Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bioagents and Bioweapons:High- Containment Laboratories: National Strategy for Oversight is Needed

High-Containment Laboratories: National Strategy for Oversight is Needed

From the GAO Highlights page for this report:

GAO was asked to determine (1) to what extent, and in what areas, the number of high-containment laboratories has increased in the United States, (2) which federal agency is responsible for tracking this expansion and determining the associated aggregate risks, and (3)  lessons learned from highly publicized incidents at these laboratories and actions taken by the regulatory agencies.

Communications: Wireless Crisis Foretold: The Gathering Spectrum Storm...and Looming spectrum Drought

Wireless Crisis Foretold: The Gathering Spectrum Storm…and Looming Spectrum Drought

This is more a letter to the FCC than a report per se. But the bottomline is that Big Telecom wants Uncle Sam to  turn over more of the public spectrum to the private profiteers.

Re: Written Ex Parte Communication, GN Docket No. 09-51.

Dear Chairman Genachowski, and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker:
As the Commission moves forward with the development of a National Broadband Plan,
CTIA – The Wireless Association® (“CTIA”) urges the Commission to use this historic
opportunity to make a bold commitment to our nation’s mobile broadband future. Specifically,
CTIA urges the Commission to commit to identifying and allocating a significant amount of
spectrum – with a goal of at least 800 MHz – for licensed commercial wireless services. While it
is impossible to quantify precisely what amount of additional spectrum would be “future proof,”
such an allocation would be an important step towards meeting rapidly accelerating demand and
maintaining U.S. leadership in the global mobile broadband marketplace.

Education: Oklahoma HS Students Wouldn't Pass Citizenship Test

Oklahoma HS Students wouldn't pass citizenship test

From Article by Matthew Ladner:

In order to pass the citizenship test, an applicant must answer six of the 10 questions correctly. As you can see in Table 2, only 2.8 percent of Oklahoma high-school students attending public schools answered six or more questions correctly, and thus pass the citizenship test. Out of the sample of 1,000 students, only six students got seven questions correct, and none answered eight or more questions correctly.
Notice that the number of students answering either zero or one item correctly (204 students) is more than seven times larger than the number answering six or more items correctly (28 students). In short, Oklahoma's public high-school students have displayed a profound level of ignorance regarding American history, government, and geography.

Health: Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress

Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress

Beginning of Executive Summary:

This report assesses progress over the past decade regarding the legality, safety and accessibility of abortion services worldwide. It summarizes developments
in policy and documents recent trends in abortion incidence, with a focus on unsafe abortion. It also examines the relationship between unintended pregnancy,
contraception and abortion, placing abortion within
the broader context of women’s reproductive lives.

Health: Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults

Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults

Beginning of Executive Summary:

Objectives. A 1993 study found a 25% higher risk of death among uninsured
compared with privately insured adults. We analyzed the relationship between
uninsurance and death with more recent data.

Methods. We conducted a survival analysis with data from the Third National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. We analyzed participants aged 17 to
64 years to determine whether uninsurance at the time of interview predicted

Results. Among all participants, 3.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]=2.5%,
3.7%) died. The hazard ratio for mortality among the uninsured compared with
the insured, with adjustment for age and gender only, was 1.80 (95% CI=1.44,
2.26). After additional adjustment for race/ethnicity, income, education, self- and
physician-rated health status, body mass index, leisure exercise, smoking, and
regular alcohol use, the uninsured were more likely to die (hazard ratio=1.40;
95% CI=1.06, 1.84) than those with insurance.

Conclusions. Uninsurance is associated with mortality. The strength of that
association appears similar to that from a study that evaluated data from the
mid-1980s, despite changes in medical therapeutics and the demography of the
uninsured since that time. (Am J Public Health. 2009;99:jjj–jjj. doi:10.2105/

Health: The "Massachusetts Plan": A Failed Model for Health Care Reform

The "Massachusetts' Plan" A Failed Model for Health Care Reform"

Beginning of Executive Summary:

The Massachusetts Health Reform Law of 2006 expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor and made available subsidized, Medicaid-like coverage for additional poor and near-poor residents of the state. It also mandated that middle-income uninsured people either purchase private health insurance or pay a substantial fine ($1,068 in 2009). Smaller fines (up to $295 per employee) were also levied on employers who fail to offer insurance benefits.

