Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guess What? Casual Sex Won't Make You Go Insane

By Ellen Friedrichs, AlterNet

Casual sex: even the phrase sounds a little suspect. And its connections to STDs, unplanned pregnancy, depression, and even alcoholism? Well, those are just a given, discussed endlessly by pundits, and in books with titles like, Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus, Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, and even, Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both. Add to this the unrelentingly dire warnings about “premarital” sex given by abstinence programs and many religious groups, and it can be hard to make a case for any kind of non-monogamous-non-matrimonial-non-procreative intimacy. But what if the links between casual sex (an ill-defined term, which seems to refer to anything from a one-night stand to sex between committed domestic partners) and the troubles of the world aren't as straightforward as people would have you believe?

Some recent research makes this seem pretty likely. Last week, for example, researchers from the University of Minnesota announced the findings of a study looking at the effect of casual sex on young adults. After studying 1,311 sexually active 18- to 24-year-olds, researchers were somewhat surprised to discover that, "young adults engaging in casual sexual encounters do not appear to be at increased risk for harmful psychological outcomes as compared to sexually active young adults in more committed relationships." And back in 2007, another study at the same institution found that despite what many people believe, non-marital sex doesn't negatively affect a teen's mental health or make a young person more prone to depression.

But what about research demonstrating that women, unlike men, can't handle casual sex due to their chemical makeup? One of the most frequently made claims is that during sex women release more of the "love" hormone, oxytocin, than men do. Since a primary role of oxytocin is to promote bonding, the logic goes that women are programmed to become emotionally distressed if sex doesn't lead to a relationship. But such thinking fails to take into account the existence of the sexual double standard, which punishes women for sex outside of a relationship far more than it does men. It stands to reason that this could account for a woman's post-casual sex unhappiness. Nor does this line of thinking address the fact that even if one of oxytocin's roles is to promote bonding, humans have shown time and time again that we are very capable of trumping our pure biological destiny. If we weren't, legions of infertility specialists would be out of work.

Some people stretch the biological links even further. Dr. Eric Keroack, the former deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services claimed that sex with multiple partners affects a woman's brain chemistry by suppressing oxytocin and impairing her subsequent ability to maintain relationships. He made these claims based, in large part, on the work of Dr. Rebecca Turner, who called his conclusions "complete pseudoscience" and a misrepresentation of her work. Still, Keroack continued to promote these notions while overseeing federally funded teenage pregnancy, family planning, and abstinence programs.

Misrepresentations are all too common when it comes to the mainstream portrayal of casual sex. For example, a study out of Durham University in the UK, prompted headlines like "Women Have Not Adapted To Casual Sex, Research Shows." However, this failure to adapt was not evolutionary, as the title implied. In fact, what women in this study couldn't adapt to was something very different: being treated poorly by their male sex partners! As the lead researcher explained, “What the women seemed to object to was not the briefness of the encounter but the fact that the man did not seem to appreciate her.”

To complicate matters further, a whole lot of otherwise smart people seem to forget that casual sex did not first emerge after Y2K. Last year, for example, in a New York Times op-ed, Charles M. Blow lamented what he saw as the advent of a hook-up culture. His piece cited a study by the Washington research group, Child Trends, which claimed that contemporary high school seniors no longer date seriously and instead choose to “hook-up" without commitment. He also quoted Kathleen Bogle, the author of 2008's, Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus. She explained that, "Under the old model, you dated a few times and, if you really liked the person, you might consider having sex. Under the new model, you hook up a few times and, if you really like the person, you might consider going on a date."

But even Blow's own newspaper contradicted this assumption the very next day, when the wedding section ran an interview with a newly married couple in their 50s. The pair explained that although they had actually been sexually involved over 30 years earlier, a committed relationship hadn't been on the table. Back in 1975, the woman explained, "People didn't date. You hung out and then you slept together." Sounds a lot like this dangerous new phenomenon of hooking-up that people find so shocking....

Seriously, we all know that hooking-up and casual sex are not new. In the United States, at least, sex outside of marriage has been around an awfully long time. A 2006 study found that 95 percent of Americans, including people born as far back as the 1940s, have had "premarital” sex. And how can we forget milestones like the sexual revolution, or the "Me" generation, when getting laid was just something to do? To be sure, not everyone in the '60s, '70s and '80s was having free love orgies, throwing key parties or embarking on cocaine-fueled office affairs, but these were important years for sexual freedom: syphilis had long since been cured, morals were relaxed, the birth control pill was an option and abortion became legal. Today those agonizing over what they see as an uptick in promiscuity, loose values and risk-taking, need to be reminded that while the cast may be different, much about the casual sex plot remains the same.

Despite the fact that sex without marriage is so common, we still cling to the notion that it must be damaging in some way. Solid research demonstrating that this isn't always the case simply cannot counter our existing social assumptions: if a person claims to be undamaged by sex without commitment, that person must be lying, ethically challenged, or at the very least, deluded. Sure, sex can be dangerous. One in four people will contract an STD by the time they are 25; American teen birth rates, while not what they were in the '50s, are still the highest in the Western world; and sex crimes continue to shock and unnerve us all. But we need to concentrate on reforming our sex education and health care systems to fight these issues, not waste time simply condemning forms of sex that make us uncomfortable.

Ellen Friedrichs is a sex educator based in New York City, where she teaches high school and college classes.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Obama worse than Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Dubya on immigration

Washington raid brings deportations, mixed signals

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — First they were arrested and faced deportation under what has proven to be the Obama administration's only workplace raid. Then they were given work permits, and told they could stay in the United States while their employer was being prosecuted.

Now, the more than two dozen undocumented workers arrested during the February raid here at Yamato Engine Specialists Ltd. are again facing deportation.

"Well, what can you do? You can't run, that'd be worse," Gerardo Arreola Gonzalez, one of the 28 workers arrested, said about the raid. "I had to face it. Yes, I felt fear, thinking, 'The dream is over.'"

Gonzalez's unusual journey through the immigration system symbolizes just how much immigration policy has changed under President Barack Obama — and how it's still a work in progress.

The deportations and likely removals are a conclusion to a case that displeased both advocates for illegal immigrants and those who lobby for stricter immigration enforcement.

In this case, the company, the workers, and even the Seattle U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office that conducted the raid came in for some sort of punishment or special scrutiny.

Two days after the raid, ICE officials traded urgent e-mails going over answers to questions sent by an apparently miffed White House, according to e-mails obtained by the Associated Press through a federal records request.

In all, 28 men and women — mostly from Mexico — were arrested that February morning. One man opted to leave the country shortly after the raid. The 27 who remained were given work permits until the case against Yamato ended.

Now, five of the 27 workers have been deported. Seven have been allowed to leave the country voluntarily and 15 await court dates with an immigration judge, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lorie Dankers.

Dankers declined to comment further on the case.

"We're disappointed. We really did think that things would be different under the Obama administration," said Pramila Jayapal, executive director of OneAmerica, a Seattle-based immigration advocacy group. "It's very mixed signals ... we thought we were getting an administration that was supportive."

Immigration advocates were elated when Obama took office, thinking he'd bring immigrant-friendly enforcement policies. The raid shocked them, and they protested loudly.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano then ordered an internal review of the raid. The workers arrested were given work permits, and the company became the focus of the investigation.

But those who favor strict immigration enforcement saw Napolitano's review as a signal for lax enforcement, and a rebuke to the Bush administration's immigration policy.

