Thursday, May 17, 2007

the nation of China will kill us all (if the neocons don't get to it first)...

Capitalism, Communism And Cat Food

So we have recently been reading about all that contaminated cat food (also dog food and feed for some other animals) that had to be recalled because it was full of Chinese wheat gluten. The NY Times reports (5/3/07) that thousands of animals have become sick or died (according to the FDA 4000 dogs and cats have died already). How did it happen?

We all know that capitalists guiding interest is to make the biggest possible profit. They hate regulations (bad for business) and when they are regulated will try to get around the regulations anyway they can.

The Bush administration, very capitalist friendly, has really helped the American capitalists by pushing deregulation, supporting "voluntary compliance" (i.e., no compliance), and failing to use the federal regulatory agencies to really regulate. Thus OSHA doesn't inspect, the Labor Department doesn't properly function, we don't how much mad cow disease is in the country because of the Agriculture Department, unsafe drugs are on the market because of the FDA, etc., across. Bush is the best president for business, the worse for people.

Now the Chinese are finding out how capitalism works as well. The Times reported earlier that the same contaminant that is killing American pets is routinely put into people food in China as well as animal feed.

The chemical is melamine. It has the wonderful property (besides making you sick and maybe killing you) of showing up on food testing not as melamine but as protein-- it is also very cheap. So, if the food product you are making to sell doesn't have enough protein so you could not pass government inspection and sell it, just dump some melamine into it, definitely don't list this in your ingredients, and Presto Change-O, your product now passes with flying colors as good nutritious food (just don't eat any of it yourself, or, if its pet food, let your own pets near it.)

Even better, just use the melamine in your product because it is so cheap so you don't have to put so much expensive protein in your product in the first place.

This is par for the course for capitalism. The Times tells us that, "A similar practice once took place in the United States and in China involving a related compound called urea, but that compound is now more widely tested for and is banned from certain feeds in the United States."

The Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company, operating under the "its good to get rich slogan" is, the Times says, one of the two companies that sent the tainted wheat gluten to the US.

They got the stuff out of China by labeling it as nonfood so they were not inspected. That means they knew what was going on. They then sold it to the American pet food companies as a food additive. Goodbye Fluffy!

The theory is that the two firms that sold the food additive didn't even make it (although they are on record as having done so). They just bought it from many little companies around China (the Chinese government said 25 other companies were in on it), which indicates that there is wide spread food contamination going on in the country.

"This is simple greed," said Marion Nestle, an NYU professor of public health, food and nutrition. Its really not all that simple. It is rather just how capitalism works. It tries in every way to maximize its profits. That is why deregulation is a bad idea.

Capitalism is an inherently self destructive system, its leads to environmental pollution, wars to gain control of markets and resources, and exploitation of workers and consumers. The more government regulates it the less dangerous it is, but the danger will always be there until the day we can abolish the system altogether.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

aminal stories, part 2 - little dog

Here's a nice example of why the no-kill philosophy works and should be implemented nationwide as soon as possible...

Sandra Luhring-Mustafa manages the only no-kill animal sanctuary/shelter in the city of Dallas, the Humane Society of Dallas County (aka Dog & Kitty City). I know her and them because I've been volunteering with them for over four years and cannot imagine my life without the presence of that organization involved somehow. Anyway, I'm a little fuzzy on the particulars, but Sandra's daughter was visiting the Dallas SPCA facility - which claims to be no-kill to an extent, but really isn't - and encountered a very special little dog. The dog, a six year-old, somewhat overweight, bug-eyed female Chihuahua was scheduled to be euthanized...most likely because she had a tick-born disease called Erlichia. Now, while the disease itself is not necessarily fatal, the medications needed to treat it are fairly expensive...thus, I'm guessing, the decision to put her down. Instead, Sandra's daughter "rescued" the Chihuahua from the SPCA and brought her to us at DKC.

