Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Biggest Bush Administration Lies And Falsehoods Of The Week

1. There is "no evidence" of oil company price gouging: This week a number of oil companies posted some of the biggest corporate profits in American history. One oil company actually posted the fourth largest quarterly profit of all time for a U.S. owned corporation. In the second quaurter of 2005, the profit on a barrel of oil was $10.95. Today it has grown to an average of $21.96.

It must also be noted that the world commodities markets prices over $70 for a barrel of oil relate to a barrel of oil that must be imported from a state such as Mexico, Canada or Saudi Arabia. Locally pumped and refined oil in close locations such as Houston, Texas or in cities in California close to this processing can be pumped and processed far cheaper, but oil companies never seem to offer very much of a discount to local motorists. On the other hand motorists in other world cities receive huge discount benefits from the local pumping and refining of oil. In Venezuela, a gallon of gas is a mere 12cents. In Iraq it is about 35 cents. Even in oil rich Iran, motorists seldom pay much more than about $1.13 a gallon. In Saudi Arabia it is about 91cents. In Kuwait it is about 78cents. In Lagos, Nigeria it is about 38 cents. In Cairo, Egypt it is about 65cents. In fact, the U.S. is one of the few nations of the world in which the big oil companies seem to offer no local huge discount for locally pumped, refined, and sold oil products. Gross domestic price gouging and profiteering of the oil industry seems to be the only explanation when 46% of the nation's oil supply is from domestic sources and Mexico and Canada are the two closest importers with far cheaper shipping than from much farther sources like Saudi Arabia.

2. U.S. troops will be able to come home soon after the new Iraqi government is finalized: This is completely absurd. Since the December 2005 legislative election in Iraq, only one 40 minute session of the Iraqi legislature has been held. And while the Shiite majority finally decided to break the deadlock by chosing another leader, there is no evidence at all that a new government will be able to immediately end the sectarian conflict in Iraq that has continued since Winston Churchill drew up the nation in 1922 in a hotel room after the defeat of the WWI Turkish ottoman Empire. Three weeks ago there were 35,000 refugees from the growing violence living in tents from the sectarian violence and "ethnic cleansing" in Iraq. Today there are more than 100,000. April was the bloodiest month for U.S. troops this year. Insurgents of all types wage around 460 attacks a week. And a rising spectre of a serious war with Iran forces U.S. troops to stay deployed in Iraq close to the Strait Of Hormuz, and to protect MidEast oil supplies shipments from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Bush Administation merely floated the U.S. troop level reduction lowering comments to bouy sagging political support for both the administation as well their war policy.

3. President voiced his disapproval for the new Spanish language version of the National Anthem, claiming it should done only in English: The "National Anthem" is not some uniquely American patriotic song. It is merely the British anthem that honors the Queen of England, "God Save The Queen", done with American lyrics. So there is no history of this anthem having any uniquely American history that has ever existed. And in musical history, different artists doing new versions of existing songs has always existed. There is no reason why this anthem must only be performed one way or by one artist. In fact two of the most famous versions of this song were from Jimi Hendrix at the Woodstock concert and the terrible mockery that Roseanne Barr performed at a sporting event. Right wing hate talk radio and the Bush Administration may have circled their wagons around attacking the Hispanic community over one Latin radio station playing this new Spanish version of the National Anthem on the airwaves, but there is no historical reasoning to either of their bigoted attacks or using this as a new political talking point. The National Anthem has always been open to new versions ever since the days the song was ripped off from the British who wrote and performed it long before any American ever had.

John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith, one of my greatest personal heroes, who was a prominent liberal economist and proponent of progressive vales has died. He served Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson.

Galbraith helped to guide the successful economics during the WWII Roosevelt years and worked on the price and wage control board that prevented inflation from destroying the U.S. ecomomy due to the war expenditures. Galbraith opposed strategic bombing of civilian populations in Germany and Japan, claiming that such brutal military tactics do not shorten a war. He was a prime proponent of a just and fair economy that served the benefit of all in society, not just the wealthy interests.

Of his many fine books, written in a very entertaining as well as accessible style, THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY helped to contribute heavily to the Kennedy and Johnson era plans for the War On Poverty. During the 1960's this Johnson era social program set up programs and social goals to lift 35 million Americans out of poverty. But with the election of Richard Nixon, these goals were slowly blunted. Today during the Bush Administration, one of the most antipoor administrations in U.S. history, poverty is growing, wages are decreasing, and the American middle class is declining while the wealthy only grow richer in an economy that is growing at a brisk rate over 4% a year.

John Kenneth Galbraith seemed to get it just right. He was a sharp critic of the abuses of capitalism and sought to trim those abuses and create a more fair and equal America. His deep contribution to 1960's liberalism as well as economic justice will be greatly missed by me.

Anna Svidersky Memorial Events Raise Over $85,000

In an amazing show of support for the family of the 17 year old Russian immigrant girl who was murdered while working at a Vancouver, Washington area McDonald's, a fundraiser brought in $85,000 for the family of Anna Svidersky, far more than the hoped for $40,000.

And a alternative music concert staged last night may have brought in another $2,000. Anna was a huge music fan. And her friend's very fondly remember her often using the slang expression, "dude", when she spoke. Her life offered so much promise and she was so well loved by so many friends. It was indeed one of the saddest events to hit her high school ever. The senior would have turned 18 last week.

The brutal and senseless kitchen butcher knife stabbing death murder of this young immigrant who who gave up cheerleading and other after school activities to take up a second job to help support her family by paranoid schizophrenic registered sex offender,David Sullivan, a 28 year old, supposedly under the close supervision of his parents, really touched the Vancouver area community.

The senseless murder also brought together many immigrants both from the Russian and Hispanic communities in support, as well as others from the Vancouver community in a strong show of support that counters some of the publicy that the antiimmigrant far right has recently managed to get from the MSM. It is further proof that the overwelmimg majority of immigrants to the U.S. are decent and hardworking persons who are a great asset to this country.

On her MySpace Blog, Anna considered Jesus to be her "hero. While Sullivan was charged with premeditated murder as he claimed he planned to murder a "female" under police questioning. For Sullivan it represented the classical sort of hate crime that paranoid schizophenics often commit where they create an enemy of some group of persons and often act violently. Sullivan also claimed that maybe he should have stayed home with his "stuffed animals" and that he did a "evil" thing. Indeed you did a "evil" thing Mr. Sullivan.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Rush Limbaugh Arrest

There is no good news in the arrest of Rush Limbaugh, who reportedly attempted to buy as much as $10,000 a week of the highly addictive drug oxycontin. It is a sign of a life way out of control. And his on-air comments attacking the once use of marijuana by President Clinton or his comments that drug users should be thrown in jail are merely the comments of someone in deep denial that they were a drug addict that even lied to themself about the serious nature of their problems.

Alcohol or drug abuse is sad in any person. And hopefully Limbaugh will get the help he desperately needs. But at the same time he has lost credibility as a spokesman for "traditional" or "conservative" values and his opinions no longer hold the weight of any credibility. It is time for him to get his life in order and leave America's airwaves.

Bush Sense Of Humor Sure Fell Down With David Gregory Comment This Week

Sometimes Mr. Bush attempts to be both funny and engaging during a press conference. Indeed sometimes he is very charming and likable. But during a press conference this week an attempt to be funny by Bush when he claimed that David Gregory would not pass a background check was unfunny.

Recently Matt Drudge reported that David Gregory may have been drunk when called into the Don Imus early morning program, however evidence from the transcript of the show instead seems to prove that Gergory was not intoxicated when he called the Imus program March 2, from India, but rather jet-lagged, tired, but a little giggly when called in.

It is interesting that the only president ever elected who has a documented arrest record for theft, claims of drunken driving, claims of cocaine abuse, and has some claims by some of a court suppressed cocaine arrest, as well as questions about his guard service, and was reported by the Washington Post to be involved in a loud drunken incident in 1988 with Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal in a restaurant, as well as a highly questionable claimed report that he once got a teenage minor pregnant as a young man which was was also claimed to result in an abortion, should make any issue of the background of anyone for comedic reasons.

It appears that the White House does keep close tabs on the possible political dirt on reporters such as David Gregory, where the Drudge Report was apparently an issue of discussion around the White House. Rather than the Bush comment being funny, it offers an unsettling glimse into a White House not unlike the Nixon one who likely engages in enemy lists and politically destroying opponents. Along with the leak of the identity of the CIA agent that has landed "Scooter" Libby in legal problems as well led to Karl Rove being questioned this week, the little Bush "joke" about David Gregory really backfired.

Some jokes simply are not funny. The David Gregory comment really fell flat and only raises questions about a White House that seeks to destroy political opponents and actually distains democracy and a free press.

Tony Little Creates TV's Most Outrageous Paid Ad Ever!

Hold the presses! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Fortunately not everything in life revolves around serious things like high gas prices or serious nuclear tensions with Iran. Paid ad guru Tony Little has provided some much needed comic relief with the most outrageous and funny paid ad ever made for a new health pillow he's marketing on TV.

The ad opens with a scroogelike fellow who is terrorized in bed by three ghosts that are both funny and unsettling at the same time. Then former HSN hostess Mindy McCortney, who is still a major babe into her forties, and also the former wife of Tony Little is introduced. Soon Tony Little appears and uses what appears to be a human skeleton borrowed from a medical school to illustrate how his pillow works in yet another creepy and unsettling presentation. Later a bizarre faced ballon that Tony Little claims to have made himself is introduced, giving yet another unsettling image to this bizarre and outrageous paid ad.

With this paid ad alone, Tony Little has outdone every previous outrageous paid combined. The investment ads of the Rice brothers, two dwarfs who made a fortune in real estate or the automobile additive ads that run car engines in sand are soon forgotten with this silly and outrageous new Tony Little paid ad. Incidently, one of the Rice twins was sadly gravely injured in a fall recently and died of his injuries, so no new ads by the surviving brother are likely.

