March 29th, 2006

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The rain pours down -

I think this rain through the night, and pounding down now, must give us the record for most rain recorded in March. I continue to be amazed at the sound, the accompaniment of so much of this year, 2006.

Well, here is something to cheer everyone up. I continue to wonder what happened to state's rights. You probably don't, but certainly don't drink soda, and it is probably best to consume, as much as possible, what is locally produced.

This is from In Your Times.

Cancer in a Can
By Terry J. Allen

Fifteen years ago the Food and Drug Administration said, “Trust us.” Its scientists had found benzene, a known carcinogen, in some sodas and fruit drinks. The same levels in drinking water would have triggered mandatory action and public notification through newspaper, radio and TV ads. Yet the FDA neither sounded the alarm nor required the beverage industry to fix the problem.

Instead, it cut a private deal. FDA chemist Greg Diachenko told that “Soft drinks manufacturers told us that they would get the word out and they were reformulating.”

It wouldn’t have been hard. Benzene, linked to leukemia and other cancers of the blood, is created by the reaction of two common additives: sodium benzoate, a preservative, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Ignoring basic chemistry, major brands left the avoidable combo in many drinks, especially those featuring fruit juice or fortified with vitamin C to lure health-conscious parents.

According to a 1990 internal FDA memo, the National Soft Drinks Association clarified industry priorities, expressing “concern about the presence of benzene traces in their products and the potential for adverse publicity associated with this problem.”

Fifteen years later, the benzene is hitting the fan. Recently, Germany and the United Kingdom announced investigations and the FDA admits it is taking another look. But Washington’s drink of choice remains a heady cocktail of campaign contributions and secrecy, impairing its ability and will to regulate the safety of everything from mines to meat, from skyscrapers to soda.

Some states have circumvented Washington’s lax standards and weak enforcement. California’s Proposition 65, which requires companies to alert the public of potentially dangerous toxins in food, has sparked lawsuits over mercury in canned tuna and lead in Mexican candy.

The Republican-dominated House has countered with a circumvention of its own. On March 8, as lawmakers pledged allegiance to industry, and FDA officials chanted another dreary chorus of “Trust us,” the House passed the National Uniformity for Food Act. If the Senate follows suit, the FDA would control almost all food labeling, and states would be barred from posting stricter warnings on carcinogens, genetic engineering, carbon monoxide-treated meat or growth hormones.

“This bill is going to overturn 200 state laws that protect our food supply,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). “Why are we doing that? What’s wrong with our system of federalism?”

President Bush’s answer to that question lies in the ways he has undercut states’ rights and tilted the constitutionally defined balance of powers by expanding executive authority. His sentiment, if not his language, echoes Dick Cheney’s suggestion to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). With go-fuck-yourself verve, his administration has launched a stealth campaign to centralize regulatory power in Washington, while cronies, lackeys and co-conspirators work to disable safeguards and to hide outrages that range from abusive detention camps to poison in your kid’s drink.

The FDA bill that cuts states out of the food labeling business is but one part of a broad strategy leaving the country’s regulatory system increasingly vulnerable to political and financial pressure. Changes quietly imposed by the administration include limiting an individual’s right to sue in state court over defective or injurious products, undermining state laws on discriminatory lending, and barring states from requiring tougher vehicle emission and safety standards. The New York Times referred to the practice as “silent tort reform” and noted that, “Using a variety of largely unheralded regulations, officials appointed by President Bush have moved in recent months to neuter the states.”

The administration’s most gung-ho allies are the lobbyists and interest groups that profit from less regulation. All insist that the industry they represent has the public’s interest at heart and that it can and will police itself without government “interference.”

The backers of the FDA labeling bill, led by the corporations and trade groups in the National Uniformity for Food Coalition (NUFC), say their key goal is preventing consumer “confusion.” Meanwhile, legislators are indeed getting an unambiguous message—in the language of cash. NUFC members contributed more than $3 million in the 2005-06 election cycle and $31 million since 1998, according to data the San Francisco Chronicle crunched using Center for Responsive Politics data.

Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kool-Aid (Kraft), Tropicana and Cadbury Schweppes all produce drinks that contain the potentially dangerous benzene-producing combo according to research by the Environmental Working Group. And a look at the NUFC Web site confirms that all of these companies are members of the trade group that pushed for the bill.

The average American consumes almost 70 gallons of fruit drink and soda a year, while males 12-29 swill more than double that in soda alone. The American Beverage Association (also an NUFC member) declares on its Web site that the public craves a choice. It neglects to note that if consumers choose a benzene-contaminated drink, that choice may result in cancer.
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It's raining!

I read this editorial from the NY Times today, and think maybe we should all go out and buy an abacus and mail it to Bush, flood Washington with abacuses, or abaci. (I checked for the plural of abacus.)

Not Quite What We Had in Mind

from the NY Times.

Published: March 29, 2006

For months now, people have been urging President Bush to shake up his inner circle and bring in fresh air. Perhaps in response, the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card Jr., resigned yesterday. Mr. Bush opened the window — and in climbed his budget director, Joshua Bolten, who used to be Mr. Card's deputy.

If this is what passes for a shake-up in this administration, the next two and a half years are going to be grim indeed. This is a meaningless change, and it simply sends the message that Mr. Bush lacks the gumption to trade in anyone in the comforting, friendly cast of characters who have kept him cocooned since his first inauguration.

