Thursday, December 29, 2005

The greatest threat to our war fighters demands public discussion

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Depleted Uranium by Kit Smith

(Excerpt) Click here to read the complete article

Depleted Uranium (DU) is a waste product of the processes by which enriched uranium is separated from natural uranium, as used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons and to produce fuel for nuclear reactors. It is provided free of charge to defense contractors by nuclear power plants, eager to eschew the high costs of storing it in nuclear waste sites, a win-win situation for both industries. DU is a pyrophoric metal, meaning it combusts spontaneously when exposed to air, and it has a density nearly 1.7 times that of lead. This combination of density and flammability grants this material enormous value as armor-piercing ammunition. Heavy, flaming bullets and kinetic energy penetrators (rods of solid metal shot from guns)burn through the tanks somewhat like a blowtorch causing injury, damage and secondary fires. DU makes for great weapons. The often-overlooked downside of using such a metal is that it’s RADIOACTIVE.
It might seem obvious to the average citizen that radioactive =bad . That leaving behind fields full of these shells and shrapnel or the resultant dust might effectively destroy an ecosystem for generations to come. That, as stated by former U. S. nuclear weapons laboratory employee and international DU expert Leuren Moret, “Living in a radioactive environment with chronic exposure to low levels of in contaminated areas will slowly be destroyed. Genetic defects will be passed to future generations who will also be exposed to new sources of radiation from contaminated air, water and food. The depleted uranium dust will cycle through the environment and travel throughout larger regions, carried on the atmospheric dusts which travel around the earth.”

The Gulf War (1991) saw the first widespread use of DU munitions and armor. Since then, the United States has used such armaments in conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), and currently in Iraq. More than 300 tons of DU were deposited in Iraq during the Gulf War. An estimated 25-30 tons remain in Kosovo. And our veterans seem to have brought quite a bit of it home with them. The souvenir gift that keeps on giving!

Official Pentagon numbers show a total of 697, 000 U. S. citizens as taking part in Gulf War I, a number which increases to over one million when non-military members are included. Slightly less than one percent of this million reported ailments which could not be diagnosed. Typified by headache and memory loss, chronic joint and muscle pain, fatigue, sleep disorders, and intestinal and respiratory ailments, these have come to be known as the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome.

There are more sinister conditions: Veterans from the US, UK, and Australia report blood in their urine, constant rashes, lesions, gynecological infections, sudden urges to vote Democrat, and in some cases the expression of uranium through semen . Sexual partners of these most unlucky vets often complained of a burning sensation during inter course, followed by their own debilitating illnesses. Though most US citizens who have awareness of DU expo sure symptoms garnered it through the plight of Gulf war veterans, it is the residents of the conflicted areas who are the biggest losers. The Christian Science Monitor reported. radiation at the sites of burned-out tanks and other locations wherein US troops used DU shells in Iraq as registering 1, 000 times the background levels.

All this radiation hasn’t even gone to produce anything useful or fun like glowing fish or six-legged chickens or giant frogs. Just horrific things like babies being born without eyes, or with enlarged heads. Also, a massive rise in incidences of childhood cancer, leukemia and birth deformities has been observed in southern Iraq since 1991.

DU is considered by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran’s Illnesses to pose little threat to the body so long as it remains outside the organism, as its radiation cannot penetrate the skin. Though admitting to shared symptoms among soldiers stationed in the Persian Gulf in 1991 and veterans from the former Yugoslavia (the Brits call their mystery illness “Balkan flu”), the claim is that other causes are to blame. The singular listed shared exposure is, um. . .”stress.” That’s seriously the best they could come up with. Even if one believes that stress can cause lesions and eyeless babies, reports from as far back as 1943 show clearly that DU-contaminated dust is a lethal weapon and can travel miles.

Upon impact, a DU penetrator becomes partly aerosolized. Over half of the aerosolized particles are smaller than 5 microns and can be inhaled deep enough into the lungs that the body cannot easily remove them. Here, they emit a steady dose of alpha radiation. “Depleted” is something of a misnomer: Though DU radioactivity is often cited as being only 57%that of natural uranium, this value reflects only the alpha radiation. When beta and gamma radiation are taken into account, the number increases to 75%.

