Saturday, June 30, 2007

June 28:


At the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, Germany signs the Treaty of
Versailles with the Allies, officially ending World War I. The English
economist John Maynard Keynes, who had attended the peace conference
but then left in protest of the treaty, was one of the most outspoken
critics of the punitive agreement. In his The Economic Consequences of
the Peace, published in December 1919, Keynes predicted that the stiff
war reparations and other harsh terms imposed on Germany by the treaty
would lead to the financial collapse of the country, which in turn
would have serious economic and political repercussions on Europe and
the world.

By the fall of 1918, it was apparent to the leaders of Germany that
defeat was inevitable in World War I. After four years of terrible
attrition, Germany no longer had the men or resources to resist the
Allies, who had been given a tremendous boost by the infusion of
American manpower and supplies. In order to avert an Allied invasion
of Germany, the German government contacted U.S. President Woodrow
Wilson in October 1918 and asked him to arrange a general armistice.
Earlier that year, Wilson had proclaimed his "Fourteen Points," which
proposed terms for a "just and stable peace" between Germany and its
enemies. The Germans asked that the armistice be established along
these terms, and the Allies more or less complied, assuring Germany of
a fair and unselfish final peace treaty. On November 11, 1918, the
armistice was signed and went into effect, and fighting in World War I
came to an end.

In January 1919, John Maynard Keynes traveled to the Paris Peace
Conference as the chief representative of the British Treasury. The
brilliant 35-year-old economist had previously won acclaim for his
work with the Indian currency and his management of British finances
during the war. In Paris, he sat on an economic council and advised
British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, but the important
peacemaking decisions were out of his hands, and President Wilson,
Prime Minister Lloyd George, and French Prime Minister Georges
Clemenceau wielded the real authority. Germany had no role in the
negotiations deciding its fate, and lesser Allied powers had little
responsibility in the drafting of the final treaty.

It soon became apparent that the treaty would bear only a faint
resemblance to the Fourteen Points that had been proposed by Wilson
and embraced by the Germans. Wilson, a great idealist, had few
negotiating skills, and he soon buckled under the pressure of
Clemenceau, who hoped to punish Germany as severely as it had punished
France in the Treaty of Frankfurt that ended the Franco-Prussian War
in 1871. Lloyd George took the middle ground between the two men, but
he backed the French plan to force Germany to pay reparations for
damages inflicted on Allied civilians and their property. Since the
treaty officially held Germany responsible for the outbreak of World
War I (in reality it was only partially responsible), the Allies would
not have to pay reparations for damages they inflicted on German

The treaty that began to emerge was a thinly veiled Carthaginian
Peace, an agreement that accomplished Clemenceau's hope to crush
France's old rival. According to its terms, Germany was to relinquish
10 percent of its territory. It was to be disarmed, and its overseas
empire taken over by the Allies. Most detrimental to Germany's
immediate future, however, was the confiscation of its foreign
financial holdings and its merchant carrier fleet. The German economy,
already devastated by the war, was thus further crippled, and the
stiff war reparations demanded ensured that it would not soon return
to its feet. A final reparations figure was not agreed upon in the
treaty, but estimates placed the amount in excess of $30 billion, far
beyond Germany's capacity to pay. Germany would be subject to invasion
if it fell behind on payments.

Keynes, horrified by the terms of the emerging treaty, presented a
plan to the Allied leaders in which the German government be given a
substantial loan, thus allowing it to buy food and materials while
beginning reparations payments immediately. Lloyd George approved the
"Keynes Plan," but President Wilson turned it down because he feared
it would not receive congressional approval. In a private letter to a
friend, Keynes called the idealistic American president "the greatest
fraud on earth." On June 5, 1919, Keynes wrote a note to Lloyd George
informing the prime minister that he was resigning his post in protest
of the impending "devastation of Europe."

The Germans initially refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles, and it
took an ultimatum from the Allies to bring the German delegation to
Paris on June 28. It was five years to the day since the assassination
of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, which began the chain of events that
led to the outbreak of World War I. Clemenceau chose the location for
the signing of the treaty: the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles Palace,
site of the signing of the Treaty of Frankfurt that ended the
Franco-Prussian War. At the ceremony, General Jan Christiaan Smuts,
soon to be president of South Africa, was the only Allied leader to
protest formally the Treaty of Versailles, saying it would do grave
injury to the industrial revival of Europe.