For William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, Obama's approach to targeting involved employers is no better than the Bush administration's targeting of those here illegally. Both are incomplete policies, he said.

"I am for the actual enforcement against all parties involved in illegal immigration," Gheen said. "Obama is an arbitrary enforcer, just like Bush, on immigration."

The Obama administration's approach became clearer in the months after the raid: a focus on employers. Hundreds of audit forms were sent out to businesses nationwide, notifying employers to certify that their workers have valid Social Security numbers and other forms of identification proving eligibility to work in the U.S. The administration has also sought to maintain workable enforcement agreements between ICE and local police agencies, and has sought to improve conditions for immigrants detained by the government.

The government's audits of employment status have led to significant job losses. In Los Angeles, American Apparel fired 1,500 workers in September. In Minneapolis, another 1,200 janitors were cut in November.

In order to level charges against employers who hire illegal immigrants, federal prosecutors need the testimony of those workers, and that requires the arrest, confinement and questioning of employees to obtain evidence.

"The most convincing part of that proof comes from illegal aliens," Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Reno said after the Yamato case. "It's going to be just as disruptive to the illegal aliens. That's not going to change."

That new reality doesn't sit well with either side of the immigration debate.

"How could you trust their testimony if you bribed them for it? These people will say anything you want them to say," Gheen said.

"They're saying they're not actively going after the worker, but the workers are a casualty when they have lost their jobs," Jayapal said.

Meanwhile, ICE officials were heartened by some of the response they received to the raid, according to the e-mails obtained by the AP.

Seattle-based Special Agent in Charge Leigh Winchell forwarded an e-mail to his staff from Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, a vocal immigration enforcement advocate, who said Napolitano's call for a review was "backwards."

"I cannot control the politics that take place with these types of situations, but I can remind you that you are great servants of this country and this agency," Winchell wrote to his troops.

Days after the raid, Winchell told his office to convey that ICE is going after the employer, not the workers, according to the e-mails.

The case against Yamato concluded in September with a $100,000 fine being leveled. Members of the immigrant family that owns the company issued a public apology. Yamoto's owners fled Uganda four decades ago when dictator Idi Amin's regime drove out the country's entrepreneurial Indian minority.

Messages left with Yamato management for this story were not returned.

With the case wrapped up, notices of court appearances for the workers began to appear. ICE agents had warned the workers of it.

Gonzalez, who is from Mexico, had entered the country in 1998 at the age of 19, first living in Arizona, where he started his family. He came to Washington seeking a better job, becoming a welder at Yamato, making $10 an hour. For now, a local lawyer is helping him but he knows he could face deportation.

"If I have to go to my country, I have to go to my country," Gonzalez said. "'ll be a challenge for (my family)."

At Yamato, under a basket of employment applications, a poster now warns that Yamato is a company that uses E-verify — the federal program that checks a worker's eligibility to work in the United States.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All Minneapolis council incumbents seeking reelection won.


Barbara Johnson has again claimed the Fourth Ward seat on the Minneapolis City Council thanks to second-choice votes, a development that means all 10 incumbents seeking reelection will return to the council.

Johnson hit nearly 53 percent of the vote with second choices made by voters for Grant Cermak and Marcus Harcus, two candidates dropped after trailing in the first round. The hand-counted results of ranked-choice voting were released late Monday by city election officials.

As in the neighboring Fifth Ward, the only other where the incumbent missed gaining a majority of first-choice votes, Johnson won even though the last remaining challenger, Troy Parker, picked up more second-choice votes than Johnson. Parker gained an additional 331 to her 194, but because she tallied nearly 47 percent of first-choice votes, Johnson needed fewer votes to win than Parker, who finished with 38 percent.

Johnson is the current council president, but that didn't keep her from becoming one of the two incumbents to fall short of a majority in the first-choice vote count. The other was Fifth Ward Council Member Don Samuels.

Parker and Harcus portrayed Johnson as out of touch with the changing demographics of her ward. She campaigned on the city's recent drop in crime, water quality improvements and her leadership in holding accountable landlords who rent to disruptive tenants.

"I'm really very pleased, and I just can't say enough to thank the volunteers and the professionals who helped me," said Johnson, who won every precinct.

Johnson has been an opponent of ranked-choice voting, the new balloting system in which voters rank up to three candidates. She said she thinks the election suffered without a primary in which voters could vet candidates. Parker could not be reached for comment.

The results are unofficial until the city's canvassing board meets next month, but other council incumbents haven't needed second-choices to win.

Nine DFLers and one Green Party endorsee, Cam Gordon, will return to the council. Three DFL endorsees for open seats -- Kevin Reich in the First Ward, Meg Tuthill in the 10th Ward and John Quincy in the 11th Ward -- came out on top. Only Reich, who was close to the required majority for election, still awaits the results of hand-counting. A count released Monday showed Tuthill had accumulated 72 percent of first-choice votes to win her seat handily, and Quincy last week had 64 percent in his ward.

The first Park Board race result to be released was in the Cedar-Isles area, where newcomer Anita Tabb won. She was unopposed, but there were 131 write-in votes.

Copyright 2009 Star Tribune

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Do away with constituencies to end tribal politics

By Wangari Maathai

This country is threatened. And it is not because we have an unbearable Constitution or electoral boundaries. It is because we as citizens and micro-nations whose political, economic needs and interests are not being protected by the current Constitution and the electoral boundaries. That is why we are clamouring for a new political order.

Our politicians govern the country by mutilating and manipulating the Constitution and electoral boundaries as well as playing divisive tribal politics.

But every so often, we go through a ritual to collect and collate views from citizens even though we know eventually the constitution and electoral boundaries will have to be agreed on by tribal chiefs.

If politicians do not get the constitution or the electoral boundaries they want, they advise their ethnic communities to reject the document.

Unfortunately, we are doing the current exercise in the middle of long-standing deep ethnic divisions, suspicion and hatred. The post-election violence and the hovering ICC make the environment unfriendly. We are craving for a leadership that can provide security, equity and justice.

Some countries have created constitutions and electoral boundaries that have been protected from the greed and selfishness of politicians. Strong institutions have been put in place to prevent manipulation or mutilation of the constitution or gerrymandering the electoral boundaries.

The constitution of the US was crafted by leaders of vision. It has served them for more than 200 years.

The documents that will be crafted are not the problem. If there were selfless, committed and visionary leaders, they would have been improving on the independence constitution. Instead, the Constitution and electoral boundaries have been treated as a means to power and privilege. Therefore, they are constantly re-written to meet new aspirations, greed and selfishness.

What Kenyans have experienced is bad governance, ethnic-based politics, tribal clashes, massacres, gender violence, poverty, economic stagnation and impunity.

Legislators should compete along political party lines and parties should be forced to seek support on the basis of their agendas, not tribal affiliation. The number of MPs should reflect the capacity of the country so that MPs do not overburden citizens with taxes and debts. The party that will have the most number of MPs should form the Government and provide a Prime Minister.

Electoral commission

This will make every vote count and parties will work hard to ensure they get as many votes as they can from every part of the country. This would serve the principles of one man, one vote, and no taxes without representation. Every vote will be important to the party rather than to an individual MP.

To make representation fair and just, an independent electoral commission should look into other relevant issues such as geography, density and special needs. The number of MPs should be fixed. Parliament has already approved that constituency boundaries serve as administrative boundaries (districts) and be centres of local authorities for the devolved government. What is important here is to empower these local authorities, community leaders and interest groups by having their roles clearly defined and protected from interference. That way, they would be able to manage the day-to-day responsibility of the devolved government. The devolved government should create boundaries, guided by their capacities and resources.

