Inflation, war, politics?

Chief Two Eagles was asked by a government official, “You have observed the white man for many years. You’ve seen his wars and his technological advances. You’ve seen his progress and the damage he’s done.” The Chief nodded in agreement. The official continued, “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?”

The Chief stared at the government official for over a minute and calmly replied, “When white man find land, Indians running it. No taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water; women did all the work, medicine man free. Indian men spend all day hunting and fishing; all night having sex.”

Then the Chief leaned back and smiled. “Only white men dumb enough to think he can improve system like that.”

AFP reports that the Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States.

Lakota flag of freedomWe are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,” said long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means….

The treaties have been “repeatedly violated in order to steal our culture, our land and our ability to maintain our way of life.”

A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old. The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free — provided residents renounce their US citizenship.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Cash on the cob

Cash from corn
The Economist reports on food price inflation and food diversion:

“Ethanol is the dominant reason for this year’s increase in grain prices. It accounts for the rise in the price of maize because the federal government has in practice waded into the market to mop up about one-third of America’s corn harvest. A big expansion of the ethanol program in 2005 explains why maize prices started rising in the first place.

“Ethanol accounts for some of the rise in the prices of other crops and foods too. Partly this is because maize is fed to animals, which are now more expensive to rear. Partly it is because America’s farmers, eager to take advantage of the biofuels bonanza, went all out to produce maize this year, planting it on land previously devoted to wheat and soyabeans.

“This year America’s maize harvest will be a jaw-dropping 335m tonnes, beating last year’s by more than a quarter. The increase has been achieved partly at the expense of other food crops.

In other words, the demands of America’s ethanol program alone account for over half the world’s unmet need for cereals.”

Is there one, count ’em, one successful government program recently? It seems too easy merely to think that cash for corn is profiting only the Whitehouse agribusiness cronies.

Got No Milk?
There’s also a global milk shortage and rapidly increasing prices. The Food and Agriculture Organization shows international dairy prices increased 46% in only six months, with milk powder prices increasing even faster.

“Oil is not the only product on the market for which record prices have to be paid. With the increased dairy demand in (primarily) Asia and the rising costs for animal feed, milk is also trading at record highs.

“In some countries the beer is more affordable than milk, ” says AllAboutFeed.

Malaria in Texas?

Mosquito control with a house for batsBefore DDT, malaria caused by mosquito bites was a serious problem along the Gulf states. Mosquitoes remain a very serious threat.

Today we rely only on an arsenal of biological and chemical suppression techniques – many of these increasingly ineffective, and costly.

Are there alternatives? Is there an industrial-scale green technology to control mosquitoes? Why not a Municipal Bat Roost?

In the center right of this 1914 photograph, Dr. Charles Campbell is posing on his innovative mosquito control for San Antonio, Texas, “Disguised with a church steeple complete with cross, the roost became a favorite bat habitat.”

To harvest guano, still a costly and highly valuable organic fertilizer, the roost was “fitted with a trapdoor and stilts to facilitate the harvesting of guano by the wagon load”.

Larger version at Shorpy via ecotality

Dope yo’ Momma

Overheard on the golf course:

“How did you earn your retirement?”
“I sued the drug company before they killed me.”

Too many medications are injuring people or can have serious side effects. Drugs to strengthen bones, for example, may cause serious problems or be entirely effective, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As boomers reach to save their health and consume the attention of medical services, the market for remedies and drugs is growing and growing.

And there’s an increasing use of anti-psychotics to manage intrusive or annoying members of the family as well. Doctors are continuing to prescribe drugs dangerous to seniors in spite of government warnings, says CBC News.

Millions are elderly are prescribed drugs without adequate restraint. “Along with overall quality of care provided to a nursing home resident, it’s of tremendous concern that federal programs are paying for prescription drugs that could be unnecessary or potentially harmful for people living in nursing homes,” Iowa’s Senator Grassley said.

To paraphrase a comment from the investigation, the Hippocratic Oath of first do no harm has been replaced with the Pfizer-cratic Oath of first prescribe.

Faith in bits

Google Blogoscoped: Google’s Vint Cerf Interviewed
“Humanity should understand the blessings of the internet. Our history shows: the more people go online, the more flat hierarchies are becoming. The more people join, the more free the world will be. Indeed I have almost religious faith in this.”

