Friday, July 30, 2004

A Day Late, A Dollar Short

So I missed Kerry's speech last night b/c I was busy being a good corporate bee and entertaining clients. Today, I was able to watch the speech at MSNBC. [I originally tried C-SPAN, but their links were down and CNN makes you PAY FOR THEIR VIDEOS! (You have to give em a credit card number even for the 14 day trial pass) and ABC had nothin.]

Anyway, it was a pretty good speech. Um, I had a lot to drink last night so that's about all I think about the speech. Here's my favorite part of the speech:
I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.
Emphasis added. Transcript from Now back to today's regularly scheduled work, reading a September issue of a sister magazine.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

WaPo Reports on Corrupt Boeing officials and Even More Corrupt DOD employees
The WP points out that a former Boeing CFO is scheduled for a
plea hearing next month, where he is expected to admit that he recruited an Air Force officer with a lucrative contract while the same officer was overseeing a $23.5 billion tanker-leasing with the company deal. While the official, Michael Sears, will probably not implicate anyone else, he is "first senior executive at a major Pentagon contractor to be charged with a felony in a generation" and may act as a beachhead for investigators who are trying to crack down on the conflict-of-interest problems that permeate Department of Defense contractors.
Who among us really thinks the Bush Administration is really going to crack down on conflict of interest problems? They'd lose over half the administration if they truly cared about conflict of interest! [quote from Today's Papers]

Rev. Al Sharpton Rocked the House Last Night

All the news outlets say he got the loudest applause last night. I have to take their word for it b.c I was busy revving up the economic engine of our fine country. Here's a full transcript of his speech. Here are my highlights:
This court has voted five to four on critical issues of women's rights and civil rights. It is frightening to think that the gains of civil and women rights and those movements in the last century could be reversed if this administration is in the White House in these next four years.

I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the court in '54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school. ...

The promise of America provides that those who work in our health care system can afford to be hospitalized in the very beds they clean up every day.

The promise of America is that government does not seek to regulate your behavior in the bedroom, but to guarantee your right to provide food in the kitchen.

The issue of government is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom, it's to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen. ...

It, to me, is a glaring contradiction that we would fight, and rightfully so, to get the right to vote for the people in the capital of Iraq in Baghdad, but still don't give the federal right to vote for the people in the capital of the United States, in Washington, D.C. ...

You said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule.

That's where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres.

We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us. ...

Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn't gained because of our age. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs, soaked in the blood of good men (inaudible) soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham. This vote is sacred to us.

This vote can't be bargained away.

This vote can't be given away.

Mr. President, in all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale.
emphasis added. By the way, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Samoa also deserve to vote in federal elections. One person should mean one vote - in the presidential race, in political party conventions, and everywhere Americans vote. (There are "super-delegates" to the DNC who are so important, their votes count more than ordinary Democrats.) We need a constitutional amendment that dissolves the corrupt Electoral College and restores each citizen's equal position in the fate of this country.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

William Saletan Preaches His Spin on the DNC

You know how they say the biggest critics are failed artists? Yeah, well I'm feeling that from Saletan. I read his latest two entries on Teresa and Obama and it annoyed the hell out of me. We can't expect every woman to speak from the experience of pulling herself up by her bootstraps - her experience is worthwhile, even if she's rich. Obviously, a poor farm child in Africa ain't gonna meet a billionaire from the US. We get that she had some dough before becoming a widow. But it's so important to have her type of first lady in the White House. In the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt, give us strong women, with strong opinions who will speak for the majority of America. The majority which has been silenced by the mad money of the men. The majority who care about family, health, prosperity, and safety. Yeah, women matter in this election because they matter in general.

And Obama's speech. Gee, it started out formal b/c he was telling the story of his life, not b/c he was attempting to meld his white and black halves. I haven't heard all that much about Obama, but I really don't think he's been billing himself as a centrist. He simply speaks with the eloquence of a human capable of showing that liberal ideas are not the crazy thoughts of nutty people. He has never had to soften his stance b/c of his gift of oratory. Or so they told me on NPR yesterday morning before the speech.

Women and Politics: High profiles, but little talk of gaining office
that's the title of an article in today's Tribune by Dawn Turner Trice. (Can you tell my boss gave me her copy of the Trib?)
According to the Center for Women in Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey, women make up more than half the population but hold just 15 percent of the seats in Congress.

No woman has reached the highest office here--or even been nominated--unlike women in England, Ireland, Iceland, India, Israel, the Philippines, Indonesia and Nicaragua [and Pakistan], among other places.
emphasis added. FYI, the accompanying pic shows Hillary in a smashing white pant suit with really interesting sleeves.

Peace Activists Barred from Israel
If you're a member of the International Solidarity Movement, it sucks to be you. Israel has declared you a terrorist, and barred you from entry to that fine country. One ISM activist, Ann Petter, chose not to get on a plane leaving Israel and was detained for 34 days at Ben Gurion Airport while she worked against her deportation through the court system. Here's why Israel doesn't want her there:
Activists "confront soldiers, barricade themselves in houses designated for demolition, and aid the struggle of residents of the area against the security fence by driving people from place to place during closures in order to circumvent the restrictions on their movement and enable them to participate in protest activities," the ministry [of the interior] argued.
Cause we all know driving cars, sitting in houses, and talking to soldiers is the kind of activity only terrorists participate in. Quote is from "Activists getting closer scrutiny" by Joel Greenberg in today's Chicago Tribune.

Scatological Topics are Always Interesting
from yesterday's 5:54pm edition of CQ goes to the DNC:
Media Elite Find Proximity Comes with Porta-Potties
The good news for the assembled media horde is that convention hosts are finally picking up the trash and cleaning the ripening porta-potties. Of course the mere presence of porta-potties for the media is still a sore spot, but a few trailers with flush toilets and running water have arrived in response to a chorus of complaints.

The Bell South hospitality lounge is open, relieving journalists of the need to use precious expense account dollars on stale $9.50 sandwiches for dinner. Monday?s fare featured sausages, clam chowder, sodas and beer, though you?re not supposed to take food back to your workspace.

Such is life in the media tent, a white, space age contraption built on the location of the old Boston Garden. The two-story behemoth provides workspace for all the major newspapers, PBS, Newsweek, Time and, well, Congressional Quarterly.

Conditions are not ideal, but they never are. Where the sun pops out, pupils narrow on the second floor where the only thing between you and the sky is translucent tenting. When the sun goes over the horizon, it?s time to break out the sweaters as the temperature turns frigid from the powerful portable air conditioning units.

And this is the elite space. Organizations compete hard to get here. The other workspace, a pair of office buildings a little farther from the FleetCenter, is just fine, say reporters from other publications. And they have real bathrooms. -Andrew Taylor

The Best White House Reporter Has Been Relegated to the Back of the Room

Did you know Shrub moved Helen Thomas from the front row to the BACK?!?!