Kenyans have clearly said they want to elect their President. The President should be sponsored by a political party, and like MPs, his constituency should be the Republic. Kenyans also want presidential powers devolved and to have a president who is popular and able to unite the country. The President should get 50 per cent plus one vote to be declared winner.

To eliminate transportation of votes or double voting, voters should be able to vote from any polling station as long as they have the necessary voting documents. This would also make gerrymandering of electoral boundaries an exercise in futility.

It is important to empower the three arms of Government by clearly defining their roles so there is clear balancing of power and responsibilities, and capacity to ensure they do not interfere with other organs of governance.

Eliminating electoral constituencies for MPs would put an end to tribal power bases (and warlords). Eliminating constituencies has the potential of detribalising politics and giving every vote the same respect and power.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Union election ordered at Foxwoods casino

By Stephen Singer
Hartford, Connecticut (AP) 11-07

The National Labor Relations Board during late October ordered a union election at Foxwoods Resort Casino, which has been targeted by the United Auto Workers in a drive to organize 3,000 dealers.

The decision could set the stage for one of the first unions at a tribal casino. Foxwoods, one of the largest casinos in the world, has 340,000 square feet of gambling space in a 4.7 million-square foot complex.

Peter Hoffman, regional director of the NLRB’s regional office in Hartford, rejected the argument by Foxwoods owners, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, that the tribe’s employment law has jurisdiction in the matter.
“In reaching this conclusion, I have fully considered but find no merit to the employer’s claim that its ‘inherent authority’ to regulate employment and labor relations on its tribal lands precludes” the NLRB’s jurisdiction in this matter, Hoffman said.

Hoffman also said he found “particularly unpersuasive” a claim by the Mashantuckets that a strike against the casino would severely disrupt the tribe’s ability to provide essential services to its members.

A federal appeals court ruled earlier this year that Indian casinos are bound by the NLRB, and Hoffman cited that ruling in his decision.

The Mashantuckets said in a statement that the NLRB does not have jurisdiction “as the tribe is the governing body which has the inherent authority to regulate employment on its reservation and it has historically done so.”

Spokesman Bruce MacDonald said the issue is not about a worker’s right to organize.

“The issue is one of respecting the tribe as a government,” he said.

Foxwoods has 14 days to file a request with the NLRB in Washington for a review. MacDonald said tribal officials have not yet decided whether to appeal.

Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, said the decision is a victory for Foxwoods employees.

“We were confident we would win this case,” he said. “It’s simple: Regardless of where you work, you have a right to form your own union. That’s the law, and that’s why the NLRB ruled in favor of an election.”

UAW officials during September filed for the election, saying it won a “supermajority” of the 3,000 dealers who signed cards backing a union drive. At least 30 percent of employees of a proposed bargaining unit must sign cards to force a vote, which is supervised by the NLRB.

A date for an election has not been set.

Foxwoods opposed the union’s petition to the NLRB for an election, prompting a hearing and the ruling that was issued.

Madore said UAW Region 9A, which represents university employees, legal aid workers and others in New England, New York City and Puerto Rico, decided to start its union campaign at Foxwoods with the 3,000 dealers. About 11,500 people work at a variety of jobs at Foxwoods, which opened in 1992.

“You walk before you can run,” he said.

Jacqueline Little, a poker dealer at Foxwoods for 15 years, said she was ecstatic at the news of the NLRB decision.

Little, of Coventry, R.I., said health insurance is inadequate and annual pay raises do not keep up with inflation. She even criticized cigarette smoke in the casino, which is exempt from Connecticut’s no-smoking laws.

Foxwoods and the nearby Mohegan Sun have been in the sights of unions for years. In 1999, the president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union declared Indian-operated casinos the new frontier for union organizing.

Both casinos have said unions are unnecessary because workers are paid well and receive good benefits. Tribal sovereignty also precluded unions, the Indian tribes said.

That argument was struck a major blow with the federal court ruling earlier this year.

Little said she believes the NLRB decision will pave the way for an ultimate union victory.

“It’s inevitable. We’re going to have a union at Foxwoods,” she said.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Story of My Shoe by Muntadhar al-Zaidi

Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who threw his shoe at George Bush gave this speech on his recent release.

In the name of God, the most gracious and most merciful.

Here I am, free. But my country is still a prisoner of war.

Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act.

But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland’s) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. Until we were invaded by the illusion of liberation that some had. (The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into never-ending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons.

I am not a hero, and I admit that. But I have a point of view and I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated. And to see my Baghdad burned. And my people being killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, and this weighs on me every day and pushes me toward the righteous path, the path of confrontation, the path of rejecting injustice, deceit and duplicity. It deprived me of a good night’s sleep.

Dozens, no, hundreds, of images of massacres that would turn the hair of a newborn white used to bring tears to my eyes and wound me. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. In the past years, I traveled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and hear with my own ears the screams of the bereaved and the orphans. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

And as soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies of the Iraqis, and while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the traces of the blood of victims that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: Do you know how many broken homes that shoe that I threw had entered because of the occupation? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? And how many times it had entered homes in which free Iraqi women and their sanctity had been violated? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity, and desecration of houses of worship, the killer comes, boasting, bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response.

Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all who are in league with him, whether by spreading lies or taking action, before the occupation or after.

I wanted to defend the honor of my profession and suppressed patriotism on the day the country was violated and its high honor lost. Some say: Why didn’t he ask Bush an embarrassing question at the press conference, to shame him? And now I will answer you, journalists. How can I ask Bush when we were ordered to ask no questions before the press conference began, but only to cover the event. It was prohibited for any person to question Bush.

And in regard to professionalism: The professionalism mourned by some under the auspices of the occupation should not have a voice louder than the voice of patriotism. And if patriotism were to speak out, then professionalism should be allied with it.

I take this opportunity: If I have wronged journalism without intention, because of the professional embarrassment I caused the establishment, I wish to apologize to you for any embarrassment I may have caused those establishments. All that I meant to do was express with a living conscience the feelings of a citizen who sees his homeland desecrated every day.

History mentions many stories where professionalism was also compromised at the hands of American policymakers, whether in the assassination attempt against Fidel Castro by booby-trapping a TV camera that CIA agents posing as journalists from Cuban TV were carrying, or what they did in the Iraqi war by deceiving the general public about what was happening. And there are many other examples that I won’t get into here.

But what I would like to call your attention to is that these suspicious agencies — the American intelligence and its other agencies and those that follow them — will not spare any effort to track me down (because I am) a rebel opposed to their occupation. They will try to kill me or neutralize me, and I call the attention of those who are close to me to the traps that these agencies will set up to capture or kill me in various ways, physically, socially or professionally.

And at the time that the Iraqi prime minister came out on satellite channels to say that he didn’t sleep until he had checked in on my safety, and that I had found a bed and a blanket, even as he spoke I was being tortured with the most horrific methods: electric shocks, getting hit with cables, getting hit with metal rods, and all this in the backyard of the place where the press conference was held. And the conference was still going on and I could hear the voices of the people in it. And maybe they, too, could hear my screams and moans.

In the morning, I was left in the cold of winter, tied up after they soaked me in water at dawn. And I apologize for Mr. Maliki for keeping the truth from the people. I will speak later, giving names of the people who were involved in torturing me, and some of them were high-ranking officials in the government and in the army.

