Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Spring Birds in Missouri

Birds spotted in the past week: Robin, Chipping Sparrow, White Breasted Nuthatch, Slate Gray Junco, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Flicker, Bluebirds, and many Cardinals.

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Halliburton Overcharging

I meant to mention this the other day... Audit: Halliburton Overcharged U.S. $100M:
A military audit has found that defense contractor Halliburton may have overcharged the U.S. government more than $100 million under a no-bid oil contract in Iraq. The audit was completed in October but was only released Monday after being obtained by Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman.
Bastards.

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Iraq: Going nowhere fast

Juan Cole, via NPR:
With the guerilla war in Iraq showing no signs of abating, the prospects for successful military disengagement by the United States any time soon are bleak. The political picture is no rosier: the United States will increasingly find itself caught between support of the democratically elected government and resistance to program of implementing strict Islamic law. The United States long ago lost the ability to make policy in Iraq, being reduced to reacting on an ad hoc basis to the initiatives of local forces.

Two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the guerrilla war waxes and wanes but gives no sign of ending soon. Top U.S. military commanders such as Gen. Richard Myers admit that it may go on for a decade.
Surely they saw this coming. My guess is that we're looking at a scenario that the corporate war profiteers at Halliburton and the chicken hawks in the White House are quite excited about. U.S. tax dollars will be fed to the machine as fast as can be managed and the national debt will continue to skyrocket. The U.S. military bases in Iraq and the region will become increasingly permanent fixtures as the oil shortage becomes more obvious.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

President Rosco

The similarities are eerie. It's not just the voice but the manner of speaking. Click the pic for a quick and dirty QuickTime movie which perfectly illustrates the point.





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War and Democracy in Iraq: Casualties continue to climb



Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties:

Take a look at the average per day for each month and the year ago month. There is an increase in nearly every case. Elections were held in January but as many pointed out elections do not equal democracy or freedom. Bush and his supporters went crazy over the purple fingers more out of desperation than real celebration and evidence will continue to mount that the invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake.

Democracy cannot be forced upon people, nor does freedom magically spring up overnight like a beanstalk. Funny thing, Bush wants the world to believe that,thanks to him, freedom is on the move. Far from it. All we have to do is take a look at the "Homeland" and we will see that we are not free and that democracy is a false facade.

In the future people will see that the end of World War 2 was a turning point for the planet. The U.S. emerged as the new empire and at the same moment, its citizens turned away from the responsibilities of "democracy" and embraced the "dream" of consumerism. The election of George W. Bush and 9/11/01 will prove to be another turning point: the collapse of the American Empire.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Spring gardening in Missouri

I expect that I may be posting a little less often in the next couple of months as the weather warms and I venture outside to haul rocks, spread mulch, and other fun garden projects. I'll post pictures when the plants wake from their winter slumber. It's always fun to look at before and after photos. Last year I started with a grass lawn that had been minimally landscaped. Four months later we had a pond, mulch, 50+ native Missouri wild flowers (20+ species added to the land), and a nice bench to sit on. Almost every plant survived and I'm hoping to see them really thrive this year.

On the to-do list:
1. Haul rocks to better define the creek that was created to handle run-off water.
2. Pull decomposed mulch into beds and add fresh mulch.
3. Expand the garden area to double its current size.
4. Possibly create a second, slightly larger pond.
A few of the benefits of this kind of garden:
1. Native species supply food to birds and wildlife.
2. Native species require little to no watering once established.
3. No fertilizers needed.
4. No lawn mowing needed!
When we moved into deCleyre the first thing we did was remove the grass lawn in the front yard. It was gone by the end of the second summer. I doubt I'll be able to accomplish that here in Missouri but every bit covered by mulch and garden is a reduction of mowing and oil consumed.

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Pocast: Oil and Economy

I've often written about the over-use and dependence on oil in the US. Those that know me would probably say that I obsess over it to which I would reply "You don't think about it nearly enough." Now would be as good a time as any to visit the topic again, eh? As mentioned in the podcast I'm reposting three graphics that I originally created and posted this past summer.





Related links:

Life After the Oil Crash
Policy Pete
Peak Oil.com
Peak Oil.org
Real Climate
Alternative Energy Blog


These links have a permanent home on my sidebar under Ecology and Energy. I'll be adding more so if you have any suggestions please pass them along.


littlepod.jpg More via the Podcast which is also available as a direct mp3 download runtime: 19'18, 3.6 MB.


