Beauprez is not good for Colorado- for the Grateful Web

Congressman Beauprez has renewed his membership to the notorious "Dirty Dozen" group of enemies of the environment, the first time a gubernatorial candidate has earned a spot on the annual list.

As reported in various media outlets today, the non-partisan League of Conservation Voters on Wednesday announced that the Congressman's abysmal voting record on environmental issues led to once again naming him a member of Congress's "Dirty Dozen."

The League said the Congressman has issued pro-environment votes just 5 percent of the time during his tenure in Congress. They say the Congressman has voted to:

1) Exempt some oil and gas activities from water-protection laws.

2) Reduce royalty revenues going to Colorado communities to manage energy development impacts.

3) Subsidize oil companies at a time of record-breaking profits.

4) Oppose energy conservation measures such as increasing miles-per-gallon standards of new cars.

The Congressman's wildlife relocation plan also continues to be ridiculed as further evidence of his anti-environment ideology. "Asking elk to change migration patterns is not a sound idea, and certainly points to Bob Beauprez's willingness to bend the laws of nature in an effort to further serve special interests," outfitter Jeff Mead said at yesterday's news conference, according to the Glenwood Post-Independent.

The Congressman first made the "Dirty Dozen" list in 2004 . The League of Conservation Voters also has named Beauprez to "Tom's Tainted Team" for his support of now-resigned Republican leader Tom DeLay's anti-environmental agenda and for accepting money from DeLay.

American Apparel: Really American

- for the Grateful Web

American Apparel proves that good ethics equal good business.  Last year American Apparel made $250 million in revenue and $400 million in revenue is projected for this year.  American Apparel is a clothing wholesaler and a retailer.

"I'm really excited for it to be in Boulder because I think Boulder has been needing it," said Jules Brennan, 24, manager of the new American Apparel store which just opened on Pearl Street, claiming the Gap's former space.  Though both companies sell similar casual attire, they vary greatly in their manufacturing practices.  The roads from design to merchandising for each store could not be farther apart.  While the Gap and other clothing companies contract their manufacturing to factories around the world, American Apparel lives up to its name by manufacturing all of its clothing in Los Angeles, Calif.

Founded in 1997 by Canadian Dov Charney, 37, American Apparel initially contracted its manufacturing to Mexico, but Charney moved manufacturing to the United States since it is difficult to manage someone else's company.  Charney prefers a hands-on approach and oversees every aspect of the company from designs to the openings of dozens of new stores around the world.  "He wants to be in every part of the company so he can get a feel for what is going on and where the company should be going," said Brennan, and added, "Even though it's corporate you still have a lot of freedom."

"The company's identity embraced a concept of a positive experience, and that means everyone is going to have a positive experience.  I think that's a real important basic premise," said Roian Atwood, 28, director of community relations at American Apparel.  The Los Angeles factory has modern sewing equipment, offers medical benefits after 90 days, has free masseurs on site, and offers subsidized bus passes, free ESL classes, free parking and bicycle lending.  Employees are allowed to use bathrooms whenever needed and to make brief personal phone calls on company phones.  The Los Angeles factory's location has plenty of natural light and is air-conditioned.  The atmosphere is laid-back and still productive.  According to www.americanapparel.net, the factory can create over 210,000 T-shirts each day, or about 1 million per week.

"We're reinvesting in ourselves," said Greg Martinelli, 35, the manager of the Denver store in the midst of helping the Boulder store on its opening day, referring to American Apparel's practice of vertical integration.  Everything from design to distribution is done in the Los Angeles factory.  Vertical integration eliminates the middle man and increases efficiency.  Design and assembly errors are noticed and amended faster.  The entire production is seamless and money is saved as a result.  Employees are also valued.  American Apparel's factory does not have a high level of turnover, which is also cost efficient.  Atwood also said Charney learned from the mistakes of the automobile industry.  As rising sales demand new technology, workers are trained instead of being laid off.

aaThe philosophy of vertical integration extends to marketing as all of the models in American Apparel's advertisements are employees of the company or friends of employees.  The Gap, while too sparing to pay manufacturing workers livable wages, paid Madonna $5 million for appearing in print ads and a television commercial in 2003.  Vertical integration could become the manufacturing model for the future in light of American Apparel's success and rapid expansion.  American Apparel already has stores in ten countries and 100 new stores will open this year.  The company also has 55,000 wholesale customers.  American Apparel has a growing fan base while its competitors continue to be scrutinized for their dishonorable practices.

