Saturday, July 16, 2005

Shining Xenophobia by Tony Blair

London was shocked to find out the recent bombing was performed by British instead of foreigners.

The response of the Prime Minister?

Let's keep out foreigners.

"We will look urgently at how we strengthen the procedures to exclude people from entering the UK who may incite hatred or act contrary to the public good, and at how we deport such people, if they come here, more easily,"
Full Article

Much like the reactions in the US - they have little to do with the actual event. Another shining example of what peril we are in is reflect in his initial comments after the bombing.

"Where there is extremism, fanaticism or acute and appalling forms of poverty in one continent, the consequences no longer stay fixed in that continent, they spread to the rest of the world."

Of course the bombers were fairly prosperous and British.

We are fighting a war based on stereotypes and rhetoric instead of reality.

Monday, May 02, 2005

When Technical Errors aren't

The U.S. military issued a report this weekend on the killing of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq. Classified parts of the report were blacked out, but computer users were able to access sensitive information about U.S. military operations in an online version of the report.

This was not a technical error. It was wither incompetence or planned. This same thing was done in 2003 and made pretty big news. After this incident, it became practice to black out, then scan the black outed versions.

Here is the site from the 2003 incident:

Friday, March 25, 2005

Culture of Minority Life

This past weekend, President Bush interrupted his relaxation at his Crawford, TX ranch and flew back to Washington DC in the middle of the night to sign a bill to allow federal courts to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of brown lives go ignored.

Unfortunately, Bush has recently had opportunity to lead or comment on tragedies affecting all of Asia, African Americans and Native Americans. Those communities saw his reactions as apathetic, cynicism and silence.

Native American leaders are openly condemning President George Bush after his continued silence on the school shooting ranking only behind Columbine in casualties. Ten Natives died in Red Lake this week and the pain from the silence has been agitated by the very public and vocal intervention in the Schiavo case.

We can also see an apathy when comparing the subdued response to the more than 100,000 lives lost in the tsunami affected several Asian and African nations. Bush remained at his Crawford ranch and only made substantive remarks and more reasonable donations to aid after he thought he was being criticized as stingy.

In another series of events giving many the impression of cynicism or a total devaluing of Black life, is when President Bush tried to drive home the point of Social Security reform affecting African Americans. He and his staff have repeatedly mentioned that African Americans don't live as long as whites and so they don't collect as much Social Security. His conclusion was to fix Social Security.

African American groups, however, seem to think improving longevity might be a more noble goal.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Native Nazis

Jeff Weise, described as a 16 year old "baby face", recently killed his grandfather and then went to his school where he killed several children and adults.

Like other youth who have become mass murderers, he felt isolated and experienced behavior problems and social withdrawal. In the Spring of 2004, he finally found a group who encouraged his separation in the most extreme ways - this group of Nazi's praised this Native American on a reservation for embracing racial nationalism. Jeff Weise created the user name "Todesengel," which is German for "Angel of Death", and logged on to a discussion forum for a group of National Socialists. After a few exchanges, he changed his user name to NativeNazi.

Nazi and other hate groups often complain of being misunderstood or misinterpreted. In this case, they have a point. A lot of common reaction has been "How can a Native American believe in White Supremacy?" One key element of Nazi philosophy encourages racial nationalism. An animalist level of separating races quite literally in the sense that wolves don't run with a pride of lions. The white supremacy is often more visible in their rhetoric than mission statement.

The discussion forum has since been removed, but the internet has ways of keeping history. Reading the exchange between this young man and folks who appear to be adults, we see these Nazis encouraging the anti-social behavior and ideas we've come to look for since Columbine. Besides bantering about how a famous epithet should be changed to apply to Native kids who act Black, he forum condoled him and reinforced his feeling of alienation.

" I respect your open-mindedness; not everyone is so brave to think the way you do," says one of the first responses. It is followed with others embracing him with "There is a place for you, I hope you stick with us" and "We welcome you, brother." After adopting a philosophy of race based separation and one that sees "each race superior in its own way," he enters a discussion forum which behaves quite typically of how hate groups and cults embrace susceptible children and adults. After seeing himself as harassed and misunderstood, he has those ideas endorsed, is accepted as special and is praised.

In his message to the group, he asks about age requirements. There are none. He goes on to mention his problems at school and reiterating he was young. There doesn't appear to be any hesitation to keep encouraging him to stick with the group.

Is the group responsible for his actions? They didn't pull the trigger. They behaved as they do. Encouraging an atmosphere of perceived oppression, hindered victory, a glorious task ahead and brotherhood. They endorsed his negative view of the race mixers around him adopting Black culture.

