Saturday, May 31, 2008

We have a graduate this year

It is always great to see people accomplish things and know that they still have so much more in front of them that they will accomplish. I am excited to see what the future holds for him. It also has stoked my interest in Commencement Speeches. Congratulations NewWave! You worked hard, now go take on the world.

Here is Barbara Kingsolver's 2008 Commencement Speech delivered at Duke.

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides.

Let me begin that way: with an invocation of your own best hopes, thrown like a handful of rice over this celebration. Congratulations, graduates. Congratulations, parents, on the best Mother’s Day gift ever. Better than all those burnt-toast breakfasts: these, your children grown tall and competent, educated to within an inch of their lives.

What can I say to people who know almost everything? There was a time when I surely knew, because I’d just graduated from college myself, after writing down the sum of all human knowledge on exams and research papers. But that great pedagogical swilling-out must have depleted my reserves, because decades have passed and now I can’t believe how much I don’t know. Looking back, I can discern a kind of gaseous exchange in which I exuded cleverness and gradually absorbed better judgment. Wisdom is like frequent-flyer miles and scar tissue; if it does accumulate, that happens by accident while you’re trying to do something else. And wisdom is what people will start wanting from you, after your last exam. I know it’s true for writers -– when people love a book, whatever they say about it, what they really mean is: it was wise. It helped explain their pickle. My favorites are the canny old codgers: Neruda, Garcia Marquez, Doris Lessing. Honestly, it is harrowing for me to try to teach 20-year-old students, who earnestly want to improve their writing. The best I can think to tell them is: Quit smoking, and observe posted speed limits. This will improve your odds of getting old enough to be wise.

If I stopped there, you might have heard my best offer. But I am charged with postponing your diploma for about 15 more minutes, so I’ll proceed, with a caveat. The wisdom of each generation is necessarily new. This tends to dawn on us in revelatory moments, brought to us by our children. For example: My younger daughter is eleven. Every morning, she and I walk down the lane from our farm to the place where she meets the school bus. It’s the best part of my day. We have great conversations. But a few weeks ago as we stood waiting in the dawn’s early light, Lily was quietly looking me over, and finally said: “Mom, just so you know, the only reason I’m letting you wear that outfit is because of your age.” The alleged outfit will not be described here; whatever you’re imagining will perfectly suffice. (Especially if you’re picturing “Project Runway” meets “Working with Livestock.”) Now, I believe parents should uphold respect for adult authority, so I did what I had to do. I hid behind the barn when the bus came.

And then I walked back up the lane in my fly regalia, contemplating this new equation: “Because of your age.” It’s okay now to deck out and turn up as the village idiot. Hooray! I am old enough. How does this happen? Over a certain age, do you become invisible? There is considerable evidence for this in movies and television. But mainly, I think, you’re not expected to know the rules. Everyone knows you’re operating on software that hasn’t been updated for a good while.

The world shifts under our feet. The rules change. Not the Bill of Rights, or the rules of tenting, but the big unspoken truths of a generation. Exhaled by culture, taken in like oxygen, we hold these truths to be self-evident: You get what you pay for. Success is everything. Work is what you do for money, and that’s what counts. How could it be otherwise? And the converse of that last rule, of course, is that if you’re not paid to do a thing, it can’t be important. If a child writes a poem and proudly reads it, adults may wink and ask, “Think there’s a lot of money in that?” You may also hear this when you declare a major in English. Being a good neighbor, raising children: the road to success is not paved with the likes of these. Some workplaces actually quantify your likelihood of being distracted by family or volunteerism. It’s called your coefficient of Drag. The ideal number is zero. This is the Rule of Perfect Efficiency.

Now, the rule of “Success” has traditionally meant having boatloads of money. But we are not really supposed to put it in a boat. A house would the customary thing. Ideally it should be large, with a lot of bathrooms and so forth, but no more than four people. If two friends come over during approved visiting hours, the two children have to leave. The bathroom-to-resident ratio should at all times remain greater than one. I’m not making this up, I’m just observing, it’s more or less my profession. As Yogi Berra told us, you can observe a lot just by watching. I see our dream-houses standing alone, the idealized life taking place in a kind of bubble. So you need another bubble, with rubber tires, to convey yourself to places you must visit, such as an office. If you’re successful, it will be a large, empty-ish office you don’t have to share. If you need anything, you can get it delivered. Play your cards right and you may never have to come face to face with another person. This is the Rule of Escalating Isolation.

And so we find ourselves in the chapter of history I would entitle: Isolation and Efficiency, and How They Came Around to Bite Us in the Backside. Because it’s looking that way. We’re a world at war, ravaged by disagreements, a bizarrely globalized people in which the extravagant excesses of one culture wash up as famine or flood on the shores of another. Even the architecture of our planet is collapsing under the weight of our efficient productivity. Our climate, our oceans, migratory paths, things we believed were independent of human affairs. Twenty years ago, climate scientists first told Congress that unlimited carbon emissions were building toward a disastrous instability. Congress said, we need to think about that. About ten years later, nations of the world wrote the Kyoto Protocol, a set of legally binding controls on our carbon emissions. The US said, we still need to think about it. Now we can watch as glaciers disappear, the lights of biodiversity go out, the oceans reverse their ancient orders. A few degrees looked so small on the thermometer. We are so good at measuring things and declaring them under control. How could our weather turn murderous, pummel our coasts and push new diseases like denge fever onto our doorsteps? It’s an emergency on a scale we’ve never known. We’ve responded by following the rules we know: Efficiency, Isolation. We can’t slow down our productivity and consumption, that’s unthinkable. Can’t we just go home and put a really big lock on the door?

Not this time. Our paradigm has met its match. The world will save itself, don’t get me wrong. The term “fossil fuels” is not a metaphor or a simile. In the geological sense, it’s over. The internal combustion engine is so 20th Century. Now we can either shift away from a carbon-based economy, or find another place to live. Imagine it: we raised you on a lie. Everything you plug in, turn on or drive, the out-of-season foods you eat, the music in your ears. We gave you this world and promised you could keep it running on: a fossil substance. Dinosaur slime, and it’s running out. The geologists only disagree on how much is left, and the climate scientists are now saying they’re sorry but that’s not even the point. We won’t get time to use it all. To stabilize the floods and firestorms, we’ll have to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent, within a decade.