Besides the dust, specific radiation hazards exist from body embedded DU shrapnel, and military surgery manuals now include specific removal guidelines (though Air Force Major and former director of the Pentagon’s Depleted Uranium Program Dr. Doug Rokke said on a radio program that “In 1993. . . the US Army medical department sent an order out. . . they deliberately said to leave the uranium shrapnel embedded in the arms and the bodies of the US friendly-fire casual ties to determine what the health effects would be.”). Finally, when these shells explode, they permanently contaminate their target with low-level ration.

DU has a dual mechanism, as it is both radioactive and toxic. Toxins are biological in their destructive nature. They react with specific molecules in the body, altering their function. Radiation is physical in its destructive nature. Studies have shown a synergist effect between the chemical and radiological properties, leading to a combined toxicity as much as eight times greater than would be predicted by dose. Several European studies have linked DU to chromosome damage and birth defects in mice. Many scientists say we still don’t know enough about the long-range effects of low-level radiation on the body to say any amount is safe.

Yet another point of interest: The use of DU weapons is illegal. By using such weaponry, the Pentagon deliberately defies a 1996 United Nations resolution that classifies depleted uranium ammunition as an illegal weapon of mass destruction (seriously). Nor are we the only country partaking in such hypocrisy. Other countries known to have DU munitions or armor include the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, and Greece (Israel denies use of DU, contradicting Palestinian claims).

It might not impossible that other conditions in the Persian Gulf, especially circumstances related to the burning oil fields, could produce a similar combination of symptoms in so many soldiers. But we have enough medical data to know whether their symptoms are or are not the result of radiation expo sure. DU isotopes have reportedly been detected in US, British and Canadian Gulf War veterans’ lung, liver, kidney and bone samples. Urinalysis of samples from veterans and residents consistently detect uranium.

Additionally, as former US army adviser and current professor of medicine at the Uranium Medical Research Center in Canada, Dr. Asaf Durakovic, expressed to BBC News Online: “In Afghanistan there were no oil fires, no pesticides, nobody had been vaccinated—all explanations suggested for the Gulf veterans’ condition. But people had exactly the same symptoms. I’m certainly not saying Afghanistan was a vast experiment with new uranium weapons. But use your common sense.”

With the government denying the dangers of depleted uranium and the public awareness at nearly zero (oddly, given reports in such prestigious media outlets as the Christian Science Monitor, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone), perhaps the best Gulf War veterans and other victims can hope for is that somebody will make a cool, creepy movie about them some day, a la Jacob’s Ladder. Instead of being bayoneted in the beginning, our hero could be sprayed with DU dust, come home to hallucinations of eyeless, two fingered babies and eventually find his way to heaven with the help of his oncologist. Tim Robbins will be too old by then, but Jake Gyllenhaal will be just the right age, and what better way to round out his career?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Response to Hannity

(Excerpt) click here to read the entire article

Bush and his faithful ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have been playing the same scratched CD track: "We're better off now without Saddam." That is not true. The fall of Saddam led to the rise of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers; and even Allawi admitted that human rights in Iraq now are no better than under Saddam. Not to mention that there is no reconstruction, unemployment is at 70%, and a country which in the late 1980s had one of the highest standards of living in the Arab world has been razed to a sub-Saharan level.

Whatever the Americans do - with "Iraqification" doomed to failure, as much as "Vietnamization" - the war in Iraq now is a rampaging beast that threatens to spill all over the Middle East.

"Bring 'em on," said Bush, and they did; the result is a new, deadly generation of global jihadis. Sunni-Shi'ite antagonism will spill over to oil-rich Sunni Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia) with huge but heavily marginalized Shi'ite populations. Kurdish separatist dreams have tremendous implications for Turkey, Syria and Iran, especially if Iraq, through civil war, finally disintegrates.

So the most probable scenario for 2006 and beyond is a fragile central government in Baghdad bombarded by an intractable guerrilla movement - a chaotic and sectarian hornets' nest breeding one, 10, 100 mini (or maxi) al-Qaeda leaders able to convulse the Middle East. Maybe this is what the neo-cons meant by "creative destruction".

Al-Qaeda has a masterplan for the Middle East, and the next stages - apart from the Gulf emirates - are to be played in vulnerable Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and even Israel. As for the air war against the Sunni Arab resistance, it may buy a few votes at home but will do absolutely nothing to improve America's dreadful image in the Middle East - especially because civilian "collateral damage" will be enormous.

