The failure of the “Anbar model’s success”

A lot has been made of the success in Anbar, even though the so-called “surge” had absolutely nothing to do with Anbar, and the tactics used in Anbar are vastly different from those used in Baghdad.  And while metrics such as Sunni-Shiite violence being down in Baghdad and other areas are good, the fact that this decrease is related to sectarian cleansing is nothing to really be proud of.


A number of people have been touting the success in Anbar and even talked about this model as something to emulate in other areas of Iraq.  Taking the fact that one of our “allies” was recently killed after a visit by Bush, and that the US is almost as unpopular in Anbar as al-Qaeda out of the mix, there is something that is being ignored which has larger ramifications.

That is the fact that the “Anbar model” relies mainly on getting local leaders to tamp down on the violence, reducing the violence little by little and therefore (as the thought process goes) lead to the ability for political reconciliation which, of course, would lead to us being able to withdraw our troops from these areas (yeah, right…).  The only little problem here is that this is creating tension and a power struggle not only between Sunnis and Shiites, but within factions of Sunnis and Shiites.  So what we are getting to here with the “Anbar model” is more than one civil war – we have multiple – dozens, if not more – different Shiite factions vying for power in each region and the further splintering of Shiites and Sunnis against their own.


Now, if you want to say that creating or promoting smaller civil wars from a larger civil war is impressive and a model to emulate, I have no response to that.  But the truth here is that it really doesn’t do much other than put the US (and really our troops) in the middle of figuring out if they should back once Shiite group or another (and risk the violence and further lack of trust that goes along with that) or one Sunni insurgent group over another – even if both of these groups were recently attacking our troops.


Sadly, this isn’t going to turn out so well if any realistic mid to long term view is considered.  As noted in the WSJ article linked above, even some of the military commanders on the ground have big concerns with this:

“People think that all of the violence in Iraq is Sunni on Shia or Shia on Sunni, but it’s not,” said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who commands the army’s Third Infantry Division, in an interview in Iraq last month. “It’s guys from the same communities fighting each other for power, money and influence.”


Gen. Lynch likens the strife to the fights among organized-crime families. “I tell my guys, the best way they can prepare before they come out here is to watch ‘The Sopranos,'” he said, referring to the popular U.S. television mob drama.

Another issue with this is that even if the US is able to back some factions that would be more “friendly” to our efforts, this is dangerous in that it we may not be siding with the more influential factions, not to mention that we would (1) piss off those factions that we are not backing, which will likely lead to more attacks on our troops and (2) have no business choosing sides in a civil war, let alone mini-“civil wars within a civil war” in the first place.


One example here is al Sadr and his militia.  Clearly he has had much influence over a large portion of Shiites, and he is (or was, depending on the day) a significant enough player in the Iraqi Parliament.  Yet, he has been designated as public enemy number one and there is no way that we would back him, even if by doing so would provide an easier path towards a decrease in violence and political reconciliation.  The upshot of not supporting al Sadr is that other Shiite factions are cooperating to a degree with our troops, but it is a fine line that neither they nor we should be walking:

Many U.S. commanders remain divided over whether to intervene directly in the infighting between the Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps, given the possibility that such a move could inflame large portions of Iraq’s Shiite majority.


In an interview last month, Lt. Col. Peter Andrysiak, then-deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, said the U.S. “can and should” support the Badr Corps in its fight with the Mahdi Army. He argued that Mr. Hakim’s militia is broadly supportive of the Iraqi government while Mr. Sadr’s forces aren’t.


“Badr is reconcilable, and we can win them over. JAM is not,” he said, using the military’s acronym for the Arabic name of Mr. Sadr’s forces, the Jaish al-Mahdi.


Other senior officers disagreed. “It’s a dangerous thought process, once you start down that path,” Gen. Lynch said.

The other issue here is that the “Anbar success” was based on the fact that the local Sunni leaders don’t want al Qaeda around nearly as much as the US doesn’t want al Qaeda around.  So when local Sunni leaders and factions helped the US troops against al Qaeda in Anbar, there was a singular common goal – to rid Anbar of al Qaeda.  We shouldn’t forget that a number of these Sunni insurgent groups (or “former insurgent groups” if there is such a thing) are the same ones who are part of the insurgency that is responsible for close to 80% of the attacks and deaths of our troops.


