Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Quotes and Notes: PA Editor's Blog April 2007


The following comments and brief remarks are from the new editor's blog instituted by PA Magazine.

Friday, April 6, 2007
Great Quote But Who Said It?

The May '07 Atlantic Monthly has a bit on page 30: "Stalin Was Right." It begins as follows: " 'A single death is a tragedy,' Joseph Stalin said. 'A million is a statistic.'" It has become almost an established "fact" that Stalin said this. But did he? I think not. It doesn't appear in any of his works or speechs, nor in the memoirs of people who knew him. A check of the internet will reveal that Russian historians don't know anything about this quote as being from JS. It is never given with an attribution. "JS said this while beating his mother as reported by so and so." So beware! This is a quote that appears to be completely bogus. Hey, if anyone knows the source-- let me know: for the sake of historical accuracy. Until then,when you read it in an article or posting as from JS you can assume the author hasn't done his homework.
Thomas Riggins

Sunday, April 8, 2007
The American People Are Pissed Off

I just watched Sunday NBC News-- the polls show 57% of the American people are pissed off at the way the Democrats in Congress are treating the war in Iraq. Thank goodness that 64% are pissed off at Bush. I think we should rally around our sloga"Out Now." Leave it to the Democrats-- by 2008 they will be neck on neck with their fellow monopoly capitalists the Republicans!

Posted by Thomas Riggins

Monday, April 9, 2007
Dump Don Imus

Racism doesn't belong on the airwaves folks. Google the NOW site and add your voice to the dump Imus movement.

or click here

Posted by Thomas Riggins
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Don Imus: Human Sacrifice?

Radio Racist Don Imus has been shot down in flames. Does the mass media get it. If the New York Times is any indication, the answer is no. The Business day section 4-13-07 has an analysis by David Carr "Flying Solo Past the Point of No Return" [the implication that Imus is "solo" when in fact radio racism is entrenched in this country is ludicrous.]
The gist of the article can be found in these two quotes:

""By seeking absolution from people with their own political agenda [Sharpton and Jackson] , Mr. Imus lost custody of his apology."
"Mr. Imus never caught a breath because he was in the middle of a 24-hour news cycle that kept him in the cross hairs. Its the kind of media ceremony that generally ends in a human sacrifice."

Carr doesn't get it. It wasn't Sharpton's political agenda nor the news frenzy that brought Imus down. It wasn't even his racism, which is shared by most radio jocks, it was the outrage of millions of people who wrote letters, sent emails, and made phone calls protesting the racially and sexually vicious remarks that came out of Imus's mouth.

Without this outpouring of the people's rage Imus would still be on the air. I can understand why the mass media wants to play this down. The ruling class fears nothing more that a mass awakening of the people in this country. The left must keep up the struggle and remind everyone that Imus's firing is the beginning not the end of this sordid affair.

Posted by Thomas Riggins

Sunday, April 15, 2007
The Beginning of the End

So Bush's surge to make Baghdad peaceful has resulted in the Parliament in the heart of the Green Zone being bombed. Now they can't even protect themseves in their maximun security area. Let's see a year from now, if the Green Zone is overrun with
suicide bombers, where the U.S. generals and Iraqi quislings will be hanging out.

Posted by Thomas Riggins

Monday, April 16, 2007
The German Army After Hitler-- what has it learned?

Not much! I watched the news the other night (April 14) to find the German Army ( part of NATO) when it trains its troops says -- think like you are shooting Blacks in the Bronx. Don't think this is an isolated instance! The Times says we have to improve the picture of the Bronx! I’m sorry-- when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union he said- treat them as Red Indians. Its not the Bronx that has to improve its image. Its the residual Nazism that is still part of the German military, especially in its officer corps.

Posted by Thomas Riggins
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Check out the NY Times Science section 4-17-07 for an article by James Noble Wilford (“Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter"). The primatologists have a new consensus about chimpanzees-- they have emotions and culture. Here are some highlights of the article:

1. Chimps make spears to hunt other primates (looks like our bad habits
go back away):

2. They use rocks to smash open nuts (the oldest chimp hammers yet found date to 2300 BC):

3. [Here is where they beat humans]-- the numbers 1 thru 9 can be randomly scattered over a computer screen (1, 2, 3, etc.), the Chimp get to look for a split second, the screen goes blank and the chimp can push the number buttons and recreate the random pattern by the numbers in order. This is something humans can’t do! Its is an immediate memory recall after a split second, something humans have lost in our evolutionary development. [I don’t know if Chimps are ready for computers but it must come in handy somehow.]