That bearded, vociferous guy Saddam's trial - the outcome of which is already determined - will proceed as a purely sectarian propaganda coup. If this were a real trial, Saddam would be in The Hague in front of an international panel of respected judges, experts in human rights law.

Or the United Nations would have been commissioned to organize a special tribunal in a neutral country like Switzerland. Saddam's secrets, though, are so vast - and so extremely embarrassing for the US - that he cannot possibly leave the Green Zone, where he will certainly be executed. Saddam's trial will become the sorry mirror image of the sectarian politics let loose in Iraq at large.

Bush has opened a Pandora's box with his shock and awe tactics. The ultimate quagmire will keep mutating and unleashing its deadly new powers for years on end. And there is nothing anyone - not even the "indispensable nation" - can do about it. We have all been, and will remain, shocked and awed.

Found at Left Edge North

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Is there a God?

From my Christmas morning buzzflash headlines

Yes, a God who manifests the divine in the good deeds and good will exchanged between people on a daily basis. In Judaism, there is an expression that it is the duty of a believer to engage in "tikkun olam," the healing of the world.

But our qualification is that those who defile the works of the divine by engaging in lying, killing, ill will, spiteful words, hate, bigotry, profiteering in death, corruption, arrogance, and the diminishment of the common good -- our qualification is that these people do the bidding of another master, a master who is at war with the revelation of the divine in the world; these people betray God.

That is because the revelation of the divine comes from those who would leave the world a better place than when they were born into it.

Christmas is the holiday of the majority of Americans, it is true. And, as so, at it's best, it has become a symbol for the glory of the divine spark of life -- of the celebration of the warmth of friends and family.

As a nation, we are sectarian, although we are each entitled to our own faith, our own explanation of this great mystery called life.
Let us remember that there is no one religion -- and Christianity is a minority religion in the world.

Faith should make us better people, not more evil and hateful. It is a positive, affirming force for most Christians -- as the idea of God is for most people of other faiths. We just got the runt of the Christian litter running our country right now. They are the spokespeople for those who would battle the obligations of the divine in the name of God -- when they are doing the work of the devil.

So, to all our readers, we want to convey this. If our lives are manifestation of a divine force, than we bear responsibility for our lives and the good that we do, not God. It's our responsibility, not his or hers. And if we bear responsibility for our lives, then we are accountable for our behavior. And if we are accountable for our behavior, then we must live a life of good deeds, benevolence, love and peace.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa -- and to all the other faiths of the world and your holiest days, we say remember this: the divine lives in those who walk amongst us.
Treat your neighbor, your friends, your families, and the strangers you meet as you would treat God, for God is in all who inhabit this planet. We -- the earth we live on and all of its creatures -- are the divine.

Remember this and you will truly celebrate this holiday season as it should be celebrated -- a celebration of a life and love that does not live in the shadow of fear and darkness.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

Accountability is a noble concept

12-23-05: ES&S under fire in California
BREAKING: The Associated Press -- Errors lead California officials to warn voting-machine

California election officials have told one of the country's largest manufacturers of voting machines to repair its software after problems with vote counts and verification surfaced during California's November special election.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark threatened to start the process of decertifying Election Systems and Software machines for use in California if senior officials didn't address the concerns immediately... More

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Welcome back Katharine

Our sincere concern about your extended silence has finally been eased.

Say Hi to Kate at this blog.

Good Morning America (How Are You?)

SoS: 'Unresolved significant security concerns', 'Source Code Never Ever Reviewed'
State 'Punts' Issue Back to Feds for Further Testing, State Senator Objects -- Complete Letter from SoS, Senator Bowen's Full Statement...

Found at buzzflash

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Truth rings loud and clear

The miscreant dynasty
By Howell Raines
December 19, 2005

(Excerpt) Click here to read the entire article

Behind George W, there are four generations of Bushes and Walkers devoted first to using political networks to pile up and protect personal fortunes and, latterly, to using absolutely any means to gain office, not because they want to do good, but because they are what passes in American for hereditary aristocrats. In sum, George Bush stands at the apex of a pyramid of privilege whose history and social significance that, given his animosity to scholarly thought, he almost certainly does not understand.