Then again, on the actual web site for the Nazi group, their FAQ asks, "Killing innocent people is wrong, isn't it?" We all know the real answer, but this group goes on to describe society as "individuals..part of the social movements that produce them.. who can be out of place." It doesn't say no and dismisses the idea of innocence or guilt.

There are a lot of questions raised by tragedies like this. One overlooked question is the perennial topic of hate groups in schools and intolerance among youth. It's easy to feel queasy over the Nazi's encouragement aimed at our youth, but it's also a reminder that these groups see themselves in a light of righteous legitimacy where they have no more of an obligation to keep young people away than the Democrats or Republicans. It's up to us, not them. is one of many sites with information for parents, teachers and teens on understanding the importance of tolerance. specializes in communicating with kids on tough issues in general.

Hate groups infiltrate through , video games and perhaps most importantly, through a lack of communication and supportive social structure.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Muslims Never Condemn Terror

I spent a small amount of time today addressing the question, "Why Muslims don't condemn terror?"

The short answer is - because of Islamophobia encouraging ignorance among some and willful hateful dishonesty by others - because Muslims do.

If you hear or read a public figure stating this question or presenting it as a statement of fact, especially someone with a staff and resources to do a basic search or read the newspaper - they are blatantly lying.

Here are some statements against violence. I didn't include the condemnations of violence specifically against Muslims, like Diallos murder, the burning of Mosques and killing or beatings of Muslims in western societies.

I hope everyone understands how bizarre the statements are in context. Imagine the NAACP being asked to apologize for violence in the Zimbawbe, or NCLR/LULAC for kidnappings in Colombia. Imagine these groups needing to condemn acts of foreign extrmist groups regularly and some to even compile lists of the condemnations to prove they happened.

Here is a good set of sites that actually collect statements. More than 200

Various condemnations of Nick Berg killing (including by conservatives and extremists)

Islamic Statements Against Terrorism in the Wake of the September 11 Mass Murders

Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks

Some by British Muslims

Muslims Around the World Condemn the Kidnapping of 2 French Journalists

Statement Of British Imams And Scholars On The September 11 Tragedy And Its Aftermath

Fight Terrorism, But Not Through Draconian Laws (1998)

MCB expresses total condemnation of terrorist attacks

MCB expresses total condemnation of terrorist attacks in US

MCB Condemns Attacks In Bali

MCB Condemns Bombings in Istanbul

Partnership Needed to Defeat Terror Threat Facing Us All

MCB condemns terrorist atrocities in Madrid

Muslims condemn reprehensible Nick Berg killing

Saudi Fatwas and statements against various specific acts and general acts of terrorism

19 fatwas against Sucide Bombings

Fatwa for Jihad to help Afghan civilians

Fatwa on Hijacking planes and kidnapping

4 Fatwa regarding 911

Fatwa to cut off hijackers, bombers, etc

Fatwa seeing martyrdom in those combatting drug dealers

250 Talked Out of Terrorism (discusses efforts to combat people going to terrorism)

Don't Abuse Jihad

Condemnation of some attacks in Saudia Arabia

Similar statement as above

Saudis Stand United Against Terrorism

American Muslims

American Muslim leaders ask that Jamil Al-Amin surrender to FBI

American Muslim group responds to bombinb of Iraq

U.S. Muslims condemn Church attack in Pakistan

CAIR condemns attacks on civilians

Don't link Hajj to terrorism say Muslims

CAIR condemns Istanbul bombings

U.S. Muslims meet Spanish ambassador to offer condolences

CAIR condemns mutilation of bodies in Iraq

Muslims Launch 'Hate Hurts America' Radio Campaign

CAIR launches 'Not in the name of Islam' petition drive

CAIR Condemns Iraq Church Bombings

CAIR Joins 'Call to Action' on Darfur Crisis

California Muslims Honor Author of Hate Crimes Resolution

ISNA Peace Mission to Sudan Meets with Sudanese Civic Organizations

CAIR-CAN Condemns Anti-Semitic Graffiti

CAIR'S 'Not in the Name of Islam' Petition

CAIR Condemns School Killings in Russia

CAIR Calls for Release of All Hostages in Iraq

CAIR-FL Takes Part in Civil Rights Summit

CAIR Condemns Attack on Baghdad Mosque

U.S. Muslims Urged to Help Tsunami Survivors

CAIR-NJ Offers Condolences to Coptic Community

Calif. Muslims Demand Release of U.S. Hostage in Iraq

CAIR-LA Co-Sponsors Civil Liberties Forum

CAIR-Houston Condemns Anti-Semitic Incidents

Official Linked with Book Praising Hitler to Speak in FL, NY

CAIR-NJ: Muslims Applaud Arrests in Slaying of NJ Family

Friday, March 11, 2005

March 11, the Madrid Bombing - myths, propaganda & fatwas

On March 11th of last year, Al Qaeda bombed a train station in Madrid, Spain. In the few weeks to follow, the ruling party would be voted from the government and Bush would be wailing about how Al Qaeda changed Spain's elections.

