woman and she says to him/her: "You're a transvestite aren't you? I love that in a man."

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

"We support the troops!" - HYPOCRITES


Walk the talk ... don't just talk the talk. But, ya know, politicians are really good at talking the talk -- especially Republicans. "We support the troops!" That's what so many of them say. And I'm gonna include regular folks too.

But how are we really supporting our troops?
  • During consideration of the 2004 budget resolution, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) offered an amendment to provide an additional $1 billion for programs benefiting veterans. The added funds would have been used to boost medical and prosthetics research, speed the processing of veterans benefits, fund the construction, renovation, and maintenance of veterans hospitals, and ensure that veterans receive a proper burial. Currently 6.5 million veterans are enrolled in the veterans' affairs (VA) health care system and that number will likely grow as U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq begin to qualify for veterans benefits. Progressives support Dorgan's amendment because many U.S. soldiers are unable to afford quality health care. Forty-seven Democrats voted in support of Dorgan's amendment but the measure failed to attract a majority of Senators and was narrowly defeated by a 49-51 margin.
  • Our soldiers are not provided with adequate body armor and armored vehicles.
  • We have a Stop Loss Policy in place since 2002. The ongoing Stop Loss Policy pertains to soldiers in the National Guard and Army Reserve. This policy allows the Pentagon to keep soldiers whose enlistment is due to expire in order to maintain troop strength and unit integrity. In other words, if you signed up only for a year, the military can keep you in Iraq if they need you -- for several years. What part of indentured servitude don't you understand?
  • And what about giving our troops some time off? Stressful, dangerous work needs time off, right? Otherwise one might experience some serious side effects. Nope. Last week the Republican "We Support the Troops" Senators voted that ... no, no, the troops don't need time off. Here's how the vote went:
    Grouped by Home State
    Alabama:Sessions (R-AL), NayShelby (R-AL), Nay
    Alaska:Murkowski (R-AK), NayStevens (R-AK), Nay
    Arizona:Kyl (R-AZ), NayMcCain (R-AZ), Nay
    Arkansas:Lincoln (D-AR), YeaPryor (D-AR), Yea
    California:Boxer (D-CA), YeaFeinstein (D-CA), Yea
    Colorado:Allard (R-CO), NaySalazar (D-CO), Yea
    Connecticut:Dodd (D-CT), YeaLieberman (ID-CT), Nay
    Delaware:Biden (D-DE), YeaCarper (D-DE), Yea
    Florida:Martinez (R-FL), NayNelson (D-FL), Yea
    Georgia:Chambliss (R-GA), NayIsakson (R-GA), Nay
    Hawaii:Akaka (D-HI), YeaInouye (D-HI), Yea
    Idaho:Craig (R-ID), NayCrapo (R-ID), Nay
    Illinois:Durbin (D-IL), YeaObama (D-IL), Yea
    Indiana:Bayh (D-IN), YeaLugar (R-IN), Nay
    Iowa:Grassley (R-IA), NayHarkin (D-IA), Yea
    Kansas:Brownback (R-KS), Not VotingRoberts (R-KS), Nay
    Kentucky:Bunning (R-KY), NayMcConnell (R-KY), Nay
    Louisiana:Landrieu (D-LA), YeaVitter (R-LA), Not Voting
    Maine:Collins (R-ME), YeaSnowe (R-ME), Yea
    Maryland:Cardin (D-MD), YeaMikulski (D-MD), Yea
    Massachusetts:Kennedy (D-MA), YeaKerry (D-MA), Yea
    Michigan:Levin (D-MI), YeaStabenow (D-MI), Yea
    Minnesota:Coleman (R-MN), YeaKlobuchar (D-MN), Yea
    Mississippi:Cochran (R-MS), NayLott (R-MS), Nay
    Missouri:Bond (R-MO), NayMcCaskill (D-MO), Yea
    Montana:Baucus (D-MT), YeaTester (D-MT), Yea
    Nebraska:Hagel (R-NE), YeaNelson (D-NE), Yea
    Nevada:Ensign (R-NV), NayReid (D-NV), Yea
    New Hampshire:Gregg (R-NH), NaySununu (R-NH), Yea
    New Jersey:Lautenberg (D-NJ), YeaMenendez (D-NJ), Yea
    New Mexico:Bingaman (D-NM), YeaDomenici (R-NM), Nay
    New York:Clinton (D-NY), YeaSchumer (D-NY), Yea
    North Carolina:Burr (R-NC), NayDole (R-NC), Nay
    North Dakota:Conrad (D-ND), YeaDorgan (D-ND), Yea
    Ohio:Brown (D-OH), YeaVoinovich (R-OH), Nay
    Oklahoma:Coburn (R-OK), NayInhofe (R-OK), Nay
    Oregon:Smith (R-OR), YeaWyden (D-OR), Yea
    Pennsylvania:Casey (D-PA), YeaSpecter (R-PA), Nay
    Rhode Island:Reed (D-RI), YeaWhitehouse (D-RI), Yea
    South Carolina:DeMint (R-SC), NayGraham (R-SC), Nay
    South Dakota:Johnson (D-SD), Not VotingThune (R-SD), Nay
    Tennessee:Alexander (R-TN), NayCorker (R-TN), Nay
    Texas:Cornyn (R-TX), NayHutchison (R-TX), Nay
    Utah:Bennett (R-UT), NayHatch (R-UT), Nay
    Vermont:Leahy (D-VT), YeaSanders (I-VT), Yea
    Virginia:Warner (R-VA), YeaWebb (D-VA), Yea
    Washington:Cantwell (D-WA), YeaMurray (D-WA), Yea
    West Virginia:Byrd (D-WV), YeaRockefeller (D-WV), Yea
    Wisconsin:Feingold (D-WI), YeaKohl (D-WI), Yea
    Wyoming:Barrasso (R-WY), NayEnzi (R-WY), Nay