If Tony Little intended to attract attention with his new ad, then he certainly attracted mine. It has all the bad taste and bizarre writing style of a Ed Wood movie like PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, as well as the loud and enthuastic style of Tony Little along with all the cute as a bug in a rug perkiness of former HSN babe, Mindy McCortney. This ad is unfortunately far more funny than some of the comedy TV programs passed off by the networks as comedies.

Most paid products including Tony Little's ones are always pretty good products. But some buyers are wary of buying made-for-TV stuff. One of the worst of all time was a British fellow who introduced an automobile product that was soon pulled from the market where thinned down clear-coat paint was once marketed as some sort finish restorer. The result left the buyer with the appearance of having painted their car's finish with a sponge, instead of giving the car the great finish of the TV examples, which must have had to be painted with a spray gun professionally or similar. Buyers who thought they were buying some sort of super car wax had to be absolutely shocked at the results.

But Tony Little has provided a product that looks useful and probably worth the money if it helps to avoid the neck or spine problems for many buyers that it claims to aid. But the outrageous show and tell to sell this "world's greatest pillow" certainly woke me up.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cheap Oil Disappeared With The Failure Of Bush Foreign Policy

On September 18, 1998, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the main proponents of regime change in Iraq, testified before the House National Security Committee and argued that supporting regime change in Iraq would help to put the largest oil field in Iraq under "international supervision". Indeed Saudi Arabia was deeply concerned as late as 2003 that a primary goal of the U.S. in invading Iraq was solely for American oil company interests to develop undiscovered oil supplies there and put more oil on the world market.

Saudi Arabia has a known supply of 262 billion barrels of oil, however 4.5 million barrels a day of seawater is pumped into the giant Ghawar oil field to maintain production levels equal to 1977 when most of the main world oil wells went past the "peak oil" point. New supplies of oil needed to be found.

Iraq has a known oil field supply of 113 million barrels. But with a suspected 220 million barrels of undiscovered oil hidden in Iraq, this nation may have either the second or first highest level of world oil. This could reduce Saudi Arabia to second place in world oil output as well as reduce oil prices.

It was a well known fact in U.S. oil company circles that putting Iraq under U.S. military control would not only put a permanent base of U.S. forces in the region to counter Iran, but would also put these forces very close to such major oil exporters to the U.S. as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as well as the ability to control this flow of oil from the Strait Of Hormuz.

But instead of the 2003 war in Iraq providing regional political stability, or stable or cheap oil supplies, it has helped to spur a political reaction in Iran where a hardline government replaced that of a moderate reformer, and a nuclear crisis threatens all future oil supplies from the MidEast. Just this week Israel paid Russia to launch a military satellite that can view objects as small as 27 inches from space to spy on the Iranian nuclear program as a pretext to a possible future military assault, and Iran received a new shipment of long range No-Dong missiles from North Korea that can hit targets in Europe. And the U.S. is preparing for a major explosive test in Nevada of a 700 ton chemical bomb to test for the possible effectiveness of using tactical nuclear weapons to take out the Iranian nuclear research sites that are in bunkers as deep as 75 feet underground.

Not only has the war in Iraq spurred a negative political reaction in Iran that feeds a dangerous possible nuclear war situation with Iran that creates a climate of an uncertain economic environment that is fueling sharply higher oil prices, and the instability created in Iraq also spurs an average of 460 insurgent attacks a week. And two more far less than positive "democratic" elections urged on by U.S. pressure in Iraq and the Palestinian Authority region have brought further MidEast regional instability. Even today, in a interview with NBC, Bush now talks about MidEast "instability". This is a far result from the intended Bush foreign policy goals to bring regional stability to the MidEast.

And instead of the Bush Iraq War providing the U.S a stable supply of cheap MidEast oil, the resulting ongoing conflict in Iraq has cost an estimated $320 billion, cost 2,396 American lives, wounded 17,469 and raised the cost of a barrel of oil from $28.50 in 2003 to $71.83 today. The cost of a gallon of unleaded gas also increased from an average of $1.56 in 2003 to an average of $2.91 today. Heating oil increased from $1.13 a gallon in 2003 to an average of $2.59 today.

Ever evolving reasons to justify the failed policy of a war in Iraq to bring Iraqi oil supplies under U.S. control are found by the administration to justify the war. And nonsense explanations such as a fear of Iraqi WMDs were hardly founded on hard fact. After the first Gulf War, Iraq's military was heavily damaged and few if any Scud missiles remained that could deliver even a chemical warhead to Israel. At worst a pesticide based chemical warhead attack on Irsael would kill less than 40 persons unless a direct hit on a very closely packed crowd of persons in Tel Aviv. Iraq lacked a fleet of long range missiles, and had no reactor or major nuclear centrifuge efforts to enrich uranium into nuclear weapons grade material. And new and evolving Bush Administration arguments of the war in Iraq to fight terrorism is only a lame excuse to justify the resulting failure to secure this nation against a force of Iraqi insurgents and a few foreign fighters. Most of the "enemy fighters" that are jailed in Iraq are Iraqi's. Very few so-called "foreign fighters" are found or jailed.

If the Bush foreign policy is to be judged on the basis of achieving the goals of providing MidEast stability, or a stable and cheap oil supply, then it has grossly failed on all three levels. The Bush foreign policy has ended the era of cheap oil with their grossly failed foreign policy that is also creating a negative antiU.S. reaction in South America and threatening that supply of oil as well.

Today talk from the Bush Administration is of making more fuel efficient automobiles or Senate Republicans wanting to bribe motorists with a small $100 tax rebate coupled with a bid to drill for oil in an environmentally sensitive area of Alaska that would take years to offer any benefit. The $100 tax rebate is a very small price to offer when so many sacrificed their sons and daughters in a war for cheap oil that was a complete failure and has brought the world very close to the brink of a future nuclear war with Iran.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Ugly Truth About The "Illegal Immigration" Debate

There is an ugly truth about the current illegal immigration debate. The issue is especially attractive to many lower income Whites who compete for many of the lower paying jobs with many recent immigrants and also to racist elements within the American right. It is however wealthy economic interests who want a cheap labor pool here to make huge profits, and ultimately it is their voice that is the most important one.

Since the early days of America, wealthy interests have used indentured servants or slaves to work on farms, and to harvest indigo plants, rice, tobacco and cotton. Slaves were bought from African leaders who conquered rival nations or tribes in warfare, and they were sold to American slaveowners who transported these slaves in the hulls of ships under terrible conditions to an abusive life of forced labor on American agriculture and to make some early Americans the beginning roots of the growing economic power of the elite American ruling class.

Even the Southern Baptist Church was founded in 1845 by interests who formed the Southern Baptist Convention as a form of a faith to justify the slavery issue. This was a clear break from the historic Baptist roots of the Baptist faith. But there was a clear intent by the wealthy slaveowners to even use faith to justify this awful economic practice because exploitation of a virtually free labor force was so central to amassing a huge fortune for these persons .

With many immigrants from China who would work on the American railroads in the 1800's for very low wages as well as Irish immigrant refugees from the Potato Famine, these recent immigrants were exploited by the growing power of the wealthy in America as low waged labor nearly as cheap to exploit as slavery. Indeed many entire armies were made up entirely of Irish immigrants were used by both the North and South to fight the American Civil War.

The early days of capitalism under the emerging Industrial Revolution removed many former lower level agrarian workers from the land towards working in factories, totally dependent on industry for employment where nowadays a person is considered to be either "employed" or Unemployed" much like the old days when the terms "freeman" or "slave" were used.

Now modern capitalism looks to low wage workers in places like China or India for much of their profit enhancing labor. But for smaller more purely domestically run businesses, the legal and illegal immigrant now replaces the low cost labor force that slaves or indentured servants once filled.

With the economic clout of these wealthy interests to use the cheap labor of immigrants to exploit for huge profits especially in agriculture, food service work and food and meat processing, these interests have great influence on any ultimate policy regarding immigration. These interests want this cheap labor despite the huge costs to states such as California in which the low wages paid and resulting lower tax revenues do not add a great deal to the state treasury where huge social service costs are incurred that make this state virtually ungovernable.

What will result from the current illegal immigration debate is the continued economic exploitation of immigrant workers as a lowly paid class of workers to enhance the profits of wealthy interests, as well sort of "show piece" document for legislators in Congress to show the voter before the November election. Already there is the charade of a sort of fence being built along part of the border between the U.S. and Mexico. It is however built of such flimsy material with enough of a gap under the fence that you can virtually slide under this fence without having bring a shovel or use your hands to move a little soil. This showpiece fence will cost billions of dollars and could extend 700 miles. A huge expense for a mere showpiece that will become a immigration issue bragging point that has no real serious intent to keep immigrants out based on it's absurdly poor construction. In Arizona, some steel rails merely intended to prevent cars or trucks with drugs are being erected. But these have holes that persons can easily slip through. It is further proof that no real serious intent to prevent this low wage class of immigrant workers from entering the U.S. to work as labor really exists.

It is always a constant argument of defenders of American capitalism to brag that the U.S. has the greatest economy in the world. Certainly that can be true when powerful interests have accumulated a huge wealth by a history of exploitation of the poorest of Americans, or exploitation of immigrants or cheap foreign labor. The immigrant, both legal and illegal, will continue to be a new "slave" for this wealthy class to accumulate more and more wealth. It is also disappointing the way some right wing Republicans have exploited this issue to some of their voters in a racist manner, and also some Democrats who are making ovatures to immigrant voters while attempting to block a move in Congress to make illegal immigration a misdemeanor rather than a felony, and to create a fine of $2,000 which is a huge sum for these poorly paid immigrant workers to pay.