One the one year anniversary, Spain's Muslims issue a fatwa specifically condemning Osama bin Laden.

Did Spain give in to Al Qaeda, or are they showing us what happens when the citizen's think critically and respond to bad government?

It's worth noting that on 3-11 the governing Popular Party and the soon to be successful Socialist Party were in a statistical dead heat. Those media members who reported the the Popular Party led in the polls ignored the margin of error in any poll. Four points was the spread largest spread followed by more saying it was a straight tie.

José María Aznar, the sitting president, was elected on his promise to combat ETA (The Basque separatist terrorists). He vowed to continue doing the same in the next term. He also put Spanish troops in Iraq against 90% of the public will.

Then Al Qaeda attacks.

I woke up and during the morning hours read the letter from Al Qaeda claiming responsibility on El País. There was a van filled with various types of evidence - writings, tapes - and Al Qaeda taking responsibility. In a furious race, the Spanish government lobbied the local media with pressure, and used the emotional collateral to get the UN to condemn ETA for this attack by name. All of this with zero evidence supporting the theory and confessions contradicting it.

Accusing ETA was a lie to the public. More than that, it was a danger to national security to consciously divert resources away from the actual attackers. With police agencies and others reporting evidence of Al Qaeda, Spain's Popular Party officials were selling people n the idea that ETA was responsible.

So what do you do if your government who has already committed yoru nation to violence the population was very much against uses about 200 lost lives and a national tragedy in a lie (or incompetent delusion) for political gain?

I'll ignore that we're in Iraq because of non-existent WMDs and I'll ignore the campaign commercials using 9-11 images in the US for a second. I'll ignore the money we gave to the Taliban over the protest of women's groups not too long before we bombed them. Anyhoo..

The correct answer is - you fire them.

Bush, still facing election himself, needed public opinion to be ready to be spiteful towards Al Qaeda. Don't cave in - vote for the warhawk. I expected the right wing pundits to push the idea Spain punked out - but the president joined in as well.

Bush on Aznar: "He is a man that understands the war on terror, clearly knows the stakes and knows that we must never give an inch to the terrorists."

This was before the Spanish elections. The message - vote for Aznar or you're a punk.

I considered this an attack on our own national security. Spain was clearly responding to a particularly disturbing government, but Bush used his clout to push the idea that Al Qaeda could affect national elections.

The full delivery sounded like another "Bring it on" challenge. He and others seized on the pre-existing promise by the Socialists to do what the public wanted in the first place and bring the troops home and twisted it to make it seem like a knew response to the bombings.

Everyone ignored the specific plans to fight terrorism that was also on the Socialist Party platform (which they have acted on since then).

Aznar was also among the first of Bush's allies to face re-election. A lost ally would mean people might start to question Bush more. A retained ally would be another kind of mandate for him.

This is an episode where two groups used human life for politcal collateral. Spain's ruling party and ours.

This year, Spanish Muslims reflected on the anniversary and passed the first fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden. And, to address another myth - there has been widespread condemnation of terrorism and terrorism activities.

I've compiled links to over 250 incidents of Muslims condemning various forms of terrorism (in English) here.

Some additional information form Media Matters:

As MMFA has previously noted, this speculation rests on the assumption that the March attack in Madrid in fact brought about the ouster of pro-Bush, Iraq war supporter Prime Minister José María Aznar, who lost to Socialist Party challenger Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero the week after the terrorist attack. But, as MMFA demonstrated, this assumption is dubious, notwithstanding its widespread acceptance by Bush administration officials and numerous mainstream media outlets. Regardless of the attack, the election would have been very close, with 90 percent of Spaniards opposing the war in Iraq, and with the European edition of Time
indicating that the election was a "dead heat" hours before the attack occurred. Other evidence suggests that the terrorist attacks may have had some effect on the outcome of the election -- but only indirectly and not in the manner that the terrorists purportedly intended. After the bombings, the Populist Party was greatly weakened by public accusations of a cover-up when
Aznar and his government sought to blame the attack on regional Basque separatists, even after evidence of Al Qaeda's connection to the attacks surfaced.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Will George Bush marry a man if the law doesn't stop him?

In 1858, Lincoln jokes that his opponent, Douglas, seems to have the fear that if the law weren't there to stop them, he might run out and marry a Negro woman. To "great laughter" laughter, Lincoln assures the audience that he is safe from such urges.

Lincoln: I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone.

Looking at the "Party of Lincoln" clamoring to amend the Constitution to prevent gay marriage and phrasing it as "preserving marriage" - one has to worry what the urges and fears of the GOP are - especially if they are so tightly bound to Lincolns ideals (except when in the south).