I didn’t do this so my name would enter history or for material gains. All I wanted was to defend my country, and that is a legitimate cause confirmed by international laws and divine rights. I wanted to defend a country, an ancient civilization that has been desecrated, and I am sure that history — especially in America — will state how the American occupation was able to subjugate Iraq and Iraqis, until its submission.

They will boast about the deceit and the means they used in order to gain their objective. It is not strange, not much different from what happened to the Native Americans at the hands of colonialists. Here I say to them (the occupiers) and to all who follow their steps, and all those who support them and spoke up for their cause: Never.

Because we are a people who would rather die than face humiliation.

And, lastly, I say that I am independent. I am not a member of any politicalparty, something that was said during torture — one time that I’m far-right, another that I’m a leftist. I am independent of any political party, and my future efforts will be in civil service to my people and to any who need it, without waging any political wars, as some said that I would.

My efforts will be toward providing care for widows and orphans, and all those whose lives were damaged by the occupation. I pray for mercy upon the souls of the martyrs who fell in wounded Iraq, and for shame upon those who occupied Iraq and everyone who assisted them in their abominable acts. And I pray for peace upon those who are in their graves, and those who are oppressed with the chains of imprisonment. And peace be upon you who are patient and looking to God for release.

And to my beloved country I say: If the night of injustice is prolonged, it will not stop the rising of a sun and it will be the sun of freedom.

One last word. I say to the government: It is a trust that I carry from my fellow detainees. They said, ‘Muntadhar, if you get out, tell of our plight to the omnipotent powers’ — I know that only God is omnipotent and I pray to Him — ‘remind them that there are dozens, hundreds, of victims rotting in prisons because of an informant’s word.’

They have been there for years, they have not been charged or tried.

They’ve only been snatched up from the streets and put into these prisons. And now, in front of you, and in the presence of God, I hope they can hear me or see me. I have now made good on my promise of reminding the government and the officials and the politicians to look into what’s happening inside the prisons. The injustice that’s caused by the delay in the judicial system.

Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you

The translation is by McClatchy’s special correspondent, Sahar Issa.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Suit seeks to restore political donors' refunds

Gov. Tim Pawlenty used his "unallotment" authority to cut the refund program, which focused on small donations.

Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) - Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Republican political activist filed suit Friday in an attempt to block Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "unallotment" of refunds for small donations to political campaigns.

Bob Carney Jr., of Minneapolis, filed the suit in Ramsey County District Court.

Pawlenty eliminated the refund program as part of his wide-ranging, unilateral spending cuts designed to close Minnesota's $2.7 billion budget gap.

The somewhat-obscure Political Contribution Refund program was expected to cost $10 million during the two-year budget cycle that began July 1.

Under the program, candidates who agree to abide by state campaign spending limits were allowed to seek contributions of up to $50 from individuals and $100 from married couples with the state reimbursing the full amount to the contributor.

Although some DFLers and nonpartisan groups have howled about Pawlenty's targeting of the refund program, none has filed suit to overturn it.

So it fell to Carney, who has filed to run for mayor of Minneapolis, to do so.

In his suit, Carney says he contributed $50 to the Fifth Congressional District Green Party on or after July 1, the day the budget unallotments kicked in.

His suit argues that the state revenue commissioner, acting on Pawlenty's behalf, violated state law by failing to give him his refund.

Pawlenty, he argues, has no statutory authority to eliminate the refund.

Carney also argues that his lawsuit should be considered a class action because of the potentially large number of political contributors who could be affected by the elimination of the refund.

Using the estimated $10 million in savings, his lawyers state that more than 100,000 Minnesotans could be affected.

Edition: METRO
Section: NEWS
Page: 2B
Index Terms: campaign ; finance ; lawsuit ; government
Record Number: 090725unallot0725
Copyright 2009 Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Broom asks for new leadership in Minneapolis

"A new broom sweeps clean"

New Broom was formed in September 2008 in response to the RNC. Police
state tactics by cops and sheriffs, aided and abetted by Mpls & StPaul
mayors and city councils. Mayors and councils already selling out the
cities and citizens to developers/predators.

New Broom is: Dems, libertarians, Greens, Ron Paul Republicans,
anarchists, Independents, independents, Open Progressives. New Broom
contains several serious policy/ordinance/procedure wonks deep in city
meetings, documents line by line, casting light in dark corners.

New Broom for now concentrates on Mpls, because the mayor and whole city
council are up this November 2009.

New Broom grades the 13 members of the Mpls City Council:

grade ward/incumbent
F 1/Ostrow
C- 2/Gordon
D- 3/Hofstede
F 4/Johnson
F 5/Samuels worst of all
F 6/Lilligren second worst
F 7/Goodman
C- 8/Glidden
C- 9/Schiff
D+ 10/Remington
D- 11/Benson
D- 12/Colvin-Roy
D+ 13/Hodges

Average: D-/D. Mean: D-.
We deserve better. Lots better. B or better.
The lower the grade, the bigger the broom should be.
Ostrow-1, Remington-10 & Benson-11 won't run again.
Gordon's earlier C dropped to C- for endorsing RT (RNC/stadium) Rybak.

New Broom will in the future report on, and in many cases grade,
opposition candidates as they reveal themselves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Governor Pawlenty Eliminates PCR Program

One of my favorite Monty Python skits is the infamous encounter between King Arthur and the Black Knight. What makes the scene so funny is that after first losing one arm – and then a second – the Black Knight keeps on fighting as though nothing has changed. I was reminded of this scene yesterday after Governor Pawlenty disclosed he was eliminating the Political Contribution Refund program effective July 1, 2009.

On principle, the Independence Party of Minnesota has always agreed to fight its Republican and DFL opponents with one arm tied behind its back because of our refusal to accept and be influenced by special interest and lobbyist money. Now the Governor is slicing off our other arm by eliminating the PCR program which rebates political contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $50 for individuals ($100 per couple).

Like the noble Black Knight, the Independence Party will proceed on its noble quest. As the only political party truly dedicated to fiscal responsibility, I am of the opinion that during these difficult economics it is only fair that political parties and candidates share in the burden of balancing the state budget. As such, I have no qualms with Pawlenty’s decision.

What this means, however, is that all of us must rise to the occasion and embrace the IP’s other time-honored principle of personal responsibility. In other words, we must now fund the party and its candidates before the benefit of this program is eliminated.

The fact that the Republican governor and the DFL-controlled legislature couldn’t come up with a budget-balancing agreement this past session tells us that the common-sense wisdom of the Independence Party is needed in Minnesota now more than ever.

If you feel the same way and believe in the party and its bedrock principles, help the party by making a contribution today! Don’t delay! Go to and click on the Contribute link at the top of the page. Or mail your contribution today to Independence Party of Minnesota - PO Box 40495 - St. Paul, MN 55114. You will receive your PCR application and rebate receipt in the mail as soon as we receive your contribution. Hurry - you have until June 30, 2009 before the PCR program is elimininated!

Jack Uldrich


P.S. If you prefer to fight with at least one hand, make your contribution today at – while you can still qualify for the rebate!

Prepared and Paid for by the Independence Party of MN
Your contribution is not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Unique opportunity in Minnesota

A chance to stop the dirtiest oil

Minnesotans should work to halt a pipeline that would expand the market for tar sands extraction.

Say it was a moment in history, and you could do something to stop the ecologically most destructive project on the face of the earth. Would you raise your voice or just wave it on?