I was visiting DKC one Saturday a few weeks ago and saw this very odd looking, pudgy Chihuahua amongst all the cats who was following Sandra all over the shelter (stopping for a few quick bites of cat food from every bowl in the dog's path). Noticing the frou-frou rose-covered collar on the dog (and the bright pink toenails), I asked Sandra about the dog. Sandra said they'd all been calling the dog "Chiweewee" and filled me in on the rest of the story. Chiweewee was so immediately endearing and amusing that I found myself wanting to take her home with me right then...she was smaller than almost all the cats, didn't mind being around the cats because of her laid back personality (not the typical yippy, hyperactive Chihuahua by any means - and the cats, in turn, couldn't have cared less that she was there), and because of her chubby little body, the dog had the cutest little waddle when she walked. I picked her up and carried her around, talking to her while her tail wagged at a somewhat relaxed pace the whole time, then put her back down to watch her continue to waddle around the rooms looking for Sandra. Obviously though, I could not take Chiweewee home, what with my very animal-intolerant cat.

The next day I was visiting with my family and mentioned the dog to my mom and sister, Debbie, knowing that she had toyed with the idea of getting a dog but struggled with the issues most apartment-dwellers have to consider with, finding time in a busy schedule for walks, etc. But I also told them about the dog, hoping my sister would say something along the lines of, "Well, you know I'm going to go have to check that dog out..." And, of course, that's exactly what happened.

So on Monday, my sister drags my mom up to the shelter to see the Chihuahua and found themselves as smitten with her as I was. It was a no-brainer for Debbie and she adopted the dog right then and there. (Well, she filled out the application forms and got the process started.) Soon after, the dog had a new home and a new, permanent family. My sister, mom and Chiweewee were on the front porch of my parents' house to greet my niece, Caroline, when she got home from school. Needless to say, it was love at first sight for the niece as well.

The dog, now named Izzy - short for Isabel, if I'm spelling that correctly - has fit into her new home effortlessly. Her two cat roommates, Nancy and Winchester (also DKC adoptions), gave Izzy the requisite cat greeting (indifference...which is definitely preferable to hostility, the other possible feline reaction) and promptly resumed their normal lives. However, they've both since taken to the dog with great affection, and go out of their way to try and groom Izzy when possible. I don't have any pics of this yet, but I'm told it's a very sweet and funny scene.

Izzy's condition is a bit worse than we all first estimated and she's had to make more trips to the vet than anticipated, but things are otherwise going quite well and it's looking like the dog will have a long, happy, comfortable life with Debbie, Caroline, Winchester and Nancy. And, of course, an extended human family of grandparents and an uncle who find her endlessly charming and amusing.

As you can see from the pics, Miss Izzy has quite the dainty personality...very low-key (the only sound she's been heard to make is the growl she uses when playing), a bit shy, as sweet and affectionate as can be, and very pleased to be among people and critters who enjoy her company.

I don't know the details of Izzy's first six years, but obviously none of this would have been possible had Sandra's daughter not rescued the dog from being put down - for no legitimate reason - at the Dallas SPCA. But I do know stories like this one happen every day all over the country where no-kill organizations can be found. Sandra - and Sandra's daughter (whose name I don't know) - my family and Chiweewee-Izzy thank you.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

aminal stories, part 1 - big turtle

A man heard a faint knock on his front door. He opens the door and looks around, sees nothing, and closes the door to resume his activities. A few minutes later...another round of faint knocking on the door. The man goes to the door, opens it, again sees no one there, and irritatedly slams the door shut, assuming some of the neighborhood kids are messing with him. A few more minutes pass and the man once more hears the now infuriating quiet knocking on his front door. He gets up, stomps to the front door and flings it open. Seething and glaring in all directions, he again sees no one there. Just before he starts to yell at whomever has chosen to prank him, he happens to look down and sees a small turtle peering up at him. "You've got to be kidding me..." the man says, disgustedly. The man angrily grabs the turtle and hurls him across the street into the open field from which it presumably came.

Two years pass until one day when the man again hears a faint knocking at his front door. He opens the door and scans his eyes in all directions, seeing no one around. Until he decides to look down. Flabbergasted, the man looks down to see the little turtle peering up at him once more. Before the man could react, though, the turtle blurts out, "Hey! What the fuck was that all about?!?"