Will George leave Laura if he has the option to marry James Guckert?

Lincoln's humor was revealing and particularly nasty. While hesitant to extend this to gay marriage, the example is good for showing the insecurities, presumptions and the Phobia in the homophobia behind their policies.

Lincoln sat in front of an audience where his presumptions, fears, and dislikes could be well matched and the "absurdity" of him desiring a Black woman and running off to marry one was instantly understood.

Likewise the quivering fear filled rooms of GOP seem a comfortable enough setting where they can override reality and change the United States Constitution to prevent them from rushing out to marry other men.

Meanwhile a good portion of the United States is holding on to what are supposed to be Republic values - Lincoln's values - that is "let them alone." Don't get married to them. If they decide to marry themselves, it's their lives.

While I think homophobia is sometimes overused to described simple bigotry, Lincoln's obervance of the fear rooted in his opponent or his attempt to manipulate the insecurities of Douglas provides some insight for identifying real fear of homosexuality in he current debate of marriage.

"Protection" of marriage. "Saving" marriage. All fear and security based language.

Personally, seeing two men happy together will have very little impact on my marriage.

If not having a law banning you from marrying the same sex threatens your marriage, you probably should be for gay marriage rights so you can eventually find happiness.

Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas
at Charleston, Illinois
September 18, 1858

While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to
know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality
between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not
proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as
the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes
in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor
ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and
political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am
not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes,
nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white
people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical
difference between the white and black races which I believe will
forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and
political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do
remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior,
and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior
position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not
perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position
the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that
because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want
her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can
just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never
have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me
quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or
wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my
knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a
perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.
I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so
frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness-and that is
the case of Judge Douglas's old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson.
[Laughter.] I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not
going to enter at large upon this subject,) that I have never had the
least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there
was no law to keep them from it, [laughter] but as Judge Douglas and
his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there
were no law to keep them from it, [roars of laughter] I give him the
most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of
this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.
[Continued laughter and applause.]

Thursday, March 03, 2005

John Negroponte: Rewarding Terrorism

Central figures in the Iran-Contra affair and other human rights disasters are being rewarded and promoted.

To make a long story short in the beginning - here is the John Negroponte timeline:
  1. There were atrocities known about in Honduras by our ambassador under President Carter
  2. Reagan appoints Negroponte to replaces that ambassador
  3. Suddenly our new ambassador doesn't know about atrocities - for four years
  4. Areas directly managed by Negroponte become known for torture centers, like El Aguacate, where 185 bodies would be dug up later
  5. Known associates of Negroponte are known to be leaders of violence. Some trained at the School of the Americas
  6. Death squad leaders are permitted to retire in the US after the conflict
  7. George W. Bush apoints Negroponte to be UN ambassador
  8. Before any real dialog can take place, the death squad leaders were all deported from the US where they couldn't be questioned easily
  9. The man who claimed to be oblivious to the wave of murder around him wants to lead out whole intelligence community

In his 2001 hearings for ambassador to the UN, Negroponte said, "To this day I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras."

Al Gonzales skated past his memos okaying torture and overriding due process to become the first Hispanic Attorney General of the United States.

Elliot Smith has recently been named as the man who will lead democracy efforts abroad as President Bush promoted him to deputy national security adviser. Smith pleaded guilty in 1991 for lying to and withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair. President George H.W. Bush pardoned him in 1992 just before leaving office.

During the Iran-Contra era, during Negroponte's era, US military aid to Honduras expanded from $3.9 million to $77 million. Atrocities during this time period which Negroponte knows nothing about includes 32 nuns who were kidnapped and reportedly thrown from helicopters.

Here are a few scenarios to consider when reviewing these men. These men are simply opressed and deeply misunderstood, to the tune of screaming men and women in dark rooms. They actually are so ignorant and unaware that they didn't notice that the world around them was being slaughtered, in which case they are totally unqualified to hold any job protecting public interests.

Or, they were aware of the policies they were actively involved in and knew about the mass murder and human misery next to them that the world knew about from afar.

Since the confirmation process seems to be simply a formality, people should educate themselves about the the people who are being passed into power. We should also ask ourselves what message this sends about the value of human life and dignity, respect for Latin America or the future plicies of this country towards it's own citizens and others?

Thse questions become more important when we remember that just a couple of months ago, the "Salvador Option", introducing death squads to Iraq, was being explored. This appointment would basically say the debate is over.

Here is 1995 coverage from the Boston Sun on Negroponte and what happened under his watch.

