Monthly archives: August, 2009

Bringing Clean Water to People in Developing Countries

This young lad deserves some serious kudos for answering the call.


When Sam Girmai-Jones was in church one Sunday in March, the priest talked about the church’s ministry to Africa where wells were being built to provide clean drinking water to the residents. Nine-year-old Sam was surprised to learn that many kids his age didn’t have safe drinking water in their homes and that some had to walk miles each day to get clean water at the nearest well.

The Park Forest, IL, resident felt compelled to help. His mother took him to the library where he researched solutions. That’s when Sam learned about LifeStraw. He was amazed by the simple device which worked like a straw while filtering out impurities to make water safe to drink. He decided to raise enough money to send 1,000 individual LifeStraw water filters to people in need. To achieve this goal, Sam will need to raise $7,000.

On June 13, just one month after Sam launched his campaign, he presented a check for the first $1,000 raised to his family church,

Sam’s mother Yvette helped her son formulate a fundraising campaign. Together, they contacted LifeStraw manufacturer, Vestergaard Frandsen, and were sent background information about LifeStraw from the company. Sam then put together a presentation he’d share with groups to convince them to donate to the cause.

Says he was at the Park Forest Library with a friend one day and saw LifeStraws featured in the book Cool Stuff 2.0: And How it Works. He says he remembered seeing a factoid at church about life in Africa, “When we first joined the church, we saw people in Africa drinking dirty water. Later, I found out about this, and remembered all the way back about that [factoid].”

I had to copy over the video above to show how this incredible product works.

Read the full story here.

And answer the call.

Another Life Lost: Aurora Teen Charged in Gang Killing

Another life lost.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A 16-year-old from Aurora has been charged as an adult in what authorities say was a gang-related shooting that killed one man last June and wounded two others.

Christopher Contreras was 15 when he allegedly approached a house in the west suburb on June 24 and opened fire at several people sitting on the front porch, Aurora police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said today.

Killed in the shooting: 38-year-old Donald Franklin, who lived in the home. Two other men, ages 36 and 45, were wounded but survived, Ferrelli said.

Police said the killing appeared to be gang-related, but disclosed nothing else.

Another life lost.

Faces of Homelessness: Meet Drew

Can anything prepare us for Drew’s story?

Drew lost his job, then he lost his wife and daughter to a drunk driver. He is an educated man, but today he lives on leftover food he finds in dumpsters.

There’s nothing I can add to a story like this, except that homelessness can happen to anyone. Please don’t let Drew’s story stop here. Watch this video, talk about it, blog about it, email a link to everyone you know.

Live: Senator Edward Kennedy’s Funeral Mass

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy’s funeral mass.

Beautiful, simple, and elegant liturgy.

If you’re watching on television, do NOT watch your local NBC affiliate. The commentators won’t be quiet. Watch MSNBC, where the commentators are silent, letting the moment speak for itself.

How Crazy Is Glenn Beck?

Glenn Beck is crazy.

Enjoy this video.

If you’re viewing this via one of our affiliate sites, make sure you click through to Turning Left.

Someone Tell Mike Huckabee to Shut the Hell Up

Mike Huckabee is only the latest inglorious ultra-conservative to exploit the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, claiming that Kennedy would have been urged to die earlier under ObamaCare.

Win at all costs.  Is that it, Mike? Just another hater waiting to dance on the Senators grave?

From Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:

Conservative media figures are blasting Democrats for trying to draw political gain from the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. But on Thursday, it was one of their own — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who went there.

The 2008 Republican presidential candidate suggested during his radio show, “The Huckabee Report,” on Thursday that, under President Obama’s health care plan, Kennedy would have been told to “go home to take pain pills and die” during his last year of life.

“[I]t was President Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don’t have as long to live might want to consider just taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them,” said Huckabee. “Yet when Sen. Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 77, did he give up on life and go home to take pain pills and die? Of course not. He freely did what most of us would do. He choose an expensive operation and painful follow up treatments. He saw his work as vitally important and so he fought for every minute he could stay on this earth doing it. He would be a very fortunate man if his heroic last few months were what future generations remember him most for.”

As it happens, Huckabee made his remarks shortly after he derided Democrats for using Kennedy’s death to make the pitch that “Congress must hurry and pass the health care reform bill and do it in his memory,”

“That not only defies good taste,” said Huckabee, “it defies logic.”

Huckabee defies logic. And ethics. And good taste.

For more and an audio clip, go here.

Bolingbrook’s Mayor Defends Millions of Tax Dollars Lost to Golf Course

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Inaugural Address

The Haves and Have-Mores of Bolingbrook have a luxury golf facility that is bleeding taxpayer dollars. Mayor Roger Claar thinks that’s just fine, thank you very much.

From the Chicago Tribune:

In the chilled interior of this 76,000-square-foot clubhouse, visitors who trod the plush carpets, admire the bottles of Dom Perignon displayed at the cherry-wood bar or dry their hands with monogrammed paper towels in the marble bathrooms may feel like they’ve stepped inside a posh Florida golf resort.

But this chalet-on-steroids is in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, part of the $36 million Bolingbrook Golf Club. Some residents call it the “Rog Mahal” — a reference to longtime Mayor Roger Claar, who championed the project, which also includes a village-owned “luxury” subdivision.

It’s a public amenity that some view as a sign of Bolingbrook’s success in transforming itself over the last three decades into a thriving business hub. But the golf course hasn’t made money since opening April 25, 2002, losing $1.3 million a year on average, and the luxury subdivision is at least $2 million in the hole, according to a Tribune review of village and Will County records.

