I Want to Save a Child's Sight!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Special Thanks to Xoff via Cagle.

The Year in Review: While You Were Sleeping

"IT was a year of apocalyptic events. Hurricanes and floods and earthquakes humbled us. Holy wars raged at home and abroad. Deep Throat was unmasked, but the hero of Watergate, Bob Woodward, re-emerged in a strange new guise, covering up White House secrets. Avian flu lurked. Brad dumped Jen, the girl next door, and took up with the enchantress Angelina. Amid such catastrophes, it was easy to miss news of more subtle significance. Here are just a few of the developments that may have slipped your notice in 2005:

A Blast From The Past:

"To find out whether human activities are changing the atmosphere, scientists took ice cores from ancient glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. Bubbles of air trapped in the ice provided a pristine sampling of the atmosphere going back 650,000 years. The study, published last month in the journal Science, found that the level of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases that can warm the planet, is now 27 percent higher than at any previous time. The level is even far higher now than it was in periods when the climate was much warmer and North America was largely tropical. Climatologists said the ice cores left no doubt that the burning of fossil fuels is altering the atmosphere in a substantial and unprecedented way."

The Day After Today:

"One of the more alarming possible consequences of global warming appears to be already under way. The rapid melting of the Arctic and Greenland ice caps, a new study finds, is causing freshwater to flood into the North Atlantic. That infusion of icy water appears to be deflecting the northward flow of the warming Gulf Stream, which moderates winter temperatures for Europe and the northeastern United States. The flow of the Gulf Stream has been reduced by 30 percent since 1957, the National Oceanography Center in Britain found. Perhaps you'll remember that in the film "The Day After Tomorrow," the collapse of the Gulf Stream produces a violent climate shift and a new ice age for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Climatologists don't foresee a future quite that catastrophic, but something worrisome, they say, is afoot."

The Spanish Flu Lives:

"This viral Frankenstein, perhaps the most deadly pathogen in human history, now lives on in quarantine. Many experts were alarmed when scientists published the flu's genetic blueprint; it would not be hard, they said, for a terrorist group or a madman to hire scientists to make the virus, quietly unleash it and kill more people than several nuclear weapons could."

Forbidden Vaccine:

"Every year, about 500,000 women throughout the world develop cervical cancer. In the United States alone, the disease kills about 3,700 women annually. This year, scientists developed a vaccine against human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that is the primary cause of cervical cancer. The vaccine produced 100 percent immunity in the 6,000 women who received it as part of a multinational trial. As soon as the vaccine is licensed, some health officials say, it should be administered to all girls at age 12. But the Family Research Council and other social conservative groups vowed to fight that plan, even though it could virtually eliminate cervical cancer. Vaccinating girls against a sexually transmitted disease, they say, would reduce their incentive to abstain from premarital sex." [NYT]

These and several other stories did not dominate the headlines this year. Why?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Drinking Liberally

From Scott:

"Wednesday is the last Drinking Liberally of 2005.Stop down at Club Garibaldi after 7pm while we toast to the end of this year, and look ahead with hope to 2006.Club G is located at 2501 S Superior St in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood. See you there."

Unfortunately, I won't be there...again! SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a wicked head cold from all of the Christmas cheer. I miss you guys!!! I'll see you in '06.

Halliburton Lobbies for Human Trafficking

"President Bush and Congress mandated a "zero tolerance" policy towards human trafficking years ago. So why hasn't the Defense Department adopted a similar policy for its contractors? The Pentagon drafted a proposal six months ago prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking, but five defense lobbying groups hindered the policy. The lobbyists who support human trafficking represent firms such as DynCorp International and the Halliburton subsidiary, K.B.R., both of which have been linked to trafficking-related concerns." [Source]

I guess all you have to do is come out with a strong stance and say that you have a "zero tolerance policy." You don't actually have to follow through with it. It just makes it so much more ironic that the firms lobbying for human trafficking are directly tied to VP Dick Cheney. Weird...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stinging Defeat

At least our side won this one...for now...

"A quarter-century long fight over the nation's most divisive environmental issue rages on after the Senate on Wednesday rejected opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling — even though that provision was included in a must-pass bill that funds U.S. troops overseas and hurricane victims."

"It was a stinging defeat for Sen. Ted Stevens R-Alaska, one of the Senate's most powerful members, who had hoped to garner more votes by forcing senators to choose between supporting the drilling measure, or risking the political fallout from voting against money for the troops and hurricane victims."