Watching as you shop |
“Big shops are using elaborate technology to monitor and influence the behaviour of their customers”

PsyBlog: Loudest Voice = Majority Opinion
“research reveals even if only one member of a group repeats their opinion, it is more likely to be seen by others as representative of the whole group. … Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt at all, it breeds attraction.”

Europe’s new renewable power grid

Solar power grid from Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy CorporationSustainable power and new green developments might become the most imaginative and largest projects in history.

Ecotality discusses a new power grid for Europe, Africa and the Middle East that proposes 1,000 renewable power plants for 100 billion watts of power. For comparison, Britain’s total electricity generating capacity is 12 billion watts.

More than a 100 steam concentrator solar power stations will each require 1,000 mirrors over a square kilometer. Many sites will include adjacent desalination plants to provide desert countries with fresh water. Many new hydro, biomass and geothermal power plants are also planned.

The project is being managed under the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Corporation that is admitting that its current rate projections are double what Europe now pays for power from coal.

Libya's sustainable development propsalAlong the southern coast of the Mediterranean, Libya is adding similar intercontinental-scale engineering with its plans for the world’s largest green project.

Restoring the ancient Greek city of Cyrene – taken by the Romans around 631 BC to begin their empire – is a focal point of the project. As well, Libya will install 136 miles of sustainable improvements along ‘one of the few remaining undeveloped coastlines in the world’.

Over 2,000 square miles will be developed, much irrigated by the nearly completed Great Man-Made River Project, which has held the record as the world’s largest engineering project for many years.

In a labyrinth of 1,000 miles of pipe – many 25ft. diameter concrete pipelines – the deep aquifers of north Sahara and of the Atlas Mountains are bringing unlimited irrigation and fresh water as far north as Tripoli. It was said that upon completion of the agricultural build-out, Libya could export up to one third of Europe’s daily demand for fresh produce!

Libya's Great Man-Made River Project

During the mid-1980s, I helped manage an export contract of over $250million large diameter iron pipe to be made in Arkansas for 450 miles of this project, but the sale was denied because of an economic embargo against Libya. Whether Cuba, Myanmar, North Korea, or recently, Venezuela, it’s always smart, sometimes a required duty, to request advice and authorization from OFAC, the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the US Department of the Treasury, before considering any activity with states that are not 100% friendly to the USA.

Our motive at the time was to keep the last public works iron pipe manufacturer in the USA from an inevitable bankruptcy. We knew that several larger US firms were working on behalf of Libya on the project, as well as several allies. The idea was conceived in the 1950s by Brown & Root – which moved its division to London to remove itself from the rules of the embargo.

After considerable lobbying, we found that President Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury James Baker was in favor of our entirely civilian export proposal, but Vice President George Bush was strongly against it.

It’s my opinion that, unlike his son’s willingness to invade, the senior George Bush sought to subvert economic activity in any radical state, oil-funded or otherwise, and that he maintains his belief that economic embargo are potent US foreign policy tools.

But using economic embargo has serious distractors too. Unlike the isolation caused during an embargo, over many years Europe has maintained relations with volatile states and finds it far easier to restore and develop normal relations.

How does Burma make money?

How does Burma make money?Move.On and Avaaz are hoping oppression and cruelty are not forgotten in Burma.

Total and Chevron, the giant international oil corporations, pump hundreds of millions of dollars every year into the the Burmese junta through their operations in Burma.

This money helps arm the brutal Burmese regime and maintain their oppressive rule.

As consumers we have both power and responsibility… [link]

Frozen in a fishpond

MindHacks noticed an insightful report on the high-tech medical efforts in today’s intensive care facilities.

After reading this, you will have a new appreciation of both the technology and the highly dedicated medical teams.

Consider a case report in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery of a three-year-old girl who fell into an icy fishpond in a small Austrian town in the Alps.

Standing on a frozen pondShe was lost beneath the surface for thirty minutes before her parents found her on the pond bottom and pulled her up.

Following instructions from an emergency physician on the phone, they began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A rescue team arrived eight minutes later.

The girl had a body temperature of sixty-six degrees, and no pulse. Her pupils were dilated and did not react to light, indicating that her brain was no longer working.