There is the serious issue of the dehumanizing exploitation of a poorly paid class of workers to enhance the profits of the wealthy. There are also those racist elements who further victimize these poorly paid immigrants for political reasons on the right. And some Democrats also straddle this issue for their own gain, while not really standing with immigrants in Congressional votes. The entire history and political environment surrounding this issue is very disingenuous. The economic and political exploitation of the immigrant will undoubtaby continue without abate. The immigrant has merely replaced the slave of older times. Wholesale economic and political exploitation and abuse will only continue. This is the ugly truth about this issue.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cheap Oil Drove Successful Alternative Power Autos From The Marketplace 100 years Ago

The new high oil price crisis and the resulting low ratings for President Bush and the Republicans are creating a mad scramble to jump start a new generation of alternative fuel powered automobiles. However 100 years ago, some successful alternative fuel automobiles existed that had some huge advantages over gasoline powered cars but were driven from the marketplace by cheap oil in those days.

In 1906, one model of the Stanley Steamer was able to post a record speed of 127mph. From 1908-1919, the Ford Model T was only able to post a top speed of 45mph. A 1907 experimental model of the Stanley Steamer was able to break the 150mph mark. It was not until the 1966 Buick Riveria that was able to post a top speed of 143mph that any American production car was able to post a speed close to the year later racing version of the 1907 Stanley Steamer "Rocket". But what hurt the Stanley Steamer was the owner had to wait for a warm-up of the water to provide the steam power. The gasoline engine provided a quick source of power to the owner. But with today's microwave oven technology, maybe a fast warm-up would he possible. The Stanley Steamer automobiles were like a small locomotive engine. Since the 1698, successful models of steam powered engines had proven themselves to be viable.

In 1909, when battery storage was not very technologically advanced, the Baker Electric cars were able to travel 110 miles without having to recharge. But these cars tended to be fragile and more designed for city driving as country roads tended to damage or break the car's suspension. But with today's huge advances in batteries such as those used in the Toyota or Honda hybrid automobiles, the possibility of electric automobiles that are far technologically superior than the 1909 Baker Electric as more than possible.

What did in both the Stanley Steamer and the Baker Electric was cheap oil. It seemed far more convenient just to fill the car up with cheap gas. It provided the car and owner a quick fix that provided instant power. Even as late as the Nixon Administration, Nixon predicted that gas would never hit more than $1.00 a gallon. It was only a few years later in the Ford and Carter Administrations that higher gas prices hit along with gas lines. Some automobiles such as Chrysler were totally unprepared for a rise in price from 35-65 cents a gallon. Chrysler was put on the road to bankruptcy by only having large automobiles to market in those days. Even small companies such as American Motors had smaller cars such as the Gremlin and Hornet with economical six cylinder engines and merely dropped their largest or most fuel hungry models such as the Javelin, Javelin AMX and the Ambassador when the first American fuel crisis hit. Chrysler eventually needed a bail-out by the U.S. government to survive and developed small fuel efficient models such as the K-Car platform cars and Omni and Horizon in their bid for a comeback in the automobile business. Today the German company, Daimler owns Chrysler, where only GM and Ford survive as American brands.

In 1977, the oil industry also hit what was known as the "peak oil" point in which more extreme measures had to be taken to maintain nearly the same level of oil production as in the past. Since that point, some oil wells such as the giant Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia have required as much as 4.5 million barrels of seawater to be pumped in each day in order to raise the oil level enough to maintain previous production levels. Most of the largest oil wells in Russia or other places now require either air or gas injection to push out more oil production, but most of these oil reserves continue to decline to as little as 10% of previous barrel production rates.

For way too long, oil was used as the primary power source for world industrial societies. There was more than ample time in the last 100 years to develop viable alternative fuel automobiles, but the warning was ignored. Now a real crisis is developing in higher prices, a possible serious war with Iran, and trouble spots like Nigeria and Venezuela, and a growing demand of 20 million barrels a day demand by the U.S. and a sure to increase demand of 6.5 million barrels a day from China. China's economy is growing at a rate of 10% per year. It is only rules that limit the use of automobiles in 500 of China's largest cities that prevents a full blown world fuel shortage and price increase crisis. China is considering opening 200 cities up to increased automobile use. In 1988 privately owned Chinese industry accounted for only $5.3 billion dollars in trade. By last year this grew to $288 billion. As Chinese industry grows more coal as well as oil will be needed. With a population 4 times that of the U.S. and China expected to become the world's largest economy by 2042, if Chinese oil consumption grows to only 50% per person usage of the 20 million barrels of U.S. usage a day, then there is no possible way that world oil output could squeeze out an increased Chinese demand from the present 6.5 million barrels a day to 40 million barrels a day.

Just like the days of whale oil use which nearly depleted much of the world's oil production, the world has relied on cheap and plentiful oil supplies for far too long. Now a crisis of tightening supplies and resulting high prices as well as serious international friction points like Iran, Nigeria or Venezuela exist that could tip into military conflicts. Rather that alternative fuel vehicles being driven from the marketplace 100 years ago by cheap oil, it would have been far better for them to co-exist and grow in technology and compete head to head with existing gasoline models. Now that a real crisis is here, it is a little late to fix the problem overnight when the last 100 years were squandered away.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Payday Loan Sharks Get Last Laugh From Oregon Legislature

Oregon is only one of seven states with no interest rate caps on "payday loan" type businesses where interest rates can top 469%. With the huge surge in gasoline prices more and more lower income persons are counting on shady businesses such as payday loan, cash advance or pawn shops for money for bills or to put enough gas in the car to drive to work.

The Oregon legislature had a real opportunity to limit the type of legal loan shark practices that this industry forces on the poor. And in what appeared to many to be a consensus of Democrats or Republicans to crack down on this abuse of the poor, the legislature voted to cap the maximum interest rates at 36%.

The real problem with this was that it was merely a show for the voters only days before the May primary. The actual bill passed had a clause that allows it to take effect in 2007, not on July 1, 2006, which allows the payday loan industry ample time to file lawsuits to kill this bill in the courts or to have Republican legislators weaken or even gut the bill entirely in the next legislative session. Some Republicans that voted for the bill before the May 16, primary already commented that they intend to "fix" the bill in the next legislative session.

It is also a highly cynical approach to both the voters and to the real problems of an arrogant industry that preys upon the poorest of Oregonians that a number of Republican legislators who receive campaign donations from either the payday loan industry or their lobby, vote for a bill solely to have a selling point with the voters right before the primary election, but put in a escape clause not allowing it to take effect, giving lawyers from the payday loan industry plenty of time to kill the legislation with lawsuits. And if this isn't enough to kill the bill, then the legislators can kill the bill if they manage to elect a Repulican majority in either chamber.

Last session, Republican Speaker of the House, Karen Minnis would not even allow a bill for self-extinguishing cigarettes to be voted on. Careless smokers cause nearly 900 grass or forest fires in Oregon each year. And nationwide careless smokers cause an average of 31,000 housefires each year in the U.S. But both the tobacco industry and the payday loan industry have a strong ally in Minnis who makes a farce of her position of power in Salem.

I've seen the face of evil, and it's some of the members in the Oregon legislature who turn their back on public safety and fire prevention or who cast their lot with the evil loan sharks.

The New Push For Alternative Energy Automobiles

One funny thing about a Republican presidential administration is that they will always do at least one thing that will really surprise even the wisest political pundits. With a Bush family background in the Texas oil business, and 42 members of the present administration who are either oil company executives or major stockholders, the new push for alternative energy automobiles by President Bush is both surprising as well as may offer the only issue in which Bush may be remembered for successful leadership. Like the Kennedy call for a man on the moon before the end of the 1960's decade, which laid down a challenge to science and technology to respond with the successful July 1969 moon landing, the new White House challenge presents a great goal for American industry.

With hopes for reshaping the MidEast into a democratic region largely in tatters, and the hope of the Iraq War to reshape Iraq into a model state for this new MidEast all but a complete failure, the hope of inspiring a resurrection of the ailing American automobile industry into a renewed force behind the strength of the development of new alternative energy vehicles is indeed a bold challenge by the President. Along with his strong post 9/11 response performance, the only real high water mark for this administration, this great new technology challenge may prove to be the only other issue on which Mr. Bush was seen as a real leader by the history books.

But some real technological and business problems remain for the two surviving American automobile companies that could doom even this bold challenge to reinvent the American automobile.

GM has spent $1 billion on mostly failed experiments to develop hydrogen fuel cell automobiles. GM has faced great technological problems with cold weather damaging sensitive membranes that convert the hydrogen into a usuable energy source, and storage problems with the hydrogen remain. Currently he cost of the technology would run as much as $70,000 per automobile. This needs to be brought way down, and the severe technological problems solved.

Anoher problem is the business model of GM itself. It is still run too much like the old Hyundai corporation business model which nearly failed because of very high top executive salaries that took way too much money out of the company, treating it like their own personal "piggy bank". Some GM executive salaries run very high at a time the company is facing difficult financial times and employees are asked to accept sacrifices. Hyundai also nearly failed because these high salaries forced real cutbacks in quality control as well. But a newer CEO at Hyundai turned around the company by dramaticly lowering salaries far closer to the production worker levels and dramaticly improving the quality of the products as well. Today both Hyundai and fellow South Korean electronics producer, Samsung represent a great level of quality for a reasonable price.

Unlike a small company such as the now defunct American Motors, which was able to develop new automobiles on a shoestring budget, GM has been largely a model of a very noncost effectively run corporation. With excessive executive salaries, huge largely wasted new product development costs, this company has managed to run into many serious problems that seriously impact it's future ability to survive.

