Sunday, July 29, 2007



By Kevin Stoda

I think that the Constitution of the United States should be properly revamped to protect the poorest and to main proper enforcement of justice and governance for the Commonweal. No other constitution on the planet has gone through as little renovation as the American Constitution has.

Is this because the constitution of the United States of America and its Articles of Amendment are so perfect?

Or is this because the founders and subsequent congresses and governments failed to do their duties and have simply allowed lethargy and inertia to creep in and take over the whole system in place of responsible growth and advancement in good governance?

I believe that for far too long, glaring problems have looked Americans in their eyes, and Americans have until now blinked. Therefore, if a major alternative to the Democratic-Republican Cabal is to become properly formed, we will have to see the system further shaken in the coming months. That is, it will take a groundswell of participation by smaller parties and progressive forces at every state level in the country so that a new constitutional reform debate and reality is to be given a chance!

Until now, too many people and party members of whatever color have been frightened by the thought of getting our states and federal representatives to call for many necessary amendments to the constitution. However, reform is essential if American’s are going to take back control of their rights and freedoms in this—the wealthiest and most powerful country on earth!

It is now time--not only to think outside of the box but--to not shrink from the call for revision. The proposed amendments which follow this section of this article need to be fully considered and debated in order to make certain that our own powerful country (and its many neighbors and fellow peaceful allies) are free of our tyranny and bad governance—a governance whose power is currently designed and skewed primarily on behalf of the MOST ELITE, MOST POWERFUL and MOST WEALTHY.

It is for this reason that I would like to call out now a year, 2007-2008, of more than just conversation. I want to see a year where American states, statesmen, and peoples of all colors and classes march into their state houses and demand constitutional reforms at the federal level that protect and ensure prosperity, justice and positive and progress developments in our system.

In order to provide a forum for this, let me invite you all to write comments and add to my list of amendments (below) to reform the American Landscape and to stare down those who oppose or fear real progressive constitutional reforms.

Here is a list of possible Amendments that should be considered on the campaign trails at state and national level in 2007-2008. They should be the grounds for calling out constitutional conventions at the state level, too. [By the way, these practices and proposed amendments (below) are already in use currently in different countries and federations around the globe. We can learn from others’ expertise in these matters and jumpstart our democracy again.]


(1) Have a representative democracy that really gives more power to the states and to a greater variety of citizens and citizen-groups than does our current system. NOTE: A better job of representing the differing populations in society would still likely require a 5 % hurdle for gaining representation in a congress or parliament. This is currently done in Germany and in other European states more effectively than in the U.S. where an unreformed constitution reigns.

(2) Allow—at state discretion—at least one of the two state senators to be nominated once again at the state level, giving more power to the government of each state to carry out some national reform.
(3) Allow only approximately a 2 to 3 month period for all elections. Penalties should include charges of breaking the national covenant or constitution with the American peoples.
(4) Limit the executive branch’s ability to override most congressional vetoes and congressional legislation, i.e. permitting no Presidential notes weigh-laying intent of legislation.
(5) Allow for recall elections of representatives and president/vice-president at the national level.
(6) Regulate election funding & financing strictly & with universal but progressive taxes on the wealthiest corporations and taxpayers.
(7) Allow little—if any--corporate and private influence on individual election campaign, while limiting their very public influence on parties and issue-campaigns in contrast to how they exercise their influence currently.
(8) Allow voters to select back-up candidates, as is currently done in Australia.
(9) Get rid of the electoral college for presidential elections.


(1) More progressive and more universal taxes need to be restored—with bottom level wage earners receiving government subsidies for education, medical care, etc.
(2) No 100% write-offs on taxes except for recognized and bonafide apolitical NGOs.
(3) Limit defense and intelligence spending as a proportion of the total federal budget or GNP, similar to what Japan does currently according to its constittuion.
(4) Set up spending minimums as percentage of national budget and as percentage of GNP for primary. secondary, and tertiary education.
(5) Write tax laws that follow corporations significantly better across national borders than they do currently.
(6) Allow an opt-out of taxes on military spending for conscientious objectors. NOTE: These citizens would have to put equivalent moneys in a national societal care fund to be used for other needs in the nation.


(1) Incorporate the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights into the U.S. Constitution.
(2) Maintain most of the current amendments to the Constitution.
(3) Eliminate current uncontrolled rights to bear arms to only the domain of common-sense levels of privacy rights, self-protection, and police protection.
(4) Make it possible for 60% of the states to call for impeachment of a renegade president or vice-president.
(5) Add minimum health care and education standards to rights in the Constitution outlined for each citizen.
(6) Add consumer, environmental, health, and labor protections to the Constitution.
(7) Define Human Rights to involve all corporate operations and franchises outside the USA affecting USA corporations, citizens others and their families—leading to more overseas prosecutions according to international and national law.
(8) Recognize International Court of Justice as pertains to all human and most civil rights.
(9) Allow U.S. citizens to take U.S. officials and others to the International Court of Justice.


The constitutional procedures for making amendments and ratifying in the current constitution are four. These four pathways, according to one Vermont website are:

•Proposal by convention of states, ratification by state conventions (never used)
•Proposal by convention of states, ratification by state legislatures (never used)
•Proposal by Congress, ratification by state conventions (used once)
•Proposal by Congress, ratification by state legislatures (used all other times) [1]

This same website states: “It is interesting to note that at no point does the President have a role in the formal amendment process (though he would be free to make his opinion known). He cannot veto an amendment proposal, nor a ratification.”[2] This means that the executive branch is not needed at all for the constitution to be amended.

In the days of Bush and Cheney this is good news indeed!

The people, their states, and their state representatives can bypass the currently extremely obstructive branch to regain and enhance our freedoms and justice.

Further, since the current U.S. Constitution doesn’t make clear how to exactly hold a convention of states, there is no clear precedent to keep reformers from calling for such a convention of states starting today. In other words, we can NOW define how this process is done if we get started sooner than any other group in calling out and carrying out such a series of conventions, i.e. starting in August 2007.

Alternatively, we progressives can try to get rid of congressional roadblocks in the upcoming elections and get started by voting out those candidates who oppose the convention and the convention’s demands. Then, in 2009, we could proceed with the time-worn procedure of making first a proposal in congress which would be followed by votes from state legislature or choose the less-used path of getting state level constitutional conventions to move towards ratification.

The internet and other new communication technologies can make it easier than in any prior period in American history to organize such conventions.

