Jeffrey Sachs is my Hero
At Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs wears a lot of hats. He is a Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia, and he is also a Special Advisor to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. A Detroit native, Sachs earned his BA, MA and Ph. D from Harvard. You might expect such a learned economist to be dry, stuffy and boring, but you would be wrong. This month Esquire Magazine published an article from Sachs titled "A Simple Plan to Save the World"
Although the article is on the Esquire website, premium subscription status may be required for viewing. It would be worth finding the May issue and reading it if you can. In the article Dr. Sachs explains in relatively simple terms how the developed countries can save money by spending about $75 Billion dollars a year to help under developed countries with things such as health care, agriculture, education and infrastructure. In the scheme of things, the U.S. would kick in about half of this amount, peanuts compared to the $150 Billion dollars per year the American military budget has grown by in the last three years. That's right, since Bush has taken over the military budget has grown from about $300 Billion per year to $450 Billion per year. We are spending about $87 Billion for Afghanistan and Iraq, and that is for military operations, not education, agriculture or infrastructure.
The figures above were not pulled out of the air by someone or some group who are isolated in an ivory tower of academia. Sachs moderated a group of members from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank along with members of the World Health Organization and was able to guide the group to a consensus of opinion. As Sachs puts it in his article, "We're facing the bargain of a generation, a chance to fix the world and forge a prosperous and peaceful place for the rest of the century."
Godspeed Jeff, Godspeed.
David Blaine [1:54 PM]
At a Window
by Carl Sandburg
Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!
But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.
David Blaine [7:25 PM]
If you have the stomach for it visit this slide show showing 16 pictures of dead "terrorists" in Fallujah, Iraq.
click on the picture
You can read an Iraqi doctor's story about these casualties here. Regardless of how you feel about this war, no one can argue the families of these people are ever going to greet American liberators with flowers and candy.
David Blaine [5:50 PM]
Today Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In the Christian religion Christ was God incarnate, and he willingly died as punishment for the sins of all mankind. This parallels the scape goat, a Jewish custom at the time of laying the blame on an innocent animal and driving it out of the village. I apologize to Christians and Jews who are more learned than I if I don't have this as accurate as you would like, but what I would like to ask today is for everyone to consider the love of someone who would stand in your place and die for something he didn't do. Whether you believe it atoned for your sins or not, the act should serve as an example to us and prompt us to accept mistreatment without anger whenever possible. Have a good Easter weekend.
David Blaine [11:52 AM]
No, it's really a Joke
You may know they've released John Hinkley from the mental facility for
unsupervised visits to his parent's home on weekends. For those of you
who may be too young to remember, John Hinckley shot President Ronald
Reagan to impress the actress Jodie Foster. This is such a nice letter
from the President:
THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. John Hinckley
St. Elizabeth's Hospital
Washington, D. C.
Laura and I hope that you are continuing your excellent progress in
recovery from your mental problems. We were pleased to hear that you are
now able to have unsupervised visits with your parents. The staff at the
hospital reports that you are doing fine.
I have decided to seek a second term in office as your President, and I
would appreciate your support and the support of your fine parents.
I would hope that if there is anything that you need at the hospital,
you would let us know.
Oh, by the way, are you aware that John Kerry is banging Jodie Foster?
George W. Bush
United States of America
David Blaine [2:00 AM]
Oliver Stone interviewed Fidel Castro for over 30 hours and made a documentary film about Castro and Cuba. The film played at the Sundance film festival, and was shown last week on the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC). The film can be viewed at, or downloaded from the following link. It runs about an hour and a half. I do not need to make any comments about it, other than to say I have watched it in it's entirety. You can judge for yourself. Thanks to The Information Clearinghouse for providing the bandwidth. Due to the file size, this film will only be available through April 12.
Update: Since many can't watch or download this film on dial up I wanted to offer an alternative link where you can read some of the information from the interview. Visit the website here.
David Blaine [7:13 PM]
de moc ra cy ( P ) Pronunciation Key (d-mkr-s)
n. pl. de moc ra cies
1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
2. A political or social unit that has such a government.
3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
4. Majority rule.
5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community
We went to Iraq to remove Saddam because he was a danger to our national security. We went because he had weapons that were a danger to us and our allies in the middle east. We went to remove a dictator and bring democracy to Iraq. Well you can look at the definitions above and look at todays newspaper and see that we have succeeded. We removed a dictator from a minority religious group and now there is a majority religious group that wishes their religious leaders to establish an Islamic state similar to the one in Iran. Iranian agents are possibly, probably, working with their Iraqi counterparts right now to effect that change. So we brought democracy to Iraq, and this week the majority voted, and we lost. We may not wish to acknowledge this right away, we may wait to count the votes for weeks, months or years, but there was an election this week, and we lost.