"A lot of the companies that utilize contract labor have these large networks.  For them to consider changing…it's very difficult.  Making [clothes] in the U.S. may not be so easy for them to consider," said Ben Giardullo, 24, operations manager, but added, "They're running out of room to say it has to be done with contractors."  Clothes for Gap, Inc. are manufactured in over 50 countries by workers in more than 3,600 factories according to www.behindthelabel.org.  Garment workers at American Apparel's Los Angeles factory are paid $12.50-$20.00 per hour according to American Apparel's web site.  Many contractors in China pay workers an average of 22 cents per hour and as little as 14 cents per hour.  People sometimes work over 90 hours per week.  Workers are ruled by intimidation and are beaten if they make mistakes.  Workers in countries such as Mexico and Bangladesh are fired if they speak out about their poor working environments or try to organize unions.  Many of the Gap's contracted factories are surrounded by barbed wire fences and patrolled by guards.  The factories are basically prisons.  To make matters even worse, many workers are cheated out of their earnings by their employers.

gapThe BBC exposed the Gap for having a contractor which used child labor in Cambodia.  Some of these laborers were only 12 years old.  Cambodian workers were forced to work overtime and seven day work weeks while living in squalor, according to www.behindthelabel.org.  The Gap is not alone in its support of human rights abuses as Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor and others have utilized contractors which treat human beings as product-producing machines. Contractors also act as loan sharks to their employees who borrow money at high interest rates to buy food.  The employees essentially become indentured servants who are trapped in a borrow and work cycle.

"Nobody does what we do.  We do exactly what everyone else says is impossible," said Giardullo.  American Apparel proves a company does not have to be unethical to be profitable.  American Apparel will add to the paradoxes it practices by exporting American-made T-shirts to China.


Grateful Web endorses Bill Ritter for Colorado Gov- for the Grateful Web

With Colorado on high alert for another devastating fire season, gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter today released his plan for protecting Coloradans, their property and wildlife habitat from wildfires.


The complete plan is posted on Ritter's campaign website and is available by clicking here.


"We must always be prepared for the worst," said Ritter, Denver's former District Attorney, "and my first priority will be to protect the people of Colorado. I will ensure that proper planning, training and resources are in place to protect Colorado's people, land and wildlife habitat."


Ritter's plan calls for:


·          Increased collaboration among state, federal and local authorities and private landowners to mitigate and prevent wildfires before they start through thinning, prescribed burns and adopting "firewise" techniques that make homes and businesses more defensible.

·          Ensuring that state resources – including more than $3 million appropriated for fire suppression by the legislature and governor – are spent effectively and efficiently.

·          Attacking Colorado's mountain pine beetle infestation quickly and efficiently. More than 425,000 acres of north-central forestland were infested in 2005, significantly increasing the risk and severity of forest fires in those areas.

·          Balancing Colorado's needs and national emergency response needs. Colorado must become more self-sufficient so that our resources are not siphoned away to meet federal needs.

"Wildfires are a natural part of the environment here in the West," said Ritter, who was endorsed by the Colorado Professional Firefighters Association earlier this year. "But we can and must do more to protect ourselves."


Ritter applauded U.S. Ken Salazar, who criticized the federal government yesterday for not doing enough to reduce fire risks in the West, where more than 4 million acres have burned so far this year compared with 3 million at this time last year.


For more information about Ritter's campaign, visit www.ritterforgovernor.com , e-mail info@ritterforgovernor.com  or call 303.534.0660.


I'm an Eco-Groovy Republican

- for the Grateful Web

Its funny, environmental issues are actually what began to sway me in the other 'right' direction. I moved to the Florida Keys in the mid 80's and saw many people lose use of their land through environmental regulation - and not be compensated. The government was using the environment issues to essentially seize people's property without paying for it. I didn't believe that could happen in America, so it was a shock.

A lot of it was based on bad science - there were the "hippie liberal" marine biologists who believed any sneeze hurt the environment. So they went into overkill - attempting to ban almost everything. People panicked, afraid they'd lose their property rights, which created a building boom. Within a few years, we went from having the lowest rate of growth in the state to having the HIGHEST.