Heaven help us get our minds around that. We’re still stuck on a strategy of bait-and-switch: Okay, we’ll keep the cars but run them on ethanol made from corn! But… we use petroleum to grow the corn. Even if you like the idea of robbing the food bank to fill up the tank, there is a math problem: it takes nearly a gallon of fossil fuel to render an equivalent gallon of corn gas. By some accounts, it takes more. Think of the Jules Verne novel in which the hero is racing Around the World in 80 Days, and finds himself stranded in the mid-Atlantic on a steamship that’s run out of coal. It’s day 79. So Phileas Fogg convinces the Captain to pull up the decks and throw them into the boiler. “On the next day the masts, rafts and spars were burned. The crew worked lustily, keeping up the fires. There was a perfect rage for demolition.” The Captain remarked, “Fogg, you’ve got something of the Yankee about you.” Oh, novelists. They always manage to have the last word, even when they are dead.

How can we get from here to there, without burning up our ship? That will be central question of your adult life: to escape the wild rumpus of carbon-fuel dependency, in the nick of time. You’ll make rules that were previously unthinkable, imposing limits on what we can use and possess. You will radically reconsider the power relationship between humans and our habitat. In the words of my esteemed colleague and friend, Wendell Berry, the new Emancipation Proclamation will not be for a specific race or species, but for life itself. Imagine it. Nations have already joined together to rein in global consumption. Faith communities have found a new point of agreement with student activists, organizing around the conviction that caring for our planet is a moral obligation. Before the last UN Climate Conference in Bali, thousands of U.S. citizens contacted the State Department to press for binding limits on carbon emissions. We’re the five percent of humans who have made 50 percent of all the greenhouse gases up there. But our government is reluctant to address it, for one reason: it might hurt our economy.

For a lot of history, many nations said exactly the same thing about abolishing slavery. We can’t grant humanity to all people, it would hurt our cotton plantations, our sugar crop, our balance of trade. Until the daughters and sons of a new wisdom declared: We don’t care. You have to find another way. Enough of this shame.

Have we lost that kind of courage? Have we let economic growth become our undisputed master again? As we track the unfolding disruption of natural and global stabilities, you will be told to buy into business as usual: You need a job. Trade your future for an entry level position. Do what we did, preserve a profitable climate for manufacture and consumption, at any cost. Even at the cost of the other climate – the one that was hospitable to life as we knew it. Is anyone thinking this through? In the awful moment when someone demands at gunpoint, “Your money or your life,” that’s not supposed to be a hard question.

A lot of people, in fact, are rethinking the money answer. Looking behind the cash-price of everything, to see what it cost us elsewhere: to mine and manufacture, to transport, to burn, to bury. What did it harm on its way here? Could I get it closer to home? Previous generations rarely asked about the hidden costs. We put them on layaway. You don’t get to do that. The bill has come due. Some European countries already are calculating the “climate cost” on consumer goods and adding it to the price. The future is here. We’re examining the moralities of possession, inventing renewable technologies, recovering sustainable food systems. We’re even warming up to the idea that the wealthy nations will have to help the poorer ones, for the sake of a reconstructed world. We’ve done it before. That was the Marshall Plan. Generosity is not out of the question. It will grind some gears in the machine of Efficiency. But we can retool.

We can also rethink the big, lonely house as a metaphor for success. You are in a perfect position to do that. You’ve probably spent very little of your recent life in a free-standing unit with a bathroom-to-resident ratio of greater than one. (Maybe more like 1:200.) You’ve been living so close to your friends, you didn’t have to ask about their problems, you had to step over them to get into the room. As you moved from dormitory to apartment to whatever (and by whatever I think I mean Central Campus) you’ve had such a full life, surrounded by people, in all kinds of social and physical structures, none of which belonged entirely to you. You’re told that’s all about to change. That growing up means leaving the herd, starting up the long escalator to isolation.

Not necessarily. As you leave here, remember what you loved most in this place. Not Orgo 2, I’m guessing, or the crazed squirrels or even the bulk cereal in the Freshman Marketplace. I mean the way you lived, in close and continuous contact. This is an ancient human social construct that once was common in this land. We called it a community. We lived among our villagers, depending on them for what we needed. If we had a problem, we did not discuss it over the phone with someone in Bubaneshwar. We went to a neighbor. We acquired food from farmers. We listened to music in groups, in churches or on front porches. We danced. We participated. Even when there was no money in it. Community is our native state. You play hardest for a hometown crowd. You become your best self. You know joy. This is not a guess, there is evidence. The scholars who study social well-being can put it on charts and graphs. In the last 30 years our material wealth has increased in this country, but our self-described happiness has steadily declined. Elsewhere, the people who consider themselves very happy are not in the very poorest nations, as you might guess, nor in the very richest. The winners are Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the kinds of places we identify with extended family, noisy villages, a lot of dancing. The happiest people are the ones with the most community.

You can take that to the bank. I’m not sure what they’ll do with it down there, but you could try. You could walk out of here with an unconventionally communal sense of how your life may be. This could be your key to a new order: you don’t need so much stuff to fill your life, when you have people in it. You don’t need jet fuel to get food from a farmer’s market. You could invent a new kind of Success that includes children’s poetry, butterfly migrations, butterfly kisses, the Grand Canyon, eternity. If somebody says “Your money or your life,” you could say: Life. And mean it. You’ll see things collapse in your time, the big houses, the empires of glass. The new green things that sprout up through the wreck –- those will be yours.

The arc of history is longer than human vision. It bends. We abolished slavery, we granted universal suffrage. We have done hard things before. And every time it took a terrible fight between people who could not imagine changing the rules, and those who said, “We already did. We have made the world new.” The hardest part will be to convince yourself of the possibilities, and hang on. If you run out of hope at the end of the day, to rise in the morning and put it on again with your shoes. Hope is the only reason you won’t give in, burn what’s left of the ship and go down with it. The ship of your natural life and your children’s only shot. You have to love that so earnestly –- you, who were born into the Age of Irony. Imagine getting caught with your Optimism hanging out. It feels so risky. Like showing up at the bus stop as the village idiot. You may be asked to stand behind the barn. You may feel you’re not up to the task.

But think of this: what if someone had dared you, three years ago, to show up to some public event wearing a big, flappy dress with sleeves down to your knees. And on your head, oh, let’s say, a beanie with a square board on top. And a tassel! Look at you. You are beautiful. The magic is community. The time has come for the square beanie, and you are rocked in the bosom of the people who get what you’re going for. You can be as earnest and ridiculous as you need to be, if you don’t attempt it in isolation. The ridiculously earnest are known to travel in groups. And they are known to change the world. Look at you. That could be you.

I’ll close with a poem:

Hope; An Owner’s Manual

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands,
crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse.
Nineteenth century novels. Heartstrings, sunrise:
all of these are useful. Also, feathers.

To keep it humming, sometimes you have to stand
on an incline, where everything looks possible;
on the line you drew yourself. Or in
the grocery line, making faces at a toddler
secretly, over his mother’s shoulder.

