Sunday, April 30, 2006


The internet is a wonderful tool for finding information. I heard something on the radio a few weeks ago that peaked my interest in the number of people in jail in the US vs. other countries, so I googled around and found the following:

"Over 9 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or having been convicted and sentenced. About half of these are in the United States (2.03m), Russia (0.86m) or China (1.51m plus pre-trial detainees and prisoners in ‘administrative detention’)."

"The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, some 701 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (606), Belarus (554), Kazakhstan and the U.S. Virgin Islands (both 522), the Cayman Islands (501), Turkmenistan (489), Belize (459), Bermuda (447), Suriname (437), Dominica (420) and Ukraine (415)."

"H o w e v e r, more than three fifths of countries (60.5%) have rates below 150 per 100,000. (The United Kingdom’s rate of 141 per 100,000 of the national population places it above the midpoint in the World List; it is the highest among countries of the European Union.)"

Source: World Prison Population List (Fifth Edition). Communication Development Unit, Home Office, London. 2003.

And in the USA... "Among the 1.4 million inmates sentenced to more than one year at year-end 2003, an estimated 44 percent were black, 35 percent white, 19 percent Hispanic and 2 percent of other races. The percent of inmates who were racial or ethnic minorities has changed little since 1995."

"As of December 31, 2003, one in every 140 U.S. residents was confined in a state or federal prison or a local jail."

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Press Release: U.S. Prison Population Approaches 1.5 Million. November 7, 2004.

For comparitive purposes:

US population by races: White = 75.1%; Hispanic = 12.5%; Black = 12.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000

Another topic I've always wondered about is the sale of weapons

World Weapons Sales

"Since 1992, the United States has exported more than $142 billion dollars worth of weaponry to states around the world. The U.S. dominates this international arms market, supplying just under half of all arms exports in 2001, roughly two and a half times more than the second and third largest suppliers. U.S. weapons sales help outfit non-democratic regimes, soldiers who commit gross human rights abuses against their citizens and citizens of other countries, and forces in unstable regions on the verge of, in the middle of, or recovering from conflict."

"U.S.-origin weapons find their way into conflicts the world over. The United States supplied arms or military technology to more than 92% of the conflicts under way in 1999. The costs to the families and communities afflicted by this violence is immeasurable. But to most arms dealers, the profit accumulated outweighs the lives lost. In the period from 1998-2001, over 68% of world arms deliveries were sold or given to developing nations, where lingering conflicts or societal violence can scare away potential investors."

Source: Federation of American Scientists.

So, we are, in fact, "Number One" in some things - makes you feel proud, eh?

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I can't help it, this Iraq topic is just too compelling, too frustrating, to leave alone; like a scab that shouldn't be scratched. So here I am again....

The leading news stories this morning: 1) after sneaking into Baghdad on separate military transport planes (are they, for some reason, afraid to arrive publicly?), Rumsfeld and Rice met with the new President and other high officials of the Iraqi government - as they were leaving, the two intrepid democracy crusaders extolled the wonders of the fledgling Iraqi democracy ("Heck of a job, Jalal"); 2) the sister of the new Iraqi Vice President and her body guard were assassinated this morning - the new V.P.s brother had been assassinated last week; 3) seven car bombs exploded in Baghdad this morning; 4) Baghdad police discovered another 20 bodies of victims of sectarian violence.

Is anyone being fooled by the Bush claims of success in Iraq? Let's face it, this invasion and occupation is an unmitigated disaster for everyone: the U.S. military, the Iraqi people, the U.S. taxpayers, the future victims of terrorists who have cut their teeth in Iraq (talk about reality TV!!!). The "War on Terror" has been the "War of Error" from day one, and it's gone from worse to much worse.

If any of these Bush people, this "group of folks," has a single strand of moral fiber, he or she will stand in front of the American press and say "Yes, we didn't just screw this up, we screwed it up royally, and here's what we're going to do to try to fix it." But I won't hold my breath, and neither should you.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I have not posted to this blog in over a month. I've thought about it a lot, I've vowed to post something, but I haven't. I remember thinking that I needed to write about the 3-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion; I also remember getting so bummed out about the 3-year anniversary that I just couldn't write. And the bummed-out-ness spread, like a creeping feeling of dread that overwhelmed me. Every day our press is filled with bad news from all over the world, and this is the highly touted 21st Century we all welcomed with such hope.

So I haven't written for over a month. I keep looking for good news hidden among the bad, and there is some. But then cold reality strikes. More murder. More genocide. More really bad shit from the mouth of our president-from-hell and his toadies. I know people who are so burned out by this stuff that they don't want to talk about it anymore - it's too depressing.

But here I am, posting to the blog about not posting to the blog. I have a lot to say. I'm going to do it. Every day. Sure.....