Of course, we also can’t forget that the Shiites are more aligned with the philosophy of Iran – the country that Bush and Cheney are itching to bomb because they are “actively engaging and attacking our troops”.  This little nugget that is being repeated ad nauseum doesn’t consider the two little details that (1) if Russia invaded Mexico and the violence looked like it was going to spill over into Texas that the US would most certainly not close its eyes and hope this all goes away and (2) there hasn’t been any real proof of any assertions made by Cheney and Bush.


I don’t want to minimize the success that occurred in Anbar with respect to al Qaeda.  But it is foolish to think that this wasn’t more of the exception than the rule and certainly it is foolish to think that a model that further splinters the Iraqi population into Shiite against Shiite and Sunni against Sunni is anything that will achieve a mid or long term success.


In fact, it seems like this is just a recipe for more disaster and will only make any kind of regional political reconciliation or autonomy more difficult, not to mention the near impossibility of there being anything of substance on a national level.

Rumsfeld-Charged With Torture While In France!

There is Karma after all…

From NY Times

PARIS, Oct. 26 – Several human rights organizations based in the United States and Europe have filed a complaint in a Paris court accusing the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for torture.

The group, which includes the International Federation for Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights and the Nork York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, filed the complaint late Thursday and unsuccessfully sought to confront Rumsfeld as he left a breakfast meeting in central Paris on Friday.

h/t to Eve on the Orange.

The French complaint accuses Mr. Rumsfeld of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq under the Convention Against Torture ratified by the United Nations in 1984.

As part of their complaint, the groups submitted 11 pages of written testimony from viagra generico 100 mg prezzo a Firenze Janis Karpinski, the highest-ranking officer to be punished in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She was demoted from brigadier general to colonel and lost command of her military police unit. She contended that the abuses at the prison started after the appearance of Maj. General Geoffrey Miller who was sent as by Mr. Rumsfeld to assist military intelligence interrogators.

International Herald Tribune….

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement that the aim of the latest legal complaint was to demonstrate “that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice. go site Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide.”

Did you hear that, Rummy????  NO. WHERE. TO. HIDE!
Yes, that goes for you too Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al….
NO. WHERE. TO. HIDE.

Also, check out the Democracy Now Interview with Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Jeanne Sulzer. French attorney with the International Federation of Human Rights.

Lady Liberty: Freedom For Oil

freedom for oil fr 4lett

Yesterday’s posts on rights and the economy by Stonemason were profoundly disturbing. (Please go read them.)

Thios morning I had a dream that Lady Liberty was wearing a wooden barrel with suspenders – a Depression-era cartoon symbol for losing everything, even your shirt. On the way to creating that image, it evolved; this is the result. The title is a wry pun.
Click on the image to get your fair-use copy.

Four at Four

naturesis caused by lasix “An Urgent Call to Action”
  1. James Kanter of the International Herald Tribune reports that the UN issues ‘final wake-up call’ on population and environment.

    The human population is living far beyond its means and inflicting damage on the environment that could pass points of no return, according to a major report issued Thursday by the United Nations.

    Climate change, the rate of extinction of species and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the threats viagra generico 100 mg italia pagamento online a Parma putting humanity at risk, the UN Environment Program said in its fourth Global Environmental Outlook since 1997.

    Covering the UNEP report, The Independent notes “Over the past 20 years, almost every index of the planet’s health has worsened. At the same time, personal wealth in the richest countries has grown by a third.” Achim Steiner, the executive director of UNEP, said:

    Without an accelerated effort to reform the way we collectively do business on planet Earth, we will shortly be in trouble if indeed we are not already. There have been enough wake-up calls… The systematic destruction of the Earth’s natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged – and the bill we hand on to our children may prove impossible to pay.

    The Guardian adds calls attention to the Lack of urgency by the world’s governments.

    Climate change is a global priority that demands political leadership, but there has been “a remarkable lack of urgency” in the response, which the report characterised as “woefully inadequate”.

    http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=generic-propecia-effective-as-propecia The report’s authors say its objective is “not to present a dark and gloomy scenario, but an urgent call to action”.

    It warns that tackling the problems may affect the vested interests of powerful groups, and that the environment must be moved to the core of decision-making.

    There is more coverage in an essay by Turkana posted earlier today. Yes, we’re likely preaching to the choir here, but this is important enough to repeat.

