Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Gumbo

I guess I've been on holiday this month. Sorry to all you 5 readers I've got. Though I haven't posted anything in a while, I have started several posts and saved them without getting too far in depth with any subject, so instead of writing something I decided to post all the unfinished posts I have saved here.

Post Title: "It's because they're nothing but corporate tools, defending special interests"

Krugamn has been working hard lately writing some really interesting columns about social and fiscal responsibilty. In yesterday's column, he discusses the almighty Blue Dogs, you know the conservative Democratic group found in 1995 during the Clinton era, when defining yourself as a fiscal conservative and social liberal was cool. Except of course when it came to the right to affordable AIDS medication, gay rights, and critically needed social services to prevent places like Baltimore from becoming murder capitols of the country.

Anyways, it yesterday's column about the Blue Dogs, Krugram makes this little, unassuming statement: "It’s because they’re nothing but corporate tools, defending special interests".

Read the whole column here.

Post Title: Can you beat crazy?

Last year the video's of the Palin rally's scared the shit out of me. Remember that one where the woman who went off with craziness outside a rally? I don't anyone to experience those few minutes again, so watch this clip instead to jog your memory.

Post Title: Why is Florida So Fucked Up?

I've mentioned a couple times about the Constitution's 14th admenment and how it is preventing community citizens from determining the scope of the development of their own town. This is known as corporate personhood. Because of a contract with the federal and state government's corporations are able to sidestep citizen demands against how they run their business.

Business does not have a contract with the citizens of the town they work in but rather the state government which trumps local government. This is how factory farms are allowed to be built in small towns even when the town votes against having them there.

Amendment 4 is on the ballot in Florida for the next election. It is called Florida Hometown Democracy. It is a way for citizens to have the right to yea or nay to particular types of development, mostly big box stores (Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc).

I just read this article in The Jacksonville News by a campaign organizer trying to get Florida Hometown Democracy (Amendment 4 passed). It's pretty fucking clear. And goes into the details about why Florida entered the recession before any other state and why it will take the longest to recover. It doesn't talk directly to that issue, but if you compare his points to why this is happening Florida you can better understand why the housing bubble burst earlier, why the population dropped for the first time in 63 years, and why Florida will sit in the recession longer than other states.

Post Title: (The one I was just going to write and decided that my buritis hurts too much to concentrate) What should pro athletes and the chemical industry have in common?

Plexico Burress is going to jail and all he did was shoot himself in the thigh. My heart really goes out to this man. He shot himself in the thigh at a night club, is going to jail, and might not play football again. I've made so really stupid decisions in my day. The kind where I can't believe I'm actually still alive stupid. And I know that he basically just stumbled over his too big ego and is now paying the price (which I agree he should) but when I think about what must be going through his brain, I'm so embarrassed I have to stop thinking about it.

Anyways, so the Christian Monitor has a story about how athletes aren't getting any slack in the legal system these days. And it makes me think. Shouldn't we be doing the same thing to the chemical industry? How different is killing dogs in your backyard to knowingly releasing toxic chemicals into the air and water several feet away from an open school? Alec Baldwin wrote a great blog for Huffington Post the other day on Michael Vick. He compared his crimes to those of the food industry and asked the question why are so many people having a hard time giving Vick a second chance while they are eating chicken that came from factory farms?

"What Vick did is, obviously, senseless and reprehensible. But I believe Vick, as a wealthy and talented athletic superstar who performs his job out in the open before crowds of amped-up and highly opinionated fans, suffers an unfair disadvantage as compared to, say, the heads of a meatpacking plant or the directors of a medical research lab where animals are suffering the cruelest imaginable abuses behind walls and doors that remove them from our sight and, therefore, judgments."