The Important Schedule Tonight
• 8 p.m. — Boston Pops concert with James Taylor, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd.
• 8:30 p.m. to midnight — Creative Coalition party with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ben Affleck, Sean Astin, Alec Baldwin, Billy Crystal, Janeane Garofalo, Chris Cooper, Bianca Jagger, Harvey Weinstein, Ron Reagan and others. Louis Boston, 243 Berkeley St.

from CQ Today at the Convention.
and yeah, some folks will speak at the podium. You wont be able to hear most of them unless you're watching C-SPAN. Even NPR thinks its listeners want to listen to second-tier pundits over national party leaders. From CQ: Prime-time speakers include Govs. Jennifer Granholm, Mich., Bill Richardson, N.M., and Ed Rendell, Pa.; Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, Nev.; Sen. Bob Graham, Fla.; Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio; Al Sharpton; Cate Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and Sen. John Edwards, N.C.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Women of the Word, UNITE!
The Next First Lady of the United States of America said tonight:
My right to speak my mind, to have a voice, to be what some have called "opinionated"... 
... is a right I deeply and profoundly cherish.
And my only hope is that one day soon, My only hope is that, one day soon, women, who have all earned their right to their opinions...
... instead of being labeled opinionated will be called smart and well-informed, just like men.
emphasis added. Text found here. (ellipses represent her pause for applause)

and lest we forget the next great senator from Illinois, I give you my favorite part of Obama's speech:
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.
Text found here.

Worst Blog EVER

For professional pundits, these people really know how to write a boring post. One useful aspect of Hardblogger: Links to other accredited blogs at the DNC. Other bonus: they sound like a butt loving blog. Unfortunately, they've got nothing to do with that...or do they?

The NYT: Your Source for Good Drinking Games
BY last evening, inside the convention hall, optimism reigned - strongly! When the night was over, speakers had uttered some version of "optimism" 6 times, "hope" 13 times, "values'' 22 times and "strength" 58 times. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton declared herself "very optimistic''; Bill Clinton promised a "positive'' campaign. Swaying delegates sang "We Are Family'' as politicians clapped along, some actually to the beat.

Once again, for those in the cheap seats:
drink once when you hear "optimism"
drink once when you hear "hope"
drink twice when you hear"values" (drinking is a value, no?)
drink once when you hear "strength"
drink once when you hear "positive"
drink once when you hear "John Kerry"
drink once when you hear "John Edwards"
finish your drink / down five shots when you hear "George Bush" (for some reason, they'll never mention the opposition by name. As if we all magically forgot the president's name)

tonight's additions:
drink once for that funny soundin name..."Obama"
drink once for "stem cells"
drink once for "Alzheimers"

Dude, we'll all be drunk till the start of the next day's convention if we really drink through tonight's speeches. (The official starting time of each day is 4pm.)

Andy Stern's Message to America: Give Your Time and Money and Votes to Kerry, but then Protest That He'll Ruin Your Future

The president of the SEIU, the largest and fastest growing union in the AFL-CIO, spoke with WaPo and said:
Stern argued that Kerry's election might stifle needed reform within the party and the labor movement. He said he still believes that Kerry overall would make a better president than President Bush, and his union has poured huge resources into that effort. But he contends that Kerry's election would have the effect of slowing the "evolution" of the dialogue within the party.
Apparently, we should all spend $65 million to help elect a candidate we sharply disagree with, especially if like Stern we have a Nader view of the world (i.e. make things as shitty as possible in order to create a milieu conducive to revolution).

Back to Politics: those fabulous veterans edition

From the NYT (via Wonkette):
"That flag is our flag," declared Gen. Wesley K. Clark, another combat-wounded Vietnam veteran and now retired, as those who could stand jumped to their feet and those who could not just hollered. "We served under that flag. We've seen men die for that flag. And no John Ashcroft or Tom DeLay or Dick Cheney is going to take that flag away from us." ...

"John's candidacy is offering up a certain catharsis," said Mr. Rassmann, the former Green Beret who burst from Mr. Kerry's past to thank him for saving his life two days before the Iowa caucuses. "I know it is for me. My wife says that all these compartments in my mind I've kept tightly shut are opening up."

He recalled that a man had approached him after a rally in Iowa earlier this year, tears in his eyes, and said, "'I'm a vet and a Republican, and tonight, for the first time, somebody thanked me for my service.'"

"John's being recognized for his service," Mr. Rassmann said. "So are we."

Boston Social Forum, Part V, The Conclusion
At the closing convocation, several well known liberals spoke to the crowd. Before they spoke, the liberals doin all the listening took their sweet time gettin to the event. So, to fill time, Omekongo Wa Dibinga performed extremely powerful spoken word. He was so inspiring, I had to spend my last $25 buying his two cd's. Check him out on his label's extremely poorly designed website.

Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Heart of America by Robert Reich, aka the Dem's favorite dwarf. He spoke. Said about what he said on The Daily Show.

Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush by Jim Hightower.
bumper sticker seen in Austin, TX:
Where are we going? And what am I doing in this handbasket?
The real issue is not jobs; slaves had jobs. The real issue is income.
"No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." - Lily Tomlin
The good news: the people of America are revolting, in the very best sense of that word.
177 communities nationwide have defeated WalMart.
What are we going to do? Words on a button: Wearing a button is not enough.

Ruba Eid, Democracy and Workers' Rights Center in Ramallah, Palestine
Spoke on three issues:
1. What do Palestinians think of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza?
2. What do Palestinians think of the apartheid wall?
3. What do Palestinians think of the US role?

Walden Bello, Focus on the Global South
the "first" anti-war group in US history was the Anti-Imperialist League, which was started in Boston to get the US out of the Philippines. (I'm not sure if that is historically accurate.) There is a Crisis of Empire.

Maude, Ottawa Water Allies Network
skit by water protectionists. Hate corporations for denying the commons the use of water and trying to privatize it.

Dennis Brutus
Boston is a Free Speech Zone.
Works with Jubilee South (formerly known as Jubilee 2000) to end 3rd-world debt.

BSF, Part IV

On Sunday, I went to a session that was more meaningful for me than all of the others combined. Emancipatory Spirituality was coordinated by the Tikkun Community.

the Rev. Thandeka, Ph.D The Center for Community Values, Chicago
John Gage, a jazz musician, went into an echoless chamber at MIT and heard two sounds: the sound of his nervous system and of blood pumping through his veins. Race is an emotional issue within your own support community. Spirituality is reason and feeling allowed to complement each other. Recovering emotions that have been buried or destroyed.

Spirituality is the ability to stay in relationship, come what way. Space itself produces vibrational energy. Our commitment is to stay at the table. This breaks down the difference between us and them. The practice is the arrival. Read Gary Wills: Negro President. Most Americans are racially abused. Progressives need an understanding of how we are held while we do this difficult work of right relationship. Asking questions in a way that increases understanding for us and them. Also read Edward Jones, The Known World.

Catholic Priest (didn't write down his name)
Spirituality is the good stuff and religion gets in the way. Diplomacy doesn't fail - the diplomacy is simply not good. How do we really relate to other people? How do we develop a sustaining relationship? Finding out what is really going on. Accommodation is important. It is the first step toward reconciliation. He wrote a book on Israel/Palestine which will be published this fall.

