Yello Chick

no more W. please!

Crucifixion Brought to You By Coke!

Philippines – Talk about getting nailed: The City of San Fernando’s annual Good Friday re-enactment of
Christ’s Passion is set to include not one, not three, but 23 real live
crucifixions, as eager penitents seek to emulate Jesus by being nailed
to crosses. (Other slightly less committed penitents will restrict
themselves to a thorough scourging.)

Church and civil authorities actually frown on the practice, but the
citizens can’t seem to get enough. So, the local government has decided
to go with the flow, and restrict itself to ensuring the nails are
sterilized and that all the crucifixees have a tetanus shot.

Seeing an opportunity to plug their products, Filipino phone outfit Smart Telecommunications and Coca Cola will be
soaking up the goodwill as key sponsors of the mass crucifixion. Smart Telecom and Coca Cola have apparently struck some kind of
sponsorship deal with the government of San Fernando. Presumably this
will help bankroll the preparations the city has to make to deal with
the hordes of tourists and international media who will be descending
on the city.

Reported in The Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/21/good_friday/

Youth Voters: Will They Change the 2008 Elections?

The 2008 presidential election has made one thing obvious: America’s demographics have changed. After almost two-and-a-half centuries, the United States has seen its first female and minority presidential hopefuls beat out their white male competitors in votes, delegates, media coverage, and financial support. And for the first time in history, the charge for change has been led by Americans under the age of 30.

Since the commencement of George W. Bush’s “War in Iraq,” youth civic engagement has surged in parallel with the surge in troop deployment to the Middle East:

  • In the 2000 presidential election, 4.3 million young voters – those between the ages of 18 and 29 – made their way to the polls to “rock the vote.”
  • In 2004 – the last presidential election year – 20.1 million young voters exercised their civic duty, almost quadrupling their turnout from the previous presidential election. In fact, for the first time, more people in this demographic voted in 2004 than those over the age of 65.
  • In 2006 – the last congressional election year – youth voter turnout increased by 2 million votes, almost twice that of the overall electorate.

Said to be motivated by distrust of current institutional representation and growing disgust with transgressions against Constitutional law, human rights, and general ethics reportedly enacted by the Bush administration, more and more youth voters are demanding change in American government. Representing one-quarter of the national electorate, these young people have rallied around “change” candidates like Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee and have shown up at their state primaries and caucuses in record numbers to demonstrate their support.

Youth voters have made a tremendous impact on political discourse, influencing candidates from both parties to adjust their platform positions to reflect “a new course” and to edit their rhetoric to include elements of change. Karl Rove’s now infamous strategy of “staying on message” and Bush’s familiar mantra to “stay the course” have been discarded by the majority of candidates in order to distance themselves from the problems that have emerged from the Bush’s dogged pursuit of the war path.

What does this mean for 2008? With this emerging group of young people, dubbed the “Millenial” generation, as the new face of American politics, it means that we must be prepared for more “change” to shape politics in the near future. Youth voters have made it clear that they are unhappy with the status quo and are now backing their complaints with civic engagement at the polls. As each year passes, youth voters’ strength will only grow in step with their numbers.

However, the short attention spans of young voters raised on MTV and Ritalin may also mean that the unprecedented length of this extended campaign season will see their interest and influence fade by the time the Republican and Democratic nominations roll around in August. If the U.S. economy and funding/support for education, universal healthcare, and the environment – issues all dear to youth voters – continue to tank, though, the Millenials may just break another voter-turnout record in November and determine the new leader of the free world for the next four years. Let’s hope it will be a vote of “change” for the better.

If you are a young person who’d like to “Rock the Vote” for change this year, please contact Grace Rodriguez with Helping Our Youth (HOYna!) at grace@hoyna.org.