It's hard to figure out what unmet need this change is supposed to fill. There's been a lot of talk about how exhausted the original Bush team is. But Mr. Bolten ought to be as pooped as everybody else. It takes just as much energy to put together an out-of-whack, fiscally ruinous budget as it does to mess up an invasion or ignore a cataclysmic hurricane.

Mr. Bolten has been giving the president advice for years, and the result has been a deficit estimated at $371 billion. Perhaps he'll come up with a better approach in his new job. We've heard that under Mr. Card's watch, aides wound up showing Mr. Bush videos of TV news coverage of Hurricane Katrina to convince their boss that it really was a problem. Maybe Mr. Bolten can start the next budget discussion with some audiovisual aids — like an abacus.
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This is lovely!!

To counteract the other news of this morning, I offer this.

On the morning after the United States 2004 national elections, Cheri Huber sent these thoughts on peace to the worldwide email list of Living Compassion:

“It is time to reconcile all beings in the world.
Peace is no longer just a good idea, a dream without any real belief.
We can no longer hope that war and violence can defend and protect.
We must choose peace if we are to survive.
We must make a radical turn from the right, and a radical turn from the left.
We must make our way back to center. Not a political center, but the center of our being.
We must become a good friend to those who agree with us and those who do not.
We must invite everyone to the table; we must sit together, share, learn, listen, open our hearts, and, together, move to the place that is the most compassionate to all.”

That radical center, that center of our being, is a place that is not against anything. That is perhaps what is most radical about it. Many of us who are committed to peace, passionate about peace, activists for peace, conduct our quest for peace from a conviction that we are against an adversary, and we know who that adversary is. We wage war for peace, and peace eludes us.

St. Francis said, “Do not try to change the World. Change worlds.” He did not mean escape, write off the world and walk away. He spent most of his life walking into the world, talking with people, engaging them. He did not try to wrench the people or the world into some shape he was convinced they should take. Rather, he greeted all with “Pace e bene”: Peace and Good. He simply lived in a world in which he and everyone else belonged.

T.S. Eliot describes: “A condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything.” The radical center. The place lived from by Francis, by Clare, by Gandhi, by Martin Luther King, Jr. Costing us our identity, our righteousness, our separateness, our against-ness. Costing us all the mean victories.

Yet it creates a universe of possibility, generosity and freedom. A woman in Kenya sees the devastating result of deforestation and begins to plant trees. A mother in Washington, DC, befriends the young man who killed her son. Communities around the world rally to support local organic farmers and establish farmers’ markets. Indigenous people in Ecuador seek partners in the United States to save the rainforest that is their home. A group of Zen monks learns that children in an African slum need food, and they say, “We can help.”

To be sure, even when the path of peace seems clear, the work can be demanding and challenging. It takes practice. Peace is a practice. And, it is exciting, rewarding and the most fun a human being can have. We choose peace; it is a matter of survival. We invite you to join Living Compassion at the table of peace.


Check out Cheri Huber at
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Jane's poem for today!

Jane wrote this poem for her friend Stewart.  She says, "Here's my poem to my friend Stewart, who was a public defender, and is now retired and writing poetry. I don't know if he ever actualized this dream and of course this is just my rendition of his dream."


He travelled in a business suit by train.

By day he would sit in the vista cruiser.

From his brief case he'd pull out white bread sandwiches and eat.

The bones of the world slid past, past, past him.

On a yellow legal pad he would write as fast as he saw.

At night he would get out at the first station after dark.

He'd find a diner, eat some soup.

Then he'd staple some of his yellow sheets of paper to phone poles.

Before dawn, he would sleep, sitting up in the train station.

He'd take the first train out.

Leaving his poems to flutter like bandages in the wind.

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Morning flow -

 The oddest thing - I cut and paste from my journal and both poems are in the same font size, but they come here in different sizes, and they are determined not to change, so one is smaller print than the other.  What does that say?  I haven't a clue, and today, no clues are great for me. 

                            Bumblebee Lives

        Where do bumblebees go when  it rains?

The rain continues,  and I wonder where bumblebees


            Do they cluster like thought in my brain,


                        Is that how is it for bees in their hive,

                                                a soft, warm buzz,

                                    an easy tumble to praise the rays of sun,

                                                        a suggestion
                                                                to light.

                                                            "Prepare the pollen."

                                                            "Groom each grain  for flight."



The Tidal Rub - The Gift of Life


the rain is softer now

less a pounding wake-up call

more a “Do you need anything,  a drink perhaps,

a cup of water to steep with tea?”

I feel the heft of the roof on the house,  the hat on my head.

My life is enough,

the touch of water, fire, earth,  air,

the tidal bounce,

of the elements,

framed, unframed,
bound, unbound -


                                         in me.


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As Easy as That!!

"Love is not automatic. It takes conscious practice and awareness, just like playing the piano or golf. However, you have ample opportunities to practice. Everyone you meet can be your practice session."

Doc Childre and Sara Paddison,
HeartMath Discovery Program
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"Since everything is but an apparition,
perfect in being what it is,
having nothing to do with good or bad,
acceptance or rejection,
one may well burst out in laughter."

Long Chen Pa