I'm plumb startled! So much interesting stuff has come my way this past week - the only word I can use to describe it is 'startling'. Startlingly positive policy moves by Arnold Swartzenegger, startling insights about the American 'Civil' War, startling reporting by Michael Moore, a startling William Rivers Pitt article about the Clinton administration's incredibly effective Anti-Terrorist Policy (and how it was thwarted at every turn by the Bush administration), and a startling connection between George W's grandfather and the financing of the Nazi party.
Ah, but 'lest ye despair, some startling GOOD NEWS, too! The forward-looking Apollo Alliance Project is gaining momentum. Mega-corporation, Johnson & Johnson, is going SOLAR! Solutions are good news. (Heck, I've even included a startling recipe involving Bruce Willis' underpants. Is that good news? Probably for Bruce.)
Here's a little encouraging feedback from last week's article about the de-Frenchifying of the American language:
Please know that the bulk of us sometimes seemingly confused Americans abhor the prejudices of the media and small minded "elected" "representatives" in general and specifically the untoward insinuations toward our French brothers and sisters. I'm reminded of the message on a chalk board in a restaurant over here -
"Our French roast will now be called
Freedom Roast and our American Cheese Sandwich will
be called the Jackass Thug Cheese Sandwich."
Gary Emil Perrine
So, before we get stuck into the serious reading, how about a little humour:
THE OIL SHORTAGE
There are a lot of folks who can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in America.
Well, there's a very simple answer. Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low. The reason for that is purely geographical.
All our oil is in Alaska, Texas, California, and Oklahoma.
All our dipsticks are in Washington DC.
(thanks to Marge Beaver)
In Search of Savings, Companies Turn to the Sun
By JIM RENDON
JOHNSON & JOHNSON, an icon of American corporate culture, is showing a growing interest in a technology once associated with backwoods cabins and pocket calculators. Like a number of other large companies, Johnson & Johnson has begun to generate its own power from the sun.
Solar power has evolved from being an expensive, pie-in-the-sky technology to one that is finally beginning to make business sense. Recent electricity shortages in California, the continuing gyrations in energy prices over all, and new state and federal incentives are among the reasons for companies' efforts to start or expand their use of the technology.
On a blustery fall afternoon, the solar installation
on the roof of the United States headquarters of Johnson &
Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceutica Products unit in Titusville, N.J.,
is producing 245 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 245
homes. At their peak, the 2,850 solar panels can produce about
500 kilowatts of energy, making this one of the largest solar
installations on the East Coast. The system provides about 10
percent of Janssen's annual electricity needs.
(thanks to Carolyn Kay)
The Sins of September 11
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
" . . . .Over and above the theoretical questions regarding whether or not Clinton's anti-terror policies, if passed, would have stopped September 11 lies the very real fact that attacks very much like 9/11 were, in fact, stopped dead by the Clinton administration. The most glaring example of this came on December 31, 1999, when the world gathered to celebrate the passing of the millennium. On that night, al Qaeda was gathering as well.
The terrorist network planned to simultaneously
attack the national airports in Washington DC and Los Angeles,
the Amman Raddison Hotel in Jordan, a constellation of holy sites
in Israel, and the USS The Sullivans at dock in Yemen. Each and
every single one of these plots, which ranged from one side of
the planet to the other, was foiled by the efforts of the Clinton
administration. Speaking for the first time about these millennium
plots, in a speech delivered to the Coast Guard Academy on May
17, 2000, Clinton said, "I want to tell you a story that,
unfortunately, will not be the last example you will have to face."
article) (thanks to Maireid Sullivan)
SATAN IN MOGADISHU
The Pentagon Unleashes a Holy Warrior
By William M. Arkin
In June of 2002, Army Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin stepped to the pulpit at the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Okla., and described a set of photographs he had taken of Mogadishu, Somalia, from an Army helicopter in 1993.