The reform law has not achieved universal health insurance coverage, although half or more of the previously uninsured now have some type of insurance policy.
The reform has been more expensive than expected, costing $1.1 billion in fiscal 2008 and $1.3 billion in fiscal 2009. In the face of a state budget crisis in fall 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick announced that he will keep the reform afloat by draining money from safety-net providers such as public hospitals and community clinics.

Labor: California’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs

California's Forgotten Middle Skill Jobs

Beginning of Executive Summary:

With a gross state product of $1.8 trillion dollars, California is the eighth
largest economy in the world, ahead of global powerhouses like Russia, Canada,
India and Mexico. Our diverse state economy encompasses internet startups in
Silicon Valley, the agricultural fields of the Central Valley and the bright lights of Hollywood. We’re also home to some of the largest college systems in the world. Our state’s sheer size combined with the breadth and depth of our industrial base and extensive education system have long put California at the forefront of economic innovation and opportunity nationwide.

However, we face deep, systemic economic problems today that threaten to undermine the programs, policies and industries that have long made us strong. Our ranking as a national innovator is slipping. With layoffs, state budget cuts, housing foreclosures and business shutdowns dominating headlines for the past year, some may believe California’s economy has gone into a permanent decline.
California has been through economic crises before, and we have always found our way out of them. The question this time around is whether we can develop the policies to prepare our workforce for a future turnaround. To do this, we must understand what kinds of jobs will be in demand, and to begin to prepare our workforce for them now.

Despite all the changes and challenges our state is experiencing today, and despite popular perception, one crucial fact will not change. Middle-skill jobs represent the largest share of jobs in California—some 49 percent—and the largest share of future job openings.

Labor: Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment Laws

 Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America's Cities

Beginning of Executive Summary: This report exposes a world of work in which the core protections that many Americans take for granted—the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers’ compensation when injured, and the right to advocate for better working conditions—are failing significant numbers of workers. The sheer breadth of the problem, spanning key industries in the economy, as well as its profound impact on workers, entailing significant economic hardship, demands urgent attention.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR) -- Nothing Less than Rape!

Oct 30 was a national day of protest to urge the EPA to end mountaintop removal mining. Early in the afternoon, protest organizer Scott Parkin reported back on Facebook:
"hey all-- we're having a really successful day. but we need your reportbacks. please send us your reportbacks and pics so that we can post them in the blogosphere.

so far,
- 13 activists did a 4 hour sit-in at the EPA HQ in Washington D.C.
-a Zombie March is making it's way through the streets of SF
-activists protest at the Atlanta EPA office and met with officials
-Philly activists hang a banner and rally at the Philly EPA offices
-the NYTimes, via AP picked up the story
-Jeff Biggers' post is hitting the blogosphere (Please repost"
Broadcaster At-Large has posted a podcast on this page,  on  and it will appear later this week on iTunes. It is the first part of a discussion of MTR with research ecologist Dr. Kellis Bayless and includes the voices of some of the people directly affected by what is nothing less than the brutal rape of the earth in some of the most beautiful and biodiverse regions of the United States.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Full-Time Job Ain’t What It Used To Be

News item: October 27, 2009 -- San Francisco Chronicle -- The California State Employment Development Department estimates that the underemployment rate hit 21.9 percent in September. The underemployment rate includes people who could get only part-time work as well as those who want jobs but were too discouraged to look, in addition to the jobless who are actively looking for work.

It is good to see that economists and employment development officials are starting to pay more attention to the underemployment rate.  (California started collecting statistics on underemployment in 1994).  The traditional unemployment rate was based on people who were receiving unemployment compensation. Those people are required to look for work. If you give up looking, you can be cut off unemployment compensation.  This is the typical blame-the-victim attitude that is part and parcel of the American "rugged individualism" myth, which has given us, among other things, the worst unemployment compensation system in the industrialized world.  And among its many faults is the fact that it woefully undercounts the unemployed and doesn't count the underemployed. 

But to get a true picture of the economy, the statistics have to be developed still further to consider that over the years the definition of full-time employment has changed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ARCHIVE: MLB + DRM = foul ball!

by Kellia Ramares

[Originally published on my baseball blog on January 6, 2008]

I downloaded the Tony Gwynn documentary from last night. I have yet to watch it, but I have made an important discovery about MLB downloads: You are not downloading a file to keep and play as much as you want, you are only renting the file for a limited number of viewings, or in my case, attempts to view.