4. Chimps are caring. A chimp by the name of Knuckles was disabled by cerebral palsy. He had to get by as best he could in his group and, “No fellow chimp was seen to take advantage of his disability.” He was even “gently groomed” by the alpha male. [This also looks like an improvement on us.]

This research is important because the chimps are our nearest surviving relatives (our genome only differs by a little over 1%) so we can learn a lot about ourselves and our ancestors by knowing more about chimps.

The problem is they are on the way out! They are being killed for bush meat (this is quasi-canabalistic), and their habitat is being destroyed. In 1960 there a million chimps living in Africa. Today, there are about 150,000 and they are in decline.

I doubt we can save ourselves if we can’t save our closest relatives and evolutionary cousins

Posted by Thomas Riggins

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
A Note on "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

David Morgan has a brief review of Ali’s book in the TLS for April 6, 2007.
He thinks it deserves to be read just for her life story. Born in Somalia (1969) Ali was subjected to genital mutilation [Morgan calls it “female circumcision”], ended up living with her family in exile in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya where she was, for a short time, a militant Islamicist. Eventually she fled to Holland to escape an arranged marriage, became politically active and ended up in the Dutch parliament. She is now in the US.

She has abandoned religion and is actively hostile to Islam as she experienced it. Morgan, and others, point out, however, that in her books (earlier she wrote “The Caged Virgin”) she over generalizes her experiences and applies them to the entire Muslim world. It would be as if one were to judge all Christians by how such nominal Christians as Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell act.

She thinks 9/11 was caused “by Islam” and by Islam she means the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia, which the vast majority of the Islamic world rejects as extremist, even if President Bush holds hands with it. Morgan concludes that Ali's book “is so simplistic” that it “will contribute less than it could have towards” educating people about Islam.

Morgan fails to mention that Ali is now a fellow at the discredited American Enterprise Institute which is less a “think tank” (very little real thinking goes on there) than a propaganda tool funded by the most reactionary corporations and political forces in the country.

As long as she is associated with this neocon outfit she will, in my view, lack any moral or political credibility.

Posted by Thomas Riggins

jtrThursday, April 19, 2007

Thomas Riggins

The Peruvian government is sitting by while illegal loggers are invading parts of the Amazon rain forest supposedly set aside as Indian reserves. In the 1990s two hitherto unknown tribes were “discovered” by loggers cutting down mahogany trees for the US market.

They are the Murunahua and Mashco-Piro people. These people have no immunity to diseases of European origin so, just as in the days of Columbus and Pizarro, 50% of the Murunahua died after the initial contact.

The government set up two reserves in 1997 (on paper) to “protect” the survivors. After the die off, many Indians fled deep into the forest to avoid contact.

The mahogany market is booming (90% of the illegal trade goes to the US). The loggers are invading the Indian reserves and again coming into contact with the surviving Indians (the total for both tribes is about 600 people.)

One expert predicted the Indians would be totally wiped out in ten years if the do nothing Peruvian government doesn’t prevent logging in the reserves.

Its simple. Money vs the lives of these people who have only recently come into contact with our civilization. Who do you think will win-- the Indians or the US lumber market?

Monday, April 23, 2007
Follow Up Info on Peruvian Indians from Survival International


23 April 2006

The president of Perupetro, the government body responsible for granting oil exploration licences, has caused outrage after calling into doubt the existence of uncontacted Indian tribes in the Peruvian Amazon.

The comments come after the Peruvian government recently opened up 70% of its rainforest to oil exploration. Some of this territory is inhabited by uncontacted tribes. A vast amount of evidence for their existence has been collected by Survival, local indigenous organisations and other researchers going back decades, ranging from the testimonies of other Indians to sightings, encounters, photographs, and even reports of violent clashes with loggers and oil workers.

Yet Perupetro's president, Daniel Saba, said during an interview on Peruvian TV, 'It's absurd to say there are uncontacted peoples when no one has seen them. So, who are these uncontacted tribes people are talking about?'

The uncontacted Indians have no immunity to outsiders' diseases because of their isolation from the rest of society and any form of contact, no matter how brief, can be fatal. Following oil exploration on their land in the 1980s, more than 50% of the Nahua tribe died.

