I will be featuring photographs from Arnemland this week. Aboriginal people are considered to have lived in Australia for at least 60,000 years. European settlement only began in northern Australia in earnest less than 150 years ago. The rock art there is at least 20,000 years old. Visitors to Arnemland are required to be in possession of a permit or risk a fine of $1000.

July 29, 2006

Reality-based candidate
by Molly Ivins

Forget Hillary -- Bill Moyers for president

Dear desperate Democrats,
Here's what we do. We run Bill Moyers for president. I am serious as a stroke about this. It's simple, cheap and effective, and it will move the entire spectrum of political discussion in this country. Moyers is the only public figure who can take the entire discussion and shove it toward moral clarity just by being there.

The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy.

Bill Moyers has been grappling with how to fit moral issues to political issues ever since he left Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and went to work for Lyndon Johnson in the teeth of the Vietnam War. more...

July 28, 2006

Colbert: All Hail UN Secretary-General Bolton

The Bush administration has made many bold and audacious, if not completely mind blowing appointments since taking office - from choosing Paul Wolfowitz as the head of the World Bank to the appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN. However, Stephen Colbert one-ups them by suggesting that John Bolton should not only be the US ambassador to the UN, he should run the UN. See clip.

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Block Bolton's Re-nomination as U.N. Ambassador! Sign petition.

July 27, 2006

Willful Blindness
by Marjorie Cohn

On Friday morning, as I traveled north on Interstate 5, I passed two tractor-trailers heading south toward the 32nd Street Naval Station in downtown San Diego. Each vehicle carried about 10 unmarked bombs; each bomb was approximately 15 feet long. Two military helicopters hovered low above each tractor-trailer, providing overhead escort.

I wondered where these bombs were headed. They must have been in a big hurry because they usually ship their bombs more covertly.

Israel had just put out an S.O.S. to the United States government to rush over several more bombs. "The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration," according to the New York Times. Although always well-equipped with sophisticated US-made weapons, Israel was evidently running out of munitions to drop on the Lebanese people.

Washington loses no opportunity to scold Iran and Syria for providing weapons to Hezbollah.

Yet during the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, Israel received $10.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing - the Pentagon's biggest military aid program - and $6.3 billion in US arms deliveries. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign military assistance. more...

July 26, 2006

Could You Afford to be Poor?
by Barbara Ehrenreich

There are people, concentrated in the Hamptons and Beverly Hills, who still confuse poverty with the simple life. No cable TV, no altercations with the maid, no summer home maintenance issues – just the basics, like family, sunsets, and walks in the park. What they don‚t know is that it‚s expensive to be poor. In fact, you, the reader of middling income, could probably not afford it.

A new study from the Brookings Institute documents the „ghetto tax,š or higher cost of living in low-income urban neighborhoods. It comes at you from every direction, from food prices to auto insurance. more...

July 25, 2006

The DLC Won't Talk About Corporate Power
by Jonathon Tasini
Jonathan Tasini is running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in New York. For the past 25 years, Jonathan has been a union leader and organizer, a social activist, and a commentator and writer on work, labor and the economy.

The Democratic Leadership Council has, once again, shown why it cannot be trusted with the future of America‚s workers. It has rolled out yet another poll-tested, slogan-filled program/manifesto that is neither bold, visionary, and, more important, simply perpetuates a massive fraud on hard-working Americans.

Yesterday, the DLC unveiled „Saving the American Dream,š which claims to be a plan to save the middle-class.

And to deal with the economy we face today, what does the DLC propose as its key solution? College. Yes, apparently, the main reason Americans are struggling with anemic wage hikes, no pensions, dwindling health care coverage, record-high debt and poor, secure and decent-paying job opportunities is that we are too dumb. „College is the key to whether America will get ahead in a competitive world, and whether we can expand and strengthen the middle class here at home,š says the report authored by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Tom Carper and Gov. Tom Vilsack. „We propose a plan to produce one million more college graduates a year by 2015ųso that within a decade, more than half our young people will finish college with a degree.š

Let me be clear: there is nothing inherently wrong in going to college (I did it) nor in everyone learning more. But, to offer a vision for workers in America that effectively says, „you are too dumb to competeš and your salvation lies in getting smarter may be the best example of a faith-based initiative since it completely ignores what is happening in the real world workplace and the economy. more...

July 24, 2006

Soldiers' Words May Test PBS Language Rules     
By Elizabeth Jensen

The PBS documentarian Ken Burns has been working for six years on "The War," a soldier's-eye view of World War II, and those who have seen parts of the 14-plus hours say they are replete with salty language appropriate to discussions of the horrors of war.    

What viewers will see and hear when the series is broadcast in September 2007 is an open question.   

A new Public Broadcasting Service policy that went into effect immediately when it was issued on May 31 requires producers whose shows are broadcast before 10 p.m. to adhere to tough editing requirements when it comes to coarse language, to comply with tightened rulings on broadcast indecency by the Federal Communications Commission. more...   

July 23, 2006

U.S. Could Take Lessons from Mexican Voting Process
by Norman Stockwell  

Last Sunday's rally of up to 1.5 million Mexicans in the main square of the capital city is only the latest stage in a series of lessons in democracy that our neighbors to the south are teaching us here in the United States.

In Mexico, campaigning must cease several days before voting takes place; on election day and the day before, no alcohol can be sold (or used to buy votes); and election day itself is always held on a Sunday so people will be sure to have time off from work to get to the polls. A nationwide electoral law and system of voter IDs guarantees uniformity, and hand-marked paper ballots stuffed into clear boxes give the process a sense of "transparency" fast disappearing in our country.

And yet, in spite of these provisions, questions of fraud, inconsistency and inaccuracy plague the results of the July 2 election. The prize in this contest is the presidency of the world's largest Spanish speaking nation, and both front-runners have claimed victory. Felipe Calderon, of the incumbent National Action Party (PAN) claims a win by a mere 0.57 percent margin. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) says his exit poll numbers show a clear win, and wants a vote-by-vote recount to prove it. Sunday's rally is just one piece of a nationwide campaign in the streets and the courts to call for that recount.

Lopez Obrador has filed challenges to the vote counts in over 50,000 of Mexico's 130,000 polling places. He has extensive evidence to back up these claims videos of ballot boxes being stuffed by PAN operatives; testimonies from people who waited in line for hours only to find their polling station had run out of ballots; statistical analysis of returns and counting anomalies; and more. A difference of a mere two votes at each polling place nationwide would flip the victory to the PRD. more...
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