Found at buzzflash

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Republican house of (circuit) cards coming down

Florida Elections Director Now Believes '2000 Presidential Election Hacked'!
Leon County's Ion Sancho Believes Electronic Manipulation of Votes Occurred in Florida's Contested Presidential Race!
Fallout Continues to Rock E-Voting World in Light of Recent Hack Demo of Machines made by Diebold, Inc.

Found at Buzzflash

File under Republicorruption

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Leak in Diebold Dike becomes larger

Volusia dumps controversial voting equipment,OKs $2.5 million for new system

Last updated Friday, Dec. 16, 2005

DELAND – Volusia County today became the second Florida county this week to ditch controversial voting equipment vendor Diebold Election Systems.

With a 4-3 vote, the County Council decided to switch systems and go with a different company in hopes of getting paper ballot equipment that also meets the needs of voters with disabilities.

Earlier this week, the Leon County Commission OK’d a similar deal. The same day, that county’s supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho, authorized a hack into the voting system that he said showed that the votes could be changed without leaving a trace.

Those reports raised the stakes for paper-ballot activists in Volusia County, but appeared to play little part in council members’ decisions today.

While each of the council members on the winning side spoke about the need for paper-ballots, none mentioned the Leon County tests in comments about spending about $2.5 million to go with a different vendor, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software.

Both companies market disabled-accessible touch-screen machines that don’t use paper ballots. But Election Systems & Software is also trying to get a paper-ballot marking disabled-accessible device called the AutoMARK through state certification.

The contract the council endorsed today allows the county to buy touch-screen units and replace them with AutoMARK units if the units are certified by Feb. 22. If not, the county can get a refund on the entire system.

Council members Joie Alexander, Jack Hayman and Bill Long dissented on the vote, which ended almost a year of controversy in the county over the issue.

Found at Left Edge North

Friday, December 16, 2005

For your morning chuckle

Follow this link, and then click on “The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen” on the right side of the page.

This is a howl.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Republicorruption Revealed

12-13-05: Devastating hack proven - Leon County dumps Diebold

Wed. December 14, 2005: Due to contractual non-performance and security design issues, Leon County (Florida) supervisor of elections Ion Sancho has announced that he will never again use Diebold in an election. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. On Tuesday, the most serious “hack” demonstration to date took place in Leon County. The Diebold machines succumbed quickly to alteration of the votes. This comes on the heels of the resignation of Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell, and the announcement that a stockholder's class action suit has been filed against Diebold by S... More

The folks at Black Box Voting keep fighting the good fight...FOR YOU.

Rampant Republicorruption

Top-secret cronies

Bush has stacked his foreign advisory board with his Texas business pals, who stand to profit from access to CIA and military intelligence.
By Robert Bryce

Nov. 17, 2005 No discussion of cronyism in the Bush administration would be complete without talking about PFIAB, short for the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. George W. Bush's latest appointments to the PFIAB, which advises the president on how various intelligence agencies are performing, represent a who's who of the Halliburton-Texas Rangers-oil business crony club that made Bush into a millionaire and helped propel him into the White House.

Read the entire article

Another rat scurries ashore


Saturday, December 10, 2005

How Common is Union Busting?

Article found here

Via Nathan Newman, an organization called American Rights at Work has just released a new report showing how widespread union-busting is among American employers. Some of the findings:

· 30% of employers fire pro-union workers.
· 49% of employers threaten to close a worksite when workers try to form a union.
· 51% of employers coerce workers into opposing unions with bribery or favoritism.
· 82% of employers hire union busting consultants to fight organizing drives.
· 91% of employers force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with supervisors.

As Nathan says, a majority of American workers would likely join a union if given the option. Most aren't given the option. ARW argues that major changes to labor law are needed to change this—including establishing "card checks" as a process for union organization, whereby a workplace would be unionized if a majority of workers simply signed a card, plus much tougher penalties for any employer that violated labor laws. But there's also something of a catch-22 here: Effective pro-labor legislation will be very difficult to pass in Congress without a strong labor movement agitating for it, but it's hard for the labor movement to become strong so long as the law is biased against unions.

