Monthly Archives: May 2010

Haitian Farmers Refuse Monsanto’s Seeds and Instead Commit to Burning Them

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Food Freedom recently reported that Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, peasant farmer leader of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds. Monsanto’s seed donations were an unwelcomed gift to a country with vocal opposition to GMO seeds for fear they would ruin what little agriculture the country has left.
Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti and MPP leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste has vowed to burn them. According to Food Freedom,
The hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with thiram.[3] Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs).

Monsanto is trying to create the some addiction it created at home, abroad.
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The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them.

Monsanto’s seed donations were an unwelcomed gift to a country with vocal opposition to GMO seeds for fear they would ruin what little agriculture the country has left.

This is the beginning of an article at Go in and read the whole thing… especially if you’ve looked at other articles on how Monsanto is destroying the organic seed movement.

Quote of the Day – Colin Powell on Military Solution to Gulf Oil Problem

When asked what the military could do if brought in to manage the Gulf mess:

“What we would do in my time, we would assign it to one of our army commanders, a second army would go in on Hurricane Andrew and take charge of things. But whether that’s the right combination of assets now I’ll have to leave to others to decide.

First we have to figure out what do we need? Do we need people to clean the beaches or put out skimmers? We have lots of fishermen and others down there who are available who want the work and know the water a lot better than an army unit coming in, but whether it’s army, coast guard, local forces, it is time for a comprehensive total attack on this problem.”

-Colin Powell, former Secretary of State

Memorial Day

I hope your Memorial Day is a pleasant one, with picnics or parades or just a couple of extra hours to relax before returning to the grind.

As is usual for Memorial Day, I remember my Uncle Butch (Irving B. Tchakirides), Marine sergeant killed in Viet Nam on his fourth tour by “friendly fire” (a term I will never understand… how something can be friendly and kill at the same time). And I remember my Tabor days, marching in uniform through the cemeteries of Marion, Massachusetts, with our platoons, our band, and the members of the VFW.

Today I will do cleanup around the house, walk dogs and update this blog a couple of times. Then I’ll look through job listings for tomorrow.

I hope your day is good… or at least uneventful.

If you go back to LBJ, you’ll remember this ad’s source…

…but there is no A Bomb here… instead a destructive force that absolutely affects us folks in West Virginia and nearby states.

Sunday morning and I am getting more depressed…

OK. As we look at the alarming crisis that BP and the oil industry has brought us to, as we evaluate the amount of military spending we are pouring into the middle east for no evident return (and as we consistently apologize for killing innocent civilians with airborne missiles), as we observe politicians and lobbyists letting payoffs and focused fundraising deny the needs of voters in favor of the needs of corporations, as we see the Supreme Court gradually eliminate generations of civil rights achievements, we are getting more and more convinced that making a change in America… indeed in the whole world… is getting less and less possible.


Our air is polluted, as are our seas and lakes. Species we would like to preserve are becoming extinct, while species of new (to our shores) and dangerous insects are coming out in the changed environment to sting us with new diseases appearing in their wake. The climate… oh, the climate… it is getting warmer and, in some areas drier, and less beneficial to our agriculture. Our food sources might just disappear by the end of the century.

Yet it would seem that the public is more concerned with the price of SUV’s (which, of course, 95% of which are not used as off-road vehicles or for any sports/utility purpose whatever, and which pollute and use more fossil fuel than smaller, more efficient vehicles) than they are with the price that food, water and air will cost us in the very near future. Much of this is due to the prominence of advertising as the functioning basis of ALL of our media (and if you think public broadcasting avoids this, just start keeping track of all the donor companies that get noted with hardly subtle ads at the beginnings and end of programs … and guess how much influence these companies have on what is broadcast or reported.)

We listen to liars on television these days… like the corporate officer of BP telling us that this kind of crisis has never happened before less than a week after 60 Minutes publicly demonstrated that these crises happen all the time. We don’t want accountability debated… we need something done… something changed in how government and business work for people as opposed to profits.