In September of 1969, American Motors introduced the Hornet, which was developed for just $40 million in production costs and cost only $1,994. A few months later in April of 1970 they introduced the first modern American subcompact, the Gremlin model, for only $6 million in production costs and sold for just $1,879. From September of 1969 until part of 1987 in which Chrysler purchased the business assets of AMC, some production automobile model from this company was based off the Hornet/Gremlin type platform and included the Spirit, Spirit AMX, Hornet and Concord based AMX, Concord, and Eagle 4 wheel drive models. Even Studebaker/Packard was able to save money by some experimental models such as "Black Bess" which was a two door design on one side and a four door on the other. Some older Rambler designs were only half a car where a mirror was actually used to represent the other half. And some prototype models had one headlight on one side, and two headlights on the other. Small companies like AMC and Studebaker/Packard were masters are cost saving business models that neither GM or Ford seem to much follow today.

And some past older examples of alternate fuel vehicles were largely successful in the early days of American automobile building. A 1906 Stanley Steamer was able to post a top speed of 127mph. A model built for racing was able to post a 150mph speed. An experimental racing version of a Willian Lear steam engine based on a jet engine type design was able to reportedly run at 280-320mph. In 1909, a Baker Electric was able to travel 110 miles without recharging the batteries. College students have also built successful solar powered automobiles for environmental or racing events.

Small companies have produced viable models in the distant past that have worked reasonably well. But the hydrogen fuel cell model is so far a largely unproven design with severe cost and technology problems. It could well prove to be either the salvation or ruination of GM depending on whether the design succeeds or fails.

Toyota is already betting against GM. They expect the hydrogen fuel cell design to be a technological failure. Toyota has already predicted that hybrid gas/electric automobiles are the future of most automobiles within 10-15 years. With a relatively decent reliabity rate with very few new product problems, and quality batteries far better than in the days of the Baker Electric in 1909, the successful Toyota designs offer both a proven example to GM of a near copy design of the Toyota models or the development of electric automobiles that can greatly benefit from new advances in batteries.

The really alarming fact is that Toyota has consistently proven to have great business instincts. Few Toyota products have been a market failure or have had problems with new technology. GM has had a past history of some great problems in really new technology design. The rear engined Corvair of the 1960's was an interesting new automobile, but suffered from some strange handling characteristics and some other problems. The 1981 Cadillac V8-6-4 design was intended to be a new fuel saving technology, but only tended to disappoint many buyers with reliability problems. GM has never tried anything nearly as bold as the hydrogen fuel cell design and succeeded. Even the modern Chevrolet small block is largely the same design as original 1955 design, but with far more modern electronics and fuel management items connected.

Only the Japanese automobile manufacturer, Mazda, is a strong believer in hydrogen fuel cell technology. Mazda still believes that their largely discredited rotary engine design based of the 1957 design of the Felix Wanjel engine can be the engine of the future. Past problems with excessive fuel consumption and poor engine seals made the Wankel/rotary engine design largely a failure in all but the old RX7 sports cars. Even our old RX3 wagon was a real fuel economy disappointment that was quickly dumped by our family for a very dependable, but boring Plymouth Valiant model with a 225 slant six.

Mr. Bush has had a terrible track record for any real long term success as well. Even his strong approval ratings and post 9/11 performance quickly came down to earth with the war in Iraq, corruption scandals within his party, foreign policy failures, and a large public perception of ineptness or uncaring about concerns of the average citizen. It is a very important effort to seek a new nonpolluting alternative automobile, but it may well be that GM is the weakest pssible corporation to champion such a new technology effort, and that Mr. Bush is the weakest possible messenger to champion this bold new cause. Only time will tell.

But for the short term, whenever a motorist fills their automoble with $3 or $4 gas, it only adds to the anger of the voting public that this administration has grossly failed them. And with GM selling off assets and seeking to cut employee pension costs, they hardly represent the symbol of the greatest possible corporate strength to lead a new technology.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Murder Of A Young Immigrant

When 17 year old Russian immigrant, Anna E. Svidersky, whose family emmigrated in 2001, sought money for college she decided that a job working at a fast food establishment such as McDonald's was a great way to go. She was a well loved employee, a joyful and hard working employee, and well loved at her high school.

Minutes earlier, a 28 year old paranoid schizophrenic, former mental patient who has a criminal history as a sex offender, David Sullivan, grabbed a kitchen butcher knife and put it in a bag and left his home. Sullivan wandered more than a mile down the road and entered a Vancouver, Washington, McDonald's and while Anna Svidersky was cleaning tables in the restaurant was stabbed to death by Sullivan in a completely unprovoked attack. No one at this McDonald's had ever remembered Sullivan ever being at this location ever before. It was simply a random act of violence against an immigrant.

Like all popular places such as shopping malls or other open places, the possibility of being a victim of a random act of violence is always possible. No place is hardly any more dangerous than other places, but nationwide at least 88 customers and employees of McDonald's have found themselves to be victims of sometimes random violence. Yesterday in Downtown, Portland, a "drive by" shooting took place. A Trimet bus rider was killed some time ago by a random bullet fired from blocks away. Violent robberies at banks and other areas take lives every year in the U.S.

There is no reason to believe that Anna Svidersky was targeted for being an immigrant. The violence was totally random. And there is no way that places of business can be totally safe against such random acts of violence.

But immigrants come to America for a better life, and like all Americans sometimes face a untimely death from random violence. 142 immigrants to the U.S. have lost their lives in the Iraq War. Hundreds more have been wounded in active duty there. But the family of Anna Svidersky came to America to seek a better life for their children. Who could have ever foreseen that this young life would be lost to a random act of violence and end the way it did?

Antiimmigrant right wing activists argue that a "Berlin Wall" should be built around the U.S. border to keep immigrants out. But the fact is that most of the immigrants to this country come here to be decent and productive citizens of the U.S. It is sometimes from lifelong citizens that these immigrants face violence or death. Some of the wrong people living in America are some of our very own citizens.

Sunday Morning Update: Some notable quotes have emeged from this very sad random murder of the 17 year old Russian immigrant girl. Sullivan offered a comment to police that he should have "stayed home" with his "stuffed animals", and that he did a very "evil" thing. He has a childlike mentality that landed him in past trouble with the law for licking a small girl in a grocery store, and for attempting to abduct a 12 year old once before.

By comparison the blog of Anna Svidersky, many, many comments from shocked friends express their deep sorrow. One of Anna's most notable quotes was when she expressed an opinion on her hero: "The Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone Else Will Let You Down". After the fall of the officially atheist Soviet Union, many Russians found a new hope in faith and interest in religion. With many Russians only earning around $60 a month, far worse than even Mexico's wages, this faith in God offered an important new hope anchor.

At least one young male co-worker is still too upset to immediately return to work at the Vancouver McDonald's.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Oil Peaks At Over $75 A Barrel

Oil has peaked at over $75 a barrel today. This certainly should fuel prices well over $3 a gallon in most of the U.S. And on the East Coast, some shortages of gasoline supplies have even boosted some gas prices to over $4 a gallon in Brooklyn, New York.

Not only does this indicate that China is very concerned about tensions with Iran that could threaten it's chief oil supply outlet. China's economy which grows at an average rate of 10% per year, while the U.S. grows at slightly over 3%, uses 6.5 million barrels of oil a day for transportation, heating, and manufacturing. The U.S. uses 20 million barrels a day.

Since 1977, when the "peak oil" level was surpassed, extraodinary means have been used to maintain oil well production at previous levels. The giant Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia is only able to maintain acceptable production levels by pumping 4.5 million barrels of seawater into the oil well each day to raise the oil level up. In Russia and other countries, the main oil wells have witnessed steadily lower oil well output even with the pumping of gasses or air injection to raise oil production levels.

With declining production from nearly all of the world's oil wells since the 1977 "peak oil" production breakpoint, and as China is set to become the world's largest industrial economy by 2042 or possiby sooner, there is hardly enough oil supplies in the world to satisfy all the world's oil demands if a nation such as China required even 1/2 of the oil demands of the U.S. per person. This alone would account for 40 million barrels a day of oil. If China used oil in the same proportion as the U.S. demand, then this would account for 80 million barrels of oil a day. There simply is not the oil reserves available in the world to satisfy such a future huge oil demand.

The small French company that has developed a compressed air powered automobile,, and experiments with hybrid technology and alternate fuels become even more important as a serious fossil fuel crisis in both supply and demand level is developing. This problem is both real and very serious.

And in the past, serious political problems over shortages of materials and commodities have even helped to spur serious war as well. Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor when the U.S. cut off scrap steel exports to this nation. Britain decided to create and occupy the nation known as Iraq in 1922 after it had defeated the Turkish Ottoman Empire and oil had been discovered in the region. This led to Britain involved in combat difficulties in Iraq until a bloody 1958 rebellion forced British troops to withdrawal from the region. If the U.S. intended to invade Iraq partially to bolster it's presense in a region to counter Iranian control of one side of the Strait Of Hormuz that may have been seen as vital to maintaining the pipeline of oil to the U.S. economy, then most Americans were unaware of a conflict in Iraq that could cost the lives of U.S. soldiers for decades.

The political, economic and war and peace prospects of a shortage of world oil supplies and steep oil prices can in no way be understated. This is indeed the beginning of a serious world crisis with some very serious implications for the future.

NBC's "Celebrity Cooking" Ratings Meltdown

When Sean "Diddy" Combs and two other producers presented the executives who purchase programming at NBC the idea for a celebrity cooking challenge program, the NBC network executives loved the idea. They authorized the program project to build a giant set, and spent a good two weeks to promote the big promised one week event. But as soon as the event actually kicked off it quickly fell flat in ratings and was cancelled after just three episodes.

NBC will air the final two episodes online if anyone even cares.

What went wrong? For one thing NBC had a major proven major hit in DEAL OR NO DEAL. This program has proven itself to be one of the most popular programs worldwide. The American version of DEAL OR NO DEAL with Canadian born comic, Howie Mandel, has proven to be NBC's most popular program this season. A recent episode garnered 17.7 million viewers, and no recent episode has fallen below 13 million viewers. This is even stronger ratings than LAW AND ORDER:SVU, ER or MY NAME IS EARL, the other most popular NBC programs.