With proper planning and a more balanced approach that never would've happened. But, worst of all, the precedents that were set at that time still allow the government to "take" land without just compensation. To me, that is really an issue that should be a LIBERAL one, frankly. The government should never have the power to do that, even for a good cause (it's usually a "good cause" that results in loss of liberties...take the "war on terror", for instance). Yet, liberals stood by and did nothing because it supposedly conflicted with protecting the environment, though it really doesn't.

So, what you're seeing now is kind of a backlash to that environmental extremism and over-regulation. It often didn't work, like here, actually causing MORE damage. Just because someone doesn't embrace a particular regulation doesn't mean they're anti-environment. It's got to make sense...

"For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth." (Col. 1:16)

- for the Grateful Web

Many leaders of the Evangelical movement came together this week to stand up for the environment. Though not all evangelicals agree with their stance, the leaders cited Bible verses for the change in their position, and are urging government, businesses and individuals to cut emissions to combat global warming.



It's a shame then that President Bush does not share the views of the majority of his proponents.  Despite the fact that the President just recently promised in his State of the Union address to help to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and pledged more research money for alternative fuel sources, his proposed budget revealed only days later, tells a different story.  Environmental causes on the whole were slashed by 13 percent.  Now, this may not seem terribly significant, but when you consider the fact that our natural environment is teetering on a ledge that we may never be able to retreat from, it becomes more significant.  And instead of getting the additional funding needed to reverse the trend, budgets are being cut despite Bush's recent promises.



The Evangelical leaders are also asking politicians to draft legislation mandating emission reductions in carbon dioxide, but President Bush opposes these mandatory reductions, insisting they will hurt the economy.  And instead of funding energy conservation programs, the cheapest way to increase supply of energy sources, Bush's 2007 budget calls for an 18 percent cut to energy efficient programs.  As the final kicker, as reported just today, President Bush proposes selling over 300,000 acres of National Forest to fund rural schools.  I've got a better idea:  let's do away with the tax break to the wealthiest 1% of the nation, or better yet, increase the tax on the oil companies, who have enjoyed their heftiest profits ever, while middle to low-income families, and are taking it in the wallet.  There would be plenty of money to fund schools, combat terrorism, and save the forests, and hopefully reverse global warming.



The commands of Jesus in the Bible are clear.  We are to "love our neighbors" (Mark 12:30-31), "do unto others as we would have them do unto us" (Luke 6:31), care for "the least of these" (Matthew 25:40-45), and be proper "stewards of His creation" (Luke 12:42-48).   It's nice to know that Evangelicals are holding themselves to these standards.  If only President Bush and Congress would take these views into consideration and stop carrying out the usual Conservative agenda.  After all, as a poignant bumper sticker pointedly asks, "What exactly are Conservatives conserving?"



It's high time to do away with political labels and stereotypes and come together as Americans, as humans, as "stewards" of the earth.  I'm pretty sure it's what Jesus would want us to do.

No More News!

Vampire Rabbit- for the Grateful Web

I've decided to stop watching the news. I'll stop reading it, too. No more compulsive tapping on the refresh button on the CNN.com home page in the hopes that something wildly tragic has happened somewhere so I can palliate my boredom for five more minutes. No more news, because the news has blackened my worldview.

I no longer see happily playing children, bustling big cities, nor dedicated world leaders. Instead I see kidnapping victims, terror strike opportunities, and shifty members of clandestine organizations who are orchestrating psychological attacks on the news-viewing public. Each time I flip on the TV or pull up a news site, I'm looking for the next big hit: another 9-11, a ballsy daylight assault, a new tragedy to fill up that hole in my soul that used to be reserved for Three's Company and What's Happenin' repeats. In other words, tragedy has become my entertainment.

And Hollywood and the media are way ahead of me. In the same week that two children were abducted following the bludgeoning deaths of three of their relatives, Fox was plugging a new show called The Inside.  "The evil that scarred her as a child now gives her insight into the FBI's most heinous crimes," goes the tag line. To paraphrase: A sexy gal who was abducted as a sexy child puts her trauma to work in a crime unit investigating sexy serial killers. My god, maybe someday poor little Shasta Groene will become a hotty with the balls to entertain us in this fashion. When I saw the promo for this new show, I realized how deeply the lines between entertainment and reality have bled.