Instead, Stevens found himself a few votes shy of getting his wish. Republican leaders could not break a Democratic filibuster threat over the drilling issue, falling three votes short of the 60 votes need to advance the defense spending bill to a final vote. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., left the bill in limbo as he, Stevens and other GOP leaders gauged their next move. The measure was widely expected to be withdrawn and reworked without the refuge language, although Stevens warned he was ready to stay until New Year's if necessary to fight for the drilling, a cause he has pursued for 25 of his 37 years in the Senate." [Yahoo]

Senator Stevens' fondest wish is to destroy the pristine wilderness of his home state. All told, there are some 10 billion barrels in the ground under this wildlife sanctuary, enough to fuel US consumption for all of SIX MONTHS. The republican argument is that this oil would fuel domestic reserves and reduce foreign consumption. Ummm...yeah, for SIX MONTHS! Let's go and destroy a virtually untouched wildlife preserve so we can get some oil. Great idea!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

This Call May Be Monitored...

"On Oct. 17, 2002, the head of the National Security Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, made an eloquent plea to a joint House-Senate inquiry on intelligence for a sober national discussion about whether the line between liberty and security should be shifted after the 9/11 attacks, and if so, precisely how far. He reminded the lawmakers that the rules against his agency's spying on Americans, carefully written decades earlier, were based on protecting fundamental constitutional rights. If they were to be changed, General Hayden said, "We need to get it right. We have to find the right balance between protecting our security and protecting our liberty." General Hayden spoke of having a "national dialogue" and added: "What I really need you to do is talk to your constituents and find out where the American people want that line between security and liberty to be."

"General Hayden was right. The mass murders of 9/11 revealed deadly gaps in United States intelligence that needed to be closed. Most of those involved failure of performance, not legal barriers. Nevertheless, Americans expected some reasonable and carefully measured trade-offs between security and civil liberties. They trusted their elected leaders to follow long-established democratic and legal principles and to make any changes in the light of day. But President Bush had other ideas. He secretly and recklessly expanded the government's powers in dangerous and unnecessary ways that eroded civil liberties and may also have violated the law."

"President Bush defended the program yesterday, saying it was saving lives, hotly insisting that he was working within the Constitution and the law, and denouncing The Times for disclosing the program's existence. We don't know if he was right on the first count; this White House has cried wolf so many times on the urgency of national security threats that it has lost all credibility. But we have learned the hard way that Mr. Bush's team cannot be trusted to find the boundaries of the law, much less respect them." [NYT]

So, now we know, and Bush has admitted to breaking the law. I love though that instead of apologizing and admitting it was a wrongdoing, he criticizes the New York Times for breaking the story.

Where do we go from here? Where does this end? Does it die with another primetime news conference where we are told that "Staying the Course" is the only way on Iraq, and Bush lies some more? What is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back? Are people now going to realize that this administration is full of liars, thieves, and ill-suited political appointees (Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job!).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Reaction to President's Radio Address

“The President's shocking admission that he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens, without going to a court and in violation of the Constitution and laws passed by Congress, further demonstrates the urgent need for these protections. The President believes that he has the power to override the laws that Congress has passed. This is not how our democratic system of government works. The President does not get to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow. He is a president, not a king."

"United States Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) made the following statement today in response to the President’s weekly radio address. The statement is available as a radio actuality at the following number: 800-511-0763, Code 4945."

Friday, December 16, 2005


Led, by Senator Feingold, the forces of evil were turned back this time:

"Supporters of the broad anti-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act suffered a stinging defeat in the Senate today, falling well short of the 60 votes needed to bring the act to a final vote and leaving it in limbo for the moment. After an emotional debate about the balance between national security and personal liberties and the very character of the republic, the Senate voted, 52 to 47, to end debate and take a yes-or-no vote on the law itself." [NYT]

Senator Feingold had this to say:

"The bipartisan vote this morning to extend debate on the Patriot Act should be a strong signal to the White House that the American people believe that we can fight terrorism while protecting our freedoms. I am very proud to be part of a bipartisan coalition working together to strengthen protections for civil liberties in the Patriot Act. The demonstration of bipartisanship on the Senate floor over the last few days has been remarkable. The House should now pass the version of the Patriot Act that passed the Senate unanimously earlier this year, so that the President can immediately sign into law a reasonable bill that reauthorizes the Patriot Act while protecting our rights. It is unreasonable and irresponsible for the President and the Republican leadership to insist that this flawed conference report is the only way to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Today’s vote proves that this is not a partisan issue. This is an American issue and a constitutional issue. Now is the time to come together to give the government the tools it needs to fight terrorism and protect the rights and freedoms of innocent citizens. " [Feingold]

This comes on the heels of this revelation from the New York Times:

"Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials. Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications."

