Friday, September 22, 2006

Pot Busts Exceed Arrests for Violent Crimes Nationally

by Megan Tady, The NewStandard

Sept. 21 – A person is arrested for a marijuana-related crime every 40 seconds in the United States, according to data from an FBI report released this week.

The annual Uniform Crime Report announced that a record 786,545 marijuana-related arrests were made in 2005. The number comprised almost 43 percent of all drug arrests in the country and exceeded the total number of arrests for all violent crimes in the US.

Eighty-seven percent of the marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug.

"These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor marijuana offenders," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), in a press statement. "This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal-justice resources that diverts law enforcement personnel away from focusing on serious and violent crime."
© 2006 The NewStandard. All rights reserved.

Who Said That?!

Click Pic For Larger Image

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Massive Tag Body Spray Slick Spreading From Jersey Shore

September 20, 2006 | Issue 42•38

TOMS RIVER, NJ—A weekend spillage of Tag Body Spray being described as the worst personal fragrance-related natural disaster in the history of the Eastern Seaboard continued to spread along New Jersey's Atlantic shore late Tuesday morning as disaster-management crews worked to contain the slick before it reached international waters.

Coast Guard officials said that the massive Tag slick—an estimated 20 million gallons, or the equivalent of 45 million Body Shots—has further contaminated the New Jersey coastline with a pungent combination of the Midnight and After Hours scents.

"We were not prepared for this," said Toms River, NJ firefighter Tony Carliano, choking back tears. "I've been dealing with noxious chemical fumes for 35 years, but I've never smelled anything on this scale before."

An Environmental Protection Agency spokesman said that Tag levels were already becoming dangerously high in recent years due to the thousands of migratory bros and dudes who flock to the area's beaches during the summer months. Worsening the crisis was the additional arrival of a yet-undetermined number of vacationing convention-goers, Maxim subscribers, and middle-aged divorcees trying to pass for twentysomething party girls. Thirteen-year-old boys attempting to imitate their older brothers have also not been ruled out as a source.

It is not yet known what caused the rupture in the hull of The Manly Torso, a fragrance supertanker which had been scheduled to make a delivery to the regional Tag receiving facility in Ocean City this week, which sank, apparently killing everyone on board, late Saturday.

Many beachgoers, as well as seabirds and marine mammals, have been covered in a thick glaze of Tag. Progress on containing the spill has been hampered by the fact that rescue workers, even those wearing HAZMAT suits and respirators, can only work hour-long stints due to the overpowering, ultra-concentrated odor. Chemical decontamination showers on the scene have repeatedly run out of water.

"It's the equivalent of a military-grade nerve agent, so mucous membranes are highly vulnerable," Federal Emergency Management Agency Director R. David Paulison said. "Without proper and immediate decontamination, it can cause severe rashes, sloughing of skin, and can even strip the lining of your throat if unprotected."

Also undermining the relief efforts, rescuers on the scene said, is the unwillingness of many beachgoers to cooperate with the cleanup.

"It's an uphill battle," volunteer Frank Hagen said. "We spend five hours scrubbing the toxins from the hair and skin of a victim, and then the next day, they douse themselves in it all over again and head back to the beach."

Some environmental experts said that the biological ramifications of the spill may not be fully known for decades. A disaster of this magnitude could have a profound and adverse effect on the breeding patterns of Mid-Atlantic populations for generations, according to Princeton University biologist Leslie Platz.

"There are billions of insects who release sex pheromones to attract mates and their ability to receive these messages could be overwhelmed by the Tag odor," Platz said. "And human females may become too repulsed to ever consider mating with another male."

Even if the spill is successfully contained and cleaned, Platz added, the lingering odor "could still make our grandchildren feel awkward and uncomfortable 50 years from now."

While Paulison expressed hope that progress will be made with the arrival of chemical skimming boats later this week, the spill is already being likened by many to the worst health-and-beauty-aids disaster in American history, the 2001 explosion of a Mitchum deodorant plant in Chicago's South Side, which covered the city in a toxic Mitchum Man cloud for three months.
© Copyright 2006, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Americans in Denial about 9/11

By Matt Taibbi,
Posted on September 14, 2006

So, why did they hate us after all?

We sure blew off that question nicely. As with everything else in this country, our response to 9/11 was a heroic compendium of idiocy, cowardice, callow flag-waving, weepy sentimentality (coupled with an apparently bottomless capacity for self-pity), sloth, laziness, and partisan ignorance.