The idea that I or anyone else could start thinking about the horrors of the nightly news as prime-time amusement forebodes a grim illness creeping into society. Would someone please issue an Amber Alert for my soul?  I'm freaked out enough by the terrible stuff that actually happens. In addition to troubling my sleep, worrying me about my defenseless nieces, and convincing me that I'm going to die in a bombing that will martyr me against my will to "freedom," does it also have to be glamorized by putting a woman in a sexy skirt and sending her slithering right into the arms of fear? And it is being glamorized.

I'm no social scientist, but I am a journalism grad and there's a reason that people who commit suicide don't usually get a lot of air time. Yes, Fox News viewers, journalists do have a code of ethics (it's a self-policed policy for the most part), and it states that we don't glorify jackasses. Somehow the code doesn't stretch to cover people who commit crimes of incomprehensible violence on others. Instead we plaster their shameful faces over hill and dale, produce TV movies, and publish scads of minutely detailed infotainment on their deeds that make celebrities of them. I blame The Real World. They were our first taste of glorified criminality. That lot of bigots, unintellectual social deviants, and cretinous turds fallen from the scabby asses on high of Abercrombie & Fitch certainly gave the world the impression that we hanker for a hunk of the sordid.

Now, I'm not saying that it's all the fault of the media that there's been a noticeable upswing in tragedies. After all, it's the job of the media to report such things and if we discovered an unreported incident, we'd wonder what conspiracy was operating to withhold it from us. But I do think it's important to recognize when we, individually, start perceiving news stories as entertainment.

Admit it. When you saw the first, fresh footage of the attacks on 9-11, when you watched the president announce that we were going to war with Iraq, or when you heard that Saddam Hussein had been captured in his spidey-hole, you felt that little surge of electricity shoot up from the pit of your stomach, didn't you? It jolted you into calling someone, emailing someone, running to someone's desk and sharing the big news. You wanted to have a little half-day for water cooler discussion. You craved the next big development. You gnashed your teeth wondering how it was all going to pan out and hoping for another little surge of excitement.  Go on, admit it. And when your regularly programmed viewing was interrupted last week for "breaking news" on the London bombings, you thought, "Finally, here it is!" and sizzled there in a little 20-volt jolt of excitement. You spent the rest of your day checking into news sites, hourly, hoping for another whopping revelation. You may even have been a little disappointed to eventually discover that only just over 50 people died.

This is why I must stop giving so much of my sparse attention to the news. If you really think about what kind of sensation you're getting from the news, you might discover that not only is it causing you to view the world through blood-tinted lenses, but it's also turning you into a vampire. We should respect and fear tragedy as anomalies, things that are not acceptable and not everyday, expected events. We shouldn't dampen our sense of shock by wallowing in bad news. We certainly shouldn't start expecting the same kind of macabre rush from movies and fictions that glorify killings and rapes.

There's a line between being well-informed and working bad news into my leisure activities, unfortunately, it's becoming more and more difficult for me to make the distinction, what with so much information available at all times and all the media chasing after increasingly more horrific stories with which to satiate my growing appetite. I partially blame the Internet, with its 24/7 access and its ability to network psychopaths into self-sanctioning groups that allow them to believe that their bizarre inclinations are acceptable . . . but that's getting ahead of myself. News addiction is a tough one to break. After all, how will I amuse myself every five minutes without discretely packaged clips of sensationalism? Will I be expected to turn to a book, where it will take me days to uncover the story, where the finale is life-altering character development, and where I have to provide my own, unmediated, one-sided analysis, without the guiding hand of Wolf Fucking Blitzer? It may very well come to that. And I hope to eventually recover the less wounded Weltanschauung of pre-9-11.

Photo Credit for Vampire Rabbit: Philip Lindsay

Other Mindy Jamiel Articles:

 A short message regarding the value of life according to Jebus

America is Dead! Long live the King!

Will the South Park Creators Get the Last Laugh?

South Park- for the Grateful Web

Well folks, looks like the latest fad amongst the erstwhile right wing in our fair country is to identify yourself as a "South Park Conservative."  Brian Anderson of the think tank, the Manhattan Institute, has published a book called "South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias" which has the normally buttoned-down conservatives coming out of the closet to rejoice in potty-mouthed irreligious humor that supposedly targets the Liberal Elite in its weekly broadcast.  Am I crazy or are these people just making another target out of themselves.  South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always gone out of their way to skewer the self-serious and people like Michael Moore, Barbara Streisand and Alec Baldwin aren't exactly moving targets, but to suggest that the show has a conservative, or at least an anti-liberal bent is ludicrous.

Recently, Joe Scarborough, one of the usually more sensible and least vitriolic of the conservative talking heads on television, aired an interview with the author of the book, including some clips from the show to emphasize the point - which they have obviously completely missed:

SCARBOROUGH:  And actually making—you talk about environmentalism - actually making those people that were tearing down rain forests in South America the heroes of an episode.

ANDERSON:  That's right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let's show another clip from "South Park."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  You white Americans make me sick.  You waste food, oil, and everything else because you're so rich, and then you tell the rest of the world to save the rain forest because you like its pretty flowers.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  We're here live in San Jose, Costa Rica, where hundreds of Americans have gathered for the Save the Rain Forest Summit.  Everyone is here so they can feel good about themselves and act like they aren't the ones responsible for the rain forest's peril.

In two lines of the show, Parker and Stone have gone after white Americans, wasteful consumption, rampant materialism and environmentalism.  Hey Conservatives, did you laugh at this?  How about you Liberals?  Of course you did, because it is funny and true.

It's embarrassing to hear right-minded individuals taking this for an attack on environmentalism and an endorsement of conservative values - to do so is to practically admit to being fat, greedy, wasteful and willing to let the world go to hell in a hand basket, everyone else be damned.

When Parker and Stone hold their mirror up to America, this is exactly what they see and what they are reflecting back to you.  Time and time again their message has been focused against the hypocrisy of the self-righteous in this country.  And that is neither Liberal nor Conservative.

If Vegas only took odds on the content of upcoming South Park episodes.  "South Park Conservatives" come to South Park and I can't wait to see what happens.

Complete Transcript from Scarborough Country Interview with Brian Anderson aired April 25th 2005


Now, coming up next, the cartoon "South Park" is often childish, irreverent and obscene.  But conservative?  You know what?  Stick around.  You're going to be surprised by what you hear right after this break.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Hello there, little boy.  Do you know who I am?



(singing):  I'm going where there's lucky clovers in the...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Yes, that sucks, dude.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  I'm Barbra Streisand.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  So?  So, I'm a very famous and very important individual.


SCARBOROUGH:  A popular TV show skewering a liberal celebrity.  You know what?  That may have been unheard of 10 years ago.  But now, thanks to cable news, talk radio, blogs, this type of humor has blossomed onto cable.  The elite media regime has started to crack, some say.  And others say it's a watershed moment in American politics and culture.

That is at least what Brian Anderson, who is editor at "Manhattan Institute City Journal," has to say in his new book, "South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias."

I spoke with him recently and began by asking him, what is a "South Park" conservative?


BRIAN ANDERSON, AUTHOR, "SOUTH PARK CONSERVATIVES":  Well, the way I use the term—and it's been floating around out in the culture for a while—is somebody who looks around at today's left, who might not be a traditional conservative, but who looks at the political correctness, the anti-Americanism, the elitism, and says that's not me; I want nothing to do with that.

And I find a lot of evidence for this on college campuses in the book

and also in this new kind of comedy, which is represented most powerfully

by "South Park" itself.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, a lot of conservatives would be shocked that you talk about "South Park" being a conservative show.  I didn't watch it for a couple of years.  A friend told me, you've got to watch this episode and showed me an episode.  And I have not yet seen anything on television that goes after the left the way "South Park" does.

Now, political correctness, of course—well, I'll tell you what.  Why don't we just show a clip of "South Park" to help define what "South Park" conservatives are.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Kids, this is the Costa Rican Capitol Building.

This is where all the leaders of the Costa Rican government make their...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Oh, my God, it smells out here.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  All right, that does it.  Eric Cartman, you respect other cultures this instant.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  I wasn't saying anything about their culture.

I was just saying their city smells like ass.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Wow.  Staying in a place like this really makes you appreciate living in America, huh.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  You may think that making fun of Third World countries is funny, but let me...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I don't think it's funny.  This place is overcrowded, smelly and poor.  That's not funny.  That sucks.


