Wednesday, February 22, 2006

U. A. E. Is Not Great Britain

Shouldn’t We Bring Democracy
To the UAE
Before We Let Them Manage Our Ports?

I didn’t know that our ports were administered by a British owned company. When the news about the sale of P & O Ports to DP World was announced I was surprised to learn that P & O, owned by the British, had a subsidiary that currently managed our port terminals.
The new buyer, DP World is managed by the government of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. And now they would be managing our critical port terminals along the eastern seaboard.

No foreign country should have any control of our docks. We should be in charge of every aspect of entry to our country--whether it is by land, sea, or air.

Member of Another Nation That Allowed Their Seaboard To Be Controlled by Foreign Interests.

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President Bush and some of his supporters are saying that opposition to this sale is racist and anti-Arab.   Posted by Picasa

I decided to learn more about the United Arab Emirates. Most of the following was obtained from the websites of the U. S. State Department and the CIA World Fact Book.

The United Arab Emirates is a loosely knit group of seven rulers. They do not have political parties or any form of Democratic government. Each ruler holds power on the basis of their dynastic position in their tribes. Yes--dynasty, tribes. Doesn’t sound very American does it? Unless you are Bush.

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There are not clear borders between the U. A. E. and its’ neighboring countries of Saudi Arabia and Oman. That sounds pretty unstable. Here is what the CIA site says: “Location and status of boundary with Saudi Arabia is not final, de facto boundary reflects 1974 agreement; no defined boundary with most of Oman, but Administrative Line in far north.” An erratic perimeter in a volatile region. They can’t keep their own borders safe. Yet we are handing them the keys to ours.

The U. A. E. also has some problems with Iran. They dispute two islands in the Persian Gulf. The Islands are currently occupied by Iran. (The names for the islands are different for each country, too much detail to list here.) If war did break out with Iran, these Islands are pretty close to the Emirates---and their shipping empire.
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Lots of dirty money and illegal drugs wash through the Emirates. The CIA Fact Book says: “it has a growing role as heroin trans-shipment and money-laundering center due to its proximity to southwest Asian producing countries and the bustling free trade zone in Dubai.

The same book points out the poor reputation the U. A. E. have in its treatment of foreign employees. For example:

o It is common practice for employers to retain employees' from changing jobs. This is an illegal practice, but it is almost never investigated, let alone punished by the government.

o On termination of an employment contract, certain categories of expatriates are banned from obtaining a work permit in the country for six months.
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o The United States Department of State has cited widespread instances of blue collar labor abuse in the general context of the United Arab Emirates.

o The government has been criticized by human rights agencies such as Human Rights Watch for its inaction in addressing the discrimination against Asian workers in the emirate.

o Salary structures based on nationality, gender, sex, age, and race rather than qualifications are common.

o A thriving prostitution and sex industry, although illegal, exists in the emirates, especially in Dubai.

In a joint letter to the Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, six Congressman cited the following reasons for their opposition to the

§ Dubai, which owns and controls the acquiring company in this
case, has been named as a key transfer point for shipments of nuclear components that were shipped to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, which were sold by Pakistan’s nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan.
Port At Dubai
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§ The U. A. E. was one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

§ Many U. S. officials believed that al Quaeda activists have spent time in the U. A. E. In fact, two of the 9/11 hijackers were U. A. E.

§ The F. B. I. claims the money used for the attacks was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers primarily through the U. A. E.’s banking system.

§ After the 9/11 attacks the U. S. Treasury Department complained of lack of cooperation by the U. A. E. as the U. S. was trying to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts.

§ Our country’s maritime ports are critical to our national security, vital to our military capacity, and essential to our economy. Some 95 percent of all goods imported to the U. S. arrives through our ports.

§ Our ports are our most vulnerable targets for terrorist attack. Despite efforts to improve port security by the administration, only one in twenty shipping containers entering the U. S. is physically inspected.
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§ A single terrorist incident could shut down our system and affect our entire economy.

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§ A terrorist incident could also affect facilities relied on by the Department of Defense as military load-out ports.

The letter requests a more complete and thorough investigation of this acquisition in accordance with Federal law. It is signed by: Senators Charles E. Schumer, Frank R. Lautenberg, Christopher Dodd and Representatives Mark Foley, Christopher Shays, and Vito Fossella.

Complete text of the letter can be found:

President Bush, who learned about this sale in the news media a few days ago, is saying that we need to trust the judgement of his commission--because he does. Of course he trusted “It’s a slam dunk” regarding WMD from his CIA Director. We are also expected to ignore:

· Bush’s own lies, mismanagement, and manipulation of information in the past.

· Bush family ties to the region going back to his great-grandfather.

· Treasury Secretary Snow’s ties to this Dubai Company

Sec. John Snow

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· Homeland Security Michael Chertoff’s word one week after Congress slammed his competence.

