Saturday, December 31, 2005

Cat Calls 911 to help his human

Police aren't sure how else to explain it. Apparently when the cat's human fell from his wheelchair and couldn't get up or reach the phone, the cat dialed 9-1-1. When emergency dispatchers at the other end of the line couldn't get anyone to talk to them, they sent the cops to investigate. The victim told police that he had tried to teach the cat to dial 9-1-1 when the had gotten the animal a couple of years ago, but wasn't ever sure if the training had stuck. Obviously it had.


Our Dear Leaders are seriously pissed that word has leaked about the double super secret doings of the Bush administration, particularly their programs of rendition, including a network of clandestine prisons where US officials are "disappearing" those they deem a threat, and, most recently, the leaking of the details of a domestic communications spying program which runs counter to provisions of the US Constitution and a federal law specifically put in place to guard against such abuses.

Vice President Cheney has said the leaks are a threat to our security. Damn right they are.

I can't tell you how insecure I feel knowing that our President believes that he can invoke his powers as commander in chief over something as nebulous as the "war on terror". What excuse will we hear the next time he wants to make an end run around the Constitution? Maybe it's necessary to help us win the "war on poverty" or "the war on drugs"? How about that friggin' "war on Christmas"?

And as far as "disappearing" people and hiding them in prisons in countries that condone and support the use of torture, Mr. Bush should remember that this is not an original idea.

From: The Vanished Gallery

Desaparecidos is the Spanish word for "The Disappeared." For thousands of Argentine families, this word has become a symbol of a long harrowing nightmare.

In a coup on March 24, 1976, a military junta seized power in Argentina and went on a campaign to wipe out left-wing terrorism with terror far worse than the one they were combating. Between 1976 and 1983 - under military rule - thousands of people, most of them dissidents and innocent civilians unconnected with terrorism, were arrested and then vanished without a trace.

In 1983, after democracy was restored, a national commission was appointed to investigate the fate of the disappeared. Its report revealed the systematic abductions of men women and children, the existence of about 340 well organized secret detention centers, and the methodic use of torture and murder. According to former president, Carlos Menem, records of the atrocities were destroyed by the military, following the 1982 Falklands War. The disappeared have not been heard of to this day.

These pages are a humble attempt to bring the voices of the desaparecidos and their loved ones to the world. The vanishing was swift, a burst into a home at night, a few minutes and they were gone - not enough time to be heard. We owe it to them.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Make Them Eat Their Friggin' Words

"(T)his nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law. Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us, when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth. ...

No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That's the principle that we all hold very dear in this country." - Representative Tom DeLay, 1998
The House of Representatives must step up and do its part to hold this Administration accountable for its actions and demand answers by conducting thorough and dignified hearings concerning spying on Americans. So, if you have not signed Representative Louise Slaughter's petition yet, please sign it today and pass it on: click here.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Gee, George. I kinda liked The Constitution, and this document, too.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, having its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient suffrance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their acts of pretended legislation.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally, the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizen taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The Original Thirteen Colonies:
- Carolina (Later divided into North and South Carolina)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- Georgia
- Maryland
- Massachusetts
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Pennsylvania
- Rhode Island
- Virginia

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Non-union "scab" workers' mistake blows hole in plane during flight

Yet once again big business has decided that the war against organized labor is more important that the safety of the consumer.

As you might remember, in the year 2000 Ford and the Firestone tire company came under fire due to a large number of fatal and injury accidents involving Explorer SUVs equipped with Firestone tires. Investigators learned that many of the tires which failed were made by non-union scabs brought in by Firestone to replace union workers who were involved in a labor dispute. Studies showed that the tires made by the non-union strike breakers failed 15 times as often as those made by the union employees that those scabs had replaced.

In the latest incident, scab workers at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle have been blamed for an incident which placed an airliner and all its passengers and crew at risk. According to NTSB investigators, the non-union replacement workers, who were responsible for " an increase in ground-damage incidents at Sea-Tac after (the airline) replaced 472 unionized workers in May" struck and creased the skin of the airliner with a piece of baggage handling equipment.

Twenty minutes into the flight the damage blew open, creating a 1 foot by half a foot hole, which depressurized the cabin of the aircraft. The pilot immediately took the plane into a steep dive, while passengers and crew scrambled to don oxygen masks.

From The Seattle Times

"Absolutely terrifying" flight after ground-crew mistake

By Jennifer Sullivan and Melissa Allison
Seattle Times staff reporters

Alaska Airlines Flight 536 was 20 minutes out of Seattle and heading for Burbank, Calif., Monday afternoon when a thunderous blast rocked the plane.

Passengers gasped for air and grabbed their oxygen masks as the plane dropped from about 26,000 feet, passenger Jeremy Hermanns said by phone Tuesday.

"This was absolutely terrifying for a few moments," said Hermanns, 28, of Los Angeles. "Basically your ears popped, there's a really loud bang and there was a lot of white noise. It was like somebody turned on a leaf blower in your ear."

Though the MD-80 plane was quickly stabilized, he said, passengers spent the next 25 minutes tearful and anxious. An "acrid" odor of burning plastic overwhelmed the cabin, Hermanns said.

"A lot of people were very stunned," said Hermanns, who had been visiting Seattle with his fiancée for Christmas. "It was surreal."

But hey, we saved a few bucks on labor costs.

Coalition Of The Unwilling Grows

From The L.A. Times December 28

Poland Adds to Coalition Troop Cuts
The U.S. ally says it will pull out 40% of its force. The news comes as Bulgaria and Ukraine complete their exits, dismaying Washington.
By Paul Richter
Times Staff Writer

December 28, 2005

WASHINGTON — The U.S.-led international military coalition in Iraq shrank further Tuesday after Bulgaria and Ukraine completed troop withdrawals and Poland announced it was reducing its contingent 40% while switching to a noncombat role.

Responding to appeals by U.S. officials, the Polish government reversed an earlier plan to remove all of its troops by the end of this year. But officials of the East European nation said the 900 remaining soldiers of its previous 1,500-strong force would focus almost exclusively on training Iraqis as they wind down their mission over the next year.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said in Warsaw that the government would like to complete the drawdown of its forces "not in an abrupt way, but gradually."

In a previously announced departure, Ukraine removed a final 876 troops. Bulgaria withdrew 380.

America's partners in the "coalition of the willing," as the Bush administration had dubbed it, have dwindled from a peak of 38 nations and 50,000 troops in mid-2003 to 27 countries and about 22,000 troops, according to a recent State Department tally. Most of the remaining countries have announced that they will end their participation in 2006.

Because only the 8,000-member British force plays a substantial combat role, the disappearance of the international contingent would not be a major military setback for the United States. But the departures represent a political setback for the administration, because foreign troops help lend international legitimacy to the effort to build a new Iraq.

Read the entire article here.

Blair again convinces Bush not to bomb "anti-democracy" media outlet

Word out of London is that once again Prime Minister Tony Blair used his calming influence to talk US President George W. Bush from bombing a media outlet which the American leader accused of lending support and comfort to the enemy. The target of Bush's ire was the British paper The Globe and Mail which published this.

Post-Gazette Takes On King George

Columnist Reg Henry blasts Bush:

Its Good To Be King George

As I was saying to a fellow peasant just the other day, it is ironic that this country should rebel against one King George only to bow down before another monarch of the same name more than 200 years later...

Henceforth, throughout the land, let him be proclaimed as His Royal Texas-ship, Defender of the Faith, Interpreter of the Constitution, Protector of the SUVs, Guardian of the Malls, Warrior King, Scourge of the Liberals, Bane of the Activist Judges, His Most High Majesty and Most Excellent King George W. the First of Many.
Read the whole thing here

Monday, December 26, 2005


From The Seattle P.I.

WASHINGTON -- In an unusually candid admission, the federal chief of AIDS research says he believes drug companies don't have an incentive to create a vaccine for HIV and are likely to wait to profit from it after the government develops one.

And that means the government has had to spend more time focusing on the processes that drug companies ordinarily follow in developing new medicines and bringing them to market.

"We had to spend some time and energy paying attention to those aspects of development because the private side isn't picking it up," Dr. Edmund Tramont testified in a deposition in a recent employment lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press.