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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Podcast: Technology, Knowledge, and Democracy

I've been thinking about the influence and intrusion of the capitalist system and corporations into our understanding of the world around us. In particular I'm wondering about how Americans have isolated themselves from the democratic ideals they supposedly uphold and how this plays out in our relationships with the larger world community. What follows is yet another cheerful podcast in which yours truly rambles on about the unquestioned assumptions which underly our understanding of the world and our place in it. Hell, it's a complex world and we don't have time for complexity! Give me simple: good vs evil, you are either with us or against us!

We consider ourselves to be the most intelligent species on the planet but our behavior seems to indicate otherwise. More often than not we seem to move through life more ignorant (unaware) than we realize. That's the interesting thing about ignorance. We are all ignorant but it is difficult to know how ignorant we are in regards to any particular issue or area of knowledge. As citizens is it not our responsibility to discuss and debate important issues so that we may reduce our ignorance and thus make more informed decisions? We claim to be a democratic republic yet we very clearly fall down in this crucial area of public discussion and debate. More often than not the vast majority just seems to go along with what it is told without questioning assumptions or authority in a way citizens probably should.

We've allowed for, and been manipulated into, accepting a corporate takeover of social structures. It is the agenda of multinational corporations, which are not at all democratic, that dominate the content of legislation in the US. Do we really want a planet dominated by corporations and capitalism? The increasing dominance of captialism over policy and culture is something we should not ignore. We need to examine our vision of the world as well as the assumption that it is a vision shared by all others. American arrogance hinders its ability to learn from, and understand, the ideas and visions of others on the planet. Last but certainly not least, what's up with our ignorance of the fundamentals of our own culture and society? We seem to have no awareness of the issues surrounding the natural resources upon which our economy is based.

If we refuse to resist the dominance of state and capital then we deny responsibility and our future generations will ask why. Will we have an answer?


More via the Podcast which is also available as a direct mp3 download runtime: 19'18, 3.6 MB.

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The New Iraq: Torture, Rape, and Murder

The New York Times has a story on a recent State Department Report about human rights. I was surprised to see the admission that the Iraqi Government has already resumed usage of torture, rape and illegal detentions. My guess would be that it is much worse than Bush and Co. would ever admit.

The State Department on Monday detailed an array of human rights abuses last year by the Iraqi government, including torture, rape and illegal detentions by police officers and functionaries of the interim administration that took power in June.

In the Bush administration's bluntest description of human rights transgressions by the American-supported government, the report said the Iraqis "generally respected human rights, but serious problems remained" as the government and American-led foreign forces fought a violent insurgency. It cited "reports of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions - particularly in pretrial detention facilities - and arbitrary arrest and detention."

In other Iraq news Juan Cole reports on the assault against trade unionists and other activists:
A prominent trade unionist was also assassinated, but apparently only New Zealand cares.

Speaking of which, as a parting gift the interim Allawi government has [Arabic link] dissolved a number of civil society organizations, including the Lawyers' Union. Iraqi attorneys abroad accused the interim government of violating a number of international treaties and agreements to which Iraq is signatory.

US mainstream media appears to have behind the scenes instructions not to mention unions if at all possible (older television actors remember this instruction being explicit back in the 1960s with regard to dramas.)

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Stopping the NAFTA Superhighway

Several years ago I went to a public meeting/hearing about the proposed NAFTA Superhighway. I've not followed the issue in these past years but I do believe that it should be stopped. I came across this IMC Radio article today and thought it would be a good time to revisit the issue. BlackBox: Stopping the NAFTA Superhighway:

BlackBox talks to the members of "Roadless Summer," organizing against the NAFTA Superhighway and Plan Puebla Panama.

For 15 years, farmer-led resistance has delayed the construction of Interstate 69, the NAFTA superhighway. Now, with the looming passage of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. and the Indiana Department of Transportation are preparing to finally restart construction.

We are calling for a summer of community organizing, civil disobedience, and direct action to finally stop this bid to pave over tens of thousands of acres of forests and farms, displace hundreds of families, and destroy communities throughout the Midwest, all to serve the interests of multinational corporations.


Get the mp3. I'll take this opportunity to recommend the Indy Media podcast: IMC Radio

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The European Union: A Different Kind of Dream

I just finished watching a documentary interview with Jeremy Rifkin on LinkTV. The discussion seems to be based on one of Rifkin's more recent books, European Dream, which covers the emerging European Union, its development, and the relationship between the EU and the US. A very interesting conversation and one which I think merits further attention by citizens of the US. From LinkTV:
An exploration of the theories of social thinker Jeremy Rifkin, whose recent book, The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, postulates that the The American Dream is in decline. Americans are increasingly overworked, underpaid, and squeezed for time. But there is an alternative: the European Dream - a more leisurely, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable way of life. Europe's lifestyle is not only more desirable, argues Rifkin, but may be crucial to sustaining prosperity in the new era.

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