You might have to pop the clutch and run
past all the evidence. Past everyone who is
laughing or praying for you. Definitely you don’t
want to go directly to jail, but still, here you go,
passing time, passing strange. Don’t pass this up.

In the worst of times, you will have to pass it off.
Park it and fly by the seat of your pants. With nothing
in the bank, you’ll still want to take the express.
Tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse that are sleeping
in the shade of your future. Pay at the window.
Pass your hope like a bad check.
You might still have just enough time. To make a deposit.

Congratulations, graduates.

I'm glad at least one rumor was cleared up...

He doesn't pick his nose.

This added a laugh to my day. And some days, we just need to laugh. Even laugh at ourselves. Have a great weekend!

Quote for the Day

We should use wisely the time God has given us.

Friday, May 30, 2008

It is definitely Graduation Season

 Presidential Speeches & Remarks - President Bush Delivers Commencement Address at United States Air Force Academy - May 28, 2008

Sometimes I find things like this a bit scary

VIA CNN (click link to read entire article):

Intestinal superbug infects more each year

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- The number of people hospitalized with a dangerous intestinal superbug has been growing by more than 10,000 cases a year, according to a new study.

The germ, resistant to some antibiotics, has become a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes. The study found it played a role in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations in 2005, more than double the number in 2000.

The infection, Clostridium difficile, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. But the spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or antibacterial soap.

C-diff, as it's known, has grown resistant to certain antibiotics that work against other colon bacteria. The result: When patients take those antibiotics, competing bacteria die off and C-diff explodes.

This virulent strain of C-diff was rarely seen before 2000.

"The nature of this infection is changing. It's more severe," said Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expert who was not part of the study.

Suicides in the Military

via CNN:

Army suicides highest in nearly 2 decades, study finds

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More U.S. soldiers committed suicide in 2007 than at any time since the first Gulf War, according to an Army study to be released Thursday.There were at least 115 suicides last year, or 18.8 for every 100,000 soldiers serving in the Army, said an Army official with access to the report.

The military still is investigating another two possible suicides.

The new figure is up from 102 in 2006.

More than two in five of the suicides came after soldiers returned home from deployments, the study shows.

The military is set to announce the findings officially later Thursday. CNN obtained some statistics from the study before publication. Video Watch why the Army blames stress on personal relationships »

Roughly one in four of the soldiers who killed themselves were on their first deployments, according to the study. About the same percentage killed themselves without ever having been deployed. Forty-three percent committed suicide after coming home.

The statistics cover active-duty Army troops, including National Guard and reserve soldiers. The numbers do not account for other branches of service.

Quote for the Day

When our relatives are at home we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them - Shaw

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The National Sexual Assault Hotline has helped one million people. Help Us Reach More.

Why my respect for the Clintons lessen with each day

This commentary by Martin via CNN states it perfectly

Commentary: No graceful bow-out for Clinton

Remember all those wrestling "death matches," during which they talked about guys tearing their opponents' heads off in the ring? We all knew wrestling is fake, but the promotion was awesome, because it always sucked us in.

Lest anyone think the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination is going to end peacefully in June, forget about it.

Sen. Hillary Clinton will do anything and everything to win, and the idea that Sen. Barack Obama should give in to her demands to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates is ludicrous. When you're ahead, you don't concede any ground. If the roles were reversed, she would do the same.

This race, regardless of what anyone says, is still airtight. Obama has the lead among superdelegates and has garnered a majority of pledged delegates, but they always can change their allegiance, per Democratic Party rules, and don't think for a second that the Clinton camp doesn't understand that.

Her comments to The Associated Press that she may take this to the convention in August shouldn't be dismissed. I don't think Clinton cares about the party. Last week, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux said a Clinton source told her that their focus is Clinton first and the party second.

The only way Obama can truly focus on the next step is if he does everything to get to 2,026 delegates. If he gets there first, he wins. But Clinton will go to the mat to prevent that from happening.

Everyone talks about her running in 2012 if Obama wins the Democratic nomination but loses the general election, or 2016 if he wins two terms. But nothing is guaranteed. She's 60 years old. This is her best shot at winning, and she'll leave it all on the table to try to get the nomination.

In the past few days, her surrogates, and even Clinton herself, have ramped up the talk about sexism. There is little doubt that she is trying to stir the ire of her female base and push them to demand that she either be the nominee or be given the vice president slot. But it's really about the former rather than the latter.

In Florida on Wednesday, she invoked slavery and the epic civil rights battle against Jim Crow in her quest to count the vote in Florida as-is.

Forget the fact that she once said the states wouldn't matter because they broke the rules.

Forget the fact that many of her supporters on the Democratic National Committee's rules committee supported the stripping of delegates in Michigan and Florida.

And forget the fact that her chief supporter in Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, signed the bill into law that allowed the state to move up its primary.

Clinton and her supporters now discount all of that and act as if they were always champions of the "disenfranchised" voters in Florida and Michigan. But they weren't. And the record is clear. Only when it became apparent that she needed the states' delegates to close the gap with Obama did she change her tune. She said one thing in Iowa and New Hampshire and now is saying something else.

The Clintonites don't want any compromises in Michigan and Florida. They want the results to stay the same, even though Obama's name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan and all candidates signed an agreement not to campaign in those two states.

But The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets say the Clinton camp doesn't care. Her biggest backer, former President Clinton, is telling her to stay in it until the end, hoping to persuade superdelegates to switch and give her the nomination.

The DNC rules committee will meet May 31. Expect a bloodbath. Trust me; there will be nothing nice about that meeting.

The Obama camp better not let its guard down. The Clinton camp is gearing up for a protracted battle. Folks, this is for all the marbles, and feelings -- and party -- be damned.

Only one thing is certain: If this battle goes to Denver, the Democrats might as well dump those inauguration tickets on eBay, because supporters of Sen. John McCain will need them

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Comments
Memorial Day Comments @

Friday, May 23, 2008

President Bush to start fundraising for McCain and GOP next week

via USATODAY where you can find the complete article at their website:

Bush quietly raising money for McCain

WASHINGTON (AP) — President George W. Bush starts raising money for John McCain's campaign next week, but the three fundraisers are closed, so there will be no news media cameras photographing the outgoing and incoming Republican party leaders and no reporters observing their joint appearances.
The White House announced Friday that Bush will be the main attraction at three McCain events next week — in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah. In addition to building up the McCain campaign account, the fundraisers will also benefit the national Republican Party, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

All are being held in private residences, and McCain was expected to attend all of them, Fratto said. During the Bush presidency, fundraisers in private homes have almost always been held out of view of the public and the press, and Fratto said it would be no different this time. Former President Bill Clinton sometimes allowed the press into such fundraising settings.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weather Widget

my addiction to Widgets has not been conquered

Whoa, I wonder if he told her his views personally...