Jewish Hippie Rabbi (didn't write down her name)
Climbing a mountain towards G-d: The first difficulty is to keep going through arrogance. The second step is to wonder if other faith traditions have a similar climbing experience. At the top, spiritual people have more in common with each other than with people of the same faith who are at the bottom of the mountain. Humility and self reflection are spiritual tools. Compassionate listening - we have common interests with "them." From revolution to evolution. The Tikkun Community operates on the idea that in order for the progressive movement to be effective, it must incorporate a spiritual aspect.

Jonathan Schell, writer on nonviolence
Religious energy in the political world can cause huge, bloody battles. The discipline of nonviolence is fitted to introducing religion/spirituality to the political world.  Schell wrote The Unconquerable World.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Taking the Foreign Service Exam

This post has been moved to Social Upheaval, my current blog. Trust me, it's worth jumping to my site for the info.

Rainbow's Gravity
Here's a really interesting, fairly long article about the impact of Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns in '84 and '88. It's really interesting to read about those campaigns now that I'm an adult, cause back in '88, I simply disliked Jackson for running against Dukakis (who is married to my mom's cousin).


For the 3.30 to 5.30 period, I went to Globalizing the Struggle in the Age of Empire, which had too many speakers (so they were limited to ten minutes each) but provided the most useful information on a slightly more objective level.

Walden Bello, Focus on the Global South
1. Globalization has failed
              - at the end of the 1990s, the number of poor people (living on less than $2 a day) had increased significantly
              - the distribution of income within countries and globally has worsened
2. Onset of an Economic Crisis and Stagnation
              - since the Asian financial crisis in 1997
              - "jobless growth" in US
              - capitalism growth has been stopped by over production and under consumption
3. Militarization is the other side of the Globalization Coin
              - 3.20.03 US marched into Iraq and is weaker because of that move

Dennis Brutus: African Focus
Three major problems in Africa:
             - drugs sold at 200% markup
             - generics would be affordable, but the current cost makes them inaccessible to thousands who therefore die needlessly
2. Debt
             - created by the West
             - social needs are penalized because the debt is prioritized
             - estimated at $390 billion for the continent
             - in many cases, the people were not even the beneficiaries of the original loans
3. Militarization 
             - rise in number of US bases in Africa
             - US Ambassadors sent to Africa to organize an expansion of the Rapid Deployment Forces which are used to crush revolutionary movements throughout the country.
             - "any country which may ever threaten the US is a possible target for preemptive strike" is the official US doctrine on preemptive war

Re the US: there is a repression of the subjects within the interior of the empire
fundamental human rights are being taken away and there is very little protest
if you consent, they will take more away

Ruba Eid, Democracy and Workers' Rights Center in Ramallah, Palestine
after 9-11, the US declared the right to interfere anywhere in the world
the "defense wall" is being created inside Palestine
they are struggling over water
Palestinians lost jobs in Israel and can't travel between cities within Palestine
a Palestinian can be held in jail for two years without going to court. His/Her lawyer must be Israeli. During times of conflict, Israeli lawyers can't enter the Palestinian territory, so they go to trial without representation

Paulo du Marke
1. Agrarian Reform
doesn't fit into a capitalist system
moving forward thanks to the landless workers movement
in Brazil, 1% of landowners own 52% of the land (and most of them are US MNCs)
we have to implement agricultural reform in every country
this will return food sovereignty to the people of the world
in the last 20 years, the MST has settled 350,000 families
250,000 families are still waiting in tent cities
in Brazil, there are 80 million extremely poor, 52 million are totally impoverished
2. GMOs
increases the number of chemicals in agriculture and air
there are no scientific studies that prove they aren't harmful
3. Lula Government
had to make alliances including with the right when recently re-elected
two governments within the structure: socialist and capitalist
57% of the total government budget goes to pay the national debt
is continuing the neoliberal policies of the previous government
the purpose of the MST is to organize and occupy land

Paul Altidor, Grassroots International re Haiti
we should allow Haitians to speak for themselves instead of allowing experts to speak for them. Don't hijack third world causes

Margaret Prescod, Women of Color in the Global Women's Strike
As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I am concerned about the world.
Conditions in Peru are like Mississippi of the 1930s.
In the July 19th edition of NYT - one out of every four black men is unemployed year round.
White women were the original recipients of welfare; currently more people of color receive it. People of color are demonized and welfare is being taken away.
Carrying has no value, Killing has value.

Notes from the BSF, Part II

In the Women's Web: A Feminist Agenda for Peace and Justice, there was a workshop on 1325 and Beyond with Kara Picarelli from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom UN office.

1995 Beijing Platform for Action
Remove barrier to gender equality
there is a section on women and armed conflict
every march there is a UN conference on 2 of the themes from the platform
the US says its problem is with the discussion of women's healthcare access and healthcare services
In preparation for the 10 year review, each geographic region took up three themes to discuss. NGOs met for 2-3 days before government, who met for about 4 days. Any nation whose citizens have properties in the region can participate in the regional meetings (so the US can participate in all regional meetings). Everyone's just trying to maintain the platform. There is a hesitancy to bring civil society into the +10 negotiations. They decided to hold a High Level Plenary in the General Assembly. The Bureau also wants to have seven High Level Panels, although China is pushing for two panels. The +10 meeting next March will be anti-climatic and will not be moving forward.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security
states women should be involved in peace building, prevention and solution
Was ratified on October 31, 2000; almost four years old
On 10-31-04, the Secretary General will produce his first report on implementation of the resolution
WILPF w/ a coalition is producing a shadow report
FEMNET, an African media organization is circulating questions throughout Africa
the Pacific Islands are being canvassed through Fiji
The Secretary General's report will be weak.
Kate Burns is the person in the Office of the Secretary General on General who will be writing the official report.
UK will be president of the Security Council in October

I then went to A World Working Together for Peace Convocation, which featured Dr. Walden Bello of the Philippines, speaking on the Nature of the Crisis & the Bush Doctrine; Dennis Brutus of South Africa, speaking on Africa & the Global Crisis (but spent most of his time on the "free speech zone" issue); Gyung-Lan Jung of Korea, speaking on The US and War or Peace on the Korean Peninsula; Aichin Vanaik of India speaking on Central & South Asia; and Rae Street of Britain and Leslie Cagan of the US speaking on The Peace & Anti-War Movement.

I didn't take notes during this convocation. Mostly, I thought about how hungry I was and how over-simplified most of the speeches were. Aichin Vanaik made very good points re Central and South Asia. He pointed out that the US nurtures its relationship with Pakistan because it is a Muslim country which can facilitate dialogue with other Central Asian countries (the "newly" independent states, that mostly end in "-stan"). And the US nurtures its relationship with India b/c it's large population offers our products an untapped market and it can be influential with South Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean.

Notes from the Boston Social Forum, Part I

I had difficulty taking notes b/c I forgot my notebook and there was very little blank space on the flyers and programs passed out. On Saturday, I used the back of my printouts on my flight info and registration confirmation. So here it goes...

Saturday Morning Convocation
after a delicious vegetable omelet and coffee (for less than 4 bones), I entered the gym for the second convocation. Apparently, I missed some good stuff from Angela Davis at Friday's event. Funny thing is, I still have to work for my money.

