Thursday, July 29, 2010

The following are Pure Fashion's guidelines for dressing modestly:


• The neckline should not be lower than four fingers below the collarbone.

• The material should not be sheer, very thin or spandex.

• Shirts should not be tight across the bust.

• The shape of the bra should not be seen in the back (if visible, the shirt on top is too tight).

• The backs should be modest. For example, no strappy backs, halter or backless garments.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Posted by: jakoye | 07/26/10 | 5:24 pm |
Please. It doesn’t matter how many civilians you kill. It matters how many enemies you kill. Look at Russia in Chechnya: how many civilians did they kill? A whole bunch. Who controls that piece of land now? The Russians. Why? Because they killed anybody who stood against them (and many who did not).

You want to win a war, then kill the enemy. There will never be a substitute for that. Anything else is just PC window dressing.

Read More
NATO, Russia share interests in Afghanistan: Russian military leader 2010-07-23 22:57:58 FeedbackPrintRSS

MOSCOW, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Russia and NATO have similar long-term interests in Afghanistan, Nikolai Makarov, the chief of staff of Russian Armed Forces, said Friday.

"Let us start with the situation in Afghanistan. Russia's and NATO's long-term interests in this region coincide," Makarov said after a meeting with Giampaolo di Paola, chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

Makarov said Russia is interested in successful operations of the international force and renders real assistance to the NATO contingent in Afghanistan.

He pointed out, too, that Russia ensures the transit of military equipment and personnel to Afghanistan.

"We will help Afghanistan in training police officers. Now we are considering the issue of helicopter supplies to the Afghan army," he said. "We are ready to offer consultancy in military and combat training based on our Afghan experience, including on our mistakes."

Di Paola, meanwhile, said that in the next few months NATO would focus on preparing a program of joint actions with Russia for 2011. Major areas of cooperation would include search and rescue operations at sea, fighting terrorism, and Afghanistan, he said.

NATO severed ties with Russia following the August 2008 conflict with Georgia. In January 2010, the Russian and NATO chiefs of staff met in Brussels for talks. As a result, a framework military cooperation treaty was approved. The agreement was seen as an important step toward the restoration of military ties between Russia and NATO.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
07:44 GMT, July 27, 2010 The French head of state [President Nicolas Sarkozy] told employees of the STX shipyards that they would build the imminent Russian order. The procurement contract for two ships of the Mistral-class is to be signed by year-end.

“Together with our Russian friends, you are going to build two Mistral-class BPCs (B√Ętiments de Projection et de Commandement). We are negotiating the contract, bt the final decision to go ahead is certain,” the President told employees of the STX shipyard (the former Chantiers de l’Atlantique).

Sarkozy’s statement will reassure the firm’s 2,280 employees. For the past year, the shipyard has suffered from a drop in production orders, which have led to temporary layoffs for some employees.

The new order for two ships would be in addition to that of the Dixmude, a third BPC-class ship ordered by the French navy and financed by the government’s economic recovery plan. It is to be delivered in April 2011 at a cost of 300 million euros.

The BPC-class ships are about 200 meters long, displace 21,300 tonnes and can transport up to 900 men as well as a substantial volume of ground vehicles, helicopters and amphibious transports. At the same time, they can host a complete headquarters for an international operation, as well as a full-scale hospital.

(Unofficial translation of the French press release by
NATO: military ties with Russia improving steadily
(AP) – 14 hours ago

BRUSSELS — NATO's top officer says military-to-military relations between Russia and the alliance are "definitely improving."

Italian Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, who heads the alliance's military committee, says cooperation with Moscow is expected to deepen further in 2011 because of shared concerns over Afghanistan, and the threats posed by terrorism and maritime piracy.

Di Paola returned on Saturday from a visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian defense chief Gen. Nikolai Makarov.

He said the Russian side had responded to NATO's request to supply transport and helicopter gunships to the nascent Afghan air force by submitting a proposal which is now being studied by the allies. He did not elaborate on the contents of the proposal.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The refusal by the Taliban to negotiate with NATO because they believe they are “winning the war” (as John Simpson put it) may be transparent propaganda to a Western audience. But many Afghan Sikhs don’t only believe it – they actually want a Taliban victory. Why?

Well, a Sikh community thrived in Afghanistan from the seventh Century onwards only to be marginalised by the Soviet-backed government. The Sikhs re-emerged briefly after the fall of that government and prospered before the onset of the civil war in the early 1990s. At that time there were more than 100,000 Sikhs in the country.

Only a few thousand now remain after many fled to India during the civil war in the 1990s to escape persecution, but for those who did manage to reach India they have never been embraced by the country and their status remains as foreigners who need visas to remain in the country.

Ironically it was the Taliban victory that gave many the opportunity to return, and for a short time many did. Under the Taliban, Sikhs were openly allowed to practise their religion and the Sikhs’ proclivity for long beards meant they were left alone by the razor-wielding religious police.

Under the present, US-backed regime the constitution supposedly guarantees greater religious freedoms, but the reality is far different. Rather like the Afghan Hindu community, claims for usurped properties stolen during the civil war remain moribund, as a Muslim-dominated parliament appears to have different priorities.

India, too, seems indifferent to the plight of Afghan Sikhs and treats them no differently to any other foreigner, a strange attitude while India vies for influence in Afghanistan. And India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, is, of course, a Sikh himself. I recently visited the utterly beguiling Golden Temple in Amritsar, the home of the Sikh religion, 16 years after my first visit. It is easy to see why Afghan Sikhs would want to stay in Punjab, and India should offer them the opportunity to do so.