source

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Myanmar: Freedom from Fear


photo from thedifferencemagazine.blogspot

Our prayers are out to the people in Myanmar. The military is closing cyber and internet cafes - which is a really bad development. Freedom of communication is greatly restricted there. No free press. Citizens of Myanmar sometimes don't know what's going on there if they do not have access to the internet. Cell phones are also being caught off.

There are reported deaths. It was reported today that the military just shot into crowds of people like they did in 1988. Only 9 deaths have been officially reported. I'm surprised the number is so low.

And, this has not been confirmed yet, but Aung San Suu Kyi - Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader is said to have been transferred to the notorious Insein prison. She had been under house arrest but it was said that military officials were afraid that she would get involved in the demonstrations. The road leading to the Nobel Peace Prize-winner's house has been blocked with barbed wire and sandbags.

Heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence, Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratization, helped found the National League for Democracy on 27 September 1988, and was put under house arrest on 20 July 1989. She was offered freedom if she would leave the country, but she refused.

One of her most famous speeches is the "Freedom From Fear" speech, which begins:
It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

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Death Penalty: Two executions delayed

graphic from the Events website at Stanford University

Because the Supreme Court will be ruling whether lethal injections are cruel and unusual punishment ... or not, two executions have been delayed:
  • In Texas, the execution for Carlton Turner Jr. has been delayed.
  • In Alabama, attorneys for Tommy Arthur are sought and won a stay of his execution not only because of the high court's plans, but because Gov. Bob Riley decided Wednesday to change the state's lethal injection procedures.

And my friend Pat writes about the lethal injection in California - there are two upcoming dates:
  • November 19th - Judge Fogel, the federal judge that put executions on hold in California will be touring the new death chamber at San Quentin. There will be a protest and press conference there.
  • On December 10th at the Federal Court in San Jose (Judge Fogel's court) he will hold the hearing for the State of California to present their revised "Protocol 770" which is the three drug cocktail that the state uses to murder people.

Judge Fogel has stated that it is okay if there is pain to the prisoner in an execution, but the pain can not be "excessive" - because excessive pain is cruel and unusual punishment.

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Social Justice - Jena 6 Update

Mychal Bell has been freed on $45,000 bail. Jena D.A. Reed Walters has agreed not to appeal the higher court ruling that held that Bell should have been tried as a juvenile.

Yes. Now if only we could have a positive identification on the body found at 4 am today in Calumet City as anybody OTHER than Nailah Franklin, I will sleep a peaceful sleep tonight.

Incidentally, I'm well aware that several news sources have confirmed that the body is that of Nailah but I urge her well-wishers to take heart. The body was too badly decomposed for police to positively identify anything, even the victim's race. They are working with dental records to determine the victim's identity. There is still hope.

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Missing Person - Nailah Franklin Update

The Chicago Tribune is reporting right now that a woman's body has been found in Calumet City, and that the condition of the body is such that no one has yet been able to identify it.

A relative of Nailah Franklin claims that the body is that of Nailah, but her immediate family claims that the relative in question does not speak for them.

An autopsy is being conducted to determine the identity of the person. Let us hope it is not Nailah Franklin.

Latest update here.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dilemma

This was sent to me in the spring of 2004 ...

With all your honor and dignity what would you do?

This test only has one question, but it's a very important one. Please don't answer it without giving it some serious thought. By giving an honest answer you will be able to test where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation, where you will have to make a decision one way or the other.

Please scroll down slowly and consider each line -- this is important for the test to work accurately.

You're in Florida...In Miami, to be exact...

There is great chaos going on around you, caused by a hurricane and severe floods.

There are huge masses of water all over you.

You are a CNN photographer and you are in the middle of this great disaster.

The situation is nearly hopeless.

You're trying to shoot very impressive photos.

There are houses and people floating around you, disappearing into the water.

Nature is showing all its destroying power and is ripping everything away with it.

Suddenly you see a man in the water; he is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken away by the masses of water and mud.

You move closer. Somehow the man looks familiar.

Suddenly you know who it is - it's George W. Bush!

At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him away, forever.

You have two options. You can save him or you can take the best photo of your life.

So you can save the life of George W. Bush, or you can shoot a Pulitzer prize winning photo, a unique photo displaying the death of one of the world's most powerful men.

And here's the question (please give an honest answer):

Would you select color film, or rather go with the simplicity of classic black and white?

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Death Penalty: Lethal injection arguments


Does the three-drug cocktail used by 37 states to execute prisoners violate the Eight Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment?