So we will go our way into more organic gardening, and less automobile travel, and more working in our own local community, and less falling into trusting silence as those who are “leading” us become millionaires as we become the new poor.

If nothing changes, we most likely have ourselves to blame.

Gulf Oil Spill: 10 Horrifying Facts You Never Wanted To Know

This is from a piece by Beth Buczynski in Care2:

Here are 10 of the most horrifying facts about the Gulf oil spill. Read them and let their gravity weigh heavy on your hearts and minds. Let them motivate you to take action so our planet never experiences this kind of manmade disaster ever again.

1. New estimates show the undersea well has spilled between 17 and 39 million gallons. These estimates dwarf those of BP, who claimed the spill had only released 11 million gallons to date, and mean that the Gulf leak is far bigger than Exxon Valdez, making it the worst spill in American history.

2. The National Wildlife Federation reports that already more than 150 threatened or endangered sea turtles are dead. And 316 sea birds, mostly brown pelicans and northern gannets, have been found dead along the Gulf Coast as a result of the spreading oil.

3. The Minerals Management Service, directly under the supervision of the Interior Department failed to impose a full review of potential environmental impacts of the BP drilling operation because preliminary reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was “unlikely.”

4. The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released a report indicating that at one Gulf Coast office of MMS, agency officials attended sporting events on the dime of oil companies, stored porn on company computers, used cocaine and crystal meth, falsified inspection reports, and accepted “gifts” from “good friends in the oil industry.”

5. A significant amount of the oil slick is being drawn well to the south in the east-central Gulf of Mexico, meaning that it has been captured by the Loop Current. Oil in the loop is a hazard to the Florida Keys, (and entire East Coast) as well as areas of the west coast of Florida. Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico could also be at risk of exposure to the oil, which also could be drawn into the Gulf Stream through the Florida Straits, and perhaps northward to part of the Atlantic Seaboard.

6. As much as we’d like to forget it, the Gulf Coast is prime hurricane country, and if a storm blows in, the result could be devastating. The presence of oil could lead to a more powerful hurricane because crude accumulating at the surface could be raising the temperature of the surrounding water.

7. Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP, has been flying under the radar in the mainstream blame game. Because of past experience with Gulf Oil spills, Transocean decided to insure the Deepwater Horizon rig for about twice what it was worth. In a conference call to analysts earlier this month, Transocean reported making a $270 million profit from insurance payouts after the disaster.

8. Perhaps because it knows the possibility of remedying the situation is practically impossible, BP has made publicly available its laughable “Oil Spill Response Plan” which is, in fact, no plan at all. Besides mentioning the protection of Arctic wildlife (probably lifted directly from the Exxon Valdez plan), the plan does not include any disease-preventing measures, oceanic or meteorological data, and is comprised mostly of phone numbers and blank forms. Most importantly, it includes no directions for how to deal with another deep-water explosion in the future.

9. A large number of fishermen are becoming seriously ill – and many of them believe that the chemicals that BP is using in the Gulf are to blame. Local shrimpers in Louisiana are already predicting that it will be seven years before they can set to sea again.

10. Gambling websites are now placing odds on what species will be first to become extinct as a result of the oil belching from BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Whole article and links HERE.

Meaningless Quote of the Day?

“It is as enraging as it is heartbreaking, and we will not relent until this leak is contained, until the waters and shores are cleaned up, and until the people unjustly victimized by this manmade disaster are made whole.”

– President Barack Obama on the Failure of Top Kill, BP’s last effort at stopping the leak.

So what are they going to do now? And who is going to do it? And who really KNOWS what to do? Certainly not BP who has contributed more to the world’s pollution level than any other company.

Why Afghanistan is not worth the money the Pentagon is throwing into it…

This from Steve Clemons at The Washington Note:

The real GDP of Afghanistan is just about $14 billion.

