April Fools

Rufus Wainwright with one of my very favorite songs (how many lyricists write about love and smelly fish in the same song?):

Oh what a shame that your pockets did bleed
on st. valentine’s
And you sat in a chair
Thinking “boy i’m such a prince!”
Well, life’s a train that goes from february on
Day by day
But it’s making a stop on april first

And you will believe in love
And all that it’s supposed to be
But just until the fish start to smell
And you’re struck down by a hammer

Sure, you were swift
When the handsome greek boys dropped by with gifts
You are suave
Thanks to ribbons that open sesame
But in the stars and closer to home, in every planet
It ain’t hard for me and dear jo jo to see

That you will believe in love
And all that it’s supposed to be
But just until the fish start to smell
And you’re struck down by a hammer

So let it all go by
Looking at the sky
Wondering if there’s clouds and stuff in hell

And you will believe in love
And all that it’s supposed to be
But just until the fish start to smell
And you’re struck down by a hammer.

Bullying

Some schools are coming up with some innovative programs to address it:

Eric Hansen, principal of the White Pine Middle School in Ely, Nevada, has also devised novel techniques. The school is in a copper mining area and the pupils are relatively tough. When Hansen took over the school four years ago, there was mayhem among the students and backbiting among a discontent staff. He started by educating the staff. “It was a toxic environment and I wanted to transform the culture. I talked to each staff member, encouraged them to bond, to go to each other’s homes, attend weddings, bring food if they suffered a disaster. Then I assigned each student an adviser—the nurses, the librarians, the janitors were all tapped—and they met with their students every day. In other words, we became a family.”

Hansen then took an anonymous poll of all the students, asking them to name the biggest bullies in the school. “I brought them in, told them they had been identified by their peers, and we were there to help them. We asked them how they felt about their peers’ opinions and asked them if those opinions were fair.

“Most of them admitted to their bullying. Those that didn’t had to report to us each day and were required to do or say something nice to someone. We got the parents involved and made sure that the problem children felt they were safe, accepted, and listened to.

“ You know bullies are kids too and often there is a reason for their behavior,” Hansen continues. “They have a tragedy at home, not enough to eat, bad parenting. It is crucial that we pay attention to them also.”

Update: Another perspective, via Athenae.

Enough

I found out today that I’m getting one last extension on the unemployment, so I feel funny about the donations you all gave. But I do have an expensive car repair I need, and now I have exactly enough.

So thanks for your kindness. My Subaru appreciates it, and so do I.

Organicized!

Hmm. So Michelle Obama’s organic garden doesn’t actually translate into policy:

WASHINGTON – Sidestepping a stalled Senate confirmation vote, yesterday President Obama recess-appointed Islam Siddiqui to be chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the U.S. trade representative. Dr. Siddiqui’s nomination was held up in the Senate and was opposed by the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 80 other environmental, small-farm, and consumer groups. More than 90,000 concerned citizens contacted the White House and Senate to oppose the nomination. Siddiqui is a former pesticide lobbyist and is currently vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, a biotech and pesticide trade group that lobbies to weaken environmental laws.

“Dr. Siddiqui’s confirmation is a step backward,” said Tierra Curry, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “His appointment ensures the perpetuation of pesticide- and fossil-fuel-intensive policies, which undermine global food security and imperil public health and wildlife.”

As undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Siddiqui oversaw the development of the first national organic labeling standards, which allowed sewage sludge-fertilized, genetically modified, and irradiated food to be labeled as organic before public outcry forced more stringent standards. Siddiqui has derided the European Union’s ban on hormone-treated beef and has vowed to pressure the European Union to accept more genetically modified crops.

Appointments like this tell us the continuing mixed messages of the Obama administration. Stay tuned!

The Obscenity of War

Amy Goodman:

Daniel Ellsberg, who Henry Kissinger once called “the most dangerous man in America,” leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg, who was a top Pentagon analyst, photocopied this secret, 7,000-page history of the U.S. role in Vietnam and released it to the press, helping to end the Vietnam War.

“President Obama is taking every symbolic step he can to nominate this as Obama’s war,” Ellsberg told me recently. He cites the “Eikenberry memos,” written by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, which were leaked, then printed last January by The New York Times.

Ellsberg said: “Eikenberry’s cables read like a summary of the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan. … Just change the place names from ‘Saigon’ to ‘Kabul’ … and they read almost exactly the same.”

The Eikenberry memos recommend policies opposite those of Gens. David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, who advocated for the surge and a counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. Eikenberry wrote that President Hamid Karzai is “not an adequate strategic partner,” and that “sending additional forces will delay the day when Afghans will take over, and make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring our people home on a reasonable timetable.” Petraeus and McChrystal prevailed . . .

The public is unlikely to oppose something that gets less and less coverage. While the press is focused on the salacious details of Republican National Committee spending on lavish trips, especially one outing to a Los Angeles strip club, the cost to the U.S. taxpayer for the war in Afghanistan is estimated now to be more than $260 billion. The cost in lives lost, in people maimed, is incalculable. The real obscenity is war. Ellsberg hopes that the Eikenberry memos will just be the first of many leaks, and that a new wave of Pentagon Papers will educate the public about the urgent need to end Obama’s war.

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