ARCHIVE: Welcome to airline pricing at the ballpark (YUCK!)

by Kellia Ramares

[Originally published on my baseball blog on January 5, 2009]

News Item from

The Giants ... will become the first Major League team to use a "dynamic" pricing structure, in which the team adjusts ticket prices up to the morning of a game based on market demand. [The Rockies do some price adjustment the day of the game but the Giants program is more full-out airline style pricing--KR]. By using a computer model created by Texas-based qcue, the Giants can shift ticket prices -- up or down -- based on the market demand for the game. Among the factors that could influence ticket prices are team performance, the starting pitcher, promotional giveaways or an opponent's team performance.
qcue's website says: "qcue exploits the synergies between the primary and secondary markets by integrating elements of airline pricing and NASDAQ trading into current selling platforms, providing primary sellers the ability to dynamically price-to-market while hosting a seamlessly integrated secondary market."
Does anyone out there really like airline pricing?

ARCHIVE: The Beauty of Baseball

By Kellia Ramares

[Originally published on by baseball blog on April 24, 2009]

Danny Haren pitched seven innings of shutout ball for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Colorado Rockies, Wednesday, striking out nine along the way.  But the score at the seventh inning stretch was 0-0. So unless the Diamondbacks scored in their half of the seventh, it looked as though the best Haren would do would be to gain a no-decision.
The lack of run support for Haren has been thoroughly frustrating.  In his three previous starts, all quality efforts that met with defeat, the Diamondbacks could manage only one run for him, total for the three games.  Diamondbacks broadcaster Daron Sutton, the former play-by-play man for the Milwaukee Brewers, saw Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa in the Midwest.  He said Jorge was erratic in those days, showing flashes of brilliance, but then blowing up. On Wednesday, however,  he was every bit the ace Haren was.

ARCHIVE: Thoughts on the Creative Process 5: Why Susan Boyle Makes Us Cry

by Kellia Ramares
[N.B.] Essays 1-4 are available on Machini-mations. 

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's a link to a tape of Susan Boyle's bravura performance in "Britain's Got Talent." I didn't watch it at the first opportunity. Reality shows and talent shows are not my cup of tea. To me, they seem to be yet another fad in the drive to lower costs of TV production. But I kept seeing news items around the Internet about a singer who had wowed the judges and the crowd. When I finally gave in and took a look, she wowed me, too. In fact, I cried and have cried each time since, and I've watched the tape at least a dozen times. What's more, when I read comments about her performance, I saw that I wasn't alone in letting the tears flow. Far from it.

ARCHIVE: As Bush threatens Iraq with nukes, US ramps up its own biowarfare research

It was originally published on the Center for Research on Globalisation on December 26, 2002.

When I booted up my AOL account on the morning of December 11th, I was greeted by the picture of someone in a gas mask and the headline: "You gas us; We'll nuke you!" Bad as that was, the headline on West County Times was worse: "Pre-emptive nuke strike a possibility." The San Francisco Chronicle banner headline was even pithier: Bush Doctrine: Hit First.

But while George W. Bush threatens Iraq, the United States is expanding its own biowarfare research programs. The government plans to increase the number of biohazard safety level (BSL) 3 and 4 labs around the United States. BSL 3 labs handle live anthrax, botulism, and bubonic plague, among many other things. BSL 4 labs conduct research on an array of even deadlier organisms, including smallpox and Ebola virus.

ARCHIVE: Making a killing by threatening to make a killing

By Kéllia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor
April 25, 2005—I really thought I had my finger on the pulse of Internet, or at least Blue State Internet, humor when I started offering products in my online store that said, Necons, Inc. Killing for the Culture of LifeSM. When sales of my audio documentary, "Peak Oil," started moving a bit in February, I figured word-of-mouth advertising, supposedly the best kind, and high gasoline prices, would multiply the sales. I hoped that sales of “Peak Oil” and my other serious titles, would bring me supplementary income that would allow me to do serious journalism without worrying about the rent.
But no one has ordered the Neocons, Inc. gear, or other items with incisive messages like "Your Religion is Not My Law" or "Theocracy is Un-American." Orders for my public affairs CDs have dried up. Silly me, why didn’t I realize that the quick way to make good money online is to threaten a rabbit’s life?

ARCHIVE: Your Religion is NOT My Law: Unscrupulous American Theocrats aim to destroy our Constitution

[Originally published on Online Journal on April 29, 2005]
by Kellia Ramares

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It
neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1785.

