Saturday, April 12, 2008

DOLE Flower Workers Fight Inhumane Working Conditions

Dole flowers. I bet that you didn't know they were into flowers too. In fact, they run huge plantations in Colombia and Ecuador. Eighty percent of the cut flowers in American stores come from these two nations and Dole runs many of these near-slave labor plantations.

Dora Acero, a flower worker from Colombia, spoke [through an interpreter] to a church group this evening, telling them of the terrible working conditions that Dole forces upon them in the greenhouses. One toilet for 80 workers, a scant amount of drinking water, 18-hour shifts, harmful pesticides and fungicides, low pay, no benefits, and the inability to unionize. In fact, attempts at organizing the workers leads to death.

Dole, the same company that screwed the workers in Hawaii and the Philippines, is doing it again in South America. USLEAP, a labor education project, has the full story of the brutilization of the mestizo and Indian workers in the flower growing regions of South America.

Letters were written to the CEO of Dole as part of the action plan to try to convince Dole that Americans will not stand for those labor conditions from an Americna Corporation. Further, letters were written to Senator George Voinovich urgin him to oppose the Colombia Free Trade Agreement that the Bush Administration has sent to Congress. This agreement would devistate the local produce workers in that country.

Educate yourself about this tragedy unfolding right now , a story that hides behind the beauty of the product being produced.

Obama Chastised for Telling the Truth

It must be some sort of secret and Barack Obama opened the box that he wasn't supposed to open. Both of his opponents jumped on him for saying what he did. It must be something that Americans ought not know about. And Obama let the cat out of the bag.

The secret? That many rural Americans have not moved forward for the last 25 years even though the politicians tell them that things will get better.

He said, "The jobs have been gone now for 25 years" in a lot of small towns. They fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate. And they have not. And it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Apparently he wasn't supposed to bring that topic up. Hillary Clinton said that he was an elitist for saying it and told her audiences that she sees hope and optimism in these working class people. Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain adviser, described Obama's statement as "remarkable" and "extremely revealing." He went on: "It shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking. It is hard to imagine someone running for President who is more out of touch with average Americans."

Out of touch? Elitist? Interesting comments. Apparently 'those people' to whom Obama referred have been enjoying a large slice of the American pie; it's just that they didn't know it. Perhaps they are blinded by prosperity and do not realize all of the opportunities for economic advancement entitled to them.

Funny stuff. It's always funny when politicians come around. It reminds me of the 'don't look behind the curtain' line in the Wizard of Oz. No, they ought not do that Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain because surely, you have the answers to their economic future.

And that would be?

Here's the saddest part of this 'story.' These voters will not vote for the man who addressed their economic plight. No, they will vote the way they always have: for the politician who promises the golden calf.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Has the Dye Been Cast?

Hot of the wires: Pat Buchanan is writing that Gen Pretraeus
on Tuesday and Wednesday and Bush yesterday laid the basis for
an attack on Iran.
Buchanan says: "Hence, be not surprised if President Bush appears
before the TV cameras, one day soon, to declar: My commanding
general in Iraq, David Pretraeus, has told me that Iran with the
knowledge of President Ahmadinejad, has become a privileged
sanctuary for two terrorist organizations-Hezbollah and the Quds
force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard-to train, arm and
direct terrorist attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, despite repeated
promises to halt this murderous practice.
I have therefore directed the U.S. air and naval forces to
begin air strikes on these base camps of terror. Our attacks will
continue until the Iranian attacks cease."

Buchanan and others believe that Bush wants to knock out the
nuclear facilities and that when Iran announced it was increasing
uranium production Bush and his Cabal took that as a direct

Moreover, this scenario has been made possible by the Democrats. Yeah, here
I go again, lol!!! But facts are facts. The Democratic Congress
elected in 2006 to end the war has not done it. In addition, Nancy
Pelosi pulled back a House resolution t5hat would have denied Bush
the authority to attack Iran. Now, he can as commander-in-chief.
Thanks to the Democrats, Bush-Cheney have another blank check......

Snakes with Feet

Genesis 3:14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

Science 2008: Scientists discover snake with legs.

These damned liberal scientists are doing their best to spread moral decay throughout the world! We ought to limit their freedom to speak!

Enough silliness. The BBC reports that a fossil animal locked in Lebanese limestone has been shown to be an extremely precious discovery - a snake with two legs. Researchers at the European Light Source (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, used intense X-rays to confirm that a creature imprinted on a rock, and with one visible leg, had another appendage buried just under the surface of the slab.