At Smuts' urging, Keynes began work on The Economic Consequences of
the Peace. It was published in December 1919 and was widely read. In
the book, Keynes made a grim prophecy that would have particular
relevance to the next generation of Europeans: "If we aim at the
impoverishment of Central Europe, vengeance, I dare say, will not
limp. Nothing can then delay for very long the forces of Reaction and
the despairing convulsions of Revolution, before which the horrors of
the later German war will fade into nothing, and which will destroy,
whoever is victor, the civilisation and the progress of our

Germany soon fell hopelessly behind in its reparations payments, and
in 1923 France and Belgium occupied the industrial Ruhr region as a
means of forcing payment. In protest, workers and employers closed
down the factories in the region. Catastrophic inflation ensued, and
Germany's fragile economy began quickly to collapse. By the time the
crash came in November 1923, a lifetime of savings could not buy a
loaf of bread. That month, the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler launched
an abortive coup against Germany's government. The Nazis were crushed
and Hitler was imprisoned, but many resentful Germans sympathized with
the Nazis and their hatred of the Treaty of Versailles.

A decade later, Hitler would exploit this continuing bitterness among
Germans to seize control of the German state. In the 1930s, the Treaty
of Versailles was significantly revised and altered in Germany's
favor, but this belated amendment could not stop the rise of German
militarism and the subsequent outbreak of World War II.

In the late 1930s, John Maynard Keynes gained a reputation as the
world's foremost economist by advocating large-scale government
economic planning to keep unemployment low and markets healthy. Today,
all major capitalist nations adhere to the key principles of Keynesian
economics. He died in 1946.

1519 : Charles elected Holy Roman emperor

1914 : Archduke Ferdinand assassinated

1969 : The Stonewall Riot





CHRISTOPHER SWOPE, GOVERNING - Francisco Leyva, a project manager with
[Tucson's] DOT, wrote to say that Tucson is about to launch a medical
application called ER-Link. The idea is to use Wifi on board ambulances
so that emergency room doctors can see incoming patients before they
roll in through the double doors. . . Here's how it works. Tucson's
ambulances are being equipped with cameras, both inside and out. And the
ER at the University Medical Center has been equipped with a couple of
computer monitors. Let's say there's a car crash. Once the ambulance
shows up on the scene, the ER docs can remotely control the on-board
cameras to size up the situation. For example, the ER docs can zoom in
on the wreckage and see for themselves how serious the crash is. Then,
once the victim is en route to the hospital, the ER docs can see the
patient's vital signs and watch on as EMTs administer treatment inside
the ambulance. The ER docs and the EMTs can even talk back and forth. .
. All of this is made possible by a WiFi system that is anchored into
the city's traffic signals.



ROBIN MCKIE, OBSERVER - Food flown into the UK could be stripped of its
organic label if the Soil Association goes ahead with controversial
plans to deal with major loopholes in its rulebook. The organization -
responsible for giving organic status to food sold in Britain - is
considering the introduction of restrictions, or even a ban, on produce
imported by air. A ban, which would have widespread consequences for
shoppers, is being considered because senior Soil Association executives
have become increasingly worried that they are encouraging
carbon-emitting flights into Britain.,,2089233,00.html



NNPA - Independence Federal Savings Bank, one of the nation's oldest
black-owned financial institutions, based in Washington, D. C., was
taken over in an aggressive buyout by a White developer last week,
sending a chilling message to the already diminishing black financial
industry. "This was quite a loss and unfortunately when one black bank
closes there is a big sore, but when one bank from a majority-own closes
it is not as devastating," said Norma Hart, President of the National
Banker's Association. Less than two decades ago there were nearly 50
black-owned banks. But, according to the Federal Reserve there were only
31 certified operations in 2006.






REUTERS - The World Bank's former chief economist attacked its proposed
new chief Robert Zoellick as a man of protectionism and said his
nomination was a "wasted opportunity" for the bank. In an interview with
Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Nobel economics prize winner Joseph
Stiglitz said outgoing President Paul Wolfowitz's tenure had been a
"disaster" and questioned his successor's ability to end protectionism.
"Robert Zoellick defended American agricultural protectionism until the
bitter end when he was responsible for commercial talks," Stiglitz said.
"How will he, as the future president of the World Bank, ask for the
dismantling of aid to agriculture that favors developed countries at the
expense of those that are poor?"






PR WATCH - In the wake of the latest study showing heart attack risk in
an FDA-approved drug, there have been increased calls for greater
transparency of clinical trial results. What does the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration think about requiring companies to publicly release all
of their trial results? "I would be very concerned about wholesale
posting of thousands of clinical trials leading to mass confusion," said
Steve Galso, who directs the FDA's Drug Evaluation and Research
division. But Merrill Goozner, who directs the Integrity in Science
project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, doubts that
consumers would "be any more confused than they now are from the
information they get from direct-to-consumer advertising. . . Let's not
forget that a provision in the FDA reform bill calling for a two-year
moratorium on DTC ads on some new drugs was rejected because it limited
commercial freedom of speech. In 21st century America, the right to
misinform consumers is protected, but consumers' right to information is
denied because they might misinform themselves."