The rest of today’s Four at Four continues…

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports Another way the rich are different: ‘concierge-level’ fire protection. The rich have their own private firefighters. Insurer AIG dispatched crews with fire retardant when multimillion-dollar homes were threatened by California’s wildfires. “AIG’s Wildfire Protection Unit, part of its Private Client Group, is offered only to homeowners in California’s most affluent ZIP Codes… It covers about 2,000 policyholders, who pay premiums of at least $10,000 a year and own homes with a value of at least $1 million.” Crews “sprayed retardant on and around more than 160 homes in Malibu, Lake Arrowhead and the hardest-hit areas of Orange and San Diego counties this week. They claim to have saved a dozen homes.”

    AIG says the service is not a replacement for public fire departments; after all, the insurer did lose some houses. But like an air bag in a car crash, the company says, it’s better than nothing.

    Others say that it’s just another way for the wealthy to buy their way around cash-strapped, understaffed public services. Firefighters across the region have complained this week that they simply did not have enough trucks, helicopters and airplanes.

  2. The Washington Post reports Strike on Iran would roil oil markets. “A U.S. military strike against Iran would have dire consequences in petroleum markets, say a variety of oil industry experts, many of whom think the prospect of pandemonium in those markets makes U.S. military action unlikely despite escalating economic sanctions imposed by the Bush administration. The small amount of excess oil production capacity worldwide would provide an insufficient cushion if armed conflict disrupted supplies, oil experts say, and petroleum prices would skyrocket. Moreover, a wounded or angry Iran could easily retaliate against oil facilities from southern Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz.”

  3. Today’s Guns of Greed. If you read nothing else, please read the story about Keely Colville.

    • The New Haven Independent reports on a High school senior who went to protest Blackwater in Moyock, North Carolina. Keely “Colville just returned from the protest; it wasn’t her first. For Colville, a senior at Wilbur Cross High School, peace activism is nothing new. She’s the daughter of Luz and Mark Colville, founders of the Amistad Catholic Worker house in the Hill. Her dad spent a year in prison a decade ago when he participated in Maine in non-violent civil disobedience, pouring blood on a submarine carrying nuclear warheads.” prezzo vardenafil generico online 2017 Go read this article!

    • The Washington Post reports Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dodges questions in House hearing. “During nearly three hours of contentious exchanges with Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rice parried and often ducked questions on contractors, Iraqi government corruption and problems in the construction of a $600 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. She repeatedly said she needed to review matters more closely or could not answer in an open congressional session.”

      Pressed to express regret for what Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) called “the failures of your department, your failures,” Rice said, “I certainly regret that we did not have the kind of oversight that I would have insisted upon.” She has implemented changes recommended by the review, she said, and “we now will have that oversight.”

    • The Los Angeles Times reports State Department officials balked on ’05 Blackwater inquiry. “New evidence surfaced Thursday that the U.S. sought to conceal details of Blackwater shootings of Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.” For example, “Peter Mitchell, then a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, told superiors that he planned to tell a reporter that the State Department had ‘thoroughly investigated’ the incident and that ‘no criminal act occurred.’ The e-mails indicate, however, that the only investigation done was ‘administrative.'”

    • Reuters reports Sen. John Kerry wants an investigation of Blackwater’s tax practices. “Blackwater is hiding behind the Bush administration to explain why they bilked the taxpayers out of millions of dollars,” said the Massachusetts Democrat in a statement. “I intend to get to the bottom of this.”

    • The AP reports Ambassador Ryan Crocker holds Blackwater in “high regard” despite “horrific” incident. “Those guys guard my back. And I have to say they do it extremely well. I continue to have high regard for the individuals who work for Blackwater as I do for other security contractors. That said, the incident in September was a horrific one,” he said.

    • The New York Times reports Blackwater steps up its propaganda campaign. “Blackwater… stepped up its public relations efforts this week with a mass e-mail message to its employees, suppliers, fellow security contractors and political allies, asking them to flood Congress with messages of support. The e-mail message noted that the Blackwater ‘family’ was working vigorously to defend American interests… ‘While we can’t ask that each supporter do everything, Blackwater asks that everyone does something. Contact your lawmakers and tell them to stand by the truth.’ It then suggests some talking points”. Please contact your lawmakers and tell them to see through Blackwater’s lies.