Minnesota has that opportunity, and many Ojibwe tribal members are raising their voices to do the right thing.

That project -- the Canadian Tar Sands -- is devastating land, water and people in the north who rely on the land for their food. Land and water are poisoned. Rare cancers are becoming commonplace in small Dene, Cree and Metis communities, and the earth is being scraped down hundreds of feet to create oil for an American market. It is the most inefficient energy equation imaginable, and the most destructive.

An area the size of Lake Superior is slated for strip mining for tar sands. Canada and the province of Alberta and Canada have leased more than 65,000 square kilometers of land for tar sands development. Environmental regulations in Alberta are lax. Tar sands production is licensed to use more water than Alberta's two major cities -- Calgary and Edmonton -- combined. That water is turned into poison, laced with chemical sludge. Daily, tar sands producers burn 600 million cubic feet of natural gas to produce tar sands oil, enough natural gas to heat 3 million homes. The carbon emissions for the project surpass those of 97 nations in the world combined.

This month, hundreds said "no." Leech Lake Tribal citizens bravely gathered in protest to speak to the tribal council about a decision that will affect their lands. Unfortunately, the tribal council signed an agreement to allow a pipeline to cross tribal lands and transport oil to Superior, Wis., but elders in the community continue to fight its construction.

The pipeline, if completed, will carry the world's dirtiest oil from Alberta. Oil companies use up to five barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil, but the process also creates two barrels of toxic waste. Not to mention that the project is producing greenhouse gases while also destroying the boreal forest, part of the world's most important storehouse of climate regulating carbon and oxygen.

The tar sands project is deforesting the countryside and releasing an average of 11 million liters of contaminated water into the environment every day. A pipeline across northern Minnesota will not only allow for the expansion of the tar sands project into American markets, it will threaten our own forests and groundwater by exposing them to potential spills and deforestation.

Tar sands oil is so evil that all 43 First Nations Chiefs in Alberta have sought to place a moratorium on the project. Opponents aptly call the project "Mordor," a tribute to Tolkien's land of death.

Now they want to move Mordor south.

Transporting oil is not safe for Minnesota or the Leech Lake people.

Last week's signing was not without protest, but the council felt the economic burdens of tribal debt were too great to decline such an offer. Hundreds of Leech Lake citizens continued to protest the contract by seeking a referendum but were unable to successfully bring the vote back to the people. Today, these same citizens are looking for alternative measures that might be taken to help stop the construction of a pipeline.

Minnesotans have a unique opportunity to stop the transport to market of the most destructive oil project in the world. A project that would not pass a federal environmental impact statement in Minnesota should not be allowed to sell to our markets -- or we have simply exported our environmental destruction. Minnesota's leaders, tribal leaders, private landowners and the Obama administration must stop the project and its pipelines to market. We have a chance to raise our voices and say no.

Nellis Kennedy, a member of the Navajo Nation, is a national campaign associate with Honor the Earth. Winona LaDuke is Honor the Earth's executive director, a White Earth enrollee, an author and twice a vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Constitution Party of Minnesota Supports the Hauser Family

We live in a Constitutional Republic founded on personal freedom and
responsibility. The Declaration of Independence focused on rights granted
to individuals by our Creator, and the Constitution that formed our
government outlined specific limitations on how those rights and freedoms
were to be protected. We now have a government that is infringing on
those rights and freedoms at every turn. The latest example is the New
Ulm, MN court ruling against Colleen Hauser and how she and her family
Choose to raise their son and receive medical care. The Constitution Party
of Minnesota supports Colleen Hauser in her defiance of this tyranny.
She is a true hero and patriot, risking incarceration for the right to raise
her family free of government interference.

The issue should not be about the validity of chemotherapy, which has
clinical studies paid for by the pharmaceutical companies to prove the
efficacy of their claims, or whether the natural remedy chosen by the
family is reasonably effective, which has anecdotal support but no
clinical studies to prove or disprove its claims because no one is making
enough money from them to finance those studies. The issue at stake is
government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens, and
infringing on their religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment
to the Constitution. The court ruling against the family bases its
authority on the assumption that children are property of the state, not
the parents, when in reality it is the parents, not the state, that will
stand before God to be accountable for how they raised their children.

As Thomas Jefferson predicted, the central government has been quietly
encroaching into our lives for generations (under both major parties),
picking off our freedoms one by one, mostly unnoticed by the populace,
and replacing those freedoms with government "benefits" that soften us for
the next level of intrusion. If the New Ulm court ruling stands, this now
includes how we raise our children.

Constitution Party of Minnesota

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In case you missed out on the sex boycott in Kenya

Boycott exposed our love for cheap sex

By Mundia Mundia Jnr

As an ordinary man, and with other Kenyan men of goodwill, I heartily celebrate the success of the GIO inspired seven-day sex ‘fast’.

Like a genius ideologue, the G1O consortium etched their message and demands deep into the bones of our hearts even as many Kenyans, especially men, remained captive to a corrupt, ravenous elite. This time round Kenyan women challenged us to think sober and use our brains and hearts and not our biological weapons (of mass destruction).

Unfortunately the selfish G10 affirmative tableau only exposes partisan greed on the part of these attention seeking testosterone-savvy lobbyists.

Why not, together with the help of men, boycott sex together so that the principals could sit down and talk!

Kenyan women would never go far while intentionally excluding men in core national engagements. May be this is why Kenyan men tend to neglect women’s activities due to this eostrogen-laced mono-activism. National politics cannot be driven by sectarian agenda.

Surprisingly, men thought that women were talking about ‘real sex’ yet theirs was a symbolic gesture. Women simply wanted men to improve their currently blighted political and governance infrastructure to bring back peace, unity and development to the country.

From stockbrokers, lawyers, doctors to mechanics, hawkers and odd priests, those married and the upper and middle class begged leave from marital and parental responsibilities to ‘look’ for something their partner has refused to give them. They simply argued that the ‘cow had refused’.

On the other hand, many men believe that a prostitute is a loner in the streets and in the freezing cold. Such street ladies hook on men and sustain other affairs with money from married men.

Plying cheap drinks as one contemplates renting a woman’s body and being turned on by sleaze only appears to boost a damaged ego.

Such misogynists selfishly reinforce their view that all women are cheap, making them crave commitment-free escapades. Later an addiction develops while continuing to create a thrill for illicit sex.

False promise of thrill

The following may be the reasons why many men were opposed to the GIO sex-boycott call.

First, elite patriarchy had a major hand in the male-dominated opposition for the boycott. Second, many men love and worship prostitutes. They use them with no emotional attachment and while avoiding all the intimacy of an organised relationship. The male’s conspiracy of silence and secrecy makes them believe that it is a symbol of an independent spirit with a tendency to control and possess. This makes such men avoid all demands and expectation, which only reflects feelings of inadequacy.

Unfortunately, successful, good-looking, respected men that live with gorgeous wives fall victim of this fantasy thrill to pay for sex.

Excuses are made when men are caught by wives. Due to misconceptions, peer pressure or simple curiosity, men go out there to express their rebellion and indulge in beastly out–of–this–planet sex. Calling the addiction to prostitutes a one-off experience does not clean the tear stains off the marriage bed.

This habitual and cheap act that does not need tuition is only a short-time craze for excitement with plenty of risks for the entire life.