Although I botched it pretty badly, the above was one of my favorite jokes years ago. In the original joke, though, the persistant critter was a snail - which does make a bit more sense. But I couldn't help remembering the joke when we had quite an, event late one afternoon last week.

Somehow, and I'm still at a loss to figure it out, a pretty decent sized (for an urban area, I would imagine) turtle found itself sitting in the middle of our parking lot. This was especially frightening because, a) the turtle was in no hurry to get anywhere (a common characteristic of turtles, as you well know) and, b) our parking lot at work is no ordinary parking lot - there's a fairly steady stream of eighteen-wheelers chugging through to pick up or drop of their cargo at our warehouse. Not the best place for any creature to be making itself comfortable, particularly one not known for its fleetness of foot.

Being the Office Animal Guy, I was summoned and went outside to move the turtle. After getting a few snapshots for the sake of posterity - these events don't happen all the time, you know - I picked the little guy (or gal) up and carried it over to the somewhat wooded sewer/creek that runs between the two buildings I work at, as that was the only place any of us could imagine he (or she) might have traveled from. And while I was pleased to be getting said turtle out of harm's way - at least in the parking lot - I couldn't help but be a little sad for it. I mean, that turtle most likely busted its ass for weeks climbing up the small hill above the creek to get to our parking lot. Perhaps that parking lot was some sort of Promised Land for the never know. And here I was like some asshole club bouncer running the turtle right back to where it came from. I'm sure the turtle was cursing me in its little turtle head..."No! You big dumb fuck...why are you doing this to me?!?"

But it was for the best, obviously. And that day, briefly, I was Danny...Turtle Rescuer.

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Friday, May 11, 2007


Gleaned from the fabulous backpage section of The Sun magazine (March issue) called Sunbeams...

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. - Major General Smedley Butler

I guess every generation is doomed to fight its war...suffer the loss of the same old illusions, and learn the same old lessons on its own. - Philip Caputo

I hate those men who would send into war youth to fight and die for them; the pride and cowardice of those old men, making their wars that boys must die. - Mary Roberts Rinehart

Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties. - George W. Bush, prior to the invasion of Iraq

Name me an emperor who was ever struck by a cannonball. - King Charles V the Wise

Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac. - George Orwell

Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on. - Kurt Vonnegut

I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they killed, there would be no more war. - Abbie Hoffman

(acs note: Okay, so that one's a bit nonsensical - and probably not even true anymore considering the lack of conscience among the folks involved these days - but Abbie's a longtime hero of mine...)

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace. - John Lennon

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots. - Barbara Ehrenreich

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Don't you want somebody to love...?

I’d never heard of this guy or his candidacy until just now, when I was reading the following article about American greed expanding into space (well, further into space). There was one really interesting comment made in response to the article that drew my attention to Mike Gravel. Whoever that person is, I’d like to thank them for doing so.

Please read this and check out Gravel’s site at the end of this. He’s a pretty fascinating guy with an impressive track record as far as I can tell…

Russia Suspects US Plans to Monopolize Fuel from Moon

MOSCOW - Mankind’s second race for the moon has taken on a distinctly Cold War feel, with the Russian space agency accusing its old rival NASA of rejecting a proposal for joint lunar exploration.

The charge comes amid suspicion in Moscow that the US is seeking to deny Russia access to an isotope in abundance under the moon’s surface that many believe could replace fossil fuels and even end the threat of global warming.

A new era of international co-operation in space supposedly dawned after the US, Russia and other powers declared their intention to send humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.

But while NASA has lobbied for support from Britain and the European Space Agency, Russia says its offers have been rebuffed.

“We are ready to co-operate but for some reason the United States has announced that it will carry out the program itself,” Anatoly Perminov, the head of Russia’s federal space agency, Roscosmos, said on Monday. “Strange as it is, the United States is short of experts to implement the program.”

NASA announced in December that it was planning to build an international base camp on one of the moon’s poles, permanently staffing it by 2024. The Russian space rocket manufacturer Energia revealed an even more ambitious program last August, saying it would build a permanent moon base by 2015.

