Monday, February 28, 2005

scott peterson's pen

sentenced to death by a jury of his peers in redwood city; scott peterson may have filed an appeal to delay the penalty, but he's on his way to san quentin anyway. several news channels have picked up the hue and cry, talking to lifers in prison, who are quick to say "he's not welcome here". among those inside, there is often an unspoken code that people who mess with the lives of children are worse than any other criminal. having been accused of killing his unborn child (an issue that may create some fascinating case law for high end lawyers), many at san quentin may not feel peterson is fit company for them.
with the advent of technology and the eternal spectre of isolation (time in the segregation unit ), peterson's luck may run well. but for less than celebrity criminals, peterson is just another face in the crowd with a bad score on his chart. there is no luxury in san quentin, other than to roam the yard freely, eat meals in the company of other inmates and talk to other humans during the course of the day. if he's like the "boy next door", then tune in, this is what can happen if you take the life of another in our fair state. i don't advocate the death penalty and i do abhor public executions, but there is no reason scott peterson should be treated better or kinder than anyone inside. the only good that can come of this is that he raise the bar, so to speak and we begin discussing once again how to improve the cruel and unusual punishment inside the prison's (locked) doors.

We Want the Airwaves!

More news on low power FM (aka pirate radio!). Interestingly enough, NPR is against low-power FM, while Christian churches are for it. Ultimately, it's all about who has control of the airwaves.

"A bill introduced this month by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Patrick Leahy of Vermont could make it easier for low-power stations to crack the big-city market by requiring less frequency space on the dial between stations.

The bill is backed by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell, but not by the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio -- which maintain that lower-power stations cause interference on bigger stations' frequencies, despite a federally commissioned study that found little evidence of it."

Check out the article.

-Jean Chen

Friday, February 25, 2005

Scary New Numbers

The newest HIV and AIDS stats show that while the AIDS rates among whites has pretty much stayed the same, the infection rate among Blacks in America has doubled. That's right -
DOUBLED

Check out the article.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Celebrate Your Own Folks!

This Black History Month, we celebrate the contributions of great African Americans activists like Malcom X and Martin Luther King and the contributions of literary legends Zora Neal Hurston and Langston Hughes. But Black History Month isn't just about these folks, it is also about the people in our families, neighborhoods, and circle of friends.

When I was a child, my grandmother told me a story about being on a bus here in Northern California in the 1950's or 60's. When she took the only empty seat on the bus, which happened to be in the front, she was asked by the driver to move. Fortunately, a group of young Marines boarded the bus and they sided with Mama.

Most Black folks I know older than 50 have a story to tell a time when they fought a fight that I haven't had to or when they were the first African - American in their school, or their city to do something. Let's not forget to celebrate the people in our own lives this Black History Month.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fake Journalist Reporting Fake News from the White House!

Okay, now that's been said here's what's been happening:

The ever prescient Frank Rich, one of the few journalists not afraid to mention post modernism is his column, sums up beautifully the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert saga, which is all the talk in media circles here in DC.

So apparently a fakeo reporter for this web site, who has been linked to this site, was able to get a White House press crediential for the last two years. What makes this extraordinary isn't the fact he got into the White House (yes, even I can get into the White House) it was that he got a permanent credential when he couldn't even get a Congressional press credential. The former requires two background checks, both the FBI and Secret Service, which takes up to three months. Okay. The Congressional press pass requires a warm body, an ID and a letter from a news organization sanctioning the reporter in question. That process takes about 20 minutes.

Now Mr. Gannon/Guckert was able to attend press conference with the president and in this town, lacking the sparkling glamour of LA, that's considered a big deal. He got his place at the expense of another reporter or new organization because seats when the president addresses the crowd are hard to come by. Much like the opportunities for press to even directly question the president.

Unfortunately, what has prevented this story from becoming a front page issue is journalists' reticence to write about, well, other journalists. I know many are mad at what's happened, especially since this calls into question journalistic standards, but you wouldn't be able to tell by the few stories running in papers about this. Take Mr. Kurtz's Sunday column or the Wolf Blizter interview with Gannon/Guckert. It seems the bloggers and media watch groups have been the best coverage of this story and managed to avoid the stupid liberal/conservative bias agenda journalists have to contend with.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Genocide in the Garden

I must have been dozing in the early 1990's when Saddam Hussein drained the 8,000 square miles of Iraqi wetlands considered by many to be the cradle of Western civilization. Thought by Biblical scholars to be the site of the Garden of Eden, the legendary marshland was twice the size of the Everglades and teeming with thousands of bird, fish and plant species.