May 22, 2008
Paterson Sees 'Desperation' By Clinton, Disagrees On Florida And Michigan
Gov. David Paterson, who is right now being interviewed by WAMC's Alan Chartock and taking calls from listeners on "Vox Pop," just disagreed sharply with his presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, on her last-ditch efforts to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations.

While he stressed that he continues to support Clinton and will do so until "she makes a different determination," Paterson, a superdelegate, said he doesn't believe the DNC should change the rules after the fact on Florida and Michigan and added that he's not buying her claims about leading the popular vote if the ballots cast in those states were counted.

"I would say at this point we're starting to see a little desperation on the part of the woman who I support and I'll support until whatever time she makes a different determination," Paterson said, adding: "I thought she was the best candidate and I thought she had the best chance of winning."

Paterson, who is a DNC committee member and was present at the meeting when a vote was taken to penalize Florida and Michigan for moving their respective primaries ahead of the traditional starting contests in New Hampshire and Iowa, said he thought that decision was "a little unfair" and he "didn't agree with it at the time."

But he also noted "nobody was screaming" after that decision was made, although some people were unhappy with it, adding:

"There was a process. I thought at the time everybody agreed to it. I didn't hear any objections from the candidates...So I would think the Democratic National Committee would leave it where it is."

On Clinton's claims regarding the popular vote and likening the fight to set the Florida and Michigan delegates to the civil rights movement, Paterson said:

"You have to rule out the undecideds in Michigan. You have to assume she won 100 percent to nothing in Michigan. I don't think anybody in their right mind would do that, nor would they see it as a civil rights issue."

Paterson's comments came in response to the first question posed to him by a caller named "Casey," who sounded like a supporter of Barack Obama. She asked Paterson whether he would switch his support to Obama since his Oregon win and, if not, if he would "defend" Clinton's argument on Florida and Michigan.

Okay this is funny

but then I like Jimmy Kimmel. I think I watch him the most out of the late guys. David Letterman would be 2nd

Keep Praying for them - Myanmar

You may not like the government but the people are suffering.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Question for the Day

Are you fully participating in life?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

To Those who have helped us - WE MUST DO BETTER


via 60minutes

The List: A Mission To Save Iraqi Lives
Branded As Collaborators By Insurgents, Many Iraqis Who Helped The U.S. Face Grave Danger

(CBS) The refugee crisis in Iraq is among the biggest humanitarian emergencies in the world. Millions of Iraqis have fled the war, many marked for death because they worked for the United States. They were translators, office workers, many other things, but now the enemy has branded them as collaborators.

When that happened in Vietnam, the U.S. brought more than 100,000 refugees to the states. But today, the U.S. government, which was so desperate for Iraqi workers, is not so eager to help them now.

As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, one young American named Kirk Johnson has jumped into this breach. All he wanted to do was rescue one of his Iraqi co-workers. When he did, a thousand more pleaded for help and Johnson began "the list."

"The people on my list have been tortured, they've been raped, they've lost body limbs. There's one guy on my list who's been thrown out of a moving vehicle. And all of this because they helped us. They came every single day to try to pitch in, in our efforts there," Johnson tells Pelley.

Johnson says we owe these Iraqis "speedy resettlement" in the United States.

The U.S. failed to grant that speedy resettlement. So Johnson has taken it upon himself to plead the cases of some of an estimated 100,000 Iraqis who worked for America.

"font-weight:bold;">"These are the names, the supporting documents, the recommendation letters, the cell phones, every bit of information that we could compile to help the government live up to their obligation to these people and help resettle them," he says.

A binder holds the list of nearly 1,000 Iraqis Johnson is trying to get into the U.S. He gets Iraqis free lawyers, helps them navigate the system, and pleads their cases to the State Department, with praise from their former American employers.

And the binder is filled with the threats written by the enemy that make life in Iraq impossible.

"In the name of Allah, who kills the tyrants. This is your last warning," Pelley reads from one warning.

"Yeah, 'And to all those who work or cooperate with the pagan occupation forces we are running out of patience and our hearts are full of hatred,'" Johnson adds.

Threats like that have pushed four million Iraqis from their homes. About a million of them are hiding in neighboring Jordan, where 60 Minutes traveled to meet some of the people sending Johnson desperate e-mails by the thousands.

"The most common subject line that I get is simply 'Help,'" Johnson says.

"You know, I wonder how you feel when someone sends you an e-mail that says 'My life is in your hands,'" Pelley asks.
Please take the time to read about this in its entirety. We must honor our commitment to those who did risk their life to help us. We also need to help our Veterans more when they come home. It seems somehow we can find a balance.

I am glad President Bush apologized

The military is there as representatives of our country so I feel the apology is necessary.

via BBC News

'Bush apology' for Koran shooting

US President George W Bush has made a personal apology over the shooting of a Koran by an American soldier, Iraq's government has said in a statement.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's office said Mr Bush had promised to send the accused American sniper to trial.

The soldier was sent home by the US military after the Muslim holy book was found riddled with bullet holes at a shooting range by Iraqi police.

The White House did not immediately comment on Mr Bush's reported apology.

The US military said last week that the soldier had been removed from his unit, sent home, and would be disciplined.

He was unnamed, but was said to be a staff sergeant in a sniper section.

'People's anger'

Mr Maliki's office said in a statement that Mr Bush had made a personal apology in a telephone call to the prime minister.

"The American president apologised on behalf of the United States... promising to present the soldier to the courts," Reuters news agency quoted the statement as saying.

Mr Maliki had expressed the anger felt by the Iraqi people and the nation's government, his office said.

A US military spokesman last week described the shooting as "both serious and deeply troubling", but stressed it was an "isolated incident and a result of one soldier's actions".

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Deployments Announced

I knew there would be more soon. Never prepared for the announcement. I do have family in the military so I often check to see what is new. Pray for all involved - families, military, civilians , emotional health, mental health, physical health, finances, wisdom.

via Iwon - complete announcement found at this link but here is a bit of information about who is going over:

Currently there are 155,000 troops, including 17 combat brigades, in Iraq.

The seven Army combat brigades and one division headquarters units that would be sent to Iraq later this year are:

- 25th Infantry Division Headquarters

- 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo.

- 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

- 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, from Fort Riley, Kan.

- 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, N.C.

- 172nd Infantry Brigade from Schweinfurt, Germany

- 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas.