Former envoy to Honduras says he did what he could,0,2446240.story

When a wave of torture and murder staggered a small U.S. ally, truth was a casualty, Was the CIA involved? Did Washington know? Was the public deceived?
Now we know: Yes, Yes and yes.,0,1240201.story

Glimpses of the 'disappeared',0,1305738.story

Torturers' confessions
Now in exile, these CIA-trained Hondurans describe their lives -- and the deaths of their victims,0,2249629.story

A survivor tells her story Treatment for a leftist:
Kicks, freezing water and electric shocks. In between, a visitor from the CIA.,0,1502347.story

How a journalist was silenced,0,1567884.story

More coverage at The Nation this week:
Throughout this episode, Negroponte acted as the boss of the contra operations in Honduras, and he participated in the covert quid pro quo arrangement. According to a 1997 CIA inspector general's report, he also smothered reports on human rights abuses committed by the Honduran military.

Since the early 1980s, Negroponte has denied that his partners in Honduras perpetuated deliberate and extensive human rights abuses. Yet this CIA report concluded, "The Honduran military committed hundreds of human rights abuses since 1980, many of which were politically motivated and officially sanctioned." According to the report, the US-backed Honduran army was linked to "death squad activities." The report quoted an official in Negroponte's embassy saying that "the embassy country team in Honduras wanted reports on subjects such as [human rights abuses] to be benign" because such reporting "would reflect negatively on Honduras and not be beneficial in carrying out US policy." The heavily redacted CIA report said that in one case the embassy discouraged reporting on a particular human rights matter because of Negroponte's concern that it would "create human rights problems for Honduras."

In 1995 Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson of The Baltimore Sun unearthed massive and substantiated evidence from various sources pointing the finger at Mr. Negroponte knowledge of the crimes. The reporters also found that hundreds of Hondurans "were kidnapped, tortured and killed in the 1980s by a secret army unit trained and supported by the CIA"(2). Reliable evidence from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Honduras alleged that Negroponte oversaw the expansion of U.S training camp and military base on Honduran territory, where US-trained Contras terrorists, and where the military secretly detained, tortured and executed Honduran suspected dissidents.

More Resources on this appointment:

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Feed the Children, or Gorge the Credit Card Companies

After passing legislation to benefit companies targeted by class action lawsuits (those pesky lawsuits where a large number of public citizens are injured and need legal representation against large companies), our representatives are considering laws limiting bankrupcty.

In effect, it would give credit card companies the same protection as child support payments.

Call me naïve and presumptuous (and many might call me worse) but I'm going to assume that when I pay credit card fees and interests I am paying into the following factors:
  1. Others have declared bankruptcy and the loss needs to be recuperated
  2. The risk that I will declare bankrupcty must be part of the fees I pay
  3. If I declare bankruptcy, my increased interest rate covers part 2 for the far future when I might do it again and covers some of my presumed "lost debt"
Now - that's how I would do it, and I haven't heard of these companies falling on hard times. Anyone who has declared bankruptcy will tell you the first pieces of mail they get - credit card offers.

Typically, you get few protections when you file for Chapter 7. Federal student loans and child support are two.

So who are these people shirking their personal responsibility? Reports over the past couple of years indicate that as many as half of them are due to accumulated medical bills.

More on their profile after bankrupcty:
His report shows that during the two years prior to filing for bankruptcy:

  • 40% lost telephone service
  • 19% went without food
  • 54% went without needed doctor or dentist visits because of cost
  • 43% did not fill prescriptions because of cost
  • 15% had taken out second or third mortgages to pay for medical expenses
  • 1/3 continued to have problems paying their bills following
    bankruptcy, including paying their mortgage/rent and utility payments
  • Even after filing for bankruptcy a number (3.1%) were turned
    down for jobs, 5% were turned away on apartment rentals, and 9% were
    rejected for car loans
Doesn't quite sound like a free ride. And some might recall the economic crash and the loss of jobs as a national problem.

The response from our legislature is to protect the credit card companies as if they were a child. So now, while continuing to spiral downward or struggle upward, folks can shore up even more profit for credit card companies.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

In all sincerity, I bought these words

Frank Luntz has an organization dedicated to forming the words that present conservative policy. His document analyzing 2004 elections and planning for victory in 2006, has been leaked. It starts with such strange gems as:
So how does a President with a national job approval rating hovering at 5O%, an economy that lost more than a million jobs over his four years in office, a war that has cost more than a thousand American lives and counting, $50 a barrel for oil, and a national mood that is downright sour still secure more than enough votes to win re-election? And what does it portend for the Republican Party in 2006?

The answer? Credibility. George W. Bush had it. John Kerry did not.

So, if you're interested in seeing how you're being manipulated, it's a good start.

This leaked document you'll find such ultra-conservative insights as:

Sure, the Democrats have clung to a
desperate belief that Bush won because he waged a campaign of fear. The
exact opposite was the case. Americans turned to him precisely because
they saw him as the antidote to that fear.

at which point I wonder how you can be the antidote without an atmosphere of fear.

