Freedom: without freedom one cannot make one’s own choices. Even in the free West most people live imprisoned in their own minds by convention, religion, ignorance and laziness (look at the current Democratic elections!!). One must dare to think for oneself, be autonomous, listen to others, be brave enough to change one’s mind given better arguments and evidence. Thinking for yourself is nature’s greatest gift.
Dignity of the individual: respect for others, consideration and tolerance.
Creativity: Doing something, anything, that leaves the world a better place
Another triumph of liberty over the common man! BPA is found in a host of plastics, including baby bottles and food containers, that have been linked by one hundred independent published studies to adverse health effects. BPA can mimic estrogen and miniscule amounts introduced to fetuses or infants can , according to scientist Frederick vom Saal, change cell structures and lead to serious health problems in later life.
Notwithstanding this, the Food and Drug Administration has ignored the independent science and has relied on only two studies paid for by the American Plastics Council, declaring BPA safe and hilariously denying with straight faces that that they are not biased towards the plastics industry.
This is yet another instance where the Bush Administration would prefer to damage the health of children rather than upset their paymasters by regulating companies like Dow Chemical and BASF. Fortunately Rep. John Dingell is on the case and has demanded the records from the Weinberg Group, implicated in employing the scientists-for -hire to defend the manufactures, such as the makers of such health products as Agent Orange and other delights.
Two thousand Iraqis were killed in March alone. The attack on Sadrist forces, insisted upon by the US, was a huge fiasco, and the subsequent "peace" between Maliki and Sadr was brokered by America’s bete noir, Qassam Sulaymani, head of the Quds Brigade of the Iranian National Guard. The US had to stand by watching impotently. The cat is out of the bag. Iran doesn’t have the weapons but it has the greater influence.
If the US wants to stay in Iraq it will be as junior partner with the Iranians, paying the Sunnis to keep quiet. It will cost a fortune and achieve nothing. The propaganda from the subservient U.S media is being pumped out at high volume, but it cannot hide the failure of the whole enterprise. But then only the under-educated ever thought it was anything else.
From Jane Dean:
Farming was not a good thing for us all according to the book I am
reading. People got smaller and sicker when farming was introduced
about 6ooo years ago. Too late, there is now nothing to hunt or
We set a trap from one of the hundreds of rabbits we are
beset with at the moment (bloody Romans – whatever have they done for
us?) and we caught a hedgehog – now an endangered species. He was very
sweet as he waited for us to release him. Apparently you cover him
with mud and bake him in a fire and his spines come off easily.
Note from Administrator : Hedgehogs are unknown in the U.S, like geography, history and half the really good vocabulary in the English language. The sweet little hedgehog was probably done for when the white man arrived, like so much else. (joke) . We hope Ms. Dean enjoyed her meal. You have to eat hedgehogs with horseradish sauce.
This might not interest those living outside the United States (even the otherwise broad-minded tend to get parochial living here after a while), but last night the dreaded Jeremiah Wright appeared on television, in one of the best, most adult and informative interviews I have seen for years. Only Bill Moyers is able to treat the viewing public like grown-ups.
In any event Wright, pastor of a major church in Chicago, accused of hating America, turned out to be a highly educated, well-informed, reasonable and persuasive person. His rant, "God damn America", repeated on every extremist website, blog, radio and TV station, was, it turns out, a repeat or version of something he had heard on Fox News Channel, principal mouthpiece of the ultra-nationalists! Yes, he probably added the passion typical of the African Amercan style.
But he was quoting all the time! What he was saying was that too many people gave their allegiance to governments, right or wrong, when their allegiance should be to God, and that through history governments have lied and governments have failed. He then enumerated those failures and actually did something I have never heard in America from anyone - – he gave a mini-description of the British Empire and how that had failed (the British what? Most Americans cannot even tell you which century their own civil war was in, never mind having an inkling about world history!). He went on to enumerate the cases where America has invaded and killed innocent people with the support of uncritical nationalists. He started with the treatment of the native Americans, ended with Iraq and said that killing was a sin against God (yes) and that at 9/11 chickens came home to roost (quoting the Fox interview).
You would have to be seriously irrational not to pause and think, "He has a point."
Wow! This indicates the emergence on the public scene of two clever, educated and articulate African Americans capable of running intellectual rings round most whites, challenging the myths and the dismal lack of education of the majority. Can America cope with this?
P.S Probably not! The racists are out and mobilized.
Fake news segments are being used across the United States. The Center for Media and Democracy found that 77 local TV stations were slipping corporate video news releases (VNRs) into their regular news programs and pretending that one of their reporters had produced them as original news.
VNRs are videos that promote commercial brands and products. The big corporations that have been doing this include Sinclair Broadcast Group, Clear Channel Communications, News Corp/Fox TV, VIacom/CBS and the Tribune Company.
The Center for Media and Democracy has called this unethical practice "a breach of trust between local stations and their communities. By disguising advertisements as news, stations violate both the spirit and the letter of their broadcasting licenses, which obligate them to serve the public interest."
In three instances, for instance, TV stations not only aired entire VNRs without disclosure, but substituted the voices of their anchors, reading from a script prepared by the Broadcast PR firm.
This is immoral and the people concerned should be tried, and if found guilty, jailed.