Checkin back at the BSF website makes me realize why more ppl weren't at this event - Danny Glover was presenting a National People's Platform in the Science Center. I wish the program had been clear about that option. Anyway, the speakers of note from that session were Paulo du Marke, Margaret Prescod, and Granny D.

Paulo du Marke: leader of the MST in Brazil (spoke in Portuguese)
This speech was inspiring but confusing, since I had no idea what the MST was or what the letters stood for. At a proceeding event I learned that the MST is the landless workers' movement, so babelfish tells me that is movimento sem de trabalhadores da terra in Portuguese. Anyway, he said that the MST is a social justice movement in Brazil and the world, representing the liberation of all people in the world from the North American Empire, which is represented by Multi-National Corporations (MNCs). It is an important and crucial movement for workers all over the world. He said we must work to destroy capitalism because (1) capitalism is in crisis; nothing is eternal and (2) important social movements all over the world are resisting and destroying capitalism (e.g. Palestinians and Iraqis). Since the capitalists have globalized the economy, we must globalize the struggle with mass mobilization all over the world. Via Campesina is an international network of rural workers' organizations, representing more than 76 countries. Don't trust in the parliament, it is the people who will make change.

Margaret Prescod, Global Women's Strike
She is fed up with bourgeois politics. We should invest in caring, not killing. We need to build a new movement for change. Other movements have been fraught with corruption and careerism. We need to clean up house of sexism, racism, and homophobia. Women do 2/3 of the world's work for 5% of its income. We need to undermine the hierarchy of work. In Kenya, women burned the coffee fields, declaring their intention to produce food instead of cash crops. In Nigeria, women are standing naked to tell oil companies to leave Africa. In Venezuela, they are building a caring economy under President Chavez, who is not afraid to proclaim his indigenous and African descent. In Bolivia, they kicked out Bechtel when it tried to privatize water. In Haiti, they are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first black republic. They defeated the biggest army of their day (Napoleon), which would be the equivalent of Grenada ridding itself of the US, and Haiti is still being punished for its victory. The California Labor Council passed a significant resolution demanding that the troops be pulled out of Iraq immediately. Fourteen days of the world's military budget would pay for healthcare and food for the Global South. The majority of workers of the world are unwaged.

Granny D, 94 year old activist
The US has 5% of the world's population, uses 25% of the world's oil and 25% of other resources. We have factory farms for hogs and not much better for people. We are economically enslaving people, not freeing them. "I bet Iraqis will see a bill from Mastercard before they see a meaningful ballot." Security can only come from international justice. We need to invest in smart babies, not smart bombs. Politics is about winning. Winning to save lives from poverty and loneliness. Don't tell me that you can't support a candidate because of this or that quibble you have. THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU! What is life if not a theatre of the soul? For everything there is a season. This is the electoral season. GET BUSY!

Four More Years of What?
[N]ot everyone thinks that a happy-face atmosphere willactually sway voters. "It takes negative and positive to makeelectricity," Jesse Jackson orated in the NYT. And the LAT's topconvention story goes high with a broadside John Kerry himselfdelivered in response to protesters at an Ohio campaign stop:"When I see people on the other side of the fence say, 'Four moreyears,' I sometimes say to myself, 'Four more years of what? Fourmore years of jobs being lost? Four more years of the deficitgrowing bigger and bigger? Four more years of losing our alliesaround the world?'"

but don't bother trying to find a "man on the street" available for an interview at the DNC:

The NYT also reports on the "traveling street fight" among four Washington political papers—National Journal, Roll Call, The Hill, and Congressional Quarterly—all of which have decamped to Boston to report on the convention as dailies. In a grand gesture of magnanimity, the Times describes them as "covering the conventions from the vantage point of neighborhood children perched in a tree house."...

[T]he speakers must all beware the stage manager, an Oscar veteran who's also been tapped to conduct this year's Republican convention in New York. According to a small item inside the NYT, his arsenal includes a red button that can literally lower the podium into the stage, forcing a long-winded orator to stop—or stand around like a podium-free idiot. "Only had to do it once. Bill Clinton. Atlanta," he said, referring to Clinton's famously yawn-inducing introduction to Michael Dukakis in 1988. "He went on for quite some time. We kept flashing the lights, telling him his time was up, putting in the prompter his time was up, and in the end, Speaker Wright, who was chairman of the convention, asked me to lower the podium. … He finally wrapped it up and stopped."

So look forward to a minutely staged convention wherein you might lose your podium. Also beware that the protestors are rallying around the cry that "Boston is a Free Speech Zone," decrying the idea of penning themselves up to express their political beliefs. And yes, there are more hookers in Beantown than normal. Thankfully, the Police are too busy doing practice drills for limiting the terror that is free speech activists to bother doing anything about the street walkers or the traffic jams they cause in the Theatre District.

all quotes from Today's Papers

I should be paid $80,000 for this
The continuing chaos at the Los Alamos nuclear lab is best explained by the LAT, which seems to be the only paper on the story. The LAT reveals a dysfunctional workplace in which managers and researchers are locked in a fierce argument about the appropriate level of security and whistleblowers are fired or marginalized. One lab employee lost his job after conducting a critical audit and is now paid over $80,000 a year to surf the Web and read the newspaper.
emphasis added. From Sunday's Today's Papers.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Newspaper Writers Write, a Freelance Writer Summarizes, and I Post it So the Rest of Us Don't Have to Read 500 "thrilling" pages

New info from the LAT:
A front page piece in the LAT highlights new information about the role played by Khalid Sheik Mohammed in dreaming up the 9/11 attacks. Apparently Mohammed, who is in U.S. custody, wanted to pilot one of the planes himself and land it somewhere in the U.S., where he would then kill all the men on board and make a speech about American Middle East policy (presumably to the women). Bin Laden vetoed that part of the plan. Another revelation, which the WP picks up: Mohammed might have cancelled the 9/11 attacks had he learned of "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui's arrest a month earlier.

New info from the NYT:
the now famous rallying cry, "Let's roll!" may have actually been "Roll it!"--a reference to a foodcart that was used as a battering ram against the cockpit door.

from WaPo:
The WP's lead says that for the sake of bipartisan unanimity the panel ducked some tough questions, like whether the Bush or Clinton administration was more blameworthy and whether the war in Iraq has made the U.S. safer.

the NYT pointed out that unlike most dry as dirt government docs, this one reads like a paperback thriller and the LAT noted that unlike normal commissions, this one is not disbanding just b/c it finished writing its report. Instead, they'll be travellin the country in bipartisan dyads, barnstorming the country to get someone to listen to the fact that the intelligence community needs a major overhaul. (Which everyone said when Shrub created the bogus "Dept of Homeland Security." I'm pretty sure only Native Americans have the right to call the US their homeland.)

Very Important News That The Army Wants to Bury Beneath the 9/11 Report:
Everyone fronts yesterday's release of the Army inspector general's report on prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report blames 94 alleged cases of abuse on the unauthorized action of a few "aberrant" individuals, and concludes that the incidents were not indicative of any widespread problems.