Other suggestions include:
The Dems have adopted the phrase "undocumented worker" but you shouldn't. Call them exactly what they are. In fact, instead of addressing "immigration reform, " which polarizes Americans, you should be talking about "border security" issues. Securing our borders and our people has universal support.

It is hard to distrust a trial lawyer because we see them portrayed so favorably on L.A. Law and Law & Order. But personal injury lawyers, also known as ambulance chasers, remind people of those annoying, harassing commercials we see at 1 :00 am cajoling us to sue someone. If you want to get the full bang for the buck, call them "predatory personal injury lawyers. '"

You can see the conscious effort not to cause "division" by simply rephrasing the issue. Same plan, same motives, same people. They say a different word and want you to react differently.

Will it work on you?

You can download the report from the Daily Kos Blog

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Feeding Human Rice to Babies

Last December Ventria Bioscience, a biopharmaceutical company based in Sacramento, Calif., submitted permit applications to the USDA to grow about 200 acres of rice “engineered with human genes” in Scott, Mississippi and Cape Girardeau counties this year.
Ventria's proteins have the potential to address health issues such as severe dehydrations due to diarrhea which kills approximately 1.3 million children under age 5 every year worldwide, Herbst said.

Good news right? Major corporations are struggling to be the first to bring us solutions that would help save 1.3 million children a year. The numbers are from UNICEF and they offer a free and better solution available now.

Here is where Ventria gets the 1.3 million number they are using in press releases.
UNICEF said that by expanding the number of women who exclusively breastfeed during their child’s first six months, at least 1.3 million infant lives could be saved this year.
“Simply put, if a child dies a preventable death it’s because mothers and infants are not getting the basic support they need,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.

Now - people who don't apologize while promoting breastfeeding and the cheapest and best known access to health benefits that can be applied now with proper support aren't always well recieved. Maybe the millions spent in marketing and influencing attitudes have swayed us over time. I don't have that kind of money.

The problem isn't that a company is doing something other than encouraging
breastfeeding, it's their target demographic. UNICEF recognizes this
demographic of endangered lives as people "who don't get basic
support." This company's solution, besides using genetically modified
product on infants, isn't support - but rather another option to undermine the
cheapest and best solution to the problem they claim to be addressing.

If they were targeting the much, much, much smaller demographic within their actual demographic of mostly
third world women who can't breastfeed for some reason, I would say God bless
'em. Bless those moments when it's actually used for that. If it ever is. (Does that count as my apology?)

But - imagine the dollar amount invested in their campaign, being moved from state to state since at least 1997 trying to find a place to finally farm their research. Nestle, who is in violation of WHO's international guidelines for formula marketing and openly flaunts them, is a ready distributor who is already doing their own research on the same protein.

With millions of dollars tied up in research over many years, and the target demographic of healthy women who can fix the problem now with proper support named - they will want a return. Healthy breastfeeding doesn't turn a profit to anyone but individuals, communities and states who pick up later health benefits and costs.

WHO and UNICEF promote standards based on knowledge of how easy it is for new mothers and infants to get discouraged with breastfeeding - due to emotional and physical challenges, due to surrounding support and due to culture.

This company is already preparing to launch against a healthy demographic who is simply lacking support. It is feeding on a weakness and hoping to profit from it. The marketing barrage will rely on the lack of support persisting for these 1.3 million children a year. That is the quality defining this demographic.

If these women get support - their market and stated need disappears. If they start the free option of breastfeeding and stop the death of 3,500 children a day - this market is closed to them.

Imagine if a fraction of this research money, future marketing and distribution costs aimed at healthy women who lack support was spent now on support. As WHO, UNICEF and even the Human Rice makers acknowledge - 3,500 babies a day would be saved.

Instead - when they hit the market and spend millions more specifically targeting women and children whose central problem is a lack of support - they are further undermining the support.

With a problem that can be resolved free right now - a problem involving 3,500 children’s lives a day - multimillion and some multibillion dollar companies are sitting back watching the deaths while doing research and shouting "a solution is coming" when the solution already exists, and it's not the price they will charge for a process, technology and protein variance they patent.

It will be a solution you have to pay them for.

The other solution is free - an important component for many populations. It's breastfeeding and can start saving lives now. If the problem isn't resolved by the time they have a complete product - the lack of support will grow as a direct result of them relying on and feeding on the existing lack of support. Fewer children might die (as they market what may be the second best solution to just one problem at a cost) for that specific cause, but the overall problem of not supporting those who would provide children with the food that happens to be the cheapest and best for them will grow. In the end, those lives may simply be moved over into another category.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Rights Turns" using Small Steps

I just heard the author of Right Turns on the Al Franken Show. He has some "unique" ideas for someone who talks out loud to express. His complaints and reasons also show the major problem with his ilk.