    • The Independent reports on The fat cats of war. “The really big money comes when there are open commercial relationships between security companies and Western states. Private companies guard embassies and diplomats, provide security for aid workers and carry out hostage rescue missions.” Companies with government contracts: USPI (USA), Olive (UK), Global (UK), Blackwater (USA), Aegis Defence Services (UK), Armor Group (UK), Control Risks Group (UK), DynCorp International (USA). This list is far from exhaustive.

So, what else is happening? Remember this is an http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=how-long-does-levitra-pills-last-usage OPEN THREAD.

Pony Open Thread: and have a nice day

i like Magnifico’s idea of of make your own caption. for this, make your own daydream… so chit chat, don’t rec the pony, and do what you can to get the rest of the world to be excellent to each other, for good god’s sake.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Fires are Burning

This was the evening news from Armageddon…

After discovering a suspicious man in a brush area on the San Bernardino campus  of California State University, police attempted to detain a 27-year-old on suspicion of arson.
Following a chase, officers opened fire and killed him, police said.

“They thought there could be the possibility that he’s an arsonist,” Patterson said. The area “is in the path of the fire.”

Four charred bodies were found Thursday in an apparent migrant camp burned by one of the wildfires raging across southern California, authorities said Thursday.

As wildfires were charging across Southern California, nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two massive cargo planes sat idly by, grounded by government rules and bureaucracy.

A news crew was taping a cabinet meeting at the White House as the president was giving a briefing on the California wildfires. The news crew taped Cheney as he appeared to be nodding off.

“There’s all kinds of time for historians to compare this response to that response,” Bush said during a tour of the state’s fire-ravaged communities.

A lot of people are going to lose their homes today,” San Diego Fire Capt. Lisa Blake predicted earlier.

According to estimates, nearly 1 million southern Californians have been displaced in the biggest evacuation in state history as a result of at least 16 simultaneous wildfires. More than 350,000 houses have been evacuated.

People who need it can get help with “home reprayer – repair,” said the president, handing out the FEMA phone number and Web-site for victims of the wildfires.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is right. These fires are going to go out… but there are still going to be needs and concerns,” Bush said. “We’re not going to forget you in Washington, D.C.”

These fires are going to go out, and hard work will remain, but I am not counting on Bush to set things right. After the jump, I will tell you what you can do right now to help the people hurt by this crisis.

I have little faith in Bush’s ‘reprayer.’ I have seen his work in the past.

Instead, I will pass along the recommendations of California Democratic Party Chair Art Torres.

Cialis senza ricetta per migliorare potenza di consegna in Italia Give Food and Household Goods
The San Diego Democratic Party is collecting food and household goods, such as canned meats, fruits, vegetables as well as cleaning supplies, diapers, detergent and personal hygiene products for families in San Diego. You can also send a gift card for a local supermarket chain such as Ralphs, Vons or Albertsons.

Donated items may be delivered or mailed to: 8304 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 108, San Diego, CA 92111 or by calling (858) 277-3367. 

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=quanto-costa-Viagra-generico-25-mg-online-a-Milano Donate Other Goods or Money
The San Diego Democratic Party has partnered with the San Diego Food Bank, which has a network of more than 260 agencies throughout the San Diego area. You can order goods directly from the Food Bank’s Virtual Market or make a monetary donation.

accutane side effects depression Roll Up Your Sleeves 
While there are many things we can do right now to help, there will also be a need in the coming weeks and months for assistance with the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities. Sign-up today through Democrats Work so we can keep you posted on our future efforts once the fires have been brought under control. 

The Virtual Food Bank is a great way to help out from wherever you are.

I am sure that Bush will make sure that Mel Gibson is safely back in his home, and that the producers of ‘24‘ are compensated for the delays in their shooting schedule, but I think that when it comes to people who were already struggling it will be a different story.

I am part of Democrats Work in Colorado, and I am very proud to see my counterparts in California being such an active part of this effort.

Important If True

wherein the diarist cobbles together on a semi-regular basis a collection of seemingly random thoughts, no single one of which, taken by itself, may be worthy of your attention, dear reader(s?), but which, when presented en masse in a veritable mélange, a pastiche, as it were, of cerebral offal, might thus put to rest any niggling doubts that you may have had about whether the effort would be worth it. Or, to paraphrase someone, you should waste no time in reading this . . .

