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5.26.2005

immigrant myths


The American Immigration Lawers Association has a great page explaining five immigration myths, complete with many footnotes. Exerpt:
The report by the National Academy of Sciences also found that immigrants benefit the U.S. economy overall, have little negative effect on the income and job opportunities of most native-born Americans, and may add as much as $10 billion to the economy each year. As a result, the report concluded, most Americans enjoy a healthier economy because of the increased supply of labor and lower prices resulting from immigration.

via swarm the minutemen, a group dedicated to opposing the "minutemen", an anti-immigrant citizen group that has recently been patroling the boarder with guns to protest what it sees as the lack of proper surveillance of illegal crossings. For more information, go here (story about the group) and here (op-ed criticizing the group).
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5.25.2005

in short


Howard Zinn gave a great commencement address called "Against Discouragement" at Spelman college, from which he was fired in 1963 for his civil rights activities. A quote: "The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies."

A sign in front of Danieltown Baptist Church, located at 2361 U.S. 221 south reads "The Koran needs to be flushed," and the Rev. Creighton Lovelace, pastor of the church, is not apologizing for the display.

The US has upped arms sales to some of the world's most repressive and undemocratic regimes in a misguided attempt to bolster counter-terrorism efforts 2001, says a new report from leading arms trade researchers.

Go to Senseless Acts of Beauty for some good graffiti

A white buffalo was born in Canada. The white buffalo is seen as a portent of peace in many Native American traditions.

Apartment Therapy is running a contest for the smallest, coolest appartment in New York.
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jedi tricks


Are you perhaps wondering how news about military recruiters' desperation got out? A 15 year old kid in Colerado decided to do an undercover story, posing as a high school dropout and drug addict. He got everything on tape by pretending to be forgetful and having the recruiters repeat everything on the phone. Strong work, young journalist.
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5.23.2005

surreal medicine


Iraqis are selling their organs in increasing numbers, due to 60% unemployment and the extreme danger of being a taxi driver or policeman (the big jobmarkets). The donors often meet donees on the hospital steps. The going rate for a kidney is about $1000.

Worlds apart, a Dartmouth MBA candidtate has founded Hufu, "The Healthy Human Flesh Alternative".
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in a nutshell


Frank Rich puts newsweek in context, and jabs the administration several times in a roundly satisfying fashion. exerpt:
About the Newsweek matter Donald Rumsfeld had a moral to bequeath the land. "People need to be careful what they say," he said, channeling Ari Fleischer, and added, "just as people need to be careful what they do." How true. If one of his right-hand men, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, hadn't been barnstorming American churches making internationally publicized pronouncements that his own Christian God is "a real God" and Islam's God is "an idol," maybe anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, at record highs even before the Newsweek incident, would have been a shade less lethal. If higher-ups had been called to account for the abuses of Abu Ghraib, maybe Newsweek might have had as little traction in the Arab world as The Onion.

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5.22.2005

Got mutant kidneys?


The Sunday Independent writes that a secret study conducted by Monsanto found that rats fed on a diet rich in genetically modified corn developed abnormalities to internal organs and changes to their blood. This disclosure comes on the eve of a European vote on whether they should open up to GM foods. According to the aricle, Monsanto "dismissed the abnormalities in rats as meaningless and due to chance, reflecting normal variations between rats."

This comes as a vindication to British environmentalists: seven years ago, British researcher Dr. Arpad Pusztai, was forced from his job after revealing that rats fed GM potatos suffered health defects. You can read more about that story in Trust Us We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future, by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, famed authors of Toxic Sludge is Good for You!: Lies, Damn Lies, and the Public Relations Industry.

While I try to eat organic as much as I can, it's expensive and sometimes difficult to locate. I'm hoping that some kind of regulations kick into gear before we all die of cancer. Speaking of which, researchers have found that women who stick to a low-fat diet are significantly less likely to suffer a recurrence than those who eat regular fatty diets. The women in the study who stuck to the diet were 24% less likely to relapse. I have read that cancer feeds on sugar, which may be what is at the root of this study, but I can't find a reliable source at the moment. Anyway the funny thing about the study was that it hasn't been done sooner. It always amazes me the degree to which doctors fail to consult nutritionists before acting; foods are chemicals too! And of course, with Monsanto's help, they will be even more so.
2 comments
5.21.2005

luck or labor?


A good column by Matt Miller on luck. Lest the nytimes put up their opinion section firewall anytime soon, I post it for you below.
Test your political philosophy with one simple question: which matters most in determining where people end up in life?

You've got two choices. The first is "luck" - by which I mean the pre-birth lottery, that inherited package of wealth, health, genes, looks, brains, talents and family. "Luck" is all those gifts or curses for which we can neither take credit nor be blamed.

Choice No. 2 is individual effort, hard work and personal character.

Obviously this is a false choice; every life is a blend of both. We're born with certain endowments, and make the most of them (or don't) based on personal traits. But if you had to say which one matters most in shaping where people end up, how many of you would join me in answering "luck"?

In a poll I commissioned a few years ago, people who call themselves liberals or Democrats overwhelmingly said luck; most conservatives or Republicans said individual effort.

But if you're hoping to shake up today's gridlocked politics, what's interesting is that independent voters - now the nation's biggest bloc - viewed luck the way Democrats do.

Luck isn't a bad proxy for what the current Times series labels "class." It's a theme U.S. politics conspicuously avoids. Yet if we approached it right - if we took luck seriously - we'd be on the way to the commonsense consensus needed to make progress on our fixable injustices.