We need new laws when it comes to where our schools are sited. We need a three strikes you're out rule. If you release emissions passed your permits three times near a school, you're out. You shut your doors and you go home. The schools that are next door, like Fork Marsh Elementary in West Virginia, to polluting facilities are in areas where most people can't see them. The children that go to that school are not rich or powerful and might never be, so they don't count. But if we knew about the real impacts of the pollution. If each parent received a letter home with the emissions data and the possible reproductive and neurological impacts, I bet the facility would have a lot harder time staying open.

There's my sunday gumbo.

Renee Claire

Friday, August 7, 2009

"keep your government hands off my Medicare"

I often speak to community members about the power of taking over EPA sponsored or public official meetings as a way to hold decision makers accountable for their stupid (in)actions. I encourage people to hold press conferences right before the meeting starts, prep kids to ask questions, wear protest shirts, stand up the entire meeting to make sure the decision maker understands that you are watching their every move. However this whole strategic freak out happening all over the country may steal a page from the EJ community organizing in theory, comparing elected officials whose policies you disagree with to Hitler isn't quite the same as standing up for democracy.

I don't have a tv, so I don't know what the mainstream coverage of these nutballs really looks like and I'm glad. I've seen some scenes online and it's terrifying. There were about 100 people at the library down the street from my mom's house the other day where they screamed to staffers that their rep was a coward for not showing up to the public meeting (where he was never scheduled to attend). I grocery shop with these assholes. It makes me scared for my personal safety at all times. I live in Petworth where four people have been shot and killed outside my apartment building over the past year. I'd rather take my chances in my neighborhood than the Publix that is a half a block from where that meeting happened. What if Publix is out of white zin the day of their Saturday pool party? Will they rearrange the wine bottles into the shape of Hitler in protest?

Bill Maher wrote an article for Huffington Post today that's really good. You should read it.

"Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words "Bush" and "knowledge."

"Until we admit there are things we don't know, we can't even start asking the questions to find out. Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can't stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: "My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying... It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" To which most Americans would respond: "Are you calling my mother a drunk?"

Krugman also wrote a pretty good column the other day.

"But while the organizers are as crass as they come, I haven’t seen any evidence that the people disrupting those town halls are Florida-style rent-a-mobs. For the most part, the protesters appear to be genuinely angry. The question is, what are they angry about?

There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.

Now, people who don’t know that Medicare is a government program probably aren’t reacting to what President Obama is actually proposing. They may believe some of the disinformation opponents of health care reform are spreading, like the claim that the Obama plan will lead to euthanasia for the elderly. (That particular claim is coming straight from House Republican leaders.) But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is."

There are all these studies being released about how toxic chemicals that are in our products and air and drinking water are increasing our weight, ADHD, and our inability to reason. I think these town hall meetings should be used as case studies for the need for chemical reform and the adoption of the precautionary principle. CDC, FDA, & EPA, are you paying attention this madness?

But on the other hand in chaos is opportunity. I understand that these outbursts are orchestrated by conservative organizations. They are the same people that interned at the Hertiage Foundations and Cato Institutes in the 90's. But I also understand that the fact that people are so emotional and angry about this issue and the other issues that we are facing right now, means that people are paying attention.

There is a lesson and there is opportunity in this moment. We need massive discussions and deep thought on how we live our lives and what we do to each other, whether its refusing to renegoiate outrageously high credit card APRs or deny that BPA is dangerous or make someone try a year of over the counter medication before paying for the medication that their last company was paying for and was working. And with health care and home loans and racial inequality and environmental injustice we need to get emotional and angry and pay attention. And maybe these crazytown people are helping us do that a little bit. Because we are all fucking pissed at the insurance companies and Pharma and to watch these violent idiots say that we aren't worth a system that works for us not against us, just makes us more fucking angry. Maybe even angry enough to do something about it.

I'm still in my twenties I'm allowed to be an optimist. And I really do feel that we can all learn how to be a better person by watching these mobs lose control.

Take care of yourself out there.

Renee Claire

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The City of Democracy and Opportunity

unless you're a child with elevated lead blood levels which might explain why you're really bad at school.