Tramont is head of the AIDS research division of the National Institutes of Health, and he predicted in his testimony that the government will eventually create a vaccine. He testified in July in the whistle-blower case of Dr. Jonathan Fishbein.

"If we look at the vaccine, HIV vaccine, we're going to have an HIV vaccine. It's not going to be made by a company," Tramont said. "They're dropping out like flies because there's no real incentive for them to do it. We have to do it."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

From The New York Times, Dec. 25, 2005

U.S., Citing Abuse in Iraqi Prisons, Holds Detainees
The military will not turn over detainees to Iraq until officials are satisfied that Iraqis are meeting U.S. standards.

Oh, I guess they mean these standards:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

News Snips

Torturous Path To Democracy

Troops find more tortured prisoners in Iraq

American and Iraqi troops have found hundreds of prisoners packed so tightly into a Baghdad detention centre that they had trouble lying down, it was announced yesterday. Some had been tortured.

Of the 625 men, 13 were taken to hospital to be treated for broken bones or the effects of electric shocks. Others had fingernails pulled out or cigarette burns on their necks and backs.
Council of Europe probe backs claims of CIA prison flights

PARIS (AFX) - The CIA appears to have abducted suspects in Europe and illegally transferred them to other countries, according to the preliminary results of a Council of Europe investigation released today.

'Legal proceedings under way in certain countries appear to show that individuals were abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal assistance procedures,' the Swiss senator who leads the inquiry, Dick Marty, said as he presented his findings to date.

(For an interesting article on how the US got caught, go here)

Backstory: 1,000 days in Iraq

Tuesday marks the 1,000th day of the war in Iraq. Apart from the debate over its purpose and progress, here are some basic facts about the conflict.
Check out these figures from the Christian Science Monitor.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Our Tax Dollars At Work? Not!

How do multinational corporations rip off the poor? Here's one I hadn't been aware of. From an interview on Australia's ABC Network with Raymond Baker, guest scholar and the Brookings Institute in Washington DC and author of Capitalism's Achilles Heel: dirty money and how to renew the free-market system.

RAYMOND BAKER: (A) thousand billion dollars a year of dirty money crosses borders.

Half of that, in my estimate, comes out of the poor countries of the world, developing and transitional economies, and those are the countries that are tremendously hurt by these flows, because that is for the most part, a one-way flow out of those countries into western accounts.

MARK COLVIN: And so there you're talking about corrupt, say, African dictators just shovelling what's often aid money into Swiss bank accounts for instance?

RAYMOND BAKER: That's part of it. I'm also including in that calculation transfer pricing, that multinational corporations use to move money that is tax evading out of developing countries.

MARK COLVIN: How do they do that?

RAYMOND BAKER: They price transactions in such a way as to reduce taxes in one place and shift profits, for example, into a tax haven. If you vary prices of what you're selling, the same thing can be sold at different prices to different countries for the purpose of moving money out of those countries, and particularly lodging it in tax havens.

MARK COLVIN: So it must be keeping the world's accountants very busy, all of this stuff?

RAYMOND BAKER: It certainly does. In fact, the larger accounting companies typically maintain transfer pricing departments that advise their clients, advise corporations on the efficacy of transfer pricing and in effect, how to get away with it.

MARK COLVIN: Is that done mainly in the developing world, or would that be affecting all countries, countries like Australia and the United States?

RAYMOND BAKER: All countries, including Australia, the United States. The United States has a great deal of money flowing into tax havens through transfer pricing. The same thing is true out of European countries. It's done by virtually all multinational corporations.

MARK COLVIN: Is it illegal or is it just to difficult to police?

RAYMOND BAKER: It is illegal. It breaks laws against mail fraud, wire fraud and normally, it would break laws against filing false customs documents. However, because these laws are so seldom enforced in the United States, in Europe and Australia and elsewhere, it's done with a great deal of frequency.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thursday's News

Snippets From The Internets:

US "Isolated" At Climate Talks

- The United States found itself isolated on Wednesday as other countries, including ally Australia, backed the early start of negotiations for deeper cuts in greenhouse gases, the fossil-fuel pollution blamed for global warming.


