August 13, 2008 archive

Sixth Farm Worker Dies from the Heat this Summer in California. A Call for Action.

I have been writing about this story since May.  (after the fold are links for diaries for background).  Yet another farmworker has died from the heat. This is the sixth this summer.

Maria de Jesus Alvarez, 63, mother of nine, died from heat exposure in the fields on August 2.  Her death makes six farm workers who died of heat exposure since May and the 15th farm worker heat death since California Governor Schwarzenegger took office.  Even one is too many.  Six this year is a tragedy.  These deaths show that the state of California is unable to protect farm workers.  

We must act.  We must force action by the state to allow farm workers to protect themselves.  For there are no others to do so.

If you care, join me after the fold.

(also On Daily Kos)…

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports the western Amazon rainforest threatened by new wave of oil and gas exploration. Over 35 multinational companies are exploring for oil and gas reserves in a 688,00 sq km area (about the size of Texas), that are “peak biodiversity spots” — home to the “most species-rich areas of the Amazon for mammals, birds and amphibians”.

    Researchers used government information on land that has been leased to state or multinational energy companies over the past four years to create oil and gas exploration maps for western Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia. The maps showed that in Peru and Ecuador, regions designated for oil and gas projects already cover more than two thirds of the Amazon. Of 64 oil and gas regions that cover 72% of the Peruvian Amazon, all but eight were approved since 2003. Major increases in activity are expected in Bolivia and western Brazil.

    “We’ve been following oil and gas development in the Amazon since 2004 and the picture has changed before our eyes,” said Matt Finer of Save America’s Forests, a US-based environment group. “When you look at where the oil and gas blocks are, they overlap perfectly on top of the peak biodiversity spots, almost as if by design, and this is in one of the most, if not the most, biodiverse place on Earth.”

    Some regions have established oil and gas reserves, but in others, companies will need to cut into the forest to conduct speculative tests, including explosive seismic investigations and test drilling. Typically, companies have seven years to explore a region before deciding whether to go into full production.

    American Zapatista has an essay about this report’s findings and the impact the exploration will have on indigenous peoples.

  2. The CS Monitor reports Poor see gains of 1990s reversed as poverty has become more concentrated in the first half of this decade. The number of low-income people living in poor neighborhoods declined in the economic boom of the 1990s.

    But that trend has reversed during the first five years of this decade, according to a new analysis by the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. It found that the number of poor people who live in areas of concentrated poverty increased by 41 percent since 1999.

    According to Elizabeth Kneebone, the lead author of the report, increased “concentrations of poor people in specific neighborhoods create a kind of self-perpetuating economic segregation”. Midwest and Northeast urban metropolitan showed the largest increases in poverty-concentration.

Four at Four continues with the sham Olympics, the death of Hiu Lui Ng at the hands of Homeland Security, and a bonus story about Magic Mushrooms. Also available is my essay about Bush sending U.S. troops to Georgia to deliver humanitarian aid.

Bush sends U.S. troops to Georgia to deliver humanitarian aid

The Press Association reports US plans to send troops to Georgia.

The US is to send troops to embattled Georgia in the form of a humanitarian aid exercise, President George Bush said.

Mr Bush said military planes would deliver supplies in a move which would put American forces in the heart of the region.

Bush, in a prepared statement, said:

I’ve also directed Secretary of Defense Bob Gates to begin a humanitarian mission to the people of Georgia, headed by the United States military. This mission will be vigorous and ongoing. A U.S. C-17 aircraft with humanitarian supplies is on its way. And in the days ahead we will use U.S. aircraft, as well as naval forces, to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies.

Complexity and Incompetence

One of the biggest impacts of the attacks on 9/11 was their incontrovertible demonstration to those living in the past that Island America is no more. Those living in the past were mostly Conservatives of course, since that is where they prefer to hang out rather than living in the world as it is. The world as it is, as anyone actually willing to face reality knows, a huge and complex place.  And it gets even more complex if you are trying to rule the world, as the Neo-cons were trying to do.

