June 12, 2005

from The Nation:
Majority/Minority
David Sirota

Toward the Majority. Democratic Representative Lynn Woolsey forced a Congressional vote on bipartisan legislation that would have asked George W. Bush to submit a plan to Congress explaining the outlines of an eventual exit strategy from Iraq. With polls showing that a majority of Americans now believe the war was not worth it, the move was designed to put lawmakers on record on the issue of bringing the troops home.

Permanent Minority. Seventy-nine Democrats--including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and minority whip Steny Hoyer--voted against Woolsey's legislation, helping to send it down to defeat and preventing it from being a key contrast point between Democrats and Republicans.

June 11, 2005

Check out this article, by Mark Danner, which appeared in the New York Review of Books on Thursday. It makes the Downing Street memo very clear.

The Secret Way to War

"What the Downing Street memo confirms for the first time is that President Bush had decided, no later than July 2002, to "remove Saddam, through military action," that war with Iraq was "inevitable"¸and that what remained was simply to establish and develop the modalities of justification; that is, to come up with a means of "justifying" the war and "fixing" the "intelligence and facts...around the policy." The great value of the discussion recounted in the memo, then, is to show, for the governments of both countries, a clear hierarchy of decision-making. By July 2002 at the latest, war had been decided on; the question at issue now was how to justify it¸how to "fix," as it were, what Blair will later call "the political context." Specifically, though by this point in July the President had decided to go to war, he had not yet decided to go to the United Nations and demand inspectors; indeed, as "C" points out, those on the National Security Council¸the senior security officials of the US government¸"had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusi-asm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record." This would later change, largely as a result of the political concerns of these very people gathered together at 10 Downing Street." more....

June 10, 2005

Almost nothing in the mainstream media about the Downing Street memo, which proves that invasion of Iraq wasnÔt the Ôlast resortÔ but BushÔs intent all along.

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Downing Street Memo A coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups announced a campaign today (May 25, 2005) to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The campaign focuses on evidence that recently emerged in a British memo containing minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials. more....

June 9, 2005

In Defense of Amnesty International
by Matthew Rothschild ╩

I'm sick of the attacks on Amnesty International, one of the noblest and most effective organizations in the world. ╩

For the last four decades, it has bravely exposed the most horrific acts of repressive governments across the globe. And it has successfully campaigned to free many political prisoners. ╩

For its work, day in and day out, it deserves our thanks. ╩

And I applaud it now for having the courage to blow the whistle on the Bush Administration. ╩

But the Bush Administration can't stand criticism. And so it is attacking the messenger, as it has in the past with Richard Clarke or Paul O'Neill. ╩

The Administration wheeled out its three biggest guns: Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush himself. more....

June 8, 2005

Tunnel Vision
by Tom Fox

"Iraqis always seem to have lots of guns in their houses." A U.S. Army colonel was making reference to how prevalent gun ownership is in Iraq. We were meeting with him in his office in the Green Zone. Draped across his high back chair was an ornate leather holster with his service revolver.

"Our young technician can barely keep up with the demand." The colonel described the work of a sergeant who is an expert in constructing artificial limbs. The colonel said proudly that no one in Iraq has the equipment or expertise that this young man has. Yet there did not seem to be an acknowledgement of why there is such a demand for artificial limbs in Iraq at this time. more....

June 7, 2005

The Mobility Myth
by Bob Herbert ╩

The war that nobody talks about - the overwhelmingly one-sided class war - is being waged all across America. Guess who's winning. ╩

A recent front-page article in The Los Angeles Times showed that teenagers are faring poorly in a tight job market because of the fierce competition they're getting from older workers and immigrants for entry-level positions. ╩

On the same day, in the business section, the paper reported that the chief executives at California's largest 100 companies took home a collective $1.1 billion in 2004, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the previous year. The paper contrasted that with the 2.9 percent raise that the average California worker saw last year. ╩

The gap between the rich and everybody else in this country is fast becoming an unbridgeable chasm. David Cay Johnston, in the latest installment of the New York Times series "Class Matters," wrote, "It's no secret that the gap between the rich and the poor has been growing, but the extent to which the richest are leaving everybody else behind is not widely known." ╩

Consider, for example, two separate eras in the lifetime of the baby-boom generation. For every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent of the population between 1950 and 1970, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162. That gap has since skyrocketed. For every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent between 1990 and 2002, Mr. Johnston wrote, each taxpayer in that top bracket brought in an extra $18,000. more....

June 6, 2005

In Steinbeck Country, We Said No to Closing the Libraries
by Anne Lamott

╩ IN SALINAS, Calif., word went out. This is how many tribal stories begin: Word goes out to the people of a community that there is a great danger or wrong being committed. This is how I first found out that Salinas was going to be the first city in America to close its libraries because of budget cuts.

Without getting into any mudslinging about whether or not our leaders are clueless, bullying, nonreading numbskulls, let me just say that when word went out that the city's three libraries were scheduled for closure -- the John Steinbeck, the Cesar Chavez, and the El Galiban --a whole lot of people rose up as one to say this does not work for us. more....

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No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003

Klezmatics

Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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Campus Bay

On April 28, 2005, More than 50 people representing many officials, community groups, and other concerned citizens gathered at the Campus Bay site to demand strict oversight of health and safety standards designed to protect the community during and after cleanup of these former industrial sites. Two months have gone by since the Richmond City Council asked the state to authorize the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) to take the lead on environmental cleanup for the entire Stauffer Chemical / Zeneca / Campus Bay (called Campus Bay in short) site. Meanwhile, DTSC does have oversight on a portion of the site and cleanup will continue before development plans are approved.

The main health concerns include:
That the soil is so toxic that future residents would be exposed in the long term with unknown health effects due to gases from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and direct exposure to toxic soils. They would almost certainly not be informed about the site history or any potential health threats. The developers idea of mitigation, by the way, includes fans inside the high rises to prevent buildup of VOCs where residents live (!!!!!).

Additional concerns:
Many organizations have additional concerns including the visual impact of the high rises on adjacent neighorhoods, visual impact on the coastal zone, proper clean up and restoration of the site in general and the marsh in particular which is critical habitat for many species including the endangered Clapper Rail etc.

A few additional Photos (Most of these photos are not edited or corrected in Photoshop).

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This site consists of original photographs and composites by Fletcher Oakes, unless otherwise credited.


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