On NPR this morning, I heard another Republican apologist whining that when terrorists don't follow the Geneva Conventions we shouldn't have to either. Because we all know that the Great and Glorious United States of America should follow the example set by thugs. Glad to know only the smartest men become Congressmen.

Here's Today's Papers in full.

Update: 9/11 Report

The NYT has a summary of the report, the preface of the report and a pdf of the full report

Google still has problems pulling up a government website with the full report, hence the NYT links where subscription is required. I haved bothered to read any of it (will me being aware of intelligence failings cause national intelligence to be gathered and reported better? I didn't think so.)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

9/11 Commission Report Released

Question - why is an official government report being sold by Amazon? Why the hell is it not available through the net, like the majority of government documents? Here's some pages on the enemy available through the LAT (subscription required)

This Land was Made for Kerry and Bush

I might be the last person on the net to find this bit of political humor. JibJab's parody of Woody Guthrie's "This Land" pits the Shrub against Kerry on the quest for the White House. It's amusing and might just annoy apolitical cubemates if you watch it during work. Thanks to the best source for political news after The Daily Show, Wonkette, for pointing it out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Political Blogs

One really annoying thing about the blogosphere is that there are a lot more Republican blogs and blog readers than people on the left. This article (found via a BlogSnob ad) mentioned a few not-far-right sites that I've been checkin out today. Perhaps you should too.

The Official Dem Convention Blog is the most boring bit of trite I've bothered to read. You can read all about those special Dems that are plucked from the woodwork for those ultra-boring prime time speeches before the speeches are even finalized!

The Blogging of the President is a partisan roundup of election news. I find it a bit full of itself (or I guess I should just say the author sounds a bit full of himself) in his proclamations of the Good and Bad of journalism, both online and off.

Susan Mernit's idea on youth organizing is interesting:

MTV and Orkut and Live Journal=Community Why doesn't Rock the Vote tape into the social network space and affiliate with a large, viral network and a youth-oriented blogging service to add more resonance, depth, and community to their program?

Please remember, that's a direct quote. I didn't mess up anyone's idea of how to spell tap.

Pandagon is two young lads whose political opinions are for some reason fascinating to thousands. I think it's all that white space.

More Money to Get Your War On
$418 BILLION DEFENSE SPENDING BILL READY FOR FINAL ACTION   A $418 billion fiscal 2005 defense appropriations bill that carries $25 billion in urgently needed funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is ready for final action in both chambers. House-Senate conferees filed their report shortly after midnight, and the bill will go to President Bush before Congress starts its summer recess Friday. The bill (HR 4613 --H Rept 108-622) would provide $391 million for the Pentagon's core budget,a 7 percent increase over fiscal 2004 spending. It would increase Bush's budget request to help the Army and Marine Corps replace vehicles,helicopters and ammunition used up in Iraq and Afghanistan, by $1.5 billion. In addition to the $25 billion in emergency spending for the war,which the Pentagon could tap upon enactment to cover shortfalls in war operations in the final months of fiscal 2004, the bill also includes more than $1 billion in non-defense emergency spending for State Department operations in Iraq, emergency relief in Sudan, wildfire fighting expenses and security at this summer's Republican and Democratic conventions.

I'm not clear why State needs more than a billion dollars to create diplomatic relations with a sovereign nation.

In more important news, my favorite political couple is hosting a mixer tonight:

Who better to talk singles into voting than politics' most famous married couple?, "a proven leader in online dating services," is holding a mixer tonight titled "Every Single Vote Counts," where Democratic political consultant James Carville and Republican Mary Matalin, longtime adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, will discuss the issues on singles' minds as the election season heats up. The gathering will also feature "SpeedMatching," where people spend a few minutes in one-on-one conversation with an eligible single, then move on to the next bachelor or bachelorette. No word on whether there will be "Speed Voter Registration" as well.

all quotes from CQ Midday Update

Sing, MoFo, SING!

According to yesterday's NYT,
Linda Rondstadt, the singer, was thrown out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas last weekend after dedicating a song to Michael Moore, the filmmaker, and his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." ... A statement by the Aladdin said that Ms. Ronstadt ... "was hired to entertain the guests of the Aladdin, not to espouse political views."

See, because if you're an entertainer you cannot have anything to say about politics. Screw tradition. Songs should be light and fluffy. Folk music is about heart break and loneliness not class conflict and society's failings. A singer should know that her voice is only needed to entertain not educate the masses. Shame on Linda Aladdin.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Get Poorer
The bastion of liberal media bias commonly known as The Wall Street Journal reports on the validity of the Kerry-Edwards'  Two Americas:
With the U.S. economy expanding and the labor market improving, it isn't clear how well the Democrats' message of a divided America will resonate with voters this fall. But many economists believe the economic recovery has indeed taken two tracks...
Wage and income disparities between the rich and poor have generally been widening for nearly 20 years. In 1980, the top 10% of households in income accounted for 33% of total household income...By 2000, that had risen to 44%. ...
"They're telling people this is the best economy we've had," Sen. John Kerry [said].  "What does it mean when you don't have any health care at all?"
Mr. Maki of J.P. Morgan Chase estimates that in terms of dollars saved, the top 20% of households by income got 77% of the benefit of the 2003 tax cuts, and roughly 50% of the 2001 tax cuts. ...
The level of corporate profits has risen 42% since the last recession, which ended in the final quarter of 2001. Wage and salary income is up just 6.3%.

Campaigns - the New Old Fashioned Way
Last night I watched Norma Rae for the first time. It reminded me of the year I spent as a union organizer and how during the one election I helped lose, I kept saying that the Democratic Party should use our GOTV strategy. My boss said the Dems were more sophisticated than our small town operation, and had a lot more info on voters than we did. After losing that painful election outside of Pittsburgh, I went on to help a Dem win the gubernatorial election in Oregon. I still maintain that political parties should take a clue from successful union elections. It's not about how many robo-call machines you have, it's not about how many useless pieces of trash you mail to your constituents, it's about how many people you meet, befriend, and visually verify at the polls. It's about getting people to wear buttons that declare their partisanship, give their time and their money to the point where it's a burden, and then give some more. Yes, I believe in movement building. And while it's nice that the Dems are catchin up to the Reds on the ol' database front, it would be better if they learned how to get out there and BUILD A MOVEMENT.
Screw the idea that the mainstream political parties can't be changed. Frankly, I don't agree with most of the loony left ideas my fellow activists believe in. I believe in universal health care because I think it's a human right; I'm against the death penalty; I believe in diplomacy before resulting to war; I think women need to be involved on every level of political decision making to ensure that every person's needs are considered; I want more money for books, classrooms, and teachers and less money for beaureaucrats; and I think the government owes people more than a short-lived, ridiculously low unemployment check when they get laid off. I'm not a pinko - I believe most people are governed by selfish greed (which is why I enjoyed The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged), but I also don't think I'm a weak kneed liberal for putting society's needs above my own when I'm speaking politically. At the same time, I'm glad I finally have a full time job (after being unemployed over a year) because in a few months I'll finally have health insurance again and maybe even be able to pay down my credit card bills. But I'm not sweatin too much. I'm still takin a vacation to Boston this weekend and bought some useless dvd's yesterday, so there's no need to send me your spare change.
You know the best part of the MeetUp phenomenon was meeting other people who were interested in a primary race. It's unfortunate that most of them were the same slimy, goal-oriented Dems that you find around DC but at least I knew I wasn't the only Clarkie. (On the other hand, I knew there was a problem since most of em were Kerry supporters who thought their man didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the nomination.) In any event, I support ideas that bring people together in the flesh and create something more than just computer technology.
[WaPo article found via Today's Papers.]