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Look forward to seeing you there! :-)

Best,

Yello Chick 

Sep 21: Masi Oka on Ellen

I LOVE MASI OKA! You have to love a guy who can code and save the world…and still have a sense of humor and humility! He’ll be on Ellen this Friday:

Friday, September 21: MASI OKA

Put your learning pants on because STEVE SPANGLER THE SCIENCE GUY is giving a demonstration on gasses. No, not that kind of gas. He’s also going to dip a guy in invisible ink and knock a paper cup off of an audience member’s head with a giant smoke ring blown all the way from across the studio. Then, last season he helped save the cheerleader and the world, and now Ellen is saving him a seat on her show. From the super-powered NBC blockbuster “Heroes,” MASI OKA comes back from the future to reveal exciting details from the much anticipated second season and witnesses first hand Ellen’s super interviewing powers.

The Corporation: Part 1

“And it was more or less as if we created a doom machine: In our search for wealth and for prosperity, we create a thing that’s going to destroy us.”

- Robert Monks, Corporate governance advisor

At what point do we stop destroying ourselves in pursuit of wealth? Or, at what point do we stop pursuing wealth because it’s destroying us?

I think we will stop once we redefine “us.”

Chris Rock once said that only the white man can make money off of pain, and to a great extent, that seems true: the majority of those with the greatest wealth and power have gotten these things through the exploitation and suffering of “others” – in this case, the non-white, non-male. It’s easier to let other people suffer if you don’t identify with them as fellow people. You can justify it to yourself if you buy into: “They can always say no.”

But the majority of the exploited don’t have a choice. It’s work for pennies or die.

If we redefine “us” as “all people,” and not as only whites/blacks/browns/yellows/reds, or Americans, or Christians/Muslims/Jews, or however else we like to separate ourselves by categorization, then maybe seeing other people suffer will finally strike all of us as being unacceptable for any reason, much less for the pursuit of wealth.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

I don’t mind paying more for organic or free trade or local because I know I’m supporting real people who have to make a living and support their families. I don’t need a Mercedes when a Toyota performs just as well (even better!). I don’t need a designer purse – or a designer anything - when a generic one will do. And people still seem to think I have style; some people still seem to like me. Isn’t it better to be liked for who I am as opposed to what I own?

Secret Identities : Asian American Artists/Writers Wanted!

From the Secret Identities site:

Although top talents from the comics industry will be contributing to Secret Identities, we continue to actively seek Asian American creators both in and outside the comics industry interested in contributing one to six page stories to the book, either within the superhero genre or commenting on it in a satirical or insightful fashion. This may include artist/writer teams or artist-writer sole creators as well as artists seeking to be paired with a writer, or writers with an idea seeking to be paired with an artist.

Interested artists must submit art samples, and writers must submit story ideas, by no later than October 15th, 2007 to be considered for the anthology. All characters and stories included in the collection must be original to their creators and previously unpublished in any venue. The collection is intended to be creator-owned: Contributors will retain all rights to characters, depictions, backgrounds, marks, and storylines associated with their submissions.

For submission guidelines and agreement, visit Secret Identities.

Iraq For Sale

I just watched the testimonies of military and civilian participants and veterans of the IraQuagmire in “Iraq For Sale;” and, as an American who lost a good friend in 9/11 and has old family friends fighting/working in Iraq now, I’m extremely upset with how the Bush administration allowed Halliburton/KBR, and their various spinoffs and cronies, to take such egregious advantage of our country and its citizens. They have all robbed us through fraudulent billings and exponential overcharging for often extraneous and /or redundant jobs. That money should have gone to help our troops and our children instead.

* In February 2007, Congressman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, released
a report saying that out of the 20 billion dollars charged to the U.S.
government by Halliburton, 2.4 billion dollars were “unsupported” and
“questioned” costs
. *

I would much rather have my tax dollars go to providing our soldiers with all the armor and tools and training they need – as well as paying them what they’re worth, which is obviously alot more than they’re currently making if KBR valued the job at six times current salary in their billings – rather than letting that money going to corporate grafters who used it to rent jet-skis and Cadillac Escalades. I would much rather have spent that money on improving education through reducing class ratios, reforming how courses are taught and how achievement is gauged, and on providing better incentives and assistance for our best and brightest to teach. I would much rather have spent that money on universal healthcare. I would much rather have spent that money on helping people in need, like the people left stranded by FEMA.