Ten states have suspended the cocktail's use. Many argue that, if the condemned prisoner is not given enough anesthetic, he or she can suffer excrutiating pain without being able to cry out.

Well, the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear arguments on this issue.

I'll be keeping close watch on this. I am against the death penalty so this issue is of great importance to me!

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Missing Person: Nailah Franklin Update (Not)

Click here for most recent update.


I'm very touched at the huge outpouring of interest in Ms. Franklin that has been generated in the blogosphere. There have been occasional reports by the occasional major media organ, but nothing like the hysteria of the Lacey Petersen coverage. Thank you all for being concerned for the brilliant and beautiful Ms. Franklin. I fervently hope you will keep your eyes peeled, as there is a good chance she is no longer in Illinois. If you see her, please contact the FBI or the police immediately. You can call (312) 746-9259.

Latest update here.

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Jena 6: Want the bad news first ... or the good news?



I inherited a dominant worry gene from my mum. My niece did too. So, all day I worried about the folks in Jena, Louisiana - the black folks and their allies. I read in the Oakland Tribune this morning that white supremacists are now targeting Jena.

It reported that a white supremacist listed on his web site the names and addresses of the families of the six black teenagers that have been arrested and suggested that white folks take power back and go get them. As a result the families have reported getting lots of harassing phone calls and threats.

The power was plugged on the racist web site. But Associated Press reported that the web site was moved to a different server and restored.

What must it be like to be black in Jena right now? I stop and imagine. I don’t know that kind of fear.

I do know what it’s like to be harassed, men shouting epithets at you as you walk down the street: “DYKE!!!” or “UGLY DYKE!!!”.

I know what it’s like to be surrounded by men who hate you and shout at you. I was part of the first marches of gay people in Provincetown. And the first time that lesbians marched together with other feminists in Boston. And the men shouted their hatred. Oh, yes! I’ve had that kind of venomous energy directed at me. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Would it turn even uglier? Would I get hurt? Killed?

So, I can relate. But the situation is not really the same. It’s your whole community under seige. And no hiding.

I think we must help. Even if we’re far away.

Do I want special treatment of the teenagers? No. I want fair treatment. And so far it hasn’t seemed fair at all to me. For one thing, the white teenagers who committed a hate crime by hanging nooses from the tree (black teenagers dared to sit under this tree!) were not charged at all. Maybe Louisiana doesn’t have hate crimes on the books? Well, that’s an injustice right there. Then when the black teenagers were originally charged, they were charged with attempted murder.

Some good news on the case: The prosecution has decided to go along with the latest ruling and try Mychal Bell as a juvenile. The community is also hoping that the prosecution will lower bail so that Mychal can get out of jail.

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Entertainment - Snippets

Bill Maher:
"President Bush was hosting the Chinese president at the White House, President Hu. Or as I call them when they're together: President Hu and President Huh?

It was actually a very controversial summit. Some think it's wrong to meet a dictator with a deplorable human rights record, but apparently President Hu was okay with it."
Tom Tomorrow

Reproduced without permission, which I intend to request forthwith. I'm sorry, Mr. Tomorrow, I simply couldn't resist it.

In the words of the inimitable Twisty Faster, click comic to embiggen.

An unknown (to me) blogger:
I was listening yesterday to George Bush and
I thought, "That man must eat with his anus."
The New Battle Hymn Of The Republic(ans):
Mine eyes have seen the bungling of that stumbling moron Bush;
he has blathered all the drivel that the neocons can push;
he has lost sight of all reason 'cause his head is up his tush;
The Doofus marches on.
I have heard him butcher syntax like a kindergarten fool;
There is warranted suspicion that he never went to school;
Should we fault him for the policies - or is he just their tool?
The lies keep piling on.

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!

His wreckage will live on.
I have seen him cut the taxes of the billionaires' lone heir;
As he spends another zillion on an aircraft carrier;
Let the smokestacks keep polluting - do we really need clean air?
The surplus is now gone.

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'l l Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Your safety net is gone!

Now he's got a mighty hankerin' to bomb a prostrate state;
Though the whole world knows its crazy - and the U.N. says to wait;
When he doesn't have the evidence, "We must prevaricate."
Diplomacy is done!
Oh, a trumped-up war is excellent; we have no moral bounds;
Should the reasons be disputed, we'll just make up other grounds;
Enraging several billions - to his brainlessness redounds;
The Doofus marches on!

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Source unknown to me, unfortunately.

Poster from Corey Anderson's site

Tons more good stuff at that site, click photo caption to check it out for yourselves. Also, good swag available. Wouldn't it be great to show up at DeLay's trial wearing Tshirts with this graphic on them? Like maybe a hundred people, or so?

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Consumer Alert - Contamination

UPDATE BELOW

I hate to brag - OK, I like to brag - but can it be that AFP has only just reported that Target stores is instituting a recall of "Happy Giddy Gardening Tools" and "Sunny Patch Children's Chairs," when ye worthy blog announced that fact lo, these many weeks ago?

In any event, if you have any of these toys lying aboot where the sproggen can get at them and destroy their tender braincells, hie thee to the nearest telephone and let Target know your concerns.