BBC - More than one in eight men do not volunteer to work with children
because they are worried people will think they are a pedophile, a
survey suggests. Childrens' charities NCH and Chance UK also say almost
one in five men do not come forward because they would have to undertake
a criminal records check. More volunteers will have to be checked
because of a new child protection law being introduced next year. . .
The NCH's chief executive, Clare Tickell, said: "Many children,
especially boys, are desperately in need of a male mentor, which is why
we urgently need men to come forward despite any fears they may have
about public perception."



DCRTV - DC-based National Public Radio is teaming up with online radio
broadcasters to appeal new music royalty fees that they say would put
smaller operators out of business and force others to sharply scale back
their online music offerings. NPR filed a notice with the US Court Of
Appeals in DC signaling that it would challenge the ruling by a panel of
copyright judges that will sharply raise the amount of royalties that
NPR stations and others have to pay record companies for streaming music
over the internet.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE - Asian pop fans are taking Western music off
their MP3 and CD players and listening to local artists instead, a
survey revealed this week, underlining changes in worldwide music
tastes. Korean, Mandarin-language and Thai pop are among the genres that
are beating once-dominant Western pop, rock and rap in Asia, according
to the survey by the market research company Synovate. In the first
study of its kind, almost 4,000 people across major cities in Taiwan,
China, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia,
India, Thailand and Indonesia were questioned about their music tastes
and how they sourced their music. Surveyers found that just two Western
bands ranked among Asian listeners' favorite acts: the American rap act
Black Eyed Peas and the rap-rock band Linkin Park, both of which had
recently toured the region



GUARDIAN, UK - Berlin's famously rebellious Kreuzberg district is
fighting to remain one of the last McDonald's-free zones in Europe,
having rediscovered its radical spirit in the run-up to next week's G8
summit. In what has been coined the "burgher versus burger" battle,
protesters in Germany's most multicultural, anti-bourgeois corner want
to stop the fast-food chain from opening a "drive-thru" eatery that is
due to start business in August. It would be the chain's 60th branch in
Berlin. . . "If they build this branch, Kreuzberg will become
Heiligendamm," said Sarah Miller, 29, the founder of the campaign,
referring to the G8 venue on Germany's Baltic coast where 16,000 police
and 11,000 soldiers are bracing themselves for clashes with
demonstrators before and during the June 6-8 summit.McDonald's has said
it cannot understand the fuss, as it bought the plot of land for the
restaurant five years ago.,,2089481,00.html










RANDEEP RAMESH, GUARDIAN - In the most conspicuous sign yet of India's
unprecedented prosperity, the country's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is
building a new home in the financial hub of Mumbai: a 60-story palace
with helipad, health club and six floors of car parking. The building,
named Antilla after a mythical island, will have a total floor area
greater than Versailles and be home for Mr Ambani, his mother, wife,
three children and 600 full-time staff.

Draped in hanging gardens, the building will have a floor for a home
theatre, a glass-fronted apartment for guests, and a two-storey health
club. As the ceilings are three times as high as a normal building's,
the 173m (570ft) tower will only have 27 floors.

With property prices rocketing, the building is already worth more than
L500m. It is expected to be ready for the Ambanis to move in next year.
. .

Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Group is India's largest private company, with
interests in oil, retail and biotechnology. The 50-year-old became the
country's first rupee trillionaire this week, taking his net worth to
L14bn. . .

"Our wealthiest citizens used to hide their money," said Hafeez
Contractor, a Mumbai-based architect. "They would not drive their
Mercedes, they lived in small apartments. Even Mr Ambani's father lived
in a small block of flats. They were afraid of the taxman. But that
attitude has gone; Mukesh has made his money, and good for him if he
wants to flaunt it.",,2092811,00.html

MUMBAIR MIRROR - The first six floors - which have come up - will be
reserved for parking alone, and that too for cars belonging only to
Mukesh's family.

Sources said the Ambanis would prefer to have all their cars serviced
and maintained at an in-house service centre. This centre will be set up
on the seventh floor.

The eighth floor will have an entertainment centre comprising a
mini-theatre with a seating capacity of 50.

The rooftop of the mini-theatre will serve as a garden, and immediately
above that, three more balconies with terrace gardens will be
independent floors.

While the ninth floor will a 'refuge' floor - meant to be used for
rescue in emergencies - two floors above that will be set aside for
'health.' One of these will have facilities for athletics and a swimming
pool, while the other will have a health club complete with the latest
gym equipment.

There will be a two-storeyd glass-fronted apartment for the Ambani
family's guests above the health floors. One more refuge floor and one
floor for mechanical works will be built on top of these apartments.

The four floors at the top, that will provide a view of the Arabian Sea
and a superb view of the city's skyline, will be for Mukesh, his wife
Neeta, their three children and Mukesh's mother Kokilaben.