Certainly, the afterglow that comes from having sex with someone you love is the best experience ever. Its holiness makes one touch the skies with a tear that defines love in our hearts. If men ever knew that women had a beautiful and sexy brain they would desert Koinange Street and be part of the seven day sex-boycott.

They would move away from the street to their marital beds and be with their wives while agitating for real power sharing, reforms and good leadership, in their homes and in government.

The GIO consortium should return, not for a boycott, but to reward reformists with a seven-day sex recipe. It appears men need to be touched, hugged, kissed and be fed on sex. Talk of teaching the birds aviation lessons.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Good sexual intercourse lasts minutes, not hours, therapists say

Satisfactory sexual intercourse for couples lasts from 3 to 13 minutes, contrary to popular fantasy about the need for hours of sexual activity, according to a survey of U.S. and Canadian sex therapists.

Penn State Erie researchers Eric Corty and Jenay Guardiani conducted a survey of 50 full members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, which include psychologists, physicians, social workers, marriage/family therapists and nurses who have collectively seen thousands of patients over several decades.

Thirty-four, or 68 percent, of the group responded and rated a range of time amounts for sexual intercourse, from penetration of the vagina by the penis until ejaculation, that they considered adequate, desirable, too short and too long.

The average therapists’ responses defined the ranges of intercourse activity times: "adequate," from 3-7 minutes; "desirable," from 7-13 minutes; "too short" from 1-2 minutes; and "too long" from 10-30 minutes.

"A man’s or woman’s interpretation of his or her sexual functioning as well as the partner’s relies on personal beliefs developed in part from society’s messages, formal and informal," the researchers said. “"Unfortunately, today’s popular culture has reinforced stereotypes about sexual activity. Many men and women seem to believe the fantasy model of large penises, rock-hard erections and all-night-long intercourse. "

Past research has found that a large percentage of men and women, who responded, wanted sex to last 30 minutes or longer.

"This seems a situation ripe for disappointment and dissatisfaction," said lead author Eric Corty, associate professor of psychology. "With this survey, we hope to dispel such fantasies and encourage men and women with realistic data about acceptable sexual intercourse, thus preventing sexual disappointments and dysfunctions."

Corty and Guardiani, then-undergraduate student and now a University graduate, are publishing their findings in the May issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, but the article is currently available online.

The survey’s research also has implications for treatment of people with existing sexual problems.

"If a patient is concerned about how long intercourse should last, these data can help shift the patient away from a concern about physical disorders and to be initially treated with counseling, instead of medicine," Corty noted.

Unfortunately, I do not know when this was posted.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No Racistino

BY Daniel Timp

Every year representatives of Canterbury Park engage the wider community in an attempt to gain casino machines, claiming that it would benefit the state of Minnesota. The state of Minnesota has a long history of avoiding open support of all types of gambling. The federal government granted Indian tribes the right to build casinos; unable to fight it, a state lottery and charitable gaming in bars soon followed.

The last time Canterbury Park pushed hard for a racino was while the brothers Ghermezian were trying to get the state Legislature to grant them the right to put a casino in the Mall of America. However, the issue is more complicated than Jennifer Selvig implies in her guest column, which is why the push to gain a casino at the MOA was abandoned.

Gambling addiction is a serious problem that the state of Minnesota has been hesitant to promote. The treatment of racehorses is not humane in all cases. Canterbury Park is not about to disappear, they merely see the potential profit to be had by installing video poker and slot machines.

I lived in Portland, Oregon and I know what it is like to have video poker in every bar and Keno in every gas station. Is this where we want Minnesota to go? I don’t. Would granting Canterbury Park the right to have slots and video poker necessarily result in a landslide of gambling machines across the state? Not if we granted Canterbury Park a monopoly, I suppose, but that would be more hypocritical than the state lotto.

Daniel Timp



The Minnesota Daily wants to host a forum for discussion regarding issues and stories regarding the University of Minnesota and surrounding communities. However, the online comments should not be used to threaten or defame. This is a place for people to be heard, and want to contribute to discussion. Those who persist to use expletives, inappropriate, racist, defamatory or abusive postings risk losing the privilege to post.

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Sun, 04/19/2009 - 9:58pm — SMR (not verified)
Racinos a boon for Minnesota and the horse industry

U Student Daniel Timp submitted a commentary regarding Racinos. His perspective is limited to a tiny slice of not-so-recent history. Gambling bills before the Minnesota Legislature this year include video lottery terminals in bars and restaurants across Minnesota, a full casino at the Airport and a Racino bill proposed by the state's horsemen. Tim's assertion that the tracks just want to make money is short sighted and misses the big picture -- that's the one that effects farm owners and tax payers like myself.

The issue that should most concern the public is the massive amounts of money that metro casino operators are making without paying gaming taxes-- a benefit of sovereign immunity. That monopoly provides economic development opportunities outstate but generates great wealth to a very small population in the metro area. A little more than a decade ago, the billion dollar casinos that we all know now were simple bingo halls. Their expansion has been unchecked, unregulated and still provides no benefit to residents of Minnesota in the way of gaming revenue like the lottery and pari-mutuel racing do. Isn't it time for the state to benefit from people's enthusiastic participation in gaming? If the state approves alternatives to reservation casinos, the significant tax generated is voluntary and if your don't play, you don't pay!

The state must evaluate each gambling proposal on their respective merits and acknowledge that our society is a gaming society determined to play games as a form of entertainment (80% of Minnesotans claim to participate in some form of gambling as reflected in 2003 MPR/Pioneer Press and a 2003 Star Tribune Poll). The state cannot control compulsive gaming behavior anymore than the state could close all the bars to prevent alcoholism or close the malls to prevent compulsive shopping behaviors. Government cannot be the babysitter but legislation can require funds be set aside for responsible gaming programs should new gaming legislation be passed.

Unlke allowing slots in every bar, as many like Tim fear, the Racino legislation is modest in scale and big on benefits. The Racino initiative asks the state to allow the two horse racing tracks in the metro area to install the same casino games seen at existing casinos. The tracks are already highly regulated and overseen by the State Racing Commission. The tracks also employ thousands, and are the cornerstone for the racing industry in our state. The business of racing goes well beyond the racetracks. It is the business of hundreds of vets, farriers, hay and feed dealers, equipment vendors, farmers, shippers, trainers, grooms and others. And, don't forget, Racinos would generate $1/4 Billion in tax revenue every biennium -- that's a $1/4 Billion more than the existing casinos give back to our State!

* reply

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 8:32am — Writ Dye (not verified)
Jebus that was long!


* reply

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 9:09am — U grad and Scott County taxpayer (not verified)
That may have been long but

That may have been long but the writer addressed most of the relevant points in this debate.For all of the reasons expressed,I support the Racino concept.It also will eliminate hopefully the substantial amounts of money that the Tribes give to the DFL each year in hopes of preserving the state self imposed monopoly for the Tribes.Finally, it would eliminate the jobs of some of the 40 plus registered lobbyists at the state capitol who work for the Tribes.

* reply

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 8:34am — Randy, concerned tax payer in Prior Lake (not verified)
Racinos good for Minnesota

As a Minnesota tax payer, I think Racino legislation is a fair deal. First of all it would not be a Canterbury monopoly. There are two race tracks in Minnesota, owned by different companies I believe. I am sick and tired of seeing the Mystic Lake, Grand Casino and Treasure Island casino grow bigger and bigger and knowing that the state does not get any money from their gaming. Adding other gaming options, Racinos and the race tracks, would increase competition and break the casino cartels current monopoly!