He believes that the Civil Rights Act should not have been passed. His reasoning is that small business owners shouldn't be told who they can hire and who they should fire. He blames this on the small business owner ethic that helped bring his family into the middle class and up.

This is a case of running the true story through the righteous blender and rephrasing it to match whatever idea they have.

I just heard the author of Right Turns on the Al Franken Show. He has some "unique" ideas for someone who talks out loud to express. His complaints and reasons also show the major problem with his ilk.

He believes that the Civil Rights Act should not have been passed. His reasoning is that small business owners shouldn't be told who they can hire and who they should fire. Boycotts and marketing would have corrected the problem. He blames this on the small business owner ethic that helped bring his family into the middle class and up.

This is a case of running the true story through the righteous blender and rephrasing it to match whatever idea they have.

I have been in plenty of jobs (the super majority of them) where people made bigoted statements while in the hiring process.. The government never came in and many people probably think this doesn't happen much.

The govt didn't make them hire the people they looked down at so much. It surely didn't lower the pay of the women during one hiring project below the men who were hired.

Businesses are licensed and get to operate under certain rules in our society. They pay taxes and have accounting and reporting practices they must follow depending on the practice.

Asking them to give someone with dark skin the same consideration as someone with light skin, even though you believe they are genetically and spiritually abhorrent seems less interfering than controlling labor hours of children and employees, paid taxes and wage guidelines.

Using the Logic blender we could start whining about small businesses not able to hire small children or even adults and pay them 5 cents an hour while missing school and not permitting them to leave.

Businesses are members of our society and community.

Don't marry that Cambodian if you don't want to - but at least try to act like an American and give them the same consideration to be able to get ahead.

What a burden!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

From Dixie to Torturers

Bush's first cabinet was a bit thick with neoconfederates and like minded people.

This term appears to be celebrating Human Rights Violaters.

Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty in 1991 to withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair, was promoted to deputy national security adviser to President Bush. Abrams, who previously was in charge of Middle East affairs, will be responsible for pushing Bush's strategy for advancing democracy.

John Negroponte From 1981 to 1985 Negroponte was US ambassador to Honduras. During his tenure, he oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year. At the time, Honduras was ruled by an elected but heavily militarily-influenced
government. According to
The New York Times, Negroponte was responsible for "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinistas government in Nicaragua." Critics say that during his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic.

Al Gonzales In his position as White House Counsel, Mr. Gonzales was the architect for the legal strategy that set the stage for torture and abuses at Abu Ghraib and other U.S. military prisons around the world.
President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief

It would have been easy for the media to balance the continuous coverage of Kerry's insignificant position changes with, say Bush going from WMD to Iraqi freedom - or being against nation building while creating the new Haiti and Iraq.

Better than the media, those running against him should have pointed it out in every breath they uttered in Kerry's defense.

President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief - American Progress Action Fund

President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief - American Progress Action Fund: "From the beginning, George W. Bush has made his own credibility a central issue. On 10/11/00, then-Gov. Bush said: 'I think credibility is important.It is going to be important for the president to be credible with Congress, important for the president to be credible with foreign nations.' But President Bush's serial flip-flopping raises serious questions about whether Congress and foreign leaders can rely on what he says." Full Article

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today

Concerns over the elections were largely whitewashed with apathy and optimism. Portions of the Voter's Right Act are coming up for renewal. No voting problems in the US, right? Here are documented examples of old fashioned vote stoppers still in action today.

The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today - A Report by PFAW Foundation and NAACP

The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today - A Report by PFAW Foundation and NAACP: "In a nation where children are taught in grade school that every citizen has the right to vote, it would be comforting to think that the last vestiges of voter intimidation, oppression and suppression were swept away by the passage and subsequent enforcement of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. It would be good to know that voters are no longer turned away from the polls based on their race, never knowingly misdirected, misinformed, deceived or threatened.

Unfortunately, it would be a grave mistake to believe it."

Full Article

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The other Sept 11th Report - Child Sex and Exploitation

This is a story that broke the day before the twin towers fell. I supported the strike against the Taliban and Al Qaeda - I hoped that while we were reacting to our own terror, we could see and address some of the things that affect us day to day as well. It's a sad case that contradicts our day to day stereotypes and expectations.