April 29, 2005--America is NOT a Christian nation. It is a nation many of whose citizens
are Christians. That’s not just a subtle turn of phrase. Understanding the difference is
essential to understanding America’s constitutional principles.

Christianity itself is not monolithic, as is evident by the many Christian denominations
that exist in the USA. But there are certain politicians, and backers of certain politicians,
who insist that America is a Christian nation…their brand of Christianity, of course. And
they aim to destroy our constitutional republic in order to establish a Bible-based
America—their interpretation of the Bible, of course--that is as much a theocracy as is
the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are part of a political movement called Dominionism or
Christian Reconstructionism.

ARCHIVE: Corporations: Do you love them more than you’ll admit?

By Kéllia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor
March 5, 2005—In late February, KPFA-FM, part of the Pacifica Radio Network, finished a successful fundraiser that garnered over a million dollars in pledges. If they run true to form, they’ll actually collect about 85 percent of the money. KPFA, the first listener-sponsored radio station, will be back for more in May, August and October. March 2 was my 6th anniversary at KPFA. Over the years, I have watched KPFA’s fundraising goals increase. The station has always made its goal. True, it’s occasionally done so by extending the fundraiser a few days, but never by more than that.
During the same time as this latest KPFA fundraiser, Online Journal publisher Bev Conover started a little fundraiser of her own. Her goal was nowhere near as lofty as KPFA’s. She’s looking for $10,000 to replace aging computer equipment. Recently, she told me her fundraiser was going “lousy.” She’s not alone in this. Why are the modest funding appeals of left news sites like Online Journal going begging, while larger organizations like KPFA can rake in the dough?

ARCHIVE: Book Review: Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda

[Originally published in December, 2004 in Online Journal]
Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda
By Larry Everest
Common Courage Press; ISBN 1-56751-246-1
392 Pages, $19.95USD
Review by Kellia Ramares
The U.S. government has mustered a dizzying and often shifting assortment of
“reasons” for invading and occupying Iraq. At one time or another—sometimes in the
next breath—it cited weapons of mass destruction and imminent threats to America,
links to terrorism and al Qaeda, liberating the Iraqi people, and transforming the entire
Middle East. Yet, as it was going on ad nauseam about such nonexistent threats,
phantom connections, and hollow promises, there was one real issue that the Bush
team adamantly refused to discuss at all: oil.

--Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire p. 248
December 17, 2004—Two days ago, the Boston Globe published an article titled: “War
Funding Request May Hit $100 Billion.” The article concerned White House plans to ask
Congress for $80 to $100 billion dollars for next year’s military operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan. If such a request goes through, the total cost for operations in Iraq alone
will exceed $200 billion since the invasion was launched in March 2003.
Ask yourself where all this money is coming from; federal deficits are at record levels.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ARCHIVE: Book Review: War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11

War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11
By Michel Chossudovsky
Global Outlook ISBN: 0-9731109-0-2
158 Pages. List Price US $14.95

Reviewed by Kéllia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor

What were Rep. Porter Goss and Senator Bob Graham and other members of the Senate and House intelligence committees doing, together with the alleged money-man behind 9-11, at breakfast on Capitol Hill on the morning of September 11?
–Michel Chossudovsky

June 7, 2004—Last Thursday, George Tenet resigned as director of Central Intelligence. Rep. Porter Goss is one of the favorites to succeed Tenet. If he is nominated, will any of the senators at his confirmation hearing have the guts to ask the above question? And if he is not nominated, will it be because of what the answer to that question is?

This reviewer knows from personal experience that many Americans reflexively enter a state of denial when confronted with questions such as the one above, which Prof. Michel Chossudovsky posed on page 151 of his book “War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11.” Certain Americans, including prominent leftist analysts, are quick to denounce as “conspiracy theorists” anyone who says, as Chossudovsky, I and others have done, that the United States government was complicit in the September 11 attacks. They prefer to think that simultaneous multi-agency incompetence and failure ruled the day. In other words, they prefer to adopt the government’s position rather than to accept the fact that the same government that supports all manner of assassinations, death squads, wars, and coups abroad is behind mass murder at home.