We dealt with 9/11 in many ways. We instantly dubbed everyone who died in the accident a hero and commissioned many millions (billions?) in mawkish elegiac art. We created a whole therapy industry to deal with our 9/11 -- related grief, made a few claustrophobic two-star Hollywood movies about the bombings, read Lisa Beamer's book and bought that DVD narrated by Rudy, watched Law and Order entertainments about sensational murders committed that morning and left for Jerry Orbach to solve, made bushels of quasi-religious references to "hallowed ground." We made many careers out of assigning blame for the attacks, with the right blaming Bill Clinton, Michael Moore blaming George Bush, and the clinically insane blaming those mysterious demolition experts who allegedly wired the bottoms of the towers with the explosives that "really" caused the tragedy. And we talked about 9/11 -- to death. We blathered on so much about the attacks and whined so hard about our "lost innocence" that the rest of the world, initially sympathetic, ended up staring at us in suicidally impatient agony, a can of kerosene overturned above its head, like the old lady sitting next to Robert Hays in Airplane!

We did just about everything except honestly ask ourselves what the hell really happened, and why.

That process of self-examination was flawed from the start. We were screwed the moment Fareed Zakaria wrote his infamous "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?" essay for Newsweek a few weeks after the attacks. The question -- why do they hate us? -- was maybe the right question, but that was only if everyone could have agreed on what it meant. For what do we mean by they, and what do we mean by us? I for one am not entirely sure we're clear on these points, even now.

That we couldn't agree on who they were should be obvious by now. To the Bush administration the answers to the they/us questions were, respectively, "Foreigners" and "America." From the outset the Bush crew showed that they were both unwilling and unable to budge from the post-WWII political paradigm they'd all grown up under, and viewed the 9/11 events purely as an attack on the American nation-state by a belligerent foreign power. Their solution to the terrorism problem revolved entirely around a strategy for dealing with those foreign nation-states that were the "sponsors" of terrorism -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. It was characteristic of the fourth-rate minds in this White House that they not only immediately got lost in the wrong political paradigm in response to the bombing, but picked the wrong country, Iraq, to punish for the crime. If we give them another ten years at it they'll probably end up introducing market reform to Antarctica as a backup plan.

Bush and his buddies grew up in the Cold War, an era where two countries dominated the world and even the scraggliest warlord in the central African jungle was usually a client of one or the other. It was a fun time for the overgrown Risk-playing nerds inhabiting America's think-tanks, who spent half a century describing all human life as an ongoing chess match between life-affirming American capitalism on the one hand and, on the other, the bloodsucking communist religion cruelly foisted upon the world by a conspiratorial bund of grubby German Jews (Hitler was eighty years too late!) and French homosexuals. That was what it came down to: world politics for half a century was a pissing match between two warring factions in the sociology department of the international University of Well-Fed White People. Things were so simple, even George Bush could understand them.

Well, things have changed since then. The operating conflict on earth now is no longer capitalism vs. communism, but one pitting organization vs. anarchy. All over the world, the borders of nation-states are blurring and becoming more and more meaningless. From the north Indian subcontinent, to the jungles of the Amazon basin, to the Middle East, and especially to west and central Africa, nations are fast losing their integrity while local warlords and gangs are taking over.

In some places in the world, authority changes more from block to block than nation to nation. In countries like Pakistan, which last week was forced to sign a humiliating peace accord with belligerents on its own territory of Waziristan, a tribal leader can twist the nipples of a nuclear power and not only keep his neck but come out ahead of the game afterward. In the late '80s and early '90s the Risk nerds squealed with delight over the supposedly unipolar world created by the fall of the Berlin Wall, but actually the change was from bipolar to apolar. There was anarchy and a crisis of international identity on the other side of that wall. Our pole, one might say, turned out to be a lot smaller than we thought it was.

So what happened? We never got that far in our reasoning. The farthest we ventured, before returning to our regularly scheduled programming, was a vague concession that the world was now "different." "All of this was brought upon us in a single day -- and night fell on a different world,' said George Bush in his "Churchillian" State of the Union address that next January. "The United States confronts a very different world today," opined the 9/11 commission report. It was "After 9/11, A Different World," as CBS News put it. Different how? Well, that's the part we haven't really figured out yet.

For the most part, America looks pretty much like it looked before 9/11. We spend most of our time pounding Ding-Dongs and Sonic burgers, watching ESPN, and surfing porn sites, while transnational corporations -- the silent allies of drug cartels and warlords in the dismantling of the traditional nation-state -- install turnstiles in congress and steadily move our entire manufacturing economy overseas. Our culture is a parade of idiot reality shows where ordinary citizens eat caterpillars for money and southern jocks drive moving billboards in a circle at 200 mph in front of euphoric crowds of a hundred thousand. In the intellectual north, our braver political dissidents dress in t-shirts with the face of George Bush morphed onto a pig's body and watch documentaries in which other intellectuals brag about being tricked by the Republicans into voting to invade the wrong country.

So what's changed? Well, we now hang our heads when we remember that dark day, kneel before the appropriate icons (Pat Tillman, firefighters, the flight 93 passengers) at the appropriate times, and periodically make sure to remember the Big Lesson, AKA Anything Can Happen, Even To Those Such As Us. The Monday Night Footballcrew this week commemorated 9/11 by bringing a firefighter named Tim Buckley into the booth; when asked what was different now, the humbled Buckley said that after 9/11, you have to think about things more when you go out on a call. "You don't know what to expect, after something like that," he sighed, shaking his head.

