Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thin Ice

Deja vu all over again! The husband's workplace just layed off 245 more people today. 1400 two weeks ago, and 600 a few months ago. The newspaper reported a $9.7 million dollar loss for the company this quarter. That's 2245 jobs lost. They say some of the 225 production workers MAY be called back to work in a few months, but there are no guarantees. Those that did not lose their jobs will face multiple, sporadic, weeklong production shutdowns.

In other news Exxon Mobile posted an $11.68 BILLION dollar profit, which just happens to be the largest quarterly profit ever earned by a U.S. company.

Royal Dutch Shell also reported second-quarter earnings today, posting 33% higher profit of $11.6 billion.

USA Today reports:

"Oil prices are set on the open market, not by the oil industry. But that hasn't stopped public protests, a series of congressional grillings for top oil executives, and a failed attempt by lawmakers to slap Big Oil with a windfall profits tax.

In the first three months of this year, ExxonMobil Corp., the world's biggest publicly traded oil company, shelled out $8.8 billion on stock buybacks alone."

Stock buybacks essentially manipulate the market, to drive the value of the stocks higher.

I guess I should not be surprised that Congress/Lawmakers have done nothing about the obvious big oil price gouging, and billions of profit, but it is clearly one major factor in our failing economy.

I wonder if a similar situation is what really did the dinosaurs in???

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No words needed...

This caption pretty much says it all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where have you been?

visited 24 states (48%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or determine the next president

This is a fun widget to pull up a map & see what places you have been both in the US & the World.
My Worldly travels are vastly limited 1.33 percent.
So if anyone can tell me a way to become rich & travel the world~ I'll start packing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Putting on Airs

NASA Photo of China's Air Pollution as seen from space.

When we had the Olympic Track & Field trials here for 10 days last month, the municipality worked with surrounding grass seed farmers, and made an arrangement that there would be no field burning during that time, so as to support the athletes, to provide good quality air to breathe. A fine idea-- but why just for this showcase event? Are we to assume the people who live here year round are not worthy of breathing clean air?
After grass seed farmers harvest the seed, they then torch the remaining grass to clean & clear it for the next harvest. We could have a beautiful, blue sky, clear, sunny day & all of the sudden huge billowing clouds of black smoke come pouring across the sky.
A similar scenario is about to happen in China for the Olympics as well. China has some of the worst pollution on the planet. They will be shutting down factories, limiting car use, and have additional factories further away on standby to shut down, if need be to address air quality issues.

The UK Guardian reports:
"As it gears up to host the 2008 Olympic Games Beijing has been awarded an unwelcome new accolade: the air pollution capital of the world.

Satellite data has revealed that the city is one of the worst environmental victims of China's spectacular economic growth, which has brought with it air pollution levels that are blamed for more than 400,000 premature deaths a year.

According to the European Space Agency, Beijing and its neighbouring north-east Chinese provinces have the planet's worst levels of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause fatal damage to the lungs.
A recently published study, conducted by the Chinese Academy on Environmental Planning, blamed air pollution for 411,000 premature deaths - mostly from lung and heart-related diseases - in 2003. It said that a third of China's urban residents were exposed to harmful levels of pollution. More than 100 million people live in cities, such as Beijing, where the air is considered "very dangerous".

The political implications are also becoming more apparent. Health concerns, particularly regarding cancer and birth defects thought to be caused by chemical factories, have been a major factor in a recent wave of protests. Conservation groups say acid rain falls on a third of China's territory and 70% of rivers and lakes are so full of toxins they can no longer be used for drinking water."

The Wall Street Journal has posted a Beijing Air Pollution Widget, put out by the China Ministry of Environmental Protection. The photos above are 4 days after the air pollution restrictions were implemented.

There is some question as to the interpretation of the API , or air pollution index.
For example today's index was listed as 113, or according to the Ministry, slightly polluted.

The air quality titles used by the widget (based on chinese labels) are misleading. Anything above an API of 50 should be called unhealthy, as it would be (for example) a violation of the maximum allowable daily concentrations. And even an API below 50 is not necessarily safe. For example, just to get down to usual NYC levels (not an especially clean city), it would have to read API= 20 or below.
Note also, that, as the Chinese API goes above 50, the equivalent pollution PM10 concentrations go up twice as fast, so API=75 is double the pollution at API-50!

Some athletes are using masks to avoid breathing in the foul air. One team has opted to stay out of Beijing- missing the Opening ceremonies, and will only go to Beijing for their events. Other athletes are being offered masks, some are unsure if they would wear a mask in competition. A dubious honor, China is about to surpass the world's biggest polluter-- the USA.

Friday, July 25, 2008


President Bush reports everything is just fine with the economy.

My husbands workplace has layed off 2000 people in the last 4 months.

My workplace layed off 300 people this week.

My son's workplace is shutting down entirely in the next two months 1,113 living wage jobs will go away.

Just fine??? Not exactly.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grandpa Mac

A truckload of good thoughts for Grandpa Mac. He's back in the hospital & we are waiting to hear about test results. We are hoping for the best, and holding him in the light. Grandpa recently took a trip to the West coast & we enjoyed the Redwood forests together.