Genocide in the Garden

Not anymore. The butcher of Bagdad spent 8 years building dams and rerouting rivers to punish 500,000 Marsh Arabs for opposing him during the 1991 Gulf War. The area was turned into an "ecological and human disaster" said Curtis Richardson of Duke University who is heading up an international team helping to restore the marsh.

saddam hussein

.

This tragic, sickening scenario stops me in my tracks. What do left wing heroes Ward Churchill and Michael Moore think about this? If asked, how long do you think it would take them to blame the United States government for Saddam's policy of environmental genocide? And what sort of punishment does Saddam deserve for this indescribably vulgar and premeditated crime against the history of civilization? I really want to know.

The Story from MSNBC.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Grandma's Hands

In honor of black history month, Gregory Chess , an African American who resides in Half Moon Bay and owns HMB Environmental had this to say about his grandmother's hands.

Grandma's Hands, Lord they really came in handy!
As a young man born and primarily raised in the deep south,I have come to understand but never forgot the rage that i felt while in the military and needing to return to Louisiana for my grandfather's funeral, being brought up in a culture where the matriarch,the hub, the disciplinarian was grandma, I'll never forget the feeling of rage and disgust that rocked my body when my grandmother was delegated to the second row of seats at my grandfathers funeral due to the fact that his former employer and family decided to grace us with their presence and custom, fear , Jim Crow or whatever warped sense of protocol dictated that they had to set alone in the front row,nearest the casket of the man that died sweating for them.

Perhaps in everyone's life there is a defining moment when the abstract becomes tangible and solid; the end of your first teenage love affair can bring clarity and meaning to the word love, a death of a love one defines grief and loss, in that moment for me, it was beyond outrage and although at the time I was being trained to hate and kill the Vietnamese,it was that day in a small church in Louisiana that I discovered that I had never embraced hate before.

It seemed that grandma had an awareness that no one before or since has possessed, a deep awareness and sensitivity of the pain of anyone in the community,so while everyone else at the funeral was paying attention to the ritual and circumstance, she seem to sense my very real pain and rage, with a trembling hand she reached back and touched mine and said, "Baby! Grandma left her scarf in the car, would you go out and get it for me? Iit was such a small thing at the time and only now do I come to understand,the comfort,safety,the >> love

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

New Scare, old mentality towards HIV

A new strain of HIV has been found in New York City that causes AIDS incredibly rapidly and is resistent to almost all known HIV treatment drugs. This story has caused a scare in many communities, but one small bit of information should scare people even more. One of the New York man's sexual partners has so far refused to be tested by doctors, and could possibly be a part of the origins of the sped up deterioration of the sick man. This shouldn't scare people because there is possibly an HIV positive person in New York who doesn't use protection, this should scare people because there is possibly an HIV positive person in New York who refuses to be tested, refuses to cooperate with health officials, and who, like many others, has his head in the sand with regards to HIV and AIDS. That is the attitude that keeps the virus spreading.

Don't Worry, It's Coming

ExampleAccording to a NY Times article, the future of our Armed Forces is with robots. Well, I guess that solves the draft problem.

A New Model Army Soldier Rolls Closer to the Battlefield:

The American military is working on a new generation of soldiers, far different from the army it has.

"They don't get hungry," said Gordon Johnson of the Joint Forces Command at the Pentagon. "They're not afraid. They don't forget their orders. They don't care if the guy next to them has just been shot. Will they do a better job than humans? Yes."

The robot soldier is coming.

The Pentagon predicts that robots will be a major fighting force in the American military in less than a decade, hunting and killing enemies in combat. Robots are a crucial part of the Army's effort to rebuild itself as a 21st-century fighting force, and a $127 billion project called Future Combat Systems is the biggest military contract in American history.

The military plans to invest tens of billions of dollars in automated armed forces. The costs of that transformation will help drive the Defense Department's budget up almost 20 percent, from a requested $419.3 billion for next year to $502.3 billion in 2010, excluding the costs of war. The annual costs of buying new weapons is scheduled to rise 52 percent, from $78 billion to $118.6 billion.

Military planners say robot soldiers will think, see and react increasingly like humans. In the beginning, they will be remote-controlled, looking and acting like lethal toy trucks. As the technology develops, they may take many shapes. And as their intelligence grows, so will their autonomy.

The robot soldier has been a dream at the Pentagon for 30 years. And some involved in the work say it may take at least 30 more years to realize in full. Well before then, they say, the military will have to answer tough questions if it intends to trust robots with the responsibility of distinguishing friend from foe, combatant from bystander.Example

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/16/technology/16robots.html?ex=1109221200&en=dea58784dfc8c2f8&ei=5065&partner=MYWAY

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Owning an NFL Team

This was in the NY Times:

"Reggie Fowler, a former professional linebacker who made millions as the founder of a company selling plastic cups and containers, agreed in principle yesterday to purchase the Minnesota Vikings, putting him in line to be the league's first African-American club owner."