The photographs were taken shortly after the disastrous "Blackhawk Down" mission had resulted in the death of 18 Americans. When Boykin came home and had them developed, he said, he noticed a strange dark mark over the city. He had an imagery interpreter trained by the military look at the mark. "This is not a blemish on your photograph," the interpreter told him, "This is real."
"Ladies and gentleman, this is your enemy," Boykin said to the congregation as he flashed his pictures on a screen. "It is the principalities of darkness It is a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy." Our "spiritual enemy," Boykin continued, "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus." (more)
(thanks to JHoushmand) But Pressure Mounts for the General's Resignation (more)
Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger's environmental platform reads like a liberal Democrat's playbook -- promoting solar power, calling for green building codes, limiting timber harvests in the Sierra Nevada and seeking more watershed preservation.
Full of ambitious promises, the platform places the incoming governor on a quick collision course with the Bush administration and, in many instances, the Republican party line.
He calls for air pollution statewide to drop 50 percent by the end of this decade, for 50 percent of the state's new homes to include a solar photovoltaic system by 2005, hydrogen fueling stations every 20 miles on California's major highways and for a hastened effort to protect Lake Tahoe's famously blue waters.
He wants California's energy consumption to
drop 20 percent within two years and to accelerate a timetable
requiring 20 percent of the state's total power supplies to come
from renewable resources. Instead of 2017, as state policy has
it, the mark should be hit by 2010. By 2020, one-third of California's
power should be green, according to the Schwarzenegger platform.
BUSH-NAZI LINK CONFIRMED
Documents in National Archives Prove George
W. Bush's Grandfather Traded with Nazis - Even After Pearl Harbor
by John Buchanan (The New Hampshire Gazette)
WASHINGTON - After 60 years of inattention
and even denial by the U.S. media, newly-uncovered government
documents in The National Archives and Library of Congress reveal
that Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush,
served as a business partner of and U.S. banking operative for
the financial architect of the Nazi war machine from 1926 until
1942, when Congress took aggressive action against Bush and his
"enemy national" partners. (more)
THE SOUTH WAS RIGHT!
by James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy
Ten years ago, I wouldn't have bothered to read a book with a title like this - but with all the spin I have been observing in US policy in recent years, I have to look with a more open mind at how US history has been recorded - of course, as we all know, by the winners - and of late, by conservative news media. A lot of truth is being left out of what we see and hear in the commercial media so why not assume that such was the case in the past?
This book does have a certain element of the worst of 'holocaust-denial' type of writing - that said, there are a truckload of interesting facts and details about American history that I wasn't aware of. I suggest that you read this book and sift through the exaggerations to extract the good bits.
Some key points of the book:
1- The 'Civil War' and 'War Between the States' were both terms invented by the North. The South always referred to the conflict as 'The War of Southern Independence'. It was technically not a war between states, but a war between two organized governments: The United States and the Confederate States, each with their own President.
2- 'Dixie' was once commonly played at football games and at the close of radio broadcasts all over the South until it was banned.
3- Abraham Lincoln, the great 'emancipator', as he is known, had an almost white supremacist platform while running for office, as clearly evidenced by this speech:
" I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favour of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not, nor have ever been, in favour of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races . . . . I, as much as any other man, am in favour of having the superior position assigned to the white race." Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858, edited by RW Johannsen, Oxford University Press, NY NY, 1965 (pps 162-63.)
4- That the South fought the War to preserve
slavery is a myth. 75% of Confederate soldiers that went to war
against the superior forces of the North were not slaveholders.
The question is asked: Would they have done this merely to keep
the rich slaveholders in slaves? General Robert E. Lee, the supreme
leader of the Southern forces was not a slaveholder.
