Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saudi textbooks persist in teaching intolerance

One reason the Muslim-Western conflict is so deep and persistent is a particular form of Islam being taught in religious schools all around the world. It comes from Saudi Arabia, which has financed and assisted schools, not only in traditionally Islamic countries but even in America. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Saudis began to say they were reforming their schools to take the hate out. But the hate remains, and is systematic in the Wahabbist curricula, according to translations done for Freedom House for an article in the Washington Post. Read on:
The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the "monotheists") and unbelievers (the "polytheists" and "infidels").

This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to "spread the faith."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Don't write off gasoline yet

Alcohol's affinity for water makes it problematic as a replacement for more than a fraction of the gasoline currently consumed by U.S. motor vehicles. A whole new pipeline network might be needed, says this report from Knight Ridder Newspapers' Washington Bureau.

Vote in House seeks to erase oil windfall

Speaking of oil subsidies, as I was yesterday, here are some Republicans finding the courage to cross the aisle in a vote for common sense. It's reported in the New York Times. Significantly,
Eighty-five Republicans, already under fire from voters about gasoline prices, sided with Democrats in voting to attach the provision to the Interior Department's annual spending bill. The measure would require adoption by the Senate, which is less reflexively supportive of the energy industry than the House.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Democrats' energy plan focused on alternative sources

I've been waiting for a Democratic better idea than the continued subsidy of big oil for exploiting their leases on offshore drilling sites they lease from Uncle Sam. It surfaced Wednesday:
"The bill . . . calls for expanding the use of alternative fuels for vehicles, in part by requiring more federally owned vehicles to use them, and by ensuring that more service stations sell them.

The bill would also revoke subsidies for the oil industry, increase subsidies for the renewable fuels industry and restore aid to low-income Americans struggling to pay energy bills."

The report is from the New York Times, where you need to be registered to read online. And here's the Reuters account of the same proposal.

Studies contest Bush's tax cut assertions

Didn't you always know there was something fishy in President Bush's claim that lowering taxes for the rich would increase treasury receipts? It turns out his own economists knew, too. Or they know now. A story you might have missed in the Miami Herald.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Newspapers will change or die

Disruptive competition and a change in Americans' habits have greatly eroded the economic power of the daily newspaper. What might be done to save this essential tool of a self-governing nation is discussed from many angles here in Harvard University's Nieman Reports.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tri-Rail better, but still a challenge

Service was recently upgraded on the three-county commuter railroad. Read a rider's experience in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mentally ill living together, and apart

The people of the Big House at Palatka are different from you and me. They hurt more, perhaps, and when they try to do something nice they are misunderstood. It's a lonely life in many ways, as Anthony DeMatteo describes it:
Arlington House residents root against toothaches. Medicaid once paid for extractions and dentures. That stopped with federal budget cuts. Now, one woman cries in her room from the pain of an abscessed tooth.

“Their option is basically to suffer,” [administrator Barbara] Hebert said. “And it’s dangerous. An abscess can become quite an issue.”
You can read the full story in the Palatka Daily News. I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Goss resignation from CIA goes unexplained

Porter Goss and the White House danced around the obvious question of why he was quitting the CIA. He and the president ignored the question on Friday, and no explanation was offered later. Jay Rosen reasons that Americans deserve better than that when a major presidential appointee is replaced. Here's his piece in the PressThink blog.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Clarity on the UM workers' union election

It seemed so reasonable when the University of Miami's president, Donna Shalala, said campus janitors should vote by secret ballot on whether to have a union represent them. But an expert in labor law points out that in union-representation elections, as they're run in this country, the cards are stacked against the union. It's not at all the democratic exercise suggested by the hallowed term "secret ballot." Read it in the strike-inspired weblog picketline.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

President negates new laws

Imagine if Congress passed a law that had a final paragraph saying, "Just kidding. Never mind." The effect would be the same as what our Republican president is doing to the Republican-dominated Congress. The link here is from the Wichita Eagle.

A book-lover's pleasures

My favorite bookstore, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., prints on its bookmarks this pithy line by Jorge Luis Borges:
I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books.
There's a bit more of Borges at the start of this engaging piece about the ups and downs of those whose lives are defined, in part, by print on the page. It's from New West.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

U. of Miami janitors end two-month strike

A compromise solved the impasse: the union gets its card-check process, but has to reach 60 percent approval to be recognized. Read it in The Miami Herald.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A personal action plan on energy policy

This guy has some good ideas. I like the way he breaks down the issues to the personal, local, state and national level of action. I'd quibble about his unqualified recommendation of hybrid vehicles, though, since the hybrid SUVs don't get all that good mileage compared to several perfectly good family sedans and compacts. Overall, a useful discussion at Experience Plus!

Straight talk about gasoline prices and transportation policy

If you read past the Virginia specifics in Jim Bacon's post, there's quite a bit that applies just as well in Florida. What he and some of his responders don't see, though, is that there really are things that each of us can do to conserve energy right now. We do not have to wait helplessly for national leaders to wean us off the oil teat. I'll develop that idea presently. One thought you'll see: bicycle to the 7-Eleven. Meanwhile, here's good reading at Bacon's Rebellion.

Workers' struggle is broader than Miami

Most readers here, I trust, are aware that housekeepers at the University of Miami have been on strike -- first for better wages and some health coverage, and now for recognition of a union. It may have been overlooked, though, that this is an issue in many places, including the venerable University of Virginia. Here, Barbara Ehrenreich lends her support to the struggle and tells how she is helping out. The piece is from Bacon's Rebellion.

Update: The Miami strike is over.