- 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

The four National Guard brigades being alerted for Iraq duty are:

- 72nd Brigade Combat Team, Texas National Guard

- 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard

- 256th Brigade Combat Team, Louisiana National Guard

- 278th Brigade Combat Team, Tennessee National Guard

The unit told to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan was the 86th Brigade Combat Team from the Vermont National Guard. There are currently 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including 15,000 serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, and 18,000 in the U.S.-led effort to train the Afghan Army and conduct counterinsurgency operations.

The Good that People Do

I really enjoy reading about things like that. There are truly many people who do so many unselfish acts daily and it is nice to be reminded of them. Please take time to read the entire story at the CNN website - it will make your heart smile.

via CNN:

Soldiers shave heads to support cancer kids

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Under a huge tent just outside the medical unit at Camp Liberty, shielded from the blazing sun, soldiers watch and cheer as two men at a time get their heads shaved. Clumps of hair fall to the hot sand below.

But they're not just fighting the Iraqi heat. They're showing solidarity with sick kids they don't even know.

It started with a dare on St. Patrick's Day 2000, when two guys shaved their heads to support children with cancer. Thus was born the St. Baldrick's Foundation. In eight years, the awareness and fundraising organization says, events have taken place in 18 countries and the United States, "raising over $34 million and shaving more than 46,000 heads."

Maj. Stephen Roberts knows a lot about bald heads. He's a pediatric oncologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. And he's seen a lot of his young patients lose their hair to chemotherapy.

The kids he guides through treatment don't seem fazed by it. "They're just amazing, inspiring kids," Roberts said. "They're going through something more difficult than most of us can imagine and they do it with a level of grace and strength that I don't think I could match."

This year, Roberts planned to participate back home in Washington, but he deployed to Iraq. So he organized the shearing on the base

Mike Huckabee

I am glad that Mr. Huckabee apologized. I actually that often he has a great sense of humor. Just this time it didn't hit the mark - or should I say it hit the wrong mark. Again, at least he apologized. I respect that and I am glad he did.

Thinking Out Loud

Because the 9/11 attack by a group that has EXTREME ideas. (ones which I find wrong) Am I now suppose to hate or demonize ALL MUSLIMS? Some people, including some of my fellow Christians, feel that I should. Maybe I should re-read my Bible. - AThinkingMind

Bible Quotes

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An Iraq related Widget

Actions like these are ridiculous and ALWAYS UNACCEPTABLE.

You can't say you are there to protect if you can't respect. We have a problem with demonizing people and religions that differ than ours. I respect our soldiers but not all soldiers deserve that respect. Here is an example of one who doesn't.

via CNN:

U.S. soldier uses Quran for target practice; military apologizes

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military on Saturday formally apologized to an Iraqi village after a soldier admitted using the Quran -- Islam's holy book -- for target practice.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, apologized to the Radhwaniya tribe for the staff sergeant, who was a sniper section leader assigned to the headquarters of the 64th Armored Regiment. He also read a letter of apology by the shooter.

"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Hammand said to tribal leaders and others at the apology ceremony. "In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."

Another military official kissed a Quran and presented it as "a humble gift" to the tribal leaders.

The shooter, whose name was not released, shot at a Quran on May 9, villagers said. The Quran used in the incident was discovered two days later, according to the military.

A tribal leader said "the criminal act by U.S. forces" took place at a shooting range at the Radhwaniya police station. After the shooters left, an Iraqi policeman found a target marked in the middle of the bullet-riddled Quran.

Copies of the pictures of the Quran obtained by CNN show multiple bullet holes and an expletive scrawled on one of its pages.

I understand the weather affects people

Out here in California the heat is reaching triple digits. Sometimes the heat affects people in various ways. Still, I don't know what got into Mike Huckabee when he made this ridiculous "joke". I do think we all suffer from lapse in judgement. I am glad he apologized. Still, what is going on.....

Is There any Doubt Kevin James doesn't know what the Heck he is talking about

He is just rambling on and on. He is unprepared and he comes off as a loud talking idiot. All he does he keep saying "appeaser", "appeasement" blah, blah, blah... Sadly there are too many who hear this and will say yeah Kevin. Kevin may have a point in some things but in here he is over his head and too cocky and ignorant to admit he doesn't know what he is talking about. DUMMY!

I bet he gives his wife, if he has one a headache. He fusses but doesn't bring up any point with backup. This Kevin James guy is practically foaming at his mouth while sounding like a complete raving maniac.

Again, people do critical thinking. Now, I am rambling but really people like this piss me off

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Very Interesting and Telling....

I am glad ignorance is not contagious - is it?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics at

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reminder: 1st Class Stamp Price increase - 5/12/2008

from a nice USATODAY reminder:

Stamp prices go up Monday

WASHINGTON (AP) — The cost of mailing a letter goes up a penny to 42 cents on Monday, the latest in what are expected to be annual price adjustments by the Postal Service.
A new law regulating the post office makes it easier to raise rates as long as the agency doesn't exceed the rate of inflation. Rates are to be adjusted each May.

But the post office also has introduced a way for people to save money when the price goes up, the Forever stamp, which remains valid for first-class postage regardless of any increases.

With the rate increase approaching, sales of the Forever stamp reached 64 million-a-day in April, postal officials said.

Forever stamps currently sell for 41-cents, but can be used after the rate increase without any additional postage. However, when the rate goes up, so does the price of Forever stamps.

Unlike the Forever stamps, other 41-cent stamps will require additional postage under the new rates, and postal officials said they printed an additional 1.5 billion 1-cent stamps in anticipation of the demand.

Also, for the first time the agency has stamps available at the new rate before the change takes effect.

A set of five 42-cent stamps honoring pioneering journalists went on sale in April, as did a set of four stamps featuring the American flag flying at different times of day.

A 42-cent stamp featuring singer and actor Frank Sinatra will be released Tuesday.

Duhhhhh..... This is stating the OBVIOUS

via Fox28

Boehner says Dems' fight helping McCain
May 10, 2008 00:02 EDT

WEST CHESTER, Ohio (AP) -- The top Republican in the U.S. House says the dragging presidential primary contest between Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama is only helping the GOP.

House Minority Leader John Boehner says the fight will only help likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

Boehner was in his southeast Ohio congressional district last night for the Butler County Lincoln Day Dinner, a fund-raiser for the county GOP.

Boehner says the Democrats are doing serious damage to each other and McCain is in a solid position to win this year's presidential election.

He urged those in attendance to get out the vote for the November election and says Ohio will be crucial in 2008, just as it was in 2004 and 2000.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Personally, since we know John McCain benefits...

I think Cindy McCain should release information. That is just my point of view.

Anyway, via FOXNEWS:

Cindy McCain says she'll never release her tax returns

Thursday, May 08, 2008

WASHINGTON — Cindy McCain says she will never make her tax returns public even if her husband wins the White House and she becomes the first lady.

"You know, my husband and I have been married 28 years and we have filed separate tax returns for 28 years. This is a privacy issue. My husband is the candidate," Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting John McCain, said in an interview aired on NBC's "Today" on Thursday.

Asked if she would release her tax returns if she was first lady, Cindy McCain said: "No."

The Arizona senator released his tax return last month, reporting he had a total income of $405,409 in 2007 and paid $84,460 in federal income taxes. He files his return separately from his wife, an heiress to a Phoenix-based beer distributing company whose fortune is in the $100 million range.

Sen. McCain is routinely is ranked among the richest lawmakers in Congress, but he and his wife have kept their finances separate throughout their marriage. A prenuptial agreement left much of the family's assets in Cindy McCain's name.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Cindy McCain's refusal to release her tax returns gives the appearance of a double standard on the part of her husband

rest can be found on FoxNews website:

madd videos:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This irritates me

For the life of me, even though I know it was a "mistake", I do not see why the parents took their children hunting if they were not going to be totally on top of things. Sad, sad, sad but it could be avoided. I know some may differ with my opinion but I do feel it is valid that charges were brought. The complete story is at ABCNEWS. Here's a bit

Dad Who Killed Son in Turkey Hunt Charged

Boy's Death One of at Least Three Fatalities as Wild-Turkey Hunting Season Opens

Do You Think She Will Listen?

CNN posted an article on their website today. I, personally, do not think that Hillary will listen because I truly do not believe that had thought through any other option than being the next president. I'm not sure she knows how to be gracious, yet I hope I am wrong. Anyway, here is a bit of the article which can be found by clicking this link:

Posted: 11:43 AM ET
 McGovern endorsed Clinton in October.
McGovern endorsed Clinton in October.

(CNN) – Former Sen. George McGovern urged Hillary Clinton Wednesday to drop out of the Democratic presidential race.

McGovern, who had endorsed Clinton, told CNN he was switching his support to endorse Barack Obama.

“It certainly was not out of any less respect for Senator Clinton,” McGovern told CNN in a telephone interview early Wednesday afternoon about his decision to switch his support to Barack Obama. “I think she has waged a really courageous and valiant campaign. She will have my affection and admiration for all of my days.

“But I think mathematically the race is all but won by Barack Obama and the time has come for all of us to unite and get ready for the general election in the fall.”

McGovern also told CNN he had just spoken to former President Bill Clinton about his decision to back Obama – a conversation he described as “very good.”

“I have had many conversations with him over the years, none better than today," McGovern said. "He did me the honor of talking to me about this. There will be no hard feelings with him or Senator Clinton.”

McGovern said he has not spoken to Sen. Clinton today, because he thought she would be too exhausted after Tuesday’s primary but plans to talk to her in the future.”

McGovern is not a Democratic superdelegate, though he is the first major Clinton supporter to publicly suggest the New York senator should abandon her presidential bid following Tuesday night's results.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lately I've been thinking about


I am thinking that we are all prejudice about something. We all prejudge. Is prejudging bad? I am challenging myself more and more on this. Today I realized that there are things I have a closed mind about. Some of the things, rightfully so, others I am not too proud about. I can't go into detail about it right now do to legal happenings but I look forward to blogging it out, chatting it out, hearing different sides. Maybe I will change my point of view, maybe it will reinforce the views I have now.

We'll see.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Charlotte Observer endorses...

BARACK OBAMA! click this link to view story on their website. Here is some of what they had to say:

Time for a change

In the Democratic primary, we recommend Obama

Do the Democrats need a restoration of the past, or is it time for a change? We think it's time for a change. We recommend a vote for Barack Obama in Tuesday's primary.

The choice between Sen. Obama and Hillary Clinton is not easy. She is indeed ready to be president on day one. After two terms with her husband in the White House and almost eight years in the Senate, she knows how things work. Smart and tenacious, she offers a progressive agenda. There are many reasons to think she'd be a good president.

There are arguments against her as well. For example, many Democrats won't forgive her for voting to authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq. We don't fault her on that. She understood the need for firmness to force Saddam Hussein to admit UN inspectors to ensure Iraq wasn't building weapons of mass destruction. She received assurances that force would be used only as a last resort. She isn't responsible for the debacle in Iraq; President Bush is.

Concerns about Clinton

Yet we're troubled by, to cite a few examples, these aspects of her presidential campaign:Many of her supporters seem intent on depicting Sen. Obama as the Jesse Jackson of 2008, a leader who appeals to an ethnic minority but not to the broader electorate needed to win.

She sometimes exaggerates her influence and experiences, as when she claimed she "helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland" and said she ducked under sniper fire in Bosnia.

Florida and Michigan were stripped of national convention delegates after breaking party rules by scheduling their primaries too early. The candidates didn't campaign in them. Yet after Sen. Clinton did well in those states, she pushed to change the rules and count the votes. That's a cynical, self-serving effort to corrupt the selection process.

Her tendency to tell voters what they want to hear is disturbing. Her proposal to suspend the federal tax on gasoline this summer is campaign gimmickry, not leadership. Her assertion that she was a critic of NAFTA from the beginning is simply unbelievable. The record shows she was an ardent advocate of the trade deal.

Some Democrats accept that as just the way the political game always has been played. Perhaps it is. But is that the best Americans can expect? We think not.

Is Obama ready for the job?

As to Sen. Obama, he's one of the most powerful, effective speakers to seek the presidency in years. He offers a different vision of politics. Is he ready for to be president? His relative inexperience is reason for concern. He has been a U.S. senator for three years, an Illinois state senator for eight. He has no executive experience.

Experience is important, but it's no substitute for good judgment and the ability to assemble and wisely use capable advisers. George W. Bush had six years' experience as governor of a big, complex state, yet his administration has made some of the worst decisions in recent history.

Sen. Obama is a man of uncommon intelligence. He's a graduate of Columbia University with a law degree from Harvard, where he was editor of the law review. He bypassed lucrative job opportunities to become a community organizer with a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor Chicago neighborhoods plagued with crime and joblessness.

In 2004, he became the third African American since Reconstruction to win a Senate seat. His record there is not extensive. It is impressive.

His first law -- cosponsored with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. -- ensured greater citizen access to information by creating a searchable online database on federal spending.