UK Nobel literature laureate brands Iraq war a "US crime"

, Dec. 8 -- Ailing British Nobel literature laureate Harold Pinter fiercely attacked the Anglo-American decision to go to war in Iraq in a pre-recorded speech aired at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on Wednesday.

The British playwright said the Iraq war was one of a number of"US crimes" and mocked Tony Blair's Britain as "pathetic and supine", according to The Independent on Thursday.

The invasion of Iraq was "a bandit act", "an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law ... an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media andtherefore of the public." he said.

Pinter, who has been treated for cancer in recent years, was supposed to have delivered the traditional Nobel lecture in person,but was forced to cancel his trip to Sweden because of poor health.

Pinter began his speech by explaining that most of his plays had been born from a single line, word or image that came into hishead. But the Nobel Prize winner interrupted his literary meanderings with an impassioned tirade against the Iraq war.

He continued: "We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleteduranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'... the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which couldbe fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true."


Lords ban "torture evidence"

LONDON (Reuters) - The Law Lords ruled on Thursday that information gleaned from torture anywhere in the world was unacceptable as evidence in British courts.

Rights groups immediately said the ruling sent a clear signal to governments around the world who are wrestling with accusations that they participated in, provided facilities for, or used evidence in court extracted from people detained as part of a CIA programme known as "rendition".


Woman convicted of AOL Schiavo death threat

San Francisco. A federal jury convicted a San Francisco woman Tuesday for posting a threat on an online message board to kill the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who died in March after the removal of her feeding tube.

According to FBI Special Agent Christopher Sadlowski, defendant Dera Marie Jones wrote on March 23: "If she dies I will kill Michael Schiavo and the judge. This for real!" on an America Online message board that dealt with the Schiavo case.

Jones, 32, told FBI agents that she was "just kidding" when she posted it and that she had to change her screen name because of threats she received because of her message, Sadlowski wrote in a court affidavit.


Army To Spend $1.35 Billion In Next 5 Years To Attract Cannon Fodder

From staff and wire reports

December 8, 2005

The creator of the U.S. Army's "Army of One" advertising slogan just got discharged.

Chicago-based advertising giant Leo Burnett USA was dismissed Wednesday as the Army's advertising agency in favor of McCann Erickson New York after a formal review of the account.

The U.S. Army estimates the new contract to be worth $1.35 billion over five years.

The advertising agency shake-up comes as the Army missed its recruiting target for the budget year ended Sept. 30 for the first time since 1999.


Straight Men Are Strange

The Olympian:

A Lacey man was arraigned Wednesday on charges that he allegedly locked his wife and 1-month-old son in their motor home before leaving for work each day.

Two Lacey police officers found a padlock on the motor home after they were dispatched to the 8900 block of Martin Way about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

They were able to talk with the 33-year-old woman through an open window. She said her husband, Donald T. Carlson, 38, locked them in for the past week before going to work, according to a police report.

The officers gained entry into the motor home after a lieutenant brought bolt cutters to the scene. Inside, they found the wife had telephone access.

They then visited Carlson at a job site in Hawks Prairie. He acknowledged locking the two inside the motor home.

He said his wife had “attention deficient disorder” and forgets his requests to not talk to some of the “drunks and drug users” living nearby, the report said.

Carlson told police they often visit the motor home, and he wanted assurances that they wouldn’t handle his child.

He said his wife could force open the door of the motor home at any time because it was secured with a padlock that cost $1.

Carlson was arrested on suspicion of two counts of unlawful imprisonment, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, or both.

He was being held at Thurston County Jail. Bail was set at $5,000.

And from the same paper:

The principal of Olympic Elementary School in Chehalis has been charged with child rape.

Dion Labadie is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old Napavine girl he met online, according to Lewis County Prosecutor Jeremy Randolph.

Labadie, 35, resigned Nov. 20 and now is in the Lewis County Jail, where bail has been set at $50,000.

A guardian for the girl became suspicious when he discovered several hundred text messages from Labadie and found the two together at a restaurant early one morning, according to authorities.

The girl told detectives she loved Labadie and believed he was ready to leave his wife and children to be with her.

Randolph said the girl is the only suspected victim.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Want A 1940's Style of Diversity?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups call for urgent meeting with Ford Motor Company!