PAGING CAPT. OBVIOUS: I wonder why President Bush was in such a big hurry to get to the San Diego County photo op? I mean, it took him four days to land in New Orleans and screw up rescue efforts, right? Well, folks, the answer should be easy – it’s as simple as black and white – erm, I mean, blue and red (just zoom in on this map of the 2004 presidential vote by county; San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties are all the way down in the lower left-hand corner) . . .

BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE: Hey! – Heads up, all you late-night TV viewers: Keep your eyes peeled for the limited edition DVD of the Southern Calfiornia brush fires!!!, brought to you by the same White House Bunker staff that gave you the Presidential Advance Manual (excerpt: “Work with the Secret Service and have them ask the local police department to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route”) . . . I’m sure the Preznit already saw the DVD, and rushed right out to buy copies for everyone on his Christmas list. (Except Condi, of course: she gets the Jimmy Choo gift card and a little sumpn sumpn from Trashy Lingerie . . . )

IT’S NOT A HANDOUT IF YOU’RE A REPUBLIC DEPT.: Somehow, I have a very warm and fuzzy feeling that all of the staunch Bush supporters who suffered losses in the terrible Southern California fires are not in their wildest dreams even thinking about applying for federal assistance – or accepting assistance of any kind (since that would be, y’know, a handout from the government) – in fact, I’m quite sure that those True Believers must have been spotted throughout the fire area, waving off the air tankers and hotshot teams who arrived to offer their taxpayer-supported help . . . I suspect, in fact, the Preznit is at this very moment considering a tax cut for the very wealthiest among the fire victims to help deficit-fund that assistance that those good Republics aren’t taking and never did take . . .

BILL O’VIATING: Bill O’Reilly has no patience for those who fail to move out of the way of a natural disaster in spite of the known risks: “They weren’t going to leave no matter what you did.” Why? Simple: “They were drug-addicted. They weren’t going to get turned off from their source. They were thugs, whatever . . . Now, our government has a duty to provide a safety net so these people aren’t living under bridges. But some of them are anyway, because all the entitlement money they get they spend on heroin or crack or alcohol . . . And therefore, they’re going to be out on the street with their hand out.” Oh – wait a minute – he was talking about people who are, you know – < black > . . .

AT LEAST HE GOT TO KEEP THE STAPLER: This may not be nearly an original thought, but it just occurred to me like a ton of bricks: if the administration, within weeks of being put in power in January 2001, approached the telephone companies and told them that they were going to need to turn over indiscriminate information about every American – and this was long before September 11 – what possible reason could there have been for such urgent necessity? I’m guessing BushCheney knew before even taking office who the real threats to their administration were, and took action accordingly . . . (And I can just picture Dick Cheney, with his coffee mug and suspenders, oozing up to the cubicle of Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg and saying, “Yyyeahhhhh – ahhh, I’mmm gonna need you to hand over those phone records this weekend . . . Yyeeah, ahh, we’re gonna nneed those . . . “

Thanks for reading!

Also available in Orange

On Gloom, Doom and the Elephant in the Room

—————–

Yesterday, thanks to the power of teh Google, your humble essayist posted on how China had recently entered the fray of purchasing US homeowner mortgage debt and appeared to be getting ready to do (much?) more of the same.

The resulting essay appears to have contributed to a rattling of the confidence of at least one of our own. To those of us who live and breathe the crap dished out by our political opponents day in and day out, a very good question or three comes to mind.

Why add to the pile? Why give us yet another thing to worry about? Shouldn’t we stop talking and go do something fer cryin’ out loud?

The answer? Yes (to do more), and no (to stop talking)…

The Power of Knowledge

Our movement was dubbed ‘The Reality Based Community’ for good reason. To use a broad categorization, much of our strength has come from our slow but steady ability to inform the public with facts, and let them draw their own logical conclusions.

George Bush has a most recent popularity rating of 24%. Immediately after 9/11, it was in the high 90’s. I know five years is a long time, but how do we think that number went from Point A to Point B?

Through slow and steady dissemination of the facts.

Initially, as we all know, the Traditional Media did a terrible job of giving the people the facts of what was actually happening in this country. How did this change? Well, folks like Michael Moore played a big part. As did John Stewart. As did Seymour Hersh.

And you know who else? Us. Lefty blergers. We played our own part in getting the information out there.

Because we lack the numbers of the traditional media or the Hate Radio Right, it took longer than we wanted. But eventually, the truth was revealed. In spite of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, we were able to get the facts out. On issue after issue. And the Traditional Media had no choice but to (somewhat reluctantly) follow along.