But in a world where 97 per cent of its population lives in the country it was born in, there appears to be no place like home, and Afghan Sikhs seem to be no different… It is an indictment of current NATO policy that Afghan Sikhs would prefer a Taliban government to the present situation where they are sidelined by the Muslim majority.

India, with its growing influence in Afghanistan should take a stand. Either it should put some pressure on the present Afghan government, or offer residential status to immigrant Sikhs from Afghanistan. For the Sikhs it is either that or a new (and probably just as charming) Taliban government.

Tags: John Simpson, Sikhs, Taliban
I thought it was really great of the Windsor Star to post this article about what is happening in the Sikh community.

Sikh temple 'dictators' protested

By Dylan Kristy, The Windsor Star July 26, 2010
StoryPhotos ( 1 )

Members of the Sikh community protest outside the temple on County Road 42 Sunday.
Photograph by: Dan Janisse, The Windsor Star, The Windsor StarAbout 300 members of the Sikh community gathered Sunday to protest the current governing of Windsor's Sikh temple.

The congregation of Gurdwara Khalsa Parkash, Windsor's 26,000-square-foot temple, has been steeped in conflict since the current executive committee was acclaimed in December 2009.

Hoisting signs reading "religion is a right, not a privilege" and "we need leaders, not dictators," members young and old protested peacefully outside the temple's formidable gates.

"It's all about our human rights and our freedom of religion," said Satinder Aujla, a 16-year member of the temple.

She said her main concern is the surveillance cameras that were recently installed throughout the temple, including in the prayer hall.

"How can you pray and be at peace when you have cameras shooting down at you and recording your prayers?

"It totally contradicts what you are there to do and praying should be between just you and your God."

While some protesters chanted "peace not police," inside, members continued to pray in silence without disruption.

Windsor police stood by during the protest "just in case," but left without incident.

The current executive committee's secretary Harjinder Singh Kandola said the actions of the protesters are only hurting the already damaged image of Sikhs in the community.

"We come here to worship and praise God, not to come and start making accusations against people," Kandola said.

"Since 9-11 things were really different for minorities so we should be working on productive things like promoting Sikh brotherhood, Canadian values and how we can improve our image."

Kandola said the cameras were installed for security after someone broke into the temple.

He said cameras are commonly found in temples throughout India as well.

Two Sikhs have been issued trespass notices by the executive in recent months, accused of causing disruptions in the temple. Another has had her membership in the local Sikh society revoked and another Sikh is facing a membership revocation.

Windsor allergist Dr. Sukdev Singh Kooner, a former executive committee member, said the exiled Sikhs have followed the outlined procedures to appeal their ousters, but their requests have gone unanswered.

"More than just surveillance, the issues are that nobody can speak there, people have been given trespass notices and they cannot attend the service," Kooner said.

For 13-year-old Gurleen Dhaliwal, the temple should be a place of worship, not politics.

"We come here to pray to God, not somebody else and that's just not happening because of all the drama," said Dhaliwal, who was among the group of protesters.

"The temple needs to be respected and you shouldn't be able to just change it, it has to stay the way it is."

© Copyright (c) The Windsor Star

Read more:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This is a pretty sweet article, by NOW's Wayne Roberts. This is a spirited brazen piece of writing, and I hope to see more :)

A clean conscience
Don’t panic – eco fees will break bad buying habits and save public cash
By Wayne Roberts

Every time I see a shopper at the checkout counter stuff an armful of food into a purse or briefcase, I’m reminded how willing we are to put ourselves out to save the 5 cent tax on plastic bags and cheerfully do the right thing.

Now we’re being asked to put out some more. Since July 1, Stewardship Ontario has been imposing a special fee on everyday household products like aerosol sprays, rust removers, fertilizers, bleach, CFL light bulbs, etc. that contain toxic or dangerous substances.

The new premium is not a perfect arrangement – any problem as complex as toxicity needs a full suite of government policies, and the bungling of the launch by retailers’ overcharging isn’t helping the cause – but, I see the new fee as a big first step nonetheless.

The reality is, residues from these products make it impossible to recycle or landfill the packaging alongside containers of water, beans or catsup; polluted containers have to be segregated from regular recyclables and taken to a special site, and someone has to pay for it.

True, Stewardship Ontario, an agency set up by the former Conservative premier, isn’t a government body. It’s an industry panel whose board includes reps from the Retail Council of Canada, Loblaw, Clorox, Canadian Tire, Procter & Gamble, McCain Foods and the like.

Some see this as a case of governments giving away revenue-raising power and control to big corporations; others see it as a simple, practical way of enforcing corporate responsibility.

The timing of the fee’s initiation couldn’t be worse. I’ll be sure to nominate the same-day launch of the HST tax and the toxic container fee for the annual provincial government Dunce Cap Award.

To support my nomination, I’ll point out that imposition of the new fee was not preceded by public outreach or education by Stewardship Ontario. Staff in the agency’s PR department told the media that the $2.5 million education campaign would have more impact after the new fee was actually being charged.

Bad promo notwithstanding, the fee deserves kudos: it’s a precedent-setting move in North America to bring the full cost of everyday toxic materials into public view. To avoid paying it, all consumers have to do – and this is why it’s called a voluntary fee, not a compulsory tax – is buy a contaminant-free product.