And then there’s this:

The village has spent at least $9 million propping up the golf course — more than Bolingbrook took in last year in state income taxes (its second largest revenue source), developer contributions and building permits combined, according to financial records.

Well, good for them.  Blame it on the Bush Recession, perhaps?

Claar defends the golf course:

Claar disputes the buzz among critics that the clubhouse is his personal retreat, saying he’s there about 10 times a year.

“It’s provided an amenity that thousands of people have enjoyed,” Claar said, listing the events hosted there. “Those things always had to go out of town before.”

I would like to know if Bolingbrook is getting any federal stimulus money at all.  Any grants from the state or feds for anything?  I hope they took a pass on any grants from the feds, state or county, since obviously they have money to throw away for a bottles of Dom Perignon.

What a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

Sorry, that’s all I’ve got on this one.  I don’t see how anyone can defend such a careless waste of money.

Among his credential listed on the Village of Bolingbrook’s Web site, we find, “Republican Mayors and Elected Officials Vice-President and Executive Board Member.”

Is this your idea of fiscal responsibility, Bolingbrook?  Is this sound, conservative Republican economics?

There is no such a thing.   This is greed, pure and simple.

Chicago Argus: Democratic Senate Primary in Illinois No-Name Candidates

I enjoy Gregory Tajeda’s blog, Chicago Argus.  And while I like Alexi Giannoulias personally, Tajeda has a point when he accuses the current Democratic pols vying for Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat a bunch of no-names.

Giannoulias is fresh on the political scene.  And everyone else?

From Chicago Argus:

Am I losing my memory, or was there once a time when we political observers who are Illinois-oriented were talking about how our state’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010 could wind up being a fight between a Kennedy, a Jackson, and maybe even a Madigan?

So what happened?

IT SEEMS NOW like we’re going to get a scrap between a Giannoulias, a Hoffman and a Jackson. And by the latter, I mean Cheryle, not Jesse Jr.

And Tajeda is not very impressed with Republican David Hoffman either:

Inspector General for Chicago city government. In theory, that means he’s in charge of ferreting out corruption within city government, and there are those people who think that Hoffman was an annoyance to Mayor Richard M. Daley because of the way that his office pointed out that the leasing out of city parking meters to a private company became a public mess.

BOTTOM LINE AS far as most people are concerned – Hoffman has an incredible grasp of the obvious. Some might want to argue that corruption doesn’t appear to be on the decline due to Hoffman, so how much could he have succeeded?

Anyway, Hoffman is now unemployed. He quit his post on Wednesday so he could devote his full time to a campaign for Senate.

Look, I believe Tajeda raises some valid points.  Democrats need to consider this race carefully.  Playing pick-up basketball with Barack Obama does not alone qualify one to be a U.S. Senator.

I’d like to know more as well.

Click here and read the rest.

Mexico Decriminalizes Possession of Five Grams of Pot


Mexican President Felipe Calderon signed legislation last week decriminalizing the personal possession of small quantities of cannabis and other controlled substances.

The legislation, passed by Congress in May, eliminates criminal penalties for the personal possession of up to five grams of marijuana. The possession of small amounts of other illicit substances, including heroin and cocaine, will also no longer be prosecutable.

Under the new law, anyone caught by law enforcement with small amounts of illicit drugs will be encouraged to seek treatment. Drug treatment will be mandatory for third-time offenders.

The new legislation authorizes state and local police to enforce drug trafficking laws. Previously, only federal police (about five percent of Mexico’s law enforcement personnel) had the authority to arrest individuals suspected of selling drugs.

State lawmakers have up to a year to implement the new law.

In 2006, Mexico’s Congress passed a virtually identical measure, only to have it vetoed by former President Vincente Fox. Fox’s veto came after political pressure from members of the US State Department, who alleged that enacting such a law would promote “drug tourism.”

At the Netroots Nation conference a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh, I interviewed members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

Their arguments in favor of the legalization of all drugs are very compelling.

I’ll work on finally transcribing the interviews this weekend.  We need to bring this to the forefront before another young person is dragged to prison and punished for a medical issue.

More on this to come soon.

America: Do You Approve of Torture? Yes or No!?

Look.  We have to make a decision.  Do we approve of torture or not?

If we approve of torture, then, fine.  We’ll have to accept the fact that our men and women will be tortured.  And we must give up our right to complain or “officially protest” any torture on an American soldier.

So, which is it?  Do we approve of torture, or not?

From Carol Marin at the Sun-Times:

The feds can’t — just yet — deport Michigan restaurateur Ibrahim Parlak to his native Turkey. But they are frighteningly closer.

And the irony screams out.

On Monday, the same day Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, announced he would appoint a special counsel to investigate whether torture was used by the CIA to extract confessions from foreign suspects, a U.S. appeals court at the behest of the U.S. government ruled that it didn’t have a problem sending Parlak back to the country where he was tortured — imprisoned for 17 months, shocked with electrodes, hung by his arms and sexually violated.

A Turkish Kurd, Parlak was granted political asylum in 1992. It was before our government got cozier with Turkey, before it re-classified some of the Kurdish separatist movement as “terrorist” and before the attacks of Sept. 11. With 9/11, Ibrahim Parlak’s horror began anew.

Suddenly he looked different to the newly created Department of Homeland Security and to the Justice Department’s Immigration courts. Instead of seeing a hard-working, tax-paying Chamber of Commerce member who ran Cafe Gulistan, a small Middle Eastern restaurant in the resort town of Harbert, Mich., the feds now saw an international menace.

So, which is it?  Yes, or no?  Torture yes, or torture no?