Has it really taken this long for a black person to own a team?

-Jean Chen

Monday, February 14, 2005

Michael Jackson and prison

I was talking to a friend over the weekend and he was saying how Corey Feldman pretty much admitted that Michael Jackson had shown him porn when he was a kid. I think Jacko is toast and he'll be going to jail.

But as was pointed out by my friend, he won't be in jail with the rest of the prison population, he'll be sent to the equivalent of a resort because he won't be safe in jail. Ok, I understand that MJ would probably be killed in the first five minutes of incarceration since 1. he's Michael Jackson and 2. he's a child molester.

At the same time, I think it's unfair for rich people (like Martha Stewart) to be given special treatment. What about all the other child molesters who didn't get sent to special prison and were murdered in jail? Like Jeffrey Dahmer and that convicted priest?

- Jean Chen

$75 billion for the Defense Dept!

This is just wrong. What have we gotten ourselves into??

"President Bush is asking Congress for $82 billion to cover the costs of ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a myriad of other internationally related expenses, such as training Iraqi security forces, aiding tsunami victims and helping military forces in other nations."

Click here for the full article.


Not to sound like a tired old hippie, but think of all the schools that money could build and all the people it could feed.

-Jean Chen

Saturday, February 12, 2005

NYC Health Officials Find New, Virulent HIV Strain

If this strain makes it's way across the pond to Africa or SE Asia we may be looking at a new, real holocaust.

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- New York City doctors have discovered a man with a previously unseen strain of HIV that is resistant to three of the four types of anti-viral drugs that combat the disease, and progresses from infection to full-blown AIDS in two or three months, the health department said.

``We've identified this strain of HIV that is difficult or impossible to treat and which appears to progress rapidly to AIDS,'' said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden. ``We have not seen a case like this before. It holds the potential for a very serious public health problem.''

The case was diagnosed in a New Yorker in his mid-40s who reported multiple male sex partners and unprotected anal sex -- often while using the drug crystal methamphetamine.

``It is likely there are others infected with this strain and this individual has infected others,'' Frieden said. The case is ``extremely concerning and a wake-up call,'' he said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=azBO_AumTJhs

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Pink Slip has Arrived

Pink Slip
Here's the understatement of the year: "I don't think it is appropriate that under these conditions, that I represent my department." This was pseudo-American Indian Ward Churchill's statement after he was forced to resign the chairmanship of Colorado University's Ethnic Studies program. The leftist professor was canned Monday for comparing the victims of the WTC disaster to "little Eichman's," a reference to Adolf Eichmann who helped carry out Hitler's plan during World War II to exterminate Jews in Europe. Churchill complained that "they (the WTC victims) worked for the engine of profit," but chose to ignore their roles.

Meanwhile, the "Native American-in-law" claimed by no tribe and avowed enemy of capitalsm loses $18,000 in annual salary, and will be
Ward Churchill

.
forced to scratch out his unprofitable socialist existence on just the $90,000 he receives as a tenured professor. Sadly, Churchill will also be deprived of the $3,500 speaking fee he negotiated with Hamilton College in upstate New York after they cancelled his engagement. That's unfortunate. He would have had a chance to hear the polite applause of some nice New Yorkers as he told them directly to their faces how they, too, deserved to die at the hands of homicidal terrorists.

Al Franken rules out Senate bid - for now

Oh I so hope he does run in 2008. Then Minnesota can boast of having a wrestler as both Mayor of Brooklyn Park and Governor as well as former drug addict and comedian Al Franken as Senator. Hot Dog! Democracy in action!

Mind you, Franken did say in 1995, "I did my share of cocaine & LSD."

WASHINGTON - Comedian and radio host Al Franken has ruled out a run for the U.S. Senate in 2006, but says 2008 is a different story.

Franken, known for aggressively mocking right-wing politicians and media personalities, told his listeners on Thursday that he would not be a candidate for the open Senate seat in Minnesota.

"Minnesotans are very serious about their politics and it would be silly. I don't live there," he said.

Franken said that his commitment to Air America, the liberal talk-radio network that broadcasts his show, was also a factor in his decision. His contract runs for two more years..."I have been looking at the 2008 Senate seat, people know that," he added. "If I go in 2008, you're going to see me moving back there."

http://www.cbc.ca/story/arts/national/2005/02/10/Arts/franken050210.html

Thursday, February 10, 2005

GANNONGATE

Okay, Gannon-gate may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it sounded good. This isn't a big news story and there doesn't seem to be anything that could include the Administration, but Jeff Gannon, aka James Dale Guckert, reporter for Talon News and GOPUSA being exposed and subsequently quitting, has created quite a little diversion for those in the media, especially considering it's a blog-initiated story. I find it only vaguely intriguing, because of the seeming hypocrisy of this so called journalist.