SCARBOROUGH:  That's the sort of thing you never see on mainstream media.  They go after Barbra Streisand.  In their latest movie, "Team America," they actually assassinate every liberal in Hollywood.


ANDERSON:  Yes.  In Hollywood, basically.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, so...

ANDERSON:  In horrible ways.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what's going on with this subversive new humor?

ANDERSON:  Well, first of all, when you think about the history of humor, the last 30 years, it's been mostly directed at conservatives and—you know, at least when it's been topical humor.

You think of Norman Lear and "All in the Family" and "Maude."  And, even today, "Will & Grace" or "Whoopi," which was canceled a few years ago, these—topic humor is always to the left.  These guys saw an opportunity.  And cable made it possible.  This is the kind of show that would have never, never been broadcast on network television.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what's so interesting is, I—when "The New York Times" ran a front-page story a year ago, they were actually talking about how this was a liberal show.  It was anti-God.  It was anti-religion, and the conservatives were angry.  You know, I just—I can't figure out how they got it so wrong.

ANDERSON:  Well, I mean, on occasion, they do go after the right.

They did a kind of merciless mocking of Mel Gibson.

And, you know, they're not equal-opportunity offenders, however.  If you really look at episode after episode, they go after multiculturalism, radical environmentalism, hate crime legislation, even abortion rights.


ANDERSON:  And when was the last time you saw anything in popular culture satirize something like that?

SCARBOROUGH:  And actually making—you talk about environmentalism -

·         actually making those people that were tearing down rain forests in South America the heroes of an episode.

ANDERSON:  That's right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let's show another clip from "South Park."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  You white Americans make me sick.  You waste food, oil, and everything else because you're so rich, and then you tell the rest of the world to save the rain forest because you like its pretty flowers.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  We're here live in San Jose, Costa Rica, where hundreds of Americans have gathered for the Save the Rain Forest Summit.  Everyone is here so they can feel good about themselves and act like they aren't the ones responsible for the rain forest's peril.


ANDERSON:  It's Comedy Central's most successful program.

And its demographic cuts pretty young.  And, as I explain in this book, "South Park Conservatives," there's a lot of this kind of activity going on, on campuses, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about that.

ANDERSON:  Well, Harvard's Institute of Politics did a study about a year and a half ago that found that students were actually to the right of the general population in most of their views.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what happens is, they go to class all day.  They listen to professors.

ANDERSON:  They listen to...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... that all have the same opinion, same political correct viewpoint.  They get tired of it.  They go home at night.

ANDERSON:  Well, think about it.

SCARBOROUGH:  And they become "South Park" conservatives.

ANDERSON:  Yes.  Well, there's a gun club at Harvard now.  And that's pretty strange when you think about it.

SCARBOROUGH:  It's very strange.

Well, thanks.  The book is "South Park Conservatives."  Thanks a lot for being with us tonight.  We greatly appreciate it.

ANDERSON:  Thanks a lot, Joe.  I really appreciate it.  Thanks for having me on.

Bush in Belgium

Protests against President Bush''s visit to Belgium! - for the Grateful Web

I think everybody knows that Europe and more specific Belgium was delighted to have a big visitor: i.e. as he is called "the most powerful man of the world", G.W. Bush.

The main purpose of this visit was to re-establish the "sour" relationships between Europe and the US.

In this column, I won't bring up the several meetings he had, what decisions were made, or even the fact he admitted he used marijuana. I'm sure you'll find this information in a lot of other sources. What I want to do is, go into the consequences this visit has for a small country as Belgium.

First of all, thousands of people came to Brussels to protest against the current policy of the US: not signing the Kyoto-pact; assail the civil rights at home and abroad; playing a negative role as regards world peace. The demonstrators don't want that Europe follows the example of the US. About 90 organisations and several polictical parties took part in these manifestations. Also the holebi-federation was present. They protested against the fact the US does not allow homosexual weddings. Participants came from all over the world: Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and the States.

Surprisingly, there was also a demonstration PRO Bush. Kurds (Iraq) wanted to thank Bush for liberating their country from Saddam Hoessein, who suppressed the Kurds for many, many years. They wanted to give him flowers, but they did not manage to go through the security services.