Somber nods all around to that in the booth, and then, with the snap of a finger; back to the field --- 3rd and 16 for the struggling Raiders...

In this light one could almost view our response to 9/11 as a triumph of the American system. If 20 knife-wielding lunatics blowing a hole in the middle of Manhattan on international television can't even temporarily knock us out of "What, me worry?" mode, you have to feel pretty good about our future chances for remaining just as cheerfully numb through even a more serious disruption of our fantasy existence.

America's response to 9/11 was basically to blow off the entire question of why it happened, change the set-design behind the same old us-vs.-evil commies cowboy-movie worldview, and to patch the hole blown in our self-esteem with a crude mix of stage-managed self-congratulation and sentimental claptrap. Our failure to actually win our subsequent self-declared war on the evildoers we explained away by using a modern innovation, i.e. taking a New-Agey approach to our shortcomings and forgiving ourselves for our little imperfections. In the Dr. Phil age, actual achievement isn't important, so long as you're comfortable with yourself! Make a list every morning, think about the good things in life! Living in Madison Avenue's irony age helps also -- when even Tony Sopranos pours his heart out to a shrink every week, it's not hard to convince Americans that they're still tough, even though Osama bin Laden is still doing bong hits on Al Jazeera five years after we boldly promised to kick his ass.

Whatever happened to actually being tough? What happened to speaking softly while we carry that big stick? Of staring problems bravely in the face, of taking the world seriously? History long ago washed that generation of "us" away, along with the world we still think we live in.

Matt Taibbi is a writer for Rolling Stone.
© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Study: Herb May Curb Progression Of Many Diseases

NORML - Recently published research on the therapeutic use of cannabis indicates that cannabinoids may curb the progression of various life-threatening diseases - in particular, autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease) - according to a comprehensive new report by the NORML Foundation. The NORML Foundation report summarizes over 120 recently published trials.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Judge Keeps Oil Drillers from Alaskan Reserve

by Michelle Chen, NewStandard

Sept. 12 – Environmentalists are celebrating a recent court decision that bars the leasing of sensitive wetlands in the Alaskan wilderness for oil drilling.

Alaska US District Court Judge James Singleton issued a temporary injunction last week blocking a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land sale near Teshekpuk Lake, a part of Alaska's North Slope region that has historically enjoyed federal protection. The groups take the preliminary decision as a sign that the court intends ultimately to strike down the initiative in a later ruling.

The land in question spans about 1.7 million acres in a government-designated oil-rich region known as the National Petroleum Reserve. The BLM had planned to sell off tracts surrounding the pristine Teshekpuk Lake to developers on September 27. The tracts hold an estimated 1.4 billion barrels of oil.

While targeted for its fossil-fuel resources, the Teshekpuk Lake area also provides a crucial habitat for migratory waterfowl, fish and caribou. Local indigenous peoples in turn rely on wildlife in the area for food.

The Alaska Wilderness League, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations sued the government in 2005 to stop the sale. The groups argued that the BLM and the US Fish and Wildlife Service had not fully evaluated the long-term threat that industrialization would pose to the area's natural resources. The groups further contended that the government had not comprehensively analyzed the relative impact of alternatives to the leasing plan and had failed to develop an adequate plan to address the environmental effects.

Judge Singleton noted in his ruling that the agencies had admitted to omitting some future environmental impacts and had argued that an in-depth evaluation in the early stages of the development plans would be "premature."

The judge found that the agencies violated federal environmental-protection statutes in failing to analyze the cumulative impact of the leases and that evidence indicated the resulting ecological damage "would constitute an irreparable injury."

The Department of the Interior opened 3.9 million acres of the Northeast Planning Area to energy development in 1998, and also recently allowed leasing on another 8.8 million acres in the northwestern part of the Reserve. In January of this year, the Department authorized additional leasing and development surrounding Teshekpuk Lake, though permanent drilling operations have not yet begun in the Northeast Planning Area.

© 2006 The NewStandard.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Terrorism: It's Time to Get a Grip

By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on September 11, 2006

"Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror." -- FDR, 1933

American public policy shouldn't be made by 19 reactionary right-wing fundamentalists with box-cutters or some Saudi culture warrior holed up in a cave in Pakistan, and it shouldn't be based on the public's basest emotional responses. But for the past five years that's largely been the case.

Of course, that assumes that sound policy, based on realistic analyses of the issues, is lawmakers' primary goal. It's not; that would only be in the interests of ordinary people. Terrorism has become intensely politicized, and fear is now an organizing principle for the Right.