The North used this as a Moral Argument for the war - the goals of freedom, democracy and equality to mask a deeper agenda (sound familiar?) - when in fact:
a- The real reasons for the war were political and economic,
b- In 1828, the Southern exports from 4 staples alone were equal to $180 million dollars while the exports from the North equaled Zero. The Exports from the South were the basis of Federal revenue.
c- The North was the one responsible for Slavery in the first place. The Northern commerical and industrial system had its roots in the profits made by engaging in the African slave trade. The New England slave trade was based on three commodities: rum, slaves and molasses. In New England, ships would take on a cargo of fish and rum to be traded in Africa for slaves. 200 gallons of rum per slave, In the West Indies, the slaves were traded for molasses, the molasses taken back to New England to make more rum. Each way, a margin of profit was made. Even after Congress outlawed slavery, the New England slavers still found a market for 94% of the African slaves in the Caribbean and South America. The South was never really that important a market for the slave traders.
Three questions are posed:
1- Who first legalised slavery?
The Northern colony of Massachusetts. Slavery was an internationally recognized activity introduced by the Spanish and English in the 1500-1600s. We have a hard time understanding this vile concept of forced labour today, just as people 200 years from now will have a hard time understanding things we accept as everyday life now. Slavery was also practiced, not only by black Africans in Africa, but also there are extensive records of freed black Americans in the North also holding slaves for commerical interests. An 1830 census shows 10,000 slaves were owned by free men of colour. Native American Indians were also sold into slavery overseas. Much is made of the image of the Southern 'whip on the backs of slaves' but the real horrors occured during what was called 'The Middle Passage' - as every Australian will be familiar with - the transportation by ship from Africa to New England where approx 33% of slaves died en route and were cast overboard. (Yet, all this was allowed for in the profit margin.)
2 - Who first attempted to prohibit the importation of slaves?
The Southern State of Virginia is on record as early as 1778, when Patrick Henry was governor, for the outlawing of the slave trade- ten years before Massacussets and 30 years before British Parliment. It was the first state in the civilized world to do this. The Constitution of the Condfederate States initiated the first prohibition against slavery, not the United Stated Constitution.
3 - How was slavery abolished in the North?
By a system of Gradual Emancipation that allowed
the Northern slave owners to remove their property to the South,
sell their slaves and thereby divest themself of the human responsibility,
while making a handsome profit.
(THE SOUTH WAS RIGHT!
by James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy, published by Pelican Publishing Company 1998.)
DUDE, WHERE'S MY COUNTRY?
by Michael Moore
Once again, Moore comes up with an enormous archival and investigative work. This is a soul satisfying work by someone who is determined to see justice done and won't let go of George W's tail. He has a tremendous readership for his work as well - I guess we might even now say that he is 'mainstream' - but it is feels good to have someone in the belly of the beast with this kind of vision.
Some of the key points in his book:
1- Moore thinks the Democrats don't have anyone equal to the task of taking on Bush in the 2004 election and suggests the best candidate would be: Oprah Winfrey!! Whom he believes would wipe the floor with Dubya. (Hey, if Swartzenegger can do it, why not?) I'd vote for her. Lateral thinking at its best.
2- British CEOs make 24 times as much as their average workers - the highest gap in Europe. But U.S. CEO's make 411 times the salaries of their average workers! Due to the Enron scandal, distrust of US corporate executives by US citizens is now at an all-time low.
3- Moore believes the US could get rid of all
its nuclear weapons and still kick the bejezus out of anyone else
with just conventional weapons. Therefore, why not lead by example?
How to Get Rid of Terrorists? Stop being Terrorists!
4- We're invited to consider the the possibility that: 'THERE IS NO TERRORIST THREAT.' (In much the same way as 'THERE WAS NO COMMUNIST THREAT' during those McCarthy years when the Fear of Communists Under Every Bed was used to justify all manner of abuse of personal freedoms. Panic exaggerations like this are always used by the government to mask a political agenda. Adolf Hitler once said, 'I save Reason for the Few and use Emotion for the Masses.' Fear of every Tom, Dick and Abdul blowing up your neighbourhood is a powerful motivating emotion.