It will be an uphill battle for us in America to reform the constitution and get better governance in this first decade of the 21st Century because currently ¾ or the U.S. States have to support ratification either through convention process or through the state level ratification process. However, we could seek first to amend the ratification process at an early stage in a progressive constitutional amendment process by changing amendment passage to a lower hurdle of 2/3(or even 3/5 plus 1) majority of states.


There are many sites on the web currently calling for the constitutional renewal and the reforms outlined above are simply a starting point for calling for immediately STATE COVENTIONS by all progressives in America.

One such web site on the Constitution and its role in America today is also unhappy with the status quo. The site is run by the Constitution Society, which states the following rationale for its existence: “This organization was founded in response to the growing concern that noncompliance with the Constitution of the United States of America and most state constitutions is creating a crisis of legitimacy that threatens freedom and liberty.” [3]

Other sites deal with particular amendments, such as the amendment to abolish the electoral college at the National Popular Vote’s web page:

A similar site is run by Recapture Freedom’s site: also focuses on a few other particular amendments.

Many of the amendments floating around on the web these days are conservative—like the “English-Only Amendment”. However, other amendments, like the gay rights one are definitely not so conservative.


As progressives and reformers, I propose that in the next two weeks we vet the basic core amendments that we as a group would like to see put into our constitution. Then we need to prepare to take the internet and public officials by storm and get constitutional conventions called by January 2007 in all states in order to take our campaign not to just presidential politics but to the state level congressional sessions leading up to the 2008 November elections.

We should try to get some conventions rolling throughout this winter, spring, summer and autumn through 2009.

[1] Constitutional Amendments,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Constitution Society,


Tuesday, July 24, 2007


By Kevin A. Stoda

Recently, Michael Pollitt published in the technical news section of The Guardian an article entitled “Why Google is the Service of Choice for Sploggers”. Not being one of the more hipper-campers in the technorati world of the internet, I hadn’t even known that there was now a word in English called “splog” nor that there were “sploggers” who created them.

“Splog” is the word created by creating & combining”blogs”, in order to “spam” people who are harmlessly doing on-line searches. These “splogs” (or fake blogs) serve as covers for advertisements.

Just as spammers make a lot of cash by spamming e-mails to poor unsuspecting e-mailing folks around the globe, “sploggers” spam the unsuspecting websearcher into certain websites that earn money for the “splogger” every time they or we, as unsuspecting researchers and surfers, either pass through or are diverted into their splog domains via (a) links on other splogs or by (b) clicking on the top results of an on-line search engine.

Michael Pollitt notes that one wonderful website fully dedicated to ridding the web world of spam is known as “Splogfighter”. This site is at . According to Pollitt and several other web-reviewers, Splogfighter is one of the heroes of the world of blogging! The site has taken out millions of splogs in the past few years!

However, both Pollitt and the Splogfighter also warn us that a single run-away splogger can create 60,000 to 250,000 within a year or so.

Further, they both criticize GOOGLE and its AdSense promotion for it having historically demonstrated a lack of concern & seriousness in taking on many of the creators of splogs and their splogsites.

Once I had become aware of “sploggers” existence in reading Pollitt’s Guardian piece, I also suddenly realized why it has been fairly difficult to find my own personal primary blog site using Google.

My site is known as THE TEACHER and is at: .

This splogger-phenomena at Google, explains to me the more than interesting, frustrating, and incidental fact that one can often find my own blog, THE TEACHER, and its writings (created on Google’s own THE BLOGGER website) much more easily by using YAHOO SEARCH tools than by using GOOGLE SEARCH tools. This seems to be an especially peculiar oddity as (also known as BLOGGER) is created and run by GOOGLE.

Quite obviously, there must be a logical reason (besides humility) for GOOGLE to ignore its own blogs when creating a logarithm to generate search results.


Last April and May, I ran a trial to confirm this apparent lack of fairness in GOOGLE SEARCH ENGINE weightings or in its logarithms related to its own SEARCH TOOLS.

In carrying out the experiment, I sent out e-mails to everyone on my e-mail address to click on a few selected stories of mine published on GOOGLE’s Blog Spot website, THE TEACHER. Over the subsequent 3 weeks, I monitored any

(a) increases in search results related to articles of mine on THE TEACHER blog and
(b) the weightings of various THE TEACHER blog articles on the major search engines, i.e.

appearing in searches using GOOGLE, YAHOO, Ask Jeeves, and , etc..

Within a few days of researching, it had become quite obvious that YAHOO was picking up the increased activity while GOOGLE was not.

Why was this the case?

At the time, I could only fathom that the main reason GOOGLE’s search engine was ignoring the increased BLOGGER or blogsite activity related to my articles on THE TEACHER bog was the result of its own search engine’s logarithm.

That is, both indirectly and by design, GOOGLE’s own AdSense advertisers as well as web researchers were being told not to post on my primary blogspot page due to the fact that my THE TEACHER site was guaranteed to have less traffic from GOOGLE than if the same surfer used YAHOO and plugged in the identical key words (related to my last name, title of article, or the article’s contents) into the search engine. This phenomena is easily explained because YAHOO and GOOGLE use different logarithms.

In summary, in contrast to GOOGLE, which ignored increased activity on my THE TEACHER blogspot site and it’s various articles during the three week trial period, YAHOO was finding and reporting 30% to 300% as many results when searching for me, or the various blogspot-published writings of mine.


One other interesting caveat related to my findings and observations in my April and May 2007 study concerning my specific search engine enquiries is related to the fact that my secondary blog location is the GUERRILLA NEWS NETWORK at .

Meanwhile, most of the same articles (or almost identical articles), which I had published on my primary THE TEACHER blog of GOOGLE’s blogspot (and which had been ignored by GOOGLE serches), would show up on GOOGLE Search Results only if these articles had been republished by me on the Guerilla News Network: .

This, too, proved that GOOGLE searches appeared to have a bias against blogspot articles and blogs. Whereas, at the same time, GOOGLE seemed to prefer the same articles of mine if republished on . Naturally, GNN likely has greater circulation than blockspot articles currently—for whatever reason..

At first glance, this phenomena is also likely explained by the fact that THE TEACHER at is a site that is not found as easily on any search engine results as compared to the other GNN website of mine.

However, this second explanation is a circuitous one.

That is, let’s think counterfactually! If GOOGLE’s search engine logarithm had a bias towards (instead of against) its own blogspot sites, my blogspot would automatically be visited more often and weighted much higher than it currently is, especially after numerous peoples on three continents clicked in a fairly short period on selected varieties of articles of mine.