Last week, journalist Mathew Stannard wrote about a new study by researchers at Columbia University that showed empirically what many of us have long known intuitively: The Bush administration hypes the threat of terrorism, the media embrace that hype, President Bush's approval ratings rise and the cable news channels get their ratings.

University of California scholar Mark Juergensmeyer told Stannard: "This public panic benefits the terrorists whose work is made easier by an overactive government response that magnifies their efforts. In an odd way this puts the government and the terrorists in league with one another," he said. "The main loser, alas, is the terrified public."

Aside from the political consequences of a freaked-out populace, the constant drumbeat of fear has been used to justify the detention of U.S. and foreign citizens without trial, warrant-less surveillance of Americans and an unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign state that has proved to be disastrous. It's also been used to justify the greatest expansion of military spending since the start of the Cold War, paid for with large deficits and deep cuts in domestic priorities.

For all of those reasons, we have to put the threat of international terrorism in perspective. That doesn't mean denying that Islamist terror is a real threat -- it certainly is -- but it does mean evaluating how great that threat is, and questioning whether the strategies that the U.S. has adopted to counter it are the appropriate ones.

With that, here are some things you should know to put international terrorism in the proper perspective.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pocket Paradigm

From Sam Smith, UnderNews

One reason the Democrats lose so many elections is that they seem to care more about Valerie Plame and who said what on an ABC TV show than they do about healthcare, pensions, jobs or how much it costs to own a house.

Bush Regime A Gift To Opium Growers In Afghanistan

CARLOTTA GALL, NY TIMES - Afghanistan's opium harvest this year has reached the highest levels ever recorded, showing an increase of almost 50 percent from last year, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul. He described the figures as "alarming" and "very bad news" for the Afghan government and international donors who have poured millions of dollars into programs to reduce the poppy crop since 2001.

He said the increase in cultivation was significantly fueled by the resurgence of Taliban rebels in the south, the country's prime opium growing region. As the insurgents have stepped up attacks, they have also encouraged and profited from the drug trade, promising protection to growers if they expanded their opium operations. He said the harvest increased by 49 percent from the year before, and it drastically outpaced the previous record of 4,600 metric tons, set in 1999 while the Taliban governed the country.

The area cultivated increased by 59 percent, with more than 400,000 acres planted with poppies in 2006 compared with less than 260,000 in 2005.

BushCo Invokes Osama...

Courtesy of Jack Spellman, Verde2k

W* spent last Tuesday name-checking Consensus Pick Osama bin Laden in a series of speeches designed to justify the war in Iraq because that's what's keeping Osama from invading Alsace... I'm foggy on the details. But Hitler is bad.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Sam Smith, UnderNews

If you deconstruct the language of those who Bush would have us believe form the axis of evil, one finds not so much megalomania as insecurity, hurt feelings, and bitterness over their global inferiority.

This has become particularly apparent with the rise of Chavez and Ahmadinejad, two national leaders who have proved unusually adept at using contemporary media to make their case. They represent, perhaps, a new generation of national figures who - all politics aside - make the staid habits and behavior of the Council on Foreign Relations genre of diplomacy seem pointless, lifeless and antiquated. In other words, while Bush is still stuck in the politics of a Masterpiece Theatre plot, Ahmadinejad, despite the pull of his traditional culture, is working overtime to join the hip hop generation.

At the core, the language and behavior of a Bush or Blair is based on notions of purportedly deserved power and how the less powerful are supposed to behave towards their betters. The language and behavior of Ahmadinejad and Chavez is popular, populist and evangelical and directed at winning the very hearts and minds of which Bush speaks repeatedly but doesn't have the faintest idea how to reach.

Thus we find the Islamic Republic News Agency reporting that Ahmadinejad plans to come to the UN and speak the same day as Bush and a day before Chavez. Both and Chavez will fly from Havana after meeting with the longest plank holder of power of our era: Fidel Castro. This isn't diplomacy; this is show business.

Castro, in his early days, also spoke at the UN. But, just as Mitt Romney recently refused state police protection for the ex-president of Iran, so the hotels of New York refused space for Castro. The result: Malcolm X found him a hotel in Harlem and a key step was taken in the alienation of a man who, with just a little respect and effort, might not have tormented every American president since by refusing to die or
fade away.

The U.S. is in a similar stage with Chavez and Ahmadinejad. It is slamming every door that possibly opens between our country and theirs, gratuitously shunning and dissing them along the way - with the media helping on the ridicule end. But, as Castro proved, it doesn't work.

What can work is respect.

A letter from Ahmadinejad to German prime minister Merkel is remarkable not only in its words of respect expressed towards her and her country but in the clear longing for a similar respect for himself and his own land. This guy is smart and articulate and desperately wants the bigger guys to admit it. You don't have to agree with a single political point he makes to note this.

For example, even if one fully supports the creation of Israel, there is still room for empathy for those displaced to make way for it. Those who mediate for a living will tell you that you must hear the pain of both sides. Not just the threats felt by Israelis, but those felt by its neighbors.