Also, contact the organizations indicated in this post. It's fairly obvious that the Bushies have grievously underfunded the organizations that are supposed to ensure the lives and health of your children, and if you don't protect them, who the hell will? Not the Republicans, that's for sure. They're too busy "supporting the troops" and "supporting 'family values'" to be concerned with real lives of actual people. Sheesh!

UPDATE: Obviously, when contacting the organizations indicated in the linked post that urges you to engage in a little old-fashioned consumer activism, you would substitute your State health department for the one indicated therein. Also, you should let Target know, by mail, fax, and phone, of your concerns. It doesn't hurt to write a letter to the editor of your local birdcage liner, either. There's way too much ignoring of these serious issues going on.

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Iraq - The Truth Begins To Leak Out

It's very disappointing that a Spanish newspaper is publishing this while U.S. media is busy still speculating about Britney Spears' underpants or lack thereof, or whatever the topic of the week is.

Via Raw Story comes the report that Bush had made up his mind to invade Iraq in February of 2003, regardless of U.N. authorization, and threatened other nations who did not agree with his unilateral position.
Bush also threatened nations with retaliation if they did not vote for a UN resolution backing the Iraq war, according to the transcript. Nations like Mexico, Angola, Chile and Cameroon must know that the security of the United States is at stake, the president tells Aznar.

The [Spanish newspaper]* El Pais reported that Bush threatened to pull financial aid from Angola and warned that a free-trade agreement with Chile might be delayed in the Senate if they did not back another UN resolution.
What a bully and a lout. He doesn't understand diplomacy, tact, charm, any of those things. Bluster, swagger, and braggadocio are more his metier.

Well, it appears his bluster and swagger were insufficient to bind Iceland to the Coalition of the (Somewhat Un)willing any longer. Iceland Review recently announced that Iceland had withdrawn its sole military contribution to the coalition.

We'll be discreet and say nothing of all the others who have already left. We'll just point out that even the British are leaving. In fact, have left in all but name, already.

* AFP, as is their wont, refer to El Pais as a "leftist" newspaper, but from what I can find, it appears to be the largest Spanish daily paper and is published in association with the IHT, hardly anywhere close to left of center.

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Iraq - Possible War Crimes

Okay, I know the Iraq occupation is one big ol' war crime, but I'm talking about the recent revelation of "bait and kill" tactics, in which U.S. military snipers are instructed to scatter "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and kill anyone who picks them up.

Now, this is such a resoundingly bad idea that I'm at a loss to even take a wild guess at what kind of person might have thought of it. First of all, who's most likely to pick up something strange in the street? Little kids, right? Kids are curious, they'll pick up anything. God knows enough of them have picked up used condoms, dirty needles, and spent bullet casings in the relatively safe non-war zones of the USA.

In the streets of Iraq, where approximately 1 million Iraqis, nearly 4,000 U.S. servicemen and nearly 1,000 "contractors" have already been killed, what if a kid - any person between the ages of, say, three and 19, finds these "bomb makings"? Are we going to shoot them? Kill them? Paralyse or maim them?

And second, what about the rich plethora of opportunities this affords bored or psychopathic servicemen to shoot someone at random and then plant the "donated" evidence on the bodies? Judging from the reports coming out of Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been shot for much less already. What safeguards exist to ensure that someone who is going out of their mind with stress, or, worse yet, someone who has a vicious streak to begin with, like, say, Charles Granier or Steven Green won't randomly shoot some civilian passerby and plant evidence later?

Couldn't happen, you say? It has already:
The secrecy of the plan was ended during an murder investigation involving three snipers who allegedly used bait items to make shootings seem legitimate. While it's unclear whether the three alleged shootings, which took place within months of the program's implementation, were part of the classified program specifically, "defense attorneys argue that the program may have opened the door to the soldiers' actions because it blurred the legal lines of killing in a complex war zone."
This is nothing more nor less than a war crime. The Geneva Conventions state, in part, regarding the treatment of civilians:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
Fourth Convention, Part 1, Art. 3

U.S. military authorities themselves apparently believe this baiting might be criminal. And soldiers are permitted to refuse orders of a criminal nature.
The baiting program should be rigorously examined, says Eugene Fidell, the president of the National Institute of Military Justice, because it raises frightening possibilities.

"In a country that is awash in armaments and magazines and implements of war," he said, "if every time somebody picked up something that was potentially useful as a weapon, you might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back."
More revolting details right here.

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Missing Person - Nailah Franklin latest update

Click here for most recent update.

A body has been found in the Bridgeport neighbourhood of Chicago. It has not yet been identified. Let's hope it's not Nailah Franklin, as the police have been unable to identify it as yet.

Latest update here.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nailah Franklin Update - Hunt Intensifies

Click here for most recent update.

NEW UPDATE BELOW
This lovely young lady is Nailah Franklin. As of 19th September, she has been missing.

Nailah Franklin is 5′2″ and weighs about 115 lbs. She worked as a pharmaceutical rep for Eli Lilly. She was smart, geeky, apparently a feminist, and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Two computers were, apparently, missing from her condo, and someone (maybe herself, maybe someone else) used her telephone to text a message to her boyfriend when he called her at 8:15 the evening before she was reported missing, stating that she was in the middle of dinner and could not take his call. (???)

If you come across her, police ask that you call (312) 746-9259 without delay.

The man who threatened her apparently has a habit of threatening women, and a woman he previously dated took out a restraining order against him. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the man has a criminal record.