So Gannon is, or rarely was since he 'left' yesterday, a conservative reporter who wore his politics on his sleeve. That in itself is no big deal. Inserting partisan opinion into reporting is growing in popularity on both sides. It's disappointing, but hey, that's why we have C-Span.

Speaking of C-Span, if you've watched any of the White House Press Conferences, you'll hear the most ridiculously biased questions on both the left and right. It's humorous at times and embarrassing at others. I had heard Gannon's questions and found them too obvious to be taken seriously. The way he would jump in after McCllelan got a hard left, or sometimes just a hard, question was laughable.

"Scott, why is President Bush such a great guy?"
"Scott, how does the President get anything done with evil Democrats trying to thwart him at every corner?"

My questions of course, but you get the point. I didn't hear the question that made him the target of the left bloggers, but it was played on The Daily Show the day after it came out and I was embarrassed for him and all the other reporters there. Considering all of the recent news about the Administration paying columnists and reporters, I thought at first this was sketchy. But no, that question was so weak and unprofessional that it was clear the administration had nothing to do with it. They aren't idiots.

So the left bloggers went to work and I have to say I have mixed feelings about it. I read Daily Kos and Eschaton pretty regularly and respect, although often disagree with, their passion and perseverance, but this was about destruction. It makes me wince a bit, but then I see Gannon's question again as they play it on the news for the five millionth time and the truth is, the guy offered it to them on a platter.

So it turns out he was denied a press pass and had to request a daily pass. I didn't even know you could do that, but I have a feeling it's going to be very hard to do from now on. So that pretty much set the stage. We find out he is using a fake name, which is really weird because why? What is even weirder is how in the hell does someone get a press pass getting into The White House to ask the President questions under a fake name?

Here is where the hypocrisy comes in. They guy's websites are connected to a lot of "would be" male escort/hook up websites for military men. He also had an AOL website with a sexy picture of him in his drawers with his dog tags hanging around his neck.

The picture can be found here at AMERICAblog.org.

So, I'm assuming he's gay and I don't think it's a stretch but have to admit I don't know if it's fact either. However, I live in D.C. and have established quite a reliable gaydar. I'm getting this guy is gay.

The gay thing isn't as relevant as the left bloggers would suggest. There are plenty of gay republicans. There are plenty, well some, ultra-conservative gay Republicans who are against gay marraige and all that, but it does seem like an uncomfortable position to be in. Hence, the fake name?

The websites Gannon wrote for have erased all traces of him and for good reason. He's written quite a few articles that could be seen as critical of his own lifestyle in the sense that he seems to use the "gay" issue as a negative for Democrats such as pointing out former Senator Dashle's 100% pro-gay rating.

The articles have been removed from the major sites, but remain at many of the sites that picked it up. Even those articles removed can be retrieved view cached pages. One article, written by Gannon on October 12, 2004 titled, Kerry Could Become First Gay President, compares Kerry's connection to gays with Clinton's connection to African Americans. It wasn't meant as a compliment.

This has bloodied the waters on both sides. Lefties are eager to see who else they can destroy and Righties are looking for payback. Isn't politics wonderful?

Washington Post: Online Reporter Quits After Liberals' Expose (washingtonpost.com)
Mens News Daily: The Leftwing Media Gets Their Scalp: Jeff Gannon Resigns from Talon News
Chicago Tribune:His ID exposed, reporter quits
New York Daily News: Bush press pal quits over gay prostie link

Peace in the Middle East

Yay! Ok, so that's great that there are steps being taken to work towards peace, but I can't help but be skeptical... does anyone else feel the same way?

-Jean Chen

N. Korea Announces It Has Nuclear Weapons

Well, here we go again. This is classic dysfunctional child behavior. The child seeks attention and because the parent doesn't nurture the child learns to misbehave thus receiving negative reinforcement. The child's behavior continues to spiral out of control due to it's increased need or attention. Mazel Tov! We're fostering a baby North Korea!

And for those keeping score, you realize it's only a matter of time before Iran receives nuke technology from N. Korea after a sufficient amount of stalling before the EU.

This from the UK Guardian:

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea on Thursday announced for the first time that it has nuclear weapons and rejected moves to restart disarmament talks any time soon, saying it needs the weapons as protection against an increasingly hostile United States.

The communist state's pronouncement dramatically raised the stakes in the two-year-old nuclear confrontation and posed a grave challenge to President Bush, who started his second term with a vow to end North Korea's nuclear program through six-nation talks.