If folks can wrap their heads around that reasoning, they’ll switch to safer household products, as Germany’s successful recycling and re-use program suggests.

That’s why greens have long advocated the “polluter pay” principle. It puts consumers in the power position by saddling them with fuller responsibility for their unwise choices. That creates change without the fuss or muss of detailed government regulation. The marketplace does the work. That’s the theory – and now we’ll see if it delivers.

But there’s also a hidden bonus for taxpayers. Until July 1, when the eco fees came into effect, the full life-cycle cost of a polluting product was paid by innocent bystanders, the taxpaying public – even those who didn’t buy anything harmful.

The standard rule governing enviro practices in North America has been that green shoppers pay twice: they pay extra at the checkout counter to buy green, and then they pay a second time in taxes to cover the public costs of cleaning up land, air and water dirtied by the bleach or fertilizer of someone who saved money by buying a toxic product.

It was like asking non-smokers to pay for second-hand smoke.

That will change once eco-fees give shoppers the hint. One way to reduce taxes is to reduce costs to the public by preventing the need for expensive clean-ups. Household toxins create countless government costs, including emergency medical care for children and pets who mistakenly lick or swallow the contents, not to mention air, water and land pollution.

Logically, the more the real costs of irresponsible manufacturing and consuming practices are covered by fees (how about a levy on imported food to cover smog, highway congestion and road damage?), the less taxes have to pay the freight.

Anyone who opposes compulsory tax grabs should be a fan of voluntary fees. Taxes should cover the costs of services to the public – education, for example – not the costs of bad decisions .

Some sceptics think Stewardship Ontario is just the industry self-regulating, and lament that it’s allowed to collect money from consumers with no binding obligation to spend it any particular way.

On the other hand, Mike Schreiner, head of the Green Party of Ontario, sees the new policy as a tiny motion toward the Greens’ vision of raising revenues from taxing bad enviro deeds while lowering taxes for low-income people.

Whatever your opinion on that matter, this change carries a clear message: it’s easier to pay a little now than to pay more later. Sometimes the best things in life are fee.
Yay, Dennis :) One of my favourite voices in America.

Dennis Kucinich is on a mission! The Ohio representative recently introduced three bills into congress that would protect consumers against genetically modified organisms(GMOs).

Kucinich proposed the legislation shortly after the Supreme Court allowed the planting of an experimental genetically modified alfalfa seed without any environmental review.

In a statement, Dennis expressed his frustration about the ruling, saying:

“Today the Supreme Court ruled that when it comes to genetically modified organisms, we as consumers, have to wait until the damage is done and obvious, before we can act to protect health and the environment, even if that damage could be irreversible.”

If passed, Kucinich’s bills would set stricter guidelines for companies using GMOs, including mandatory labeling of such products.

We’re with Kucinich on this one. Keep those gross GMOs away from us!
Fifty-two percent of the readers at this newspaper have currently voted that they would support a ban on plastic bags in their state.

A ban on plastic bags? San Antonio has considered it. So has Austin. California is on the verge of approving it.

Proponents of the ban point out that the plastic bags, while convenient, take almost a century to biodegrade in a land-fill. The bags are also made out of petroleum and can kill animals that accidentally digest them.

There are more and more proposals being drawn up at the local and state level to ban or place a tax on plastic bags. Plastic bags are bad for the environment. Most are produced using oil, and, by some estimates, 90 percent end up dumped in a landfill or clogging up streams. Those free bags can also cost you money, even if you don't use them.

How much? In some California studies, the cost to taxpayers in San Francisco every time someone uses one of these bags, is 17 cents.

Austin lawmakers want to know how much it's costing their city. They have been working on a plastic bag ban or bag tax for several years.

Austin tried to cut the number of bags going into landfills in half with a voluntary program last year. But very few people participated. Recently, the Austin City Council passed a resolution directing the city manager to determine the cost to Austin taxpayers of processing plastic bags in the waste stream. The city manager has three months to report his findings.

San Antonio, and even state leaders, are also taking action.

There's even a state senate committee considering a proposal that would lead to big changes for Texas. Representative Rafael Anchia is proposing adding a seven cent tax per bag as the solution. He hopes this will spur more to choose biodegradable paper bags, or better yet, reusable bags .

City leaders in San Antonio have a similar plan to eliminate plastic bags. Council members here have begun discussions on a bag ban or tax.

Grocery retailers like H-E-B in San Antonio and others in Austin have been working on ways to cut back on the amount of bags entering the waste stream.

Many say nothing will be enough until the cities ban plastic bags altogether. H-E-B says they are one of the only retailers right now offering recycle bins for these bags. They report they have recycled 10 million plastic bags since 2006

We want to know what you think is the solution. Would you support a statewide ban on plastic bags?
It flutters and rises with the wind. Fascinating to watch, billowing up and around. Amazing, really, how an object with so little weight can stay afloat, catching the slightest breeze. Sad that it isn’t a colorful, acrobatic kite, but instead a plastic grocery bag flying to litter our parks, Delta and trees.

With the steady wind in Tracy, it’s not hard to imagine how plastic bags end up stuck up in trees miles from where they were littered. Plastic has now outpaced all other litter, with 60 to 80 percent of marine litter consisting of some type of plastic.