In such a counter-factual world, individual articles from THE TEACHER blog would have previously been reflected in increased results on GOOGLE and possibly in changed results on other search engine results.


The major implication is that there would likely be some logical reason for GOOGLE ignoring blogspot articles and blogs. Could it be that in GOOGLE’s own logarithm for generating search results ignores results dealing with blogspot—its own creation?

Michael Pollitt’s The Guardian article entitled “Why Google is the Service of Choice for Sploggers” provides a clue as to why GOOGLE likely determined some time ago not to weigh its own blogspot or THE BLOGGER site so poorly as compared to other sources of information used to determine results and rankings.

Quite obviously, GOOGLE determined that blogspot, where nearly a million splogger sites were found in the past yea or so, is not a good site to weight heavily.

I may continue with this research, but would certainly welcome more comments from others as to how or why GOOGLE might weight most blogspot web addresses less heavily than other search engines do. Further, the topic of sloggers should be discussed more in the mainstream chat-rooms and in the wider public. There must be way to identify and eliminate their deception for researchers.


Sunday, July 22, 2007


With the sad episode this past weekend when great presidential power for a few hours fell into the hands of criminally culpable Dick Cheney during George W. Bush’s hour-long surgery, I call on all Americans to call their Senators, e-mail their congressmen, and demand their local political party’s get Impeachment started against the President and the Vice President immediately!

Why now—so late in this era of misguided administration with all its crimes, runaway shenanigans and malfeasances?

First, as an overseas American working on various continents over these past two decades I know that my life and work have been endangered by the poorly calculated acts and war crimes of the current administration. There are tens of millions of Americas living and working overseas, including military personnel and their families who have had their lives more threatened than ever by the neo-con grab of Iraq and in a so-called Endless War on Terror carried out without support of and respect to the United Nations, the Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, & all previously known concepts of Just War Theory from churchman and statesmen over the last 2000 years.

Second, the TIME IS NOW TO IMPEACH because if the USA doesn’t even impeach (not even necessarily convict) this president and vice president we will all have lost the very last opportunity to prove to the Middle East (where I now live) that Americans (both progressive and conservative ones) can control their regime. That’s right. THE TIME is NOW because if we don’t start the impeachment soon, it will be another 100 to 200 years before the Middle East and several other corners of the world will take seriously the best facets of the Great American Democratic Project started in 1776. Many parts of the WORLD have long-term memory—even if FOX News, Lieberman, and Rove don’t have any memory at all of truth and facts about history.

Third, according to attorney Alex Wallenwein, within less than 30 days Bush’s newest executive orders go into effect. This new outrageous bill is to be combined with Bush’s 2001 and 2003 emergency powers acts and executive orders. This is the “Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq”. Wallenwein states, “Once this [order] becomes law, he [Bush] has all the tools Hitler and Stalin had to keep their respective populations in utter subjection to their will.” For this reason alone, the TIME IS NOW to roll-back the clock on out-of-control governance.

Tell Congress to rollback legislation and such executive orders now!

Impeach Now!

Here are where you can get hold of you can get a hold of your congressmen and some of your political parties. Contact them now and protect Americans living and working abroad!





Kevin Stoda


O’Relly, Scott, “Bush and the Nazis”,

“Bush Declared Emergency”,

“Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq”,

Wallenwein, Alex, “30 DAYS TO ABSOLUTE TYRANNY! - Bush's latest Executive Order Removes Last Barrier to Dictatorship”,


Friday, July 20, 2007

DISCUSSING the N-Word, the B-word, and F-word in our Media, Music, and Images around the Globe

By Kevin Stoda in Kuwait

I was listening to an interview on Democracy Now with Professor Michael Eric Dyson, which also included a report on hip-hop by Mumia Abu-Jamal, this past week. The title of the lengthy interview was: “Professor and Preacher Michael Eric Dyson on Hip Hop & Politics, Don Imus, the “N”-word, and Bill Cosby”. In the interview, the Georgetown Professor Dyson defends the use of the n-word by blacks and opposes its usage by whites and others.

His arguments are strong and extremely Afro-American-Male-centric. He ridicules to some degree the attempts by those African American leaders, like Julius Bond, who are telling black (and white) rappers and comedians to stop using the misogynist and race-degrading language of their forefathers.

Although the use and abuse of misogynist words and language in the black and white communities of the USA was the main focus of the discussion, I hope that the listeners and progressive readers are thoughtful enough to follow me in my fly-on-the-wall perspective from Kuwait on this on-going debate about the racism and women-demeaning or marginalizing language of far-too-dominant in hip hop and other forms of art and expression these days. More to the point, these are the very form of so-called cultural imperialism which Americans are exporting around the globe on an hourly basis due to America’s post-WWII hegemony in the area of culture, media, entertainment and art.

Let me explain the perspective in which I see American culture and language being bandied about in this corner of the universe we know as planet EARTH. This place has become a borderless planet and both language and culture bounce off satellites as easily as any car bounces off another on the dangerous highways of Kuwait.

That is, Kuwaitis and others in the Middle East can hear abusive and originally hostile words and phrases like “nigger”, “bitch”, and “mother-fucker” on local radio, internet and TV. What are the chances of these words being miscomprehended or abused here?

Very high!! Believe me.

For example, I was listening one afternoon to Voice of America’s (VOA) regional broadcast of American pop music—which has become predominately rap in recent years. I know that people in Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe as we in the Middle East do. Typically, the callers on VOA’s call in shows prefer less vulgar music. I have rarely heard anyone demand any racially slurring music on any of the VOA’s world-wide call in shows.
However, some afternoons or mornings, when there are no call-in programs or news on the air, occasionally there have been fairly obscene lyrics in song after song—when the VOA has tried to introduce what kind of popular music is being aired in the USA these days.. There was, for example, a woman who in her song over-and-over again asked to be humped. There was also a man calling all women mentioned in his song “bitches”. Only the f-word hasn’t been used too noticeably of late.

Finally, once again I recognized that I had a choice. I angrily turned off the radio and put on a CD of my own, which did not hurt my ears or leave one with the impression that no one in America or Kuwait these days is ever offended by someone else’s use and abuse of language or misrepresentation of culture.

This is nonsense. There is certainly a reason that some fundamentalist in the Middle East and in the USA are teamed up and decrying some of the words played hourly on American radio and MTV around the globe.


