Archive for September, 2008

Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center

Thursday, September 18th, 2008
“Every corner of the public psyche is canvassed by some of the most talented citizens to see if the desire for some merchandisable product can be cultivated.”John Kenneth Galbraith

– Beware, Bloggers!

There is some stinky stuff going on with these folks:

The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center

– Several days ago, a comment appeared on one of my posts on this Blog.   The commenter asked me to contact him about my Blog.   I wrote him an E-mail back asking “What’s upand got the following reply:

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I represent the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center, an asbestos health resource site dedicated to spreading knowledge about mesothelioma and the hazards of asbestos exposure. We have recently begun reaching out to environmental advocacy groups in the interest of spreading awareness of our important topic.

The processing of fossil fuels and our reliance on outdated energy sources is harming our environment and harming the workers of our country. In recent months we have seen a surge of asbestos health complications among those who worked in oil refineries and other energy processing centers, mainly due to the amount of asbestos used in these industries.

Few people realize that our environmental attitudes and behaviors are harming not only the earth for our children but also the workers who toil in these hazardous environments. To this end, I was wondering if you would consider posting an informative article or mesothelioma resource link on your site. It is our hope that through building awareness of the harmful effects (both now and in the future) of our current attitudes towards energy we can save both our planet and lives.

I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you soon.



– I wrote him back saying:

I’d consider posting an informative article.   No promises.   If you send me the article or a link to it on-line, I’ll have a look.

– And he replied:

Hi Dennis,

Take a look at an article and interview of ours that is posted here:

Let me know what you think.  Give me suggestions of particular questions you’d like answered in an article for your site.



– On the surface, this all looked reasonable.  Good people working for a good cause, right?   Why shouldn’t I chip in and help them spread the message?

– But, something didn’t feel right about all of this.   I’ve gotten E-mails in the past from Spammers trying to drum up business for ambulance chasers of one type and another.  Just the other day, I’d gotten one entitled, “Do you or a loved one suffer from Asbestos poisoning?

-So I started digging.   I didn’t have to dig far.  At the bottom of the  Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center website is text that asserts, “Thank you for visiting this website which is sponsored by the Law Firm of EARLY, LUDWICK, SWEENEY & STRAUSS, LLC.

EARLY, LUDWICK, SWEENEY & STRAUSS, LLC, is a law firm that describes itself on its web site as follows:

“Since April 1980, Early, Ludwick, Sweeney & Strauss has been a leading asbestos law firm in the United States representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against the asbestos industry.

This was a disappointment.  David hadn’t mentioned that he was associated with a Law firm.

– So, was he really trying to do a public service and increase public awareness of  issues surrounding Mesothelioma & Asbestos – or was he trying to find a cheap way to drive web traffic to the law firm’s web site and hoping to use naive and idealistic Bloggers like myself to help implement an advertising campaign for him on the cheap?

– I decided to dig further by Googling “EARLY, LUDWICK, SWEENEY & STRAUSS, LLC”.   Pages and pages of uninteresting stuff passed until I came across the following:

Law Firm Caught with Hand in Asbestos Cookie Jar

– It makes for interesting reading.

To my idealistic Blogger friends and readers:

– The moral of this story is that there are folks out there who may think us naive.  And they may be snaky enough to try to use our naivety to get free advertising for themselves.  The Internet is a snake pit – so what’s new?  

– These folks may pretend to be idealistically motivated just like us – but it’ll be a ruse to get us to promote their interests – which are focused primarily on putting money in their own pocket by driving web traffic to their sites by using us as cheap advertisers for them.

– Don’t let them sucker you!

19 September 08 – Follow up: 

– I’m frequently annoyed by automated Blogs whose creators setup software to search the web for any content related to a specific subject and then create auto-posts on their own ‘pretend’ Blogs linking to that original content and generate automatically posted comments on the original post referring to their own site. 

-These mind-less automated sites are just attempts to drive traffic by ads so their creators can make a few bucks and they don’t care a whit that they’re clogging the Internet up with their shit and causing folks like me extra work to clear their trash comments off my Blog daily. 

– But I simply had to laugh today when two different auto Blogger websites focused on Mesothelioma and Asbestos picked up links to this article and automatically generated posts and made auto comments on my site referring to their posts.   As if my original post was in support of what they are doing – rather than trashing it.

– I deleted the auto generated comments on my site as I do daily but somewhere out there are two bogus Mesothelioma and Asbestos Blogs with pointers to my article.  And I think that’s hoot!

02 November 2008 Follow up:

– I’ve had some more adventures with regard to this page which you might want to read about here:  

Conflict fear over Arctic borders

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

– Not the first time I’ve written on this and I doubt it will be the last.

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A senior US Coast Guard commander has warned of the risk of conflict in the Arctic, unless disputes over international borders are resolved.

Speaking to the BBC during an Arctic patrol flight, Rear Adm Gene Brooks, in charge of the Coast Guard’s vast Alaska region, appealed for a diplomatic deal.

“The potential is there with undetermined boundaries and great wealth for conflict, or competition.