The United States government foments terrorism against its own people. Prof. Chossudovsky’s book, “War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11,” deftly tells how and why.
In a mere 158 well-referenced pages, Chossudovsky, a University of Ottawa (Canada) economics professor who studies globalization, explains how Washington has supported Islamic terrorism since the Carter administration. He links Osama bin Laden to the CIA and shows that the Pakistani intelligence agency—the ISI—has close ties to both the CIA and al Q’aeda. Chossudovsky dispatches “The Blowback Thesis,” i.e. the notion that Osama and his allies have turned against the United States, and he shows how Islamic terrorism actually benefits Washington’s agenda.

“War and Globalisation” draws on official government papers, political statements, reports from major national and international press, and important independent research, including some of Chossudovsky’s own, to document many reasons why the U.S. government supports Islamic terrorism. Internationally, there’s the conquest of oil, control of the drug trade, and continued antagonism toward and competition with Russia and China. Domestically, there’s the suppression of dissent and the militarization of U.S. politics and economics.

Ultimately, Chossudovsky’s book presents its readers with a harsh reality: terrorism is a tool used to maintain and expand the growth of corporate capitalism, led by the U.S. dollar and backed by U.S. military might; true democracy, and the Rule of Law, domestic and international, be damned.
“War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11,” is one of those “connect-the-dots” works that should be required reading, especially for media-misled, history-starved Americans.

Anti-globalization activists of all nations will find Chapter IX “Disarming the New World Order” of particular interest. Its first sentence is the bedrock on which dissent against the New World Order must rest: “The war on terrorism is a lie.” But, in this chapter, Chossudovsky also critiques the methods of the dissenters. He states that “Labour leaders and leftist politicians have been co-opted… Demands, petitions and declarations are formulated to little avail…The organization of counter-summits cannot constitute the basis of this struggle.“

In light of the fact that 15 million people worldwide marched against the invasion of Iraq only to see it happen about a month later, political activists would do well to read Chossudovsky’s critiques of social protest before embarking on their next effort. In fact, a more thorough treatment of the challenge of creating effective dissent would be a worthy subject for another Chossudovsky book.

Michel Chossudovsky is director of the Centre for Research on Globalisation.
“War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11,” which has been translated into 10 languages, is available from the centre’s website. A companion video is also available.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Some inconvenient truths about competition

by Kellia Ramares
Here is an excerpts of a story that appeared in the New York Times on October 21, 2009.  The title of the story was “$13 an hour?  500 sign-up, 1 wins a job”.
"The 34-year-old recruiter decided the fairest approach was simply to start at the beginning, reviewing resumes in the order in which they came in.  When she found a desirable candidate, she called to ask a few preliminary questions, before forwarding the name along to Chris Kelsey, the school's director. When he had a big enough pool to evaluate, she would stop. Anyone she did not get to was simply out of luck."
The paragraph above exposes the lie that one's employability is basically a function of the individual's own ability and that if you don't have a job, it is your fault.  Built into any competitive economic system are several fundamental, interrelated and inconvenient truths.

Monday, October 19, 2009

ARCHIVE: My Experience with Retro-Intention

[Originally published on my page at The Living The Field Community on April 3, 2009].
Of course, I didn't know what I was doing or even that I was doing it at the time. In the late 1980s, I sang with a local community chorus. We were all amateurs. But late in my tenure there, a woman who had been a professional singer I'll call S. joined us. She was older than most of us and more used to being a soloist. We did our annual Christmas concert, which was recorded, as usual, on cassette tape, the high technology of the day. Each of us were then given cassettes as a remembrance of the concert. When I listened to my cassette, I was disturbed by the fact that S. was much louder than the rest of us. She just couldn't, or made no effort, to blend.

ARCHIVE: Intention and Very Sick Babies

[Originally published on my page of The Living The Field Community on January 19, 2009].
by Kellia Ramares
In the middle 80's, I had a roommate named Karen who was studying to be a labor coach. As part of her training, she worked for a time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). There she met a male nurse. I don't recall if she ever mentioned his name, so I will call him Manuel. He was Mexican and the son of a curandera, a traditional Mexican healer. He noticed that the visiting doctors, medical students in tow, were very cold to the babies, sometimes even speaking not in terms of the whole child but only of the problematic body part(s). They referred to this heart, this liver, etc. Manuel noticed that the babies' vital signs would always go down after these rounds.
One day he and Karen decided that they would "talk up" the babies after rounds. They would tell each one not to pay attention to the doctors, that they were doing great and were going to be fine. The babies' vitals would improve after Manuel and Karen talked the babies up.
I met another NICU nurse who couldn't deal with babies dying. So at the start of every shift, she announced that fact to the babies, and said that while she understood that some of them had to go, they could not do so on her shift. No babies ever died on her shift.