Why do I say “misrepresentation of culture” in those segments when the VOA is supposedly trying to present representative popular music?

Well, basically:

(1) rap is currently extremely dominated by male voices in this era,
(2) it marginalizes women and women’s voices, and
(3) whenever the majority of music presented in any one-hour on VOA at U.S.
tax payers expense is rap, it is thus exporting a vision of America that is

(a) degrading,
(b) demoralizing, and also to a degree
(c) inaccurately portraying some of the great progresses in America of the last 50 years in terms of its having provides some disadvantaged humans of particular gender- and race with more advantages than many of their forefathers (and foremothers) had experienced.

Yes, I am a lifelong educator and a Christian, but I believe as much as the next guy about the freedom of speech.

Nonetheless, no one should have to put up with lame excuses that because some male rappers come from a disadvantaged community that they deserve the right to promote abusive language all around the planet—without being challenged by others around the planet—such as by lifelong cross-cultural educators like me.

In short, as humans, we all are born with gifts and advantages. Some have more advantages and more gifts than others and this is not normally just in any of our eyes.

Likewise, many of us are born with less gifts and advantages than others. Further, this is not always a just situation for many. However, being different and having different life experience is not always an unjust situation either

Using language that is abusive and misogynist and twisting it around while claiming it to be the language of the disempowered does not always build stronger and better life in America! Nor is it a great thing to export to the world without a proper dose of self-criticism and analysis. In short, living out loud in America today is to live out loud on the whole planet. We should be more discerning as educators and promoters of peace around the globe.

So, even if the normally brilliant and preacher Professor Michael Eric Dyson does have a few good arguments for supporting any black singer using the n-word, the b-word or the mf-word in his/her songs, he needs to admit that some common sense is needed when living out load all over the planet—and perhaps when living (out loud) in the USA too boot.

This common sense should include the wisdom that what goes-around does come-around. That is: If a black man uses, a white man abuses, or a red man excuses--maybe all races could loses.

Let’s not only admit that some words should not be used in public or they will automatically be misused from then on. In short, Mr. Dyson, you will have Latinos or Indios using the n-word and demanding the same right to use it in places, like the Caribbean and South American countries, where blacks outnumber whites.

Moreover, in your-face exploited Asians or rich Arab musicians might appropriate the word and use it—and use it in your face, Mr. Dyson, in ways that are not polite nor aiding the cause of developing a better planet either.

Let’s call a spade a spade.

Americans are doing bad enough at representing ourselves and our belief systems to others around the globes these days without great speakers, like Professor Michael Eric Dyson, telling us on Democracy Now that black people in America have appropriated the n-word for their own usage only—and no one else, especially whites (whether racist or not), have that same equal right.

Come on! In the competitive global economy with all its pressures, who is going to be able to tell another brother—of whatever color—that one race can abuse a word, language or culture while another race cannot.?

Such n-words, b-words, and mf-words not only senselessly hurt ears around the planet due to commendable religious and humanitarian beliefs about how to communicate to one’s fellow man or woman, these same words are misrepresenting much of American culture, too.

Please, Voice of America Radio, go out and find some more marginalized voices, like women rappers and other varieties of singers—besides these Big Rich Rappers—to teach the rest of the world about what America is about!

That is, please stop running roughshod over listeners around the globe with abusive language. Learn to respect the local cultures in both the USA and around the world, who wish America to have a better future—one where bad and abusive words are not shouted at us while we try to listen to and appreciate different voices in American culture.

There are 1000s of alternatives to listening to some of the variety of pop music we are being spoon-fed these days

Likewise, Professor Michael Eric Dyson, call a spade a spade and promote disuse of abusive language--and not its use!

Gracias, Danke, Swhukran, Domo arigato, Grazi, Merci, Thanks!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Even though ex-prime minister and kingmaker of many other prime ministers in Japan, Kakuei Tanaka, passed away over a decade ago, his legacy still seems to be popping up—even in earthquakes. The Choetsu Earthquake of July 16, 2007 in Niigata Prefecture registered at least 6.8 on the Richter scale. There were numerous other shocks, with one nearly 5 on the Richter scale, in the area of the world’s largest nuclear reactor complex.

There were about ten deaths locally, much local destruction of hundreds of mostly wooden buildings, and nearly a thousand other individual injuries. However, the biggest concern for the whole planet is what occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s [TEPCO] Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station, where according to ENS [Environment News Service] four of seven reactors “were operating or set to begin operation when the earthquake struck. They automatically shut down when the earth began to shake, but an electric transformer outside one of the reactors caught fire and burned for about two hours.”

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, according to BBC Radio, suffered a series of some 50+ leaks and other disruptions. The plant was built under questionable conditions.

In the wake of the quake, drums of waste material were knocked over. The four reactors had to be scrammed. There were transformer fires, and power failures occurred in about 22,000 houses. The scariest report of all is that several times radioactive gasses were released into the atmosphere. Local officials did not tell the public of the leaks in a timely fashion.
Many people outside Japan are astounded that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station was not built to higher specifications to take earthquakes of that range on the reactor scale—as such quakes occur every decade on Japane’s earthquake racked islands. The choice of location for these plants were always controversial as the sands on which the plants were built were not appropriate to the task. Much of the plant had to be buried deeper under ground than originally planned.
Wikipedia states: “According to the Guiness Book of World Records, it [the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station] is the largest nuclear plant in the world, with a total electrical output of 8,212 MW. This is sufficient to provide electricity to about 16 million households. Since there are some 47 million households reported by the Japanese census…, this makes the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP an extremely important cornerstone in the electricity market of Japan.”
TEPCO, the Japanese company that has been constructing the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station over the past two decades, recently had been working with the South Texas Project [STP], owned by NRG Energy, helping to build similar reactors in the United States.

A history of various scandals have enveloped the TEPCO project at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant since the godfather of modern Japanese pork-barrel politics, Kakuei Tanaka, first called for the building of these plants in 1968.

Local residents in the area have been split on the plant for decades, with one community, Kariwa, voting soundly in 2002 to suspend the plant’s operations after more recent scandals related to transportation of nuclear materials and public exposure to released gasses at the plants.

Japan, which is only behind France in its dependence on nuclear power in the world today, has been planning to increase dependence on nuclear power in the decades to come.

The country has approximately 55 nuclear plants scattered around the adversely seismically affected islands of Japan. The paternalistic Japanese government appears to continue to be keeping the facts of what has occurred at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant from view of the local peoples and of concerned potential nuclear consumers in Texas and other parts of the globe.