``We ... have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's ever more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the (North),'' the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The claim could not be independently verified. North Korea expelled the last U.N. nuclear monitors in late 2002 and has never tested a nuclear bomb, although international officials have long suspected it has one or two nuclear bombs and enough fuel for several more.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington would consult allies before responding.

``I think we just have to first look at the statement and then we need to talk with our allies,'' Rice told Dutch RTL television while on a trip through Europe.

``The North Koreans have no reason to believe that anyone wants to attack them,'' she added. ``They have been told they can have multilateral security assurances if they will make the important decision to give up their nuclear weapons program. So there is really no reason for this, but we will examine where we go next.''

Previously, North Korea had reportedly told U.S. negotiators in private talks that it had nuclear weapons and might test one of them. The North's U.N. envoy said last year that the country had ``weaponized'' plutonium from its pool of 8,000 nuclear spent fuel rods. Those rods contained enough plutonium for several bombs.

But Thursday's statement was North Korea's first public acknowledgment that it has nuclear weapons.

North Korea's ``nuclear weapons will remain (a) nuclear deterrent for self-defense under any circumstances,'' the ministry said. It said Washington's alleged attempt to topple the North's regime ``compels us to take a measure to bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal in order to protect the ideology, system, freedom and democracy chosen by its people.''

Since 2003, the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia have held three rounds of talks in Beijing aimed at persuading the North to abandon nuclear weapons development in return for economic and diplomatic rewards. No significant progress has been made.

A fourth round scheduled for last September was canceled when North Korea refused to attend, citing what it called a ``hostile'' U.S. policy.

In recent weeks, hopes had risen that North Korea might return to the six-nation talks, especially after Bush refrained from any direct criticism of North Korea when he started his second term last month.

On Thursday, North Korea said it decided not to rejoin such talks any time soon after studying Bush's inaugural and State of the Union speeches and after Rice labeled North Korea one of the ``outposts of tyranny.''

``We have wanted the six-party talks but we are compelled to suspend our participation in the talks for an indefinite period till we have recognized that there is justification for us to attend the talks and there are ample conditions and atmosphere to expect positive results from the talks,'' the ministry said.

Still, North Korea said it retained its ``principled stand to solve the issue through dialogue and negotiations and its ultimate goal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula remain unchanged.''

Such a comment has widely been interpreted as North Korea's negotiating tactic to get more economic and diplomatic concessions from the United States before joining any crucial talks.

In Japan, the top government spokesman said he wanted to confirm the North's intentions.

``They have used this sort of phrasing every so often. They didn't say anything particularly new,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a regular news conference.

For months, North Korea has lashed out at what it calls U.S. attempts to demolish the regime of leader Kim Jong Il and meddle in the human rights situation in the North. Washington has said it wants to resolve the nuclear talks through dialogue.

In his Jan. 20 inaugural speech, Bush vowed that his new administration would not shrink from ``the great objective of ending tyranny'' around the globe.

In his State of the Union address earlier this month, Bush only mentioned North Korea once, saying Washington was ``working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.''

Bush's tone was in stark contrast to three years ago, when he branded North Korea part of an ``axis of evil'' with Iran and Iraq, raising hopes of a positive response from North Korea.

The nuclear crisis erupted in October 2002 when U.S. officials accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment program in violation of international treaties. Washington and its allies cut off free fuel oil shipments for the impoverished country under a 1994 deal with the United States.

North Korea retaliated by quitting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in early 2003 and restarting its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program, which had been frozen under the 1994 agreement.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Addiction drug could prove helpful

There is a pill on the market in Mexico that helps cure addiction. It affects the part of the brain where addiction takes hold. In the U.S., there are tests of the new drug being conducted, but already there is skepticism from the FDA about the drug's safety. Is it American safety the government is worried about, or the potential billions of dollars in lost revenue from drug addiction services, alcohol and tobacco companies, and even coffee manufacturers? If this new drug can really help cure serious drug addictions to heroine, cocaine and methamphetamines, how long will it be before consumers want to cure their addictions to the legal drugs the United States and corporations make profits from?

Sri Lankan Tsunami Survivors Await Help

Who didn't see this coming? This is why I didn't write about the the Tsunami much when it happened. I knew the Western world would be falling all over themselves to get money into the disaster area only to see it stolen. I'm beginning to think that graft is more powerful a force than gravity.

BALAPITIYA, Sri Lanka (AP) - Weeks after the Asian tsunami destroyed their homes and livelihoods, tens of thousands of hungry Sri Lankans are still pleading for help, accusing government officials of looting international aid and demanding bribes to deliver it.