"The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted." [NYT]

So, basically, "Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night."

As Mike states: "The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches." [NYT]

But, why would this administration tell the truth, or be transparent about what they are doing to this country!?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Proxmire Passes Away

"Former Wisconsin Sen. William Proxmire, a political maverick who became Congress' leading scourge of big spending and government waste, has died, a congressional official said Thursday."

"Over the years, the rebel Democrat developed an image of penny-pinching populism that played well with his homestate voters. But his support of the expensive system of dairy price supports -- widely criticized by others as symbolic of government largess gone amuck -- won him strong backing from his state's dairy farmers."

"Proxmire, who also became a familiar face on the television network Sunday news shows, was elected to the Senate in 1957 in a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He was re-elected in 1958 to his first six-year term and was returned to the same post in 1964, 1970, 1976 and 1982." [Tribune]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Neocon Roundup

The below three articles are all from the NYT Op/Ed page, showing the Neocons and their priorities, not the priorities of real Americans. They would rather gerrymander states, destroy the environment, and protect drug companies from liabilities, than to allow competition, fund medicare and help the poor, or help those that have been injured by these drug companies.

Redistricting Tom Delay:

"The Supreme Court agreed this week to review Texas' 2003 Congressional redistricting, which added five Republicans to the state's delegation. The plan, engineered by the former House majority leader Tom DeLay, is rightly being challenged as partisan and discriminatory against minority voters. It is encouraging that the court has decided to step in. Mr. DeLay's 2003 redrawing of Texas' Congressional district lines threw aside the longstanding tradition that new lines are drawn only every 10 years, after the census. The purpose of this heavy-handed line-drawing was purely to increase the number of Republican districts. It worked. The number of Republicans in the delegation went to 21 from 16, helping to entrench Mr. DeLay as majority leader."

The Senator Who Cried Wolf:

"Strange things are afoot as Congress presses to end this year's woefully inadequate session by the weekend: coverage of impotence drugs has been restored in a Medicare budget proposal, while an emergency subsidy to help poor people pay their heating bills this winter is getting only anemic financing. But the biggest money issue being haggled over - the House and Senate dispute over cutting up to $50 billion in spending from assorted vital programs - is somehow tangled up in the Bush administration's insistence on drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The House has already rejected this perennial chestnut on the anti-environmental agenda, but Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican, is making tooth-and-claw vows to prevail in the final negotiations. He will be one of the chief bargainers on the final compromise, and he insists that he won't sign off on any deal that omits Alaskan drilling. So what if important issues are on the table - like proposed harmful cuts in food stamps for the poor?"

"They should keep in mind the senator's earlier melodramatic vow to resign from public office if pork money was rescinded for Alaska's notorious bridges to nowhere. An embarrassed Congress nevertheless scuttled the requirement to build the bridges. Alas, Senator Stevens remains at work."

The Stealth Liability Provision:

"Republicans are using the last days of this Congressional session to try to grant extraordinary liability protection to the drug companies that will make the vaccines and other medicines to combat a possible influenza pandemic. But they have been slow to mount a comparable effort to help the people who may be harmed by adverse side effects. Although liability protection is being portrayed as a vital step in carrying out the president's $7 billion flu pandemic plan, it serves a political purpose as well. The insulation against liability looks suspiciously like an effort to reward the drug companies, which help bankroll Republicans, and punish the trial lawyers, who help bankroll Democrats."

Annie Get Your Gun

Chalk another win up to the gun nuts:

"Republican leaders in the state Assembly worked into early this morning to amend a measure that would allow Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons and rounded up enough Democratic support to fuel an override of the expected veto from Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. The bill, SB 403, passed the Assembly at 3:10 a.m. on a 64 to 32 vote. In the marathon session that dragged on because of long breaks lawmakers took to strategize, the Assembly also voted 74 to 23 to end the automatic annual increase in the gas tax beginning in April 2007. Wisconsin’s gas tax is one of the highest in the nation, and current law would raise it to 30.7 cents per gallon next April and to 31.3 cents per gallon in spring 2007."

"The Assembly adjourned just before 4 a.m."