What should luck's influence mean for public policy? Conservatives, worried that an honest admission of luck's role would sanction economy-killing egalitarianism, always end up playing down luck. Liberals, while deeply concerned with luck, have often been unwilling to ease the burden of bad luck in ways that preserve the best of capitalist innovation and the virtues of individual responsibility.

Try too hard to wipe out the inequities spawned by luck, and you banish luck's societal benefits and go down the road of communism. But harness a healthy awe for luck, and you expand the bounds of empathy in ways that make a living wage for poor workers and great schools for poor children national imperatives. What we're led to is the public agenda missing today, built around passionate commitments - by both liberals and conservatives - to (1) equal opportunity and (2) a minimally decent life, achieved in ways that harness market forces for public purposes.

Don't take my word for it. The surprising truth is that conservative icon Milton Friedman and liberal philosopher John Rawls agree that luck's ubiquity compels these commitments. Friedman once told me his concern for luck's reach had inspired his call for a decent minimum for the unlucky. He fathered what became the earned-income tax credit, which delivers $35 billion a year in wage subsidies to the working poor. Rawls, apostle of the just society, cheered this.

Friedman added that there is no principled way to decide what the decent minimum should be; it's a political question that depends on what taxes we're willing to pay. Rawls basically said "make it good" - but not so generous that taxes hurt growth.

But this debate isn't being framed explicitly today by either side.

So the conservative view of the decent minimum comes to this: "You're lucky to be in America; you're lucky to have a job; you're lucky to have the emergency room." A better idea would be "basic health coverage and $9 to $10 an hour, without putting the full burden of this on employers." Turns out we can have such a society for a penny on the national dollar (1% of G.D.P.), and still leave government smaller (21% of G.D.P.) than it was under President Ronald Reagan.

Can't we shake hands and call it a deal?

The anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist won't debate what luck means for policy; he says luck is irrelevant (though he seems like a lucky guy).

By contrast, most Hollywood stars don't gripe about taxes the way many wealthy Americans do. My theory is that these supertalents are more sensitive to the portion of their wealth that's attributable to luck. Yes, there's hard work and persistence and making your own breaks, but the voice, the presence, the body (well, minus certain modern upgrades) clearly come from God.

As polling shows, average Americans agree luck is central. And religious conservatives say that responding to luck's dominion is a way to honor the divine mystery that put us here. With a little luck, that means Democrats may find they can make America more just while grounding their agenda in values that can win.

4 comments

of interest


A hundred faculty members at a Calvinist University set to receive President Bush as its commencement speaker have signed an open letter critiquing his policies from the Christian standpoint.

Pressure is growing on the US to answer for kidnapping suspects in Europe and taking them to the middle east to be tortured.

Asian Bird Flu may be evolving to transmit from person to person, with lower virulency for more wide spread transmission.

Enough low income grandparents are raising children in new york that a new housing complex has been built for them in the South Bronx.

The president of the 35,000 member Newspaper Guild has spoken out against the US military killing journalists in Iraq. Remember that for this, Eason Jordan of CNN was forced to resign. Feathers have become ruffled.
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5.20.2005

sharing is caring


Foolish purveyors of piracy protection are fixing to equip DVDs with RFID tags so that they are linked to one purchaser. The idea is that you can't view the disk unless you have the password or some biometric data like a fingerprint. Why it's dumb:
- people forget passwords
- you can tell your friends the password
- who wants to give their fingerprint every time they see a movie?
- who would buy a new DVD player if they knew it would prohibit them from seeing loaned movies?
- presumeably, Netflix will still exist

I'm waiting for the genius that figures out how to use peoples' obsession with copying to their profit. Those saucy brits over at the BBC may be close.

In related news, a lecturer at a Spanish university was fired for giving a talk on the benefits of P2P and some of its legal uses. In fact, not only was he fired, but the dean then denied that he had ever taught at the university. The death throes of a pathetic monster, this is.

On a different note, researchers have found that there is an inverse relationship between the ability to categorize and the ability to remember details.
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tales of the unexpected


lion mutilates 42 midgets in Cambodian ring fight. see for yourself.
3 comments
5.18.2005

Fristing


An interesting comment from dailyKos in the midst of a discussion on how Frist is pushing the nuclear option in a bargain with religious right extremist James Dobson, who may be promising to deliver his base for a Frist presidential run. There was skepticism in the previous comments about Frist's ability to get any play in an election. Below, an interesting response; I was not aware of this angle.
The Frist family could potenially spend 50-100 million of their Hospital Corporation founder earned dollars getting Frist elected President.

The Frist Family's Hospital Corporation of America has already been fined billions for medicare fraud. Spending $100 million getting Frist elected President would be a drop in the bucket compared to the potential fines Hospital Corporation of America is facing in their next round of investigations.

Let's not forget that Hospital Corporation of America IS what the whole Terry Schiavo mess was about to begin with. The Frist family stands to make billions and billions of dollars if they can get Living Wills banned and force those with insurance onto hideously expensive life support equipment until their insurance runs out. 1 patient on life support can run up bills of hundreds of thousands of dallars a year.

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tell it like it is.


out of the woods with exams, i am resolving to recommense blogging. I post for an exerpt of remarks from British MP George Galloway, delivered today before a Senage committe on the oil for food program. Via the Engish Times.

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].

"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

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