The Neo-cons and Conservatives didn’t look at the post-Soviet world and see new opportunities for peace and prosperity, they looked around this big old planet and rubbed their greedy little mitts in glee at the thought of America unopposed in their dream of world domination…and the profits they could reap from that. It never occurred to them how difficult it actually would be to rule a whole planet, or even just to impose their designs upon it.  It never occurred to them of course, that they were too stupid and incompetent to actually make it work. They thought they were now above all laws, including apparently the law of unintended consequences….not to mention Murphy’s law. Turns out that Ruling The World is….. Hard Work. Work that they were neither smart enough (if anyone one is!) or competent enough for.  To shape the planet and its seven billion people into your vision of what it should be is impossible. To try to do it by JUST brute force is the type of ridiculous delusion that and denial of reality that Conservatives are so good at, in fact self-delusion is one of the very few things they are good at.

Until the rubber actually hits the road and all of their plans blow up in their face.

Permanent Republican majority.

A nation ruled by fundamentalist Christian morality and law.

Greeted as liberators as we impose ourselves and values on the people of the world.

World energy hegemony achieved by force allowing the ‘American Lifestyle’ to continue in the face of peak oil and global warming.

A Christian Crusade to wipe out or at least dominate 1.6 billion Muslims.

Etc. etc. etc.


There was only one hitch in their plans….they were too stupid to pull it off when the had everything they needed to do it, including a ‘new Pearl Harbor.’


H/t to TPM Election Central.

Right-wing attacks on the Democrats policies in Iraq have just sunk to a new level.

At a debate in New Mexico for the open GOP-held Second District late last week, Republican nominee Ed Tinsley accused his Dem opponent Harry Teague of wanting to cut the throats of American troops in Iraq. Thankfully he was booed. Tinsely may have sealed his fate in New Mexico-02. Take a look:

Abhorent. That’s all I can say.  

Flyin’ Pony Party

The Dream


John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (born John Winston Lennon; October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980)

Mark David Chapman was denied parole for the fifth time yesterday. Protecting Lennon’s killer from the rest of us?

Real News: The Geopolitics Of Georgia

Yesterday we learned from Pepe Escobar, reporting for The Real News, that contrary to most reports in the US media, Georgia had been the original military aggressor in the conflict between Georgia and Russia with it’s ground attacks and aerial bombardment beginning last Thursday of the separatist province of South Ossetia in it’s attempt to forestall any reunion of South and North Ossetia.

Today F William Engdahl summarizes the geopolitics behind the conflict, with the unnerving statement that “This is probably the most unstable area on the planet right now“.

August 13, 2008 – 3 min 8 sec

US attempts to get Georgia into NATO, coupled with its desire to erect an anti-missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech republic would give it first strike capability towards Russia. Moscow sees this as a national security threat against the sovereignty of Russia. Political economist F William Engdahl believes this is the geopolitical endgame being played out in Georgia.

F William Engdahl is an economist and author and the writer of the best selling book “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order.” Mr Engdhahl has written on issues of energy, politics and economics for more than 30 years, beginning with the first oil shock in the early 1970s. Mr. Engdahl contributes regularly to a number of publications including Asia Times Online, Asia, Inc, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Foresight magazine; Freitag and ZeitFragen newspapers in Germany and Switzerland respectively. He is based in Germany.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Do not follow the ideas of others,

but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.

Your body and mind will become clear

and you will realize the unity of all things.

Dōgen Zenji

Phenomena XX: Belief


A Question of Relevance

I don’t worry about

whether or not

there exists

some omniscient


omnipotent being

who may or may not

be a creator

It’s a deal I made

back in the day

when I discovered folks

parsing people’s lives

as worthy

or not

If a god exists

why would it need


belief from me?

How arrogant

would I have to be

to assume

some god

cares about my life

enough to keep a ledger?

So I don’t.

That deal that I made

is that I will live my life

doing as much

as I can

that is right, fair and just

as far as I can tell

If a god exists

that is enough

If no god exists

it is still enough

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 20, 2008

Her name is Christine and she is not “retarded.”

There are perhaps 15 or 20 moments in anyone’s life that are memorably perfect.  This is about one of mine, which was made possible by a young woman I only knew for four weeks and whose name is Christine.

The college I was lucky enough to attend divided the academic year 4-1-4.  We took four courses in the fall, and exams before Christmas break.  After the holdays, we came back for four weeks for an intensive course in something in which we (and the professor who taught it) were really interested.  The alternative (which we encouraged to do at least one year) was to spend those four weeks doing volunteer work.  During my junior year, I traveled to South Texas to spend those four weeks volunteering at a state home for children and adults with significant to profound mental disabilities.