I like to visit a casino and gamble from time to time. I don’t do it in Minnesota though; I drive south to Diamond Jo, 2 miles south into Iowa. Talking to the people there they say that most of their customers are Minnesotans - over ¾ of them. That is gaming dollars and tax revenue that could and should be staying in here in Minnesota.

I support this plan, give the state some revenue! Give the tribes some fair competition, competition builds better business.

I have contacted both my state representative and my state senator to voice my support of this and they both told me that the Racino bill has little chance because the tribes donate millions of dollars to the DFL party. They told me that the DFL leadership will stand in the way of this in fear of losing campaign contributions. In spite of the common sense benefits for the state in a time when they need Billions for the budget, they are looking past the taxpayers and thinking of their own pockets. That is wrong, this is not Illinois! We need to do something about these multi Billion dollar non taxed businesses in the state, we need to save the racing in the state and bolster Minnesota’s equine industry.

* reply

Tue, 04/21/2009 - 9:37am — Jim G (not verified)
Racino ...

Amen, I say to that !!! Adding poker machines at Canterbury would be a PLUS for the entire state !!! Our DFL compatriots (and the Indian casinos) are just yanking our chain !!! When are we, the common man, going to have some input as to our destiny ?? Pass the RACINO bill and BOOST the State's economy...

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Fri, 04/24/2009 - 9:49pm — Anonymous (not verified)

If you ever wondered why the state legislators have never passed the gamming bill and you haven't figured it out by now, their all probably on the take under the table from the local tribes.Next election comes around we'll remind them by not voting for them and remind them how they became state legislators and state senators.

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Mon, 04/20/2009 - 9:49am — Kelly - horse owner (not verified)
Racino bill

In a perfect world, no one would choose to gamble away their life savings, no one would drive drunk, no one would abuse tobacco or drugs. In a perfect world, there would be no unwanted horses. This is not a perfect world.
What Daniel fails to point out is the good that Racino legislation can bring. Setting aside 1% to non-racing horse industry apportions several million dollars to fund research, improved facilities and projects that can bring about a significant change to the horses of Minnesota. When does the good outweigh the bad? In this case it is pretty clear. Minnesota needs revenue and our horses need a boost to their health, well-being, value and very existence. I fully support this legislation being a horse owner and enthusiast (not in the racing community but the proud owner of horses "off the track".) who wants to see the lives of our horses and the support of our horse communities reap the benefit.

* reply

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 11:25am — Anonymous Student (not verified)
Racino Bill.

The Racino proposal that is currently being discussed is, as someone already mentioned, modest. It is a very limited way for the state benefit from essentially no investment. There are already two ideal facilities to add gambling in a way that would benefit the state and the citizens of Minnesota. The Racino proposal would add hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs; there is already concern about the record deficit and unemployment rates - why not address that concern?

Minnesotans who want to avoid tax hikes and a loss of public services as we face looming budget cuts should voice their concerns to their state legislators. The voice of the citizens is what can help this bill to pass and prevent legislators from lining their own pockets as the tribes owning Mystic Lake, Grand Casino, and more try to avoid future competition and keep the revenues to themselves.

* reply

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 1:23pm — Anonymous (not verified)
I think people need to

I think people need to educate themselves on all aspects before speaking about anything they don't know the ins and outs about. The state is facing a deficite and until you can find a better way to support the state then don't bash the efforts being put forth in an attempt to help everyone in MN.

I fully support the Racino. I am involved in the horse community here in MN...I do not gamble by choice but why not have some options instead of what we currently have? Why let the current casinos line the pockets of the representatives that are supposed to be working to better the state of MN and represent the demographic as a whole?

I have contacted my representatives and will continue to do so until a decision has been made.

* reply

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 2:13pm — Stephanie Valberg (not verified)

The new Racino proposal would serve an all important role of replenishing diminishing funds for equine research at the U of M by providing at least 1% of proceeds to support the horse community and equine research. University of Minnesota Equine Center in collaboration with the state’s racing industry has been working together for more than 15 years to improve the health, well being and performance of the horse by supporting equine research at the U of M. Unfortunately our current source of research funding from the Minnesota Racing Commission using funds committed from on track betting at Canterbury Park Racetrack has declined due to the slowing economy. This partnership with the Racing Commission has been vital for equine research investigating colic, genetics, lameness, muscle disease, nutrition, and reproduction. Since 2001, a combined investment by the U of M and Minnesota Racing Commission of $387,400, provided enough preliminary information to obtain an additional $3,000,000 in support from state, federal and private foundations for further cutting-edge equine research. The Equine Center, its researchers, and clinical staff have dedicated themselves toward maximizing the health and well-being of horses. It is my personal belief, that the Racino bill is extremely important to support our goal of applying scientific research toward the prevention, treatment, and cure of injuries and diseases that afflict horses.

Stephanie Valberg DVM PhD

Director of the University of Minnesota Equine Center

* reply

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 4:51pm — anonymous (not verified)
Voluntary tax could equal huge revenues for Minnesota!

In light of Minnesota's looming budget deficit how can our Legislature blatantly disregard a revenue source that could contribute one-quarter of a billion dollars to the State per biennium? I've met with our elected Legislators and heard them say "it's only $250,000,000.00". I'm wondering if they truly listened to their constituents who took the time to share their concerns at the Town Hall meetings and Legislative Road Shows held throughout Minnesota? I was there. I heard parents pleading that their disabled child's medical benefits not be cut. These meeting rooms were filled with people who were passionately sharing their stories, their concerns and their needs. I would like to hear these same Legislators tell their constituents, the individuals marking the ballot come election time, that "it's only $250,000,000.00". I'm sure there are many programs and services that could be saved with even a small portion of that $250,000,00.00.

Gambling at a racino would be a voluntary tax. If you want to gamble, you contribute. Gambling's not your thing? No problem, you aren't being forced to contribute. Quite unlike an increase in property taxes or other increases that don't give you an option of paying or not. People in Minnesota gamble. Whether it's at tribal casinos, on the internet or across our state borders. A racino would simply give people another choice - contribute to Minnesota or contribute to the tribes, our neighboring states or some anonymous entity on the internet.

Racinos will save an industry; allow owners, breeder and trainers to continue supporting Minnesota's agricultural economy; create and maintain jobs; and create $250,000,000.00 in revenue for the State of Minnesota.

Yes it is "only $250,000,000.00", but it's the only moderate proposal out there that is offering our Legislature any help in balancing the budget. If you have a better idea, that can accomplish all of the things the racino proposal can, I'd love to hear it!

* reply

Tue, 04/21/2009 - 9:27am — Ron Oliver (not verified)
best option out there

I think Mr. Timp is missing the point. Yes gambling addiction is a serious problem, but the addition of slots at Canterbury and Running Aces would do little to add to the problem. They already offer several types of gaming as it is. On top of that there are already well over a dozen casinos operating in the state. the real issue is money, the state needs it the tracks are willing to give it. The tribal casinos in the state generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, almost all of it is untaxed. The tracks however would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue which would help provide funding for services that are in danger of being cut. Add to that the thousands of jobs that Racino would provide and the money that those jobs add to the economy and the additional tax revenue that spending generates is an additional benefit. Heck the tracks are willing to build casinos and give up hundreds of millions of dollars and they are not asking the state for a dime of assistance unlike our beloved Vikings and Twins. If anyone out there has a better idea lets hear it!