Indeed, a lot of safety measures were taken to protect the president: e.g. garbage cans were removed or welded, airplanes were diverted, sharpshooters were presented on roofs, police choppers were circulating above the place where the president was at that time, etc. Noticing this, I wondered whether the US is always like a "guarded stronghold"…

To conclude, something about the mysterious words of the president during an interview with our Belgian correspondent in the US, Greet De Keyser. At the end of the interview, he said to her "you have great eyes". In the biography of Bill Clinton there is written that at the end of an application interview with the at-that-time applicant Monica Lewinsky, he also said "you have great eyes". Should we worry…?

A Celebration of the Man & the Holiday

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1/15/29 - 4/4/68)- for the Grateful Web

On January 21st, 2008, Americans across the country will celebrate the national holiday honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As they have since 1995, hundreds of thousands of Americans will remember Dr. King by participating in service projects in their communities. Together, they will honor King's legacy of tolerance, peace, and equality by meeting community needs and making the holiday "A day ON, not a day OFF."

Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King organized a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he evoked the name of Lincoln in his "I Have a Dream" speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following is the exact text of the spoken speech, transcribed from recordings:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Donald 'Bumsfeld' Rumsfeld -- "Blame the other guy!"

Donald Bumsfeld- for the Grateful Web

Now that Bush has lined up his choices for his second-term cabinet, one aspect that remains much the same as last term is the foreign policy and national security team. While Colin Powel, the secretary of state leaves, Condoleezza Rice, previously Bush's national security adviser will replace Colin as secretary of state. Bumsfield remains and Rice's deputy moves up to take her previous roll.  In reality, the team is essentially the same and in a time when fresh ideas are desperately needed, Bush is sticking to his guns and will attempt to prove to America & the world his first-term decision to invade Iraq was the right one.

Last Wednesday, Donald Bumsfeld's comments to a soldier in Kuwait who wanted to know why troops were being sent to Iraq without properly armored vehicles.  "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have," was Bumsfeld's reply.  He added, "They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."   That's for certain, Mr. Bumsfeld.  He continued by telling the troops the Army was working on better armoring the tanks, Hummers, etc, but his earlier remarks seem to suggest Bumsfeld is not responsible for how well the Army was prepared before America invaded Iraq in 2003, including how much more fierce the Iraqi resistance turned to be..

Donald Bumsfeld's blame game continued when he spoke to reporters while en route to Kuwait last Monday. When asked about mistakes made so far in Iraq, Bumsfeld spoke on the not finding any weapons of mass destruction and not being prepared for the intense Iraqi insurgency.  Isn't the secretary of defense at least somewhat responsible for some of this?   Bumsfeld doesn't seem to think so, "I don't think anyone would say that the intelligence left anyone with the impression that you'd be in the degree of insurgency you're in today."  Hey Bumsfeld, American troops are dying everyday because of your lack or original thought.

And there's still more.  Bumsfeld shifted blame for the lack of troop strength in Iraq.  "The big debate about the number of troops is one of those things that are really out of my control.'  Out of your control, Mr. Bumsfeld!?  Who's in control then??  He added, "I mean, everyone likes to assign responsibility to the top person & I guess that's fine,' Bumsfield explained.  "But the number of troops we had for the invasion was the number of troops that General Franks & General Abizaid wanted." However, according toe Bob Woodward, CBS News, it's a different story.  According to Woodward, Bumsfeld ordered General Tommy Franks to rewrite plans for Iraq and reduce troop numbers.

Donald Bumsfeld's lack of original thought has cost hundreds of American lives and countless dead Iraqi civilians.  The insurgency continues to gain strength and our troops are not only running out of patience, they're running out of working military equipment.  NBC news recently reported tanks and hummers are working 1000% more than normal, which is causing many of them to break down, further risking our GI's lives.  Bumsfeld's mistake of not having more troops in Iraq has allowed insurgents to gain strength, & as of now, there is not end in sight.  Now Bumsfeld says: "It's a violent country. It has been in the past. It very likely will be in the future."   So if Bumsfeld's blame is on someone else or nobody else..then should we continue to trust him?  Bumsfeld's incompetency has put our troops in harm's way and rather then working on the problem, he's making it worse with pathetic responses to our nations' bravest.