There is even a plastic ocean, bigger than the size of Texas, off our coastline, caught in the North Pacific Gyre. Imagine a flotilla of plastic bags, bottles, thrown-away plastic containers caught in the vortex of currents, breaking down into a broth of plastic. Now imagine marine animals, birds and wildlife munching on the tidbits, mistaking the plastic debris as food.

Our food chain now is feeding on plastic. Want some oil spill with your shrimp or plastic?

Plastic grocery bags have been coined “urban tumbleweed” by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, the author of the plastic bag ban bill recently passed in the California Assembly. The bill, AB1998, having passed the Assembly and now before a state Senate committee, would ban plastic bags charge 5 cents for every paper bag used in a grocery store or pharmacy. To avoid the cost, all customers need to do is use their own reusable bags. The bill even has the support of the Grocers Association.

I can hear the naysayers becoming apoplectic, complaining about the burden of cost in these economic times, while forgetting about the hidden cost we already pay for disposable plastic bags.

We pay for the plastic, made from foreign oil. We pay for the bags, the cost passed onto us, the consumer, in higher food bills. We pay for the bags to be shipped to landfills, the 17.5 million that are thrown away each year. We pay for the clean-up, as the bags clog our storm drain lines, waterways and beaches.

If you’re a smart shopper, reusable bags will cost you no more than $1 apiece. They hold the equivalent of three plastic bags worth of food.

Start with five. Fold them up and store them in your car. Reuse them over and over again when you shop for groceries. In one year, you will save 552 plastic bags from being created, blown away in the wind, buried in a landfill, or eaten by wildlife. Five bucks is a worthy investment to save the planet.

For a change: Recycle your plastic bags. Don’t let them become litter in the breeze or flotsam for our waterways.

To make a difference: Buy reusable (non-plastic) bags. Buy enough for your largest shopping trip. Buy a set for each car, handy for all shopping trips. For more compact versions, buy stuff sacks that compress in size to the palm of your hand at

To make a stand: Use your reusable bags at the farmer’s market to buy produce, the mall when you shop for clothes and shoes, and at Subway when you get lunch.

• Christina D.B. Frankel is a 20-year Tracy resident, architect and mother of three. Her column, Living Green, runs every so often in the Tracy Press. She can be reached at

Read more: Tracy Press - Living Green Litter in the breeze
Path for Paper Bags Still Unclear

TELLURIDE – The prognosis for plastic bags in this community got a little poorer after the Telluride Town Council during a worksession on Tuesday directed staff to craft an ordinance that would ban retailers within town limits from distributing them. Period.

Council will hold another worksession on the matter at its next meeting on Aug. 3, which the community, and local retailers in particular, are encouraged to attend.

The unanimously conveyed council sentiment came as the seven reviewed a draft ordinance that would impose a 25-cent “Advanced Recovery Fee” on each paper and single-use plastic bag handed out to consumers at local grocery stores.

That fee, of which the town would likely have retained a portion to offset administrative costs associated with its collection and of which grocers could have retained another portion to cover their collection costs, would have gone toward funding a town resource recovery program.

During another worksession on the matter late last month, however, Village Market Manager Bob Harnish made a compelling argument against the fee, saying it discriminated against grocers, and that its collection placed an undue burden on them.

As a result, council agreed to schedule this week’s worksession to revisit the matter.

“I have come to the conclusion that [a fee] is probably not the best approach to take,” said Councilmember Thom Carnevale. “I would suggest that we look at banning plastic bags.”

“Just ban them,” agreed Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Saunders.

Carnevale said that it was Harnish’s statement during the earlier meeting that he would prefer an outright ban on plastic bags to the proposed fee and resulting paperwork that pushed him in that direction. He also recommended that a new ordinance banning the bags apply to all businesses in the community, not just grocery stores.

“That’s a much better idea,” said Clark’s Market general manager Mark DeMist, who testified during the worksession that the fee and ensuing accounting was “more bureaucracy than we are prepared to deal with.”

“I’m pleased with it,” said environmental activist and fee architect David Allen of the new direction.

Three years ago Allen asked the Telluride council to consider passing a local ban on the lightweight plastic bags now virtually ubiquitous at grocery store counters. At that time council encouraged Allen to pursue an educational, voluntary plastic bag reduction program, largely in response to an outcry from local merchants.

That idea, formulated in collaboration with Aspen’s Community Office for Resource Efficiency, initially took shape as a friendly competition between the towns of Telluride, Mountain Village and Aspen held during the summer of 2008. The goal was to see which community could cut its per capita consumption of the flimsy plastic bags designed to be used for mere minutes before being discarded by encouraging people to shop with reusable bags instead.

Telluride won that race, which according to Allen’s calculations diverted an estimated 140,000 single-use plastic bags from the waste stream. It also inspired a much larger competition between 31 mountain towns in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho the following summer that removed 5.4 million plastic bags from the waste stream, according to Allen.

“We definitely need the time to look into some of the questions that remain,” he said. “But I’m excited that it took that turn.”

The remaining questions alluded to by Allen include what to do about paper bags, which are in some ways even more detrimental to the environment that their fossil fuel based counterparts.

“I see it as a real issue if it says just ban plastic and don’t to anything with paper,” he said, explaining that a state bill that proposed banning plastic bags throughout Colorado failed last year because, “it would just drive people to take paper.”

“Both plastic and paper have to be addressed,” he said.

DeMist corroborated that sentiment when he told council that tourists have approached him saying, “Well if they ban that, I’m just going to get paper.”