If ever there was a need for government oversight, this would be the case. The moment is beyond ripe for holding these corrupt corporations – and our corrupt government officials – accountable.

Washington-based Corpwatch released an “Alternative Annual Report” which detailed the alleged wrongdoings of Halliburton and its former subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), and questioned the motivation behind Halliburton’s move earlier this year to the United Arab Emirates.

Despite being one of the 10 largest contractors for the United States’ military, Halliburton opened a new headquarters in Dubai. Critics believe the expansion is a possible bid to avoid U.S. taxes and shield top executives from prosecution in the U.S. justice system.

The company will remain incorporated in the United States.

“If employees spend 10 months outside the country, they are no longer U.S. tax residents,” Pratap Chatterjee, program director of CorpWatch, told IPS.

“David Lesar, the CEO of Halliburton, told me that he will remain a U.S. citizen but that doesn’t answer the question of if he’ll remain a U.S. tax resident,” added Chatterjee, who attended the annual meeting in Houston.

Moving to Dubai, say Halliburton executives, will move them closer to the center of the energy industry. But others believe the move is calculated to shield the company from U.S. laws by moving to a region referred to as a “comfort zone for corporate corruption” by CorpWatch.

Halliburton has earned over 20 billion dollars from U.S. military-related contracts since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, the company recently lost two of its most lucrative contracts — oil infrastructure reconstruction and military base support.

“With the loss of its two biggest taxpayer-funded contracts in Iraq, Halliburton has decided that its future lies outside the United States. The company’s decision to move its headquarters to Dubai could spell a major financial loss to the U.S. Treasury,” said Chatterjee.

Serious questions have begun to emerge here in Washington regarding Halliburton’s contracts in Iraq and the 20 billion dollars Halliburton has billed the U.S. government for its work in Iraq.

At the annual meeting, Halliburton executives refused to answer questions surrounding its contracts in Iraq, citing the fact that the Iraq contracts were mostly conducted through Halliburton’s former subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, which broke ties with Halliburton on Apr. 5.

“…(KBR) has absolutely nothing to do with Halliburton as the two companies are completely separate entities,” wrote Cathy Mann, director of communications at Halliburton, when contacted by IPS for comment. “To confirm, Halliburton Company has never been contracted for services by the U.S. government, particularly none of the logistics support services frequently discussed in the media today. Also, to confirm, Halliburton and its subsidiaries have no employees or work in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

CorpWatch called on Halliburton and KBR to make serious changes in their business practices, both in Iraq and in U.S.

In Iraq, the report calls for the companies to make public the bidding processes by which they acquired contracts; disclose the overseas subsidiaries it says are used to circumvent U.S. tax laws; and provide better working conditions for its employees in Iraq and the U.S. state of Louisiana, where Halliburton won government contracts after the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Halliburton has also faced serious criticism for its use of private security guards, like Blackwater and Triple Canopy, in Iraq.

The report charges that Triple Canopy contractors were observed firing at unarmed Iraqis for sport.

KBR/Halliburton’s main contract in Iraq had specified that the company was not permitted to hire its own security and must depend on the U.S. military for protection. But Halliburton contends that the use of private security contractors was conducted through sub-contractors, thereby staying in accordance with their government contract.

Halliburton estimates that it may have to return up to 400 million dollars to the U.S. government for hiring military contractors, says the report.

Truck drivers who worked for Halliburton, meanwhile, have contended that the company did not do enough to adequately protect them in Iraq, as evidenced on Sept. 20, 2005 when a Halliburton convoy was ambushed and three of its drivers were killed.

CorpWatch also called on the U.S. government to cancel all of its contracts with Halliburton and KBR and to improve congressional oversight and transparency in issuing government contracts.

“(Halliburton’s wasteful spending) is an intolerable mess. It’s important that we hold people accountable for it, and just as important that we prevent these outrages from happening again,” said Waxman at a Feb. 15 congressional hearing on Iraq’s reconstruction.

Vice President Dick Cheney was the chief executive officer of Halliburton from 1995 through August 2000, although he has denied any continuing relationship with the company.

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