But what does that 24% really buy us? While it appears Bush and Co. will likely get out of Dodge before any real sheriff gets to town, we have exposed a good deal of truth to the American public. Many of them will think twice about voting for any other Republicans. Many others have said ‘never again’. Most believe the Republicans will be out of power in many regions of the country for decades. All because more people know the truth.

Yes, it is difficult to hear about yet another problem. Yes, it appears that progress is moving too slow to bear. But ‘slow and steady’ progress is pretty much the best we can hope for given our relative small size in the scheme of things. Still, as one may recall, the turtle did win that race with the hare at the end of the day.

But the Republicans, that proverbial Elephant in the Room, aren’t rolling over yet. We need to continue to get the facts out. The facts are our friends. Perhaps our best true friend.

So (with apologies) there will be more Gloom and Doom, because we need to discredit that damnable Elephant in the Room. Now is not the time to let up. The facts have helped us get this far. They are needed to help get us get the rest of the way.

The facts can be depressing. But they serve a larger purpose.

Cheers.

Fires are Burning

Fires are burning. This was the evening news from Armageddon…

After discovering a suspicious man in a brush area on the San Bernardino campus  of California State University, police attempted to detain a 27-year-old on suspicion of arson.
Following a chase, officers opened fire and killed him, police said.

“They thought there could be the possibility that he’s an arsonist,” Patterson said. The area “is in the path of the fire.”

Four charred bodies were found Thursday in an apparent migrant camp burned by one of the wildfires raging across southern California, authorities said Thursday.

As wildfires were charging across Southern California, nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two massive cargo planes sat idly by, grounded by government rules and bureaucracy.

A news crew was taping a cabinet meeting at the White House as the president was giving a briefing on the California wildfires. The news crew taped Cheney as he appeared to be nodding off.

“There’s all kinds of time for historians to compare this response to that response,” Bush said during a tour of the state’s fire-ravaged communities.

A lot of people are going to lose their homes today,” San Diego Fire Capt. Lisa Blake predicted earlier.

According to estimates, nearly 1 million southern Californians have been displaced in the biggest evacuation in state history as a result of at least 16 simultaneous wildfires. More than 350,000 houses have been evacuated.

People who need it can get help with “home reprayer – repair,” said the president, handing out the FEMA phone number and Web-site for victims of the wildfires.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is right. These fires are going to go out… but there are still going to be needs and concerns,” Bush said. “We’re not going to forget you in Washington, D.C.”

These fires are going to go out, and hard work will remain, but I am not counting on Bush to set things right. After the jump, I will tell you what you can do right now to help the people hurt by this crisis.

I have little faith in Bush’s ‘reprayer.’ I have seen his work in the past.

Instead, I will pass along the recommendations of California Democratic Party Chair Art Torres.

Give Food and Household Goods
The San Diego Democratic Party is collecting food and household goods, such as canned meats, fruits, vegetables as well as cleaning supplies, diapers, detergent and personal hygiene products for families in San Diego. You can also send a gift card for a local supermarket chain such as Ralphs, Vons or Albertsons.

Donated items may be delivered or mailed to: 8304 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 108, San Diego, CA 92111 or by calling (858) 277-3367. 

Donate Other Goods or Money
The San Diego Democratic Party has partnered with the San Diego Food Bank, which has a network of more than 260 agencies throughout the San Diego area. You can order goods directly from the Food Bank’s Virtual Market or make a monetary donation.

Roll Up Your Sleeves 
While there are many things we can do right now to help, there will also be a need in the coming weeks and months for assistance with the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities. Sign-up today through Democrats Work so we can keep you posted on our future efforts once the fires have been brought under control. 

The Virtual Food Bank is a great way to help out from wherever you are.

I am sure that Bush will make sure that Mel Gibson is safely back in his home, and that the producers of ‘24‘ are compensated for the delays in their shooting schedule, but I think that when it comes to people who were already struggling it will be a different story.

I am part of Democrats Work in Colorado, and I am very proud to see my counterparts in California being such an active part of this effort.

Fires are Burning

This was the evening news from Armageddon…

After discovering a suspicious man in a brush area on the San Bernardino campus  of California State University, police attempted to detain a 27-year-old on suspicion of arson.
Following a chase, officers opened fire and killed him, police said.