"We were sure he had two legs but it was great to see it, and we hope to find other characteristics that we couldn't see on the other limb," said Alexandra Houssaye from the National Museum of Natural History, Paris.

The 85cm-long (33in) creature, known as Eupodophis descouensi, comes from the Late Cretaceous, about 92 million years ago.

Hmmm. About 92 million years ago? Wait a minute! That can't be right because Genesis says that the snake lost its limbs only 6000 years ago. Something is fishy here!!

The American Flag as Weapon ran the story and photo [plus others] on their website today of an ugly incident in Boston 32 years ago this Spring. They called it The Soiling of Old Glory.

The picture, taken by Stanley Forman at an anti-busing rally held at Boston's City Hall Plaza on April 5, 1976, won the Pulitzer Prize for the Boston Herald American spot news photographer.

"The Soiling of Old Glory," Stanley J. Forman's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph. Boston, April 5, 1976. A portrait of unthinkable racial hatred, the photograph punctured the nation's comfortable illusion that the struggle over civil rights was primarily a Southern phenomenon, and it crystallized Boston's reputation as a racist city. Following the assault, the man at the center of the frame, who is none other than Landsmark, proclaimed that someone tried "to kill me with an American flag."


One wonders if the angry young teen with the flag grew up to be a different kind of person than he was then, whether he still hates a person for the color of their skin? I guess we'll find some answers 11 days from today when Pennsylvania goes to the polls. That section of the state between the two big cities is described as 'Alabama.'

I wonder how many Americans believe in their hearts that a black man doesn't deserve to sit in the Oval Office, just because of the pigmentation of his skin? Who taught them that prejudice? How far down line of ancestry can racial hatred be passed in this Land of the Free?

Throughout the world we note generational hatred that can be traced back 2000 years, The Middle East gives us many examples. You'd think that something different would have developed here in the Land of Liberty.

Of course, one must remember that America was populated by folks who left their homeland 'over there' to settle over here. Many were outcasts who suffered economic hardship because of their status; the Irish come to mind. Many Irish settled in Boston: did that teen with the flag hear family stories of economic injustice from the Old World? Is he, himself, re-enacting the same scenario that led to so many Irish fleeing to America?

Does injustice breed injustice? Or do most people learn tolerance from injustice?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Move Over Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce

Harper's article, Worst. President. Ever. by Scott Horton states:

"Among historians, there is no doubt into which echelon he falls–his competitors are Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce, the worst of the presidential worst. But does Bush actually come in dead last?

Yes. History News Network’s poll of 109 historians found that 61 percent of them rank Bush as “worst ever” among U.S. presidents.

The data: History News Network’s poll of 109 historians found that 61 percent of them rank Bush as “worst ever” among U.S. presidents. Bush’s key competition comes from Buchanan, apparently, and a further 2 percent of the sample puts Bush right behind Buchanan as runner-up for “worst ever.” 96 percent of the respondents place the Bush presidency in the bottom tier of American presidencies. And was his presidency (it’s a bit wishful to speak of his presidency in the past tense–after all there are several more months left to go) a success or failure? On that score the numbers are still more resounding: 98 percent label it a “failure.”


Just think, though, there are some Americans who think he was among the very best: that's why they voted for him, TWICE!

So much for credibility and judgement, eh?

Book: Parenting Beyond Belief

Can parents raise ethical, caring children without instilling a religious belief upon them is the question answered by a book former college professor Dale McGowan. McGowan is runs the blog with the kitsch title, The Meming of Life.

In the preface to the book, the author writes, "This is also not a book of arguments against religious belief, nor one intended to convince readers to raise their children secularly. This book is intended to support and encourage those who, having already decided to raise their children without religion, are in search of that support and encouragement."

That ought to silence those reactionary right-wingers who were ready to have the book banned from the local bookstore before they even read it.

The following topics are contained in the book:

Living with Religion, Holidays and Celebrations, Being and Doing Good, Meaning and Purpose, Dealing with Death, Questioning, the Wonder of Science, and Seeking Community.

Take the 'dealing with death' subject for example. As we and our friends move past our mid-sixties, we often notice that, in our discussions, quite a few express skepticism about 'what comes next.' Oh sure, we were all taught the life-after-death stuff, but few of us actually have a firm faith that this will come true for us. When my grandmother died when I was 10, I was told, 'Grandma's in heaven now,' as if to comfort me. Perhaps it did, but it confused me more.

So why does God 'take' the little boy who suffered leukemia to 'heaven' before he even really knew what life on earth was like? Oh, sure, that book has 'all of the answers,' but it really doesn't at all.