David Blaine [4:01 PM]
One Mouth, Two Sides
A business association called something like 'Small Business for Fair Taxes' is campaigning against a rise in cigarette taxes in Michigan. The industry group says that the new tax will harm small business and their employees. The state plans to raise taxes 75 cents per pack. Granted that is a heavy tax, but it is intended in part to get people to stop smoking. That is where the 'Fair Taxers' come in. They might as well call their group 'Small Business for Making Money from People Destroying their Health' Operating a store that sells alcohol and tobacco isn't illegal or immoral, but to try to prevent a program that might reduce consumption and result in health benefits for the people of Michigan, in an attempt to continue profiting off misery? Might as well call yourselves 'Small Business Who Has Ours and Plans To Keep It' So in the end it isn't small business, but liquor store owners and other tobacco retailers that are worried their sales and accompanying profits may take a hit. Time to diversify, bring in new products that people want, maybe the nicotine patch or gum for people wanting to quit? What if all business acted like this. Imagine the makers of asbestos, saying "come on, it's not that bad, we'll have to lay off thousands"
What about lead solder in plumbing? "Sheesh, sure it kills a few kids, but it's the best damned solder out there, never leaks, goes on easy. Plumbers love it"
No, tobacco is one product that has gotten a pretty good shake as the truth has become known. People know it can kill them and still buy and use it. Companies are still allowed to produce it, and store can still sell it. Just don't complain when you run out of customers. Whether it is through tax or education, the good old days of blue smoke filled diners and bars are over. Workplaces are smoke free. Some day a kid may even ask his parents, "whats a cigarette?"
David Blaine [1:24 PM]
Excerpted from the song by the Tragically Hip
Don't tell me what the poets are doin'
Don't tell me that they're talkin tough.
Don't tell me that they're antisocial
Somehow not antisocial enough
Don't tell me what the poets are doin'
Those Himalayas of the mind
Don't tell me what the poets are doin'
In the long grasses over time
Don't tell me what the poets are doin'
On the street and the epitome of vague
Don't tell me how the universe is altered
When you find out how he gets paid
David Blaine [6:19 PM]
Muqtada Al Sadr
This radical shi'ite cleric is years away from becoming an ayatollah, but he is the son of a popular cleric who was assassinated by Saddam Husein.
He has been plotting to resist the American presence in Iraq and oppose the appointed governing council, and he has many followers. This man may be the parallel to the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. If he succeeds in his plan, Iraq could become the newest Islamic state. If you doubt his potential you would be mistaken. He and his followers have the ability to turn Iraq into another Vietnam for the U.S. and their coalition allies. For an inside look at Iraq today I introduce you to a new link on the blogroll, Raed in the Middle. This is the Raed that Salem Pax referred to in the title of his wartime blog, "Where's Raed?" This is a rare opportunity for an average citizen to know more about the war in Iraq than the President! Unless of course he reads my blog, in which case he'll be in the loop. ;-)
David Blaine [12:49 PM]
Sharon has made it clear now that his promise to the U.S. not to target Arafat is no longer in effect. He can do that, stick his thumb in our eye, after all the support the U.S. has give his country for over fifty years. Some people say we support Israel because they are a democracy in a part of the world where there are few. The fact that the U.S. also supports the dictators of many non democratic countries seems to get lost in the cracks there somewhere, but I digress. What I want to know is this. What kind of democracy allows it's military or police to assassinate someone for a crime with which they have not been tried and convicted? I have no reason to want to see Israelis hurt, but they voted for the government they have, and I can't see the U.S. giving support to Sharon any longer. He has as much as told us he is going to murder Arafat. Only the time and place have to be decided. Arafat may deserve punishment, but he deserves an international trial first. I suspect that Sharon knows he can't win a trial, so he has decided to become the judge, jury and executioner. Shame on him.
David Blaine [5:15 PM]
I got to take today off work so I could take my son to get his wisdom teeth removed. He is doing better than most, the doctor said he won't even know three of the four were removed, but the fourth one will hurt awhile. I just got home and made him scrambled eggs. He needs to eat some food before he can take a pain killer. Well most of you may not think taking a day off work to do this sounds lucky, but I know many people in this country, and around the world, must neglect their children or risk loosing their jobs. Not every employer values their workers enough to be this flexible. I feel sorry thinking of children left in day care, or worse, just left alone, while mom and dad went to work today. I feel sorry thinking about the parents who are worrying about their children while working today. Having to choose between staying with the children but not being able to buy them food, clothes, or medicine, or having to go to work and leave them alone. It makes me wonder about other choices people have to make, people who are entrusted with the public good. Will we spend money on guns or butter? Fight wars to keep the peace as people starve, or feed some people while others kill themselves off. I don't know which one is right any more, I've given up believing there is a right or wrong way to go, all seem wrong, all seem right, no one appreciates it anyway. Someone will always complain. I think everyone should read "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt. It won many awards for literature, but the reason I think all should read it is to remember a time when people didn't have a fucking thing to eat, clothes to wear, or a bed to sleep in. Perhaps then the whining and complaining from those who have plenty would slow to a dull roar. Perhaps then people could start to see the many blessings they already have and stop imagining all the wrongs that they think they are suffering. Take five and think about what you have today that someone else would kill for. And be thankful.
David Blaine [1:06 PM]