Trivia 1S

Will Durst, host of PBS's "Livelyhood, offered the most concise metaphor for the entire NATO fiasco in Yugoslavia, calling it a "well-coordinated nineteen-nation drive-by shooting". (1)

Speaking of Yugoslavia, the news this evening reported that Slobodan Milosevic was going to be the first setting head of government to be indicted for war crimes. Now, let's see if I understand this. Milosevic is indicted for war crimes which consist mostly of charges of "ethnic cleansing" and mass murder and the like. Clinton, however, who has ordered the indiscriminate bombing of targets all over Serbia and Kosovo, killing hundreds of civilians in the process but blaming the deaths on the fact that Milosevic hasn't knuckled under to NATO. So what is our lesson here, once again? First, that any media that asks the very questions I just offered are only offering propaganda for the enemy but those who blindly American corporate-owned media that happily spew the party line as per the mouth pieces at the Pentagon and White House are offering a balanced reporting. Second, since we've pretty much destroyed Milosevic's entire communications structure it once again becomes the victors who are writing the history of the conflict. (2)

That long ago addle-brained anti-American worker but rabidly pro-Corporate America serf Jesse Helms has began another attack on the working American. Using the Right's code words "Right To Work Act", which only means anti-union and anti-worker protection and pro-abusive Corporate American employment processes, he and his little narrow-minded fellows are trying to enact a national "Right To Work Act" that would forever destroy any myth of protections for the average American worker. Never again would there be a push for a "living wage" nor a raise in the minimum wage nor worker safety programs nor healthcare benefits or dental benefits or any sort of benefit for the working Americans. If these fanatical lovers of money and power and outright hatred of the average American have their way, any of the hard-earned protections that you take for granted today will be gone and probably gone forever. This is truly one of those issues well worth fighting against with everything you have. (3)

Just one more reason to find Congressional Republicans loathsome. After finding themselves completely unable to protect their masters in the NRA after the Colorado and Georgia killings, they have somehow decided that they can find some small hope to create the image that they are worthwhile human beings by attacking the very core of the Constitution, once again. Mistaking Democratic power for Republican stupidity, Oklahoma Republican Rep. Ernest Istook states, "The Democrats are putting us in a box on the gun issue. But we can switch the tables and bring school prayer to the floor and that puts them in the box." Let's see what all of this really means to you and me. Since the Republican Party is wholly owned by the nuts in the NRA and that issue is killing the party's hopes of creating a Fourth Reich in America, their imbecilic answer is to try again to destroy the basis of our Constitution, the absolute and unquestionable separation of church and state. Doesn't anyone else notice just how dishonorable and psychotic the entire Republican Party has allowed themselves to become? How can anyone, at any time, relinquish their sanity and vote for these evil little gnomes? Just wondering. (4)

I admit that I am a big supporter of science and the progress and easing of human burdens that it offers. The huge strides that medicine has made in this century, satellite communication systems becoming available in nearly every nation on Earth and all of the other benefits we now take for granted. What I don't support, however, is Corporate America's use of science to increase profits but without fully testing their creations for safety in either the short or long terms.

Take as an example the Monarch butterfly. The American Corn Belt produces nearly half of all of the Monarchs that migrate between Canada and Mexico every year. Nearly half of those butterflies are now shown to be dying because of the vast tracts of land dedicated to growing genetically altered corn. The corn was created to defend itself from pests, supposedly saving farmers millions in pest eradication, are instead dusting the butterfly's source of food, milkweed, with the genetically altered corn dust which causes the deaths. Since the Corporately-owned media has done little but tout all things genetically altered as the answer to everything, few Americans are aware of the massive damages to the ecology caused in the headlong rush towards profit without knowledge. As Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists said, the report of butterfly deaths "Undercuts the notion that [genetically altered crops] are inherently benign." (5)

Another problem faced by all humans on Earth is the sudden proliferation antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The media has, of course, focused only on the aspect of the medical profession's over prescribing antibiotics as the main cause but new evidence has shown that, once again, the culprit is the headlong rush for profits at any cost (not corporate cost, of course, just human costs). In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine the proclivity of meat producers over medicating their animals for the purposes of spurring growth and treating diseases that not all animals in the factory may suffer from. This wide-spectrum treatment may cure the sick animals but, every time the antibiotics are used, at least a few of the bacteria survive. Some large percentage of the remaining bugs are not only now immune to that drug, and possibly to the entire family of antibiotics from that treatment, they also reproduce, passing along that immunity. Since many antibiotics used on animals are of the same families of drugs given to humans, these immune bugs are passed along in under cooked meat and water and even manure. Eventually, the bacteria enters a human host and, since it is already resistant to nearly all common antibiotics, ever and ever stronger classes of drugs are necessary to cure the diseases these bacteria cause. These stronger drugs are, of course, envied by the meat industry and ultimately is sold for the same purposes of growth and wide spectrum disease medication which causes the bacteria to become resistant or immune to that new class of drugs, requiring ever stronger doses.

This never ending process can be slowed greatly but only if the meat and poultry industries agree to cease indiscriminately using antibiotics on animals which do not require it and, in particular, to completely stop abusing them to induce growth in the animals since this small increase in profits is going to cost many, many people their health and their very lives. (6)

Last year, issuers of credit cards sent off a record 3.45 BILLION solicitation letters (that's more than one offer a month for every man, woman and child in America) offering consumers more and more unsecured credit. Naturally, all of this debt will come home to roost for the industry since they lure pretty much anyone into accepting more available credit than they have any chance of repaying. In fact, 1998 saw another record broken, in the tripling of bankruptcy cases to more than 1.4 million applications.

One would think that the banks that underwrite all of this debt would become very, very careful who they offer their credit cards to so that they would suffer fewer cases of individuals wiping out their debts. One would think so, at least, but we all know that the intelligent way is now seldom the way of Corporate America. No, instead of becoming more restrictive about who receives the cards they have used their chattel in Congress, most immediately our good buddy Henry Hyde (the lead clown in the aborted impeachment) to try to enact a law that would make it nearly impossible to clear credit card debt through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This nasty spirited legislation would force all debtors to repay credit card debt ahead of nearly all other debts except taxes and legal fines. In fact, the legislation would make credit card debt superior even to child and spousal support, meaning a divorced father would be forced to watch his children fall into poverty while he tried to pay off debt that the banks had lured him into accepting.

Even when critics were able to convince Congress to include rules forcing the credit card bills to include the annual percentage rate very prominently on the bill as well as information that would explain how many years it would take to repay the debt making minimum payments. Naturally, the industry demanded that these provisions be removed and Congress fell all over itself doing as their masters ordered. This legislation bears very close attention even with the promised veto by President Clinton, since he isn't exactly known for keeping his word in the face of offered campaign contributions which are sure to come from the banking industry. (7)

Well, that should be more than enough to think about for the moment.

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