Maybe this is it: maybe the Hokey-Pokey IS what it's all about!

Earth's First Animal: Rather Complex

LiveScience reports:

Earth's first animal was the ocean-drifting comb jelly, not the simple sponge, according to a new find that has shocked scientists who didn't imagine the earliest critter could be so complex.

The mystery of the first animal denizen of the planet can only be inferred from fossils and by studying related animals today. To get to the bottom of that, scientists analyzed massive volumes of genetic data to define the earliest splits at the base of the animal tree of life.

The tree of life is a hierarchy of evolutionary relationships among species that shows which groups split off on their own evolutionary path first.The new study surprisingly found that the comb jelly was the first animal to diverge from the base of the tree, not the less complex sponge, which had previously been given the honor.


The Tree of life. I wonder if that's the same tree that grew in that fantasy land, Eden? After all, some ancient manuscript of a nomadic tribe wandering through the deserts of the Middle East recorded such a tree. Interesting stuff that scientists report to us.

The magic fades.

Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet and Ashcroft: The Torture Club.

The Washington Post reports this today:

Top Bush aides, including Vice President Cheney, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement, according to an ABC News report aired last night.
Discussions were so detailed, ABC's sources said, that some interrogation sessions were virtually choreographed by a White House advisory group. In addition to Cheney, the group included then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of state Colin Powell, then-CIA director George Tenet and then-attorney general John Ashcroft.

At least one member of the club had some qualms. ABC reports that Ashcroft "was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

"According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: 'Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.'"


History? What about today, April 10, 2008? War crimes: war criminals. The World Court ought to start writing warrants for their arrest.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The President Sheds Tears

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, Navy SEAL, fell on a grenade to save his buddies. President Bush presented Monsoor's parents with a posthumous Medal of Honor for their son at a White House ceremony on Tuesday. Bush quoted one of the SEALS saved by Monsoor as saying, "Mikey looked death in the face that day and said, 'You cannot take my brothers. I will go in their stead.'"

So why did tears well up in Mr. Bush's eyes? After all, 4019 other U.S. military men and women have died in his preemptive war. Does he choke up upon hearing of each death he caused?

Perhaps he's thinking of his own 'courage' when he was Monsoor's age- the year [give or take] where he attended [or did not attend] Texas Air National Guard service during the Vietnam War. In front of him are the parents of a young man who did serve his country and who saved his fellow buddies by leaping on a grenade.

Maybe he was thinking of his own parents who know that he wiggled out of military service could that be why he has the tears?

Perhaps he teared-up because he is thinking back five years to his photo-op landing on the flight deck, full costume, to declare 'mission accomplished.'

Possibly the tears are supplication for the gross error in judgment in calling our military to action to drive a political agenda, a utopian scheme conjured up by a knot of idealogues much more skillful than he.

Maybe his tears are a longing for his younger years, the good times when he had fun shooting frogs in the family pond or sticking firecrackers down their throats and watching them explode.

Or, all of the above.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Darwinian Evolution Coming Right Up!

PLOS Biology presents a paper that essentially blows a large hole in the anti-evolution agenda of many fundamentalists. This new paper details the experiment that moves the so-called 'theory' of evolution to reality. The anti-science crowd has acused Darwin of only having a theory rather than proof of evolution. Although this paper will not satisfy the anti-science people, it is refreshing to watch them wiggle, squirm and spin themselves towards their 'truth.'

NewScientist reports:

Researchers have created an automated device that evolves a biological molecule on a chip filled with hundreds of miniature chambers. The molecule, which stitches together strands of RNA, became 90 times more efficient after just 70 hours of evolution."It's survival of the fittest," says Brian Paegel, a biochemist at the Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California, who led the study with colleague Gerald Joyce. The experiment could be used in the future to evolve molecules – or even cells – to sense environmental pollutants, Paegel says.

The article continues:

And by demonstrating natural selection in real-time, the device could also help dispel doubts over evolution in the classroom and beyond, says Joyce. "There's a whole bunch of people who think evolution is only theory, including some former presidential candidates."
While Darwin used natural selection to explain differences between species, his principles also work at the level of molecules.

Of course, the scientific community has long embraced the Darwinian model while hte fundamentalists believe that it all took place by magic.

In the book Science and Nonbelief by Taner Edis, he makes the important point that one reason for the failure of science to displace religious belief is that science, particularly physics, is hard. To think as a scientist does not come naturally to the human brain. Thus, it is easy to accept magic because it is easier to 'understand.'

