Wednesday, September 27, 2006

African Union forces extended. grrreat.

Last week it was announced that the African Union forces in Darfur will, in fact, be able to stay past October 1st. Sudan was threatening to kick them out; now they have a mandate through the end of the year. Humanitarian disaster averted, perhaps, but still a really really bad situation and U.N troops are absolutely needed. This just bought some time, although it will be a time of more suffering.

Someone asked me the other day if this might be a bad development, because now there will be less of an immediate international initiative to get the U.N. troops in. Well, here's what Sudan guru Eric Reeves says in his latest quasi-weekly tome, this one titled "A Spectacle of Impotence at the UN: Darfur Security Remains Solely with AU":

Khartoum’s genocidaires, despite factitious threats to “expel” the AU, never had any intention of doing so; the regime discerned all too clearly that such expulsion, and the complete security vacuum in Darfur that would have ensued, was the only possible catalyst for international action. Absent that catalyst, Khartoum was confident---and deservedly so---that there would be no more than further exhortation, even in the face of the most outrageous defiance.

Is he right that the international community will not get a U.N. force in somehow? I hope not. On Wednesday, Rice had mostly the right things to say, arguing that a U.N. force is still urgently needed and that the U.S. is going to push to make it happen (see piece in Thursday's Post). Tick, tock.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not bad

A buck ninety-seven, pretty sweet. I got two.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Fair Trade certification for coffee may have helped farmers a bunch through the low market prices of a few years ago -- by guaranteeing a higher selling price -- but now that prices are "more than double the 30-year low hit in 2001," it may be becoming more of a pain for farmers than it's worth, Reuters reported earlier this month from Guatemala. The certification is expensive. And in the big picture, supply for the stuff is still way above demand, even if it may seem to us like everyone in the U.S. is carrying that [usually token] fair-trade blend.

To me, that article ended up leaving more questions than answers. Have many farmers stopped doing certification because it has no longer become worth it, or are there just as many or more still doing it?

Friday, September 15, 2006

In Memory of Ann Richards

They say that when Ann Richards was governor of Texas, only 20% of Texas high-schoolers could read as well as their governor... But after George W. Bush took the helm and turned the education system around, fully 85% of students could read as well as or better than their governor!

A historic day at the Co-op

The other day at the co-op I was stocking aisle 6. It was chill enough, if not exactly exciting. Then Lupe was like "I've got something more important for you to do." New shopping carts were arriving. The little, functional kind, that the co-op initially ordered only 12 of as a trial. Now we were getting more. A lot more. First I was told to take 10 of the old big carts and take them upstairs in the elevator and to dump them in the meeting room (what has happened to them since? I do not know). People gave me that "what the heck are you doing?" look.

Then I joined someone else out on the curb, where the new carts had been delivered, in big stacks, protected thoroughly in plastic. We had to de-mummify them. Passerby looked on curiously A photographer for the Gazette snapped pictures. "Be careful not to scratch them!" someone said -- we had to use blades to pull some of the tape off -- and we were. One by one, the carts emerged from their sheaths. Now you can go to the co-op and use them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Those long airport lines

You better get to the airport super early 'cause the lines at security are crazy! Actually, no, says USA Today, uh, today.

"Security lines at U.S. airports returned to normal less than a week" after the terror scare, they found in their analysis of TSA numbers.

Of course, it turns out that part of the reason the lines at security aren't bad is because people are carrying on less and checking more -- and thus spending more time checking bags and waiting for them. Still.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The case against Yassky

I don't live in the NY 11th -- the central Brooklyn congressional district, represented by the retiring Major Owens and the site of a close primary battle. But the race is in the news a lot.

Part of the reason is that one of the four candidates, David Yassky, is white, and this is a black district (58.5%, by the latest census figures). Whatever happens, it's a shame that so much of the race has become about *him*.

Should he be running in the district? Al Sharpton puts it well:

...our problem with his running in the 11th is that he made an opportunistic political calculation to move out of his own district and move into a district with four black candidates under the assumption that they'd split the vote, providing him with an inroad to victory.

That's a clear undermining of the spirit of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Further, population estimates from the Census Bureau reveal that blacks still don't have equal representation in New York City's congressional delegation.

I firmly believe that in a supposedly progressive state like New York, that's a problem that must be remedied, not further exacerbated.

Here's Yassky's attitude, from the NYT in June:

It's a district that needs Congress to pay attention and care and do what it's supposed to do. And I just felt increasingly strongly that I could do something.

To which Sharpton responds:

"The issue is, why would you think there's not a black as qualified and who could do just as good a job in Washington? So the inference is when someone moves into our district, they're telling us, 'Well, ain't nobody in the district who can do what I do.'

Do you really want to vote for the white savior?

"An Alternate 9/11 History"

It's the big day for 9/11 anniversary pieces in the news, and there is some decent stuff out there.

I'm not usually a big Jonathan Alter fan, but in Newsweek we have his clever piece, "An Alternate 9/11 History".

Over at, they run a good interview with Kristen Breitweiser -- though bizarrely, they misspell her name as "Kristin", at least as of this posting.

An LATimes front-pager, meanwhile, suggests that the U.S. is not winning the "war on terror".

Saturday, September 09, 2006

this whole Facebook thing...

Oh my, it made the front page of the Washington Post on Thursday.

They've since added privacy controls that let you limit what people see in these feeds.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's football time!

The football season has begun!

And in honor of the returning champions, and their game tonight, I post this tidbit, from the website of the Christian Science Monitor:

From the day she arrived in Mexico in June, staff writer Sara Miller Llana noticed how many people were wearing shirts, jackets, and caps of the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers. "I had two theories: Either I'm noticing it more because I'm from Pittsburgh, or it's because the Steelers won the Super Bowl this year.

At the Andrés Manuel López Obrador (the PRD candidate) rally on Sunday, already a sea of yellow (their campaign color), Sara spotted a Steeler pin on the AMLO cap of a woman she was interviewing. "I asked her about it. She didn't know the Steelers won the Super Bowl, but her husband explained, 'People love the Steelers in Mexico. They were so good throughout the '70s, we never forgot it.' "

Friday, September 01, 2006


Say it isn't so...

A fire early Thursday morning. Struck -- without any warning. At our beloved diner O'Rourke's. But it did not burn the forks. And he did not have insurance. But I hope that ain't deterrence.
Maybe soon there will be eggs again. And saturday brunches -- at ten. or maybe breakfast at four-thirty. a good way to delay laundry so dirty. I'm running out of things to rhime. I hope they can rebuild in good time.

See the AP article for more.