· The hurried approval of this sale that followed the ‘letter’ of the law, but was not a thorough investigation.

I don’t have much confidence in their making decisions that affect my country’s security.

President Bush is also using the argument that we must treat this U.A.E. Company the same way that we treated the British Company when we allowed them to buy management control of our ports. That doing otherwise is racist and offensive to an important ally of ours.

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This undemocratic ally with fluid borders sits in the most volatile region of the world. Any Arab government that cooperates with the United States is considered ‘suspect’ in the eyes of most Arab people. Osama Bin Laden formed Al Quaida because   Posted by Picasa

Saudi Arabia allowed U. S. troops on their soil. Giving the government in Dubai this contract will make them money, but these deeper connections won’t help them in their own region.

As far as offending this ‘important’ ally, they need us more than we need them. Especially because the average Arab does not like their policies, and the rulers are counting on our big guns to keep themselves in power.   Posted by Picasa
This is not racism, it is common sense. They are located in a region that is a tinderbox. Where not so far away Muslims are blowing up mosques and are rioting in the streets over cartoons.   Posted by Picasa

Where not so far away the U. S. S. Cole was attacked while in port.

Our government has billions of dollars to spend so they can fulfill political agendas in Iraq.   Posted by Picasa
Millions have been spent on Homeland Security. Money is spent to send agents to harass a nurse in New Mexico for writing a letter to the editor. Money is spent to send agents into public libraries where they tell people they can’t look at porn. Money is spent on wiretapping and adding people to ‘no fly’ lists.

Yet we do not own and control every aspect of our own ports. I understand that we live in a global economy. Does that ultimately require that we sell off our nation, our sovereignty, piece by piece?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday Salmagundi

What do Minnie Driver and
Drew Barrymore have in common?

Has anyone ever told you that you look like a particular celebrity?
Or have you just wondered who you might resemble? Now you can go to this site and find out for free.

You can upload an online photo of yourself and run it through
the celebrity database. The list is not just movie stars, but famous and notable people from the past hundred years+. Your exciting (or depressing) results will include photos of the celebrities you resemble. I found them quite helpful since I did not recognize all of the names.

Which celebrity faces were matched with me? Well I couldn't believe it when Drew Barrymore popped up.
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Also Minnie Driver--that was kind of cool because she's been one of my choices to play me in a movie if I ever find myself in a movie.

I need to scan in more pictures of myself one of these days, but I did have a baby picture and one from the 1980's. I searched with those, as well as the photo that appears with this blog. Oddly enough, Drew Barrymore came up all three times. Minnie Driver twice. They were the only repeats so I'll give it a touch of credibility. Maybe on my best days when my makeup is perfect and people squint.......

Hey, it was fun. Hope that you enjoy playing with it too.


On to the latest everyday item that might cause cancer:
Teflon Pans
Remember when they were the height of innovation? Food wouldn’t stick to the bottom, no more scrubbing the pans. And they were introduced in a time when few families had automatic dishwashers.   Posted by Picasa

According to a February 16th AP story (yahoo link below) “A group of scientific advisers to the Environmental Protection Agency voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a recommendation that a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant products should be considered a likely carcinogen.”

The chemical, PFOA, is a processing aid used in a variety of products such as non-stick cookware. DuPont is the only US producer of POFA and disagrees with the findings. The news story cites several studies over the years, including one in the 1980’s that linked PFOA to mammary tumors in laboratory rats.

DuPont will continue making products with PFOA, and the EPA will review the recommendations of the advisory board. According to Risk Assessment Director Oscar Hernandez: “The EPA will use the report as well as all new information that becomes available, to formulate the next steps in our continuing assessment of these chemicals."

News Story;_ylt=AuEIZMsVieESDwYi3UXCf0Cs0NUE; _ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ-.html

EPA Science Advisory Board Details


It is Better to Drink Toilet Water

When you are hot and tired, what could be more refreshing than a nice cup of ice? In sunny Florida, twelve-year old Jasmine Roberts choose microbiology for her school science project.

Her hypothesis was that ice in a fast food restaurant would contain more bacteria than the toilet water in those same restaurants. Her results won her prizes in her school’s and the regional science fairs. She stated: "I found that 70-percent of the time, the ice from the fast food restaurants contain more bacteria than the fast food restaurant's toilet water."
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In sampling the toilet water she flushed the toilet first. In the follow-up story her mentor, microbiology professor Dr. Daniel Lim, said: “And simply the act of flushing may cleanse the toilet of any residual bacteria, most residual bacteria." However, when it comes to ice machines Dr. Lim pointed out: "If you don't clean the receptacle, the materials routinely, there may be a possibility of bio-film or residual material remaining in that receptacle."
Something to think about the next time you grab a cup of ice somewhere.

Original story:
Follow up: