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Undernews For April 21, 2008

Undernews For April 21, 2008

Washington's Most Unofficial Source
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Editor: Sam Smith


Management cannot solve problems. Nor can it stir creativity of any sort. It can only manage what it is given. If asked to do more, it will deform whatever is put into its hands. - John Ralston Saul

Sam Smith

Watching Clinton and Obama debate the other evening, I recalled a video I had seen in the 1990s of DC City Council chair John Wilson speaking to a class of University of DC students - some slouching, some with hats precisely askew, some adjusting their carefully contrived facial expression - and telling them that attitude wouldn't take them far in life. Wilson knew; the one time civil rights activist had made it far and it had taken a lot more than attitude.

I wish that Clinton and Obama had heard him because both candidates have constructed campaigns that are extraordinarily egocentric, overburdened with image manipulation and devoid of that arcane element known as issues that one used to find in campaigns. Of course, they are not the first to practice this sort of politics; it was, after all, Senator Clinton's husband who convinced her party that it didn't need to believe in anything.

Certainly Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos didn't help matters with their churlish questions. But, among the media, it wasn't only their fault. A few days later Teresa Wiltz raised the level of the campaign with this analysis on the front page of the Washington Post's Style section:

"There's Barack Obama, fresh from Wednesday's debate dust-up, beleaguered but still standing, acknowledging that he's taken some hits from his opponent, some mighty hits, but you know, it's okay, because that's politics. Ultimately, you've got to . . . And then he -- pay attention now -- brushes the dirt off his shoulders. Repeatedly. The crowd leaps to its feet, applauding and laughing. Talk about a major Jay-Z move. People, we're talking about a seminal moment in the campaign, the merging of politics and pop culture: in which a presidential candidate -- a self-confessed hip-hop head and Jay-Z fan -- references a rap hit and a dance move."

Consider the Gibson-Stephanopoulos knife jabs. If Obama had a serious plan to deal with the economic crisis, the environment or public education, even a lazy television head might have picked one of those topics. But what sort of question can you ask Obama? You ask him about anything serious and you'll soon be choking on the abstractions and the babble about hope and change. So it's too inviting to turn to malicious trivia. And if you're a journalist stuck for a lead, you happily make the major Jay-Z move.

Both Obama and Clinton have made themselves the only issue that matters and both are paying the price of it - with more of the cost yet to come.

In one case, the plan falters on the fact that a guy who was an unknown state senator only four years ago has, through the magic of cliches and public relations, transformed himself into an appealing mythical metaphor of multiculturalism. And as he put himself in The Audacity of Hope, "I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." Since writing that book the screen had remained remarkably vacant, demonstrating at least the audacity of Obama's own hope.

In Clinton's case, we have the myth of her 35 years of experience, largely undefined except for length, although it is likely that the GOP will fill in more of the gaps during the general election should she pull off the nomination.

While Bill Clinton got away with treating national policy as one long television commercial, it is worth remembering that he initially snuck in thanks to Ross Perot. Further, as a con artist, he is far more skilled than either his wife or Obama.

The Republicans, on the other hand, can put up a candidate as intrinsically weak as John McCain and still have him run neck and neck with either of the two Democrats, despite each having extraordinarily passionate constituencies.

The difference is that the GOP believes in something that transcends whoever is running for office. For nearly three decades, in fact, Republican mythology has so dominated political discussion that the media and the public accept much of it as the norm, witness in the war on terror and the limitless virtues of capitalism.

The fact that the GOP is wrong, heartless, stupid and mean about much of this merely adds power to the argument that it helps to believe in something.

Ever since Bill Clinton dismantled the Democratic belief system, his party has virtually forgotten what it thinks. It has no comprehensible plan for the economy, the environment, the Iraqi war, cities, education or who's coming for dinner. It has become just another House of Pancake Makeup, presenting what it believes will look good on television.

But if it is enough that Clinton is the icon of feminism and Obama the image of a new, younger, hipper America, why aren't they doing better?

Obama gave part of the answer, unintentionally, with his bitter analysis of small town America. Like any good postmodernist he could deconstruct the problem; he just couldn't reconstruct an alternative. And so he reduced the people he was meant to be helping to just so many more subtexts.

If the Democrats really want to win this election they have to come up with better reasons than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And they need the Obamas and the Clintons of the party to be able to express these reasons in a passionate, convincing manner that will appeal to voters. Among the useful side effects of this: who ate dinner with Obama ten years ago becomes far less interesting.

It shouldn't be that hard to argue that collapsing pension plans are more important than a few married gays in the neighborhood. Or that poor healthcare kills more people than abortion. Or that retrofitting America so our children won't have to live in an ecological desert isn't a bad idea.

But until people in the party's high places come to believe in something, the Democrats will continue to wallow their apathy over issues and wonder why the GOP does so well. And their perfect candidates will continue to lose and they will continue to wake up the day after the election mumbling, "It isn't fair"

FDR's campaign manager, Jim Farley, would sometimes tell unhappy members of his party: "Just remember, behind a Democratic candidate, no matter how bad, are other Democrats. But behind a Republican candidate, no matter how good, are other Republicans."

It was a good line because in those days everyone knew what a Democrat stood for. Today, nobody does.



MICHAEL MCCARTHY, INDEPENDENT, UK Many of the birds that migrate to Britain and Europe from Africa every spring, from the willow warbler to the cuckoo, are undergoing alarming declines, new research shows. The falls in numbers are so sharp and widespread that ornithologists are waking up to a major new environmental problem - the possibility that the whole system of bird migration between Africa and Europe is running into trouble. It is estimated that, each spring, 16 million birds of nearly 50 species pour into Britain to breed from their African winter quarters, and as many as five billion into Europe as a whole, before returning south in the autumn. Many are songbirds weighing next to nothing, and their journeys of thousands of miles, including crossing the Sahara desert each way, have long been recognized as one of the world's most magnificent natural phenomena on the scale of the Gulf Stream or the Indian monsoon. But now their numbers are tumbling precipitately. . .

Across Britain, many people who used to look forward each year to hearing the first cuckoo - just about now, in the third week of April - no longer have the chance to do so. If fewer and fewer birds are returning to their breeding grounds, the inevitable consequence is that their populations will shrink ever more rapidly, ultimately, towards extinction. That may still be a long way off for the global populations of many migrants, but in Britain, several species are heading towards disappearance.

This worrying prospect is outlined in the first full statistical account put together by experts seeking to understand what is happening and why. Figures in an unpublished survey produced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds paints a startling picture of plunging populations. Of the 36 British-African migrant species for which there is long-term population data (going back to 1967), 21 have declined significantly.

These include the two species which have become extinct in Britain in the same period - the red-backed shrike and the wryneck, the only migratory woodpecker - and another 11 which have suffered declines of more than 50 per cent.


GREG PALAST, TOM PAINE While you Democrats are pounding each other to a pulp in Pennsylvania, the President has snuck back down to New Orleans for a meeting of the NAFTA Three: the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico. . .

The agenda-makers, the guys who called the meeting, must remain as far out of camera range as possible: The North American Competitiveness Council. Never heard of The Council? Well, maybe you’ve heard of the counselors: the chief executives of Wal-Mart, Chevron Oil, Lockheed-Martin and 27 other multinational masters of the corporate universe.

And why did the landlords of our continent order our presidents to a three-nation pajama party? Their term is "harmonization." . . . Harmonization means making rules and regulations the same in all three countries. Or, more specifically, watering down rules - on health, safety, labor rights, oil drilling, polluting and so on - in other words, any regulations that get between The Council members and their profits.

Take for example, pesticides. Wal-Mart and agri-business don’t want to reduce the legal amount of poison allowed in what you eat. Solution: "harmonize" US and Canadian pesticide standards to Mexico’s. . .