While the Americans have been either coy or dismissive on the subject, Russia openly says the main purpose of its lunar program is the industrial extraction of helium-3.

While critics dismiss it a 21st-century equivalent of the medieval alchemist’s fruitless quest to turn lead into gold, some scientists say helium-3 could be the answer to the world’s energy woes.

As helium-3 is non-polluting and effective in tiny quantities, many countries are taking it very seriously. Germany, India and China, which will launch a lunar probe to research extraction techniques in September, are all studying ways to mine the isotope.

“Whoever conquers the moon first will be the first to benefit,” said Ouyang Ziyuan, the chief scientist of China’s lunar program.

Energia says it will start “industrial scale delivery” of helium-3, transported by cargo space ships no later than 2020. Gazprom, the state-owned energy giant , is said to be strongly supportive of the project.

The US has appeared much more cautious, not least because scientists are yet to discover the secrets of large scale nuclear fusion. Commercial fusion reactors look unlikely to come on line before 2050.

But many in Moscow’s space program believe Washington’s agenda is driven by a desire to monopolise helium-3 mining. They allege that the US President, George Bush, has moved experts on helium-3 into key positions on NASA’s advisory council.

The plot, says Erik Galimov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, would “enable the US to establish its control of the energy market 20 years from now and put the rest of the world on its knees as hydrocarbons run out”.



People say that conservatives are those who have the most to conserve. The richer they are, the more conservative they become and it seems, the more greedy and fearful of losing their hoard and power.

Their religious zeal helps conservatives lose the guilt for the depredations they cause. Superstition, homophobia, racism, sexism, punishment, fearmongering, warmongering, crime and other forms of authoritarian behaviour, they call “traditions”, “patriotism” and “God fearing”. With these handles they manipulate the poor, middle class and simply rich conservative believers of their propaganda, like lambs led to slaughter.

Nature controls the amount of resources any animal can hoard by limiting these to what the animal can personally defend, enabling diversity, competition and natural selection. Money enables the human animal to monopolize and hoard resources without limits, circumventing natural selection. That’s why modern conservatives are sorry examples of human beings.

Republicans are uniformly conservative authoritarian beasts. The more beastly, the more they deny their bestial nature. We are not animals they say, because we are smarter, or have souls, or possess some other divine characteristics that separate us from beasts. But conservatives daily prove to be the followers of Mammon the proverbial biblical beast.

Republicans and Democrats are ruled by conservative’s money. Yet conservatives have become freaks of nature who don’t rule by strength, intelligence and information like their alpha male animal counterparts. They rule by self defeating, world destroying, unfettered greed enabled by unlimited hoarding of money-power. As opposed to their animal cousins, the dumbest and weakest rule for the most corrupt.

There is a way for the people to break free of the rule of Mammon. See…
Mike Gravel for President


Anyway, I was checking in on Big Mike today and came across this answer to my prayers

More Like Cicero Than Quixote - The People's Crusade of Mike Gravel

Like a fresh wind coming down from Alaska--the state he represented as a U.S. Senator from 1969--1981, Mike Gravel is determined to start a debate about the fundamentals of democracy in his quest for the Democratic Party's nomination for President.

People who heard his address before the Democratic National Committee a few weeks ago and his brief statements during the first debate between the Democratic aspirants last month may be getting the idea that this is no ordinary dark horse politician.

For over a decade, given the failures of elected politicians, Mike Gravel has been engaged in some extraordinary research and consultations with leading constitutional law experts about the need to enact another check to the faltering checks and balances--namely, the National Initiative for Democracy, a proposed law that empowers the people as lawmakers.

Before you roll your eyes over what you feel is an unworkable utopian scheme, go to to read the detailed constitutional justification for the sovereign right of the people to directly alter their government and make laws.

Among other legal scholars, Yale Law School Professor, Akhil Reed Amar and legal author, Alan Hirsch, have argued that the Constitution recognizes the inalienable right of the American people to amend the Constitution directly through majority vote. What the Constitution does not do is spell out the procedures for such a sovereign right.