Three Generations

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Give Peace a Chance

I love this photo. It represents all that is counter military. This has been on my mind lately, since there has been sabre rattling of presidential candidates. We all know McCain is a lost cause on the war front. He has totally bought into the war machine & is OK with war going on eternally.

But Obama is saying he *hopes* to get troops out of Iraq by 2010. Hopes? The Commander in Chief commands-- right? If the mission is to get out, it can be accomplished sooner than later. The talk of adding more troops in Afghanistan seems to me to be more of the same. It is reminiscent of the talk we hear from the Bush administration. The change I was hoping for does not involve further violence.

Tell me your thoughts on non-violence in the 21st Century.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shit Happens

In a fitting patriotic tribute, citizens of San Francisco wracked their brains to come up with a proper memorial to President George W. Bush.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
San Francisco voters will be asked to decide whether to name a city sewage plant in honor of President Bush, after a satiric measure qualified for the November ballot Thursday.
Backers of the measure, who for several months circulated a petition to place the measure on the ballot, turned in more than 12,000 signatures on July 7, said organizer Brian McConnell. The Department of Elections on Thursday informed those supporters, the self-proclaimed Presidential Memorial Commission, that they had enough valid signatures - a minimum of 7,168 registered San Francisco voters - to qualify for the November ballot.

McConnell, who came up with the idea over beers with friends, often donned an Uncle Sam outfit to drum up support for the petition. The all-volunteer group of signature gatherers often carried around an American flag and blasted patriotic music from a boom box to attract attention. He said the campaign to pass the measure will be an equally grassroots effort.

The measure, if passed, would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. McConnell said the intent is to remember the Bush administration and what the group sees as the president's mistakes, including the war in Iraq.

Some people aren't laughing, including the San Francisco Republican Party, which sees the measure as an embarrassment, even to this famously liberal city. Chairman Howard Epstein has vowed to fight the measure with all means available to him.
A White House spokeswoman, when asked about the measure, refused to comment."

There you have it, folks- sludge & all. I'm guessing the more people fight the measure, the more popular it will become. Who here thinks this is a great idea?

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Salute to an Honorable Soldier

The Oregonian reports:

"An Oregon soldier whose case has caused a stir in anti-war groups nationwide has been sentenced to six months in jail, a loss of pay, a reduction of rank and a bad-conduct discharge for being absent without leave.
Pfc. James Burmeister, who was born in Portland and raised in the Eugene area, received the sentence Wednesday from a military judge at a court martial held at Fort Knox, Ky. Burmeister agreed to plead guilty to the charge in exchange for an agreement by military prosecutors not to seek more serious charges.

Anti-war activists from filmmaker Michael Moore to groups such as Veterans for Peace have called publicly for Burmeister to be released, arguing that he did the honorable thing by refusing to carry out unethical orders.

But Army Capt. Christopher Cross, a military prosecutor, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that "soldiers considering going AWOL... must know there are consequences for abandoning their comrades."

Burmeister said he left the Army without permission because he had become disturbed by a tactic known as "small kill teams," in which soldiers would plant U.S. government equipment in parts of Iraq in the hopes that insurgents would come to claim it. Army snipers would then have an opportunity to shoot the Iraqis before they could make off with anything.

Burmeister said he complained to superior officers that the snipers couldn't know for sure whether the people they shot were actually insurgents, or presented any threat to U.S. forces.

Eventually, the soldier from Cheshire, Ore., was injured by a roadside bomb and sent to Germany to recuperate. While there, he left his unit and went to Canada, where he campaigned against the use of "small kill teams."

I caught an interview from Burmeister's Mother. She was quoted as saying the military failed to address the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder serving time in Iraq had caused him. His punishment was too harsh- but his plea deal gave him 6 months in jail, instead of 9 months. The family had a 10 minute post trial visit, then they recommended the family leave, so they did not have to witness their son in handcuffs & leg shackles. She said, "This is no way to treat a soldier".

To be honest, I would have done the same thing Burmeister did. I woud rather serve jail time, then have to live a life with the memories of the hell of the occupation. Make no mistake, military prison is no easy way out. But at least Burmeister was able to follow his moral compass, and refuse war. I hope he uses his time in jail to write his memoirs of the occupation. So much goes on there we don't know about.

While we are on the topic of mistreating soldiers.....

When Gina Gray took over as the public affairs director at Arlington National Cemetery about three months ago, she discovered that cemetery officials were attempting to impose new limits on media coverage of funerals of the Iraq war dead -- even after the fallen warriors' families granted permission for the coverage. She said that the new restrictions were wrong and that Army regulations didn't call for such limitations.

Six weeks after The Washington Post reported her efforts to restore media coverage of funerals, Gray was demoted. Twelve days ago, the Army fired her.

Click here to read the Washington Post article

In my humble opinion, the Military should honor the wishes of the families of the deceased. These soldiers fight for freedom and pay the ultimate sacrifice. They should be granted their freedom of choice in death. It is the very least the military could do.