Monday, July 19, 2004

Politicians Make Strange Bedfellows
Old friends planning on visiting Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., in Washington,D.C., better have hotel reservations, because he can't put them up.According to The Associated Press, the freshman lawmaker, who won aFebruary special election for the 6th District seat, sleeps in his officein the Longworth Building. Chandler said there is "a little area, almostlike a closet, that I have a mattress in." Chandler said his sleepingarrangement allows him to start work at 5:30 a.m. "It cuts downtremendously on the commute time," he said. "It's much more convenient,frankly." Chandler generally spends Friday through Monday in Kentucky. Butrecently, his 9-year-old son came to D.C. for a week's visit and slept onthe office floor. Like father, like son.
from CQ Midday Update

Sunday, July 18, 2004

I'm either a conservative male or a pinko femme

Continuing my use of a Microsoft subsidiary to do the hard work of reading newspapers and summarizing their content, here's a bit on a NYT front page article:

According to a NYT front pager, you're more likely to see a Bush campaign ad during a break in "NYPD Blue" than "Judge Judy." Both candidates are trying to connect with females and the elderly, so both are advertising heavily on "Oprah," "Wheel of Fortune," and "Dr. Phil." But beyond that, their strategies diverge. Bush buys ads on crime shows like "Law & Order" and "Cops," which are heavily watched by conservative men. Kerry is trying to shore up single women by advertising on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Living it Up with Ali & Jack."

I've never heard of that Livin it Up show; I work now so I don't watch reruns of Ellen; I hate Cops, Dr. Phil, and Wheel of Fortune; and I very rarely see Judge Judy or Oprah. However, durin the regular season, I heart NYPD Blue and I enjoy Law & Order but usually fell asleep from tv overdose tryin to watch it. Does this change my political leanings and gender? Prolly not. Prolly just means I enjoy good cop banter and a plot that moves towards summation.

In other news, Jews Find Religious Gratification in Catholicism. [Warning: Ridiculously intrusive registration required for Chicago Tribune's website.] I gotta admit, I couldn't finish reading the frickin article. Anyone who starts out talkin about how she's a non-practicing Jew who decided to reconnect with her faith and ends by dissing her religion and finding comfort in Catholic mass aint the woman for me. WTF?!?!? Perhaps I'm biased. Unlike her, I prefer my services in a language I don't really understand. [True - I went to Hebrew School for eight years, was a Bar Mitzvah tutor, and sang in the adult choir (even did a capella on High Holidays) but I can only read and write Hebrew, I have no idea what the hell it means.] For me, davening is about more than just understanding the words the prayer leader is speaking. It's about communing with a force larger than yourself (even if the only force you believe in is the power of your minyan to help you keep moving forward with your life...not some Greater Higher Being). It just made me so ANGRY that a woman couldn't explore her own faith enough to recognize that if she wants a service all in English, she could just as easily find it with Jews as with Catholics. And I've got nothing against Catholics. Hell, I've got nothing against people who change religious beliefs. I just have a problem with a newspaper printing an op-ed that seems to say I have a Dead Religion, but if you want something cool and exciting, go hang with the Catholics.

...maybe one of these days I should go to shul myself....maybe if I could find a Conservative temple that didn't blast Zionist diatribe from the bimah I would....

Friday, July 16, 2004

Do You Know the Price of Milk?

For me, the only price I pay attention to is gas. And nowadays, I barely register what that's at since I drive my car an average of seven miles a week. So it's strange to me that reporters think asking candidates the price of milk (and a six pack of beer) is important. FYI, Edwards knows his milk (in Georgetown, you know, that place where he lives; not necessarily in every town his campaign route takes him to).

Speakin of milk, I need to pick me up some of that lactaid free nonfat variety. Eatin my Cheerios at home would be a lot less expensive than a Dunkin Donuts sandwich w/ a Starbucks extra hot, large, nonfat latte. (No, I never use their ridiculous wannabe Italian names for sizes. The damn company started in Seattle not Florence.)

Accountants ROCK!

The papers bury a U.N. oversight board's rebuke of the American occupation authority's lax accounting controls in Iraq. The board stopped short of making fraud accusations, but said it was considering investigating the Halliburton and other noncompetitive contracts. Only the Post, in their headline and lead, emphasizes the auditors' claims that the Bush administration is refusing to provide information about the questionable contracts: "U.S. Won't Turn Over Data for Iraq Audits."

from Today's Papers

Thursday, July 15, 2004

A Cast of Thousands Creates Kerry's Muddled Messages

The important bits are in the last few graphs:

Mostly, however, the outer ring serves another purpose. By casting a wide net, Bianchi said, the campaign is always ready with an expert when an unexpected issue crops up suddenly. Many members of the policy councils can also be effective Kerry advocates in their far-flung communities, she said.
"It seems to be working, in the sense of making the outside people feel warm and fuzzy, like they've been consulted," said one close economic adviser. "It's mostly so all these people can say they're working with the Kerry campaign."
The August Vanity Fair has an article on "Kerry's Karl Rove" about a shlub named Bob Shrum who supposedly writes West Wing style, hyper-liberal speeches for Kerry. Funny thing is, I haven't been inspired in awhile from anything comin outta Kerry's mouth. Perhaps he needs more West Wing writers and less policy wonks.

NYT Reflects on Palestine

Outgoing Jerusalem bureau chief, James Bennett, spent some time in Jenin, Palestine to help US readers understand life in a non-state. The video that accompanies the article is quite good.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Shrub Thinks Kerry Misses Work Too Much

Shrub is airing radio ads lamenting the fact that Kerry missed a bunch of (probably not even close) votes during his campaign for president. Funny thing is, Shrub has spent more time on vacation than any president in history!

[Yes, I found the LAT article via Wonkette. You think I bother reading newspapers all day?]

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

People think College Students Should be Able to Vote Where They Go to School

I never thought ppl would keep you from voting simply cause you lived in a dorm. I knew the Boston Public Library hates to give away library cards to people with dorm addresses, but I thought voting was pretty sacred. Then again, when I was in college I was pissed that it was so difficult to get a frickin absentee ballot from the sunny state of Cali whilst "studying" at Swellesley. (At the time, I didn't want any part of Mass politics. Then I moved to Somerville after graduating and duly tramped over to some cold elementary school to cast my meaningless ballot for Gore. Course my initiatives votes were meaningful.)

Anyway, as you might know, I have now registered in my third state (although I've lived in seven, I've mostly voted in SoCal). Alas, my registration is already out of date, since I registered as a resident of some jerk's flat and now I've got my own space.