The right of the People to alter their government flows from the Declaration of Independence, the declared views of the founding fathers and the framers of the Constitution, its Preamble ("We the People of the United ordain and establish this Constitution,"), Article VII and other provisions, including the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Very briefly, The Democracy Amendment asserts the Power of People to make laws, creates an Electoral Trust to administer the national elections, limits the use of money in National Initiative elections to natural persons (e.g. not corporations), and enacts the National Initiative through a federal ballot, when fifty percent of the voters (equal to half of the votes cast in the most recent presidential election) deliver their votes in its favor. Voting can be through traditional and electronic modes.

The Democracy Statute establishes deliberative legislative procedures vital for lawmaking by the people, administered by the Electoral Trust, in an independent arm of the U.S. government.

Mike Gravel points out that the initiative authority to make laws now exists in 24 states and more than 200 local communities. However, the national initiative, which he envisions would have deliberate legislative procedures and would be generically independent of any curtailment by the "officialdom of government," except a judicial finding of fraud.

With the National Initiative, the people acting as lawmakers, will be able to address healthcare, education, energy, taxes, the environment, transportation, the electoral college, the Iraq war, and other neglected, delayed or distorted priorities. Legal scholar, Alan Hirsch, believes "a more direct democracy could be an important means of promoting civic maturation."

This proposal is not exactly a magnet for fat-cat money. No candidate for President from the two major parties has ever demonstrated such a detailed position regarding the sovereign power of People to amend the Constitution and make laws.

Will soundbite debates and horserace media interviews allow for such a public deliberation over the next year? Only if the People take their sovereignty seriously and take charge of the campaign trail with their pre-election, pre-primary participation in city, town and country throughout the country.

Over 2000 years ago, the ancient Roman lawyer and orator, Marcus Cicero, defined freedom with these enduring words: "Freedom is participation in power." That could be the mantra for Mike Gravel's 2008 Presidential campaign.

Now...if we could just convince Gravel to run as in independent rather than a Democrat. Maybe enough of us can gang up on him to prompt a slight change in logistics. At any rate, I'm on board...go Mike!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

money changes everything, part two (Bags-o-Glass for everyone...!)

And now, more evidence that the Bush Administration continues its hostile takeovers of as many government regulatory institutions as possible in order to increase corporate profit with no regard for American citizens...

Bush Nominee for Product Safety Agency Was Top Lobbyist for Industry Group That Pressed to Weaken Key Safeguards

WASHINGTON - Michael Baroody, President Bush’s nominee to chair the nation’s consumer safety watchdog agency, was the top lobbyist for the country’s most powerful industry trade association when the group supported weakening guidelines for reporting information about dangerous products.

(acs note: It's kinda like nominating this guy {below} to watch over product safety for the country...)

According to a report released today by Public Citizen, the requirements that the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and its allies sought to weaken had been responsible for more than 80 percent of the fines issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) over the past decade. NAM’s members and its coalition partners were responsible for paying more than half of those fines. The report’s findings underscore the inappropriateness of Bush’s choice of Baroody, a career lobbyist for the manufacturing industry, to chair the agency that is charged with protecting consumers from unsafe products.

The CPSC is tasked with protecting the public – and especially children – from serious injury or death and monitors more than 15,000 types of consumer products. Reports about product hazards are mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Act, one of the key laws governing the CPSC’s role in protecting consumer safety. With Baroody serving as its executive director for lobbying efforts, NAM supported a move to weaken agency protocols that dictate when companies – including NAM members – must immediately report information about potentially hazardous product defects. The changes NAM successfully pressed for could affect the agency’s ability to issue timely decisions to recall dangerous products.

“As head of the CPSC, Baroody would be in charge of administering the weakened disclosure guidance his industry association sought, presenting a serious and unavoidable conflict of interest,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “Under his authority, consumer and public safety would be at risk, while the companies he represented for years would save millions in future fines.”