But the emergency technicians continued CPR anyway. A helicopter took her to a nearby hospital, where she was wheeled directly to an operating room. A surgical team put her on a heart-lung bypass machine. Between the transport time and the time it took to plug the inflow and outflow lines into the femoral vessels of her right leg, she had been lifeless for an hour and a half. By the two-hour mark, however, her body temperature had risen almost ten degrees, and her heart began to beat. It was her first organ to come back.

After six hours, her core temperature reached 98.6 degrees. The team tried to put her on a breathing machine, but the pond water had damaged her lungs too severely for oxygen to reach her blood. So they switched her to an artificial-lung system known as ECMO—extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The surgeons opened her chest down the middle with a power saw and sewed lines to and from the ECMO unit into her aorta and her beating heart. The team moved the girl into intensive care, with her chest still open and covered with plastic foil. A day later, her lungs had recovered sufficiently for the team to switch her from ECMO to a mechanical ventilator and close her chest.

Over the next two days, all her organs recovered except her brain. A CT scan showed global brain swelling, which is a sign of diffuse damage, but no actual dead zones. So the team drilled a hole into the girl’s skull, threaded in a probe to monitor her cerebral pressure, and kept that pressure tightly controlled by constantly adjusting her fluids and medications.

For more than a week, she lay comatose. Then, slowly, she came back to life.

First, her pupils started to react to light. Next, she began to breathe on her own. And, one day, she simply awoke. Two weeks after her accident, she went home. Her right leg and left arm were partially paralyzed. Her speech was thick and slurry.

But by age five, after extensive outpatient therapy, she had recovered her faculties completely. She was like any little girl again.

Certified Cruelty

The world’s psychiatrists have decided to have no part in tortuous interrogations.

Oath and rules and law and justice and culture and peace and tolerance and freedom and tactics and victory, even good leadership, is steering us to ‘do no harm’.

Unlike the American Psychological Association which endorses torture with rather vague limits.

Mitt Romney’s Omissions

Omerta is a code of silence practiced by the Mafia; a refusal to give evidence. Politicians are also protected by the code of omerta if corporate media is unwilling to convey details and omissions.

Mitt Romney told the nation that he believes there are appropriate questions about a candidate’s religion. He said, “And I will answer them today.” but promptly left the podium without taking any questions. Romney said nothing about Mormon doctrine except to pledge his beliefs will not affect his policy or decision making.

Here’s are a few points that Mitt Romney did not say are his beliefs as a Mormon.

  • God was once a man.
  • God has a body of flesh and bone.
  • God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.
  • Jesus was married.
  • Christ was conceived by God having sex with Mary.
  • Some men will have more than one wife.
  • Dark skin is a curse from God, the result of sin. [repealed 1978]
  • The Garden of Eden was in Missouri.
  • Christ will not return to earth in any year that has seen a rainbow.
  • The sun receives its light from the star Kolob.

For additional detail, Richard Packham has compiled a digest here. The Stayin’ Alive blog has a few mediating comments.

Lawrence O’Donnell at Huffington Post attracted 100s of comments pointing out that “Mormonism isn’t as flexible as Catholicism. It’s a hook, line and sinker deal. You buy it all–every word of the Book of Mormon and its supplement, the Book of Abraham–or you’re not a Mormon… if Romney were to admit to doubts and reservations, the Church of Latter Day Saints would be forced to say he is no longer a Mormon.”

Romney may be provided an unusual boost from the media. His investment firm has offered almost $20 billion to purchase Clear Channel.

Clear Channel owns more than 1,100 full-power AM, FM, and shortwave radio stations, twelve radio channels on XM Satellite Radio, and more than 30 television stations in the United States.

Premiere Radio Networks, which is the largest syndication company in the United States, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clear Channel and is home to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and many others. Sean Hannity recently signed a large multi-market contract with Clear Channel, as well. [via Dvorak]

Brawling with the Bible

As Huckabee’s ambitions expand, he’s hired Ed Rollins to manage his campaign.

Since 1995, Rollins campaigns are designed around religion. “The action is now with the religious conservatives. Give me a choice between someone offering to hold a fundraiser and a preacher with a churchful of 1,000 activists, and I’ll take the preacher anytime.”

Incidentally candidate Mike Huckabee told the Christian Broadcasting Network he had a theology degree, he told voters in Iowa he had a theology degree, he repeated the claim in last month’s CNN YouTube debate … but, his campaign now says, it was not true.