“They thought there could be the possibility that he’s an arsonist,” Patterson said. The area “is in the path of the fire.”

Four charred bodies were found Thursday in an apparent migrant camp burned by one of the wildfires raging across southern California, authorities said Thursday.

As wildfires were charging across Southern California, nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two massive cargo planes sat idly by, grounded by government rules and bureaucracy.

A news crew was taping a cabinet meeting at the White House as the president was giving a briefing on the California wildfires. The news crew taped Cheney as he appeared to be nodding off.

“There’s all kinds of time for historians to compare this response to that response,” Bush said during a tour of the state’s fire-ravaged communities.

A lot of people are going to lose their homes today,” San Diego Fire Capt. Lisa Blake predicted earlier.

According to estimates, nearly 1 million southern Californians have been displaced in the biggest evacuation in state history as a result of at least 16 simultaneous wildfires. More than 350,000 houses have been evacuated.

People who need it can get help with “home reprayer – repair,” said the president, handing out the FEMA phone number and Web-site for victims of the wildfires.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is right. These fires are going to go out… but there are still going to be needs and concerns,” Bush said. “We’re not going to forget you in Washington, D.C.”

These fires are going to go out, and hard work will remain, but I am not counting on Bush to set things right. After the jump, I will tell you what you can do right now to help the people hurt by this crisis.

I have little faith in Bush’s ‘reprayer.’ I have seen his work in the past.

Instead, I will pass along the recommendations of California Democratic Party Chair Art Torres.

Give Food and Household Goods
The San Diego Democratic Party is collecting food and household goods, such as canned meats, fruits, vegetables as well as cleaning supplies, diapers, detergent and personal hygiene products for families in San Diego. You can also send a gift card for a local supermarket chain such as Ralphs, Vons or Albertsons.

Donated items may be delivered or mailed to: 8304 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 108, San Diego, CA 92111 or by calling (858) 277-3367. 

Donate Other Goods or Money
The San Diego Democratic Party has partnered with the San Diego Food Bank, which has a network of more than 260 agencies throughout the San Diego area. You can order goods directly from the Food Bank’s Virtual Market or make a monetary donation.

Roll Up Your Sleeves 
While there are many things we can do right now to help, there will also be a need in the coming weeks and months for assistance with the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities. Sign-up today through Democrats Work so we can keep you posted on our future efforts once the fires have been brought under control. 

The Virtual Food Bank is a great way to help out from wherever you are.

I am sure that Bush will make sure that Mel Gibson is safely back in his home, and that the producers of ‘24‘ are compensated for the delays in their shooting schedule, but I think that when it comes to people who were already struggling it will be a different story.

I am part of Democrats Work in Colorado, and I am very proud to see my counterparts in California being such an active part of this effort.

UN Environment Programme: The future of humanity is at risk

It’s more than global warming and climate change.

From the Guardian:

The future of humanity has been put at risk by a failure to address environmental problems including climate change, species extinction and a growing human population, according to a new UN report.

In a sweeping audit of the world’s environmental wellbeing, the study by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that governments are still failing to recognise the seriousness of major environmental issues.

It doesn’t get much more blunt, although don’t expect to hear much about it from the corporate media.

The study, involving more than 1,400 scientists, found that human consumption had far outstripped available resources. Each person on Earth now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the planet can supply, it finds.

Meanwhile, biodiversity is seriously threatened by the impact of human activities: 30% of amphibians, 23% of mammals and 12% of birds are under threat of extinction, while one in 10 of the world’s large rivers runs dry every year before it reaches the sea.

This is a follow-up to a similar study, made in 1987. It’s a progress report.

As the UNEP press release explains:

GEO-4, the latest in UNEP’s series of flagship reports, assesses the current state of the global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world.

It salutes the world’s progress in tackling some relatively straightforward problems, with the environment now much closer to mainstream politics everywhere. But despite these advances, there remain the harder-to-manage issues, the “persistent” problems. Here, GEO-4 says: “There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.”

The report says there is a need for, and a lack of, international leadership. These problems are global, and intertwined.

GEO-4 recalls the Brundtland Commission’s statement that the world does not face separate crises – the “environmental crisis”, “development crisis”, and “energy crisis” are all one. This crisis includes not just climate change, extinction rates and hunger, but other problems driven by growing human numbers, the rising consumption of the rich and the desperation of the poor.