In 2006, despite a long history of manufacturer defiance and cover-ups of reporting violations, the CPSC proposed watering down the Substantial Product Hazard reporting guidelines. Its proposal added additional criteria to the test for determining if a product is both defective and potentially dangerous, and allowed companies new wiggle room in deciding whether to report unsafe products to the CPSC. The new guidelines will likely benefit manufacturers and reduce public notice of safety risks.

Public Citizen’s analysis shows that weakening the rules had enormous financial benefits for NAM and its manufacturer members at the expense of consumer safety. Alleged violations of reporting guidelines were responsible for about $32.9 million of $39.6 million in civil fines collected by the CPSC since 1997. NAM members and affiliates accounted for more than half of those payments, totaling $18 million. Five of those companies alone paid a combined $10 million for allegedly violating reporting guidelines.

Catherine Downs, the former deputy director for recalls in the CPSC’s Office of Compliance, argued that the changes could “only weaken the protection that is offered to the consumer.” Drawing on her experience with the CPSC, she criticized the proposed revisions as “not only unnecessary but potentially dangerous,” and warned the CPSC not to adopt them. Under Baroody, NAM was vocal in its support of the weakened rules. The CPSC approved the changes in July 2006.

“While Baroody was at its helm, NAM had a record of unrelenting hostility to the safety of consumers, including small children,” said Laura MacCleery, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Baroody should not be confirmed to lead a safety agency that has such a vital role in protecting American families.”

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money changes everything

More evidence of this administration’s integrity…

Condi Snoozed While Chevron Paid Off Saddam

…Near the end of (Condoleeza Rice’s) decade on Chevron's board (she joined it in 1991 while a professor at Stanford University), the corporation cooked up the very responsible-sounding "The Chevron Way to a Strong Board." As chairman of the "Public Policy Committee," she should have been tuned in to the open secret of kickbacks being paid to Saddam starting in June 2000…

While she left the board to head the National Security Council seven months later, there was plenty of time to keep Chevron from buying millions of barrels of crude from Iraq and sending around $20 million to Saddam's private accounts and "pet projects" like aiding Russian whacko bigot, Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Chevron will pay around $25 million to settle the charges - an amount the company will recoup hundreds of times over if the Iraq oil law goes forward with Production Sharing Agreements in the legislation.

The commentary above is referencing this article right hyah…

Chevron seen settling case on Iraq oil

Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is preparing to acknowledge that it should have known kickbacks were being paid to Saddam Hussein on oil it bought from Iraq as part of a defunct United Nations program, according to investigators.

The admission is part of a settlement being negotiated with United States prosecutors and includes fines totaling $25 million to $30 million, according to the investigators, who declined to be identified because the settlement was not yet public.

The penalty, which is still being negotiated, would be the largest so far in the United States in connection with investigations of companies involved in the oil-for-food scandal.

The $64 billion program was set up in 1996 by the Security Council to help ease the effects of United Nations sanctions on Iraqi civilians after the first Gulf war. Until the American invasion in 2003, the program allowed Saddam's government to export oil to pay for food, medicine and humanitarian goods.

Using an elaborate system of secret surcharges and extra fees, however, the Iraqi regime received at least $1.8 billion in kickbacks from companies in the program, according to an investigation completed in 2005 by Paul A. Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

A report released in 2004 by an investigator at the Central Intelligence Agency listed five American companies that bought oil through the program: the Coastal Corporation, a subsidiary of El Paso; Chevron; Texaco; BayOil; and Mobil, now part of Exxon Mobil. The companies have denied any wrongdoing and said they were cooperating with the investigations.

As part of the deal under negotiation, Chevron, which now owns Texaco, is not expected to admit to violating the United Nations sanctions. But Chevron is expected to acknowledge that it should have been aware that illegal kickbacks were being paid to Iraq on the oil, the investigators said.

The fine is connected to the payment of about $20 million in surcharges on tens of millions of barrels of Iraqi oil bought by Chevron from 2000 to 2002, investigators said.

These payments were made by small oil traders that sold oil to Chevron. But records found by United Nations, American and Italian officials showed that they were financed by Chevron.