"Rep. Scott Gunderson (R-Waterford) said he thought the amendment, which passed 71 to 25, was enough to sway some Democrats into sticking with the majority in a veto override. Gunderson and other supporters say the bill will reduce crime and make Wisconsin safer. "It’s important for people to be able to protect themselves," Gunderson said. " [JSOnline]

Wonderful. Thank you democratic assembly members for joining with the republicans to pass this monstrosity. Sure, Doyle has promised to veto (thankfully), which would still require a 2/3 vote, which they think they may be able to override. I have absolutely no problem with people owning guns. The Constitution protects the right to bear arms. BUT NOT IN PUBLIC! Why do you need a gun? Do you hunt? Fine. Why do you need a handgun? WHY? I'd like a good reason. Is there a reason for people other than police and military to own a handgun? Is there? Please share this with me, because I'm not buying this "protect themselves" garbage.

If someone from the State Assembly could answer me: What are your legislative priorities? People are starving, living on the streets, or can't afford their heating bills to stay warm...Christmas is coming, and you vote to pass a bill that would allow people to carry weapons. We're so worried about another terrorist attack...what about those in our own nation? What about the police that are on the street. I don't want to see them getting shot at and killed because someone got pulled over in a random traffic stop. WHERE ARE THE PRIORITIES!?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Feingold on Iraqi Vote

“With only three days remaining until the Iraqis return to the polls to elect their national parliament, President Bush missed a critical opportunity today to signal U.S. support for an autonomous, independent, and self-sustaining Iraqi government by making clear that the U.S. military mission in Iraq is not permanent. Unfortunately he also indicated that even after this week’s election, he will continue down the same “stay the course” path. This is no strategy for success."

"As Iraqis elect their national parliament, the current massive U.S. military presence, without a clear strategy and flexible timetable to finish the military mission in Iraq, will continue to fuel a growing insurgency and will ultimately prevent the very political and economic progress Iraqis need to develop a true democracy. A flexible timetable for withdrawal will also allow the U.S. government to refocus its efforts on making our country safe and combating global terrorist networks – the true threat facing our country today.” [Feingold]

These comments follow Bush's speech today on Iraq. He estimates that over 30,000 Iraqis have been killed since our invasion in 2003. That's a low estimate Mr. President.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bush 'Flat Wrong' on Climate

"Delegates from around the world worked into the final hours of a U.N. climate conference to produce a plan for deeper cuts after 2012 in greenhouse-gas emissions, buoyed by a last-minute message of support from former U.S. President Bill Clinton."

"Clinton, in an applause-filled appearance at the Montreal meeting on Friday, said U.S. President George W. Bush was "flat wrong" to claim that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to fight global warming would damage the U.S. economy. But the ex-president urged the negotiators from more than 180 nations to find a way to "work with" the current U.S. administration."

"Throughout the two-week conference, the Bush administration repeatedly rejected Canadian and other efforts to draw it into future global talks on emission controls, just as in 2001 it renounced the existing Kyoto Protocol and its mandatory cuts." [CNN]

You know what is going to hurt the economy? When the earth really starts going to shit, and it's too late. We're at a critical point here, and we can go either way. Mr Bush: I urge you to shed your hatred for all things science and those that disagree with your fundamentalism, and listen to real scientists. We are headed for a real disaster if you don't pull your head out of your ass. How is that 180 nations from all parts of the globe can come together and work towards trying to turn this around, but you reject their findings and ideas at every turn? Former President Clinton got it right; we can fight global warming and prevent damage to the US and World economies. But you have to throw aside your distain for what you call "junk science," and open your eyes! Maybe we should be moving towards alternate energy sources, instead of killing the earth with oil, coal, and non-renewable resources.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Feingold: "Bush Doesn't Get It"

“The President does not understand that his Iraq policies are preventing us from succeeding in our larger campaign against global terrorists - Iraq is not the be-all and end-all of our country’s national security. The President also fails to understand the limited role the U.S. military should play in Iraq’s long-term political and economic reconstruction efforts. Our brave servicemen and women won a resounding victory in the initial military operation, and their task is largely over. Maintaining the current U.S. military presence, without a clear plan and timetable to finish the military mission in Iraq, isn’t a strategy for success in Iraq or for success in the fight against global terrorism."