Huckabee's Ed RollinsEd Rollins is a pollster and political consultant who became known during the 1984 Ronald Reagan George Bush campaign and later as Campaign Manager of Ross Perot’s failed 1992 campaign. As well, Rollins managed the failed campaigns of Michael Huffington and Jack Kemp [link].

Rollins has also been paid by Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Many many times Rollins has been paid to talk on television.

While switching the Republican Party to the far right during the 1970s, Lyn Nofziger and Ronald Reagan found and tutored Ed Rollins. His top lift at the Whitehouse was Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Political and Governmental Affairs. His earlier steps were in the National Fire Academy and as Assistant to the Speaker of the California State Assembly.

Today, Rollins remains connected to the White House, perhaps to Karl Rove’s ‘Black Bag Unit’. But Rollins can bully his peers. Saying that BushCo has lost their touch, he told Lou Dobbs that the entire Bush administration is inept. “Every week it’s something that just reinforces the message that these guys don’t know what they’re doing. They’re incompetent.” Rollins is at best lukewarm about Bush’s deteriorating relations: “There are Republicans defecting from him now. He’s not going to have any great success on anything that’s controversial.”

The Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission are watching Ed Rollins as he maneuvers petitions that will rig California’s Electoral College to favor Republican candidates for president. [link]

Ed Rollins has been taken to court for breaking election law.

Rollins gathered votes by distributing ‘walking around’ money to inner cities and African-American pastors. Ministers who cooperated, Rollins said, received contributions to their “favorite charities.”

As a result, Rollins said, “I think, to a certain extent, we suppressed their vote.”

He defended himself declaring his tricks were “no more than part of a psychological warfare game.”

Advising her campaign, Ed Rollins repeated his conversation with Katherine Harris, infamous while defending Florida’s voting procedures, when she told him: “God wants me to be senator.” [link] While investigating Katherine Harris’ dealings with admitted briber Mitchell Wade, Justice Department lawyers and FBI agents spent considerable time investigating Ed Rollins as well. [link]

Ed Rollins works to select candidates. He recently warned Oklahoma’s governor to raise $200 million if he seriously wanted to be President. Who is the governor of Oklahoma? Why would Frank Keating seek the Presidency? They say if younger Bush hadn’t chosen Dick Cheney there would have been a Bush-Keating ticket. As if armed with Cheney’s rifle, Governor Keating at Oral Roberts University grinned and said “homicide” would be his best way to deal with an Oklahoma education union. [link]

Ed Rollins follows the money. While others were searching for Ferdinand Marcos’ illegally tranched $10 million in cash set aside for Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign, Rollins easily revealed it was stashed “in some offshore bank”.

Ed Rollins knows Washington. For example, he’s successfully informed Charlie Rose:

“The use of prostitutes and what`s occurred in Washington that I think everyone`s disgusted at, is we promised we were going to be different than the Democrats; we weren`t going to basically be beholden to K Street, we were going to be term limits and we weren`t going to be the big PACs and all the rest of it. That`s all gone by the boards, and if anything we may even be worse.

“In order to be a chairman of a committee today, you have to go raise millions and millions of dollars to be able to dole out. Not that there`s competitive races, but that`s part of the process. So we have — let me just finish — we have created a culture in which a whole bunch of people have taken a whole bunch of money….”

Ed Rollins is a self-described “bare knuckles” brawler. For Huckabee, Rollins said, “We are going to be full bore here.”

While Huckabee jokes about his lack of foreign policy experience, hiring ‘Bare Knuckles Rollins’ reflects Huckabee’s fighting global vision:

“My administration will recognize that the United States’ main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists.”

Ed Rollins said, “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising budget is big enough.” [link]

Yet Ed Rollins may not be entirely happy with his new contract, saying it’s “the only campaign I’ve been in with no doughnuts and no booze.”

When we vote for change

Electing Hillary, wise in a lifetime of politics no other can offer. Electing Obama, wise enough to give us truly a new world. Electing John, wise enough to finally conquer wealth. Electing Cindy Sheehan because today is not right.

“It’s OK to kill a million Iraqis, but at least my family is safe… No, that is not okay!

Stop electing fools

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today he plans to declare a fiscal emergency.

“His administration and lawmakers plan to make immediate mid-year spending cuts in state services.

“The Republican governor estimated the budget deficit at up to $14 billion.

