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Archive for February, 2010

Lighting a candle for the folks in Chile, and those in the path of a potential tsumami today.

Chile Quake Triggers Tsunami Alerts in Asia

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are bracing for a possible tsunami following a massive earthquake in Chile.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a warning for the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and many island nations in the Pacific. A lower-level advisory was issued for the northern Pacific region.

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Chile-Quake-Triggers-Tsunami-Alerts-in-Asia-85689057.html

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John Day, Oregon had their first of two, town hall meetings, this morning, over the Aryan Nations intent to begin a compound in their town. If you weren’t able to see the live feed, but can watch video on your computer, click the UStream link HERE.

A second meeting will be held tonight. Check HERE for info.

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Prisons, asylums, pedophiles, crooks, other felons who have completed “rehabilitation” (Whatever that might mean these days.) halfway houses, shelters: proximity to all these can change a home’s value.

I have a home. I have thought about what it might mean if someone with a criminal past takes up residence nearby. Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but confronted with the idea of these folks next door, I am undisturbed. People who have completed their sentence should be entitled to reenter the public stream. If I learned that some of these folks were still more dangerous than my other neighbors, I would become alert, but I would jump to the arguments of improper rehabilitation, inadequate understanding of the nature of human behavior, like that in pedophiles, poverty, pain, inadequate upbringing and subsequent failure of personal accountability. However, under the existing law they were entitled to try and begin anew. Rather, existing law should be rewritten to better address failures of rehabilitation, and rehabilitation, itself, should be changed.

I have great difficulty however, with the idea of a group of people moving into my neighborhood who are unrepentantly dedicated to the twin propositions of hatred and separatism. Since I choose to embrace the diversity of humanity, and I am a woman, I am a co-habitator and enemy of such groups; worthy therefore, of shooting, or maybe worse, since the bullet may have more value than me. It’s a personal conundrum, that the price of diversity means enmity, and that I would choose restriction for those who would shoot me as some form of first amendment rights, but have not yet done so. This is how I feel, and I am unable to reconcile it.

Consider then, Oregon, one of my favorite places, the home of relatives, and my husband’s childhood. Now, it is true that Eastern and Southern Oregon tends to the more conservative side. There are, as well, there are other rightist themes about. WorldNetDaily is alive and well in Roseburg. As a nest for right wing rabid bats, certain areas have found themselves over the years to be dripping in guano. Yet, it is no small thing when an Idaho Chapter of the Aryan Nations announces their intent to locate to John Day, Oregon.

From the perspective of a Californian, I also don’t like the idea that in a national emergency, Highway 395, the main backdoor road riding the spine of California and dipping into Reno, could be subject to the bottleneck of survivalist separatist antics of a racist group like the Aryan Nations. It smacks of the bad side of the TV series “Jericho”.

So though I have avoided it, finally today, I joined Facebook. HERE is why.

Don’t let this happen, John Day!!!  John Day is too beautiful a place to drip in guano.

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This You????

Graham Cluley over at Dark Reading reminds us that Twitter has it’s own phishing problems:

Twitter Phishing Attacks Asks, ‘This You????’

Posted by Graham Cluley, Feb 24, 2010 09:47 AM

[The wave of phishing attacks against Twitter users continues to catch unwary surfers.

The latest attack seen spreading across the microblogging network asks a very simple question:

This you????

followed by a shortened link pointing to a bogus Web page that is posing as the Twitter login screen….]

http://www.darkreading.com/blog/archives/2010/02/twitter_phishin.html?cid=nl_DR_DAILY_2010-02-25_h

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I’ve just been so busy with some home remodeling and the new shop, I really haven’t had time to post.  However, I hope you all are keeping up with events.

Did you read Dakinikat’s financial innovation post, HERE, over at the Confluence?

BlueLyon reports the stats that Nevada now has the highest percentage of underwater home loans in the Country at 70% – truly an astonishing figure. California, by comparison, only comes in at 35%.

Marching and petitioning are at the top of the list today.

The AFL-CIO is asking for signatures to their petition HERE, to keep Whirlpool from closing their last shop in the US that makes refrigerators. The Evansville plant has a long history and a fine working base. Whirlpool took Stimulus money and now wants to move the plant to Mexico.

BlueLyon is asking you to boycott FedEx. (I think that would also mean Kinko’s since they are the same company.) HERE is why.