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Report: Iraq contracts have cost at least $85B

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer

8 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Military contracts in the Iraq theater have cost taxpayers at least $85 billion, and when it comes to providing security, they might not be any cheaper than using military personnel, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Congressional Budget Office report comes on the heels of increased scrutiny of contractors in the last year, some of whom have been investigated in connection with shooting deaths of Iraqis and the accidental electrocutions of U.S. troops.

The United States has relied more heavily on contractors in Iraq than in any other war to provide services ranging from food service to guarding diplomats. About 20 percent of funding for operations in Iraq has gone to contractors, the report said.

Currently, there are at least 190,000 contractors in Iraq, a ratio of about one contractor per U.S. service member, the report says.

Quote for Discussion: Southern Rock

Since I’ve been talking about the South with some of y’all tonight, I thought I’d share some of my favorites from the world of Southern Rock.

Bloody knuckles and a broken nose

oh, that’s why i never left home

i’ve fought in bars

and i’ve fought in the streets

four more years of fightin’

’til they’re done with me

leave it ’til tomorrow ’til you say good bye

aint in the mood to watch no one cry

tonight it’s whiskey, so buy another round

drink it up boys its my last night in town

momma i ain’t your only son

aint no favorites here, its just how its done

drink it up boys its my last night in town

its too late to turn back now, oh

in the mornin’ its the wide open road

take it far enough it’ll bring you back home

she said “i watched them carry you to the back

couldnt say good by to you like that”

I can only say, “I’m sorry i’s drunk”

so many times ’til it doesnt mean much

when i get home the first rounds on me

raise up that glass – good bye tennessee

momma I ain’t your only son

aint no favorites here, its just how its done

drink it up boys its my last night in town

its too late to turn back now, oh

I can only say, “I’m sorry i’s drunk”

so many times ’til it doesnt mean much

when i get home the first rounds on me

drink it up boys – good bye tennessee

Lucero, “Last Night in Town”

You want to grow up to paint houses like me, a trailer in my yard till you’re 23

You want to be old after 42 years, keep dropping the hammer and grinding the gears

Well, I used to go out in a Mustang, a 302 Mach One in green.

Me and your Mama made you in the back and I sold it to buy her a ring.

And I learned not to say much of nothing and I figured you already know

but in case you don’t or maybe forgot, I’ll lay it out real nice and slow

Don’t call what your wearing an outfit. Don’t ever say your car is broke.

Don’t worry about losing your accent, a Southern Man tells better jokes.

Have fun but stay clear of the needle. Call home on your sister’s birthday.

Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus, don’t give it away.

Six months in a St. Florian foundry, they call it Industrial Park.

Then hospital maintenance and Tech School just to memorize Frigidaire parts.

But I got to missing your Mama and I got to missing you too.

So I went back to painting for my old man and I guess that’s what I’ll always do

So don’t try to change who you are boy, and don’t try to be who you ain’t.

And don’t let me catch you in Kendale with a bucket of wealthy-man’s paint.

Don’t call what your wearing an outfit. Don’t ever say your car is broke.

Don’t sing with a fake British accent. Don’t act like your family’s a joke.

Have fun, but stay clear of the needle, call home on your sister’s birthday.

Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus, Don’t give it away.

Don’t give it away.

Drive-By Truckers, “Outfit”

Ride the blue wind high and free

she’ll lead you down through misery

leave you low, come time to go

alone and low as low can be

If I had a nickel I’d find a game

If I won a dollar I’d make it rain

If it rained an ocean I’d drink it dry

and lay me down dissatisfied

Legs to walk and thoughts to fly

eyes to laugh and lips to cry

a restless tongue to classify

all born to grow and grown to die

So tell my baby I said so long

tell my mother I did no wrong

tell my brother to watch his own

and tell my friends to mourn me none

I’m chained upon the face of time

feelin’ full of foolish rhyme

there ain’t no dark till something shines

I’m bound to leave this dark behind

Ride the blue wind high and free

she’ll lead you down through misery

leave you low, come time to go

alone and low as low can be

Townes Van Zandt, “Rex’s Blues”

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