California’s “gap between revenues and spending has become a perennial problem – one that Schwarzenegger vowed to solve when he became governor during an unprecedented recall election in 2003.”

A dog’s balls wait

Lucky Lord Barkeley, a Springer Spaniel and his tennis ballI re-ordered fifty used tennis balls for my dog’s Christmas present this year. But suppliers are out of stock!

Gee Whiz, I should have known that purchasing used tennis balls is a seasonal marketplace.

Now what about that? Maybe I should organize a container shipment from 5-Star Tennis Resorts in Tasmania. I can develop a wintry-niche conglomerate to sell toys to dogs from a tropical office.

But what I really want is to eliminate the ‘carborundum effect’ of tennis balls because these toys are bad for dogs.

Tennis balls damage teeth
Cloth wrappers over rubber tennis balls collect 143,775 grits of sharp sand each afternoon. Go ahead, count ’em. That’s 369 grits per bounce which results in a reduction of .007mm tpd (tooth per bounce), which is a 4.6% increase in annualized veterinary costs, and most importantly, there’s .0099% day by day decrease in the lifespan of man’s best friend.

Applying the provocative restraint of Oxford’s rules of orderly thought, I propose a

polymer-slickness gradient to reduce duped-canine-sickness by the timely engineering of low-cost dog-enabled tooth-ready exercise balls. Any alternative dog ball technology must be sold at no greater cost than any product governed by Murphy’s law.

Thank you.

My Springer says, “If I were President, I would ask for less students of technology and more students of love.”

Carrying the weight

The Iron Law of Institutions is:

The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself.

Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.

This is true for all human institutions, from elementary schools, within business, and throughout the divisions of government across the United States.

Adequate salary can reduce corruption

How will corruption be reduced when the official salary of a very top oil official in Nigeria is less than $25,000 a year? James Ibori, governor of one of Nigeria’s premier oil producing regions, has been arrested for corruption and money-laundering. How could it have been otherwise? Nigeria offers low wages, meager services and provides no pension to public officials. [story at BBC]

Caring to the bottom

Caregivers suffer “extraordinary” rates of depression and have the lowest level of wellbeing of any group in society.

Their dissatisfaction with all aspects of life is more pronounced than other groups such as the unemployed who live alone and people on very low incomes.

“This is truly sad stuff,” said Robert Cummins, of the school of psychology at Deakin University.

“We have been doing research in this area for more than six years … and I’m not aware of any group that has ever been found to have a wellbeing score as low as carers.”

Cells of happiness

Not from the deceitful pursuit of glory where hormones are illicitly used to enhance sports performance, blood doping might also build happiness.

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry introduces a potential new antidepressant agent erythropoietin (Epo), a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys that increases the amount of red blood cells.

Kamilla Miskowiak: “Although depression is often related to problems in the chemistry of the brain, recent evidence also suggests that there may be structural problems as well with nerve cells not being regenerated as fast as normal or suffering from toxic effects of stress and stress hormones.”

Be warned, though naturally occurring, Epo can be dangerous.

“The percentage of whole blood that is occupied by the red blood cells is referred to as, the hematocrit. A low hematocrit means dilute (thin) blood, and a high hematocrit mean concentrated (thick) blood. Above a certain hematocrit level whole blood can sludge and clog capillaries. If this happens in the brain it results in a stroke. In the heart, a heart attack. Unfortunately, this has happened to several elite athletes who have used EPO.”

It’s important to continue research to decrease depression which affects just over 3% of the population, similar to diabetes, asthma or arthritis, and is 12% of all disability. The number of people who cycle in and out of depression is five to 10 times greater.

It’s also been shown that feeling seriously blue is the most disabling of all chronic diseases.

Planting Green

Maybe the great totem speakers of the Coast Salish were thinking of something else, but this picture reminds me that sticking your tongue out is important. Children do it easily.

Unlike flicking the finger, our tongue says more….

Angry about clear cutting Canadian forests, I asked a school friend for leverage in order to find a job in the logging business. I wanted to learn. And infiltrate.

His father was an executive VP of MacMillan Bloedel [wiki]. Now merged into Weyerhouser, MacBlo was the largest logging firm in rainforests of western Canada [pic gallery]. In the early spring of 1963, I packed


A MacMillan Bloedel forester explains, “The reason we won’t do alternative forestry here is that we would be admitting that we know how.”