“There’s always a risk of conflict,” Adm Brookes said.

He added that this was especially the case “where you do not have established, delineated, agreed-upon borders”.

Russia is staking the largest claim to the Arctic, after planting a flag at the North Pole last summer, but Denmark, Norway, Canada and the United States are all involved in border disputes as well.

The admiral’s warning comes as the Arctic sea-ice has, for a second year running, retreated far more dramatically than the long-term average. The latest satellite analysis shows this year’s melt closely following last year’s record thaw.


Glaciers shrinking in Southern Alps

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

New Zealand’s glaciers are showing the lowest total ice mass on record with more than twice the volume of Rangitoto Island melting away in a year.

Research released yesterday by the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research showed the Southern Alps glaciers had lost over 2.5cu km (2.2 billion tonnes) of permanent ice from April 2007 to March this year.

That is the fourth highest annual loss since monitoring started, leaving the glaciers with the lowest total ice mass on record of just 44.9cu km.

Niwa principal scientist Jim Salinger told the Herald that was an 18 per cent loss since 1976 when 54cu km was recorded.

The 2.2 billion tonnes loss from last year to the end of March was “very significant”, he said.


The Annual Phallus Festival in Greece

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Each year on the first Monday of Lent, the people of the tiny Greek town of Tyrnavos go crazy about penises, singing lewd songs and urging passersby to kiss their model phallusses. The pagan fertility festival is one of the most famous parties in Greece.

If you want to eat phallus-shaped bread, drink through phallus-shaped straws from phallus-shaped cups, kiss ceramic phalluses, sit on a phallus-shaped throne and sing dirty Greek songs about the phallus, then you should visit the little Greek town of Tyrnavos each year on “Clean Monday.”

The one-day pagan fertility festival in this town of 15,000 people near the central Greek city of Larissa marks the beginning of Lent, the fasting period before Easter, and is one of the most famous carnivals in Greece.

Come prepared. Passersby tend to be grabbed and rocked over a pot of boiling “bourani” spinach soup while a ceramic penis is placed between their legs. They must kiss the phallus, then drink tsipouro — a strong local spirit — from its tip, and then stir the soup before they’re let go.

Phallus-kissers are rewarded with ash-streaks on their face, which presumably absolves them from having to go through the procedure again, unless of course they would like to.


Second Chinese baby dies in tainted milk scandal

Monday, September 15th, 2008

– Was it just last year that pet food from China was laced with melamine and pets died all over the U.S. and there was a huge scandal and backlash? & &

– Well, now the same folks in China, who put making a bigger profit above all else, are at it again.   This time they’ve slipped melamine into the milk that goes into baby formula.  Unbelievable.

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China on Monday reported one more infant death from tainted milk powder, bringing to two the number of babies killed in an expanding scandal that drew an official product recall only after New Zealand blew the whistle.

The latest death blamed on infant milk powder made by the Sanlu Group occurred in Gansu province, a poor region in the northwest that was also home to the only other fatality blamed on chemical-laced milk, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China has recorded nearly 500 babies falling ill from the tainted milk powder, including 102 in Gansu.

Sanlu, a milk powder producer 43 percent owned by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, was ordered to halt production last week after investigators found the chemical melamine in its powder was causing kidney stones in infants.

Farmers or dealers supplying milk to Sanlu may have diluted it with water and then added melamine, used in plastics, fertilisers and cleaning products, to make the milk’s protein level appear higher than it actually was.

Local Chinese officials only acted after the New Zealand government contacted the central government in Beijing, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said on Monday.


17Sep08 – more…

Climate inaction ‘costing lives’

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Failure to take urgent action to curb climate change is effectively violating the human rights of people in the poorest nations, an aid charity warns.

A report by Oxfam International says emissions, primarily from developed countries, are exacerbating flooding, droughts and extreme weather events.

As a result, harvests are failing and people are losing their homes and access to water, the authors observe.

They say human rights need to be at the heart of global climate policies.

Oxfam will be submitting its report, called Climate Wrongs and Human Rights, to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Righting wrongs

“Climate change was first seen as a scientific problem, then an economic one,” explained report author Kate Raworth. “Now it is becoming a matter of international justice.

The global impacts of climate change meant that nations had to be held accountable for the consequences of their actions, Ms Raworth said.

“Litigation is seldom the best way to solve a dispute.

“That is why we need a strong UN deal in 2009 to cut emissions and support adaption,” she added, referring to next year’s key UN climate summit where a future global climate strategy is expected to be agreed.

“However, vulnerable countries do need options to protect themselves. Rich country polluters have been fully aware of their culpability for many years.”


Concealed pistol permits up 43 percent in Wash

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

-  Here in the U.S., we have the right to ‘bear arms’.   This ‘right’ was established for us by Article 2 of the United States Bill of Rights. 

– The original idea, I think, was that a government is suppose to serve its people, not oppress them.   Allowing the country’s citizens to bear arms is a way of ensuring the government’s good behavior.