According to the plan, two floors above the family's residence will be
set aside as maintenance areas, and on top of that will be an "air space
floor," which will act as a control room for helicopters landing on the
helipad above. The plan states that three helipads are to be built on
the terrace.§id=



STUART STEERS, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS - Denver has become a national model
for the Family to Family philosophy, which marks the biggest change in
child welfare in a generation. Under the system, when children are
removed from a home, social workers place them with relatives or in
foster homes in their neighborhoods, rather than in institutions or with
foster parents far from home. As recently as four years ago, the
majority of children removed from a dangerous home environment in Denver
were first placed in group homes. Today 62 percent go to live with
relatives. . .

"We feel like we have good news," said Roxane White, Denver's manager of
human services. According to White, the rate of "re-abuse" - children
coming back into the system because of abuse or neglect - is just over 2
percent in Denver, vs. a national average of 6 percent.

But some see Denver's motivation in adopting Family to Family as a
desire to save money and say the city is sending children back into
unhealthy families.

"This is all a smoke screen, the real issue is money," said Bob Agard,
former director of human services in Gilpin County. "They don't want to
spend the money they have to to place kids in quality homes." Agard
believes many of the children that come into Denver's system would be
better off placed in foster families elsewhere.,1299,DRMN_15_5560097,00.html


A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America

Chris Finan

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Finan, president of the American Booksellers
Foundation for Free Expression, provides an insightful history of the
long struggle for free speech in America. . . The government has more
than once tried to suppress the First Amendment right to free expression
of suspected radicals, antiwar activists and labor unionists. In
November 1919, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launched raids during
which 4,000 Americans, mostly immigrants, were rounded up because they
were suspected of being Communists. In 1923, Upton Sinclair went to jail
for the brazen act of reading the First Amendment aloud on Liberty Hill
in San Pedro, Calif. Thirty-four years later, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and
a City Lights bookstore clerk faced trial in San Francisco for selling
Allen Ginsberg's "obscene" book Howl. Finan's tome is chock-full of
would-be tyrants eager to tell others what they might say and think. But
it's also chock-full of heroes (from the ACLU to those brave librarians)
who have refused to be silenced.
BOOKLIST - The book is a welcome and much-needed change from the
simplistic good-versus-evil treatment this subject often gets. Could be
the definitive study of a perpetually complex, contentious issue.






SCHUMACHER SOCIETY - A Community Land Trust is a form of common land
ownership with a charter based on the principles of sustainable and
ecologically-sound stewardship and use. The land in a CLT is held in
trust by a democratically-governed non-profit corporation. Through an
inheritable and renewable long-term lease, the trust removes land from
the speculative market and [encourages] multiple uses such as affordable
housing, village improvement, commercial space, agriculture, recreation,
and open space preservation. Individual leaseholders own the buildings
and other improvements on the land created by their labor and
investment, but do not own the land itself. Resale agreements on the
buildings ensure that the land value of a site is not included in future
sales, but rather held in perpetuity on behalf of the regional

The first community land trust was formed in 1967 in Albany, Georgia by
Robert Swann and Slater King, seeking a way to achieve secure access to
land for African American farmers. The movement has grown to include
over 200 community land trusts throughout the US and is widely
understood as the best model for developing permamently affordable
homeownership opportunities in regions of escalating land prices.




JOE GRATA, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE Like the "Energizer Bunny," West
Virginia University's PRT is an icon that keeps on going. And going. PRT
stands for Personal Rapid Transit, a one-of-a-kind, computer-run,
electric people mover system whose 73 gold-and-blue transit cars have
been whisking riders around hilly Morgantown and the school complex
since 1975.

"There are 130 automated systems worldwide, but only one like this,"
said Lawrence Fabian of Boston, director of the Advanced Transit
Association, which deals with futuristic transit programs. "Its
characteristics are unique," including on-demand service that takes
riders where they want to go, like pressing the buttons on an elevator
except that it's a horizontal trip with five stations instead of five

The PRT is so "personal" that fairly often there's only one passenger
aboard an 8,600-pound car, moving at speeds up to 30 mph from Point A to
Point C without stopping at Point B.

The former Urban Mass Transportation Administration, an arm of the U.S.
Department of Transportation, funded development and construction of the
PRT in the 1970s, wanting to test the technology in an environment of
changing weather and challenging topography.

Often maligned in its infancy as a goofy, unworkable idea and then
plagued by technical and operating maladies in childhood, the people
mover overcame the stigmas and problems long ago.

The PRT has racked up 20 million miles and carried 60 million riders
over three decades. The safety record is impressive. No one has ever
been badly hurt on the vehicles, electrified guideway or stations.

A transportation magazine, "The New Electric Railway Journal," has
ranked the system above Disney World's Monorail for overall performance.





ROB WEIR BLOG - It appears that Science, the journal of the America
Association for the Advancement of Science, itself the largest
scientific society in the world, has updated its authoring guidelines to
include advice for Office 2007 users. The news is not good.