Examples are:

– decline of fish stocks;

– loss of fertile land through degradation;

– unsustainable pressure on resources;

– dwindling amount of fresh water available for humans and other creatures to share; and

– risk that environmental damage could pass unknown points of no return.

Futhermore:

-to meet the Millenium Development Goal on hunger, food production must double by 2050;

-fresh water is declining, but water usage will rise 50% in developing countries, and 18% in developed countries, by 2025;

-water quality is also declining, with increased water pollution;

Globally, contaminated water remains the greatest single cause of human disease and death.

-although fish consumption has more than tripled since 1961, fish stocks are being depleted at a rate 250% above sustainability;

-species are going extinct at a rate a hundred times faster than that shown in the fossil record;

-the sixth major extinction is under way, and this one is the fault of humans; 

-land degradation, desertification, urban growth, pollution, destruction of ecosystems, and waste are increasing problems.

The UNEP report includes four possible outcomes, by the year 2050. It makes clear that some environmental damage may be irreversible, but:

Our common future depends on our actions today, not tomorrow or some time in the future.

The report is available here. It’s conclusion is not without hope.

According to the press release:

The GEO-4 report concludes that “while governments are expected to take the lead, other stakeholders are just as important to ensure success in achieving sustainable development. The need couldn’t be more urgent and the time couldn’t be more opportune, with our enhanced understanding of the challenges we face, to act now to safeguard our own survival and that of future generations” ends.

It doesn’t get bigger. It doesn’t get more important. As we look to the 2008 election, there is no higher priority. We want to hear from our potential leaders on so many different issues, but this must be number one.

Looking to the Root Causes of Migration: NAFTA

(More goodness from duke @ 2pm – promoted by buhdydharma )

Over the last few years, over 1000 migrants have perished making the hazardous journey through the desert to make new lives in “el Norte.” Some were small coffee growers from Vera Cruz, chicken farmers from Jalisco, or vegetable growers from Guadalajara. Others were indigenous subsistence farmers from the Chiapas highlands no longer able to eek out a living. Still others were Guatemalan migrant workers who could not find work on either side of Mexico’s border and jumped on El Tren de Muerte (The Death Train) in Tapachula for the first leg of their journey, boarding alongside Salvadorans escaping decades of political upheaval and Hondurans escaping crushing poverty.

Between 6 and 7 million people have taken the arduous journey north, many within the last ten years, most of them coming from poor agriultural areas that are no longer able to support their populations. Yet, with all the debate about reforming US immigration policy and securing the borders, we have not heard one solid proposal to address the root causes of this massive migration.

The question of why so many must leave their homes and families to simply survive is rarely mentioned, but remains the missing piece in the comprehensive immigration reform puzzle.

Most people recognize that the economic conditions in Central and South America drive much of the current migration. It’s widely acknowledged that most sender nations suffer from economic inequities that leave the vast majority of their populations living in abject poverty while a small elite ruling class controls most of the wealth.

In Mexico for instance, nearly half of its 106 million people live in poverty, yet it has more billionaires than Switzerland.

But what has fostered these inequities and in fact exacerbated them over the last ten or fifteen is not widely discussed. It is this deeper understanding of the complexities of the issue that seems to be absent from much of the debate.

From the immigration hawks we hear that a mix of government corruption and an inability or unwillingness on the part of people from these countries to effect change has led to the problems in this region. Lou Dobbs tells us that a greedy Mexican government intentionally ships its poor here to avoid upheaval. Others admonish the undocumented migrants living in the US, suggesting they return home and work to fix their own countries rather than look for acceptance here.

Those supporting comprehensive reform skirt around the issue of causation, looking instead for methods to regulate and accommodate this increasing flow of migrants. Looking to change or shuffle quotas and grant temporary worker status to a large percentage of newly arriving migrants, their plans are also flawed and incomplete. They don’t address the reasons this migration is taking place.

But if we are to ever effect meaningful reform of our flawed immigration system we must start to face the tough questions and look for real solutions. We must start to look at causation and how to change the current paradigm.

This video, produced by the Teamsters Union, long-time opponents of NAFTA, looks at one of these root causes of migration.

Admittedly, this Teamster produced video, like everything that comes from the forces at play on the greater Washington stage, presents a picture painted by those with an agenda that doesn’t always coincide with the greater concerns of migrants. But with that said, it certainly raises some of the right questions …..questions we need to start to address.

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