Archive for March, 2006

The cost of a gallon of gas

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Gas Flames a Reminder for Nigeria’s Poor

The Associated Press
Friday, March 17, 2006; 11:54 AM

EABOCH, Nigeria — Sooty towers of flame spew into the air night and day as excess natural gas from the petroleum industry burns off, buffeting Nigerian villagers with jet-force heat and noise. For many living near the dozens of gas flares dotting southern Nigeria, the flames are a potent reminder that the country’s oil wealth has done little to benefit its people.

“The fish have gone from the rivers because of the noise. The fields are polluted from the oil, nothing grows,” said Uche Onyemetu, who lives near an oil installation and four flares.

“This is supposed to be a rich village, but the whole area is poor,” the unemployed 31-year-old said….

Race to the bottom

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Lots of people know that states frequently lavish tax breaks on companies to attract business, and end up without the necessary revenue to provide needed social services. Here’s a new form of the race to the bottom–a race to ensure that local communities are denied any voice in whether they are exposed to genetically modified farming.

Mo. May Ban Local Regulation of Some Crops

The Associated Press
Friday, March 17, 2006; 1:58 AM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An ordinance from a Northern California county has some Missouri lawmakers worried that local regulation of genetically modified crops could hamper agriculture’s future in the state.

Voters in Mendocino County, Calif., approved a first-in-the-nation measure to prohibit genetically modified plants and animals in March 2004. Since then, 14 states have barred local regulation of the types of seeds farmers can use, and another five _ including Missouri _ are considering bans.

The Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would give the state responsibility for the “registration, labeling, sale, storage and planting of seeds.” It would also bar local governments and the state from adopting regulations that exceed federal requirements. A similar bill is pending in a House committee.

With half of the states bordering Missouri adopting or considering bans on local regulations, state Sen. David Klindt said Missouri risks falling behind its neighbors in the race to attract agricultural industries and research if local governments enact more restrictive regulations.

“We need to continue to send a very clear message that Missouri is very open to biotechnology, because not only will farmers have the ability to produce food, but we will be able to heal people,” said Klindt, a farmer who sponsored the bill.

After first trying unsuccessfully to grow genetically modified crops in southeast Missouri, a Sacramento, Calif.-based biotechnology company announced it was relocating to Klindt’s district in northwest Missouri.

Ventria Bioscience planned to cultivate rice containing human genes that would produce proteins used in drugs. But delays in state financing prompted the company to drop its plans.

State Sen. Rob Mayer said biotechnology has a promising future, but not when it comes to Missouri’s rice.

Mayer, a Republican who opposes the bill, said banning all local regulation increases the chances that genetically engineered rice could cross-pollinate with other food crops. He said it could also leave rice farmers unable to sell their product. Some brewers, baby food makers and cereal companies have refused to buy rice that has been genetically altered….

Jerry Lewis-ocrats

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Three Crazy Things Democratic Politicians Believe by Cenk Uygur over at Huffington Post.

…The Republicans win elections by running to their base. Instead of taking that as a lesson to run to their own base, the Democrats instead learn the lesson that they should also run to the Republican base. Are we stuck in some bad comedy the French would enjoy? Even Jerry Lewis wouldn’t be this goofy….

Yeah, boyeee!

My man McCain

Friday, March 17th, 2006

It sucks to be suckered. Here I was secretly thinking, honestly (and this is embarrassing so don’t tell anyone), that it might be ok if McCain becomes president in ’08. You know, he doesn’t tow the line, he’s an independent thinker, blahbitty blah blah. Lately, though, Dems and progs have begun to lay the groundwork for the ’08 battle, and when they aren’t jockeying for this or that presumptive Dem candidate, the emerging theme seems to be knocking down the likely McCain train.

The Right’s Man
March 13, 2006
By Paul Krugman
New York Times Op-Ed

It’s time for some straight talk about John McCain. He isn’t a moderate. He’s much less of a maverick than you’d think. And he isn’t the straight talker he claims to be.

Mr. McCain’s reputation as a moderate may be based on his former opposition to the Bush tax cuts. In 2001 he declared, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us.”

But now – at a time of huge budget deficits and an expensive war, when the case against tax cuts for the rich is even stronger – Mr. McCain is happy to shower benefits on the most fortunate. He recently voted to extend tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, an action that will worsen the budget deficit while mainly benefiting people with very high incomes….