And you might even find yourself faintly nodding your head as you read:
"You are familiar with the pains and sufferings currently afflicting our world. Today, the pain and suffering of the people of Iraq that come from occupation, absence of security and daily acts of terrorism are tormenting the entire humanity. Relentless interferences of some bullying powers in the internal affairs of other nations, antagonism toward the inalienable rights of nations to have access to more advanced technologies, subjecting nations to permanent threats by relying on arsenals of chemical and nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, opposition to popular governments in Latin America, supporting coup d'etat and dictatorial regimes, absence of due attention to Africa and taking advantage of the power vacuum there to plunder their wealth are among the problems facing our world today."

Respect is important because it is one of the few doors wide enough for peace to enter. It is the antithesis of the bullying, bombastic, holier-than-thou approach of the Bush regime. It is also futile to speak only to one's friends or to establish impenetrable concessions one's opponents must make before you sit down with them. Now that we have seen how pointless such approaches have been, it is perhaps time to try something else.

Chavez and Ahmadinejad are leaders of weak countries with a strong need for respect. It does not hurt our oil supplies, our military strength or our economy to grant them this. Our continued refusal will, just as it did with Castro, only makes the times harder and the hard times longer.


The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking pop on the stoop, hearing about a job from the hardware man and borrowing a dollar from the druggist.

Most of it is ostensibly utterly trivial but the sum is not trivial at all. The sum of such casual, public contact at a local level, most of it fortuitous, most of it associated with errands, all of it metered by the person concerned and not thrust upon him by anyone, is a feeling for the public identity of people, a web of public respect and trust, and a resource in time of personal or neighborhood need. -

Jane Jacobs

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tom DeLay, dancing with the bigots

By Evan Derkacz
Posted on September 8, 2006

In an innocuous-looking email promoting his pick on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," Tom DeLay writes:

"Sara Evans has been a strong supporter of the Republican Party and represents good American values in the media... We have always been able to count on Sara for her support of the things we all believe in. Let's show Sara that same support."

The email continues with same old patter:

"We need to send a message to Hollywood and the media that smut has no place on television by supporting good people like Sara Evans."

But why go out of his way to promote Sara Evans? I mean, DeLay doesn't come out of his spider hole every day for any old Dancing with the Stars contestant, does he?

The answer may lie in Sara's husband, ultra-rightwing theocracy-supporting Craig L. Schelske -- failed Republican candidate and cute-as-a-button executive director of

American Destiny is an organization that promotes a revisionist history of America's founding as a theocracy and dedicates itself to busting the "myth" of separation of church and state. In order to do so, it must use the discredited scholarship of one David Barton, who used to speak at "Christian Identity" conferences. In Kingdom Coming, Michelle Goldberg wrote:

...In the past [Barton] was embraced by the racist far right, addressing at least two Christian Identity gatherings. (Christian Identity maintains that Anglo-Saxons are the true children of Israel, while blacks are "mud people" and Jews are the spawn of Satan).

DeLay is also known to cavort with Barton who, incidentally, was hired by the RNC in 2004.

Welcome to Dancing with the Stars. Go ABC! Go. (TMZ)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


PR DAILY - SML Strategic Media, the Washington, D.C. PR and editorial shop, placed a four-page advertorial in the September/October Foreign Affairs, the high-brow political journal, extolling progress made in Kazakhstan under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev."

But Gregoire de Bourgues, who coordinated the "advertorial," was stabbed to death in Kazakhstan while doing research for it. According to O'Dwyer's, "An official at Kazakhstan's Journalists in Danger organization suspects that de Bourgues may have uncovered information about the recent murders of two prominent opposition leaders."

Kazakh president Nazarbayev will "visit the White House later this year, and spend some time at the Bush family compound in Maine."

The Washington Post reports that Nazarbayev "has banned opposition parties, intimidated the press and profited from his post. But he also sits atop massive oil reserves that have helped open doors in Washington."

The Price Of Admissions

Daniel Golden

INSIDE HIGHER ED - That American higher education is not a pure meritocracy is, of course, hardly news. But Golden's book has a level of detail about the degree to which he says some colleges favor the privileged that will embarrass many an admissions officer. Golden names names of students - and includes details about their academic records before college and once there that raise questions about the admissions decisions being made. For good measure, he attacks Title IX (saying that the women's teams colleges create favor wealthy, white applicants), preferences for faculty children (ditto, although substitute middle class for wealthy), and accuses colleges of making Asian applicants the "new Jews" and holding them to much higher standards than other students. . .

In an interview, Golden said that he became interested in the issue of preferences for the wealthy while he was covering the judicial battles over affirmative action at the University of Michigan. "Everyone was writing about the boosts [in the admissions process] for minority applicants," he said, but he started to realize that there were also explicit boosts for the extremely wealthy and alumni children. He was struck, Golden said, by how little attention such preferences received. . .