And at current levels, the United States is spending nearly half the entire GDP of the nation in just 30 days — that’s right, half Afghanistan’s entire GDP!

This simply makes no sense. This is a huge misallocation of resources even if one believed that Afghanistan did represent a vital national security problem for the US. If one wanted to change the economic vector of the country, preferential trade and access to European, American, and Japanese markets would be one way to change the country’s course — though there would be politically consequential disruptions to firms and labor in the US that should receive impact support.

The costs would be trivial compared to what the Pentagon is demanding for a job that it is not designed for and in which it is not succeeding.

And I am getting so disappointed with Obama.

Dennis Hopper Dies at age 74

Cancer has taken Dennis Hopper today after a long fight.

Dennis Hopper was known primarily as an actor (Rebel Without A Cause, Easy Rider, Blue Velvet) and director, but he was also an accomplished photographer, not to mention a painter, sculptor and art collector.

He had been married 5 times and was known for an explosive temper. In the last years of his life he was broke and not working, although he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame two months ago.

This Memorial Day, why not send a contribution to Under The LobsterScope…and get a FREE FONT.

Donate at least $5.00 you get Bill’s Universal Symbols (worth $29.95) for FREE.

That’s it. $5.00 or more and I will send you this font (partial sample below) which is not available ANYWHERE ELSE.

Since 2004 I have been bringing you Under The LobsterScope totally free-of-charge and have avoided advertising or “blog begging” or any of the other methods of scavenging that blog writers are prone to. Unfortunately, this has had to change…just a little… to keep this information for progressives, liberals and others coming.

Even a small donation of $1 or $2 helps (although $5 helps a whole lot more.) The amount is up to you. We accept contributions through PayPal and the credit/debit cards shown below.

All contributors of $5.00 or more receive a copy of my Picture Font, Bill’s Universal Symbols (I send you the versions for both Macs and PCs, plus a handy keyboard chart). As I said, I regularly sell this font for $29.95.

This offer is for a very limited time.

I appreciate those of you who have come on board over the last few days and hope more will join in. And for those of you $5 Plus donors who received our last two Free Fonts, Bill’s Cast O’Characters and Bill’s Century Marks, you know what a good deal this is.

So please click on the “Donate” button below:

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For Memorial Day Weekend, here’s Obama’s Weekly Address:

Hope you all have a nice weekend…Bill.

If you want to know why Darrell Issa is making such a big poop over Joe Sestak…

Moe Holland has written a great comparison of these two men.

Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA, very annoying man) is calling for a special prosecutor, to investigate Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

Let’s examine these two men: GO HERE

Former child actor Gary Coleman dead from a brain hemorrhage at age 42.

Coleman died Today at 12:05 PM MDT (2:05 EDT).

Coleman, 42, was best known for his role as Arnold Jackson on “Diff’rent Strokes” where his tag line was “What you talkin’ about, Willis?”

Word got out that he was hospitalized Thursday and in critical condition. This morning they turned off life support.

He died at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah, and was in the company of his wife, Shannon Price, and her father.

Cartoon of the Week

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

No matter what Congress does, the pigs win. Time for a REAL CHANGE.

House votes to repeal military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy

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WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted 234 to 194 Thursday night to repeal the military’s 17-year-old policy that prohibits gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the nation’s armed forces.
The historic House vote followed the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to end former President Bill Clinton’s 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military but subjects them to expulsion if their sexual orientation becomes known.

Supporters of repealing the “Don’t Ask” say that 13,500 service personnel have been dismissed from the armed forces under the policy.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Navy veteran who opposes repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” solicited letters from the four military chiefs saying that changing the policy before the Pentagon finishes its review would send the wrong message to service members.
70 percent of Americans support allowing openly gay men and lesbians to serve in the military, while 25 percent oppose it…. says pollster Gallup.
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Senate could vote on it this week.

Quote of the Day (or the last 38 days if you will)

“My job is to get this fixed”

-Barack Obama

OK… Go to it.