More amusing than this rant is this memo from the Kerry campaign requesting docs from the Shrub Whitehouse.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Another profile of a Leftie Foot Soldier

One of the men behind America Coming Together, the 527 funded by George Soros and SEIU (and others) was profiled by WaPo last Tuesday. I found the link on Donkey Rising.

Here's what I find most interesting about the profile: the guy could still be a union organizer as easily as he's a political one. To me, the problem with politics and unions is that every time people are mobilized, it's to do one singular thing like vote. And then, only if they're in a swing state or a close union election. Otherwise who the hell cares? I want to be part of a movement, not an election. I'd like to donate my time to a cause that actually encourages people to create their own power - not in a voting booth, but collectively as human beings, regardless of whether their state matters in this arcane Electoral College system (which, btw, is yet one more way to keep democracy away from the people).

Speakin of the Electoral College - it, and the bicameral legislature, were created in a time when minority rights were equated with states' rights. Nowadays, when constitutions are written and under-represented populations want a say, they write that into the constitution: that a certain percentage of the legislature must be female, that each religious or ethnic group must be represented in the government, etc.

For example, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1325, on 31 October 2000. Resolution (S/RES/1325) is the first resolution ever passed by the Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. See Peace Women for more information.

So instead of ammending the Constitution to explicitly exclude people from the right to pursue happiness, why don't we do something truly revolutionary and get rid of the Electoral College? We could even mandate women's involvement in government to ensure a sustainable future for our society. Maybe then, the schools will have all the money they need, and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

John Kerry: the candidate that actually finds time to both read newspapers and play football

This WaPo article was highlighted at Wonkette.

in other, more random news, check your teevee on July 19 for a Stales ad featuring Alice Cooper. Cause apparently, school isn't out forever it's only out for summer.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

People CAN Change the System

Out in Los Angeles, students, teachers, and parents have come together to form the Coalition for Educational Justice. Their first big action was to end racist, high-stakes testing as a requirement for high school graduation. They've succeeded in bringing about a two year moratorium. They'd like to see less military recruitment in their schools (a violation, by the way, of the International Rights of the Child, which is part of the reason this country wont sign that document). And oh yeah, they'd prefer having more books, desks, and teachers and less bureaucrats.

Read more about CEJ in this L.A. Weekly article.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Israel's Apartheid Wall is Declared Illegal by the International Court of Justice

World Court Rules Israel's West Bank Barrier Illegal

In a highly anticipated opinion today, the International Court of Justice said Israel's West Bank barrier violates international law and must be dismantled.

By a vote of 14-1, the judges said the barrier "severely impedes the exercise of the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination, and therefore is a breach of Israel's obligation to the respect of that right" and "the court accordingly finds that the construction of the wall, and its associated regime, are contrary to international laws."

Only the U.S. judge dissented.

The court said all countries "are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction."

It added, "The court is of the view that the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall" (Arthur Max, Associated Press/Yahoo! News, July 9).

A court document, seemingly the same as that issued by the court in today's 2½ hour session, was leaked to reporters before the decision was announced. It was not clear why or how the document was leaked.

The court's decision is nonbinding, but has moral, historic and political weight and could be the basis for U.N. action (Max, AP/Yahoo! News II, July 9).

Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said, however, that the country will not respect the decision of the World Court, but will accept the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court, which last week ordered the government to stop construction on part of the barrier, a day after it ordered the rerouting of another segment of the wall.

"There are now restrictions on the security fence imposed by our own High Court," Lapid said. "We will respect the decisions of our High Court, and not those of the International Court of Justice, which is made up of European Union countries who cannot be accused of being overly supportive of Israel" (Keinon/Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, July 9).

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia called today's decision "historic."

"The international high court decided clearly today that this racist wall is illegal to the root and Israel should stop building it and take down what has already been built of this wall," he said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled, however, said, "The international court in The Hague has no authority to deal with disputes between Israel and the Palestinians."

Israel had objected that the U.N. General Assembly acted outside its authority in asking the World Court for an advisory opinion on the matter, but the court rejected that argument. It also rejected Israel's claim that the court should not weigh in on the matter because it is political, not legal, and could negatively impact Middle East peace efforts (Susan Sevareid, AP, July 9).

received via the WILPF listserv. This is a UN Wire report.

The Frickin Pot Callin the Kettle Black

Top Republicans this week came out swinging against the trial lawyer background of Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the newly minted Democratic vice presidential candidate. But the St. Petersburg Times reports that Republicans in the battleground state of Florida "have to tread carefully" in attacking trial lawyers, "as many of their own have backgrounds in personal injury and class-action cases." For example, Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, "was quick to cite what he sees as a big difference" between Edwards and another former trial lawyer, former HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, who is the White House's favored contender for the Republican Senate nomination in Florida. "Mel Martinez was a successful plaintiff's lawyer, but he's a proven conservative," the paper quoted the governor as saying.

today's final snippet from CQ Midday Update

US Still Doesn't Believe in Family Planning and One Strange Congressman Wants Foreign Aid for People Instead of War Toys

The House Appropriations Committee approved a $19.4 billion fiscal 2005 foreign operations funding bill today after Republicans turned back a Democratic effort to force President Bush to release family planning money to a United Nations agency. But another fight looms on the House floor next week, when a senior Democratic lawmaker plans to try to reduce military aid to Egypt. The bill, approved by the committee on a voice vote, would provide 11 percent more than fiscal 2004 funding but 9 percent less than Bush had sought. It would fully fund the administration's signature program to combat AIDS in the developing world while rewarding U.S. allies in the war on terrorism. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., plans to offer an amendment to convert military aid to Egypt into economic assistance over several years. Lantos argues that Egypt faces no serious military threats and that the money would be better spent on improving the lives of the Egyptian people.

from CQ Midday Update

"Tragically, the intelligence failures set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come. Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before." -- Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., vice chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee.

from CQ's Midday Update

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Look Ma, I'm Famous!

er, well, at least I was prominently promoted in an article about DC area blogs. Apparently, this blog is typical for a DC area writer. Wonder what that means about me since I'm now in Chicago. I must be atypical again. WOOHOO!

School Closed So Air Force Base Can Remain Open

TUSD final vote is to close Keen Elementary

Tucson Citizen

Keen Elementary will not reopen this fall. That is the final word from the TUSD governing board, which voted 3-2 last night, for a second time, to close the school because it is in the flight pattern of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

It may not, however, be the end of the story.

Southern Arizona Legal Aid sent a letter Friday to board members saying closing the school would violate the constitutional rights of the mostly minority students at Keen, 3538 E. Ellington Place. Legal Aid said it would file an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights seeking a reversal of the closure.

Legal Aid represents Maria Santizo and her son Emanuel, who just completed kindergarten at Keen, and Alba Botello and her daughter Karina Dominguez, who just finished first grade there.

The letter stated, among other complaints, that Keen children who have to go to other schools will suffer because they will be bused instead of being able to walk; their ability to participate in after-school programs will be limited; and their parents' ability to walk them to school or to get to the school to volunteer or attend parent-teacher conferences will be limited.