"Because of changes Microsoft has made in its recent Word release that
are incompatible with our internal workflow, which was built around
previous versions of the software, Science cannot at present accept any
files in the new .docx format produced through Microsoft Word 2007,
either for initial submission or for revision. Users of this release of
Word should convert these files to a format compatible with Word 2003 or
Word for Macintosh 2004 (or, for initial submission, to a PDF file)
before submitting to Science."

Well, so much for 100% compatibility, eh? . . . More bad news:

"Users of Word 2007 should also be aware that equations created with the
default equation editor included in Microsoft Word 2007 will be
unacceptable in revision, even if the file is converted to a format
compatible with earlier versions of Word; this is because conversion
will render equations as graphics and prevent electronic printing of
equations, and because the default equation editor packaged with Word
2007 -- for reasons that, quite frankly, utterly baffle us -- was not
designed to be compatible with MathML. Regrettably, we will be forced to
return any revised manuscript created with the Word 2007 default
equation editor to authors for re-editing. To get around this, please
use the Math Type equation editor or the equation editor included in
previous versions of Microsoft Word."

Nature appears to have the same problem:

"We currently cannot accept files saved in Microsoft Office 2007
formats. Equations and special characters (for example, Greek letters)
cannot be edited and are incompatible with Nature's own editing and
typesetting programs."

Reuse of existing standards is important. When you reuse a standard, you
are reusing more than a piece of paper. You are reusing the experience
and effort that went into creating and reviewing that standard. You are
reusing the experience gathered by those who have already implemented
the standard. You are reusing the books and training materials already
written for that standard. You are reusing the interfaces for other
technologies that have already integrated with that standard or can
produce or consume output that conforms to that standard. . .





OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY ­ Around the world, factories are using more
than 18 million barrels of oil and up to 130 billion gallons of fresh
water a year to create something that, by and large, most people don't
need. But the product is so amazingly popular that sales are going up 10
percent a year, just like clockwork. The big success story? Bottled
water. And the resources mentioned above are just to make the plastic

Another 41 billion gallons of water is then used to fill them ­ water
that is often just tap water, and other times has less frequent
monitoring for safety or purity than if it had come out of a tap.

"Bottled water has become an incredibly big business, up to $100 billion
per year," said Todd Jarvis, an assistant professor in the Water
Resources Graduate Program at Oregon State University, and a research
hydrogeologist with the OSU Institute for Water and Watersheds. "There
are enormous amounts of money to be made here. Some of the profits make
our business majors blush, and everyone wants in. It's just

Jarvis, who has studied the issue for 15 years and makes frequent
presentations on it, arrived long ago at a simple conclusion ­ bottled
water is not worth the price, and the people buying it often have no
idea of the environmental repercussions. When his students learn the
truth about the water itself and hear about the drawbacks of this
burgeoning industry, he said, they often change their behavior.

"There have always been, and still are some places in the developing
world where bottled water is necessary for health concerns and relief
efforts," Jarvis said. "But in most of the world it was a niche item
until the 1970s, when Perrier spent millions on advertising, and the
industry just took off. It hasn't looked back since, and now in America
we're spending $20,000 every minute of every day on bottled water."

Between 1978 and 2006, the consumption of bottled water in America went
up 20 times, or 2,000 percent. Large soft drink companies dominate the

With bottled water, Jarvis said, any past issues of health and safety
now take a back seat to convenience, taste, and perhaps most important,
trendiness. About 700 name brands of water compete for shelf space, and
tap water that originally cost maybe five cents a gallon can be sold for
$4 a gallon. Doesn't take a business genius to see how that pencils out.

The water itself, Jarvis said, is generally fine ­ usually no more or
less safe than tap water, which in the United States is among the safest
in the world. Worth noting, however, is that community water supplies
are subject to fairly strict and constant monitoring required by the
Safe Drinking Water Act, while bottled water is considered a "food" and
entails much less frequent monitoring for safety and quality by the Food
and Drug Administration or individual states. Tests of bottled water
have at times found contaminants.

"There doesn't seem to be any correlation between safety and bottled
water consumption in the U.S.," Jarvis said. "New York City, for
instance, gets its water from a very carefully managed watershed and has
some of the best drinking water in the nation ­ and also among the
highest per capita consumption of bottled water."

And some of the myths surrounding water, Jarvis said, need to be
checked. Spring water, for instance, is often touted as if it's
inherently safer or more pure than other forms of water ­ when in fact
it could be subject to more surface pollution because of the engineering
difficulties associated with securing a source that is a spring-based or
shallow well supply. Water from deep wells ­ like that often used for
municipal water supplies ­ could be of the same or better quality than
water from springs. . .

But before people get too carried away with visions of pristine water
from a sparkling aquifer or mountain stream, Jarvis said, they should be
aware that 25-40 percent of what is on store shelves is just tap water
that has undergone additional treatment or had minerals added at the
bottling plant.