Edis says that Darwin did away with the need to postulate direct intervention by the Creator to produce the world of living things, although there are still some Biblical fundamentalists, especially in the USA, who refuse to accept this. The extreme form of this is frank Creationism, but there is also a more sophisticated version, Intelligent Design. Other Christians adopt a less extreme position and find it possible to accommodate Darwinism within their religious framework.

The author says: "it also no surprise that opposition to evolution so consistently appeals to religious people. Though creationists are masters of the bad argument, their basic intuition that modern evolutionary theory has a corrosive effect on religion is correct. Liberal assurances that Darwin's ideas are no threat to spirituality are at best evasive. So anti-evolutionary reactions are not about to go away; we can expect creationism to flare up with regularity in deeply religious cultures like the US and the Islamic world. "

Yes, the Islamic world and the fundamentalist Christian world are kissing cousins.

Members of Congress are "Invested" in War Profiteering

Inter Press Service reports today that members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon contracts to provide goods and services to U.S. armed forces, say nonpartisan watchdog groups.

Here's the list:

Senator John Kerry tops the list of investors. His holdings in firms with Pentagon contracts of at least five million dollars stood at between 28.9 million dollars and 38.2 million dollars as of Dec. 31, 2006. Kerry sits on the Senate foreign relations panel.

Rep Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican with holdings of 12.1 million - 49.1 million dollars;

Rep. Robin Hayes, a North Carolina Republican (9.2 million - 37.1 million dollars);

Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin (5.2 million - 7.6 million dollars);

Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat (2.7 million - 6.3 million dollars).

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democrat and former governor of West Virginia who chairs the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, invested some 2.0 million dollars in Pentagon contractors;

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent who presides over the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee;

Rep. Howard Berman, the California Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In all, 151 current members of Congress -- more than one-fourth of the total -- have invested between 78.7 million dollars and 195.5 million dollars in companies that received defence contracts of at least 5.0 million dollars, according to CRP.

So, Did you Think Petraeus Was Going to Say Something Else?

Stay the course. Petraeus, Bush, Cheney, McCain...

Gosh, imagine that!

As long as we are there....


Monday, April 7, 2008

New Anti-Evolution Film Stirs Controversy

The title of this post comes from The article begins:

NEW YORK — A handful of journalists filed into a small theater at the Park Avenue Screening Room here last night to see a preview for "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." The 90-minute documentary-style flick features Ben Stein, a comedian, lawyer, actor and former speechwriter. It is a movie about the so-called debate between supporters of "intelligent design" and Charles Darwin's scientific theory of evolution.

The title of the film, "Expelled" is supposed to refer to nutty fundamentalists who have been, as they say, 'expelled' from university science departments for their theological-science views. The article says that the film 'is smattered with gloomy scenes of the Berlin Wall's construction, the Holocaust and other World War II-era footage, with Stein arguing during the course of it that a handful of academics have been persecuted for their beliefs that run counter to the scientific establishment.'

Odd stuff; odd people. Don't you just wonder why these people have to have a Deity who creates everything down to microbes and virus? It just 'couldn't happen on its own.' And the 'proof' is some old diary of a nomadic tribe from 6000 years ago.

The film presents laughable statements like Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory is partly responsible for Nazism and the Holocaust. And this: when scientist [and atheist] Richard Dawkins discusses scientific hypotheses for the seeding of life on Earth from another planet, for example, the film quickly displays black-and-white movie clips of flying saucers and aliens. B-filmaking, to be sure.

Yet, the fundies will be drawn to it like they were drawn to the Creation Museum in Kentucky so that they will not feel so all-alone in their unscientific beliefs, substituting magic and mystery for scientific data..

Survivor of Religious Fanatic to Run for Congress

Jackie Speier was shot five times and lay on the runway of the airport for Jonesville Guyana for 22 hours, faking death. Today, she is running for Congress to replace long-time NAZI survivor, Congressman Tom Lantos, a San Mateo California Democrat, who died a few weeks ago.

Speier was only 28 when she accompanied Congressman Leo J. Ryan in 1978 to Jonestown, Guyana. They were part of a U.S. fact-find group that was to investigate rumors that people, including many from Bay Area families, were being held hostage by cult leader, the Rev. James Jones. At conclusion of their two-day investigation, gunmen from the People’s Temple cult ambushed, shot and killed Congressman Ryan and four others while they were preparing to leave. Ms Speier was struck by five bullets and was “left for dead” on the runway for 22 hours. The next day, she was found barely alive. Two bullets are still lodged in her body.