The disasterous ratings for CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN were hardly much better than the very weak ratings for WB's ONE TREE HILL of just 2.8 million viewers. NBC simply threw away millions of viewers who they could have attracted with new episodes of DEAL OR NO DEAL or other normal NBC programming. Last night, NBC decided that repeat episodes of WILL AND GRACE and MY NAME IS EARL were certainly better bets to air than the new episode of CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN which cost NBC so dearly in this week's ratings. A repeat of DEAL OR NO DEAL airs tonight at 8pm to replace the scrubbed episode of the failed cooking competition program.

There appeared to be very little interest in the cooking competition as a program to the viewing public. NBC radar failed to pick up on this. Normally NBC relies on opinion polling to help guide their programming options, but apparently did not bother to gauge opinion before this turkey was allowed to develop into more than just some bad idea. NBC in the past has sent surveys to me to help guide them, but I received nothing before NBC went ahead with this awful program.

It also appeared that so-called "celebrities" such as Tom Arnold appeared to be little of a draw to the average NBC viewer as well. And the loyal audience of 13 million viewers who love DEAL OR NO DEAL or other NBC programming rebelled by turning their TV sets to better programming on CBS or other channels.

Like the quickly failed NBC program, HEIST, which was a major disappointment that failed to live up to all the hype, CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN was a real disaster of disappointing programming that only took the viewer a few minutes to decide that they didn't like at all.

The lesson in all of this is that you cannot expect an audience of TV viewers to watch terrible garbage and not rebel. With a multiple of channels, TV is a great democracy where the bad programs face a stiff rejection in this great marketplace of ideas and concepts.

Long live democracy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oregon's Governor Race May Be Decided By Casinos

An amazing new independent advertising phenomenon is taking over the airwaves in Oregon, and threatens to pick the two major party nominees in the Oregon Governor's Race.

Native American run casino money independently funded political attack ads to prevent a new massive casino construction project in Oregon's Gorge area are being run by an organization, Oregonians Against Off Reservation Casinos, which is really an effort by interests of the Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde to prevent the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs from building this casino closer to the Portland area which would have a huge financial impact on the Spirit Mountain Casino. Some of these casinos take in $200 million or more a year and are a high stakes enterprise that is supposed to fund Native American services. However, the amount of funds poured into the Governor's race TV war by interests of the Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde is so masive and far more visible than any effort by the official campaign's of any candidate for Governor so far.

While Democratic Governor Kulongski has done as well as he possiby could with the massive state budget problems in the aftermath of 9/11 and a resulting unemployment rate that was either the worst or second worst in the nation for much of the last few years, which did sink state tax revenues and put a huge squeeze of state budgets, still this governor did very well to manage the state as well as he possibly could. Governor Kulongoski has also managed to attend the funeral of nearly every service person killed in the Iraq War, which says a great deal about his character that every Oregonian life lost in war matters. But a very popular former state office holder, Jim Hill, could well upset Kulongoski in the primary due to the massive help from the independently run casino ads which have been savaging Kulongoski. Hill could well become the first Black Governor of Oregon as even polls from organizations such as Rasmussen Reports give either Hill or Kulongoski a lead over the possible Republican challengers.

Both Kulongoski and Oregon Republican Party Chairman, Kevin Mannix, have been supporters of the Gorge casino plan by the Confederated Tribes Of Warm Springs. The Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde stand to lose a great deal of revenue at their Spirit Mountain casino which is further from Portland metro are than the proposed Gorge site Casino.

And Kulongoski is also suffering attacks from the left of the Democratic Party by another candidate Pete Sorenson, who is poking holes in Kulongoski's support. An Internet poll yesterday on KATU News came up with 60% support for Hill, and 20% each for Kulongoski and Sorenson. While this poll is not a scientific one, it nonetheless proves that a possible primary election defeat for Governor Kulongoski is very possible by Hill, who is bouyed by both the casino ads and not the fact of not being Kulongoski.

The Republican side is also heavily impacted by the influence of the casino interest ads. Businessman Ron Saxton, normally thought of as a Republican Party moderate is actually currently running to the right of Kevin Mannix, long a favorite of the Oregon right wing. But a new independent ad with ties to Loren Parks, is attempting to ruin Saxton with claims of his connection to some former Governor Goldschmidt supporters. Goldschimdt was implicated in a sex scandal with a 14 year old girl. But Mannix himself has raised questions as a former George McGovern delegate to the 1972 Democratic Convention, former Democratic state office holder until political opportunity caused him to switch parties in the last few years, a reputation for helping to weaken state ethics laws for state lawmakers, and defending a mayor charged with ethics violation as a private attorney. And recent questions surround Mannix's fund raising eforts as well. Given all of this political baggage and the impact of the casino ads running against Mannix, who has a "holier than thou" attitude that also offends some voters, Mannix may well be toast this year where Saxton may have the best shot at winning the GOP nonimation, but likely lose to either Kulongoski or Hill in the general election at this point in time according to polling data from Rasmussen Reports.

For the first time in political history, the independently funded attack ads from the casino interests of the Confederated Tribes Of Grand Ronde may well choose the next Oregon Governor. And on the national scene, convicted former lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, was also a paid lobbyist for Native American casino interests. This huge political influence of Native American casino lobbies or political advertising influence efforts is an entirely new political phenomenon in American politics. This could be the next new major trend in American politics, where Native American casino money chooses the political leadership of America, instead of funding the Native American services such as better schools or social programs that are greatly needed to resolve the terrible issues of povery that harm members of the Native American community.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Psychology Of MidEast Terrorism

It is difficult to nail down a single psychological mindset that dominates the terrorist mind. But a sense of alienation, persecution and hopelessness seem to be dominant traits among many attracted to this extremist philosophy.

Some like Moussaoui who is on trial are merely paranoid schizophrenics, who feel an abnormal sense of persecution, and strikes back in a violent and disorganized manner. Others in the MidEast are more accepting of the reality of Israel, or that poverty in their own nations is not likely to improve very soon. For these persons life simply goes on. They raise a familiy, find a job, have a home. But some like Moussaoui look to find a "victimizer" to hold responsible, whether that be Israel or the United States. But since the "inner demons" of the paranood schizophrenic mind are never given treatment, acts of violence only offer a transitory sense of relief from the paranoid delusions of persecution and emotional pain.

And some like Al Qaeda'a Iraqi leader, Abu Musab al-Zarkawi seem to have their very own sense of values, norms, sense of empathy, and other values. Some like Zarkawi seem to be more of a psychopath or even have a sociopathic lack of sense of caring about what is right or wrong.

But entire organizations such as Hamas have a strange sense of radicalism that does attempt to achieve advances through negotiation or dialogue with Israel, and only sustains big military losses as a result of support for cowardly terrorist acts against Israeli civilian targets that prove to be easy victims. Jordan today is very angry that a large cache of Hamas rockets was found hidden in Jordan to be used against Israeli civilians.

The PLO grew from a terrorist organization into a place of power as the main representatives of the Palestinian people. The Fatah Party as an outgrowth of it's PLO roots was able to achieve both power for itself as well as successful advancements in policy towards the Palestinian people. By comparison, there is no sense of seeking this place of power in negotiations with Hamas. Hamas is so radical that only violence satisfies many of it's followers, although every act of violence sets back Palestinian goals and the MidEast Peace Process futher.

Even the psychology of the WWII German Nazi Party was to capture land, and seek a treaty with the U.S. or other states for a cease fire to hold onto these holdings. Ultimately this could not be trusted. But it was at least an implied short-term goal. Hamas seeks only to do what appears to be in it's own worst interests. Instead of having achievements to show like the PLO outgrowth party, Fatah, Hamas has a strange psychology that risks it's own destruction when it steps over the line of violence with Israel. To any logical outside observer, this makes no sense at all. Unlike Fatah, Hamas proves itself basicly unable to rule the Palestinian people and threatens their well-being by provoking acts of violence likely to draw a sharp reaction from Israel once their patience wears off.

The Hamas psychology of winning by losing big makes little sense to most in the world. The psychology of terrorism is indeed a very strange one, but glued together by a common sense of alienation and frustration.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Musical Chairs: White House Edition

For some completely incomprehensible reason at the Bush White House it just hasn't dawned on them that the problem is with real world issues that are clearly not working. This is the reason for the sagging poll numbers and the expected November drubbing that Republican candidates are more likely than not to face. Instead, a sort of game of musical chairs of replacing a few incidental staffers with those who policies have largely failed elsewhere is being played out.

Today another game of musical chairs played out where a former congressman, Robert J. Portman, who completely failed to stem a rising tide of imports and rising trade deficits was elevated to the position of budget management. If someone has completely failed at their prior position, then why not promote them to the opportunity to really blow it must be the White House philosophy.

And Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, continues to daily brush off the critics, although he had his heart set on a revival of the old 1990-91 Gulf War in Iraq since 1997 as a member of the neoconservative PNAC(Project For The New American Century) organization, who completely failed to consider the historical consequences of Iraq where sectarian violence has existed since 1922 between the Sunni and Shiite communities.

From 1997-2003, Rumsfeld had only a mere six years to consider all the historical, military and planning difficulties of such a revival of the old Gulf War, but somehow never bothered to read any history of the sectarian conflict in Iraq that has existed since the British put together the artificial state of Iraq from defeated portions of the old WWI Turkish dominated Ottoman Empire. There was no military planning for enough U.S. manpower to secure all the arms in Iraq, as Iraq was largely a giant Saddam Hussein military ammo dump, and all these old cannon shells are now being built into the roadside bombs that have killed or disabled so many American troops. No house to house search was conducted to confiscate small arms either. Guns are rampant all through Iraq. It is a holiday for snipers. And not enough body armor was sent in with the U.S. soldiers, where the last Iraq war budget bill included no money for body armor, but $500,000 for a teacup museum among other pork issues.