Today’s most alarming story… History is changed!

And what is the story? 12,000 gallons a minute coming out of the oil leak? Mitch McConnell votes “No”?

Nope. Neither one of those,

The most alarming story… one that shows unexpected change in the Universe… came out of Hawaii.

Willie Nelson trimmed his hair and cut off the pigtails.

What is our world coming to?

Another Job Interview where I’m the first one at the gate…

I had a job interview this afternoon in Winchester, VA, which sounds like a long way from where I live, but it is only a pleasant 45 minute ride. The job looked good (full time) and the people were nice.

I drew my regular blank on remembering names of things (like the Mozilla Firefox browser I’m using right now to write this…who in hell remembers their browsers by name?) and all those 3 letter abbreviations that engineers and programmers are so fond of (ssl, csm, etc… for things I do or use but never have to name.

They gave me a good 45 minutes, however, and I really can’t complain… until the last statement. It’s the one I’ve gotten on every interview lately and I’m beginning to think it is the trigger for easy rejection: “We’re glad you came in, but you are the first and we have several others who we are interviewing before we can get back to you.”

At least three of my last interviews used that one… and, of course, I still haven’t heard from an of them. I don’t think I’m likely to.

But I could be surprised.

Take a look at “Wall Street’s Victory Lap” by Simon Johnson

I’ll give you a clip here, but click on the HuffPo URL below and read the whole thing.
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By now you have probably realized — correctly — that “financial reform” has turned into a victory lap for Wall Street.

When they saved the big banks, with massive unconditional support (both explicit and implicit) over a year ago, top administration officials promised they would be back later to fix the underlying problems. This they — and Congress — manifestly have failed to do.

Our banking structure remains unchanged, the rules will be tweaked at the margins, and the incentive and belief system that lies behind reckless risk-taking has only become more dangerous. (The back story, if you can still stomach it, is in 13 Bankers).

There is only one small chance for any sensible progress remaining — and you are about to see this crushed in conference by the supporters of unfettered big banks.

Senator Blanche Lincoln’s proposal with regard to derivatives has much to commend it. A fiduciary duty for swaps dealers vis-à-vis customers would be entirely appropriate — in fact long overdue.

  blog it

Quote For The Day – One of my favorite Congressmen sums it up.

“What George Orwell wrote about in 1984 has come true. What Eisenhower warned us about concerning the ‘military-industrial complex’ has come true. War is a permanent feature of our societal landscape, so much so that no one notices it anymore.”

– Alan Grayson (D – FL), as more money is demanded for the Pentagon.

…so he is proposing a new Bill called “The War Is Making You Poor Act”. Read about it in The Nation. See him introduce it in front of the House here:

Curious about what you, personally, are spending on the current Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

A piece from Moe’s Whatever Works blog on the near-Trillion bucks we are about to spend on the wars we are currently involved in took me to, a site which we should all check on a regular basis. And then tell everyone else about it so the great mass of taxpayers know what’s happening with the money that used to give them an American lifestyle.

For instance, I looked up what those of us who live in West Virginia will be paying for wars in 2010, and what we could have gotten for the money if we had a brain in our heads:

Taxpayers in West Virginia will pay $1.9 billion for Total Defense Spending in FY2010. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
604,603 People with Health Care for One Year OR
56,614 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
39,134 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
362,641 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
346,567 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR
27,218 Affordable Housing Units OR
879,476 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
292,229 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
38,711 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
1,690,691 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year

That gives the war spending figure a real value that we can ponder over, doesn’t it? I don’t think my Congressperson Shelley Moore Capito thinks about this. I don’t think my Senators, Rockefeller and Byrd are thinking about this. We are a small and poor state, and when I see what we are giving up in order to protect the world of commercial oil, it makes me want to vomit.

Perhaps, as I have often stated on this blog in a way which many have told me has the effect of beating my head against a wall, we should BRING THEM HOME NOW!