I would imagine that, if elected, Congress-woman Speier would be keeping close tabs on quirky religious groups such as the newly exposed cult of polygamists in Eldorado Texas. Cults with strong fundamentalist ideas are anathema to a democracy like ours.

It must be quite an honor for the people of San Mateo to have two distinguished 'human rights fighters' represent them in Congress. Lantos was part of a resistance movement against the Nazis during the German occupation of Hungary. Speaking before his peers he he sometimes referred to himself as one of the few living members of Congress who fought against fascism. Now the citizens of this congressional district will be honored with a brave woman who nearly lost her life in an attempt to free some Americans from a dictatorial cultist leader who usurped Jesus and brainwashed the 'faithful.'

General Petraeus Comes to Washington: Lessons in Spin

He's coming again to 'testify' that the Bush/Cheney War on Iraq is 'still working.' Coincidentally, both senators Clinton and McCain will question him in the same room tomorrow. Neither has apologized to the American people for their poor judgment in giving Bush/Cheney carte blanch to launch their dirty little war. McCain, no doubt, will help Petraeus spin, bob, and weave that the 'surge is working;' if he didn't his entire campaign for the White house would implode in on itself.

Author and Nobel economic laureate Joseph Stiglitz has written a new book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, that brings to light 'expense items that have been hidden from the U.S. taxpayer, including not only big-ticket items like replacing military equipment (being used up at six times the peacetime rate) but also the cost of caring for thousands of wounded veterans—for the rest of their lives.' On MSNBC Stiglitz noted what the citizens' taxpayer's money would have produced if instead it had been invested in the further growth of the U.S. economy rather on continuing this war.

Blinded by Patriotism might be the subtitle- a topic I have introduced many times on this blog. Millions of Americans waving the flag, cheering on the Bush/Cheney war like a Final Four basketball game. The game's over, but the damage goes on and on.

By the way, where are the next 100,000 soldiers coming from to replace the ones who have served 2, 3, and 4 tours in Iraq? Who is stepping up to volunteer to go to Baghdad, Basra, and the neighborhoods of Sadr City?

And where is the outrage amongst the citizens? Where are thee IMPEACH BUSH and CHENEY signs? Where are the throngs of people on the streets demanding their heads? Where is the civil disobedience to point out the injustice done by these two men?

Where? No where.

"It's too late now," is the wimpy reply when pressed for an answer.

Too late? Too late to punish two men who have nearly ruined our nation? Too late to assure that two more scoundrels like these will not find it just as easy to do it all over again?

Shockingly, both Bush and Cheney will complete their terms unscratched by their terrible misuse of power and skate off into the sunset with American flags waving and the citizens clapping for them.

Perhaps we deserve what has fallen upon this nation. Careless citizens deserve care-less leaders.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Reagan Democrats- Will the Farce Continue in Pennsylvania this Year?

Wikipedia describes a 'Reagan Democrat' as voters who ' longer saw Democrats as champions of their middle-class aspirations, but instead saw them as working primarily for the benefit of others: the very poor, the unemployed, African Americans, and other political pressure groups. In addition, Reagan Democrats enjoyed gains during the period of alleged economic prosperity that coincided with the Reagan administration following the "malaise" of the Carter administration. They also supported Reagan's strong stance on national security and opposed the 1980s Democratic Party on such issues as pornography, crime, and taxes.'

Where will they be this fall? Many pundits say that the state of Pennsylvania may be key to electing a Democrat to the White house this fall. One joke about the voters of that state is that Pennsylvania is Philly and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. Odd conglomeration of political thought.

Bush lost Pennsylvania in 2004 51-49 as he did in 2000 . The map above indicates in shades of red 'swing' counties, counties that vote either Republican or Democrat depending on the candidate and the mood of the voters. What is the 'mood' of the Pennsylvanians this year?

Here's a question that a group of us discussed yesterday at breakfast: If the country continues to move more deeply into recession from now until November, will those 'Reagan Democrats' whose economic situation is shaky turn away from a black candidate on racial grounds? Will they suspect that Barack Obama would be 'working primarily for the benefit of others: the very poor, the unemployed, African Americans?'

Perhaps the Pennsylvania primary on the 22nd will give us a clue. How will the swing counties vote? Will they vote Hillary because she's white? As a multi-millionaire, Mrs. Clinton cannot be thought of as a blue-collar Democrat, but where will these blue-collar Democrats turn? Will they cast a racial vote out of economic fear? I wouldn't be surprised.

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