Full Report:

"Seventy-five percent of the children we met on the streets are children from working class and middle class families and the simple majority of them are white,"

The report continues

"One of the other myths is that this is a problem [of] poor, inner city, mostly minority youth. We cannot confirm that to be the case, but rather just the opposite."
"Despite popular notions to the contrary," Estes said, "strangers commit fewer than 4 percent of all the sexual assaults against children."
Study summary Among the findings of a study titled "The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico"

  • 325,000 children are sexually exploited in the United States annually. Of that figure, 121,911 ran away from home and 51,602 were thrown out of their homes by a parent or guardian.
  • 25 percent of exploiters of children are other children.
  • Children who engage in prostitution can earn between $200 and $1,500 per day.
  • 75 percent of children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation are from middle class backgrounds.
  • 40 percent of the girls who engaged in prostitution were sexually abused at home, as were 30 percent of the boys.
  • Monday, February 14, 2005

    Shark tale may trick you into loving your kids

    Before there was Sponge Bob, there was Lenny the shark. In 2004, the American Family Association carried an "activism" article warning people about the movie coming "far too
    close to taking a bite out of traditional moral and spiritual beliefs."

    Is the story pro-gay or pro-family?

    Before there was Sponge Bob, there was Lenny the shark. In 2004, the American Family Association carried an "activism" article warning people about the movie coming "far too close to taking a bite out of traditional moral and spiritual beliefs."

    Is the story pro-gay or pro-family?

    The article gives the producers some credit in saying that Lenny isn't explicitly gay in the story. Personally, with the voicing method, the conflict (he's a vegetarian shark) and the eventual outcome of Lenny dressing in a Lavendar tight outfit while cross dressing as a dolphin and dancing at teh car wash - stereotype or not, it sent a pretty clear message to me about the intended metaphor.

    With Alan Keyes recently cutting off housing and education from his young daughter for coming out in her blog and in the streets of activism, and "family" groups attacking Sponge Bob for promoting tolerance - I really should expect someone to attack this story.

    Metaphors or not, the plot is one where a father accepts his son even though "he's different" and won't fill his father's shoes in the "family business."

    This attack on the story reaches deep into the world of metaphors to have it override everything that is on the surface. Acceptance of our children for what they are. Alan Keyes and the AFA don't appear to favor tolerance - not even of our children.

    And let's be clear - tolerance isn't praise. It's the cynical approach that says "I'll let you exist in my presence even though I may despise you." Baby steps that some can't take.

    What bothers me is that these people attack the basic family values of sticking together, going through rough times together and loving your children for what they are in favor of banishment and paranoia. How does the press and public respond? By tolerating them as legitimate voices for Family Values.

    Whose family?
    US settles white males' bias suit

    The Bush administration has taken a cynical approach to civil rights, equality, etc.

    Try tried to put Linda Chavez, a person who doesn't believe in the policies she would have to enforce, into the cabinet. That's ideal for dismantling the programs. They argued the Michigan affirmative action program was quotas, even though it wasn't. And they feed into the crowd of people who dominate the economy and boardroom and govt who feel oppressed,

    The Justice Department has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with as many as 550 white men for $11.5 million, a rare win for the class of lawyers who say they were not chosen for high-profile jobs because of gender and skin color.
    Full Article

    To be clear, I don't reject the idea they could have been discriminated against outright. It does seem, though, that it should have been tested in court. This case was a win for showing sympathy to a group of angst filled men. A win in court would have been actual vindication of their beliefs and claims.

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Does Profit Motivate Security?

    On one side of the pond the US has Checkpoint saying they would love to explore the idea that thousands of customers have had their sensitive information stolen. But they won't because regulations don't compel them to.

    On the other side, France has found a security expert (hacker) guilty of patent violations after he posted detailed information proving the existence of a security flaw in a piece of software.

    Can companies be trusted to admit when they have severe flaws that puts your information and business at risk and be trusted to release a fix in a way that your urgen security needsa are met?

    Or do we need town criers pointing the finger to put pressure on?

    If you were running a company and you discovered your customer's personal information was stolen or could be stolen, being the concerned small business owner that you are would you run straught out and alert everyone so they can protect their assetts?

    Or - remembering you have investors or stockholders, remembering there are still some sales that haven't been completed yet and knowing the bad publicity will affect your business - would you wait until you have a solution to present it? Or would you quietly fix it?

    These aren't imaginary questions. Each one has been played out again and again. Chances are, whatever software you are using to view this page has bugs ranging from security to typos. A priority has been put on it and it might be fixed.

    And, being the honest person that you are, didn't you hesitate for a moment cnsidering what to do if this were your business?

    Imagine how hard it is for some well meaning person who explains the situation to the CEO, CFO, marketing, legal, sales and other members of the company.

    Being so well meaning, imagine the cold hearted stereotpye corporation that simply wants a high stock value and high profit margin.

    As a customer, do you want your personal security and privacy handled by the marketing and legal department?

    And, if you want to know, is it worth allowing people to investigate on their own and report it at the risk of a company not yet having a fix according to their schedule and priorities?