The giant waves of Dec. 26 destroyed fisherman Kristi Nishantha's house and boat, but he says he has yet to receive any government assistance. He and his family, displaced twice since the disaster, now live in a Buddhist temple in Balapitiya, a town 45 miles south of the capital, Colombo.

"We survived so long on relief provided by the temple and well-wishers," he said, carrying his 3-year-old son, Sanan, who is getting by on plain tea instead of milk.

In a stunning revelation last week, the government said only 30 percent of those affected by the tsunami had received aid, and set a target of Feb. 10-15 to complete delivery.

Many still await the rice, sugar, noodles, milk powder and biscuits stacked in warehouses. The government has blamed bureaucratic bungling and incompetence. Survivors blame corruption.

In Balapitiya, two local officials have been suspended over accusations of misusing aid, and another for being drunk on duty. Others were being investigated, including some who reportedly demanded bribes from survivors for death certificates for their loved ones.

Frustration is growing.

At the Amaraseeha Abivanaramaya temple in the southern village of Brakmanawatte, scores of survivors gathered Monday to collect weekly ration coupons. Each card fetches small amounts of rice, sugar, vegetable oil and lentils, plus $2 in cash.

Village official K. Thakshana called out recipients' names from a handwritten list - and tempers quickly flared when some found their names weren't on it.

"How can you say I'm not on the list?" demanded Athula de Silva. "I have lost everything and not got any help."

Many others echoed his complaint.

Thakshana's predecessor, Manori de Silva, was suspended last week over claims she was giving state food supplies to friends and relatives unaffected by the tsunami.

"She refused to give a milk packet for my baby even through there was enough stock," said T.W. Dulawathi, tears welling in her eyes.

In Kalurata, 25 miles south of Colombo, dozens of survivors demonstrated outside the home of a village officer, accusing him of giving food and cash aid only to his supporters.

"Sack the rogue village officer," read a sign held by one protester. "President! Please ensure equality," read another.

Leelawathie Mendis, who lives with a relative after her home was damaged by the tsunami, said she has received no food or other aid from the government.

"If you give (the village officer) a bottle of 'arrack' you will get state relief," she said. Arrack is a popular alcoholic drink.

Millions of dollars worth of relief from around the world has poured into Sri Lanka since the tsunami. The central government distributes it to administrators, who then channel it through divisional bureaucrats to village officials, who are supposed to deliver it to the displaced.

But investigations have uncovered abuse, mainly in the final delivery stages.

"I have tried my best to put things right," Thakshana said. "It's a thankless job. Sometimes however much you give people, they still complain."

For some officials, the frustration was too much.

In Ambalangoda town, north of Balapitiya, 53-year-old village official Siril Rupasinghe hanged himself amid constant protests and claims he had misused aid.

"He never took a pin from anyone," sobbed his sister, Namali Renuka said, clutching a photo of Rupasinghe - a public servant for 26 years.

She said police searched his house for food rations but found none.

The chief government administrator of tsunami-ravaged Galle district, G. Hewavitharana, said investigations would take time due to lack of personnel.

"Most have received aid, but a minority haven't and we are looking into it," he said.

The government says it will cost about $103 million to compensate survivors and feed them for the next six months.

The tsunami killed more than 30,000 people and left a million homeless in Sri Lanka, one of 11 countries hit. The total death toll ranges from 162,000 to 178,000 people, according to official estimates.

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday he will set up a "special complaint unit" so survivors can record their grievances.

Meanwhile, the World Food Program, a key food aid provider, will send more monitors, said Dawit Getachew, a coordinator for the group in the southern district.

"Of course there are some bottlenecks, because in such a large operation there will always be bottlenecks," said WFP spokesman Jean-Yves Lequime. "But we are here to address them, and if we learn any village didn't get aid food by government we will react immediately and take action."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Say Wha??

The latest from our President:

"Because the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate—the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."


—Explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005

Check out more at:

http://slate.msn.com/id/76886/

-Jean Chen

High School Censorship

Man, what's up with the state of things in this country? People are shocked with the king of Nepal censoring news, but we're doing the exact same thing.

This is from the LA Times:

"Censorship of high school papers and disciplining of their editors and reporters are at an all-time high, triggered by a growing disdain for the media in general and by increased pressure on school administrators to "present the right image to the community" in response to mounting budget cuts and federal- and state-mandated educational standards, says Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.

The most recent manifestation of the crackdown on school papers came in Fullerton last week when officials at Troy High School placed Ann Long on a leave of absence from her job as co-editor in chief of the Oracle.

Long's "crime" was writing and publishing a story about two bisexual students and one gay student in what she called "an attempt to raise awareness on campus that people with different sexualities go through more emotional stress than the average teenager."