The Women’s National Law Center is asking you to do a virtual march and send an email HERE to Congress. Let them know that being a woman is not the same is a “pre-existing medical condition”.

Send your thoughts to Senator Carl Levin on Blackwater (XE Services). It’s hilarious, in a deeply twisted way, that Blackwater (now XE Services) was able to divert hundreds of guns, including 500 AK-47 assault rifles intended for the Afghani Police, and pass them out like popcorn amongst themselves. Remind me again, for whom these people are working and why we need mercenaries? Blackwater’s contract to protect diplomats in Afghanistan ends this year, but the Defense Department is looking at them to train Afghan police. In the way of things political, I imagine the reason we are now addressing these complaints are those upcoming contractual events. Blackwater still hasn’t returned all the weapons. I’ll bet they can’t, with reports about that some weapons were sold on the black market.

Here is Senator Levin’s latest statement on the hearings being conducted today.

The Senate passed their version of the jobs bill this morning. I’ll have more on it later.

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League of Women Voters Celebrates Milestone Birthday

Washington, D.C. – The League of Women Voters celebrates its 90th birthday on Sunday, February 14th. Known widely for its voter education efforts, this non-partisan, government watchdog group has been an American institution since 1920.

http://www.lwv.org/AM/Template.cfm?Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=14807

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Bill Clinton Hospitalized

POLITICO Breaking News:
—————————————————–

Douglas Band, counselor to former President Bill Clinton, said in a statement:: “President Bill Clinton was admitted to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest. Following a visit to his cardiologist, he underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. President Clinton is in good spirits, and will continue to focus on the work of his Foundation and Haiti’s relief and long-term recovery efforts.”

For more information…http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/32854.html

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February is Black History Month.

What does it mean to you?

There are well-known established sheroes and heroes of all sorts and stripes that might deserve mention in this month.  However, I want to discuss the month from a slightly different angle.

One of the events likely to occur under rightist governments, such as the previous one we just endured, is the erosion of children’s rights. Right-sided governments are more likely to work under the premise that children’s rights are those of the parents, rather than the children themselves. One example is the constant struggle over whether to allow young people the right to privacy in their visits to doctors and their personal health choices.

We are the keepers of the largest prisoner base in the world. As is prevalent elsewhere in other age groups, minority children are still more likely to suffer the brunt of unequal treatment. In this light, The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) took particular hopeful note in January of President Obama’s stated intention over increased enforcement in his State of the Union Address.

01/28/2010

It’s Time to Step Up Enforcement of Children’s Rights

By Richard Cohen

[After a drastic decline in civil rights enforcement by the U.S. Justice Department over much of the past decade, President Obama’s declaration during last night’s State of the Union Address that his administration is “once again prosecuting civil rights violations” is a promising sign…]

http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/its-time-to-step-up-enforcement-of-childrens-rights

We will have to wait and see whether the SPLC’s hope is fulfilled. In any event, one my heroes for the month would include the folks at SPLC.

A recent event on a different subject deserves scrutiny. As expected, the unemployment numbers, for the Nation as whole, in January looked better than previous months at 9.7%. I doubt this number truly represents the actually unemployed, since January, as will March, represented merely an end to those folks whose unemployment simply ran out. This is one of the great scams perpetrated by the cycling of employment funds, as people are dropped off the employment dole.

The DOL’s Economic News Release, dated Feb. 5, 2010 contains this tidbit:

[..In January, the number of persons unemployed due to job loss decreased by 378,000 to 9.3 million. Nearly all of this decline occurred among permanent

job losers.  (See table A-11.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up in January, reaching 6.3 million. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of long-term unemployed has risen by 5.0 million. (See table A-12.)…]

Upon review of Table A-11 one learns:

[…Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in January, up from 734,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)  Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million people marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities…]

That means the number of discouraged workers is up by 366,000 people or 33% from a year ago. Since the long term unemployed is also trending up, and they are the next to be changed to discouraged workers and chopped off the unemployment figures, unless Congress acts, two things are likely to happen. The unemployment figures will get better shortly and most of these people will still not have found jobs.

While several other groups are higher (Black 16-19 ears old of both sexes was 43.8%!), for Black American men, January’s seasonally adjusted rate was 19.7%. The Root says “Despair has become Banal”, in their article on Black unemployment.

Today, I saw a commenter on another blog asking why there is no “White History Month”. Although, the commenter was attempting to be flip, it is a fair question from another viewpoint.