"If people still want to drink bottled water, I usually recommend
purified water, 'rain' water or well water from a nearby local source to
provide the best combination of purity and environmental sensitivity,"
Jarvis said. "But a reasonable alternative is just chilled tap water in
a re-usable container. That often removes the chlorine taste that people
complain about with tap water, it's safe, and it's a lot cheaper."



ST. PETERSBURG TIMES - One day a couple weeks ago a man named Gene from
the city's code compliance assistance department drove down Alcazar Way
in Lakewood Estates and decided to send letters to some of the residents
telling them their lawns didn't have enough ... grass. . .

Take Mitchell Bryant. The pastor of the Old Landmark Cathedral Church
lives on Alcazar Way. His lawn looks . . . thirsty.

"You'd think they'd be more sensitive to the atmospheric conditions and
hold off on the letters," he said one recent evening when a reporter
knocked on his door. "I don't know what you're supposed to do. You're
kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place.". . .

Rainfall over the last year and a half is way below where it needs to
be. One-day-a-week watering restrictions have been in effect since
January. Some much-needed rain is forecast for this weekend, but that's
probably not going to change the dusty, decidedly un-green lawns not
just in Lakewood Estates but all over the city and state.

Say the code compliance folks: We get it. We just want to help.

"In a tough time like this, with the drought, we really, truly do try to
work with residents," said Todd Yost, the assistant director at the
city's code compliance assistance department. "But at the same time we
want to try to figure out how to keep that dust down and cover that
dirt. There will not be a fine."

The letter went out to a lot of people, and all over the city, not just
Lakewood Estates, Yost said. It said things about "the conditions," "the
health and safety of residents," and making "our neighborhoods nice
places to live." It also referred to "bare dirt areas" and cited Chapter
16, Sec. 16-1064 (d) (2). The code says the owners of one- and
two-family properties must maintain a "herbaceous layer of sod" -- grass
-- "r ground cover plant material."


Nygaard Notes #375

Nygaard Notes
Independent Periodic News and Analysis
Number 375, June 1, 2007

On the Web at


This Week: The Great Capitulation of 2007

1. “Quote” of the Week
2. Shrinking Newspapers, Shrinking World
3. Democratic Congress in Historic Capitulation: Not Front-Page News in Minnesota
4. Turn On Democracy Now!
5. Nygaard On TV



The news of corporate takeovers of the nation’s news organizations and the severe budget cuts that often follow seems to land mostly on the business pages and in the academic journals that are only read by journalists (and journalism wonks like Nygaard). That’s too bad, as these ownership changes and cuts do have real-world impacts. I give a hint this week as to why that is so.

I appreciate all of you who forward Nygaard Notes to friends and relatives. This word of mouth is how the project grows and reaches ever-more people.

Next week I hope to have an update on the ongoing, still virtually “secret” air wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. An edited version of my March story on this (“The Secret Air Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Nygaard Notes #366) was just published in the nationally-distributed Z Magazine, which I hope might help to stimulate some reporting on this issue. Otherwise, the online publication TomDispatch just ran another great piece on it (“Nick Turse, The Air War in Iraq Uncovered”). Find that at

Until next week,



“Quote” of the Week

This week’s “Quote” is from a press release of April 12 from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), headed “Americans Have a Right to Unfiltered Information About the Human Costs of War, ACLU Says:”

“The ACLU pointed out that during both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defense Department has instituted numerous policies designed to control information about the human costs of war. These policies include: Banning photographers on U.S. military bases from covering the arrival of caskets containing the remains of U.S. soldiers killed overseas; Paying Iraqi journalists to write positive accounts of the U.S. war effort; Inviting U.S. journalists to ‘embed’ with military units but requiring them to submit their stories for pre-publication review; Erasing journalists’ footage of civilian deaths in Afghanistan; and Refusing to disclose statistics on civilian casualties.”

Not a single U.S. newspaper reported this story.


Shrinking Newspapers, Shrinking World

The ongoing shrinking of our local newspaper, the Star Tribune, has been one of the big news items in my town lately. Since it was purchased by a “private equity firm” known as Avista Capital Management, heads have been rolling. The latest news came on May 7th, when the Star Trib announced the loss of 50 more newsroom jobs, out of a total of 383. That’s about 13 percent, which is on top of the 7 percent let go in March, three months after the coming of Avista.

I used to make fun of the Star Trib’s slogan “Newspaper of the Twin Cities,” since I saw it as nothing more than a cheap marketing ploy. Now the Star Trib doesn’t use that slogan. Now they don’t have any slogan, apparently, although the de facto slogan appears to be “Newspaper of the Stockholders.” I’m almost nostalgic about the cheap marketing ploy! Here’s a hint of the nature of the problem:

The Coming of “Localization”

The Star Tribune’s “Reader’s Representative,” Kate Parry, wrote about the recent layoffs and related matters on May 13th. She said that “To minimize the impact of those 50 departures on the newspaper you read, a major reorganization of the newsroom is underway.” According to Parry, the Star Trib’s new editor, Nancy Barnes, says that “improving coverage of local communities is a top priority.”