“The whole point is that the consumer needs to understand the true cost of taking a bag,” said Councilmember Brian Werner, who asked if council has the ability to require retailers to charge a fee on paper bags.

Councilmember David Oyster took issue with that idea, saying that retailers should decide for themselves whether or not to charge for bags.

“We shouldn’t even be involving ourselves on that level with the retail business,” he said.

Ultimately, more research needs to be done to learn whether retailers can be required to charge for bags, to determine what cost-effective alternatives to paper bags might exist, and to resolve a litany of other as-of-yet unanswered questions.

“We’re getting closer to having something we can actually put in writing,” Mayor Stu Fraser explained.

“We need an ordinance that makes sense, that is easy to work with, that has the support of a majority of the community and retailers, and that will work well with tourists and locals,” he said.

Read more: The Watch Newspapers - A Telluride Plastic Bag Ban Is in the Works
Bag ban looming in Mexico City
Posted July 15, 2010
MEXICO CITY (July 15, 11:45 a.m. ET) -- A few weeks before legislation banning plastic bags from all commercial establishments is slated to take effect in Mexico City, plastics industry leaders are still waiting for concessions from local law makers.
July 17, 2010

By Chris Conrad
Mail Tribune
Carrie Newsom says environmental concerns lead her to favor a statewide ban on plastic grocery bags.

However, she asks that politicians ensure there is a viable alternative in place before pushing through legislation imposing a ban on plastic bags at checkout counters across Oregon.

Where to recycle
The Jackson County Recycling Partnership says plastic bags cannot be placed in curbside recycling bins. Instead, consumers are advised to drop off plastic grocery bags at the following locations:

Southern Oregon Sanitation, 42 Ball Road in Eagle Point
Recology Ashland Sanitary Service, intersection of Water and Van Ness streets
Allied Envionmental Services, 8266 13th Street, White City
Numerous local grocery stores have a plastic bag recycling program

"I know the bags are bad for the environment," Newsom said as she loaded several plastic bags stuffed with groceries into her car outside Medford's Food-4-Less grocery store Friday. "But I've heard the reusable bags are not healthy and paper bags are hard to carry and aren't as strong."

Like many Rogue Valley shoppers, Newsom reuses her plastic bags. She uses the grocery bags in her garbage cans and donates extras to her church.

"It's important to recycle them, too," Newsom said.

State Sens. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, and Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, drafted plastic-bag-ban legislation in February and hope to get it passed in the 2011 legislative session.

Atkinson, who is a proponent of efforts to clean waterways and improve fish runs, said he believes barring grocers from relying on plastic bags would be a good environmental and economic move for Oregon.

"All you need to do is go to a landfill and see that they are full of plastic bags," Atkinson said. "And just take a look at chainlink fences and our rivers to see more evidence of the damage these bags do."

Atkinson said dealing with the state's dismal economy remains his top priority, but noted the plastic ban could help Oregon's mills should more grocers move to paper bags.

"In Oregon we have mills that make wood products that could include paper bags," Atkinson said.

Tim Weaver, watershed coordinator for the Little Butte Creek Watershed Council, said the bags hurt fish runs when they find their way into rivers and streams.

"They get tangled up with the fish and end up out in the ocean," Weaver said. "So not only are the bags unsightly, they inhibit wildlife as well."

Diana Bartlett, program coordinator for SOLV, which directs beach and river cleanups each year in Oregon, said plastic bags account for 12 percent of the debris found by the beach cleanup crews.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams also has been vocal in his opposition to plastic bags. Adams is seeking a local ordinance keeping the bags from checkout stands in Portland.

"A lot of municipalities are picking up the ball with this issue," Atkinson said. "Meanwhile, we have been working with grocers to find the best solution that will make the least financial impact on consumers."

Northwest Grocery Association President Joe Gilliam has said he generally supports the ban, but wants to ensure it is enforce fairly across the state.

In a statement released Friday to the Mail Tribune, Gilliam wrote, "All retailers should be included in the ban to reduce consumer confusion and increase efficiency of the ordinance."

The American Chemistry Council, which conducts research for petroleum companies, is against the ban. The plastic bags are made from oil.

In an e-mail exchange with the Mail Tribune, American Chemistry Council spokeswoman Allyson Wilson said consumers already have local recycling opportunities to deal with plastic bags. The bags can be reformed to make park benches, backyard decks and playground equipment, she said.

Newsom's concern about the health problems associated with reusable cloth and canvas bags came from a widely publicized University of Arizona study which found that mold and bacteria are common in reusable bags.

In the study, university researchers advised users to wash the bags often to keep bacteria such as E. coli away from groceries.

Atkinson said the plastic bag ban could serve anotherpurpose by proving Democrats and Republicans can work together to solve problems.

"If you can find the middle road that can please everyone, good things happen," he said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or e-mail
by Keely Chalmers, KGW Staff

Posted on July 17, 2010 at 8:22 AM

Updated today at 10:41 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The city of Portland is one step closer to banning those popular plastic grocery bags.

Mayor Sam Adams introduced a draft ordinance that calls for a ban by January 2012.

The ordinance would not only ban single use plastic bags from some stores, it would also require stores to charge five cents for paper bags.

"The city is going forward January 1st, 2012. People have 18 months, plenty of warning to get used to this," said Adams.

The mayor says the goal of the ordinance is to get shoppers to change their habits.

"That would force us to use the reusable bags that we’ve been buying in the first place that we have a stack of in the trunk of the car," said shopper Shane Ott.