Other similar stuff here, here, and here.

Green parties

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Dante Chinni over at Huffington Post is advocating for a green theme to the upcoming Congressional elections. It’s an interesting idea: that because ‘The war over the environment ended long ago. Everyone is “pro-environment” now.’

He notes that even if it is true that in their private thinking, everyone is pro-environment, and there is wide (poll) support for good things like improved fuel efficiency, the rhetoric of political races can turn people against the things that they otherwise ostensibly support.

Anyhow, Chinni’s notion is that debate over the environment–because there’s general agreement that at least some actions must be taken–could allow for an election that is more positive in tone, less rancorous than an election oriented around the Iraq debacle and rampant legislative corruption. It’s an interesting thought… of course we’ll never know if he’s right, since there’s probably about zilch chance that the environment will become the main theme of the election.

But it’s also a little strange. I mean, sure, in the long run (where long isn’t really all that long from now), environmental issues swamp all others in importance because of the global scale of human misery that we’re at risk of experiencing. At the same time, when a country is embroiled in an illegal, immoral, aggressive, quagmire of a war & occupation, and one cluster of politicians is especially eager to lie and cheat and steal, those divisive issues really do deserve to be at the forefront of voters’ attention. Right? SSRIs notwithstanding, it’ll sure be depressing if the voters’ once again decide that war and corruption are a-ok.

Woman on the street review

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Cathy Resmer, house blogger at 7Days, was in our offices a few days ago to write a regular print article on Chelsea Green (linked in the post below). Here’s her unsolicited review of Through the Eye of the Storm, which should be out in stores in May:

“I snagged a review copy when I visited the company’s office last week, and finished it the other day. I read it in two late-night shifts, after the baby woke me up and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It’s a little rough around the edges — written by first-time author Cholene Espinoza — but I put it down and immediately started thinking off all the people I need to tell about it. I’ll probably write more when people can actually get a copy of the book. I really liked it, warts and all.”

Little ole us?

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Do the Write Thing: How a small, leftist publisher in Vermont is having a national impact

Jumping off a moving bandwagon

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

Daily Kos is posting on the supposed fallout from Feingold’s censure resolution–supposed because the main media outlet stories on it slant the resolution like some kind of wild-eyed boondoggle for Democrats. The evidence that Democrats should be deathly afraid of a reactionary rally-round-the-crooked-Prez is, thus far, actually rather slim. The evidence that more Senators ought to join with Feingold and give the renob a public dressing down is strong, not to mention the very least of all the right things that should be done.

The price of free speech

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

New Fines for Indecency
FCC Hits ‘Without a Trace,’ ‘Surreal Life,’ PBS Broadcast

By Steven Levingston
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 16, 2006; Page D01

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday proposed nearly $4 million in fines for violating the agency’s indecency standards, targeting a range of TV programming from a hit CBS drama to Spanish-language broadcasts to a PBS documentary on bluesmen….

At the same time, I get a kick out of dreck getting fined, even if for the wrong reasons.

Paving the road to future invasions

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

Never content with the successes of the past, Bush will recommit himself and the country to a policy of preemptive fuckups:

Bush to Restate Terror Strategy: 2002 Doctrine of Preemptive War To Be Reaffirmed

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 16, 2006; Page A01

President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.

The long-overdue document, an articulation of U.S. strategic priorities that is required by law, lays out a robust view of America’s power and an assertive view of its responsibility to bring change around the world. On topics including genocide, human trafficking and AIDS, the strategy describes itself as “idealistic about goals and realistic about means.”

The strategy expands on the original security framework developed by the Bush administration in September 2002, before the invasion of Iraq. That strategy shifted U.S. foreign policy away from decades of deterrence and containment toward a more aggressive stance of attacking enemies before they attack the United States.

The preemption doctrine generated fierce debate at the time, and many critics believe the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq fatally undermined an essential assumption of the strategy — that intelligence about an enemy’s capabilities and intentions can be sufficient to justify preventive war.

In his revised version, Bush offers no second thoughts about the preemption policy, saying it “remains the same” and defending it as necessary for a country in the “early years of a long struggle” akin to the Cold War. In a nod to critics in Europe, the document places a greater emphasis on working with allies and declares diplomacy to be “our strong preference” in tackling the threat of weapons of mass destruction….

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