Let the Games Begin!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Thousands of years ago Caesar looked out on the Roman Circus as some of his loyal subjects set their pawns for battle, while others watched eagerly from their choice seats. So it is today in Iraq, as Citizens of the Empire vie for their leader's attention. Who rules a modern Empire today, and wields the power of a modern Caesar?

With a classic 'thumbs up' He bestowed his blessing on the victorious and sealed the fate of their opponents. A silent gesture, high above and far removed from the bloody floor of the arena, often determined the fate of entire nations. Spoils of War often went to the victor, and generous commissions to those blessed by Caesars hand. Who's fate will Caesar's fickle finger favor today?

Keep in mind that all serve at the pleasure of Caesar...

Iraq Seeking Help to Develop Oil
BBC This is not a video player, but if you click on this image, you will be redirected to the source page at BBC.
30 June 2008 11:08 UK

Iraq has begun the process of opening up its oil industry to foreign investment in an effort to boost output of the country's key income earner.

US and European firms will be asked to provide technical expertise to increase production by half a million barrels...more

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP are heavily favored by oracles, auguries and pundits of the realm. ( My money is on Exxon, given their popularity with the Senate )

Hold your horses Rob!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's one thing to make us feel guilty enough about our prosperity to crack open our wallets and donate to a noble cause such as feeding the hungry people around the world. And lobbying our Government to get tax-dollars for organizations that serve these noble purposes can be a good thing too. But when you call us thieves, I take offense and question your motives as well as your methods. Oxfam bio-fuel policy adviser Rob Bailey said this today in an article published by the BBC;

"Rich countries... are making climate change worse, not better, they are stealing crops and land away from food production, and they are destroying millions of livelihoods in the process."

Stealing crops? Just who does he think owns those crops, and the fields that they are grown in? As a Christian, I do feel obligated to respond to the needs of others as well as I am able, but who's calling who a thief? It sounds to me like Rob thinks one mans property should belong to another man regardless of how much blood, sweat, and tears the actual owner has invested.

I've been reading a lot lately about the food vs fuel controversy, and the Food Summit recently held in Rome. I've kept a short list of relevant articles, tagging them as they are published on my Google rss feed reader. If you've been following the story, I'm sure you are aware of several major Natural Disasters, and Wars that have Great Effect on the price of food and fuel.

I understand that a free market system can be cruel, and that much could be done to improve the way food is produced and distributed around the world. But from what I've read and heard, food production efficiency and the range of distribution has increased vastly over what it was a century ago, and in fact is better now than it has ever been.

I've tried hard to be unbiased, and to tag articles that represent differing viewpoints, opinions and agendas. But some of the ass-hats that attended stretch the envelope of credulity. Case in point;

Statements like the one above make my butt crave barbed wire! This guy isn't soliciting for donations, he's inciting riots in the very areas he claims to be so concerned about. Incendiary remarks like this serve no good purpose...that's just the way I feel.

Until now, I've held Oxfam in the highest regard, and I hope this one man doesn't speak for the entire organization.

U.S. May Free Up More Land for Corn Crops

Friday, June 20, 2008

New York Times
By David Streitfeld
Published: June 21, 2008

CHICAGO — Signs are growing that the government may allow farmers to plant crops on millions of acres of conservation land, while a chorus of voices is also pleading with Washington to cut requirements for ethanol production.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and one of Capitol Hill’s main voices on farm policy, on Friday urged the Agriculture Department to release tens of thousands of farmers from contracts under which they had promised to set aside huge tracts as natural habitat...more

Wallace's opinion;

This is extraordinary news, but I'm not really surprised. I've been following the crisis in the global food supply since I read Peter Casier's article 'The Global Food Crisis: A Perfect Storm'. Peter works for the UN, out of Rome and was one of the first bloggers to bring the issue to the world, preceding the World Food Summit recently convened in Rome. I made a list of related articles from around the blogo-sphere as they were published, and as the story developed I began to notice an obvious politicalization of the issue. I refer to that development as Political Hay ( As in; make hay, while the sun shines. By the way, these links are informative but I put them here primarily for corroboration ).