ARCHIVE: Nuclear and Bioweapons Research in Livermore, CA

by Kellia Ramares
[Originally published in Sprol on February 26, 2007. Pictures from that site have been omitted, but the citations have been left in so that you can find them if you wish].

The Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL), a premier nuclear weapons research facility, is unique among America’s national labs in that it is in an urban area. It is in Livermore, California, cheek-by-jowl to homes built across the street. Moreover, Livermore itself is part of San Francisco’s East Bay region. Seven million people, including this writer, live within a 50-mile radius of the city. Airplanes heading in and out of San Francisco International, Oakland International, and Minetta International (San Jose) fly over it daily.

Scientists at the lab perform experiments with plutonium, highly-enriched uranium, and tritium (radioactive hydrogen) in an earthquake zone. There are three major seismic faults in the region: the Calaveras, the Hayward, on which thousands of homes and businesses sit — this fault bisects the Cal Berkeley football stadium — and the famous San Andreas Fault, which is west of the San Francisco Bay, but still capable of causing tremendous damage to the East Bay region if it quakes in the “right” place.

ARCHIVE: Pete Rose

[Originally published on my baseball blog on July 30, 2009]
We have just had inductions to the Hall of Fame and the ritual would not be complete without a mention of Pete Rose.
ROSE SHOULD BE IN THE HALL OF FAME. Yeah, he bet in baseball, but unlike the 1919 Black Sox, there is no evidence that he bet against himself or his team or otherwise did anything to throw a game.
Of course, it would have been better if he hadn't gambled at all. Now he's just a parody of himself hawking whatever he can sell. But I wonder if his ban hasn't been lifted because of his attitude rather than his misdeeds. And if so, MLB should look itself in the mirror about its own attitude toward gambling. It's a lot different from the days when Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were suspended from involvement in baseball because of their PR jobs with casinos that involved things like playing golf with the high rollers. Now you can go to Chase Field and watch the players drape themselves over the dugout fence that has VeeQuiva Casino written all over it.
Either Baseball gets the casino names out of its stadiums or it lets Pete Rose back in. I prefer the latter considering the Hall is full of reprobates who have done far worse things than waste money gambling.


[Originally published on my baseball blog on August 8, 2009]
I just got a notice on my Facebook page that there was article talk about how the sports world was looking to be more clean and green. Here is my response:
Speaking as a baseball fan, I think MLB could be more green by going retro at the park. Manually operated scoreboards instead of these monster electronic jobs that use so much electricity. Also day games on the weekends. Take out the free WiFi that is starting to go into stadiums. That must have a carbon foot print. New stadiums should be built with public transit access. Domes in places like Phoenix should be used sensibly. There they leave the dome open and run the A/C in all but the hottest weather so as to give the fans the feel of an outdoor stadium without Phoenix's 100 degree weather. Speaking of Phoenix, what baseball stadium really needs a swimming pool? We have got to get back to the days when we went to the ball park to see a baseball game, not to swim, be on computers or wave our VISA cards to the cameras on the big screen. That would save a lot of energy!
UPDATE: Let's hear some other ideas. How about going back to traditional 2 for the price of one doubleheaders on Sunday and off days on Mondays and Thursday? Having the stadiums dark two days a week would save energy. It would probably be better for the players as well. Most other jobs get two days off per week, why not baseball players? I just heard this weekend that the San Francisco Giants just concluded a streak of twenty days in a row. That's got to mean tired players who are more likely to get injured. And we wonder why players might use amphetamines?

ARCHIVE: Book Review: Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture

Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture
By Dale Allen Pfeiffer
New Society Press
ISBN 0865715653

125 Pages, Paperback

by Kellia Ramares
[This review was originally published in Online Journal on December 1, 2006]
At just the point when agriculture was running out of unexploited tillable lands, technological breakthroughs in the 1950s and 1960s allowed it to continue increasing production through the use of marginal and depleted lands. This transformation is known as the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution resulted in the industrialization of agriculture. . . . the Green Revolution increased the energy flow to agriculture by an average of 50 times its traditional energy input. . . . In a very real sense, we are eating fossil fuels. --Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Eating Fossil Fuels, p. 7.
Have you ever considered how much energy it takes to get food from the farm to your table? Or how many miles the food has traveled to reach you?