Since Keen is a year-round school, and the three schools that its students will be transferred to are not, "parents ... would be forced to arrange for child care and recreational activities during the summers, which can be quite expensive and extremely disruptive," the letter, written by attorney and Legal Aid Executive Director Thomas Berning, said.

He also said the average class size at Keen - 14 - is lower than the other schools: Duffy Elementary, 17; Kellond, 22; and Dietz, 19.

"If Emanuel Santizo and Karina Dominguez and their classmates are in danger at Keen, then they are equally in peril in their homes, yards, in the streets around their neighborhood, at the grocery stores, in their school buses and waiting for those buses, and in the day-care centers they may be forced into if they must go from their extended year school to one of the other schools," the letter said.

After the vote, Santizo, through an interpreter, said the issue was racially discriminatory and not based on safety.

Socorro Muñoz, who has two children at Keen, also used an interpreter to say: "I don't think they would have closed it if it were not a school of Hispanic students."

Interim Superintendent Roger Pfeuffer said although it was difficult to recommend closure, "it ultimately was based on safety. There is a big difference in parents deciding to buy a home in the area and a school district placing a school in the area or continuing in an area we know has safety issues."

Board member Adelita Grijalva, who voted against the closure, said she was concerned the schools the Keen students would be transferred to didn't have many Spanish-speaking employees. Only one, Duffy, has a principal and office manager who speak Spanish. The other two are limited to a few employees, including cafeteria workers, a custodian, a computer instructor, a community representative and one teacher, she said.

"These are very involved parents," she said. "We must make sure they feel a part of these new schools ... and the schools have to be able to communicate with parents about what's happening with their students."

Board member Bruce Burke sympathized, but said the school had to close. "We have a school in a potential site where there could be a catastrophe and we have the issue of a base closure," he said.

Clerk Judy Burns said TUSD has been asked by everyone from the governor and mayor to base and community leaders to close the school for safety reasons and because it could contribute to the closing of Davis-Monthan in the next congressionally mandated round of base closures, which would mean a loss of $1 billion a year to the community and state.

"I wish the governor, mayor and business leaders had gotten together to see how they could help ... this neighborhood," Burns said. "I wish they could have offered help to build a new school in the neighborhood but not in the flight pattern."

Burns voted against the closure.

TUSD voted last fall to close Keen, but because of a technicality - the full school board wasn't at a public hearing on the closure - another hearing was held June 4.

received via the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom listserv.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The US Officially Hates People with AIDS, Love Big Pharma

The Journal goes high with U.S. trade negotiators essentially opposing the proliferation of generic drugs even though the lower-cost pills are considered crucial for fighting AIDS and other illnesses. The revised position is very similar to the drug industry's stance. Currently, less than 10 percent of people who are HIV-positive are getting the pills they need.

from Today's Papers

Saw Fahrenheit 9-11, Have a Lil More Respect for Moore
Generally, Mike gives me the hives because of the outlandish way he distorts facts to create a "stronger truth." I think a lot of what he tried to say in Bowling for Columbine could've been said without the lies (e.g. that it takes five minutes to get a free gun from a bank in Michigan). Anyway, despite travel weariness, I was glad I saw the 10pm screening of 9-11. It was so disturbing that I started stress eating (I bought a bunch of crap I wasn't even hungry for and ate most of it). Despite being a news junky, I didn't realize how deep the Bush-Saudi relationship is. I was also moved by the hardcore Republican-army mom who lost her son in Iraq and is now defiantly anti-Bush. And I wonder if the military recruiter who went with Moore to the steps of Congress to get Congressmen to sign up their kids got into trouble.

One Long Shot Dream Gone, Mad Campaigning Skillz Gained
So I know it was a pipe dream to wish Kerry would pick Clark as his veep, but a girl can dream, no? I'll admit, Edwards delivers a powerful stump speech (yup, dork confirmation ahead: I watched him on C-SPAN during the primaries). It doesn't really bother me that he has very little experience: Shrub can't even run a baseball team and Cheney has one foot in the grave, so I prefer the Dems. The idea that common people screwed by big business are a "special interest" is something only the big business party could try to push. Granted, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America has extremely swanky offices in posh Georgetown, but so what? Remember Erin Brockovich? That's the type of trial lawyer Edwards was, not an ambulance chaser.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

News from the Purple Monster

SEIU's main color is purple and their aggressive organizing tactics have caused some people to call them the "purple people eaters." Nevertheless, they are a powerful force for universal access to healthcare and they're about the only thing keeping hospitals and nursing homes safe. (Their industries are health care, building services - janitors and security officers, and public sector.) Here's an exerpt from a recent blog post on what was done at their national convention:

Deciding to build an Internet-based network of people in every community who want to take local action for workers' rights and to be members of the SEIU family.

Funny thing about that internet activism. Most union officials, even in SEIU, hate computers. They think it's a waste of time and that "real organizing" involves talking and pens and paper. Notice that they only want to increase their use of the internet for community "organizing," not new members. I'm not clear why they still think people in their industries are without internet access. Anyway, if you're interested in receiving similar internet services to the ones provided to SEIU, go here. CTSG (now part of Kintera) created their online advocacy sites. Annoyingly, CTSG (a DC company) is again accepting applications for a job they almost hired me for back in May. Ce la vie.

Friday, July 02, 2004

From Today's Papers:

According to all the papers, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents turned out in 95 degree heat to call for universal suffrage in a pro-democracy protest that was more openly critical of Beijing than previous marches. In response, China's Foreign Ministry said that "[t]he residents of Hong Kong enjoy real and unprecedented democracy, which can be witnessed by the international community." Nevertheless few protesters would give the papers their full names, fearing retribution.

In other news, the Sudanese government emptied out an over-crowded refugee camp hours before UN Secretary General Kofi Annan visited. International figure heads still refuse to call Sudan out for participating in the genocide. Surprisingly, the Pentagon is still refusing to allow Gitmo detainees access to their lawyers. Apparently, they need help reading the Supreme Court's ruling that The Executive Department Ain't Above the Law.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Slate's Today's Papers summarized this Washington Post article, "Underclass of Workers Created in Iraq."

The Washington Post looks at the second-class contractors in Iraq. From third-world countries, they still work for the big companies, but have been hired through layers of subcontractors and usually get a fraction of the pay, benefits, and sometimes security of Western workers. One group of Indians who worked for Halliburton recalled being tricked into the going to Iraq and then not being given flak jackets or sufficient food. "I cursed my fate," said one former worker, "not having a feeling my life was secure, knowing I could not go back, and being treated like a kind of animal."

In other news, vets are comin back from Iraq crazier than they did from the Gulf War, but not as crazy as the Vietnam Vets (comparison is of the percentage of returnin vets who're mentally disturbed). One study showed that in '95, 25% of the Army's career soldiers had committed crimes while on active duty. SecState Powell actual spoke to the Sudanese government about stopping a genocide they are participating in. Greenspan jacked up interest rates for the first time in four years. And just 7% of AIDS patients in the developing world are receiving the drugs necessary for survival.

Drop me a line at Mi_Hongya AT yahoo DOT com and let me know what you think of my ramblings...