The three chiefs of state will meet privately with the thirty corporate chiefs where they are also expected to legally erase more of our borders, to expand the "NAFTA highway." Technically, the NAFTA highway is a set of legal rules governing transcontinental shipment. . .

As trade expert Maud Barlow explained to me, the new "NAFTA highway" will allow Chinese stuff dumped into Mexico to be hauled northward as duty-free "Mexican" products. That’s one of the quiet agendas of this "Summit for Security and Prosperity," the official Orwellian name for this meet. . .

Barlow said that the US Ambassador to Canada told her the legal changes wrought in New Orleans will not be put before the three national Congresses for a vote. "We don’t want to open up another NAFTA." So, they’ll skip the voting stuff. Democracy is so, like, 20th Century.

TORONTO STAR Canadians overwhelmingly sent a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ease up on integration with U.S. policy and protect the country's water, energy and public regulations, according to the results of a recent poll. The poll comes as Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon prepare for next week's leaders' summit in New Orleans on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

To be released today by the Council of Canadians, the poll was conducted April 7 to 10 by Environics and obtained by the Toronto Star. The council opposes the secrecy surrounding the high-level talks.

In fact, probably the best way for Canadians to learn about what's on the table in negotiations - which cover everything from greater energy integration to harmonization of health and product regulations - is to research U.S. government websites. "It's been four years since the launch of the SPP and while corporations have been given a seat at the negotiating table, the Canadian government has never asked the public how they feel about it," said council chair Maude Barlow. . .

87 per cent agree Canada should set its own independent environmental, health and safety standards, "even if it might reduce cross-border trade opportunities with the United States." Council researcher Stuart Trew said the product-safety legislation introduced last week by the Harper government includes SPP goals for harmonization by allowing greater corporate oversight of products.

86 per cent agree the SPP should be debated in the House of Commons and submitted to a parliamentary vote.

In its analysis of the results, the Council of Canadians criticized Harper and his counterparts for allowing a select group of corporate leaders in the North American Competitiveness Council to have "VIP access to annual trilateral summits like the one taking place April 21-22 in New Orleans."


ALJAZEERA - Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has called for Hamas to be included in peace negotiations, saying they are willing to "live as a neighbor next door in peace" with Israel if Palestinians approve a deal. Carter said on Monday that Hamas leaders told him they would accept a negotiated peace agreement, if voted for by the Palestinian people. "They said they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if approved by Palestinians . . . even though Hamas might disagree with some terms of the agreement," Carter said.

Carter, who has angered Israel by meeting Hamas, also said the peace efforts had "regressed" since a US-hosted conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November. . . "The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved.". . .

Speaking to Al Jazeera after the news conference, Carter reiterated that he believed Hamas would accept the existence of Israel if the Palestinian population voted to accept it. . .

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from Gaza, said that Hamas' willingness to continue to secure a peace deal, implicitly reflects the group's recognition of the state of Israel. "This effectively pulls the rug from under Israel, as they have constantly maintained that the reason they will continue isolating Hamas is because they will no recognize their state. The ball is now in Israel's court."


POLITICS 1 John McCain's National Finance Co-Chairman played a key role in the recent downfall of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (D). Reliable sources informed Politics1 that DC super-lobbyist Wayne Berman -- a longtime confidant of insurance executive Maurice Hank Greenberg -- authorized a private Investigation that discovered the links between Spitzer and a Florida escort service ring. Operating under the alias code-name "Wallace C. Bernheim," Berman directed an 18-month effort that cost en estimated $2.2 million. The investigation was allegedly paid for by a highly-secretive shadow committee Berman directed, informally nicknamed "The Group." Sources tell Politics1 that The Group included Greenberg, Home Depot founder Ken Langone and former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Ken Grasso -- all high-profile targets of Spitzer when he was Attorney General. Key players in funding the anti-Spitzer effort also included wealthy New Jersey businessman Joseph Jingoli and Florida sugar mogul Pepe Fanjul Jr. Berman also retained veteran Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone to transmit the information to the FBI five months ago.