Judging from those who have favorably blurbed his book, Golden is reaching both sides in the affirmative action debate. Support comes from strong supporters of affirmative action like Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Lani Guinier, with the latter saying that the book shows that "the already privileged are the truly preferred." But the book also wins an endorsement from Diane Ravitch, a critic of affirmative action, who writes that while she "didn't want to believe" the book's thesis, she found the evidence to be "overwhelming."


Why Do Only Corporations Get Carbon Credits?

HANK CHAPOT, BERKELEY DAILY PLANET - Today's increasingly internationalized carbon trading plans reward large corporate polluters with "carbon credits" based on their historical pollution levels, usually in tons, which they can then trade on the open market to other corporate polluters. Trading pollution credits in a market-based system includes the buying of so-called carbon sinks that are supposed to "sequester" CO2 and supporting no-greenhouse gas energy production. In the US, there is even an "acid rain" trading system for sulfur dioxide emissions.

Unfortunately, this plan financially compensates heavy polluters and only redistributes pollution by giving them credit for polluting in the first place.

Every American, as citizens of the country that spews more than a third the world's pollution, is more or less responsible for a portion of the pollution our country produces. So, if we think about pollution trading in a more democratic way, why can't each and every American, from the president on down to the newborn infant, be given a piece of the pollution market, just like the polluting corporations? We could each take responsibility for our own environmental footprint. By choice or by necessity we would be rewarded for living a low energy lifestyle.

I walk a lot and ride a bike to work. I haven't owned a car in three years and haven't flown in five. I eat low on the food chain and try to avoid products that add to air pollution. I took Al Gore's test on my yearly CO2 production. The average in the USA is 15,000 pounds. Mine is far below average at about 2,100. In a personalized carbon trading scheme, I would be a rich man. I could sell my credits to my neighbor who drives an SUV and owns a speedboat. But we'd both be rich if we could barter our credits to industry. . .

Reuters reported in July that there are already proposals in the United Kingdom to do just that. Environment minister David Milband is studying the possibility of issuing consumers a personal energy use card representing a citizen's portion of the entire pollution output of the UK. The card would be used as a debit card that track's personal energy use. Use more, you would have to spend you carbon credits and perhaps buy more. Consume less and you could sell or bank your carbon credits, maybe even draw interest. You could trade your credits to a person who wants to travel on energy intensive modes of transport, eat meat, burn gas and oil and dry clothes in a clothes dryer instead of on a clothesline. And you would get healthier and slimmer for all the walking.

Another plan, similar but less personalized, would be to increase taxes, across the board or selectively based on social needs, on polluting activities while reducing taxes on non-polluting activities and things we want to support, like employment. This is called "true-cost pricing" but it only works if you earmark the funds for reinvestment into alternative energy projects. True-cost pricing would go a long way to rationalizing our insane energy economy where nobody, the corporation or the consumer, pays the costs of our American lifestyle. And for the free-marketeers, true-cost pricing can be seen as another market-force that will drive innovation and improve efficiency.

Poll Finds Republicans Favor Fascist Police State (Duh!)

A poll by Zogby shows Republicans favoring key elements of a fascist police state including random searches and roadblocks and tapping of telephone conversations. Reports Zogby, "Questions tied to civil liberties generate significant differences between Republicans and Democrats, again with independents aligning more readily with Democrats.

Sample questions:

Would you favor allowing these methods if it meant increased protection from terrorist acts?:

Allowing your purse, handbag, briefcase, backpack, or packages to be searched at random anywhere


Allowing regular roadblocks to search vehicles


Allowing your car to be searched at random


Allowing your telephone conversations to be monitored


Allowing your mail to be searched at random


The Next Phase of the Middle East War

By Michel Chossudovsky
September 4, 2006
Centre For Research On Globalization Article

Israel's war on Lebanon is an integral part of a US sponsored "military roadmap".

The war on Lebanon, which has resulted in countless atrocities including the destruction of the nation's economy and civilian infrastructure, is "a stage" in a sequence of carefully planned military operations.

Lebanon constitutes a strategic corridor between Israel and North-western Syria. The underlying objective of this war was the militarization of Lebanon, including the stationing of foreign troops, as a precondition for carrying out the next phase of a broader military agenda.

Formally under a UN mandate, the foreign troops to be stationed on Lebanese soil on the immediate border with Syria, will be largely although not exclusively from NATO countries. This military force mandated by the UN Security Council is by no means neutral. It responds directly to US and Israeli interests.

Moreover, the timely withdrawal of Syrian troops, following the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has contributed to opening up a "new space". The withdrawal of Syrian troops served Israeli interests. The timely pullout was of strategic significance: it was a major factor in the timing and planning of the July 2006 IDF attacks on Lebanon.