And with increased global demand for oil, with emerging economies in China and India, both fearing a conflict with Iran could seriously impact their growing economies and leave them to look for other sources of fuel other than in Iran, China and India are prime reasons that the world commodity markets are peaking with $70 a barrel oil, and wholesale unleaded gas price per gallon of about $2.20, with a retail nearing $2.80-$3.00 a gallon at the pump. Any good signs of return of growth from the economic problems after 9/11 could soon be rolled back with an economy seriously in danger because of these high energy prices. A new recession could be in the near future. And as gas prices rise, the view that the White House is a "tool" of the big oil companies continues to grow as well, although the rise in oil prices is more complex than simply this main street explanation.

And Iran grows more dangerous by the day. Diplomacy is the right way. But Iran resists this. And the Hamas led government in the Palestinian territory actually endorsed the latest suicide bombing attack in Tel Aviv, Israel.

There are some problems out of control from the White House. It deserves some understanding and sympathy for such problems. But there are also huge problems of it's own making including the elective war in Iraq where the number of sectarian violence refugees living in tents who have abandoned their homes has increased from 35,000 to 65,000 in the last couple of weeks. There is still no real government in Iraq, where a corrupt coalition of a few Shiite leaders refuse to move aside and create a unity government. And deaths of American troops is up sharply from last month.

The White House doesn't get it that many policies are flat out failing, and massive war clouds with Iran may be forming as well as the most serious energy cost crisis in the nation's history. This lethal combination of problems of the Bush White House's own making as well problems that out of it's hands make 2006 a very dangerous year for both the Bush White House as well as America.

The Bush White House needs to shore up what problems it can. But it won't. So musical chairs simply won't work this time around. A new coat of paint on an old wreck simply won't drive any better.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Insights From Kevin Ray Underwood's Blog

It is a surprising item that Kevin Ray Underwood who was arrested for the gruesome Purcell, Oklahoma murder of a 10 year old girl that involved extreme violence and cannibalism was a blogger and gave a few insights into his very disturbed psychology.

There were few insights from popular culture into the disterbed psychology of Underwood. Underwood listed SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS as his favorite cartoon, although he doesn't watch cartoons all that much. Nothing too abnormal there. He liked music like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, but so do many normal music lovers. And he could equally listen to Weird Al as well. That balances out. His movie choices may have included A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, but he also loved MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL as well. There wasn't much very abnormal in his popular culture tastes. Poular culture doesn't make a brain abnormal. It is other factors in which a brain processes information and the abnormal function of brain chemicals and neurons that affect thinking or abnormal psychology.

But there were other disturbing signs of a loner and a 26 year old who was likely a virgin according to posted information on his blog. He was also taking a medication for depression. But likely he failed to inform his doctor of the "wierd fantasies" he also claimed to have in one blog entry. Likely he was suffering severe mental illness problems, but by failed to inform his doctor of this was musdiagnosed as merely depressed when far more serious mental illness existed.

A major problem with persons with mental illness is that they must receive medication that actually helps their symptoms. Prescribing antidepressants in many persons when other forms of mental illness is present does absolutely nothing and can contribute to suicide or severely disordered acts. Antidepressants likely are a medication that often does not work, as the increased rate of suicide under their 8influence seems to indicate, and can have a strange impact on some distubed minds, where some such an young Oregon boy, Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and shot up his school under the influence of antidepressants. There is much evidence of persons who are disturbed commiting strange crimes under the influence of antidepressants when serious mental illness symptoms required a far different medication such as an antipsychotic medication.

From postings on Kevin Underwood's blog at and, the 26 year old Underwood appeared to be a loner who committed crimes that could be defined as belonging to a "control killer" personality by criminal profilers. It appeared to be a pathetic disturbed way to control others, from a person who feels essentially powereless, and where a 10 year old appeared to be his easiest to control victim of opportunity. Underwood was not likely a pedophile in the classic sense, but the 10 year old victim seemed the most easy to control target when the opportunity present itself to fulfill the psychotic fantasies that began to dominate his mind as his mental illness progressed. One source seemed to indicate that a woman and a small boy were also considered by Underwood as victims. Likely he was on the path to becoming a serial killer with a series of victims, but his first crime was so bungled that he was caught before future crimes could have been committed.

Indeed this murder was a very gruesome one from a deeply disturbed personality. A very sad case. But the blog entries of Kevin Underwood do provide an interesting bit of insight into the psychology behind a terrible crime.

Tuesday Update: Apparently Kevin "Subspecies23" Underwood also has a blog over at On a question about cannibalism of all issues, Underwood made the disturbing comment about "wearing the skin" of his victim to dinner. For some reason this and more disturbing comments didn't raise any red flags with anyone. Amazing.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Peace Of The Easter Weekend Disturbed By Terrible Stories Involving Children

Easter weekend deserves to be a time of great peace and hope. But this weekend has been an unsettling one with some very disturbing stories involving children.

In Portland, Oregon a day care was shot up in what was likely gang related violence and a four year old child was wounded by a stray bullet. It is alarming when gangs battle with one another over turf or drug distribution territory and their violent battles spill over to affect children.

In Aruba, the public was reminded of the disappearance of 18 year old high school student, Natalie Holloway, as an arrest was made. How a student trip could end with a young student disappearing, and an arrest made which strongly suggests wrongdoing that led to her disappearance is deeply disturbing.

In Milwaukie, two young boys who were a subject of great concern for the nation apparently turned up to have drowned in some sort of tragic accident. This great heartbreak to the nation that prayed for the safe return of these boys who merely went to the park to play and never returned.

In Oklahoma, by far the most disturbing involving a child was the apparent murder of a 10 year old girl in a case in which she was lured to the apartment of a 26 year old suspec who according to police evidence beat her on the head with a meat cutting board, then suffocated her in an attempt to rape, mutilate, and eat the suspect. Meat tenderizer, canabalism evidence, or other deeply disturbing evidence of a former fast food worker and grocery store employee who sought to abuse a child sexually and to eat her to apparently satisfy a distubed psycho-sexual problem that he had. It is amazing that someone so dark and disturbed was able to move into the apartment building and no one knew what a seriously disturbed personality lurked in their own building.

What should be a weekend of peaceful rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ has been shaken by disturbing tales of violence or accidents involving children. This weekend has had more disturbing tales than any that I can recall in recent memory. Compared to soothing message of world peace embraced by the Pope this weekend, the news this weekend was extremely unsettling.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Leap Of Faith

Good Friday has always be a somber day. But this year an absurd shadow hangs over this important holy day of reflection. The National Geographic Society recently made a major news splash over the discovery if a third century document of the Gnostic religious sect that highlighted their absurd beliefs that Judas was a good man who only did as Jesus requested in turning him over to his captors, that ignores all the Bible images of Judas as a cowardly conspirator and a man with a bad heart.

THE DAVINCI CODE movie will soon hit the theatres, with an absurd conspiracy theory involving the Roman Catholic Church. And a major book by a British author promotted the absurd theory that Jesus somehow survived the Crucifixion.

This last book is especially absurd. The terrible torture and execution of Jesus left no doubt that no man could survive such abuse and survive.

The Roman style whip that Jesus was beaten with likely involved either lead balls, or even bits of sharp bone and bronze. It may have involved hooks on the end as well. Condemned prisoners were beaten with this device almost to the point of death as the hooks or other sharp bits tore away the skin and caused extreme bleeding and likely exposed muscles or the hooks could have even caused some holes and tears into the lungs or other vital organs, weakening and damaging them. Without immediate intensive care medical attention almost any prisoner so beaten would surely bleed to death.

Evidence of the weakened Jesus were written of in Scripture as Jesus stumbled and fell and could not even carry his cross after the severe bleeding had so weakened him.

And after being nailed to the cross, many would die of the combination of the bleeding from the beating or shock and heart failure from the severe abuse. But Jesus hung onto the cross for six hours, six hours of struggling to breathe as he slowly sufficated to death and died of cardiopulmonary failure. A spear was was even stuck in his side, and many water ran from his side as most of blood had ran out of the severe wounds caused by the morbidly cruel 39 stroke scourging and the serious nail wounds in his wrists and feet.

There was no need to break his legs like the other condemned prisoners hanging on crosses that day to cause death before the Sabbath. Jesus was dead from all his wounds and injuries. Nearly 100 pounds of oils and spices were used to embalm his body by his friends.

There is no way that any mortal man could survive such abuse. It is a real leap of faith for the new book to claim that Jesus somehow survived this execution and went on to a married life with Mary Magdeline or other nonsense claims of some modern revisionists.

The fact is a very great man who was the son of both God and Mary, a human, performed great miracles when he called on the name of his father, inspired thousands, and was severely mistreated and murdered by a execution that he did not deserve to save mankind. Modern revisionists may attempt to put forth absurd theories about Jesus, but all fall far short when facts about his life or Scripture are brought into the argument.

Good Friday is a somber day. But the resurrection of Jesus is a great event. No modern revisionist nonsense can tarnish that.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The American Terrorists

Last night's SOUTH PARK episode was banned by the executives of Comedy Central from portraying the Prophet Muhammad in the the interest of "public safety". Given all the world Islamic violence after the publishing of some cartoons in Denmark it was probably a wise move.

But there also seems to be a clear message to terrorists around the world. You can threaten violence to media or entertainment you don't like and get it banned.

In Indonesia a heavily censored version of Playboy hit the newstands, and almost right away, Muslim radicals began violence directed at the publisher although to satisfy the Muslim leadership of Indonesia, this version of the magazine features no nudes. Is the Muslim street violence then directed at the liberal thinking that the magazine supports? From the success of the violence in the wake of Danish cartoons, world Muslims have quickly learned that if you don't like part of American or Western culture, you just resort to violence to get your way.