ECONOMIST "World agriculture has entered a new, unsustainable and politically risky period," says Joachim von Braun, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC. To prove it, food riots have erupted in countries all along the equator. In Haiti, protesters chanting "We're hungry" forced the prime minister to resign; 24 people were killed in riots in Cameroon; Egypt's president ordered the army to start baking bread; the Philippines made hoarding rice punishable by life imprisonment. "It's an explosive situation and threatens political stability," worries Jean-Louis Billon, president of Côte d'Ivoire's chamber of commerce.

Last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16%. These were some of the sharpest rises in food prices ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated. Since January, rice prices have soared 141%; the price of one variety of wheat shot up 25% in a day. Some 40km outside Abidjan, Mariam Kone, who grows sweet potatoes, okra and maize but feeds her family on imported rice, laments: "Rice is very expensive, but we don't know why."

The prices mainly reflect changes in demand-not problems of supply, such as harvest failure. The changes include the gentle upward pressure from people in China and India eating more grain and meat as they grow rich and the sudden, voracious appetites of western biofuels programs, which convert cereals into fuel. This year the share of the maize crop going into ethanol in America has risen and the European Union is implementing its own biofuels targets. To make matters worse, more febrile behavior seems to be influencing markets: export quotas by large grain producers, rumors of panic-buying by grain importers, money from hedge funds looking for new markets.

Such shifts have not been matched by comparable changes on the farm. This is partly because they cannot be: farmers always take a while to respond. It is also because governments have softened the impact of price rises on domestic markets, muffling the signals that would otherwise have encouraged farmers to grow more food. Of 58 countries whose reactions are tracked by the World Bank, 48 have imposed price controls, consumer subsidies, export restrictions or lower tariffs.

But the food scare of 2008, severe as it is, is only a symptom of a broader problem. The surge in food prices has ended 30 years in which food was cheap, farming was subsidized in rich countries and international food markets were wildly distorted. Eventually, no doubt, farmers will respond to higher prices by growing more and a new equilibrium will be established. If all goes well, food will be affordable again without the subsidies, dumping and distortions of the earlier period. But at the moment, agriculture has been caught in limbo. The era of cheap food is over. The transition to a new equilibrium is proving costlier, more prolonged and much more painful than anyone had expected.

"We are the canary in the mine," says Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN's World Food Programme, the largest distributor of food aid. Usually, a food crisis is clear and localized. The harvest fails, often because of war or strife, and the burden in the affected region falls heavily on the poorest. This crisis is different. It is occurring in many countries simultaneously, the first time that has happened since the early 1970s. And it is affecting people not usually hit by famines. "


VOXEU Barack Obama recently postulated that frustrated poor people vote based on cultural and religious values. But the data say exactly the opposite - value voting is a high-income activity. . .

Regular churchgoers are about 15% more likely than non-attendees to vote Republican. Perhaps surprisingly, this big religion gap did not show up until 1992, when Bill Clinton ran against George H. W. Bush. Back in 1980, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and other Religious Right organizations played a prominent role in rallying support for Ronald Reagan and other Republican candidates. But the gap between religious and non-religious in voting was actually less for Ronald Reagan-in both 1980 and 1984-than for Gerald Ford in 1976. . .

Nothing much was happening until 1992, when all of a sudden George H. W. Bush received 20% more of the vote among religious than among the nonreligious. . .

The difference in Republican support, comparing regular religious attendees to non-attendees, is huge for rich voters but low among the poor; This result-that church attendance predicts voting more for the rich than the poor-is consistent with the finding of Ansolabehere, Rodden, and Snyder that "low-income Americans are significantly less inclined to vote based on moral values than are high-income groups." They find the impact of economic issues on voting is larger for regular churchgoers, residents of Republican-leaning states, and rural voters than for non-churchgoers, residents of Democratic states, and urban or suburban voters.