In the aftermath of the Israeli bombings and the "ceasefire", UN Security Council Resolution 1701, drafted by France and the US in close consultation with the Israeli government, has paved the way for the militarization of Lebanon, under a bogus UN mandate.

The Next Phase of the Middle East War

Confirmed by official statements and military documents, the US in close coordination with Britain (and in consultation with its NATO partners), is planning to launch a war directed against Iran and Syria. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has already initiated the draft of a UN Security Council resolution with a view to imposing sanctions on Tehran for its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program. Whether this resolution is adopted is not the main issue. The US may decide to proceed in defiance of the Security Council, following a veto by Russia and/or China. The vote of France and Britain, among the permanent members has already been secured.

US military sources have confirmed that an aerial attack, pursuant to a sanctions regime on Iran, with or without UN approval, would involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US "shock and awe" bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:

American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq. Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego Garcia or flying direct from the United States, possibly supplemented by F-117 stealth fighters staging from al Udeid in Qatar or some other location in theater, the two-dozen suspect nuclear sites would be targeted.

Military planners could tailor their target list to reflect the preferences of the Administration by having limited air strikes that would target only the most crucial facilities ... or the United States could opt for a far more comprehensive set of strikes against a comprehensive range of WMD related targets, as well as conventional and unconventional forces that might be used to counterattack against US forces in Iraq

(See at

The aerial bombing plans have been fully operational ("in an advanced state of readiness") since June 2005. The various components of the military operation are firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.

In November 2004, US Strategic Command conducted a major exercise of a "global strike plan" entitled "Global Lightening". The latter involved a simulated attack using both conventional and nuclear weapons against a "fictitious enemy" [Iran]. Following the "Global Lightening" exercise, US Strategic Command declared "an advanced state of readiness".

The operational implementation of the Global Strike is called CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as "an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,'

The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately The Pentagon will decide on the sequence; " if and when" to launch military operations against Iran and Syria. Israeli military actions and those of other coalition partners including Turkey, would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon.

Much More Here...

The Undeclared War on America's Middle Class

By Thom Hartmann, AlterNet
Posted on September 6, 2006

This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class by Thom Hartmann; Berrett Koehler Publishers, 2006.

You can't be middle class if you earn the minimum wage in America today.

The American dream and the American reality have collided. In America we have always said that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can take care of yourself and your family. But the minimum wage is just $5.15 per hour. With a 40-hour workweek, that comes to a gross income of $9,888 per year. Nobody can support a family, own a home, buy health insurance, or retire decently on $9,888 per year!

What's more, 30 million Americans -- one in four U.S. workers -- make less than $9 per hour, or just $17,280 a year. That's not a living wage either.

The U.S. Census Bureau's statistics for 2004 show the official poverty rate at 12.7 percent of the population, which put the number of people officially living in poverty in the United States at 37 million. For a family of four, the poverty threshold was listed as $19,307. If the head of that family of four were a single mother working full-time for the government-mandated minimum wage, she couldn't even rise above the government's own definition of poverty.

Becoming middle class in America today is like scaling a cliff. Most middle-class Americans are clinging to the edge with their fingernails, trying not to fall. In the 1950s middle-class families could live comfortably if just one parent worked. Today more than 60 percent of mothers with children under six are in the work force. Not only do both parents work but often at least one of those parents works two or more jobs.

Middle class at 80 hours per week

In a 2005 article in the Chicago Tribune, reporters Stephen Franklin and Barbara Rose introduce us to Muyiwa Jaiyeola. Jaiyeola, who is 33 years old, works a 40-hour week as a salesman at a Sears store, then works another 20 hours in the stockroom of a Gap store in downtown Chicago. When Jaiyeola pulled two all-night shifts at his stockroom job in late August, he was able to sleep only two hours in the afternoon, then two more in the morning before going back to his sales job. He hoped to nap during his break in the middle of the night.

Jaiyeola is not hoping to get rich -- he's just trying to pay his bills. Working two jobs at this wage level is what it takes to be middle class these days. And he's not alone. According to Franklin and Rose:

Nearly 7.6 million Americans straddle two or more jobs and must find time to work, sleep and live somewhat contorted lives in a very full 24 hours. According to a 2001 U.S. Labor Department survey, most workplace moonlighters do it because they want or need extra money to pay bills ...

Those who specifically need the extra work to pay bills are most often women who take care of their families, and divorced, widowed or separated workers. For a quarter of the American work force, not only is the American dream not a reality, no part of it is.

Low wages are being paid not only to entry-level workers at places like Wal-Mart and McDonald's but also to adults like Jaiyeola who have work experience. The people being forced to work two jobs to make a living are the heartbeat of our society. They are child-care workers and nursing home workers, janitors and security guards, salespeople and stockers. They often have the most hazardous jobs, the late-night jobs -- the jobs that rarely include benefits.