In recent years, there have been many problems and dangers produces with nuclear power plants caused by earthquakes. One of the more recent cases was in Kanazawa, where a district court ruled against operation of one plant after an earthquake.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


By Kevin Stoda

On 5th of June 2007, one of Kuwait’s English language papers trumpeted the following headline: “Country’s Assets top $200 Billion”.[1] The article noted that this was the highest level of fiscal assets in the history of the nation. Of these moneys, $161 billion was placed in the nation’s Kuwait Fund for Future Generations (KFFG). The KFFG is a fund set up for investment mostly in North America and Europe. The KFFG is wholly funded by national revenue. By Kuwaiti law, in a very forward thinking policy, ten percent of the Kuwait nation’s total annual revenue is allocated to the Kuwait Fund for Future Generations.

The surprising thing about the KFFG is not necessarily that its total value in money has risen by 300% over the past five years. After all, the tiny nation holds approximately 10% of the world’s known oil reserves. This lack of surprise is also due to the fact that oil prices have tripled and nearly quadrupled in almost the same 5 to 7 year period. Therefore, since Kuwait earns most of its national income from oil revenues, a three-fold rise in the value of the KFFG is not so amazing. The surprising thing is that the KFFG has not done even better than a three-fold rise over the past decade.

One reason for the lack of greater earnings by the KFFG (beyond the increased annual deposits of oil revenues) is the fact that it owns a great deal of property, especially in North America. The U.S. property sector busted its bubble a few years back and has not yet recovered. Also, stock growth and long term investments in North America and elsewhere took a huge severe dip in 2000, and despite the hoopla on the Dow Jones and elsewhere, earnings for the KFFG have not matched the growth of many smaller funds, which are not so conservative and pro-western in their investment strategies, around the world.

From a global perspective, it is certainly not clear why the Kuwaiti government doesn’t significantly diversify its KFFG related holdings, especially when the shareholders or beneficiaries are the future Kuwait people. Kuwait is after all in Asia, and investment in Asia should be much higher than it has been to date. All in all, this shortsighted focus on older markets is just another manifestation of a Kuwait’s habit of being behind the learning curve in the world economic and political economic development sectors.

Still more amazingly, the Kuwait government has placed the entire $161 billion in funds, which is currently set aside for future generations of its citizens, in only two separate or distinctly managed funds. This lack of fund options explored and invested in by the Kuwait government and peoples through the KFFG is certainly astounding as typically even medium-sized fund managers in the USA--like Topeka’s Kansas Security Benefit--offer, manage, and divide client investments & assets in nearly 25 different funds.

Also, simmering below the surface of this KFFG underachievement is history or tradition of elitism, cronyism and a concept called “wasta” which dictates transactions all over Kuwait today and will sadly continue do so into the decades to come.

For the majority of Kuwait’s citizens there is little day-to-day concern about what is happening with their great-grand children’s future moneys. Occasionally, there will be an editorial diatribe concerning the shortsighted focus of the KFFG in one of the local newspapers. On the one hand, Kuwaitis know that as a society they are, in fact, wisely setting aside billions of dollars a year for the time when oil is no longer pumped from the desert floor below their feet. On the other hand, they are also certainly aware that as a nation then they are supposed to be investing wisely in their offspring’s own offspring.

Finally, Kuwaitis can smugly note that they are saving and investing much more of their current savings per capita than most other peoples and nation’s are. Kuwaitis enjoy a paternalistic relationship with their government traditionally and expect the state to take care of the future while they enjoy the present. Therefore, they have historically been prepared to allow the father figure of a state provide a substantial cradle to grave existence for each citizen over the past 50 years.

Meanwhile, Kuwaitis are constantly trying to seek a balance between tradition and modernity. In only this way, they believe, can Kuwait make the world they and their ancestors have created sustainable in the face of a global economy and other spin-offs of globalized political developments. Kuwaitis thus focus more on traditional supports for the perpetuation of their society on a daily basis, like:

(a) The phenomena of “wasta” and how one can get a job for one’s children in the government or in the oil sector, or simply

(b) which name-brand garment of clothing to buy today or which new car to buy and trade-in for this year.

Note: “Wasta” is the Gulf Arabic term for the use of an intermediary in society to obtain some desired end, such as a special favor, a good grade for a university class, special treatment from authorities and police, or even a good job for one’s relative.

Naturally, this concept of “wasta” is not unknown in other cultures on the planet. In most countries, it is not considered a form of bribery or fraud. However, in other societies, such intervention is, in fact, considered more than out-of-place—except by the most elite members in any society who have always had such connections and have historically used them. In short, in Kuwait, with its extreme form of “wasta” oriented elitism and focus on a family’s name, no Arab character in the tradition of Paris Hilton’s develops and has their photo and jail sentences run across tabloids in the region week after week.

On the other hand, in the USA everyone is aware that the current President of the United State’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush through direct and indirect “wasta” got his son—now President George W. Bush, the younger—out of a lot of trouble with the National Guard in the early 1970s during the Vietnam War. This is one of the many reasons that the royal families in the Gulf Arab states and many Gulf citizens, such as those in Kuwait, hit it off so well with the Bush family and their entourage of businessmen, spin doctors, and politicians.

Moreover, having such personal connections proves beneficial for about everyone as it is certainly true that as imperfect and prone to sin and mistakes as humans are, everyone on the planet has likely had either (1) the need for or (2) desire for using such connections to gain an advantage or to get oneself out of a jam. For example, even the best parent and policeman, might need to bail his normally law-abiding son out of jail or out of a legal jam on some occasion.

However, in Kuwait and in neighboring Gulf Arab states “wasta” has taken on more than a societal art form and occasional problem solver for the average Mohammad. “Wasta” in Kuwait and much of the Gulf is far-too-often the raison d’tet for almost all societal interactions. For example, simply in the sphere of education in Kuwait “wasta” might be used for the purpose of “inflating grades, using influential outsiders and insiders to hire staff members in various ways so that some students receive special consideration and bending of the rules in favor of certain outcomes”.[2] Sure, this happens in almost all lands on the globe, but in Kuwait the volume of “wasta” pressures involved in one’s daily life are not only mind-boggling but ubiquitous.

Recently, I spoke to a professor of engineering at the University of Kuwait about the widespread usage of “wasta” in the area of education. This Kuwaiti professor of a highly rated department at that university shared that he had received no less than 20 calls on behalf of a single student to raise that student’s grade—despite the fact that this student had not completed his projects or even come to class all that often. The engineering professor added that several of those calls had been made by Kuwaiti parliamentarians.