She’s in line with industry groupthink on this. Charles Bobrinskoy, one of the bigwigs at the corporation that owns the Chicago Tribune, was quoted on the website of the public TV show Frontline saying, “newspapers around the country have figured out that what you have to do today to survive is provide local news coverage.” This idea is called “localization” by some. The media critic for Twin Cities newsmagazine The Rake, Brian Lambert, tells us that “In newspaper corporate speak, ‘localization’ means stripping away any beat focused on any but the most parochial concerns: individual neighborhoods, city governments, and local sports.” Lambert adds that “The editorial focus of both [the St. Paul and the Minneapolis] newspapers has been redirected to the minutiae of second- and third-ring suburbs because that’s where higher-income families reside—people advertisers are most eager to reach.”

Ah, yes: Advertisers!

On May 20 the Star Trib’s editor, Barnes, published some “answers to commonly asked questions” in her paper. One of the questions she “answered” was “We heard you were going to refocus the newspaper on local news. Does this mean you are reducing national and international coverage?” And here is most of her answer:

“We have always gotten most of our national and international coverage from wire services such as the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post and others. Our commitment to keeping readers informed about the most important stories around the world has not changed...
We do, however, want to be the best source for state and local information anywhere in the Twin Cities or Minnesota. Readers have lots of sources of national news, but they have few other reliable sources of local news. Consequently, we are trying to make sure our own staff members are deployed on exclusive local content, not duplicating content that is available from wire services.”

This, of course, has a big effect on how national and international issues are framed and understood by newspaper readers in Minnesota. The big question is: What sort of effect will that be? A hint of how it is going to work in my city—and, most likely, in many cities—came just five days after the editor’s comments were published, as the next article explains.


Democratic Congress in Historic Capitulation: Not Front-Page News in Minnesota

The front page of the Star Tribune on Friday, May 25th was dominated by a story headlined, “Memorial Day Weekend Info You Can Use: A Water-Filled Weekend.” The feature consisted of a large photo of a marina, a list of Memorial Day events, weather, gas prices, road construction information, and other “Info You Can Use.”

Unless one turned to the inside pages, one wouldn’t have known that the previous day, Thursday, May 24th, was the day that the U.S. Congress (the one controlled by the Democratic Party) passed a $120-billion “emergency” war spending bill that “gives the president the war funding he has been seeking for more than three months, without any requirement that he bring troops home...”

The dramatic conclusion to what the Los Angeles Times called the “showdown between Congress and President Bush” is arguably the biggest news story of the month. Certainly of the week. And is it not true that the Democratic Party that controls this Congress was voted into the majority last November with a mandate to end this war? And it is true that one of the Democrats voted into office, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, voted in favor of this historic capitulation. Yet the Star Tribune amazingly deemed this story unworthy of the front page. Not only was it less worthy than holiday plans, but apparently it was also less worthy than a legislative act to legalize a poorly-located swimming pool in New Ulm, Minnesota. That pool was the subject of another front-page story that day.

Since the vote, which I will call The Great Capitulation of 2007 (GC07), was such a major story, here is a miscellaneous group of direct quotes from a Los Angeles Times story that WAS on the front page in Los Angeles, as it was in many U.S. newspapers on the day after the GC07.

“At the White House, the president spoke enthusiastically about the legislation...”

“In the House and the Senate, Republican lawmakers praised the ...plan...”

The bill was passed by “overwhelmingly united Republicans and deeply divided Democrats,” as “86 Democrats in the House and 37 in the Senate voted for the full funding package.”

“The measure that passed Thursday—which includes nearly $100 billion to fund military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq through Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year—contains no mention of a U.S. withdrawal.”

“Under the terms of the measure... the Iraqi government would have to demonstrate progress on [18 benchmarks] by mid-July. Absent such progress, economic aid to Iraq could be withheld, though BUSH WOULD BE ABLE TO WAIVE THE RESTRICTION.” [Emphasis added by Nygaard]

The GC07 passed 280 to 142 in the House and 80 to 14 in the Senate. I’m not sure it was reported in any newspaper, so here’s a list of the 14 Senators who voted against The Great Capitulation of 2007.

Barbara Boxer, California; Hilary Clinton, New York; Christopher Dodd, Connecticut; Russ Feingold, Wisconsin; Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts; John Kerry Massachusetts; Patrick Leahy, Vermont; Barack Obama, Illinois; Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island; Ron Wyden, Oregon

Bernie Sanders, Vermont

Richard Burr, North Carolina; Tom Coburn, Oklahoma; Michael Enzi, Wyoming

It’s hard to know the motivation these people had for voting the way they did, so I won’t call any of them “heroic.” But at least they prevented the “President” from getting unanimous affirmation of his hideous conduct of this crime of empire. If you’re into this sort of thing, you can find the entire roll-call vote—“ayes” and “nays”—by going to this USA Today article and clicking on the links to “how they voted.”