VARGHESE, INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURE AND TRADE The water crisis is no longer something that we know about as affecting developing countries or their poor in particular. It is right here in our own backyard. Today, in many parts of the U.S. we are nearing the limits of our water supplies. . .

In many cities, consumers have been organizing and opposing the privatization of water utilities, because they have been concerned about affordability or deterioration in the quality of service. Environmental organizations and consumer activists have also been concerned about the socio-economic, health and environmental implications of ever increasing bottled water use. But for most of us living in the U.S., water is something we take for granted, available when you turn your tap on -- to brush your teeth, to take a shower, to wash your car, to water your lawn, and if you have your own swimming pool then, to fill that as well.

So it was with alarm that many of us read the story of Orme, a small town tucked away in the mountains of southern Tennessee that has become a recent symbol of the drought in the southeast. Orme has had to literally ration its water use, by collecting water for a few hours every day -- an everyday experience in most developing countries, but unusual for the U.S. This is an extreme experience from the southeast region that has been under a year long dry spell. In fact, the region's dry spell resulted in the city of Atlanta setting severe water use restrictions and three states, Georgia, Florida and Alabama, going to court over a water allocation dispute (settled in favor of Florida and Alabama early last month).. . .

In early February, it was reported that there is a 50 percent chance Lake Mead (on the Arizona/Nevada border), will be dry by 2021 if climate change continues as expected and future water use is not limited. Along with Lake Powell in Utah, Lake Mead helps provide water for more than 25 million people, and is a key source of water in the southwestern U.S. . .


DAILY MAIL, UK 2006 The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight. In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church's interests ahead of child safety.

The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

The Panorama special, Sex Crimes And The Vatican, investigates the details of this little-known document for the first time. The program also accuses the Catholic Church of knowingly harboring pedophile clergymen. It reveals that priests accused of child abuse are generally not struck off or arrested but simply moved to another parish, often to reoffend. It gives examples of hush funds being used to silence the victims.

Before being elected as Pope Benedict XVI in April last year, the pontiff was Cardinal Thomas Ratzinger who had, for 24 years, been the head of the powerful Congregation of the Doctrine of The Faith, the department of the Roman Catholic Church charged with promoting Catholic teachings on morals and matters of faith. An arch-Conservative, he was regarded as the 'enforcer' of Pope John Paul II in cracking down on liberal challenges to traditional Catholic teachings.

Five years ago he sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis - Latin for The Crime of Solicitation - which laid down the Vatican's strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal. It was regarded as so secret that it came with instructions that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times.

Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced the strict cover-up policy by introducing a new principle: that the Vatican must have what it calls Exclusive Competence. In other words, he commanded that all child abuse allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome.

Patrick Wall, a former Vatican-approved enforcer of the Crimen Sollicitationis in America, tells the programme: "I found out I wasn't working for a holy institution, but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself."

And Father Tom Doyle, a Vatican lawyer until he was sacked for criticizing the church's handling of child abuse claims, says: "What you have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen.

"When abusive priests are discovered, the response has been not to investigate and prosecute but to move them from one place to another. So there's total disregard for the victims and for the fact that you are going to have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. This is happening all over the world."



America's public education system is being taken over by a variety of educational mercenaries under such guises as charter schools. Amy Hanauer of Policy Matters writes in an important new book, "Keeping the Promise?," that in Ohio alone powerful business interests drain $500 million a year from public education.

The record of charter schools ranges from the mediocre to the disastrous. In DC, for example, less than 15% of charter schools meet federal and academic performance goals.

In New Orleans more than half of the city's public schools were replaced by charters, with the charters skimming the cream off the top of the teacher pool.

