Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Favorite Things - John Coltrane

In commemoration of African-American History Month, we present an innovative and creative giant, John Coltrane.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Latin America Boosting Ties With Africa

Visits to Senegal this week by Bolivian President Evo Morales and Brazil's ex-President Lula da Silva highlight what analysts say is Latin America's growing geopolitical interest in Africa.

President of Bolivia, Evo Morales and former president of Brazil, Lula da SilvaThe cries of "Olé" that pierced the Senegalese air before a rally Monday are an exotic noise to this continent that boasts only one Spanish-speaking country, and but a handful of countries that use the Portuguese colonial tongue shared by ex-Brazilian president Lula da Silva. Read More

Census estimates show more blacks moving to South

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Hope Yen, Associated Press – Tue Feb 15, 6:29 pm ET
WASHINGTON – American blacks who a century ago began leaving the South to escape segregation and racism are returning, lured by better jobs and quality of life and perhaps by something more intangible — a sense of home.

The Southern U.S. region — primarily metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Charlotte, N.C. — accounted for roughly 75 percent of the population gains among blacks since 2000, up from 65 percent in the 1990s, according to the latest census estimates. The gains came primarily at the expense of Northern metro areas such as New York and Chicago, which posted their first declines in black population since at least 1980. Read More

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Common Cause Asks Court About Thomas Speech

New York Times Article
WASHINGTON — Discrepancies in reports about an appearance by Justice Clarence Thomas at a political retreat for wealthy conservatives three years ago have prompted new questions to the Supreme Court from a group that advocates changing campaign finance laws.

When questions were first raised about the retreat last month, a court spokeswoman said Justice Thomas had made a “brief drop-by” at the event in Palm Springs, Calif., in January 2008 and had given a talk.

In his financial disclosure report for that year, however, Justice Thomas reported that the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative legal group, had reimbursed him an undisclosed amount for four days of “transportation, meals and accommodations” over the weekend of the retreat. The event is organized by Charles and David Koch, brothers who have used millions of dollars from the energy conglomerate they run in Wichita, Kan., to finance conservative causes. read more

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Great Oil Tax

In Washington politics, the USA budget deficit is the current topic Du Jour - as it should be. Our current deficit is a staggering 14 trillion dollars and many economist are predicting a severe economic inflationary crisis in five to six years unless our country's checkbook is better balanced.

It is my hope that the budget conversation seriously address, arguably, one of the hugest drags to our deficit, and that is the Great Oil Tax. The following is an itemized list of USA spending that is indirectly or directly tied to our oil dependency:

Defense Budget - 663.8 billion dollars (almost more than the combined total of the rest of the world). In post Cold War USA, much of our defense budget is spent protecting and supporting our energy strategy.

Afghan and Iraqi wars - One conservative estimate is over Three Trillion dollars

Big Oil Company tax breaks - 40 billion dollars

Middle-East Foreign Aid - We give just to Israel and Egypt over five billion dollars annually

Oil Spill Clean-up - 10 billion dollars just for BP's Mexican Gulf spill.

And not to mention ecological and environmental costs that have yet to be tallied.

I have no illusions regarding our Oil Tax being reduced, big Oil spends big money to lobby for status quo in congress. But maybe, just maybe if we can get enough people fired up via twitter, blogs, facebook, email etc. (just think Egypt) we can effectively people lobby our government.

I'm just saying.

Slaves Hid African Charms On Colonial Greenhouse

BALTIMORE (AP) — The greenhouse on the Maryland plantation where famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass spent part of his childhood was not as uniquely European as once thought: Its furnace was built by slaves, who hid distinctly African touches within it to ward off bad spirits, researchers said.

A stone pestle to control spirits was concealed in brick ductwork used to heat the orangery — a type of greenhouse used to shield citrus and other trees from chilly winters — and University of Maryland archaeologists found charms buried at the structure’s entrance, said excavation leader Mark Leone. The greenhouse was long considered a mark of European sophistication and was a status symbol of the era. Read More