"Rather than continuing with a media blitz that tries to repackage a “stay the course” strategy that isn’t working, the President and his administration should give the public a plan, with a timetable, to complete the military mission in Iraq. We need to get the focus back on the significant threats the United States faces that are currently being ignored or inadequately addressed.” [Source]

Bush's speech [CNN]

Bush just doesn't get it...he surrounds himself with and listens to the wrong people. Feingold is dead on; rather than continuing this media blitz of tours around the country, and visiting only "friendly areas," why not come up with a solution to PROTECT us, and get us out of this quagmire?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Commercialize Christmas...Or Else!

"Religious conservatives have a cause this holiday season: the commercialization of Christmas. They're for it. The American Family Association is leading a boycott of Target for not using the words "Merry Christmas" in its advertising. (Target denies it has an anti-Merry-Christmas policy.) The Catholic League boycotted Wal-Mart in part over the way its Web site treated searches for "Christmas." Bill O'Reilly, the Fox anchor who last year started a "Christmas Under Siege" campaign, has a chart on his Web site of stores that use the phrase "Happy Holidays," along with a poll that asks, "Will you shop at stores that do not say 'Merry Christmas'?"

"This campaign - which is being hyped on Fox and conservative talk radio - is an odd one. Christmas remains ubiquitous, and with its celebrators in control of the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and every state supreme court and legislature, it hardly lacks for powerful supporters. There is also something perverse, when Christians are being jailed for discussing the Bible in Saudi Arabia and slaughtered in Sudan, about spending so much energy on stores that sell "holiday trees.""

And this last NYT quote proves what a tool Fox News is.

"It does not, however, appear to be catching on with the public. That may be because most Americans do not recognize this commercialized, mean-spirited Christmas as their own. Of course, it's not even clear the campaign's leaders really believe in it. Just a few days ago, Fox News's online store was promoting its "Holiday Collection" for shoppers. Among the items offered to put under a "holiday tree" was "The O'Reilly Factor Holiday Ornament." After bloggers pointed this out, Fox changed the "holidays" to "Christmases."" [NYT]

One reader agrees with Falwell, Dobson, and their ilk:

"This holiday has always been widely acknowledged in America and been happily accepted by retailers and businesses, who have profited greatly as a result. Yet recent malicious attempts by various anti-Christian or so-called civil liberties groups are proposing Christmas as offensive, and want all mention of it removed. With pressure from these organizations, some businesses have given in to these demands and are now refusing to mention Christmas, and have replaced it with other titles and references to a seasonal holiday." [Tribune]

I've never heard ANYONE ever call for the banishment or ending of Christmas. I have to agree: this is a big, phony ruse created by religious conservatives like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson. Media Matters shows Fox News lies and spin on the topic. [MediaMatters]

Hat Tip to Folkbum, who brings us these gems: O'Reilly: Soros is Moneyman behind War on Christmas. Christmas Crusade.

Bottom Line: Stop worrying about this so-called "War on Christmas," and worry about those of us who are less fortunate. I mean, they can't afford to buy into the blatant commercialization of the holiday!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day - 12/01/05

On this day every year, we mark World AIDS Day to remember all of those that have been lost, the ones infected, and to prevent infection in everyone else. [WorldAIDSDay]

"Rage and remorse marked World AIDS Day in Africa on Thursday as the continent worst hit by the global crisis remembered millions of deaths in a pandemic that even new drug treatments are doing little to slow." [Yahoo]

"AIDS is outrunning us. The annual report of the United Nations' AIDS agency, released last week to mark World AIDS Day today, informs us that this year there will be 5 million new infections, a record, and more than 3.1 million deaths, another record. The most troubling aspect of the report by the agency, Unaids, is its grim evidence that many large countries are still closing their eyes to limited AIDS epidemics that will soon explode into the general population. India is providing numbers no one believes. Russia has the world's fastest-growing epidemic, fueled by intravenous drug abuse. Drug abuse also now accounts for half of China's AIDS cases, and it is spreading AIDS infections rapidly in Vietnam, Indonesia and Pakistan." [NYT]

I think this statement from the above article sums it up best: "The AIDS story this year is mostly one of failure: the failure of rich countries to give the promised money, the failure of poor nations to muster the political will. All around, it's a failure of leadership."

More: [CNN] [PersonalStories] [BBC] [Google]

I think nearly everyone in this day and age has some story or connection to HIV/AIDS. Here is what I wrote last year. We need to practice safer sex; not just abstinence, but correct methods of prevention. We need to give clean needles out for users, we need to distribute condoms to everyone possible, we need to work to advance science and society to accept the science needed to find cures.