Environmental groups applaud the city's proposal, saying plastic bags litter our oceans and endanger marine life.

"The more the people of Portland look into his issue the more they’re going to realize they can live without," said Stiv Wilson with the Surfrider Foundation.

But not all like the idea. Phyllis Schumacher-Burger says she prefers plastic bags and doesn’t want to see a ban passed.

"No, I don’t, because you can’t put everything in one of those carry bags," said Schumacher-Burger.

As written now, the draft ordinance applies only to grocery stores with gross annual sales of $2 million, or large retailers over 10,000 feet that have pharmacy.

Fred Meyer spokeswoman Melinda Merrill says it puts her stores at a competitive disadvantage and wonders why electronic and clothing stores are not included.

"All of those stores are going to be able to offer their customers plastic bags or paper bags without a fee and we’re not going to be able to," said Merrill.

Adams acknowledges this is just the beginning.

"The initial group that is subject to this new ordinance is the group of businesses that distribute most of these bags, but it’s a start," said Adams.

The Northwest Grocery Association issued a response to the draft ordinance saying that while it agrees with a plastic bag ban it thinks all retailers should be included to reduce consumer confusion.

The proposed ban will be up for public comment for a week and then will head to city council for a vote.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anna Politskaya

" Probably the most difficult for the average person - not hide from that scary. But if you look evil straight in the eye, it does not stand up, folded. Anya looked evil straight in the eye. And perhaps, therefore, emerged victorious from a difficult situation. And perhaps, therefore, remained alive, where lowering his eyes would not have survived.
For us, it remains alive. With the death of our Ani we will not accept ever. And whoever took control of this massacre - in the center of Moscow in the middle of broad daylight - we will find the killers. We can guess where they may be .."
By Adrian Croft

LONDON | Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:00pm EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - NATO is failing to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan, according to a poll released on Friday showing most people in Taliban heartlands view foreign troops negatively and believe the Taliban should join the government.

However, 55 percent of Afghans surveyed by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) thinktank believed NATO and the Afghan government were winning the war against Taliban insurgents.

The survey was based on interviews last month with 552 Afghan men in Kandahar and Helmand provinces in southern Afghanistan, the scene of some of the most intense fighting.

"We are ... failing to explain ourselves or our objectives to the Afghan people. This provides clear opportunities for Taliban and al Qaeda propaganda against the West," ICOS President Norine MacDonald said in a statement.

The poll of Afghans in the two areas found:

-- 75 percent believe foreigners disrespect their religion and traditions

-- 74 percent believe working with foreign forces is wrong

-- 68 percent believe NATO forces do not protect them

-- 65 percent believe the Taliban and its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, should join the Afghan government.

Seventy percent said recent military actions in their area were bad for the Afghan people and 59 percent opposed a new military offensive being built up by NATO forces in Kandahar.

Thousands of U.S., British and Afghan soldiers took part in an operation this year in the Marjah area of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold. NATO forces are now gearing up for a campaign to secure the Taliban's spiritual home of Kandahar.

Fifty-five percent of those polled believed that foreign troops were in Afghanistan for their own benefit, to destroy or occupy the country, or to destroy Islam.

In a blow to NATO's hopes of gradually transferring security responsibilities to Afghan forces, 71 percent believed the Taliban would return to areas cleared of insurgents if NATO departed leaving the Afghan government in charge.

Sixty-one percent believed the number of Afghans joining the Taliban had increased in the past year and four-fifths said that if the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, al Qaeda would return to the country.

Sixty-four percent believed government officials in their area were linked to the Taliban and large majorities thought both the Taliban and local government officials made money from drug-trafficking.

The survey was released before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and dozens of other foreign ministers meet in Kabul next week to hear President Hamid Karzai's plans to boost governance, security and economic opportunity.

The war in Afghanistan has reached a critical stage despite the presence of about 140,000 foreign troops, with the Taliban at its strongest since the Islamist movement was overthrown in 2001 by the U.S.-led invasion.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)
Until George W. Bush, no American president -- not even Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson -- actually risked his presidency on the premise that Jefferson might be right. But this gambler from Texas has bet his place in history on the proposition, as he stated in a speech in March, that decades of American presidents' excusing and accommodating tyranny, in the pursuit of stability in the Middle East inflamed the hatred of the fanatics who piloted the planes into the twin towers on Sept. 11. If democracy plants itself in Iraq and spreads throughout the Middle East, Bush will be remembered as a plain-speaking visionary.

* "Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread?", New York Times Magazine, June 26, 2005; Michael Grant Ignatieff.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From the mouth of America

This is Lynn Woolsey, speaking out of California. America, come home!

The war in Afghanistan is now 104 months old, passing Vietnam, to make it the longest war in U.S. history. And as it reaches this dubious milestone, it’s hard to imagine things going much worse. The much-hyped military campaign in Kandahar is now way behind schedule, with the secretary of Defense saying it’s more important to get it done right than to get it done quickly.

That kind of plea might have worked 80 months ago, but do they not see the irony or the disconnect in preaching patience about a war that is now the longest the nation has ever fought? Do they not see that the American people, who have given a thousand or more of their best young people and a quarter of a trillion dollars to this war, are long past the point where they are willing to cut some slack and take a wait-and-see approach?