'Keeping the Promise?' is a collection of essays examines the charter school movement's founding visions, on-the-ground realities, and untapped potential - within the context of an unswerving commitment to democratic, equitable public schools. Essays include policy overviews from nationally known educators such as Ted Sizer and Linda Darling-Hammond, interviews with leaders of community-based charter schools, and analyses of how charters have developed in cities such as New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

There's good news, too: the story of Boston's semi-independent "pilot schools" that are part of the system and use union teachers but set their own course. The four year graduation rate for 2006 was more than 23 percentage points higher than tradition Boston public high schools: 75% vs. 52%. Pilot 10th graders also score 23% higher on the 2006 state English exam.

This is one of the best books we've seen from an advocacy group. Rethinking Public Schools has put together a factual, thoughtful work that looks at both the positives and the negatives and shows how a semi-independent schools could actually work to the benefit of all. It is absolutely essential reading for anyone involved in public education and/or charter schools, whether as a teacher, a politician, a parent, or a journalist.




JEFFERSON MORLEY, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK - A small group of senior CIA officers may have been running an authorized counterintelligence operation involving Lee Harvey Oswald six weeks before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

That’s the controversial but conditional conclusion I reached while writing the biography of CIA spymaster Winston Scott, the agency’s top man in Mexico for more than a decade. Our Man in Mexico, argues that if there was an Oswald operation, Scott, a brash and brilliant spy, was not a participant. The CIA has never acknowledged the existence of such an operation, if there was one. . . The new JFK paper trail is clear: some of Scott’s CIA associates knew much more than they ever disclosed about the man who apparently went on to kill President Kennedy in Dallas.

Newly declassified records and interviews with retired CIA officials illuminate the JFK story as it has never been seen before: through the eyes of Win Scott, long a shadowy figure in the history of the agency who was renowned for the brilliance and diligence of his espionage. In 1963, Scott was serving as the chief of the CIA’s station in Mexico City. It was here his path intersected with Oswald’s.

In the summer of 1963, Oswald, a 23-year old ex-Marine with a Russian wife, leftist political views and a penchant for scheming, was living in New Orleans. In the course of the next 100 days of his life, he would come in contact with four CIA intelligence gathering programs. Two of the programs that Oswald encountered were run by Scott, who operated out of an office on the top floor of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The other two were run by his colleague David Atlee Phillips, a highly regarded counterintelligence officer also stationed in Mexico City. Scott had a front row seat on the events that would culminate in the Dallas tragedy.

Such high-level CIA interest in Oswald does not necessarily mean that there was an operation involving Oswald, much less a CIA conspiracy. The evidence allows different readings. Win Scott himself did his own private investigation of Oswald a few years later and concluded the Soviets were likely behind the gunfire that killed Kennedy. David Phillips, who would go on to found the Association of Foreign Intelligence officers, a pro-CIA lobbying group, said late in life that he believed that JFK was killed by rogue U.S. intelligence officers. Win Scott’s son, Michael who spent more than 20 years sifting his father’s life story, thought Phillips was more likely right. . .

When Oswald visited the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic offices In Mexico City between September 27 and October 1, 1963, Scott’s vast and efficient surveillance networks picked up on his presence almost immediately. Within a few days, the station had learned his name and Scott queried Washington asking for more information. The result was perhaps the single most important JFK assassination document to emerge in recent years. It is the fully declassified version of headquarter’s response to Scott’s inquiry. The cable, dated October 10, 1963--six weeks before Kennedy was killed--is not any sort of "smoking gun" proof of conspiracy so often sought by cable news producers and publishing houses.

But it does reveal some troubling facts:

- A group of senior CIA officers were not only monitoring Lee Harvey Oswald’s political activities while President Kennedy was still alive. They were manipulating information about him. . .

- In October 1963, senior officials at CIA headquarters deliberately cut Scott, the CIA’s top man in Mexico, "out of the loop" of the latest FBI reports on Oswald.