So what to do, what to do? One of my favorite "out of the box" labor proposal comes from Joel Rogers and Richard Freeman, who have argued that "open-source unionism" is the way forward:

[Right now,] workers typically become union members only when unions gain majority support at a particular workplace. This makes the union the exclusive representative of those workers for purposes of collective bargaining. Getting to majority status… is a struggle. The law barely punishes employers who violate it, and the success of the union drive is typically determined by the level of employer resistance. Unions usually abandon workers who are unsuccessful in their fight to achieve majority status, and they are uninterested in workers who have no plausible near-term chance of such success.

Under open-source unionism, by contrast, unions would welcome members even before they achieved majority status, and stick with them as they fought for it--maybe for a very long time. These "pre-majority" workers would presumably pay reduced dues in the absence of the benefits of collective bargaining, but would otherwise be normal union members. They would gain some of the bread-and-butter benefits of traditional unionism--advice and support on their legal rights, bargaining over wages and working conditions if feasible, protection of pension holdings, political representation, career guidance, access to training and so on.

And even in minority positions, they might gain a collective contract for union members, or grow to the point of being able to force a wall-to-wall agreement for all workers in the unit. … Joining the labor movement would be something you did for a long time, not just an organizational relationship you entered into with a third party upon taking some particular job, to expire when that job expired or changed.

I don't really know what the upsides and downsides of this proposal are—it looks like all upside to me, but it's certainly worth debating, rather than waiting around hoping that pro-labor Democrats will ever regain power and fiddle with the law.

Posted by Bradford Plumer on 12/07/05 at 01:15 PM

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Keep pushing...hard

12-7-05: Diebold stockholder suit - here's some ammo

Two recent stories indicate that a Diebold stockholder lawsuit is imminent. When a stock drops significantly and cannot rebound for approximately two months, a stockholder lawsuit can result.

Diebold's first "hit" was in late June this year, when the company admitted to mis-stating ATM sales revenues in a stockholder conference call. Diebold's stock dropped again in late September upon the release of a glum sales forecast based on additional problems with its ATM division.

An impending stockholder's lawsuit was predicted by Black Box Voting on July 3, with a full blown story on this topi... More

Twisted Christmas

See if you can spot the Fox News Crew in this Christmas animation

A Sane Proposal

It's Time to Play Beat-the-Bully
By Bernard WeinerCo-Editor, The Crisis Papers
December 6, 2005

(Excerpt) Click here to read the complete article


We don't have a parliamentary system in this country whereby a vote of no-confidence can remove incompetent, corrupt or ideologically dangerous fools from office. The only way to pry their fingers off the levers of power is to either vote them out of office or to impeach them and send them packing, either with a conviction or with their resignations. Both take lots of time, and the current election option is plagued by a voting and vote-counting system that is easily corruptible and has already demonstrably been corrupted.

One would hope Bush&Co. would see the handwriting on the wall and, for the good of the country, would resign their offices now, but we know these power-hungry zealots are not going to go willingly. So we -- progressives, moderate conservatives, libertarians, right wingers, leftwingers -- must join together and put our efforts into passing laws mandating honest elections and hand-counted votes, and then sweeping enough Republicans out of office in the House and Senate next November so that the proper investigations finally can be conducted that will lead to impeachment and removal.

We can work long-range toward either drastic reform of the Democrat Party or the founding of an electable alternative party. But our immediate goal, our immediate job -- because the stakes are so extraordinarily high -- is to do everything possible to close down this war, to ensure honest elections, and to protect the Constitution from further ravaging. We can do this.

Copyright 2005, by Bernard Weiner

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Reign of incompetence

Mr. Bush, Have I Got An Exit Strategy For You
by Gus R. Stelzer

(Excerpt) Click here to read the entire article

Any CEO of a corporation who screwed up as many things as George W. Bush would have been fired by its board of directors. Here's a few:

- Invasion of Iraq, which is the biggest strategic blunder and scandal in U.S. history. Saddam Hussein never initiated a belligerent act of aggression or terrorism against us. The buildup to that war was based on fabrications, deception and lies.

- Death of 2,100 U.S. soldiers, wounding 15,000 more, and the death of 30,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children.

- Immoral and unconstitutional trade policies that caused $2.824 trillion in trade deficits in just five years.

- The worst fiscal performance in our history, piling up $2.472 trillion in added federal debt in five years en route to a major economic collapse.

- Tax policies that are an insult to working people who make dividends possible but who are required to pay a higher marginal tax rate than those who collect dividends without working.

- Foreign policies that have alienated most of the rest of the world.