Survival's director, Stephen Corry, said today, 'Doubtless Mr Saba would much rather there were no uncontacted Indians in the areas where he wants to explore for oil. Declaring they don't exist at all, however, is a shameful self-fulfilling prophecy. If Perupetro allows companies to go in, it's likely to destroy the Indians completely and then they really won't exist.'


For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email mr@survival-international.org
To read this press release online visit http://survival-international.org/news.php?id=2371

Posted by Thomas Riggins

Monday, April 23, 2007

Thomas Riggins

Over 5000 people have died in the deserts of the Mexican-US border. NAFTA has resulted in the ruin of 1000s of Mexican peasant farmers who cannot compete with US government subsidized American agriculture. Economic necessity is driving tens of thousands of Mexicans to cross over into territory that was taken from the Mexican people by the US in a war of aggression in the 19th century. The US government is trying to prevent humanitarian aid that will help save people's lives. No More Deaths is an organization that goes out into the desert to rescue stranded people. This group has been targeted by the Bush administration which seems to go out of its way to oppose any group that shows itself to be in favor of simple human decency.
For more information google nomoredeaths.org

Posted by Thomas Riggins

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thomas Riggins

The magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (“Science” 20 April 2007) reported on the March meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Philadelphia.

The latest scientific evidence, based on DNA analysis, indicates that the original population of Europe was a brown skinned people of African origin. These people were the descendants of Africans who migrated to Europe tens of thousands of years ago.

These people are still living in Europe, only now they are a pale skinned African people instead of brown skinned. Pale skin can use sunlight better than brown skin to manufacture vitamin D and this vitamin was harder to come by in Europe naturally than in Africa. Also the Africans in Europe had to cover themselves more due to the weather and had less exposed skin to make the needed vitamin.

As a result there was a gene mutation favoring pale skin. Calculations of mutation rates and DNA analysis indicate that this gene began to rapidly spread in Europe and that by about 10,000 BC the European Africans were pale skinned instead of Brown skinned.

The USA has been colonized by people from all over the world, Africa, Europe, Asia, and originally by Asians, also of African descent, now called Amerindians.

So lets stop calling ourselves Italian Americans, Anglo Americans, Irish Americans, Spanish Americans, Russian Americans, etc. Italy, England, Ireland, Spain, Russia, etc., were only pit stops on our way from the African homeland. We are all AfrIcan Americans.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Headline says it all: “OSHA Leaves Worker Safety Largely in Hands of Industry.”

Thomas Riggins

The 4-25-07 New York Times tells the story of a rare potentially deadly lung disease that is showing up in workers at popcorn plants using the food flavoring diacetyl. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, set up to protect worker’s health, has become (under Bush) anti-worker and pro business regardless of the evidence of wrong doing by business interests and factory owners. OSHA is not regulating the use of diacetyl-- staying loyal to Bush’s ideal of Profits before People. How do Republicans get any votes from working people?

“The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,” Dr. D. Michaels, an expert on worker safety, is quoted by the Times as saying. The scientific evidence indicates that diacetyl is responsible for potentially deadly diseases in working people. Why isn’t it regulated? The head of OSHA (Edwin G. Foulke Jr.,) gives the standard bushite response whenever the administration wants to dump on the American people and give a hand to the big vested interests that own the Republicans. “The science is murky,” he said.

Its murky just as it is for global warming, or the value of stem cell research or how the world got here with all the different life forms. Its not “murky” for the leading doctors and scientists who have studied the issue. The real reason is that Foulke doesn’t want, it appears to me, to inconvenience the rich corporations that bankroll the Republican party.

The other reason, after the great respect shown for science (if not for scientists), is that Bushies also advocate a “voluntary compliance policy.” They think that is more workable than government regulations against free enterprise. If “voluntary compliance” is so great, why don’t they adopt that policy in the “war on drugs” and “illegal immigration.” The government could save a lot money and maybe take better care of wounded veterans.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A new poll by CBS News and The New York Times shows that 66% of the American people favor tougher gun control laws. The breakdown by party shows that majorities in both major parties (78% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans) want stiffer laws. Despite this, neither party in considering reigning in our out of control gun culture. They are sitting on their hands waiting for the next Virginia Tech to come along. How can the Democratic Party call itself "democratic" while ignoring the wishes of such large majorities both in the country and their own party? Why are they afraid of the NRA when they have such mass support for stricter laws? If they come out of the 2008 elections with solid majorities, we must demand that they take action. Meanwhile, they should take some polls themselves. These majorities indicate that gun control may actually be viable a campaign issue.
Thomas Riggins

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