5- The Taliban met in Texas, with Unicol, the Oil and Gas giant, to discuss building a pipeline through Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, when George B Bush, was Governor of Texas. Down the track, the Taliban wouldn't play ball and so . . . .
6- The Bush family have had ongoing business relations with the Bin Laden family for over 25 years.
7- A Saudi jet was allowed by the US government to fly around the States and pick up 24 members of Bin Laden's immediate family in the days following 9/11 and fly them out of the country and back to Saudi Arabia without any of them being questioned! (Remembering of course that 15 of the 19 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia.)
8- The possibility that 9/11 could have been the result of power struggles in the Saudi government where there are military break-away factions who oppose US interests.
9- The Saudis spent over $170 BILLION on armaments in the '90s - much of it going through George Bush Senior's company, The Carlyle Group.
10- The Saudis have a trillion dollars invested
in the US stock market and another trillion in US banks. They
certainly have their hands in our pockets.
(DUDE, WHERE'S MY COUNTRY?
by Michael Moore, published by Penguin/ Allen Lane. 2003.)
The Apollo Alliance
There' s a new project called The Apollo Alliance that's baking up a tasty new recipe for clean energy, national security and jobs, jobs, jobs.
Imagine spending serious money like George
Bush does for tax cut trillions and Halliburton handouts on an
ambitious 10-year, $300 billion effort for sustainable jobs, cleaner
manufacturing, youth and urban apprenticeships and smarter transportation.
The program pays for itself with jobs and greater energy independence
in U.S. exports. Revitalizes the U.S. manufacturing base. Creates
three million jobs.
Heals labor vs. environmental grouchiness over Arctic drilling. Fuels the hopeful, can-do spirit that put America on the moon. And maybe even inspires the right kind of patriotism.
The Apollo Alliance is building a broad coalition within the labor, environmental, business, urban, and faith communities in support of good jobs and energy independence. The Alliance is developing public education campaigns and communications strategies to link allies and build a national constituency for a bold, broad based, and immediate program of public policy.
The Apollo Alliance has received letters of support from the presidents of several major environmental organizations, including:
· Natural Resources Defense Council
· The Sierra Club
The Apollo Alliance's Ten Point Plan has received the endorsement of 17 major labor unions representing over 10 million working men and women, including:
· Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)
· American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
· International Association of Machinists (IAM)
· International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
· International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE-CWA)
· Paper and Allied Chemical Employees (PACE)
· Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
· Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)
· Transportation Workers Union (TWU)
· United Automobile and Aerospace Workers (UAW)
· United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)
· Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!)
· United Steel Workers of America (USWA)
The Apollo Project has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council (IUC) through a unanimous resolution.
The Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence:
1. Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars: Begin today to provide incentives for converting domestic assembly lines to manufacture highly efficient cars, transitioning the fleet to American made advanced technology vehicles, increasing consumer choice and strengthening the US auto industry.
2. Invest In More Efficient Factories: Make innovative use of the tax code and economic development systems to promote more efficient and profitable manufacturing while saving energy through environmental retrofits, improved boiler operations, and industrial cogeneration of electricity, retaining jobs by investing in plants and workers.
3. Encourage High Performance Building: Increase investment in construction of "green buildings" and energy efficient homes and offices through innovative financing and incentives, improved building operations, and updated codes and standards, helping working families, businesses, and government realize substantial cost savings.
4. Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances: Drive a new generation of highly efficient manufactured goods into widespread use, without driving jobs overseas, by linking higher energy standards to consumer and manufacturing incentives that increase demand for new durable goods and increase investment in US factories.
5. Modernize Electrical Infrastructure: Deploy the best available technology like scrubbers to existing plants, protecting jobs and the environment; research new technology to capture and sequester carbon and improve transmission for distributed renewable generation.
6. Expand Renewable Energy Development: Diversify energy sources by promoting existing technologies in solar, biomass and wind while setting ambitious but achievable goals for increasing renewable generation, and promoting state and local policy innovations that link clean energy and jobs.