For the record, CBS News poll in May showed that nearly two-thirds of United Statesians (63 percent) think that the U.S. “should set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.” A Zogby International poll from last year showed that “An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year.” That “next year” was up three months ago. As far as the opinion of Minnesotans goes—one criteria that might dictate front-page coverage, one would think—we don’t really know, since the Minnesota Poll has not been conducted so far in 2007, a victim of budget cutting at its sponsor, the Star Tribune newspaper.

And, finally, the group whose opinion on this issue matters the most is the people of Iraq. “A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.” That is the Washington Post, in a story from this past September 26th. According to the State Department, the story says, “65 percent of those asked [in Baghdad] favor an immediate pullout.” The Post adds that a poll conducted by Iraqis “showed that 80 percent of Iraqis who were questioned favored an immediate withdrawal,” but the director of the Iraqi polling firm that came up with that number “spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared being killed.”


Turn On Democracy Now!

The tremendous national news show “Democracy Now!” currently airs on over 450 stations in North America. Included in that list are six TV stations and two radio stations in my home state of Minnesota. If you haven’t yet listened to this amazing daily show, hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, you can hear it or read transcripts on their website at .

Many readers of Nygaard Notes no doubt already know Democracy Now! and know how valuable it is as a counterweight to the corporate media. However, you probably also know that most people still have never heard of it, even in the communities where it is currently aired. So...
I’d like to encourage people in the Twin Cities area to support a brand-new consciousness-raising campaign that is just getting off the ground here in Minnesota. The campaign is called “Turn On Democracy Now,” and you can learn all about it at this website:

The point of the TODN campaign is to get more people to tune into the daily radio broadcast of Democracy Now! on KFAI Radio in the Twin Cities. It’s as simple as that. (It also shows on several cable TV stations locally, but this campaign focuses on the radio version.) Here’s how the campaign puts it on their website:

“On one day in September, we'll gather on high-traffic street corners throughout the Twin Cities from noon to 1 p.m. (when Democracy Now! airs on KFAI) holding signs reading: ‘TURN ON DEMOCRACY NOW!, 90.3 FM’ (Minneapolis area) and "TURN ON DEMOCRACY NOW!, 106.7 FM" (St. Paul area).”

Fiendishly simple, no? I encourage people to sign up to hold a sign, and maybe to help organize the effort.

There may well be similar campaigns in other areas of the country. If not, maybe YOU can organize one! Go to the Democracy Now! website to find out where you can see or hear the show in your state:

See you on the streets!


Nygaard On TV

Since you are reading Nygaard Notes, it’s possible that you might be interested in seeing me (Nygaard, that is) on television. If you live in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, you have a couple of chances in the next week. My friends and allies Karen Redleaf and Eric Angell produce a cable TV show called “Our World in Depth” that shows on the St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) Channel 15 and on the Minneapolis Telecommunications Network (MTN) Channel 17.

The currently-airing show, “Questioning The News,” features yours truly, along with Premack Award-winning local journalist Lydia Howell. talking about a range of issues having to do with, well, with questioning the news.

Catch the show in St. Paul on Tuesday June 5 at 5:00 pm (right after Democracy Now!) and on Wednesday June 6 at 10:00 am.

On Minneapolis Television Network Channel 17, the same show can be seen on Saturday, June 9 at 9:00 pm, and Tuesday June 12 at 8:00 am (right after Democracy Now!)

Anyone with basic cable service can watch it, I’m told. I don’t have any cable service, so I hope this is true!

I also do a regular TV show on the Suburban Community Channels, Channel 15, on the first Monday of every month. The weekly show is called “Our World Today,” and our first-Monday show is called “Through a Different Lens,” and focuses on the media. The show features me and Green Party stalwart Dave Bicking, and is hosted by Suzanne Linton. The channel is available to people in the suburbs north of St. Paul, Minnesota, so if you’re up in that area, the show will be broadcast live at 8:00 pm on June 4th, and they tell me it will be replayed on Tuesday at 4:00 am (!) and at noon.


If you have received this issue of Nygaard Notes from a friend, or by accident, or through some other bizarre quirk of inexplicable fate which leaves you with no useful return address, be aware that you can receive your own free subscription by asking for it in an E-mail sent to Nygaard Notes at Or visit the Nygaard Notes website at

I would like to continue to provide this service for free. You could help by making a voluntary contribution (anything you can afford, whether $5.00 or $500.00) You can donate online by going to the Nygaard Notes website at Then just get out your credit card and follow the instructions. Of course, you can always just send a good old check through the mail. Make checks payable to “Nygaard Notes” and send to: Nygaard Notes, P.O. Box 14354, Minneapolis, MN 55414. Thank you!
Jeff Nygaard
National Writers Union
Twin Cities Local #13 UAW
Nygaard Notes