New Update 09/24: It is possible that Nailah has been transported across state lines. The FBI is now involved. If you see her, or know anything about this crime, please contact the authorities. You can call (312) 746-9259. As the FBI is also now involved, you might try contacting them as well.

Forensic tests are being conducted on Franklin's car, and detectives are checking security tapes from the building where she lived.
High-tech equipment from federal authorities will be brought in to assist police in the investigation into a missing Chicago businesswoman, officials said Monday.
Let's hope she is OK and soon returned to her family.

Latest update here.

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Nailah Franklin Update

Click here for most recent update.

NEW UPDATE BELOW
This lovely young lady is Nailah Franklin. As of 19th September, she has been missing. She was apparently being threatened by a man she had dated previously, who had a history of making threats to women. For details, click on CrimeBlog.

Nailah Franklin is 5′2″ and weighs about 115 lbs. She worked as a pharmaceutical rep for Eli Lilly. She was smart, geeky, apparently a feminist, and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Two computers were, apparently, missing from her condo, and someone (maybe herself, maybe someone else) used her telephone to text a message to her boyfriend when he called her at 8:15 the evening before she was reported missing, stating that she was in the middle of dinner and could not take his call. (???) Even with a mouthful of food I'd pick up the phone, if only to say "I'm eating, I'll call you back."

If you come across her, police ask that you call (312) 746-9259 without delay.

Update: Nailah Franklin's car has been found, and police have apparently retrieved some of her personal effects from the car. Let's hope she is still alive and unharmed and the miserable POS who abducted her has not had time to do anything to harm her.

Over on CrimeBlog, a reader posited that Nailah staged a disappearance to ensure that the man who was threatening her would be picked up by police. That would be a brilliant thing to do. I fervently hope and pray that is the case, and that she emerges from hiding once his sorry ass is in prison - he apparently has a habit of threatening women, and a woman he previously dated took out a restraining order against him.

New Update 09/24: WBBM Newsradio of Chicago reports that the FBI has been asked by Chicago police to join in the search for Nailah Franklin.

WBBM's Steve Miller reports that the Chicago police are not releasing much information to the media. However, CBS in Chicago reports that after Nailah's car was found, with some of her personal effects scattered near it, dive teams searched a nearby pond in the River Oaks Golf Course near Calumet City, but nothing was found. Perhaps the personal effects led them to believe they would find something in the pond?

CrimeBlog seems to believe Nailah has been transported across state lines. The FBI, generally speaking, only gets involved in crimes that might fall under federal jurisdiction (except when a crime involves a child of tender years), and transporting a person across state lines would fall into that category.

If you have any information about the case, police ask that you call (312) 746-9259. As the FBI is also now involved, you might try contacting them as well.

New Update 09/25: A $10,000 reward has been posted for the return of Nailah Franklin. Please, if you know anything about her, or the person who might have taken her, contact the authorities at (312) 746-9259 or call the FBI.

Latest update here.

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Workers' Rights - Encouraging News

Image courtesy of Experience Works

For all those older workers feeling kinda blue about their prospects in a brave new world. A recent study by Towers Perrin conducted for AARP indicates that employers need to work to keep older workers or face a skills gap.
by 2016, 39 percent of the population in the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations will be aged 50 or more compared with 30 percent in 1996.

At the same time, the percentage of the labor force that falls in the traditional working age -- 15-49 years -- will have fallen from 51 percent in 1996 to 45 percent in 2016, the study predicted.

"Many analysts are predicting growing labor shortages in tomorrow’s workforce," the study warned.
Music to my ears. I'll be working till I'm 90, I'm sure.

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Consumer Alert - Food Contamination

From Science Daily comes a warning that the FDA has announced a recall of these brands of tofu for possible contamination:
-- All varieties and sizes of Soy Deli tofu coded DEC 17 2007.

-- Thirty-ounce Soy Deli nigari tofu coded SEP 23 2007.

-- Twelve-ounce Soy Deli water pack tofu coded SEP 23 2007.

-- Sixteen-ounce Quong Hop water pack tofu coded SEP 23 2007.

The recalled Soy Deli and Quong Hop products were sold in Midwestern and West Coast supermarkets and natural food stores.

Consumers with questions can contact the company at 650-553-9900
To their credit, Quong Hop, of San Francisco, initiated the recall upon discovering contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

We salute you, people of Myanmar!

(c) 2007 K Smokey Cormier

To the monks and marchers (100,000 and more!) of Myanmar (Burma), to the members of MoveOn.org and all like-minded sisters and brothers ... to the community of Jena, Louisiana ... the miners in Utah and everywhere ... GM strikers ... the beautiful peaceniks all over the world ...

you all know ...

Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away ...

Despite that ...

Fight the Flim Flam Man ... wherever he roams ...