And if that’s not bad enough, it turns out the campaign we thought we had just finished in Marjah never really took in the first place. What seemed to be a quick and decisive military triumph turned out to be an illusion. The Taliban hadn’t been crushed; they had gone into hiding, taking part in the opium harvest, and regaining their bearings, so to speak. Now the Taliban are back, with a campaign of violence and intimidation, planting bombs, attacking Marines and terrorizing the population. As one report in the Washington Post put it, “They still own the night.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal promised to have a ready-made “government in a box” prepared to take over in Marjah, but inside that box was a district governor who has been outfitted by the Marines with a fancily furnished tent and seems more fond of afternoon naps than in doing the hard work of governing. And the national government that is supposed to be our partner, the repository of our hopes and confidence, the leader of the regime that is supposed to pick up where U.S. troops leave off in providing stability and security, well, his heart doesn’t seem to be in the mission. Just a few weeks after his state visit to the U.S., President Hamid Karzai is wondering aloud whether the U.S. and NATO can get the job done.

My concern is that with each setback and delay pressure will build to extend the timetable for troop deployment, preventing our troops from getting out of Afghanistan. This would be the wrong lesson to learn. What’s needed is not more time, but a different policy. Every day that we continue this military campaign will contribute to the chaos. More time and more troops can only exacerbate the problem.

I don’t think I can describe the war any better than did New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. He said: “It’s just a mind-numbing, soul-chilling, body-destroying slog, month after month, year after pointless year.’’

It’s time to end the slog. It’s time to end the longest war in American history. It’s past time to bring our troops home.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and president of Americans for Democratic Action.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chloe, an autistic girl in Australia, was being bullied at school, and the Herald Sun is excerpted below on the topic:

University of South Australia bullying expert Professor Ken Rigby said Chloe was to be admired for reading her letter at school assembly.

"It's a very brave and a good thing to do. It is sure to have an impact on some children," Dr Rigby said.

He said new evidence suggested there was a slight decline in bullying but he said there was still far too much of it.

"Of students who say they are bullied, 30 per cent tell their teacher but, of those, 50 per cent say things don't improve," Dr Rigby said.

"Telling your teacher is a good thing but it's not enough unless the teacher is well equipped to deal with the problem."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Merci, Vincent. C'est gentile.

With opposition to the nine-year old war in Afghanistan at its record high in France, Paris says it will discipline an army general who spoke out against the US-led war in the country.

General Vincent Desportes, the head of elite Interforces Defense College, told Le Monde newspaper last week that the counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan had failed to produce any significant results.

As a top military man, who is responsible for training French staff officers, Desportes also went so far as to criticize the strategy undertaken by former top US commander General Stanley McChrystal, saying it had made the situation in Afghanistan "worse than ever."

Meanwhile, French Defense Minister Herve Morin hit back at the controversial comments made by Desportes, saying, "He will be punished" because he showed "lack of judgment", AFP reported.

Speaking to BFM television on Wednesday, Morin said he had tasked Chief of Staff of the French Army General Elrick Irastorza to take administrative action against Desportes.

The French defense minister went on to warn of punitive measure against erring men and women in uniform, saying that "until we hear otherwise, soldiers are under the authority of politicians, just like any other public employee."

The latest falling-out comes as opinion polls show a soaring level of public opposition to the war in France, which currently has about 3,500 troops in Afghanistan.

Reports indicate the number of casualties among the US-led troops in Afghanistan has significantly increased over the past months, as June has become the deadliest month for foreign soldiers in the war-hit country.

Desportes had also criticized US President Barack Obama's plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

Concerns over the war strategy in Afghanistan have been echoed by some senior French politicians, one of whom denounced the strategy as "unmanageable shitstorm", according to the weekly Canard Enchaine.

The report comes days after top US commander McChrystal was forced to resign over his scathing criticism of certain administration officials and their handling of the war in Afghanistan in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.


Culpeper, Va: Bayne Bucks the System

As for the recent shift to fighting Afghanistan, he said he does not understand how an American presence there is helping anything either.

“We were going to find the Taliban and get them out of there — well, that hasn’t been successful. They are starting to make resurgence. Who knows if Afghanistan is a reliable ally,” Bayne said. “They are happy with us as long as we keep sending financial aid.”

An advocate for “a non-interventionist foreign policy,” he said America needs to stop occupying other countries.

“We have troops stationed in over 100 countries around the world. How much do you suppose we could save in taxes if we didn’t spend all that money supporting our troops in all these nations?”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I found this commentary to be oddly reassuring, coming in the lee of war and trauma. At long last, the Berkeley Daily Planet hath weigheth in :)

The Mythologies of Militarism
By Steve Martinot
Saturday June 19, 2010
Bookmark and Share

I went to hear a panel on drone warfare last Saturday (6/12/2010) at the Berkeley Public Library, organized by a group called Grannies Against War (which I revere simply for their existence). The chair of the meeting expressed the hope, in her opening remarks, that the information to be discussed would arouse anger, and bring people into activism. Drone warfare is a form of mechanized killing, in which a technician in a war room, perhaps in Colorado or Iowa, or on shipboard in the Indian Ocean, flies a pilotless plane remotely, and can target people from the air, unleashing lethal force against them. It has been used in Afghanistan, Gaza, and Pakistan. Its use by the US has increased dramatically over the last two years. Its kill rate is high, and its ratio of civilians to actual "combatant targets" is around 50 – 1.