UPDATED: This is turning into a big story folks. Weigh in. Call or email your local Ford dealer and let her or him know that you are not pleased. Then write a letter to your local paper. More: click on the words "confidential agreement" in the story below to read about the meeting between AFA and Ford. (another thanks to Americablog).

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2005 — Below is a unity statement on media reports of Ford Motor Company entering into a confidential agreement with the American Family Association:

“We are deeply dismayed by reports in the media and otherwise that the Ford Motor Company has entered into a confidential agreement with the extremist American Family Association (AFA) that requires Ford to stop advertising in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media. If there is an agreement with AFA, we expect Ford to disavow it. We expect Ford to publicly reaffirm its historic support for our community. And, we expect Ford to meet with LGBT representatives this week to resolve these concerns.”

Family Pride
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Human Rights Campaign
Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC)
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Triangle Foundation
* * * * * * *

Ford Motor Company rolled over when this anti-gay group showed up and accused them of being "pro-gay". If we just silently stand by and let this happen then within a very short time other corporations will start following suit. We have worked too hard for decades in our struggle for equality to be forced back into the closets of the 1940's. The strides that we have made over those years are at severe risk right now. Each and every one of us must speak up. Now.

No "tip of the hat" here, instead a full "bow from the waist" to John Aravosis at for outstanding reporting and organizing on this issue. Please, head over there and follow John's suggestions to help move this issue.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Stop Paying The War Tax Included On Your Phone Bill?

According to an article by San Francisco Chronicle consumer watchdog David Lazarus, thousands of Americans are expressing their opposition to the Iraq war by refusing to pay the "war tax" levied on all US phone subscribers as part of their monthly bill. Not only are they refusing to pay, but many phone service providers are making it easy for them to do so. For example, AT&T and Cingular Wireless when requested to do so by the customer will no longer include the tax on that customer's bill, but they do warn that under federal law they must report that customer's actions to the IRS.

As the article points out, refusing to pay this or any other federal tax can leave individuals open to prosecution, but due to the small amounts involved - well less than $2 per month for most folks in the San Francisco area - and the large amount it would take to threaten, much less prosecute those involved, the government has little incentive to take legal action.

For more information visit

America's $225 Billion Image Makeover

Photo by Keith Stanley

From The San Francisco Chronicle

"A year ago, Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service reported on a survey of 8,000 international consumers released by Global Market Institute Inc. of Seattle. The survey noted that "one-third of all consumers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom said that U.S. foreign policy, particularly the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq, constituted their strongest impression of the United States."

In another blow to President Bush's vision of staying the course in Iraq, US business leaders are recognising that beyond the staggering direct costs of the war in Iraq, they are also paying an increasing toll in their international sales profits.

"Unfortunately, current American foreign policy is viewed by international consumers as a significant negative, when it used to be a positive," said Mitchell Eggers, Global Market's chief operating officer and chief pollster.

Brands the survey identified as particularly at risk included Marlboro, America Online, McDonald's, American Airlines, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, United Airlines, Budweiser, Chrysler, Mattel, Starbucks and General Motors.
If you want to get the attention of a businessman, the surefire method is to hit him in the pocketbook. Increasingly the fallout over this war is doing just that.

/snip/ A U.S. Banker magazine article in August relaying the results of an Edelman Trust Barometer survey found that 41 percent of Canadian opinion leaders were less likely to purchase American products because of Bush administration policies, compared with 56 percent in the United Kingdom, 61 percent in France, 49 percent in Germany and 42 percent in Brazil.

/snip/ "Hundreds of companies blame the Iraq war for poor financial results in 2003, many warning that continued U.S. military involvement there could harm this year's performance.

/snip/ "The war in Iraq created a quagmire for corporations," David Galvan, a portfolio manager for Wayne Hummer Income Fund, says

/snip/ (T)he diverse businesses in the tourism industry have taken a huge blow. JetBlue, Orbitz,, Morton's steakhouses and Host Marriott, to name just a few, have blamed disappointing returns on the war.

Travel industry leaders have warned that the United States is losing billions of dollars as international tourists are deterred from visiting because of a tarnished image overseas and bureaucratic visa policies.