In short, every effort to raise responsible youth, students, and leaders in Kuwait is adversely affected by “wasta”—and anyone with few or no connection is left out. For example, in 2005 the daughter of one Syrian friend of mine scored in the top 99% on the national exams given to the nation’s graduating seniors each spring. (That is, she was number 18th in the whole country—among over 2500 other graduating seniors taking the same exam.)

This young Syrian female was assured by many Arab and Kuwaiti friends, who had lived here all of their lives, that with such a score she would certainly be accepted in any department at the University of Kuwait that she decided to study in.

Alas, with the “wasta” mania currently en vogue throughout Kuwait society, not only did this poor Syrian girl not receive the opportunity to study in the department of her choice at the University of Kuwait (the only major public university in the country), she didn’t even get accepted in Kuwait university at all that fall. This was in the only university in the whole country whose entrance is ostensibly wholly or primarily based upon merit—not on “wasta”.

That is, thousands of Kuwaitis with the right connections, known as “wasta”, basically chased this young Syrian out of the department of her choice –and eventually she left the country--even though the young Syrian had lived in the country of Kuwait most of her life. This daughter of my Syrian friend now studies in Damascus. After serving as doctors in Kuwait for over the past few decades, both of the Syrian girls parents(and my friends) have decided to leave Kuwait, too, as of this summer. They have had enough of the Kuwait cultural experience.

By the way, a huge brain drain, even of among Kuwaitis, is one of the major consequences of the over-used “wasta” system in Kuwait. Some Kuwaiti medical specialists who have gone to get their post-doctorate degrees abroad return home after studying abroad and find themselves assigned by the Ministry of Health to work as general practitioners. Some just pick up and move abroad again. Similarly, some of the most enlightened businessmen in Kuwait move to Dubai or some other land to run their businesses and to raise their families.

Accumulation of “wasta” by both the individual and by the family in Kuwait are nearly full-time jobs and lifelong endeavors in Kuwait, i.e. from cradle to grave. This process of accumulating “wasta” affects the education of Kuwaiti youth in numerous other ways.

For example, one University of Kuwait professor, who graduated from twice from American universities, shared that he was capitulating to “wasta” protocol to protect his children. He related that he had now determined that based upon his own negative experience reintegrating himself into Kuwait’s “wasta”-swamped society after his years abroad studying that he had told his very own children that they are going to have to stay in Kuwait and study here--even if the university education here is inferior to what he, himself, had received.

Why would a Kuwaiti father be forced to make such a decision in the face of his own son’s desire to study abroad?

This professor explained that his experience of living abroad was certainly wonderful, and he and other Kuwaitis of his generation who had studied abroad agree that their period of studying was often superior to what is offered currently to many youth in Kuwait today. However, sadly, any particular Kuwaiti youth who determines to leave his homeland for four to ten years of study will simply find himself upon his return feeling un-welcomed at home and treated by his society as an outsider in his own land.

This is because growing up and living in Kuwait appears for nationals to represent some sort of national initiation rite, similar to some lengthy entrance in a national fraternity ritual. Those Kuwaitis who haven’t spent the previous four or more years cultivating connections and “wasta” in their homeland during their formative years are left out of that rite of interaction and key period of “wasta” cultivation.. Therefore, whenever those students return from abroad asking for help or “wasta” in getting a new start in Kuwaiti life, they are often looked upon (outside their family) as though they are foreigners.

In summary, the permeation of “wasta” throughout almost all relationships in Kuwait society is one of the main reasons that more and more parents have begun in recent years to refuse to allow their children to study outside the Middle East. This, in turn, has led to an amazing current boom in the business of higher education in Kuwait and in the Gulf region over the past eight years.

Starting in the 1990s first in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and then later after 2000 in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, the Gulf Arab region has seen a veritable explosion in terms of new private universities. By the start of the 2007-2008 school year, it is expected that eight new universities will have opened in Kuwait alone in less than a decade. Of these, many of the newer universities purport to be based on American university models, especially in the classical form of liberal arts universities.

Sociologists, Dr. Mark J. Olson and Dr. Hassan Diab, in “When Wasta and Liberal Arts Conflict: A Case Study of a Private University” note four reasons for this substantial growth in the U.S. university model in the private sector in the Gulf in recent years. I paraphrase and portray these four rationales as follows:

(1) The credit point system of the U.S. system had already been adopted in the public universities in the Gulf during previous decades as the Egyptian model of universities fell out of favor once the Nasser-inspired era of Pan-Arabism began to crumble.

(2) Throughout the Middle East and in many parts of the globe, it is commonly believed that U.S. universities provide greater quality assurance in education and training than other nation’s universities.

(3) Even before 9-11-01, Arabs were already studying less and less in the U.S. itself. That is, they preferred to be closer to home to their families, friends, and societies; hence, there was a growing pent-up demand for the U.S. model in each Gulf state. [This stay-near-to-home trend reflects the pull or need of cultivating “wasta”, which is endemic throughout the Gulf and particular strong in Kuwait.]

(4) The rising growth in local Gulf Arab populations made it hard for the public university sectors to keep up with the baby boom of these past three decades in the Gulf. --[3]

In order to fill the gap in demand for higher education diplomas in the Gulf region, the private sector has essentially been turned to by each of the Gulf state governments. In response to this demand, thousands of westerners have been recruited to come to the region to instruct, carry out research, or to administrate in these new institutions over the past few decades.

In turn, in the tradition of import substitution, the Gulf Arab private sector has been asked to follow the model of the popular U.S. education system. It is often rationalized that even if citizens of the Gulf states are deciding to stay at home more to study, so as to perpetuate the age-old system of “wasta”, they should still strive to build on the American liberal arts model, that appealed to others studying abroad in future generations.

Theoretically, one reason the liberal arts model is appealing to Kuwaitis has likely to do with the image that it prepares one for the future come-what-may. That is, it fits with the age we are living in whereby the technologies and internet are now permitting research space in all corners of the world for building lifelong learning habits. These habits include practices to promote not only intellectual growth, good scientific enquiry & understanding of methods, but also provide a supportive frameworks to follow one’s moral compass and good decision practices in an ever-changing world.