I knew hysteria had reached it's peak, when I read 'Obese blamed for the worlds ills' on the BBC Health page. Everybody and there brother was capitalizing on the tragic situation. From Africa to Iran, from Brazil to Burma, everybody except President Bush that is.

But now I see what a Lame Duck can do with a little patience. He can hand every corporate farm in the nation a fat bonus at the expense of land management, wet-land habitats, game reserves and the governments largest conservation program. These corporations have already been paid to leave the land fallow, and now those contracts may be waved. Do people understand that much of the corporate land that's been flooded is insured? That's two payoffs.

Now these corporations have a chance to plant a crop for a third payout from a highly ( and artificially ) inflated market.

Does anyone remember James Watt? He was Reagan's Secretary of the Interior that was forced to resign, after he did so much for so few. He made hay for Reagan's cronies, and it looks like Senator Charles E. Grassley, is trying to do the same for our current Republican President.

As for removing the requirement to plant a percentage dedicated to ethanol, what a crock. Do we really think that these corporate farms are going to pass up fourth payout at today's fuel prices?

p.s. I focused on corporate farms, because family farms receive only a fraction of the benefits, and have the least political clout. But just watch the news in the next few weeks, it will be mom and pop interviews that give a friendly face to the political hay making. What a crock

French Police Arrest Serial Garden Gnome Thief

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Few people are aware of the GGLF ( Garden Gnome Liberation Front ), and most of them speak French so fewer yet pay attention. But mark my words, justice will catch up to this shadowy threat to civilization! When I first read these headlines, I was sure the authorities were about to close in on these lawn terrorists. However, as I read on, I found that these heineous acts were most likely committed by one person ( no doubt a copy-cat ).

Not to fear, I'll keep the world posted on any progress in the battle against the GGLF.

Spiegel - Online - International

Police in Bretagne have arrested a 53-year-old man suspected of the thefts of 170 garden gnomes. However, it is proving difficult to return the gnomes to their real owners -- the thief painted them different colors, making identification tricky.

When garden gnomes go missing in France, most are tempted to blame the shadowy Garden Gnome Liberation Front. The group has been linked to the disappearance of dozens of miniature garden residents over the years.

Not this time, however. Some 170 gnomes and other ornaments have been stolen in the north-western region of Bretagne recently. And it appears to be the work of a serial garden gnome thief acting on his own...more

McDonald's pulls tomatoes from sandwiches

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mon Jun 9, 2008 12:59pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp said on Monday it has temporarily stopped serving sliced tomatoes on its sandwiches in the United States as health officials work to pinpoint the source of a salmonella outbreak.

"This is a precautionary measure only. McDonald's has not experienced any related issues to date," the company said in a statement...more

Related News;

Salmonella outbreak may dent bacon demand
05 Jun 2008

Food-borne outbreak should prompt reform: lawmaker
05 Jun 2008

U.S. probing Salmonella outbreak in 9 states
03 Jun 2008

Objectivity vs Sensitivity

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

For the last few months, I've been toying with the idea of on-line journalism. As I followed breaking news from around the world I read many stories about suffering and hardship. The NEWS is most often bad news, so how can a reporter maintain his professional objectivity, while witnessing horrible events like the flooding in Burma, or the earthquake in China where tens of thousands of people have died, and many more are still suffering?

On a local level, I'm facing what looks to be a dilemma.

Last week, a very close friend, and co-worker ( actually he's my supervisor, and neighbor ) pulled me aside and asked, "Would you come over to my house tonight, I need someone to talk to, something bad has happened." So Bob, his Mother, and I talked about the sudden death of his son. We talked all night.

Bob's major frustration was the seeming lack of concern for justice, and what seemed to be the will-ful ignorance of the police and press. As we talked, we three concluded that both parties needed to be prodded, forced if necessary to move on this man's request for information, justice, and closure. Hours of phone calls had the desired effect. The following is the first media report of the incident other than the simple traffic accident report.