– I know that most other countries consider this an odd idea and even here in the U.S., there has always been a lot of debate about it.

– Regardless of what you might think about it, the article below is, I think, a reflection of the growing sense of insecurity here in the U.S.    This article is about the State of Washington where I am currently living here in the U.S.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

SEABECK, Wash. – In Julian Piercy’s mind, the small bulge in his shirt near his lower back is a way of “leveling a situation.”

The clip that he fastens to his waist band before leaving the house isn’t just another accessory. It gives him an option, he said, when all others are off the table and a life is on the line.

When he feels the pressure of metal on his back, it gives him confidence that he has a chance of protecting those he cares about most.

“As a parent, I am the first line of defense for my children,” he said. “Not the police.”

Piercy, a nursing student at Olympic College, lifts his shirt to reveal a .45-caliber Springfield XD, a black semi-automatic handgun that weighs about 30 ounces when loaded. He carries constantly with a few exceptions mostly when he’s on campus and prohibited from doing so.

Having carried in his younger days because, frankly, he could, Piercy, 38, has once again obtained a license to carry a concealed weapon and is getting used to the feel of carrying again.

“The gun doesn’t make me invincible, smarter, or tougher than anyone else,” he said. “It’s merely there as a tool.”

Spurred by fear of a violent attack or because they have actually survived one more Washingtonians are getting a concealed pistol license. The license, or CPL, allows them to travel with a hidden gun among an unknowing public. License holders jumped from about 179,000 to 258,000, 43 percent, between 2003 and 2007. The state Department of Licensing says permit applications in Kitsap County jumped from 1,587 in 2004 to 3,339 in 2007.


Wealthy states look globally for fertile soil

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

– This sounds like a new form of colonialism to me.  

– It may begin with economic arrangements, but once the growing country is supplying a significant portion of the consuming country’s food, the internal affairs of the growing country will become the ‘personal and deeply vested interest business’ of the consuming country.

– If the growing country is not well behaved, then military or clandestine intervention will follow.  

– Can anyone say, “Chile, Allende, Anaconda and CIA”?  It’s the same pattern, just with a new name.

“For some policymakers, this evokes the nightmare scenario of crops being transported out of fortified farms as hungry locals look on.”

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Capital-rich but food-insecure countries are exploring the idea of leasing farmland beyond their own borders. Is this a “win-win” idea or a recipe for exploitation? Javier Blas and Andrew England report.

Saudi Arabia has no permanent rivers or lakes. Rainfall is low and unreliable. Cereals can be cultivated only through expensive projects that deplete underground reservoirs. Dairy cattle must be cooled with fans and machines that spray them with water mists. This is not, in short, a nation that would normally be associated with large-scale agriculture.

But that could be about to change. Boosted by revenues from the oil boom and concerned about food security, the kingdom is scouring the globe for fertile lands in a search that has taken Saudi officials to Sudan, Ukraine, Pakistan and Thailand.

Their plan is to set up large-scale projects overseas that will later involve the private sector in growing crops such as corn, wheat and rice. Once a country has been selected, each project could be in excess of 100,000 hectares – about 10 times the size of New York City’s Manhattan island – and the majority of the crop would be exported back, officials say.

While Saudi Arabia’s plans are among the grandest, they reflect growing interest in such projects among capital-rich countries that import most of their food. The United Arab Emirates is looking into Kazakhstan and Sudan, Libya is hoping to lease farms in Ukraine and South Korea has hinted at plans in Mongolia. Even China – with plenty of cultivable land but not a lot of water – is exploring investments in south-east Asia.


Idiots Fiddle While Rome Burns

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

– I really like Barry Ritholtz’s commentary on financial matters on his Big Picture Blog.

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The collection of ne’er do wells, clueless dolts, political hacks, and oh, let’s just be blunt and call them what they are — total Idiots — expands into an ever larger circle.

While the Republic burns due to the unsavory combination of incompetence, ideological rigidity, and crony capitalism, the fools and assclowns seem ever more determined to avoid any personal responsibility for the damages they have wrought. Instead, they flail about blindly, blaming everything and everyone — except their own horrific negligence.

This is financial incompetence writ on a scale far grander than anything seen for centuries.

As a nation, our institutions have failed us: Under Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve slept through the most reckless and irresponsible expansion of bank lending in history for reasons of ideological purity. His opposition to the Fed’s regulatory role reached the point of malfeasance long ago.  History is unlikely to be kind to the Maestro.


Presidential Crimes

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Moving on is not an option

We have at the present time two government leaders, a president and a vice president, who, according to all available evidence, have carried out grave crimes. Will these two men leave office and live out their lives without being subjected to legal proceedings? Such proceedings will surely release new documents and provide additional testimony important in resolving their guilt or innocence. But the public record is now so elaborate, so detailed, and validated from so many directions that a weight is on the population’s shoulders: does our already existing knowledge of what they have done obligate us to press for legal redress?

The question is painful even to ask, so painful that we may all yield to an easy temptation not to pursue it at all.


– Research Thanks to PHK