A Deal Reached to Kill “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?

OK…let’s see if this goes through. I think it is rather iffy myself.
Picked this up in the NY Times:
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WASHINGTON — President Obama, the Pentagon and leading lawmakers reached agreement Monday on legislative language and a time frame for repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, clearing the way for Congress to take up the measure as soon as this week.
It was not clear whether the deal had secured the votes necessary to pass the House and Senate, but the agreement removed the Pentagon’s objections to having Congress vote quickly on repealing the contentious 17-year-old policy, which bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the armed services.
House Democratic leaders were meeting Monday night and considering taking up the measure as soon as Thursday. But even if the measure passes, the policy cannot not change until after Dec. 1, when the Pentagon completes a review of its readiness to deal with the changes. Mr. Obama, his defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff would also be required to certify that repeal would not harm readiness.
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Martin Gardner, Annotator of the Snark, has died at age 95

As I have often pointed out to many people, if it were not for Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Snark, first published in 1962, Ed Roberts and I may never have written our Opera version of The Hunting of the Snark in the 70s… nor would we have been able to revive it this past season in Shepherdstown, WV.

Gardner was a Mathematician, Puzzle fanatic, and author of over 70 books (besides Snark, he was most famous for annotating Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.) He wrote fiction and poetry and was interested in so many things that it seemed almost unbelievable.

In the last update of The Annotated Snark, published a year ago, he mentioned Eddie and my production of the Opera originally at the Whitney Museum, presented by Berta Walker. I was so impressed to be mentioned in a book that I felt was so great.

Gardner died in an assisted living facility in Norman, Oklahoma, where his son John resides.

When you run against a War Hero, shouldn’t you learn a little more about War?

This is an interesting piece from Talking Points Memo which shows us how much candidates really know… in this case Ex Congressman J.D. Hayworth who is running in Arizona’s primary against John McCain for the Republican Senate Nomination:

While speaking last week to a local GOP organization in Phoenix, Hayworth was asked by an attendee about America’s failure to formally declare war in our modern conflicts. Hayworth defended the modern-day authorizations for the use of military force. “But I would also point out, that if we want to be sticklers, the war that Dwight Eisenhower led in Europe against the Third Reich was never declared by the United States Congress,” said Hayworth. “Recall, the Congress passed a war resolution against Japan. Germany declared war on us two days later. We never formally declared war on Hitler’s Germany, and yet we fought the war.”

Here’s the speech:

And here, of course, is the actual Declaration of War against Germany:

US Declaration of War against Germany

December 11, 1941
The President’s Message

To the Congress of the United States:

On the morning of Dec. 11 the Government of Germany, pursuing its course of world conquest, declared war against the United States. The long-known and the long-expected has thus taken place. The forces endeavoring to enslave the entire world now are moving toward this hemisphere. Never before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty and civilization. Delay invites great danger. Rapid and united effort by all of the peoples of the world who are determined to remain free will insure a world victory of the forces of justice and of righteousness over the forces of savagery and of barbarism. Italy also has declared war against the United States.

I therefore request the Congress to recognize a state of war between the United States and Germany, and between the United States and Italy.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The War Resolution

Declaring that a state of war exists between the Government of Germany and the government and the people of the United States and making provision to prosecute the same.

Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States

Some “Ashes To Ashes” Fun

I’ve been tooling around BBC sites to get a sense of how Season 3 of Ashes To Ashes went (especially since we’re still getting Season 2 here in the USA)… it just ended in England the other night and from what I’ve read on line it is a strange end to the series which involves leftover info from Life On Mars (my favorite and this series’ 16 episode preface) and a resounding summation of the whole future for dead cops.

Anyway, BBC One has blacked out the episode videos for us over here, thinking we won’t watch it on BBC America when they decide to put it on. Damn fools, those Limeys.

Anyway, I found this promo that you 80s Rock Fans will get a kick out of… with Alex, Gene, Ray and Chris, too.