* reply

Tue, 04/21/2009 - 3:24pm — Democrat (not verified)

Racino is a no- brainer! The Indian casinos attract thousands of people everyday, just look at their parking lots...filled with 150K dollar RV's. Does anybody really think that if that camper decides to take in a day at the races, enjoy the outdoors at Canterbury and possibly slip $10.00 into a slot machine inbetween races that the Indians are going to lose business? Come on. We are supposed to be an educated state.

Yep, I'm a 'horse person', but even non horse people have to recognize the relief that the taxable money generated will provide. Infra structure, education, keep open the state parks, JOBS. It goes on and on.

I would love to have our Gov. call two or three of the existing Racino state Governors and ask them how they balanced their budget and how much the Racino contributes to them!

Heck, any legislator, senator and the Gov. would be a flippin HERO if they passed this. Which would probably create local support for anyother 'races" they may be planning on running for!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sarah Palin joins CODEPINK!

April 1, 2009

Dear Green Party Member,

We never thought it would happen, but Sarah Palin has joined forces with CODEPINK! "My eyes have been opened, goshdarnit," she told us. "As a mother, it suddenly hit me that war is bad for children all around the world, you know what I mean? I want my son, Track, to come home from Iraq, and I don't want him to be sent to Afghanistan, either, doggonit." We asked if she would come to Washington, DC for our Mother's Day peace vigil and she winked and said "You betcha-I still have a pretty snazzy pink suit, thanks to the RNC!" She even cancelled a moose hunting trip just to join us!


But we have invited comedy writer, actor and mother Tina Fey, who played Sarah Palin so brilliantly on Saturday Night Live, to stand with us in front of the White House on Mother's Day weekend, May 9 and 10. Won't you join us, too? Check out our rockin' Mother's Day page for more info!

Our 24 hour vigil will bring together women from around the world who live in war zones to share their stories, their courage and their visions for ending war. We will stand with them in solidarity to not only tell their important stories but to model what women-centered community looks and acts like. Please feel free to bring your partners, husbands, children, mothers-the whole family is welcome! Our weekend will include teach-ins, concerts, singing, dancing, poetry, and a pink pajama party for those who spend the night with us in Lafayette Park--click here to view the full schedule.

Thank you for being part of the quilt that is CODEPINK. Let's use this Mother's Day as a time to raise our voices together and say "Disarm! Disarm!" Maybe we'll even inspire the three generations of powerful women in the White House to come out and join us in our stand "to gather in the great and general interests of Peace." Just as Julia would have wanted-you betcha!

On the shoulders of our mothers and all those who came before us,
Audrey, Blaine, Dana, Deidra, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jean, Jodie, Liz, Lori, Medea, Nancy, Paris, and Rae

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shakopee Dakota donate to MCTC Success Program

The SMSC are continuing to be charitable this year:

$5,000 was given recently to the Minneapolis Community and Technical College Foundation for their tutoring costs for their American Indian Success Program to help students succeed in college.

Other donations supporting Indian Education ( $132,00o total ) include:

-$10,000 to Migizi Communications (Minneapolis,, Minnesota) for a youth leadership development program and to help improve Indian education in the Minneapolis Public Schools by training staff and providing consultants.

-$3,000 to the Duluth Public Schools Indian Education Office (Duluth, Minnesota) for winter clothing.

-A $20,000 donation to the Minneapolis Public School Indian Education Program helped purchase school supplies, pay activity fees, and support family involvement activities and an awards ceremony.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oil production set to fall long-term

Shashank Shekhar on Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Global oil production decline rate is set to accelerate in the coming years, according to a new research report.

"The global decline rate has averaged at least 4.5 per cent year-on-year in recent years. These rates, however, could accelerate further over the next few years," Merrill Lynch said in its recent update.

The New York-based financial advisory company produced several reasons in support of its argument.

It blamed the emphasis on developing small oil fields in past years and lack of regular investments for the expected decline.

Merrill said the non-Opec oil production may have already peaked, implying, non-Opec producers that meet 60 per cent of the world's oil demand will have a stagnated production. It apprehended that a resulting deceleration in production may aggravate further due to the credit crunch.

"In our base scenario, we see output decline rates of five per cent, and see non-Opec oil production stuck in the current 49 million to 50 million barrel per day (mbpd) range in the same period. Should the credit crunch push decline rates to six per cent, however, non-Opec production could fall precipitously towards 47mbpd by 2015 from the current levels."

A combination of low prices and the global credit crunch will prove "rather damaging" to the oil industry, Merrill emphasised. "Our most recent analysis suggests that decline rates could be running at a slightly higher rate."

Merrill said one of the key factors aggravating the decline rates around the world is the smaller size of new fields that have come into operations.

"Interestingly the decline rates are inversely proportional to the size of the field, with super giants experiencing a 3.4 per cent yearly decline, giant fields posing 6.5 per cent and large fields averaging 10.4 per cent."

The financial services firm said that with even production in Russia declining at a rate of five per cent every year, a capacity equivalent to Saudi Arabia's production needs to be replaced every two years. Warning that regular investments are not coming into the oil sector Merrill said that non-Opec members such as Canada had to delay projects such as oil sands.

The financial advisory firm also said deepwater oil projects could be effected during the financial crisis.

Robin Mills, a Dubai-based oil economist who recently authoured a book The myth of the oil crisis, termed the idea of "peak oil", a controversial one. "Most serious oil analysts see a global peak as still being some way away, perhaps several decades," Mills said.

"Even after the peak, when it comes after decades, supply may not fall quickly – it may remain on plateau for a long period," he said.

Citing several upcoming projects in countries like Kazakhstan, Brazil and India, Mills said non-Opec's production is likely to remain stable for the next few years but would pick up later.

"The peak oil predictions have been repeatedly proven false. Repeated upward revisions have had to be made in estimated ultimate recovery (EUR), a view on total global endowment of petroleum, produced to date and to be produced in future," Mills wrote in his book.


Library cancels Buddhism program

Star-Tribune staff writer

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 9:02 PM MST

The Natrona County Public Library canceled a program by a Buddhist monk scheduled for Saturday because it crossed the line between imparting information and preaching, the library's community relations director said Tuesday.

"It has an intent to proselytize, but we can't do that in a county building," Brenda Thomson said.

The talk by Kelsang Rinzin of the Heruka Buddhist Center in Fort Collins, Colo., was set as an independent event for Saturday afternoon in the Crawford Room, and not sponsored by the library, Thomson said in a news release.

The talk initially appeared to be informational, she said.

"However, advertising released by the agency responsible for the event indicates an intention to proselytize, making the event inappropriate for presentation in this public facility, and in violation of the contract for NCPL meeting space, signed by the event's coordinator," Thomson said.

The library regretted the inconvenience this might cause people, she added.

A talk about a world view would be appropriate, but teaching meditation would not, she said in an interview.

The same standard applies to people of other faiths, Thomson said.

Likewise, the library allows groups to present forums offering a variety of political views but does not allow propaganda from one perspective, she said.

"We are pretty careful about who we allow to book rooms," Thomson said.

The library has its own policy about proselytizing in addition to the county-wide ban in county buildings, she said.

Thomson notified the Heruka Buddhist Center about the cancelation on Monday, and said its staff members were frustrated.

Calls to the Buddhist center and to the Casper person who arranged the program were not returned.

Library Director Bill Nelson said he's offered to help the center and Rinzin find another place for the program.

Reach Tom Morton at (307) 266-0592, or at

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