Early in his term he attracted the attention of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who at the time chaired the Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Lugar invited him on a trip through the former Soviet Union, inspecting projects to decommission Cold War-era weapons. The two worked together to pass legislation to control the spread of weapons. Sen. Lugar later observed that Sen. Obama has "a sense of idealism and principled leadership, a vision of the future. At certain points in history, certain people are the ones that are most likely to have the vision or imagination or be able to identify talent and to manage other people's ideas. And I think he does this well."

Sen. Obama's legislative achievements are few, but that's no surprise. He's near the bottom in seniority. Republicans ran the Senate his first two years there, so Democratic proposals rarely went anywhere. Nevertheless he has helped shape the national debate on immigration, energy and some other important issues. He sponsored or co-sponsored the bills that made up what the Washington Post called "the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet."

A change for the better

He has made missteps in his first national campaign, such as failing to quickly and firmly reject radical statements by his former pastor. But in the campaign, as in the Senate, he has shown the ability to learn.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I admit, I've always had a trouble digesting "collateral damage"

The lives = collateral damage just doesn't feel right to me. Reading this in USA Today was not a great way to start the day. I am glad it appears there were no deaths. I hope the lost of the ambulances will not cause further innocent lives to be in danger. - MyMindIsFull

More than 20 hurt after missiles fired near hospital

BAGHDAD (AP) — The U.S. military on Saturday fired missiles at a target about 50 yards away from the general hospital in Baghdad's Sadr City district, wounding more than 20 people and destroying ambulances, hospital officials said.

Dr. Ali Bustan al-Fartusee, director general of Baghdad's health directorate, told The Associated Press that 23 civilians were injured.

He said no patients in the hospital were hurt, but that some of the wounded included civilians outside on their way to visit patients, and that around 17 ambulances were damaged.

Earlier, hospital officials said 28 people were injured; the reason for the discrepancy was not immediately known.

The missile were fired from a launcher on the ground, the U.S. military said. It said in a press release that it destroyed a "criminal element command and control center" with missiles in northeastern Baghdad — where Sadr City is located — around the same time Iraqis reported the attack near the hospital.

Quote for the day

"The Secret of getting ahead is getting started." - Sally Berger

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rosie had an excellent point

and I think she did it in a way with tact. I may have to check out her blog more. I'm sure I won't agree with everything she says but I admit sometimes I've let others color my perception of her. Something I truly try not to do - mymindspeaks

Anyway this was on the rblog for 5/1/2008:

on we go

05.01.08 at 10:57 pm in love

she said
i would not have stayed in that church

many women said
i would not have stayed in that marriage

faith and forgiveness
woulda shoulda

who is 2 say
what defines each of us

not the actions or words
of another

it took a gutted deer
4 the queen to feel herself

look inside

Gas Tax Holidays sound good BUT....


Hoosiers Loved Themelves a Gas Tax Holiday for 120 Days in 2000

May 02, 2008 5:09 PM

As Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and John McCain, R-Ariz., square off against Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on a gas tax holiday for the summer -- McCain introduced his legislation in April; Clinton is introducing her bill today; Obama says it's a "gimmick" that offers voters pennies and no long-term solutions -- some Hoosier history may be in order.

Eight years ago, with what were then perceived to be soaring gasoline prices -- more than $2 a gallon for premium gas -- then-Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon suspended Indiana's 5 percent sales tax on gas, saving Hoosier motorists between seven and 10 cents per gallon.

"Spiraling gas prices have really caused an undue burden on the people of Indiana," O'Bannon said in June 2000.

O'Bannon used a 1981 statute that enabled him to declare a state of emergency and suspend the tax for up to 60 days. He said he'd reinstate the gas tax before the 60 day period ends if prices went down. If prices continued, he had the option to extended the tax suspension another 60 days.

"Gas prices in the state are causing an undue burden to the people of Indiana," he said. "I consider this an emergency."

Oh -- did I mention O'Bannon was up for re-election?

By July Indiana had the lowest gas prices in the country -- approximately $1.42 per gallon. But O'Bannon said there was no plan to lift the suspension.

"What do we know about next week, will there be a shortage then?" asked an O'Bannon spokeswoman. "We don't know. We're looking at this as a long-term effort."

By August, the suspension had cost the state -- but not consumers -- more than $22 million. O'Bannon renewed the gas tax holiday for another 60 days.

By September, political analyst Charlie Cook had written that "Indiana Momentum is clearly on the side of the Democratic incumbent, Frank O'Bannon, as this much-hyped race moves into its final stages...O'Bannon's decision to suspend the state gas tax for 60 days has resulted in glowing press."

On October 26, 2000, the five percent sales tax resumed.

In November, O'Bannon won.

Indiana GOP chairman Mike McDaniel attributed the gas tax suspension as one of the three reasons the Democrat was re-elected.

Oh -- did I mention that in July 2002, O'Bannon signed into law a 3 cent increase of the state gas tax?

I honestly didn't realize this (or else I forgot)

Complete article printed in USA Today available at this link:

Study: Warming water means less oxygen for sea life

WASHINGTON — Low-oxygen zones where sea life is threatened or cannot survive are growing as the oceans are heated by global warming, a new study warns. Oxygen-depleted zones in the central and eastern equatorial Atlantic and equatorial Pacific oceans appear to have expanded over the last 50 years, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

Low-oxygen zones in the Gulf of Mexico and other areas also have been studied in recent years, raising concerns about the threat to sea life.

Continued expansion of these zones could have dramatic consequences for both sea life and coastal economies, said the team led by Lothar Stramma of the University of Kiel in Germany.

The finding was not surprising, Stramma said, because computer climate models had predicted a decline in dissolved oxygen in the oceans under warmer conditions.

Warmer water simply cannot absorb as much oxygen as colder water, explained co-author Gregory C. Johnson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

again, complete article found at the USA TODAY website at this link

Quote For The Day

The future is there for those that take it - Eleanor Roosevelt

Something worth looking into - US Food Suppy

Came across this in USA Today. I will definitely do some more reading on it when I have the time. The complete story is at this link. Here's a part of the article:

Surplus U.S. food supplies dry up
By Sue Kirchhoff, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — As the farm economy collapsed in the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was saddled with mountains of surplus cheese, corn and other foods that it socked away in warehouses and even caves.

As recently as 2003, the USDA had to buy so much powdered milk to support dairy prices that beleaguered officials shipped some to U.S. ranchers for cattle feed.

While the previous surpluses were costly and sharply criticized, much of the food found its way to the poor, here and abroad. Today, says USDA Undersecretary Mark Keenum, "Our cupboard is bare."

U.S. government food surpluses have evaporated because, with record high prices, farmers are selling their crops on the open market, not handing them over to the government through traditional price-support programs that make up for deficiencies in market price.

Worldwide, food prices have risen 45% in the past nine months, posing a crisis for millions, says the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.