Dog Eat Dog

by Joni Mitchell

Dog Eat Dog
It's dog eat dog
I'm just waking up
The dove is in the dungeon
And the white washed hawks
pedal hate and call it love
Dog Eat Dog
Holy hope in the hands of
Snakebite evangelists and racketeers
And big wig financiers

Dog Eat Dog
On prime time crime the victim begs
Money is the road to justice
and power walks it on crooked legs
Prime Time Crime
Holy hope in the hands of
Snakebite evangelists and racketeers
and big wig financiers

Where the wealth's displayed
Thieves and sycophants parade
And where it's made
the slaves will be taken
Some are treated well
In these games of buy and sell
And some like poor beast
Are burdened down to breaking

Dog Eat Dog
It's dog eat dog ain't it Flim Flam man
Dog eat dog you can lie cheat skim scam
Beat' em any way you can
Dog eat Dog
You'll do well in this land of
Snakebite evangelists and racketeers
You could get to be
a big wig financier

Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away

Dog eat dog
People looking seeing nothing
Dog eat dog
People listening hearing nothing
Dog eat dog
People lusting loving nothing
Dog eat dog
People stroking touching nothing
Dog eat dog
Knowing nothing
Dog eat dog

Copyright © 1985; Crazy Crow Music

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Iraq - Success

Depends on how you define it, I suppose. Is it success when members of rival sectarian groups are blown to bits in the middle of a peace conference? Via Raw Story comes this report from AFP:
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a mosque during a reconciliation meeting between two feared militias near Iraq's restive city of Baquba on Monday, killing at least nine people.

Another 15 people were wounded in the attack which killed seven police officers, including three high-ranking ones from Baquba police, a security official said.

The official said the reconciliation meeting was between the Shiite Mahdi Army militia and the Sunni insurgent group, the Brigades of the 1920 Revolution.
The governor and the police chief of Diyala province were at the event, which was the ceremonial evening meal marking the end of the day's fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It's not clear whether they were among the dead or wounded.

Meanwhile both the Iraqis and the Iranians are furious over the detention of an Iranian in Iraq, who was apparently there at the invitation of the Kurdish authorities as well as the Iraqi government. Jalal al-Talabani is having a fit, and the puppet nature of the Iraqi regime is finally seen in that they lack the authority to expel a bunch of murderous mercenaries who are killing their citizens from their own country.

So much for your purple fingers, Iraqi people. Blackwater and Bush give you a middle finger instead.

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Missing Person Alert - Nailah Franklin Update

Click here for most recent update.

NEW UPDATE BELOW
This lovely young lady is Nailah Franklin. As of 19th September, she has been missing. She was apparently being threatened by a man she had dated previously, who had a history of making threats to women. For details, click on CrimeBlog.

Nailah Franklin is 5′2″ and weighs about 115 lbs. She worked as a pharmaceutical rep for Eli Lilly. She was smart, geeky, apparently a feminist, and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Two computers were, apparently, missing from her condo, and someone (maybe herself, maybe someone else) used her telephone to text a message to her boyfriend when he called her at 8:15 the evening before she was reported missing, stating that she was in the middle of dinner and could not take his call. (???) Even with a mouthful of food I'd pick up the phone, if only to say "I'm eating, I'll call you back."

If you come across her, police ask that you call (312) 746-9259 without delay.

Update: Nailah Franklin's car has been found, and police have apparently retrieved some of her personal effects from the car. Let's hope she is still alive and unharmed and the miserable POS who abducted her has not had time to do anything to harm her.

Over on CrimeBlog, a reader posited that Nailah staged a disappearance to ensure that the man who was threatening her would be picked up by police. That would be a brilliant thing to do. I fervently hope and pray that is the case, and that she emerges from hiding once his sorry ass is in prison - he apparently has a habit of threatening women, and a woman he previously dated took out a restraining order against him.

New Update 09/24: WBBM Newsradio of Chicago reports that the FBI has been asked by Chicago police to join in the search for Nailah Franklin.

WBBM's Steve Miller reports that the Chicago police are not releasing much information to the media. However, CBS in Chicago reports that after Nailah's car was found, with some of her personal effects scattered near it, dive teams searched a nearby pond in the River Oaks Golf Course near Calumet City, but nothing was found. Perhaps the personal effects led them to believe they would find something in the pond?

CrimeBlog seems to believe Nailah has been transported across state lines. The FBI, generally speaking, only gets involved in crimes that might fall under federal jurisdiction (except when a crime involves a child of tender years), and transporting a person across state lines would fall into that category.

If you have any information about the case, police ask that you call (312) 746-9259. As the FBI is also now involved, you might try contacting them as well.

Latest update here.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Politics - An Excellent Idea

Graphic courtesy of Shut It Down

Over at Shut It Down, some excellent bloggenvolk have come up with an irresistible idea - let's everybody not go to work on October the 17th. Just shut the whole goddamn machine down.

You can take a sick day, or a vacation day, or a personal day, or whatever. Just stay home with the kids, the family, the beasties, and do what you want as long as it does not involve keeping the corporate machine going.

Because, as those fine folk point out, the government is just not listening to the people. And the only way to get them to listen is to shut the machine down.

I'm distributing this to everyone I know. Let's hope it takes off. Please pass it on.

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Health - Controlling Diabetes

This is an interesting piece of news - from Auntie Beeb, again. Following up on my previous post about fatty liver disease, a Hammersmith Hospital NHS Trust team has found that adding a single low-glycemic-index food to a meal reduces blood sugar. I found the first paragraph of the following excerpt from the article a bit ironic - and scary - but overall, the article is quite heartening, and anyone with diabetes would do well to follow their recommendation:
Although the British Dietetic Association has warned against over-reliance on such diets, pointing out ice cream has a low GI value, and the key to losing weight was cutting down on calories.