7. Improve Transportation Options: Increase mobility, job access, and transportation choice by investing in effective multimodal networks including bicycle, local bus and rail transit, regional high-speed rail and magnetic levitation rail projects.
8. Reinvest In Smart Urban Growth: Revitalize urban centers to promote strong cities and good jobs, by rebuilding and upgrading local infrastructure including road maintenance, bridge repair, and water and waste water systems, and by expanding redevelopment of idled urban "brownfield" lands, and by improving metropolitan planning and governance.
9. Plan For A Hydrogen Future: Invest in long term research & development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and deploy the infrastructure to support hydrogen powered cars and distributed electricity generation using stationary fuel cells, to create jobs in the industries of the future.
10. Preserve Regulatory Protections:
Encourage balanced growth and investment through regulation that
ensures energy diversity and system reliability, that protects
workers and the environment, that rewards consumers, and that
establishes a fair framework for emerging
(thanks to Jim Hightower)
FOOD AND UNDERGARMENTS
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - American celebrity chef, writer and TV star Anthony Bourdain likes to dig into such exotic dishes as live beating cobra hearts in Vietnam and boiled iguana in Mexico. But the author of the best-selling book, 'Kitchen Confidential,' (note from chef Josef: highly recommended!!) told Taiwan's CTI cable news that he thinks the scariest food is served up daily at McDonald's. ``What could be more frightening than walking into a McDonald's and looking at a Chicken McNugget. What the hell is a Chicken McNugget?'' the New York chef said in a CTI interview that aired Friday.
Later in the interview, Bourdain thought of another scary dining experience: `Walking into Planet Hollywood and seeing Bruce Willis' underwear hanging over your plate. I mean that to me is the most disturbing and frightening.'
(Once again we must join hands and summon the spirit of Josef, the Food Channel:)
Agnello Brasato Con Vino Bianco e Biancheria Intima di Bruce Willis (Slow Cooked Braised Lambchops in White Wine, with 'Special' Linen)
1 tbles tomato paste
2 cups white wine
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
one small chunk pancetta, diced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
three tables fresh parsly, chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, coarsely chopped (for garnish)
1 small onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 red eye chili, deseeded and finely chopped
1 pair of Bruce Willis's underwear
Wash the underwear thoroughly in hot water, being sure to remove all the sand, and hang up on a clothesline above the table. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Use a pot with a lid. Put some olive oil in the pot and brown the lambchops on both sides, making sure to brown all the fat along the ends. Remove to a dish. In the pan, saute the pancetta, onions, garlic, and chili. Stir in the white wine and cook for a couple of minutes over high heat. Add the tomato paste, rosemary sprig and chopped parsley and stir well. Salt and pepper to taste. Return the chops to the pan, cover, reduce heat to very low and slowcook for 1 1/2 hours, checking the pot every half hour and giving it a stir. (Make sure there is enough liquid in the pot so that it doesn't dry out as you want a nice thick gravy at the end. Add a little more water if necessary.) When finished, correct the seasoning and place on a plate with some pot gravy and a mound of fresh coriander on top. Serve with freshly boiled broad beans and butter and mashed potatoes with garlic.
Pass the underwear around instead of napkins.
The Night House
Every day the body works in the fields of the world
mending a stone wall
or swinging a sickle through the tall grass --
the grass of civics, the grass of money --
and every night the body curls around itself
and listens for the soft bells of sleep.
But the heart is restless and rises
from the body in the middle of the night,
and leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
with its thick, pictureless walls
to sit by herself at the kitchen table
and heat some milk in a pan.
And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
and goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
and opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
and roams from room to room in the dark,
darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.
And the soul is up on the roof
in her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
singing a song about the wildness of the sea
until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
the way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,
resuming their daily colloquy,
talking to each other or themselves
even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body--that house of voices--
sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
to stare into the distance,
to listen to all its names being called
before bending again to its labor.
~ Billy Collins ~