- Scott rejected a key finding of the Warren Commission report on JFK’s murder. The Agency told the Commission that its personnel did not learn of Oswald’s contacts with Cuban embassy officials on September 27 1963 until after Kennedy was killed. Win Scott said that was not true--and the CIA’s own records confirm his point. In fact, Win Scott and David Phillips knew about Oswald’s contacts with Cuban consular officials within a few days of when the occurred and well before Kennedy was killed. . .



WESTLAW 29T Antitrust and Trade Regulation 29TIII Statutory Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection 29TIII(B) Particular Practices 29Tk163 k. Advertising, Marketing, and Promotion.

Television advertisements that allegedly showed beer as source of fantasies come to life, fantasies involving tropical settings, beautiful women, and men engaged in unrestricted merriment, were not deceptive and misleading, but were merely puffing, which did not give rise to actionable fraud under Michigan's Pricing and Advertising Act. Overton v. Anheuser-Busch Co., 517 N.W.2d 308 (1994)


Legal to import in a variety of forms, earth friendly industrial hemp products will finally be available in one place for the first time in Washington, DC. Capitol Hemp, a new hemp clothing and accessories store located underground at 1802 Adams Mill Road, NW #B has opened.

The new store, the first in the nation to be built out of hemp fiber board, is also the capital's first boutique to offer a wide variety of hemp products including men, women and children's clothing, shoes, bags, cosmetics, paper, twine, food, books and much more.

"Capitol Hemp showcases the versatility of Industrial Hemp to the extreme," says Capitol Hemp co-founder Adam Eidinger who also serves as Communication Director for the non-profit advocacy group Vote Hemp, which works to educate members of Congress about why they should allow US farmers to grow non-drug industrial hemp. . . ."

Industrial hemp now accounts for over $300 million in annual US sales and has always been used by human civilization for key items such as sails, rope and clothing. Hemp is an excellent substitute for cotton which is the most heavily sprayed crop on earth. Hemp paper reduces pressure on forests and is renewable every year, while hemp food is rich in protein and omega 3 essential fatty acids.


Drought has spurred significant changes in Australia's agricultural heartland. Some farmers are abandoning rice, which requires large amounts of water, to plant less water-intensive crops like wheat or, especially in southeastern Australia, wine grapes. Other rice farmers have sold their fields or their water rights, usually to grape growers. Scientists and economists worry that the reallocation of scarce water resources - away from rice and other grains and toward more lucrative crops and livestock - threatens poor countries that import rice as a dietary staple. . . With rice, which is not used to make biofuel, the problem is availability. Even in normal times, little of the world's rice is actually exported - more than 90 percent is consumed in the countries where it is grown. In the last quarter-century, rice consumption has outpaced production, with global reserves plunging by half just since 2000. Current economic uncertainty has led producers to hoard rice and speculators and investors even see it as a lucrative, or at least safe, investment.

Researchers are working at Missouri University of Science and Technology to develop hybrid plastics that would biodegrade in landfills within four months. As our editor Nicole Dyer pointed out in a comment to the BPA post, the larger and more important issue facing plastics is their propensity to stick around forever.






NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most interesting to publish here.

- Yes I can say Bolero. It has a rhythm that repeats over and over throughout the piece, but that is neither a theme nor a hook. The melodic material that the orchestra plays over the rhythmic ostinato is varied dramatically over the course of the piece.


- Sam, your coverage of the Pope isn't any better than corporate media's. Get this through your head: not everything the Pope says is infallible, it is only when he is speaking ex cathedra, which is not the case for the majority of his pronouncements.

And those of you who've gotten all self-righteously pissed-off and secular because of the sexual abuse scandals (or some other reason) would do well to consider the fact that the hierarchy is not equivalent to the church. There are several million Catholics out there who are just as upset by both the scandals and the Pope as you are - but many of us are also working feverishly to end torture, end the war, address poverty and homelessness, and speak truth to power. The progressive movement could be one hell of a lot stronger if the secular left would stop insulting the religious left and try to work together.