Wiki says:

[.. Some African radical/nationalist groups, including the Nation of Islam, have criticized Black History Month. Some critics, including actor Morgan Freeman, contend that Black History Month is irrelevant because it has degenerated into a shallow ritual.[6] He says that it serves to undermine the contention that black history “is” American history.[7]..]

We all need rituals and traditions. The comfort us and are shorthand touchstones for our memories and self-awareness. They remind us of the struggles we have endured and sacrifices we have made.  They provide us with aspirational models of humanity. However, they can also lull us into somnambulism over our current position. So I think that Black History Month is a commemoration that can still raise our consciousness. As a shorthand symbol for a few well-known people, also can prevent our growth.

Out of the history of the Civil War, the movement of Black Americans into the industrial cities that first offered employment as a consequence of the industrial age, and then the world wars, stratifies Black Americans today in those same cities: Chicago, Oakland, Richmond, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, etc. When we gave up our own industry to cheap land, cheap and unorganized labor, non existent safety and health standard of other countries, and greed, we did something else. We left that labor pool behind with the hazardous waste of non-modernized factories. This is just as, right on schedule, after a twenty-year depreciation valuation ends, Toyota is now doing with NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA. Another 20 years and Texas will weep for her squandered land as well.

We are not there yet. I agree that Black History is American History. I also agree with President Obama’s premise that regions SHOULD be targeted to reduce unemployment. However, this CANNOT be the only thrust. Does he really mean that little sop over being a president for ALL the people meant that he could not push for employment from a civil rights perspective? I think it showed real fear on his part.

This statement simply does not track with the recent health bill that included line items galore toward insuring that minorities, tribes, veterans and women got dispensation in the package. This is a bill he would have signed and continues to promote in some version.

Black history is being made right now. History in the making is murky and often unclear. However, here are my employment sheros and heroes for the month: Al Sharpton, Benjamin Jealous, Marc Morial, and Dorothy Height, who even though the snow prevented her attendance, had the right message to deliver to this meeting.

I hope Congress will listen to them when the time comes, as well. Civil rights is an ongoing “becoming” backed by those who are willing to demand it.

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“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Frederick Douglass

(From the People’s History website)

Last week when Hubbie and I were out scrounging for items to put into a little shop we have begun, we ran across a copy of Howard Zinn’s time honored book, “A People’s History of the United States 1942-present”.  As everyone knows, Zinn died last month at the age of 87.

He was a member of the “Lost Generation”.  Though some are now attributing that term to the young of the current day, affected by our current economic crisis, the term was first used by  to Gertrude Stein via her mechanic, and usually referred to those born in the wake of WWI.

Perhaps, only those souls remaining of that period can really understand it, but imagine what it meant growing up then. First, families were traumatized in WWI, with many who made it home broken and bent, then, the loss of financial stability and so much more of the Depression, and then the growing certainty that you were born just in time to die in WWII.  So many of the writers of this period echo this kind of angst and pain, from Steinbeck to Hemingway to Wolfe.

From unfolding European events to: suffrage for women, the tent cities, and the lynchings, and the forced labor of African Americans in the aftermath of the Mississippi Flood, to the Dustbowl, hatred of the Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and the effects of Prohibition, mobsters and the FBI, the period lasted only 24 years. Even as international actors strutted their way toward the hurricane that would be WWII, it was yet, most assuredly, a period in which there was plenty of focus on the struggles of the common woman and man.

So much was experienced in a direct and visceral way by the Lost Generation. Perhaps it was a natural thing then that, as a common man himself, Howard Zinn, would develop the historical viewpoint that he did.

I thought Ralph Nader had the best idea for his commemoration. That is, we should remember him by organizing.

In deference to Ralph, however, I think too many of us don’t even know who Howard Zinn was.  We must pass this knowledge forward. Knowledge is one of the critical elements of organizing. History that is not taught, is lost. Education lacking the People’s History is not full education.  Read or reread, Zinn’s books. Visit the links Ralph provided in his blog:

www.zinnedproject.org

http://www.peopleshistory.us/

http://www.thepeoplespeak.com/

www.howardzinn.org

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Politico is reporting:

Charlie Wilson dies

[Former Rep. Charlie Wilson, a colorful 12-term congressman who pushed the covert action that helped Afghanistan rebels defeat the mighty Soviet Union, died Wednesday afternoon at a hospital in Lufkin, Texas….]

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/32794.html

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