The Hammersmith team measured the blood sugar levels of nine people on normal diets, and then put them on a low GI diet involving replacing one low GI item per meal for two weeks.

When the readings were taken again eight out of nine subjects had lower blood sugar readings.
Brag: I eat only whole-grain products. In fact, I very very rarely eat bread at all. Mostly, it's bulgur, couscous, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, beans, lentils, and all dem other good things.

Disclaimer: I guess I don't sound quite so holy when I point out that I really like all that stuff, so it's not as if I'm forcing myself to eat stuff that I hate but is good for me. I do, however, have a terrible weakness for potatoes. So I force myself NOT to eat them. Except when I can't take it anymore. Then I cook them with lots of veges and some form of protein and lots of spices. And thoroughly enjoy noshing on them.

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Health - Watch The Starch Intake

From Auntie Beeb comes this edifying tidbit of health news - a diet high in high-glycemic-index foods, like white bread, white rice, and potatoes, can result in fatty liver disease, which ultimately leads to insulin resistance and a higher risk of liver failure.

The information results from a study carried out at Boston Children's Hospital using diets with identical calorie levels but different ingredients. Processed breakfast cereals, bread, rice, and potatoes all fell in the category of "bad for you." Pasta, nuts, whole grain products, legumes, and fruit, despite having the same calorie content, ranked in the "good for you," or low-glycemic-index, column.

According to the researchers,
Between a quarter and half of all overweight American children are thought to have the condition, he said.

"This is a silent but dangerous epidemic," he said.

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Social Justice - Further Update on Jena

Photo from jstheater
In the interest of fairness, I just read another person's opinion on the Jena 6, and am obliged to link to their post with an update. The author is one Eddie Thompson, a pastor, who claims he was interviewed by Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune (but did not link to any story that might verify his claim). The author claims to have forced the story of the Jena 6 onto the national stage. I can't verify the claims.

However, I did find the author's tone reasonable, and he did offer a different perspective on the whole incident. I have no way of verifying his statements. I have a day job, which does not afford me time to schlep to Louisiana to check him out, nor do I have the urge to contact him upon discovering that he is a, um, rather fundamentalist pro-Bush, anti-woman, right-wing type person. I probably should swallow my prejudice against the anti-science pro-bush people, but I have too much else to do in my life that I find more worthy of my time and efforts.

I do take his point that news coverage in this country has turned into such a fucking circus that one ought to eye anything reported by the mainstream media with a healthy dose of suspicion.

At any rate, I think he has a few good points. However, as one of his commenters pointed out, the number of nooses is hardly an issue. The fact that there were nooses at all is what's important here.

It still does not change my opinion of this whole fiasco. The DA should never have charged the black kids with attempted murder, and Mychal Bell should not be jailed pending the outcome of his appeal.

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Social Justice - Update on Jena


AP reports that a Louisiana judge has refused a request by Mychal Bell's defense attorneys to release the teenage high-school football star from jail pending his appeal. Bell is one of the Jena 6, six black classmates from the town of Jena in Louisiana who were arrested and charged with attempted murder as the result of a brawl between white and black kids.

The brawl occurred because black kids were not permitted to sit under a shade tree on the school grounds. Bell apparently requested the principal's permission to sit under the tree, and the principal agreed. However, white students did not, and the following day, several nooses were discovered fastened to a tree limb. Then a white student pulled a gun on a black student, who took the gun away from him. Some time after that incident, the boys started a round of fisticuffs as a result of which one of the white boys was knocked unconscious. However, he recovered in time to attend a party later that evening, leading me to wonder how serious his injuries were.

None of the white boys has been charged. Five of the black boys were charged with attempted murder and threatened with 20-year sentences by the D.A., who also happens to sit on the school board. (The sixth was charged in juvenile court, which proceedings are sealed, so it is not known with what he was charged.)The case was appealed to a higher court, which returned it to the lower court with instructions to retry, as they had tried the 16-year-old Bell as an adult when he was entitled to the protections of juvenile court.

It should be fairly obvious from the facts that the disparity in the treatment of basically a bunch of stupid teenagers is the result of some deep-seated racist attitudes. And that is simply unacceptable in law. All these kids are idiots. If we jailed every teenage boy who ever got into a brawl, the human race would die out tout suite. The black kids should get the exact same sentence the white kids did. Community service or probation with a warning to keep their damned ass out of trouble or they'll get something worse next time. If Mychal Bell is to be jailed pending appeal, then the white kids should be jailed also.

According to the local radio station, some 80,000 protesters showed up in Louisiana to march for the Jena 6, many from several states away. I'm glad that people are standing up to this naked racism. It is simply unacceptable. Given the thorough corruption of the Justice Department, and the gutting of its Civil Rights division, it's unavoidable, I suppose, that these sort of prosecutions will occur.

From AP via the Guardian:
``This is why we did not cancel the march,'' said the Rev. Al Sharpton, an organizer of Thursday's rally along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP. ``When they overturned Mychal's conviction, everyone said we won.''