There were three speakers on the panel. The first speaker spoke about a debate now in progress concerning whether drone warfare is legal or not (I'm leaving the names of the speakers out because I wish only to focus on the concepts at issue). The ACLU says it isn't, while various policy makers say it is, or that the issue is cloudy. Those who think it legal, however, insist on the use of careful euphemistic language, to avoid any connection to international human rights law that seeks to limit the impunity of war. Thus, they refer to "targetted killing" rather than assassination, "armed conflict" rather than war. Drone warfare is seen by policy makers as a legitimate mode of targetted killing, which is in turn legitimized by the context of armed conflict. And armed conflict is legitimized by the fact that 9-11 was a non-state attack on the US, requiring armed response to terrorists and terrorism. It is the idea that 9-11 was an attack on the US that forms both the basis and the necessity for this euphemization.

The second speaker described the technology of drone warfare, its similarity to video games, the logistic economy of the tactic, and the advantage to the war-maker of not exposing personnel to face-to-face danger with those it seeks to kill. She provided an evaluation of drone warfare as having succeeded as a tactic, yet failed as a strategy, because the very idea of such mechanized killing, and the degree to which civilians have been the real victims of this tactic, has turned many people in the world against the US.

The third speaker asked the question, why is the impunity of this tactic acceptable to people in the US? He focused both on 9-11 as the immediate source, and the age-old feeling among people in the US that they would be willing to die for freedom. He pointed out, however, that drone warfare does not bring freedom, democracy, equality, or justice with it. It simply kills. And this, he points out, was an ethos already contained in the immediate response to 9-11. If there were perpetrators of that act, it should have been seen as a criminal act, and dealt with judicially, rather than with a declaration of war – against an amorphous enemy (terrorism) which could only be fought terroristically by mechanized invasion, B-52 bombings, and ultimately drones.

In short, the use of drone warfare represents a new form of military horror. Despite disclaimers, it targets civilian areas and non-military people, principally because military units would more often have the ability to shoot down the drone. Thus, it is a dehumanized (literally and figuratively) form of industrialized killing. If the official definition of terrorism is the use of arbitrary violence to change or control a political situation, then the use of drones is a form of terrorism. Conversely, when people are willing to fight using hands and minds against huge powerful war-machines, then they have to be understood as fighting for something they are willing to die for. Drone warfare then represents the US response to such people.

Does this inversion of morality explain the acceptance of impunity? Let me summarize the logic of drone warfare. It is one mode among others of "targetted killings" (aka assassinations). Targetted killings are justified by the non-governmental nature of the enemy, requiring "armed conflict" (aka war). "Armed conflict" is legitimized as the proper response to the 9-11 attack by a non-governmental enemy.

9-11 is at the center of the issue (which each panelist explicitly recognized). It is the government account of 9-11 that mediates between the horrendousness of killing by video game and the approximately 2 million people killed by US "armed conflicts" since 2001. If drone warfare (aka mass murder) is horrendous and should be stopped (and I think it should), then the process of rationalizing it must be unravelled, which means going to its logical source. It is as the logical source for industrialized mass murder that 9-11 takes on mythic qualities.

Three things can be said about this.

A- If it is true that the planning and logistics for the original assault on Afghanistan were begun in July, 2001, two months before 9-11 (as Stan Goff, a retired green beret instructor, was able to confirm), then Osama bin Laden was not the target. Ironically, he remains the target despite the idea that he was killed in 2002, as suggested by Benazir Bhutto shortly before she was assassinated. If the US was planning an assault on Afghanistan in July, 2001, then it was indeed illegal, a crime against humanity, and all that follows in its wake would be similarly illegal, the continuation of that crime. If there is judicial controversy over this, it is supported only by the myth that 9-11 was an attack on the US.

B- 9-11 is mythic not because it never happened, but because what did happen remains unknown. Whatever investigation into the event was possible ceased to be feasible as soon as the government sequestered and destroyed as much of the evidence as it could. What evidence we have, however, clearly indicates that the twin towers and building #7 were brought down by controlled demolition (we saw that the massive central steel columns in the twin towers, 94 in number, were all cut off at ground level, as well as cut into pieces, and we now know what kind of explosive was used to do that, thanks to Steven Jones). This implies, despite the derogation and character assassination of those who ask the relevant questions, that the planes did not bring the buildings down. If the destruction of the buildings was planned by those who planted the explosives, then the planes, whose existence was subordinated to the planned destruction of those buildings, did not constitute an attack on the US. Those who put the explosives in place did not just "let something happen." But without the idea that 9-11 was an attack on the US, all the rationalizations for armed conflict and massive assassinations disappear.

C- What is not questioned about "armed conflict," because 9-11 is not questioned, is the notion of "conflict." Conflict means there are two sides. When the US invades a sovereign nation with B-52s dropping bombs from 30,000 feet on a people whose warmaking technology is limited to rifles and pick-up trucks, there is no conflict. It is entirely one-sided. Armed conflict, then, is not a euphemism for war, but a euphemism for mass murder. And under such circumstances, the notion of "terrorist" becomes a euphemism for Afghani or Iraqi "self-defense." What the myth (of 9-11) does is hide the fact of that one-sided assault, and enable acceptance of both the notion of armed conflict and the impunity needed to carry it out.

What follows from 9-11 then stands exposed as a complex of crimes against humanity, first against the sovereign nation of Afghanistan, then against Iraq, and finally, against us. If we address what drone warfare means (and we should), and do not question the mythology upon which it is based, we forfeit our call to justice for the victims of those crimes.