Not surprisingly, as the 21st century dawns, the western concept of liberal arts is being distorted here in the Gulf as it liberal arts model is appropriated and adapted in many ways within the chrysalis of Gulf Arab “wasta” culture. For example, for most young people in Kuwait receiving the diploma is the only important thing. Meanwhile, as a whole, the same youth are not encouraged by family, society, nor by the local political economic practices of “wasta” to place much serious time into “learning to learn”, i.e. gaining and practicing good study habits for lifelong enquiry, learning to be ever-curious and discuss alternatives.

In short, the “wasta” society doesn’t demand preparation global elements or forces of change in any timely fashion. Finally, learning for the sake of learning is not promoted by culture here—even if that is a driving force behind some aspects of the liberal arts schools in the West historically.

For example, while in the classroom, some Kuwaiti students will regularly ask the instructor from the West to “simply get to the point” in the middle of a lecture, class exercise or discussion. At the end of class, they start pointing to their watches and shouting, “Time!”—as though only what goes on outside class is important to their real lives. Likewise, far too many Kuwaiti students on a weekly basis never allot themselves more than the 14 class hours they are enrolled in for their own time to study time.

How can most students who neither study nor go to class more than 14 hours-total in a week ever become good liberal arts students or technicians-- or learn to cultivate the educational practices needed to do critical thinking and research in our modern world?

Further, many more Kuwaitis cheat and plagiarize--or even work in gangs--to browbeat an instructor, in order to raise a grade or allow them to be given a second or third retake of an exam. Still, at times, other Kuwaitis call on well-placed political figures or even policemen to intimidate professors into unfairly lifting-significantly their GPA marks—or excusing them of their umteen absences from class.

Explanations for the development of the centralized position of “wasta” in Kuwaiti and Gulf Arab society include theories of individual and collective identity. Other theories, specifically pertaining to education, are also related to theories on traditions of technological appropriation and adaptations across cultures.

How should cultures accept and implement new ideas and new technologies?
That is, how can or should one society take on a new concept or tradition in education, such as liberal arts education—especially if that form of education is not very much in tune with existing societal norms and apparent societal commitment to the age-old tradition of “wasta”?

To answer the question, one needs to use frameworks of comparison. Olson and Diab suggest first looking at the areas of knowledge precepts. They claim, for example, that western liberal arts has a distinct bias for “learning for learning’s sake”. [4] Whereas, Gulf Arab culture is influenced by either Islamic or tribal traditions with the focus upon learning is clearly considered only from a utilitarian standpoint.

That is, in the Arab world, the parameter for determining what sort knowledge is considered acceptable is likely narrower than in the West.
Olson and Diab cite the notes concerning an Islamic Hadith as source for the popular conception in the Islamic world that “knowledge without any real use in human life is useless.” That such a view is contrary to humanitarian traditions in a western Liberal Arts campus is symbolic of one core learning value difference between the Islamic world and the West developing over a long period of history. However, Olson and Diab are also quick to add that a body growing research indicates, in fact, the Koran does not necessarily pose this restricted utilitarian view of learning.

On the one hand, this is likely because the idea of what is specifically utilitarian can be quite broad in encompassing different individual and societal needs. Olson and Diab cite a 2006 study which advocates the interpretation that it is the Arab culture, not the religion, that is defining what is considered of utility in modern Gulf countries.

In any case, Olson and Diab note that modernization of any land, such as Kuwait or Qatar, is a process that is likely raising generations of youth who hold important dual western and Arab traditional frames of reference for determining what they consider to be the most important things for them to acquire educationally.[5]
A second framework for viewing the Western Liberal Arts vs. Gulf Arab tradition in terms of educational acquisition is to look at the dichotomy between individual and collective identity.

According to Olson and Diab, “It is supposed that individual identity is encouraged with critical thinking in western intellectual life. In contrast, the literature suggests that traditional Islamic education is largely teacher and text-oriented and by extension emphasizes collective identity and rote learning skills over individual identity and critical analysis skills.” Most importantly, Olson and Diab continue this line of interpretation by indicating that the typical rote learning and repetition approach “emphasizes acquired content while critical analysis incorporating the learner’s life of experience is minimized.”[6]

This emphasis on acquired content may, when applied to Kuwaiti society, provide explanation for the peculiarity of placing new graduates of political science or economics into positions well outsider the fields of their training in the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Islamic Affairs, i.e. outside their respective disciplines.

In short, the Kuwaiti socio-cultural system doesn’t really appreciate that individuals might desire to develop special areas of interest and expertise over their lives. The focus in making job placement is often simply to find a jobs for new graduates as a part of continuing the societal maintenance function of "wasta". The purpose of the placement is not necessarily to help young graduates get the appropriate opportunity to better cultivate their individual careers or expertise.

Only through, intervention of someone with great personal intermediary or intercessory “wasta” can a many new graduates even eventually get a job in line with what they actually studied and prepared for in university. This, in turn, certainly is a disincentive for young people learning appropriate study skills in their university years from the Kuwait public ministries and from publicly owned companies, like the government's energy and water processing corporations.

This emphasis on being part of a group, i.e. becoming fully recognized as part of the greater Kuwait family, is certainly reflective of the collective-oriented cultures of traditional societies. “Wasta” is also often involved in the promotion of a student during his university career. Therefore, this cross-training across disciplines in government ministries and in public corporations in the Kuwait society is meant as means of further embedding a Kuwaiti individual identity within the parameters of the collective experience of society, i.e. with one of the semi-intentional effects being that the young graduate will learn to put his own focus on achievement aside in order to promote national or collective harmony in his country's future.

The alternative of fighting one’s way upstream without “wasta’ in Kuwaiti society is difficult, even for Kuwait University graduates these days. There is bullying that goes on at levels of public schools and universities for students who desire not to place the "wasta" game and focus on their own interests during exam time. A good Kuwaiti is considered to be one who reaches out to drag his peer's with him during their university time together. Similar a good professor is one who bows to the pressures of Kuwaiti needs and desires. This pressure is often manifested by the registration department at the university demanding that departments and individual instructors give many make-up exams until a student has finally passed. If this doesn't work, then some other more powerful figures, i.e. with more "wasta", will be able to override the grades assigned by many university professors.

Another example of the aforementioned "wasta" matter in job placement in Kuwait is represented by a young female petroleum engineer who had been placed, after graduating from Kuwait University four or five years ago, in a Kuwaiti government ministry and asked to do secretarial work for over the course of the next three years.