But there's a rich tradition of such terrorist thinking that runs through the social conservatives of America. They are not intent to merely hold their own views of morality, but other must be forced to share those views.

In the archives of Concerned Women For America, the right wing Beverly Lehaye organization, there was a feature that praised a right wing pressure group, Citizens For Community Values for forcing Marriott Hotels in Cincinnati to drop adult entertainment "pay per view" cable programming. Like true American-bred terrorists, these American Taliban rented a room and made tapes of purchased "pay per view" programs and then ran to a local prosecutor to see if they could get criminal obscenity laws lodged against this major American corporation. Some states and federal law actually allows charging a business that sells as little as two books, films or such that a local judge or jury deems to be obscene as a "racketeering crime". This allows for government seizure of the entire business assets, masasive fines that could run into the millions of dollars, and penalties that could range for 20-90 years in prison for convicted business management. Certainly threatening a major American business with terrorism of this sort worked. When you threaten a major American corporation with the same as the death penalty, it works to threaten such legalistic violence. American terrorists don't have to plant some bomb, but they find "legal" ways to level those they don't like.

Concerned Women For America descibed the actions by the Cincinnati right wing group, Citizens For Community Values, as a "decency sting operation". But this was not a police operation such as bringing down a dangerous meth lab or crack house. It was the actions of right wing private citizens with no law enforcement authority to threaten a business with huge legalism penalties unless they conformed to their version of "morality".

But the attorney for Marriott, William O'Brien lamented that "What is bothersome or offfensive for one person may not be bothersome or offensive to another person". Which is exactly what Muslim religious terrorists hope to achieve. If something offends values that they hold, then all of world society is also not allowed to hold those values.

But American terrorists seek to impose their values in many other other areas such as seeking bans on Gay marriage for example. Because they have personal or religious objections to the American Gay community, then this American Taliban must enforce it's religious law on others.

And some American Taliban leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, use their organizations such as Focus On The Family to misrepresent and vilify examples of "cultural liberalism" that they do not like to moltivate street level American terrorists to take thug like action to suppress what Dobson does not like. Dobson still panders the absurd lies of Ted Bundy who was famous for "pulling the chain" of authorites to avoid execution several times by coming up with last minute nonsense right before a scheduled execution. Bundy gave a bizarre 1989 Floride death row interview where he made some claims that police detectives never found any evidence to support. Dobson doesn't care that these were the lies of a lunatic serial killer whose brain was actually removed after his execution for study by medical authorities to study for structurial or other abnormal problems. Dobson is perfectly happy to use the words of an insane serial killer to further his political goals if he thinks it serves his purposes or promotes fundraising efforts for his multmillion dollar Focus On The Family organization.

But American Taliban elements such as Dobson are not alone. Many more like Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, TV evangelists like D. James Kennedy, or many other members of the American Taliban community like to moltivate street thuggery politics to take down any examples of "cultural liberalism" they see. One popular target of D. James Kennedy is attacks on the American Civil Liberties Union. But Kennedy never explains what he means by these attacks. He may disagree with the organizations causes, but does that mean that the ACLU should be banned, outlawed, or is Kennedy simply able to voice policy disagreement? But knowing the American Taliban's previous history, they are not simply content to merely disagree. These American Taliban haven't previously proven much tolerance for views that they disagree with, and I doubt they're willing to start now. D. Kennedy wants the ACLU gone, and no doubt subscribes to the "end justifies the means" to achieve this. If Kennedy misrepresents or promotes enough of a distorted view of this organization, then it can breed the needed extremism to get rid of the organization some way or somehow.

But religious oriented terrorism against anything they personally do not like has proven itself successful both in the Muslim and Christian world. The American terrorist unlike their Muslim counterparts do not often use open violence, instead they misuse law or other means to legally cause harm to others. They feel that they have the right to do something to someone because of their opinions of culture.

There is no real difference between the American or Muslin world terrorists. Both force their views of society on others, and where that does not work, then causing harm or violence comes into play. A terrorist is a terrorist. There is no difference.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If The U.N. Means Business With Iran, Then It Has A Funny Way Of Showing It

One faint hope of preventing a serious war between Iran and the United States is for the U.N. to get tough with Iran and impose some meaningful sanctions that will cause the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad enough real financial pain to back down on their nuclear intentions.

But instead Iran has actually been given special rights by the U.N. organization CITIES(Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna, or Flora) to export for sale 100,000 pounds of caviar a year, while every other major world producer of caviar including Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are banned from exporting any caviar. The Black Sea caviar from Russia used to be world famous for quality.

And recess appointed American U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton, who Democrats seriously worried about, and the political right circled their wagons of support around claiming that he would really "shake up the U.N.", in the face of U.N. scandals such as the oil for food scandal with Iraq, surprising offered a nearly toothless comment a few days ago that maybe the U.N. could offer some sanctions that limited the Iranian exports of Persian rugs or pistachio nuts a little bit. One other more serious comment from Bolton did offer that maybe the illegal counterfeiting from Iran should be cracked down on.

Right now one of Iran's biggest exports besides oil, is the counterfeiting of U.S. currency that they dump on the world market. No nation should have to put up with counterfeiting of their currency. This can have serious impact on the value of any currency. Next to China, which allows a widespread counterfeiting of software such as unlicensed Microsoft Operating Systems in many of the Chinese made computers, and as much as 90% of other software and music CDs are counterfeited, Iran and North Korea rate as the world's worst regimes for counterfeiting American goods.

Somehow the U.N. seems to be so far toothless in their approach to offering some sort of meaningful sanctions that could prevent a serious war with Iran. Iran needs to know that a world community is united in fear of their nuclear program as some irresponsible statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and stands together in resolve not to allow the Iranians to create a force of nuclear weapons.

Instead Iranian counterfeiting goes on, day after day. Iranian produced Persian rugs and pistachios are exported. And the U.N. CITIES organization gives Iran special rights to export caviar that no other nation of the world is allowed. If the U.N. means to prevent war, and to mean business with Iran, it has a funny way of showing it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It's A Wonderful World

Boy oh boy, is good news just popping up all over. It's almost like the lyrics from the old song by Devo, "It's A Wonderful World".

Iran's wacky, wacky President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced to the world that his country had successfully enriched a small amount of low grade uranium, but still this was another unsettling milestone in what will likely be one of the most serious future crisises ever.

Some cooler heads within the Pentagon, likely leaked some more unsettling news to New York Times writer, Seymour Hersch, the other day about possible plans for the Bush Administration to authorize the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons known as Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator(RNEP) "bunker buster" bombs against Iran's nuclaer research program to head off the possibility of iran building nuclear bombs.

But the most dangerous of Iran's nuclear research sites at Natanz, is buried 75 underground. Even the U.S. military conventional weapon, Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28), a 5,000 pound "bunker buster" with a 4,400 pound warhead will only penetrate 20-25 of concrete. A 75 foot deep bunker is way beyond the reach of such powerful "bunker buster" bombs and leaves American military options with fewer and fewer good choices.

Iran didn't want their nuclear research sites targeted the same way as the successful 1981 Israeli air force strike on the Iraqi Osirak reactor. So Iran dug in their most important nuclear research sites such as Natanz, deep, very deep.

If all of this nuclear weapons talk doesn't raise a few hairs standing straight on your back, then oil, is quickly reflecting this heightened level of a possible big time terror. A huge economy like China, that by no means wants their economy slowed with any military action by the U.S. or Israel towards Iran, and China's huge growing economy is a prime source of oil commodities being bidded up to nearly $69 a barrel. By comparison at the height of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, oil only peaked at $25 a barrel. World commodity traders recognized the far lower threat from Saddam Hussein, compared to the far more serious threat with growing talk of nuclear war between the U.S and Iran. It is the job of commodity traders to be just a few weeks ahead of the news.

And it doesn't end there. Venezuela, with the proCastro President, Hugo Chavez, has sold 2 million barrels of oil to India this month, and is seeking ways to break oil shipments to the U.S. If not for the 3,000 Citgo gas stations under previous ownership in Venezuela, of which President Chavez has recently nationalized, this very antiAmerican South American leader would have cut out exports of oil to the U.S. long ago. And Chavez is spending this money on Russian arms rather than solving all of the staggering poverty problems in his nation. This South American nation is undergoing a massive military buildup to add submarines, jet fighters, navy ships, and other major arms that are few and far between in South America.

And uncertainty in Nigeria, adds more uncertainty to a stable world oil supply problems from Africa as well.

Large economies such as the U.S. and China absolutely do not want any oil supply disruptions. Such is the dangerous catalyst of war. Japan waged war on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor because FDR cut off scrap steel supplies that Japan was using to oppress the populations of Asian nations such as China in early WWII.

To borrow an old phrase inspired from the Bible, "The Hand Writing Is On The Wall". The world is likely standing right on the edge of a dangerous new episode and possible violence that will rate as some of the worst in human history. And I didn't even mention the growing sectarian violence that is spreading all through the Muslim world, touching not only Iraq, but today Pakistan, as Sunni Muslims were celebrating the birthday of Muhammed and killed by a suicide bomber.

Indeed, in the words of wisdom of Devo, "It's A Wonderful World".

Monday, April 10, 2006

2006:Year Of The Political Earthquake & Bush White House Meltdown

There are serious factors building that may make 2006 the year of the political earthquake and one of the complete meltdown of the Bush Administration as one of the most inept and terrible presidential administrations in the history of the U.S.

1) Immigration: This issue seems to be creating some huge but very orderly demonstrations by Hispanic Americans. This is a good indicator that these Hispanic Americans will be likely to vote in huge numbers against the Republican Party that has really overplayed their hand on this matter. This could create one of the most significant political realignments in modern American political history.

While the Republican Party has become largely a White people's party, and a party with a strong Christian right and Southern following ever since the 1964 election where the South realigned with Republicans from that election on.