Jackson said in an interview Friday that federal intervention is needed to protect Bell's rights. Sharpton said he has scheduled meetings in Washington with congressional leaders to discuss the Jena Six case.
Our eyes are watching you, Jena. You will not get away with it this time.

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Military procurement investigated


Another story that is under reported: Do our soldiers have the best body armor? Or has politics played a part in the type of armor they are given? Are some military procurement officers setting themselves up for a lucrative job at retirement and putting our soldiers in harms way as a result? PBS via The Lehrer Report did a good job of challenging the status quo in this story.

Apparently, Interceptor body armor was picked as the military’s choice. Some say Dragon Skin is far better.

I love this quote:
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), Georgia: It astounds me to hear you suggest that our military would rig the system in favor of some favored vendor, contractor when lives are at stake.
Come on! I'm not supposed to question corruption in the military? Am I really supposed to believe in this day and age that the military is squeaky clean when it comes to corruption. Man, another politician that thinks we’re idiots.

No. No corruption ... we are to believe. Yet, there’s definitely a stink of conflict of interest. Here’s an excerpt from the broadcast. Norwood is John Norwood a former colonel who was championing Interceptor boy armor.

PAUL SOLMAN: Meanwhile, Norwood, present at the test that failed Dragon Skin, retired last summer, immediately went to work for Interceptor contractor Armor Holdings, with $350 million in body armor contracts in the year since Norwood's appointment. Norwood declined our request for an interview.

While General Mark Brown wouldn't give us an interview either, he did talk to NBC's Lisa Myers in the spring.

LISA MYERS: Are you aware that an Army colonel who oversaw the testing of Dragon Skin now works for one of the companies making the Army's current body armor?

BRIG. GEN. MARK BROWN: Yes, I'm aware.

LISA MYERS: And you're not troubled?

BRIG. GEN. MARK BROWN: No, I'm not troubled at all.

LISA MYERS: And you don't see a conflict of interest at all?

BRIG. GEN. MARK BROWN: Not since he followed all the laws and regulations and ethical rules about post-service employment, no, I don't see a conflict.

PAUL SOLMAN: We asked Winslow Wheeler, a longtime Capitol Hill staffer turned defense spending watchdog, for his reaction.

WINSLOW WHEELER, Center for Defense Information: The law is full of loopholes, and they're not even enforcing what tatters are left of the old revolving-door legislation.

PAUL SOLMAN: And the practice of someone leaving the military for a job with a company he awarded contracts to?

WINSLOW WHEELER: It's standard behavior. It's the way the system works. It's the way the system keeps itself going.
Meanwhile, some families of soldiers have been raising money to buy Dragon Skin armor for their loved ones in the military. They don’t like the way the system works when it comes to the safety of their loved ones.

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Politics - The Media And The Election

From the Guardian of the U.K. comes an impressive report on the U.S. elections of 2008 and the Presidential candidates. My question is, why do I have to rely on British papers to give me news about the Democratic candidates? The local birdcage liners are full of puerile pieces - witness this*, from Matt Bai - about how dreamy and manly-smelling the Republican candidates are, and what fucking hippies the Left are. Nothing of substance is asked about the political positions of the various candidates or their plans to lead the nation out of the quagmire that seven years of The Stupidest Fool On Teh Planet have left us in.

The war. The economic mess. The decay of the national infrastructure. The health care crisis. The mortgage crisis. The immigration crisis. The broken military. The corrupted Justice Department. The rise of racism. The unfunded, destructive, and pathetic NCLB act that is slowly sinking the schools. The treasury. The deficit. The destruction of a great and beautiful American city. The housing crisis. The destruction of the middle class. These are real issues, goddammit, and a lot more important to me than whether Fred Thompson smells of Aqua Vulva.

The Guardian article points out:
The Democrats who are running for president are flush with policy proposals, position papers and fact sheets. The leading Republican contenders, not so much.

Rudy Giuliani has his ``12 Commitments.'' Mitt Romney has his ``Strategy for a Stronger America.'' John McCain still serves up his ``straight talk.'' But, whether by design or default, they leave far more to the imagination than do the Democrats in discussing the big issues.
Yes! That's right! All I'm hearing from the Republicans is bullshit and babble. Mitt "My sons are just like the military, they're fighting to get me elected" Romney; John "We must keep throwing bodies into the Iraq meatgrinder" McCain; Rude "Torture! Kill! Imprison! 9/11!!9/11!! Scuse me I gotta take a call from my hot piece a nookie" Ghouliani; Fred "I don't know. I don't remember. I have no idea. Brawk! Blort!" Thompson; Tom "Hate 'em! Kill 'em! Shoot doze Messicans!" Tancredo.

And on the other side of the fence, Barack Obama, detailing his plans for the housing problem. Hillary Clinton (full disclosure: I can't stand her, although I once really liked and admired her) handling herself like a seasoned trooper; John Edwards, with his detailed health care plans, his ideas about jobs, the economy, schools, revitalizing towns and states and nations. Bill Richardson, who has figured out how to pay for the health care proposals he makes.

Goddammit, that's what I want to hear. And I'm willing to bet, as the economic crisis deepens and people realize that the fit is about to hit Awol McJeebus' shan, they'll want to hear it too.

At any rate. The Guardian. It's an excellent source of information.

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