For those of you that know, DC not only has a violent crime wave (today is an all hands on deck day - don't you have those in your city?), city council corruption (yes, Marion Berry was re-elected), and is losing its public garden's (if you are latino that is) but it also has a lead in water problem. As in a HUGE lead in water problem, which has been under investigation by community groups for almost 10 years and why I receive almost monthly updates to how lead is not that problematic to your health informational brochures in my mailbox.

The Washington Post published an article today that talks about our beloved city's lead levels in children, as told by this opening paragraph: "More than twice as many D.C. children as previously reported by federal and local health officials had high levels of lead in their blood amid the city's drinking water crisis, according to congressional investigators, throwing into doubt assurances by those officials that the lead in tap water did not seriously harm city children."

And then continued with this beauty: "The subcommittee's investigators uncovered the higher figures by seeking the data directly from all D.C. labs that analyze local test results. After the lead problem became public in 2004, blood tests from thousands of city children taken in 2003 were inexplicably missing from D.C. government files."

A little plug for my own neighborhood CH: "Recent research at Children's National Medical Center indicates that children who lived in neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of lead in the water -- Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights and northern sections of Ward 4 -- were much more likely to have elevated lead in their bloodstream."

Strangely, an article was released this morning discussing the behavorial impacts of elevated lead levels in children: "A study of young children in India has found that higher blood lead levels are associated with a suite of behavioral and thinking problems that can alter attention, abstract thinking and appropriate behavior. This study is one of the first to pinpoint specific childhood behaviors and cognitive skills affected by lead exposure, most notably anxiety, social problems and overall executive function (planning, problem solving, behavior control)."

I'd like to know if there is any discussion between the DC police department, CDC, and Department of Education to discuss the corrlations between escalated violence, test scores and elevated blood levels. Somehow in a city where social workers are being fired, put in jail, whathaveyou because of the deaths of children in foster care, I really doubt anyone is looking that deeply at the social issues in this city.


Monday, August 3, 2009

to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means

Manipulation- For all it's negative connotations, it's a simple piece of being able to successfully function. And often deserves artistic respect.

'"Although Khamenei is very angry at Ahmadinejad ... they are in the same boat, so it was a superficial confrontation," she says. "They just want to mislead people ... and dissuade them from protesting."'

'The crack about Louisiana's reputation for corruption and backroom deals makes Carville laugh, too. "Yeah, I felt a little bit at home, to be honest with you," he quips.' Afghanistan elections are coming up. I'll make the gumbo!

'I am an American with the same rights as you have. If I want to see the actual birth certificate (not a certificate of live birth), then Mr. Obama should be man enough to show it to me'

'Mailers and ads appearing in newspapers across the state depict an empty grocery cart in the desert and warn that if BPA is banned, canned food and beverages might be vulnerable to spoilage or contamination. Food products, the ads say, could disappear from grocery store shelves even though "rigorous scientific reviews" conclude the products are safe'

'PVC is a synthetic material derived from natural resources (oil and salt) like many others used in our modern world, and is one of the most scientifically investigated substances on the planet. And investigations have consistently found that far from being the problem material that some NGOs have portrayed it to be, science indicates that it is not very different from other materials and indeed posseses some interesting natural advantages.'

'Scientific studies around the world have shown that waste-to-energy incineration plants are an environmentally safe option for disposing of solid waste when using available emission control technologies and high combustion temperatures. Because of their high energy content, plastics can help the entire waste mix burn hotter and more completely in a waste-to-energy incinerator.'

'The junta changed the nation's name, and changed the capitol's name from Rangoon to Yangon, when it seized control of the country.'

'Good thing environmentalists blocked building new nuclear sites. It's led to much continued reliance on coal and its byproducts over that period. And it will take some time for relief.'

'Liberal blogs are abuzz with stories today saying health insurers, D.C. lobbyists and opponents of health care reform are preparing to send people to town hall meetings at congressional districts this month to disrupt discussions on the issue'

'Skinny Jeans Dangers'

How was your weekend?