Americans have traditionally believed in an economy where those who make a contribution are rewarded. A man like Jaiyeola should be able to work eight hours at Sears and then go home.

Low prices, low paycheck

Cons argue that we have to choose between having high wages and having low prices. They are wrong.

Take the case of Wal-Mart. According to the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), Wal-Mart could pay each employee a dollar more per hour if the company increased its prices by a half penny per dollar. For example, a $2 pair of socks would then cost $2.01. This minimal increase would add up to $1,800 annually for each employee.

I wouldn't mind paying more for a pair of socks if it meant that my fellow Americans would be able to pay for good health care. That would save me money because right now Wal-Mart's uninsured employees run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills at emergency treatment centers when their problems often could have been solved more cheaply and with better results had they been caught earlier at a doctor's office.

And I wouldn't mind paying one cent more for a pair of socks if it meant that parents could be home at night and on the weekends spending quality time with their kids. That's a real family value.

Here's what all this talk about wages really comes down to: Would you rather pay 10 percent more at Wal-Mart and get 30 percent more in your paycheck, or would you rather have lower prices and an even lower paycheck? That's the real choice: We're either spiraling up into a strong middle class, or we're spiraling down toward serfdom.

Looking at the arc of U.S. history, we discover we've been on a downward spiral ever since Ronald Reagan declared war on working people in 1981. Companies cut prices and then cut wages so they can still turn a hefty profit. Folks whose wages have been cut can't afford to shop at midrange stores like Macy's, so they have to buy at "low-wage" discount stores like Wal-Mart. That drives more midrange stores out of business and increases pressure on discount stores to send their prices even lower. To compensate for lower prices, they lower wages so they can still turn a hefty profit. On and on it goes -- until the people working those jobs are no longer middle class and have to work two or three jobs to survive.

Our choice is not between low prices at Wal-Mart and high prices at Wal-Mart. It's between low prices at Wal-Mart with lousy paychecks and no protection for labor, and the prices Wal-Mart had when Sam Walton ran the company and nearly everything was made in the United States and people had good union jobs and decent paychecks.

The choice is ultimately about whether we want to have a middle class in this country.

Why unions?

Unless you are a CEO, you don't have a lot of leverage to demand benefits at your workplace. Every year or two, you might go to your boss and ask for a raise or an extra day of vacation, but usually you can't do much about what hours you work, what health benefits you receive, or how your retirement benefits are structured. Unions give workers that leverage.

Unions are designed to give workers a voice in decisions that affect their jobs. They allow workers to negotiate with their employers for wages, health benefits, retirement benefits, and good working conditions. In the best circumstances, unions partner with companies -- both have an interest in satisfied, happy workers.

Unions create a middle class by allowing you and me to ask for the wages and the benefits we need to become or remain middle class. Unionized workers earn higher wages, have better benefits, enjoy greater job stability, and work in a safer environment. In 2003 union workers earned an average of 27 percent more than nonunionized workers. Seventy-three percent of union workers received medical benefits compared with just 51 percent of nonunion workers.

And 79 percent of union workers have pension plans. Cons have slandered unions for more than a hundred years. Professional people have bought the line that it is unprofessional to be in a union, that only blue-collar workers unionize. People worried about their status and legitimacy -- like nurses -- tend not to join unions.

But it's not true that unions are just for blue-collar workers. Unions are for anyone who wants to be middle class. Teachers are almost all unionized. Actors -- most of whom are not Sean Penn or Charlize Theron and don't get paid big bucks -- are almost all unionized. Anyone who works needs the rights that unions can provide.

Much More Here...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bush Regime May Provide 2 Billion Of Taxpayers Funds To Help Pay For Israel's Illegal Massacre

YAAKOV KATZ, JERUSALEM POST - If Israel asks, the US would "seriously consider" granting the Defense Ministry additional financial assistance because of the huge expenses incurred during the war in Lebanon, a high-ranking US diplomat revealed Wednesday. According to ministry estimates, Israel spent close to NIS 30 billion on ammunition, fuel and other expenses during the war. The defense establishment has already asked the Treasury to be compensated for that amount. The US provides Israel with military assistance of more than $2b annually. "A request has not yet come," the US official said. "But we would consider it seriously."

According to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, the government was considering asking for additional aid - one report said a request might be for $2b. There was also talk in Washington of a large-scale financial package to help rebuild southern Lebanon, in part to keep the Iranians out of the process. Israel was apparently hoping to fold its aid request into this package.

Friday, September 01, 2006

SLC Mayor Lays Into BushCo.

Mayor Rocky Anderson gives a lesson in patriotism and the frightful culture of blind obedience as well. Check it out

Quote of the Day

As if all those "appeasers" and "pessimists" weren't enough, Montana Sen. Conrad Burns warned at a fundraiser with Laura Bush yesterday that America must protect itself from a "faceless enemy" of terrorists who "drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night."

-- Tim Grieve, Salon War Room