While there has been an erosion among Catholic voters, Democrats will be bouyed this year by their traditional strength among Blacks, Jewish voters, union and labor voters. And with a strong reaction against Republicans Republicans over what appears to be racism and prejudice, Republican candidates who took some of the strongest stands on this isue seen as prejudicial to Hispanics may find a huge backlash vote.

Among White voters, Republicans may have far less strength than usual due to a backlash vote over Iraq.

2)Iran & High Gasoline Prices: Iran will have a heavy impact on sky high gas prices, as it is more likely than not sometime after April that the Bush Administration will hit Iran with some sort of military action. Iran has more than enough missiles to attack Saudi Arabian oil production sites, oil tankers in the Strait Of Hormuz, American forces in the Green Zone in Iraq, Israel, or other major mischief that could realy send gasoline prices soaring out of control. $3-8 dollar a gallon gasoline is more than possible by this summer.

It is also possible that the Bush Administration may use nuclear weapons of some sort against Iran, creating American generals who will quit in protest, a world wide angry reaction, and widespread terrorism in the U.S. organized by Iran, completely undermining any sense of "security" that the Republicans once claimed that they were best at providing.

The Bush Iraq policy will be completely destroyed after the heavy Shiite population of Iraq turns antiAmerican and forces what surviving elements of forces that were not killed by the rain of Iranian missiles to quickly exit Iraq.

Palestinians may uprise against Israel in a complete security nightmare for the tiny state of Israel.

The world reaction against any Bush Administration use of nuclear weapons to destroy the deep bunkers of the Iranian nuclear program could range anywhere from extreme anger, all the way to opening up the beginning of WWIII. Rather than inspiring American support at home, this instead could really create a complete political meltdown for support for the Bush Administration as the U.S. faces terrible terrorism at home from Iranian backed terrorists, extreme gas and heating oil prices, and an angry world reaction as a result of a possible use of some sort of nuclear devices to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Democrats may well heavily rebound in the light of all of this. But these problems may be so severe that it hardly matters. Politics could become less important than mere survival with the severe consequences of the most serious and inept policies from an American Presidential Administration ever.

Buckle your seat belt. 2006 may well prove to be one of the most dangerous years ever. Too many dark clouds are building than are bad omens.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Very Strange History Of Unconventional Aircraft

The American public has funded some very strange aircraft research. Some have actually flown like the stealth designs. Some may think that the "flying wing" design of the stealth bomber was the first strangely designed aircraft of this sort. But during WWII both the U.S. and Germany began to experiment with secret designs that are best described as being like a "flying wing".

In 1941, funds were given to Northrop to experiment with new designs. One strange design was the XB-35, a flying wing type plane that was not ready for testing until 1946. But by this date, with only four propellor driven engines, it was already outdated with jet engined aircraft under developmemt. Despite a large program to develop this unorthodox design, only two of these were built and by 1949 instead of ending up in a aircraft museum, both were unfortunately scrapped, a sad end to this strange design.

In the 1953 SciFi film, THE WAR OF THE WORLD'S, some newsreel footage is seen of one of these strangely designed aircraft that were already obsolete by time the two prototypes were completed.

But an even stranger story exists about the German flying wing. There was reportedly a top secret German program to develop a three man flying wing bomber to fly nonstop from Germany to the U.S. and drop the atomic bomb on New York City, to force the U.S. to sign a "peace treaty" with Germany that would allow them to keep parts of Europe they captured during the war. But development problems and heavy allied bombing prevented both the secret German flying wing aircraft and the German atomic bomb.

In the case of the stealth bomber, the design is at least invisible to radar, although it has a strange shape that looks like something out of a BATMAN movie or comic. But in the case of the American and German flying wing designs, a good question has to be why both designs were even considered.

In the history of strange aircraft, few are as strange as the flying wing designs. Not since the preWright Brothers days was so much effort put into strange designs of flying machines. And like the preWright Brothers days, these strange designs were largely a complete failure and a waste of time and money.

Thomas Edison once said after 100 experiments had failed to invent the light bulb, that he found "100 ways" it didn't work. The Reagan era "Star Wars" type tests found nearly $100 billion in ways that these weapons did not work. And strange aircraft experiments like the flying wing design are more examples of the sheer effort put into strange designs when more conventional designs were proven to work. Why all this effort? Good question.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Strange But Important News You May Have Missed

Win One For The Chimper

President Bush recently opened the baseball season by throwing out the first ball. This has been historic for all presidents in recent times, with the only exception of Jimmy Carter, for some reason. George Bush is the only president with a background in baseball as a team manager of the Texas Rangers. Actually his throw was really pretty good compared to some presidents, although some claim his throw was a little "too far to the right".


The Star Wars Kid Strikes Back: Revenge Of The Silly Video

The family of Ghyslain Raza, aka "The Star Wars Kid" reached a settlement in the lawsuit with the families of the other three students who posted this very popular hilarious video on the Internet. By October of 2004, one Internet site alone recorded 76 million visits.

Rather than capitalizing off of his new found worldwide fame, Raza, instead suffered depression and other problems after the video became a worldwide phenomenon. It was claimed in the lawsuit that Raza's life was unbearable at high school, and he had to drop out and his family hire a private tutor.

Many of the versions of the "Star Wars Kid" video feature special effects and other special features. And one on-line petition was even circulated with many signatures for Raza to star in a Star Wars film.

Raza was actually pretty impressive at swinging a stick like a light saber, although his heavy set appearance also gave the video a hilarious quality as well. Why this video that some students found was filmed by Raza in a school studio and posted on the Internet as a joke became such a worldwide phenomenon is a huge mystery. And why Raza's family did not attempt to make this into a profittable "15 minutes of fame" event is also questionable. But in the case of one of the familiy's that Raza's family was suing, a court investigation had found that one father had a recent $500,000 inheritance, and in another case that an insurance company had refused liability insurance coverage.

May the force be with you.


Welcome To Evergreen Airlines: Your CIA Front Airlines

In the small Oregon town of McMinnville, it has been recently noted by a local news station that the small airlines, Evergreen has flown more than 1,000 flights for the CIA. It is also suspected that this airline is involved in flying suspected terrorists to secret CIA sites, interrogation centers or prisons around the world.

But the story gets even more interesting. The owner of Evergreen Airlines is reported to be Bayard Foreign Marketing, with Leonard T. Bayard listed as the owner. But as Blue Oregon has found out in a extensive search, he does not appear to exist. Unlike all other databases that can trace major Oregon businessman, Leonard T. Bayer is a phantom, and appears to be a fictious person. It is likely the Evergreen Airlines is merely a CIA front, responsible for bring terrorists and other international "bad guys" to justice.

Even Amnesty International notes that Evergreen Airlines is closely associated with the disappearance and torture of many terrorism suspects.

A very strange story. A small ailines operates out of a small Oregon town, and may not be what it appears to be, but a possible CIA front involved in bringing in suspected terrorists.


At The Nascar Race Trap

Right wing columnist Michele Malkin was the first to expose a NBC DATELINE social psychology experiment in which MidEast men in various states of MidEast dress were sent to a Nascar race to see if racial prejudice against them based on their ethnic program existed. It was claimed by Malkin that no real prejudice was discovered.

But still it was an interesting social psychology experiment to see to what extent that MidEasterns could fit in to a sporting event that appeals to a largely conservative white male following wothout fear or prejudice.

FOX News quickly pounced on this NBC DATELINE social psychology experiment, yet it is true that FOX has a big financial stake in sponsoring Nascar racing on their network. It brings in millions in yearly ad revenues. But NBC did at least show no real financial moltivation as they sometimes feature Nascar racing on their network as well.

Perhaps not all NBC DATELINE undercover experiments uncover some great truth. But many university student psychology department studies attempt to uncover similar social psychology experiments to guage human behavior. The political right condemned this as an attempt to "create news". But from the standpoint of social psychology experiments, little out of the ordinary was involved in this DATELINE experiment that appeared to fail and not be newsworthy. Maybe a hidden camera of MidEast looking men at an airport compared to more American looking mean would prove some interesting findings.


The Rapes Of Wrath At Duke

After the terrible story of the sexual assault on the strippers by members of the Duke lacrosse team, there was a real effort by some at Duke and some lawyers to attack the credibility of the strippers who made the allegations. But then after a police search warrnt was executed, some items such as bloody fingernails and other serious evidence was uncovered.

The College President suspended the Lacrosse team events for rest of the year after the disgusting evidence was uncovered, and one member of the team wrote an Email threatening to murder strippers. The lacrosse team coach was also fired.

Now ESPN has uncovered criminal background reports on the Duke lacrosse team, and it was discovered that about one third, or 15 out of 47 players have a criminal background and were charged with mainly misdemeanor offenses in the past three years.

Atacking the victim didn't work at Duke as the rotten truth about the team is slowly unwinding and disgusting the nation.

The NBA Race To The Bottom

While 16 of the best Eastern and Western teams will soon be playing in the playoffs for the NBA Championship, three teams, the New York Knicks, Charlotte Bobcats and the Portland Trailblazers are involved in a race to the bottom of the barrel for bragging rights as the worst team in the NBA. While the Detroit Pistons can brag of a .803% winning percentage record, New York laughably lags behind at a miserable .280% winning percentage, and Portland and Charlotte bringing up the rear at an even worse .276%.

While Portland actually has a very fine coach in Nate McMillan who is scheduled to be an assistant coach for the Olympic team, there is little he can do about very poor team chemistry, injuries, or coaching the youngest team in the NBA, with many young men hardly out of high school.

And New York, despite being a major basketball market, with celebrities such as Spike Lee paying $500 each for two front role seats, only to watch his team act as a former shell of it's greatness under former players such as Patrick Ewing, is having a very difficult year.

If there's a "rotten tomatoes" award for basketball, three serious contenders exist this year.