Click here for the full story.

http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/cl-ca-shaw6feb06,1,6136382.column?coll=la-news-columns&ctrack=1&cset=true

-Jean Chen

Monday, February 07, 2005

You Can Hear a Pin Drop

Grateful Iraqi
Jesse Jackson in London???

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Liberals are sooooo quiet these days. It must be because they are truly devastated by the stunning progress in the Middle East:

1. Afghanistan is reasonably peaceful (for Afghanistan), has had successful elections and is making steady progress toward democracy.

Iraqis Celebrate

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2. Millions of courageous Iraqis braved suicide bombings, mortar fire, and all
manner of intimidation from insurgents desperately trying to stop the elections. And, with U.S. help, they are succeeding in casting off the yoke of tyrrany in the name of freedom and self-determination.

3. The Palestinians have held successful elections as moderate Mahmoud Abbas was elected with 62% of the vote. Could it be there is a silent majority in Palestine as well?

4. Now Israelis and Palestinians have declared a cease fire just days after Condoleeza Rice was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of State. Peace talks have begun in earnest now that terrorist Arafat is in the ground. "This is the most promising moment of progress between Palestinians and Israelis in recent years," Rice said, as she became the first high ranking U.S. official in years to visit the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah.

The left continues to
Troops Saluting Bush

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underestimate George Bush and his hard working administration. John Kerry offers some timely advice, warning us not to "overhype" the stunning success of the Iraqi election as millions of Iraqis dance in the streets. And quoting from the always razor sharp Ann Coulter, "Democrats haven't been this depressed since we captured Saddam Hussein."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A Fist Full of Dollars: The Best Way to Change Regimes in Iran

I found this after I was inspired by the State of the Union Address. It's an interesting proposal:

Commentary, Shahla Azizi,
Pacific News Service, Feb 01, 2005

TEHRAN--Everyone here is wondering whether President George Bush's threats of military action against Iran are real or just rhetoric. But if Bush is serious about regime change in Iran, he should try the power of the bribe.

Iran's insistence on continuing uranium enrichment -- apparently suspended while negotiations continue with the IAEA -- likely poses more of a threat to the world in Bush's mind than did Saddam Hussein's imaginary WMDs. But military action is not the way to bring about regime change here.

The United States should look at history in order to learn how to deal with Iran. In the CIA-backed coup of 1953, when the popular nationalist Mohammad Mossadegh was ousted and the Shah reinstated on the throne, the Americans succeeded with literally a fist full of dollars. Estimates of the cost of the covert Operation Ajax, including the bribes, range from $200,000 to $20 million. Senior CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt (grandson of Teddy) was assigned to overthrow the democratically elected prime minister. He succeeded mainly by bribing influential figures, staging street violence and planting false stories in the newspapers.

With 70 percent of civil servants living below the poverty line (a conservative government estimate), money is the best way to penetrate Iran. If the United States just spent a small portion of its military budget in Iraq on bribes in Iran, the regime would crumble.

From a distance, Hezbollah zealots may seem too idealistic to be bought. But those of us who live here know that every little infraction can be overlooked after a small bribe. If I am caught with alcohol on my breath, for example, I know a bribe is the easiest way out. There are not many here who cannot be bought, even among the hardcore conservative supporters of the regime. Very few religious zealots here are true believers like those of Al Qaeda. Zealotry, being state sanctioned, has become false.

The regime is very unpopular. Its foot-soldiers, the Ansar Hezbollah and the Bassij forces, are not invited to share the enormous wealth that the elite mullahs have amassed. The majority of the very small number of people loyal to the regime are poor. The economic system only allows a very few at the top to become rich. Even the theological students of Qom, who are to form the next generation of mullahs, have voiced their disappointment with the rampant nepotism and corruption that exist at the top levels of the theocracy.

The reformists, who won the previous presidential elections, were so impotent in the face of the unelected Guardian Council and those who wield real power, like the millionaire-mullah Rafsanjani, that the people have lost all hope of changing things democratically. Many of the 80-plus percent who voted for Mohammad Khatami, the reformist president, now look for outside help to rid the country of the mullahs. The majority of the population consists of under-25-year-olds who are frustrated and unhappy, and who use the Internet and satellite TV as outlets. Universities are over-crowded and the unemployment rate surpasses 20 percent.

Opposition leaders, university activists, journalists and bloggers who have dared voice criticism of the regime are in jail. Iranians desire a regime change but feel impotent to bring it about themselves. Most would welcome the help of the United States.

The security forces and the vigilante groups can be bought to look the other way when people revolt. Street uprisings can be provoked with the use of Iranian opposition satellite T.V based in Los Angeles, which has a huge following here and has played a big role in uprisings in the recent past. Important players in the armed forces can be bribed and promised amnesty if they side with the people, or, with the right amount of money, even encouraged to stage a coup. Iran, unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, has a full-fledged opposition movement already demanding a referendum to change the constitution. American dollars would fuel it and give it the tools and courage necessary to act.