The negotiations, which might take several weeks to conclude, follow an agreement reached in February by El Paso, the largest operator of American natural gas pipelines, to pay the United States government $7.73 million to settle allegations that it was involved in illegal payments under the oil-for-food program.

Thus far, only former United Nations officials, individual traders and relatively small oil companies have come under scrutiny in the United States.

According to the Volcker report, surcharges on Iraqi oil exports were introduced in August 2000 by the Iraqi state oil company, the State Oil Marketing Organization. At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron's board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company.

In sworn statements last year to an Italian prosecutor, an Italian businessman, Fabrizio Loioli, said he sold Iraqi oil to many companies, including Chevron, and all were aware of the Iraqi request for payment of a surcharge. "In fact, each final beneficiary involved used to add this amount to the official price to disguise it as a premium to be paid to the intermediary," Loioli said in his statement. "In reality, they were perfectly aware that only a part of that would go to the intermediary, while the remaining part was to be paid to the Iraqis."

It just shocks me to no end that people in the U.S. actually believe the bullshit fed to them by the Bush Administration. This has nothing to do with Republican versus Democrat…it’s just plain old greed and dishonesty for the sake of greed. Democrats are just as capable (the Kennedys, Gores and Clintons didn’t get where they are based on hard work).

Are conservatives just afraid to call out the folks they elected for their lack of ethics and hypocrisy? Or is it just a case of being steadfastly stubborn about admitting you were wrong about – or fooled by – someone you once supported?

I cannot wrap my head around the allegiances Americans have to the two parties.

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Why are religious people so insecure? I mean, was there really a problem before…?

House votes to add God to Texas pledge

The Texas pledge of allegiance would change to include the words "one state under God" under legislation overwhelmingly approved Friday by the House. The bill by Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, was sent to the Senate on a 124-12 vote.

Opponents said the inclusion of religion in a state-sanctioned pledge amounted to religious oppression – particularly since it's recited in school every morning.

The pledge would now be: "Honor the Texas flag. I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God and indivisible."

Fuck you. Idiots.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

behind the wall of sleep

Happiness, in my dad's case, is a warm remote control...

(Get your own blog, father, and you can post embarrassing pictures of me.)

One of the nice things that has come from all the recent redecorating/reorganizing that I've been doing is that my longtime (platonic) companion, Tim, has finally discovered a piece of furniture that he finds comfortable/comforting enough to actually sleep on. I've tried for years to get him beds and dice. Without fail, he always ignores my efforts and will sleep anywhere except what I've brought in for him in the hopes of making him comfy. He's a bit of a geezer, though, so I'm never offended. But I've thoroughly enjoyed watching him lounge and doze in the rocking chair that got moved to a new location in my living room...

Does my heart good to see him so content. It is, dare I say...

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fortune cookie for the codependent

Once every couple weeks, my friend DeDe and I visit our favorite Vietnamese restaurant for lunch. It was at this restaurant that I got what has to be to this day the dumbest, least fortune-like message ever. I'll never forget it because it said, I swear to god, "Let someone cut in front of you in traffic today."

Beg your pardon...? Not only is that not a "fortune" of any kind, it's also more or less a demand. No, "You should consider..." or "Your karma will be rewarded if you..." Just, "Let someone cut in front of you in traffic today." I still can't wrap my head around why that message passed the inspection of the manager of fortune cookie message composition. And I'd be willing to bet I went out of my way that day to not let anyone cut in front of me in traffic just out of spite.

However, I did receive a really good fortune this past week that was not only quite timely, but also nails a problem I've had for some time now. It read as follows...

"The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice you give to others."

Amen, fortune cookie. Somehow, I need to find a way to make this some sort of mantra for me for...well, as long as is necessary.

Oh, and if anyone plays the lottery…34, 21, 14, 25, 47, 36

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great minds

If you have a computer that's halfway decent, I highly encourage you watch this terrific interview of Jon Stewart by Bill Moyers. If you can't, though, there's a transcript directly below the clip. My personal favorite moment is when Stewart compares the secrecy surrounding Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes versus our government's disturbing secrecy with virtually every issue. Wonderful stuff...

Moyers interviews Stewart

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