This female engineer said that she had spent three straight years trying to get a job in the oil sector instead. Since she had no “wasta” at any of the 11 Kuwaiti national oil firms, she retook many exams and interviews. Only after the third year did this engineer finally get a job in the Kuwait National Oil Company. However, initially that same national oil company placed her in a department of data analysis, instead of her field of expertise: petroleum engineering. (Luckily, she has since been able to work this out with the human resources office and is now finally placed in the engineering department of the company.)

According to Olson and Diab, “’Intercessorary wasta exemplifies the collective action problem,’ where action ‘furthering individual interest harms the collective interest.’”[7] This may be true from a western Liberal Arts perspective. However, from the average Kuwaiti's perspective this is irrelevant because “wasta” is considered as necessary as the air one breaths, and fighting our environment because we’d rather breath different air appears to be a lost cause from the start.

Moreover, “wasta” is so pervasive in the society that it is certainly likely that going against it with too much anger or frustration is likely lead to attacks one’s self, one's own family, or cultural identity. As a matter of fact, even though almost everyone in Kuwait does voice concern and complain about and against “wasta”, any member of any particular student- or work group found attacking the collective that enforces the culture of "wasta" is often certainly considered likely to receive ostracism from more than one source in Kuwaiti society.

As an example, there was one American educator who taught in a Gulf Arab university for nearly three years who was known for writing e-mails to different officials at the university trying to promote stronger standards in achievement, teaching, and a series of course offerings that more closely reflected the variety of courses offered at similar sized western universities of liberal arts.

This same professor was well-liked by the students taking his classes because he respected them and yet enabled and promoted levels of learning practices and achievement from them that far-too many other staff members, in the growingly "wasta" infested institution, did not enforce nor carry out. The register of that particular new liberal arts university eventually created enough "wasta" for herself that she was appointed to the board of directors of that university. Immediately, she sought and received the non-renewal of that professor's contract for the following semester.

No reason was ever given for this particular American professor's non-renewal at that new Liberal Arts University as would be required in any American university, on which that university was supposed to be modeled on. In short, the mechanisms for supporting good learning skills and scholarship are undermined by the collecting of "wasta" by local Arabs who know how to milk the traditional "wasta" system. For this very reason, "wasta" is seen to significantly be eroding the possible positive changes needed in a modern workforce.

This is tragic because the liberal arts model was imported to solve many of the areas of shortfall in home-grown leaders and educated citizenry. Olson and Diab note that Liberal Arts importation was intended to significantly help with the education and re-tooling of a national workforce to participate in the global economy. " However, the key tradition of "wasta" is the fastest means of bypassing most every procedure in society. However, this "wasta" is putting liberal arts in a disadvantaged position "because wasta drives out competence based education and its emphasis on critical thinking skills deriving from western liberal education." [8]

To be continued------

[1] Al-Salman, Mohammed & Al-Qatari, Osama, “Country’s Assets top $200 Billion”,
THE DAILY STAR, 5 June 2007, p. 1

[2] Olson, Mark J. & Diab, Hassan, “When Wasta and Liberal Arts Conflict:
A Case Study of a Private University”, Paper presented at American Universityof Kuwait’s Research & the Liberal Arts, 7 May 2007, p. 6.

[3] Ibid., p.2.

[4] Ibid., p. 4.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., p.5.

[7] Ibid., p.6


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

4th of July Commemorations: Pentagon Papers, America's Record of Chairty Giving, and the Mess in Iraq

A local paper here in Kuwait gave me a call this morning about what I thought of when I think of American Independence Day.

First, I told them that the number 1776 comes to mind.

1776 is, of course, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. Connected to that is another number--13.

It would be about 13 years later before the New Constitution in America would be signed by many of the same individuals who declared and fought for America's Independence in 1776. 13 was also the number of colonies that had become states by that time. They formed an important beacon of hope in world history.

Moreover, many people in that land, now known as the USA,and folks around the world came to tie those same images of (1) Declaration of Independence, the (2) America's founding fathers, and (3) the US Bill of Rights of the Constitution together, both in the past and in current memory.

Sadly, many--such as myself--are saddened by the way the Bill of Rights of the USA Constitution have been weighlayed in recent years.
Now, habeas corpus and other laws have been thrown out by the Bush administration. E-mails and Americans are being spied on like never before. People are rotting in jail without charges and CONRESS is failing to IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT!

In short, we should be saddened this July 4, 2007.

However, not only do I believe we--as Americans--can do better: I KNOW WE CAN AND WILL ONCE AGAIN DO BETTER!

The basis for this belief is represented by the way we,, as Americans, give so much charity to others around the world--even as our government policies and pro-business/pro-slavery screwball-FREE MARKETEERS promote exploitation of workers around the globe, including in Kuwait where I spend this INDEPENDENCE DAY 2007!

In short, Americans do give more of a damn about other peoples than their own tribes and family members than almost any other culture on the planet. That is something to be proud of. Here is a quote from the Wall Street Journal--which the fascist Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy out this very week!

"Americans are the most generous people in the world, measured by charitable giving as a percent of GDP. Americans give twice as much (1.67% of GDP) as the next most charitable country, the U.K. at 0.73%, according to this study by the Charities Aid Foundation (chart above is taken from the study). Americans give almost 12 times as much as the French and almost 8 times as much as the Germans. In fact, Americans give more as a percent of GDP than France, Germany, Turkey, New Zealand, Singapore and the Netherlands COMBINED!"

"And charitable giving in the U.S. set another record in 2006 at almost $300 billion, about the same amount as the GDP of Denmark, Greece, Austria or Norway."

This reflects an outward looking and compassionate America that realizes it has a heritage that offers a big tent. The Americans can offer charity and hope to peoples around the globe--not just peoples in their own country and planet--i.e. not depending only on family relations, tribal interests or bad governments to feel called to carry out their benevolent jobs!

This doesn't mean that we can't ask our AMERICAN GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE TO SERVE THE POOR AND DISADVANTAGED THIS 2007. Indeed, it should inspire Americans to get our governments spending more in line with the peace making forefathers we love.

Further, it should remind ALL PEOPLES that the red, white and blue being shot down or sacrificed in Iraq IS not the stupid and fascist acting US government (or big military DEPENDENT businesses) that demand their sacrifices. Let's not get the soldiers mixed up with the senseless crimes of our government that got them there! BRING THEM HOME!

We need to simply get them home and out of harms way UNTIL AMERICAN LEADERS RETURN US TO OUR 1776 AND 1789 IDEALS ONCE AGAIN!