ARCHIVE: Book Review: Crude: The Story of Oil

by Kellia Ramares
[This review was originally published in Online Journal on April 2, 2007]
Crude: The Story of Oil
By Sonia Shah
Seven Stories Press
ISBN 1-58322-625-7
232 Pages, Hardback
Crude is the tenth book related to oil that I’ve read and reviewed. As you can expect, a certain amount of material in these books is old hat to me by now; the names of some of the experts cited, and indeed the authors themselves, have become quite familiar; I’ve interviewed some of them myself. But each book has a “personality” of its own, so I keep reading.

ARCHIVE: Book Review: Spychips: How major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID

Review by Kellia Ramares
[This review was originally published on Online Journal on January 17, 2006]

Spychips: How major corporations
and government plan to track your
every move with RFID

By Katherine Albrecht & Liz McIntyre
Foreward by Bruce Sterling,
ISBN: 1595550208
Hardcover, 270 pp
Nelson Current, 2005

Marketers want to tag data to identify you and profile your possessions so they can target you with marketing and advertising material wherever you go. Government agents crave the power of hidden spychips to monitor citizens' political activities and whereabouts. And, of course, criminals can't wait to identify easy marks and high-ticket items by scanning the contents of shopping bags and suitcases at a distance. [authors' emphases]. --Katherine Albrecht & Liz McIntyre, Spychips, p 29.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. Organizations that promote RFID, which include companies whose names and brands you recognize, such as Wal-Mart, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Intel, UPS and Benneton, as well as government agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, want to implant an RFID tag on every item on earth.

ARCHIVE: Book Review: Low-Wage Capitalism

by Kellia Ramares
[This review was first published on Online Journal on July 28, 2009]
Low-Wage Capitalism
What the new globalized,
high-tech imperialism means
for the class struggle in the US

By Fred Goldstein
World View Forum
ISBN 0-89567-151-4
312 Pages, Softcover
$19.95 USD or
available free online
With the corporate capitalist economy falling apart as it is, some people are looking at socialism with a less jaundiced eye. Of course, there are some people for whom socialism was never the spawn of Satan that banksters and other corporate cutthroats and their political minions would have us believe.

ARCHIVE: The Revolution will not be medicalized: The real reason we don’t have single-payer universal health care

by Kellia Ramares
[This essay was originally published on Cyrano’s Journal Online on July 9, 2009]
THERE SHOULD NOT EVEN BE A DEBATE OVER SINGLE PAYER.  All of the objections to it are a bunch of baloney.

The Trouble with Money

by Kéllia Ramares

The current economic crisis is bringing monetary reform movements such as End The Fed, to the fore. These movements bring to light what is wrong with our current monetary system, i.e., it is the instrument by which people are held in debt slavery.

But these movements often call for a return to the backing of paper money with gold and silver. In other words, that we should be able to redeem our paper money for gold and silver – though I can't think of why we would want to do that;. gold and silver are too heavy to carry around. No more paper currency should be in circulation than can be backed by precious metal, according to the proponents of “real money.”

But returning to a gold/silver standard for currency will not stabilize our economy. The real problem with our currency is not its fiat nature.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

About the Writers

Kellia Ramares, of Oakland, CA, has been a member of the KPFA News Department since 1999. She turned 54 on July 31, 2009. She has a BA in Economics from Fordham University in the Bronx, NY, and a law degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She did not become a lawyer, going instead into legal publishing and then into journalism. She views legal education as good training for investigative reporting. She is capable of dissecting bureaucratic reports and legal issues and is quite at home interviewing a lawyer.

During this decade, Kellia has reported frequently for Free Speech Radio News ( and Women's International News Gathering Service (; she have written written for  the web, most frequently for Online Journal (  You may have also seen my writing on the websites of the Centre for Research on Globalisation (, and Speaking Truth to Power (, and Atlantic Free Press  (, among other places.

Her broad areas of interest are: How science and technology impact our heath and civil liberties; alternative economics; how peak oil and the long term energy crisis will affect our lives; and environmental factors affecting public health. But she doesn't consider herself to have a beat, hence the name of this publication: Broadcaster At-Large. A lot of things interest Kellia and she thrives on variety.