The regime is so unpopular, so ready to fall, that instead of military action, spending a little money to buy some key figures and its foot soldiers is the simplest, cheapest and most efficacious way to bring about change in Iran.

PNS contributor Shahla Azizi is a Western-educated Iranian American who lives in Tehran with her two children. Her name has been changed.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Everyone should be able to answer Howard Stern's questions

Howard Stern will always be a media and FCC magnet for his personality and shock appeal. But what is so shocking about him? He asks questions we all want to know the answers too(except maybe what kind of underwear a particular female guest is wearing). Men love him, women laugh secretly at his lewd and crass jokes, but if people could simply take themselves a little less seriously, the shock jock might just be out of a job. Stern's move to satellite radio will be a tremendous boon to the fledgling enterprise, and might possibly change radio forever.

WTC Victims = Nazi War Criminals?

Ward Churchill University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill calls victims of the World Trade Center disaster "little Eichmanns", a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who helped carry out Hitler's plan during World War II to exterminate Jews in Europe. He goes on to say: "True enough, they were civilians of
WTC Disaster

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a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break." Churchill says they worked for "the mighty engine of profit" but chose to ignore their role.

So far we haven't seen the liberal establishment rushing to Professor Churchill's defense. Just one of his adoring student admirers offering: "Well, he makes us think." Yes, professor, and if you can make some 18-year old stoner in Colorado think, I suppose you've accomplished something.

Sons & daughters packed in boxes

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swastika juifstar
The victims of the World Trade Center disaster no more had it coming than indigenous Americans who were swept aside by the expansion of Western European civilization (a cause so dear to the good professor). The only one in this story who has it coming is Churchill when his pink slip arrives.

Story

Sharpton Joins With an Animal Rights Group in Calling for a Boycott of KFC

I love that man! Sharpton is clearly one of the most entertaining people in pop-politics. This from the New York Times:

"The Rev. Al Sharpton will not eat at KFC and he doesn't think you should either.

Starting today, Mr. Sharpton is joining forces with the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to urge a boycott of KFC, which is owned by Yum Brands of Louisville, Ky. Mr. Sharpton and PETA want the fast food chain to require its chicken suppliers to put in place new standards for the treatment of the 750 million chickens they process for KFC every year in the United States. The rap mogul Russell Simmons is also joining the Sharpton campaign.

"If we give our money to KFC, we're paying for a life of misery for some of God's most helpless creatures," says Mr. Sharpton in an eight-minute video that will be shown outside KFC's around the country.

PETA has been waging a campaign against KFC for two years. The organization was eager to enlist Mr. Sharpton because KFC has many stores in largely black neighborhoods and in late 2003 KFC executives told investors they were making an increased effort to market to blacks."

There's more but you can read the rest on their set.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

cut rate cutthroats

How could I not have noticed when the fur was flying about Target banning the Salvation Army from collecting donations around Christmas, I mean, come on, they are religious based group helping the poor, the downtrodden and many in each of our communities. They wanted the bell ringers to go elsewhere, as though all those holiday shoppers would be offended by a bit of happy holiday tithing to help the less fortunate. Now it sadly comes to light, but is barely a big shock, that Target was one of the bigger supporters of the Republican party and last week's innauguration fiesta or was that fiasco.

Since we can't rush out and buy discounted items at Walmart and of course K Mart is a big no no, as is Costco, we may have to invent our own below market alternative shopping mecca and call it LivMart, where employees are treated fairly, given benefits, breaks, good work environment, child care, oh the list is endless. I'll start working on the name later today. You start the business plan.

Oops, we went too far!

Utah banned gay marriage, but now they're realizing that they may have gone too far:

"After rushing to write a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution, Utah legislators are stepping back to repair some of the damage the law could deal other kinds of domestic partners.

Taken literally, Utah's provision could deny hospital visitation or survivor's property rights to children being brought up by grandparents, or to senior citizens who live together but do not marry for financial reasons. Siblings living in the same household also could find themselves without customary rights.

Utah's Legislature — overwhelmingly Republican and Mormon, and one of the most conservative bodies in the nation — ignored warnings from the state's Republican attorney general that the amendment went too far. Utah voters ratified it with 66 percent approval in November.

Now, in a moment of sober reflection, the same lawmakers are looking at giving back to adults who live together but are ineligible to marry — a category that includes same-sex couples — some of the rights of husband and wife..."

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=718&e=4&u=/ap/20050201/ap_on_re_us/utah_gay_marriage



-Jean Chen