Family: Why no charges: Officials have 'a lot of work' in accident that killed infant
By Adam Testa, The Southern
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 9:50 AM CDT

MURPHYSBORO - The death of an infant ejected from a car during a single-vehicle crash on Memorial Day has the paternal family questioning why no charges have been filed yet against the driver.

Seven-month-old Noe Agapito suffered fatal injuries when a vehicle driven by his mother, Yuridia Agapito, 26, of Carbondale lost control of her vehicle while driving westbound on Illinois 13 in Murphysboro, according to a press release from the Murphysboro Police Department last week.

Her vehicle skidded across the median into oncoming traffic and then overturned, police said. At some point during the rollover, Noe was ejected from the vehicle, and the press release noted he was not properly secured in a car seat. Noe died Thursday from injuries sustained in the accident.

Police Chief Jeff Bock said it "would be my belief" that Agapito does not have a valid driver's license. Kathy McCrary, Noe's paternal grandmother, said her family informed police that Agapito does not have proper credentials to live in the United States.

"I can't verify that this is true, but that's being looked into," Bock said.

While no official charges have been issued, Bock said everything had been prepared by Tuesday to send to State's Attorney Mike Wepsiec to ensure all appropriate charges are filed.

"There's a lot of work to be done," he said.

The loss of her grandson and the way the situation has been handled by all parties involved has left McCrary "frustrated and devastated," and her family members are not the only ones feeling sorrow.

"This blindsided everybody because the injuries did not seem that severe," Bock said, noting that neither police nor paramedics thought Noe's injuries were life-threatening.

Agapito and her passenger, 18-year-old Roberto Garcia, received minor injuries in the crash.

adam.testa@thesouthern.com / 351-5031

I may be a little too close to the story to be objective. I'm posting this here ( and cross posting to my other page ) for several reasons. First, these events have been on my mind a lot this last week, and I thought you all deserved an explanation for my perhaps odd attitude lately. But more important, I need feedback.

There are several issues involved, other than the natural grief, and suffering of the families. Did this article in the local paper raise any issues with you all? I would mention immigration as an issue. Cultural barriers, and culture shock is another. The story mentions the infant's grandmother, and that brings up family rights issues. And then there is deportation, and citizenship. Child safety, and child restraints...I could go on and on, but I wonder what my contacts think about this news article, as I've presented it.

Personally, I agree with Bob, and think someone should do some jail time. But that's the problem I started this post out with. I am very close, and emotionally involved with the story. Although my lack of objectivity won't stop me from pushing this local story as far as it will go, I just can't see how real journalists do it. Report tragedies without bias, and retain their humanity.

It seemed to me that the reporter did as well as he could, with the information available. But, I wonder if there would have ever been a story, if Bob hadn't pushed the issue.

Thanks for reading. If this post makes you all too uncomfortable to comment, I'll understand.


Bad Moon Rising

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'd like to share the sentiments of Frontra NorteSur, who wrote among other things in Newspaper Tree , her disappointment that CCR could not perform this song;

I see the bad moon rising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin.
I see bad times today.

Don’t go around tonight,
Well, it’s bound to take your life.
There’s a bad moon on the rise…

( lyrics from Credence Clearwater Revival ).

The full article gives in words an image of a city on the edge. A city on the border of two great nations, and on the brink of collapse under the weight of corruption, violence and fear .

Bad Moon Rising: The Crisis in Ciudad Juarez

By last weekend, what began as a public safety crisis earlier this year had evolved into a broader political-economic one as well. Stirred in with the narco war are rising street crime and kidnappings for ransom, all of which creates a generalized sense of insecurity. Talk is emerging of a “Nuevo Laredo Effect.”

Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed bills that provide funds for Mexico's war on drugs. Many are worried that the money will used to by the military to establish a puppet state at the expense of Mexican Sovereignty.

The 'trouble on the way' may be a counter-insurgency war provoked by U.S. corporations who see Mexico as a source of cheap labor. With the U.S. public attention focused on the War in Iraq, and the Presidential Election, many are uninformed about the efforts of SSP and North American Inland Ports Network.

The people of Juarez know full well the impact of money and power, they just don't understand how so many soldiers on the streets can fail to catch the bad guys, and protect the people.