Despite her presence on WINGS and the fact that she considers herself a straight ally of LGBTQs, Kellia hates ID politics, and prefers to stay away from most stories that are rooted in race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, religion, etc. (She has done stories on  same-sex marriage but she looks at it as a civil rights and constitutional issue rather than as a "gay" issue).

She also has no use for the touchy-feely human interest story. Ordinary people serve as an illustration of a larger issue for her; they are not the point of the story. Likewise, she has no use for ambiance for the sake of ambiance, and she believes you can have fine documentaries that don't have music. (She's done several).

KELLIA HATES MARKETING. She doesn't want to pitch ("I'm a shortstop," she says.) She doesn't want to shoehorn stories into ever smaller newsholes as newspapers, what of them are left, become advertizing circulars. She doesn't want to spend time selling. There isn't enough time to do the news! ("Damn it, Jim. I'm a journalist, not a salesman!") She longs for the old days when there was a firewall between the business and editorial sides of a newspaper, TV station or radio station, when news was thought of as a public service and not as "infotainment" and just another profit center on a conglomerate's balance sheet.

Kellia will not tailor her approach to news and public affairs to achieve popularity. BAL was formed on the belief that, with the right technology now available, its natural audience will find it. Changing the format a bit so that people can access the information using the technologies of the day is one thing, but softening the information for the celebrity-crazed culture, shortening it for the ADD generation, or dumbing it down for the idiots who say "I don't want the government interfering with my Medicare" is not Kellia's style. If something is too long, just take in what you can and come back as often as you need to. But know that this is a place for people who can "handle the truth." And if it's not hard-hitting enough, keep BAL honest by telling us where, why, and how we can do better.

What’s with the orc, and why is he pointing a sword at me?

Hello, my name is Tokkar, and I…I play World of Warcraft (breaks down in tears, receives a lot of pats on the back and “Hello, Tokkar” from the others sitting in the circle).

Okay, go on, groan…but World of Warcraft, while a fun game and a great time-waster (not to mention a wonderful release of pent-up frustrations after a day gone otherwise sour…just picture your boss being that big, evil…ahem) is, for me, an open door toward something else: storytelling and animation.

I am a writer, a digital artist, a musician, a gourmet chef (well, I did hold the title, even though I never went to the school) and now an amateur animator. So why am I writing news articles for a leftist blog?

Why not?

Okay, that’s not much of an answer, but it does tend to be in keeping with the central theme of my life. You see, I’m queer. No, I’m not homosexual, bisexual, intersexed or transgendered. I’m just…queer. Queer in that I don’t fit into any mold, and this is the way that I like it. People should be unique, not cookie-cutter versions of what someone else wants them to be.

I am one such unique person. True, it won’t get me far in the financial realm, but there are more things in heaven and earth than money. Money merely makes the journey easier in today’s world that seems so focused upon its acquisition, even to the detriment of the planet and its inhabitants. Truth be told, it’s not needed…or at least it wouldn’t be needed if so many people weren’t so blindly willing to trample the rights and freedoms of others to obtain the most of it that they can.

This is me in a nutshell.


Yeah…it fits.

And toward that end, I provide my own perspective upon the world. Some people may not like how I see it, but I’ve never really been one to couch my phrases in such a way as to please everyone. Understanding this, it just naturally falls that I should find myself posting upon a leftist blog. After all, if you want to see the world as it really is, you need to first strip away the corporatist backing and the blind patriotism…and if you are able to freely do that and, what’s more, relate to it in such a manner as to want to address it, improve it, bring it to the attention of our nation’s people and our world leaders, then dare I say that you’re not exactly a poster-child for the conservative party in the US.

So, I’m here, I’m queer, and I doubt I’ll be welcome at any presidential dinners.

I’m cool with that!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Handling the Hate

Shirley Phelps-Roper leads a terrible existence, filled with anger and rage. Her absolute, unadulterated hatred consumes her. Indeed, it has become the very fabric of her existence.

This is a woman who does not have any love for anyone in her heart, and she demonstrates this every single day with her words and her message:

God Hates (fill in the blank).

As children, we are taught that in order to make someone stop calling you names or making fun of you, simply ignore them and they’ll go away.

Sometimes, though, it didn’t work.

Sometimes it became even worse.

Sometimes, it became violent.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Legislating Hatred?

The “Stand for Marriage: Maine” group is fighting to preserve their right to hate homosexuals. How else can you explain why they have spent nearly $1 million to rescind the same-sex marriage laws that were put into place in Maine?