This is what comes of unregulated Wild West Capitalism!!!
Further to my post yesterday: I heard an impassioned speech on C-Span radio from a man who clearly came from Haiti.
He told the audience that, owing to the "Washington Consensus" (see below) the supply of basic food prices previously controlled by the Haiti government, were privatized some years ago at the behest of the IMF and the American Government. This privatization had the result that instead of selling food to poor Haitians the new landowners began to sell their produce overseas at three times the local price. While world food prices were low this wasn’t so bad, but now they are sky-high and there is serious political instability in Haiti, caused by hunger.
Thus a small minority of well-connected, often corrupt, people hold the world to ransom, whether it is Mr. Branson of Virgin (a fairly decent and benign example of the type) to third world politicians and their molls.
All we have are words. They are our only tool, for otherwise we are powerless. But at least we can go to bed with clear consciences, knowing that as Epicureans our stance has been publicly moral and personally ethical. Now let me scream privately: to the devil with their repellent hypocrisy!
(The term "Washington consensus" is broadly associated with expanding the role of market forces and constraining the role of the state, sometimes also described (almost invariably pejoratively) as neo-liberalism or market fundamentalism .The Washington Consensus, especially in this second, broader formulation, has been the target of sharp criticism by some individuals and groups who argue that it is a way to open up less developed countries to investments from large multinational corporations and their wealthy owners in advanced First World economies, which the critics would view as a negative development. Wikipedia)
Privatization is a blatant attempt by national and multi-national big business to undermine and shrink any aspect of government that has a vague chance of making a profit. It was invented by Thatcher in Britain and applied to everything that moved or had an income, including the water Brits drink and the hopelessly unprofitable railways they use to get to work. Nobody opposing it has much of a say because the media act as the guardians and gatekeepers and ignores complaints and downsides – - ownership and advertising revenue reign!
The government services, such as telephones and airports were paid for by taxpayers and were owned by them. These taxpayers were ripped off by the simple expedient of reducing the price of each service to one which some well-connected businessman was happy to pay for and make a first-rate return on capital. Guess what? The prices paid for these huge eneterprises were a pale shadow of the investment put into them by the taxpayers.
The outcome? Some Brits got very rich at the public expense. if you wanted to invest in British Telecom you were allotted a small handful of shares (I know, I tried!). The big tranches of shares went to Conservative Party supporters and those who contributed to party funds. The newly privatized British Telecom retained ownership of the infrastructure and could thus dictate pricing to new "competitors".
Then of course, the rest of the world cried "What a wheeze!" and bundled in and copied the British. The World Bank, which at one moment was wanting every government to own a cement plant, suddenly were passionate converts to governments selling off everything in sight. The World Bank advocates were like sheep that bleat around in flocks, following the latest fad, the possession of a PhD not invariably denoting a capacity for independent thought. Thus the virus spread world-wide.
I maintain that world now suffers greater inefficiency, more corruption, more price gouging and less service. Service? Hah! This fact is cruelly hidden by the mavens of irregulated capitalism and constitutes a plot against the common man.
Privatized companies can be efficient. More often they are unresponsive to the public and undemocratic. British Gas is the most incompetent corporation west of the Urals. British Airways wouldn’t listen to their customers if you held a gun to their heads. Water costs, dictated from France, go up exponentially every year with no added service. The most extraordinary of the privatizations has been the privatization of American jails, where companies cut costs, provoking deaths, disturbances, physical and sexual abuse from poorly trained staff and no rehabilitation. This is a cruel abuse of human rights, bjut the exponents of the system are profiting from the misery caused..
Meanwhile in Britain, which started it all? The National Health Service, the jewel in the crown, is being privatized little by little by a "Labour" government in hock to special interests. Thank Tony Blair, heart-on-sleeve Catholic convert and Britain’s greatest threat to democracy and common sense. Is there an inaccessible island somewhere where these shills of Big Money can be dumped and forgotten? It would have to be a Big Island!
Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; Or he can, but does not want to; Or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how come evil is in the world?
"All empires develop systems that put the blame for disasters on subject peoples". *
Now what could he be thinking of? Could he be thinking of Iraq and the "dysfunctional" government of Maliki? Clearly, it is wholly the fault of the Iraqis if they don’t embrace Western democracy. It couldn’t possibly be the destabilization caused by the presence of foreign troops. Having decided that the government is useless and corrupt and the people "traumatized" by Saddam Hussein, it now becomes the U.S to stay put until the trauma is over and the government meets our high standards.
In order to achieve this end you obviously need the huge Balad Air Base with 30,000 troops in it ( and "conveniences suitable to a Florida gated community"), and Asad Base, with 17,000 men (Camp Cupcake, so comfortable no one ever wants to return to his wife in West Virginia). These bases are clearly permanent , as is the biggest embassy in the world, and no President is going to be allowed by the military establishment to scrap them. Oh, there are several other well-appointed bases as well. Damn the views of ordinary Iraqis – - we are here to promote liberty!
The cooperative right-wing media (that is, 90% of the media) , more interested in flag pins, never queries or investigates any of this. If they get to Baghdad they nestle up to a bar in the Green Zone.
Who are the true patriots here?
* David Bromwich, London Review of Books , 10 April 2008