- Look again. Sam doesn't say anything that suggests he misunderstands the doctrine of infallibility. He is, rather, accusing the press of believing the Pope is infallible under all circumstances.

- The beauty part about admiration of the mediocre is that one doesn't have to know much about anything to admire it. In fact, knowledge can have a nasty tendency to get in the way of one's admiration. That's a major reason the mediocre has such a large and enthusiastic audience in this country of people who tend to know very little about much of anything, decent music emphatically included.


- Rev. Wright spoke many uncomfortable truths about the U.S.A. that challenge the popular mythology. It's the duty of the corporate media to uphold that mythology, explaining the overwhelming number of hit pieces on Wright. Exactly how many of those hit piece originate from the press releases of the opposition candidates, we will never know.


- Enough studies on the "poor troops," who volunteered to fight for the empire, and get paid for their murders in Iraq. What proportion of the empire's victims, the people of Iraq, are suffering from depression, PTSD, and bodily injury? They are the first victims that should be counted.


- Any idea as to how much propane is consumed while heating a chicken or turkey barn large enough to house 30,000 to 60,000 birds? Brood houses are even more demanding. Before young chicks sufficiently feather out, two to three weeks, they need to be maintained in an environment well above ninety degrees.
That translates to a lot of BTU's.

- Yet again, the media makes the straw-man argument against a sensible and sustainable diet. It certainly is interesting to see how much greenhouse gases are generated by a meat-heavy diet. But separating out final-delivery emissions from all others is unrealistic because if one makes a commitment to eat locally and in season, in most places that becomes a de facto commitment to organic food and a de-emphasis on meat.

Also: the comment that eating locally means "eating Jerusalem artichokes three months of the year" is utterly specious. I have eaten locally in such northern climes as Minnesota and Washington State, and winter crops include root vegetables and squashes that store well (onions, carrots, potatoes, turnips) as well as cold-frame greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, and even lettuce. Kale actually tastes better if it gets a little frost.

Can we please stop making unhelpful and confusing statements against sustainable eating and encouraging people to throw up their hands and going back to rainforest beef? Eat sustainably or live on a burning planet - your choice.


- Thank you. Finally someone is bringing up the issues that the Media has failed to addressed concerning McCain. Also, don't forget the 100 years in Iraq or 'the jobs are gone and aren't coming back' statements. Those are far more damning than anything Jeremiah Wright had to say.


- This makes me wonder in retrospect about how we were interrupted in school on an hourly basis by a bell. Does this suggest that education could be more effective if subjects were focused on intensely for a longer, uninterrupted period? - Ian


As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am less enthusiastic than most about compact fluorescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the ones currently available contain significant amounts of mercury. If one of these bulbs should break inside of a person’s home, it could cause a challenging disposal situation. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent before people changeover their entire homes. Another consideration is that as these bulbs burn out, they will most likely be thrown away as though they are normal rubbish and landfills will have incredibly high levels of mercury in their soil as a result. - Johnny 5


- When cable news is held up as an example of journalistic competency, we should all be troubled. - Lars


- He meant built and maintained by the public then handed over to private investors once it's profitable.

- The projections assume that there will still be a growing number of subscribers in two years. By the time 2010 rolls around, given the current economic/cost of living heading, people will be lucky to have the income to still commute and stave off starvation, let alone continue to subscribe to broadband....


- Structures do not care about anything other than the accumulation of wealth. If there is a proven means of profiting off of ecology protection, then there will be a move to do so. Otherwise, get out of the way, you are just an impediment to the 1% who have always controlled the majority of wealth...

- This is why neither Gore nor Nader will ever have a chance at the Presidency. Big business makes all the political donations and they are not willing to lose even one cent in profit in order to improve the world.


- The way the military is structured it is possible for the torturing administration to have kept this from Myers, but the excuse that Myers presents, "that he knew but didn't know" is nonsense.


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