Because of the current economics of food, and changes in federal farm subsidy programs designed to make farmers rely more on the markets, large U.S. reserves may be gone for a long time.

The upshot: USDA has almost no extra food to supplement the billions in cash payments it spends to combat hunger at home and in developing nations.

A coalition of religious and farm groups, in an open letter to Congress this week, warned that low supplies increase the risk of hunger and higher prices, calling for creation of a strategic grain reserve.

"As a matter or national security, our government should recognize and act on its responsibility to provide a stable market for food in an era of unprecedented risk," says the letter from the National Family Farm Coalition and various groups.

Others experts say large government stockpiles are not only unnecessary, they are counterproductive. That includes John Block who, as President Reagan's Agriculture secretary during the 1980s, went to enormous lengths to get rid of extra food: giving commodities to farmers as payment for idling land, offering surplus grain as a subsidy to exporters and holding cheese giveaways for the poor.

"We shouldn't have large reserves stacked up. It was very costly for us," Block said, noting that for years he was accused by other nations of depressing their farm sectors by dumping extra U.S. food on world markets.

Still, even he terms the current world situation "shocking" in the sense that prices for so many types of food have risen at once.

The USDA's sole remaining sizable stockpile contains about 24 million bushels of wheat in a special government trust dedicated to international humanitarian aid. The special food program, which also holds $117 million in cash, has dwindled from its original 147-million-bushel level as Republican and Democratic administrations have used it but not fully replenished it.

That leaves the Bush administration with less flexibility to respond quickly to international food aid needs. President Bush in mid-April drew $200 million from the Emerson Humanitarian Trust, named after former congressman Bill Emerson, a Missouri Republican. Bush's action followed a desperate plea from the United Nations for food aid. Thursday, the president announced he would ask Congress for $770 million in separate, additional funding to meet international needs.

But Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, at a recent food aid conference, says his agency faces tough decisions about managing the rest of the reserve in times of widespread hunger. "How far do we draw down?" he asked. "Do we take it down to zero because we need it? Do we hold some in there, because who knows what's going to happen, for emergency purposes later?"

Nutrition programs in need

Domestic nutrition programs, supported by once-bountiful commodity supplies, also face increasing stress. In a sign of how tight the situation has become, Keenum last summer dug into little-used legal authority to barter the last remaining USDA raw cotton and other surplus for about $120 million of canned meat and other processed goods desperately needed by domestic food banks and international programs.

"Now that we've created the program, it would be great if we had more stocks we could convert," Keenum says. "We just don't."

The fact that USDA's larders are depleted doesn't mean the country is out of food. The vast majority of U.S. grain is in the hands of farmers and private firms. Overall, the USA is expected to have carryover supplies of 241.9 million bushels of wheat this year, for example. But the USDA situation is indicative of broader trends, with domestic and international grain supplies in decline.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bush Speaks on Food Aid

The Washington Post has the complete transcript. Please read it at this link. Here is a snippet of it:

PRESIDENT BUSH: In recent weeks, many have expressed concern about the significant increase in global food prices. And I share that concern.

In some of the world's poorest nations, rising prices can mean the difference between getting a daily meal or going without food. To address this problem, two weeks ago, my administration announced that about $200 million in emergency food aid would be available through a program at the Agriculture Department called the Emerson Trust.

That's just the beginning of our efforts. I think more needs to be done.

And so, today I'm asking Congress to provide an additional $770 million to support food aid and development programs. Together, this amounts to nearly $1 billion in new funds to both bolster global food security. And with other security assistance programs already in place, we're now projecting to spend nearly -- that we will spend nearly $5 billion in 2008 and 2009 to fight global hunger.

This funding will keep our existing emergency food aid programs robust. We have been the leader for providing food to those who are going without in the past, and we will continue to be the leader around the world.

It will also allow us to fund agriculture development programs that help farmers in developing countries increase their productivity. And, of course, this will help reduce the number of people who need emergency food aid in the first place.

As America increases its food assistance, it's really important that we transform the way that food aid is delivered.

In my State of the Union address this year, I called on Congress to support a proposal to purchase up to nearly 25 percent of food assistance directly from farmers in the developing world. And the reason you do that is in order to break the cycle of famine that we're having to deal with too often in a modern era. It's important to help build up local agriculture.

I ask Congress to approve this measure as soon as possible. It's a common-sense way to help deal with food emergencies around the world.

Now, other countries have a role to play as well. America is in the lead. We'll stay in the lead. And we expect others to participate along with us.

We're working with our G-8 partners and other developed nations to secure commitments from their governments for additional food aid. We're also working toward the conclusion of a successful Doha agreement that will reduce and eliminate other tariffs and other barriers as well as market-distorting subsidies for agricultural goods.

BUSH: And the reason why getting a Doha round done is important is it will end up reducing the cost of food -- importing food. It'll make it cheaper for consumers all around the world. In other words, we want to change the system to make it easier for people to get less expensive food.

I admit I didn't see this endorsement coming

but I respect what he did and the way he did it. AOL news has the complete article but here is a bit, I do hope you will take the time to read the article for yourself at this link:

Defection of longtime superdelegate jolts Clinton

Posted: 2008-05-01 17:16:32
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton was jolted Thursday by the defection of one of her longtime superdelegate supporters, a former national party chairman who urged fellow Democrats to "reject the old negative politics" and unify behind Barack Obama.

"A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue" a long, self-destructive Democratic campaign, Joe Andrew added in a letter designed to have an impact on the turbulent race nationally as well as in his home state of Indiana, site of a primary next week.

I also thought what he wrote here was particularly interesting:

In his letter, Andrew not only challenged Clinton's claims about electability, but he also bluntly denounced the type of campaign tactics practiced by some in the Clinton circle.

"If the campaign's surrogates called Governor Bill Richardson, a respected former member of President Clinton's cabinet, a "Judas" for endorsing Senator Obama, we can all imagine how they will treat somebody like me," he wrote.

"They are the best practitioners of the old politics, so they will no doubt call me a traitor, an opportunist and a hypocrite. I will be branded as disloyal, power-hungry, but most importantly, they will use the exact words that Republicans used to attack me when I was defending President Clinton."

Andrew was far gentler on Clinton and her husband, both of whom he praised. But at one point, he wrote: "In an accident of timing, Indiana has been given the opportunity to truly make a difference. Hoosiers should grab that power and do what in their heart they know is right. They should reject the old negative politics and vote for true change."

Andrew made his move on a day in which Obama and Clinton campaigned across Indiana, where 72 convention delegates will be at stake. Polls point toward a close race in a state that even some of Clinton's supporters concede is critical to her campaign.