- A misguided attempt to turn future Social Security pensions over to Wall Street.

In typical arrogance, Bush said we must stay the course in the Iraq war, which means continuing his tragic record while killing and wounding more U.S. soldiers. That has no more credibility than to say a fox should be put in charge of maintaining order in a hen house after he has just created mayhem therein. Earlier this year, Terri Schiavo lay in a permanent coma connected to a feeding tube. Her husband said she would have wanted that tube removed. But Republican members of Congress passed a resolution to maintain the tube, causing Bush to fly from his ranch in Texas to Washington to sign that legislation. As his pen was poised to sign the document, Bush said, "If there is an error in this matter, it is best to err on the side of life." Why didn't Bush make that same judgment in early 2003 when millions of Americans protested against a possible invasion of Iraq, as did many foreign leaders? Bush had no qualms about killing and wounding thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians. In view of his miserable record, his arrogant lack of good judgment and his failure to understand the gravity of his record, President Bush (and Vice President Dick Cheney) should be shown the exit door with a proviso to never darken the Oval Office again. That should be exit strategy No. 1! I was a Republican, but never a knee-jerk Republican.

Gus R. Stelzer lives in Mill Creek, Washington.
© 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Thanks to Left Edge North for pointing this out

Monday, December 05, 2005

It all begins right here

12-4-05: 'Leave it up to us, we know best' say officials California's elections registrars

-- at least Conny Drake McCormack (Los Angeles) and Deborah Hench (San Joaquin)-- think citizens should just leave things up to them. They say they are best qualified to decide for us.

Black Box Voting scratched below the surface to examine the political infrastructure that controls county elections, we reviewed local contracts, and we made dozens of field visits to elections officials to see what they really know.

We think you should know what we found.

In a nutshell: Infrastructure – When elections officials are appointed, they are chosen by the mo... More

What the Democrats are offering

(Next time you hear a Congressional Republican or Fox knee-walker say the Democrats have nothing to offer, come back to this article by Howard Dean)

Dems will win House and Senate in 2006
By Howard Dean


In 2006, Democrats will take back the House and the Senate.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have done an excellent job recruiting strong candidates, and we are already investing in the local infrastructure to ensure they win. But the key to winning is running a national campaign based on our different vision and the themes that Democrats around the country have put forward.

Americans of all political persuasions are tired of and worried about the culture of corruption that Republicans have brought to Washington and to so many statehouses around America. We will offer real ethics reform and election reform so that the Government Accountability Office can report in three years that we can have confidence in our voting machines.

We will offer a program for American jobs that stay in America and for energy independence that will create jobs and wean us off of foreign oil.

The only president to balance a budget in the past 37 years was a Democrat. We will do that again.

We will offer a real tax-reform program that helps the middle class pay for it by eliminating the shocking waste and giveaways the Republican Congress and president have added to the budget and subtracted from revenues in the past five years.

We will join the 36 other countries that manage to include all their citizens in their health-insurance systems while simultaneously balancing their budgets.

We will provide a strong public education system by avoiding bureaucratic federal mandates and taxpayer-funded puff pieces. We will rely on local control while requiring real standards that work nationally.

We will offer Americans real security. We all agree that 2006 must be a transition year in Iraq. While we may have different ideas about tactics and timing, it's clear we must change course. The vision of strategic redeployment set forward by Brian Katulis and former Reagan Defense Department official Lawrence Korb offers a likely roadmap to success that we can coalesce around.

We will offer the American people a government that is honest in preparing for any deployment of American troops and honor their sacrifice when they come home.

Most important, we will talk about Democratic values, which are America's values.

The vast majority of Americans believe it is immoral to lets kids go hungry. We agree. The other party cuts school lunches (they just can't seem to leave that one alone.)

Americans believe it is immoral that not everyone has some kind of health insurance. We agree.

The vast majority of Americans believe that government overreaching into personal and family decisions is wrong. We agree.

Americans believe that it is immoral to leave huge debts to our children and grandchildren. We agree.

Americans believe that using issues to divide us as a country to win elections is bad for America. We will restore America's sense of community.

Together, America can do better. And in 2006, the Democrats will lead America to do just that.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Consumer stuff

Clark Howard has a radio program that airs on Sunday mornings in the Seattle-Tacoma area on 1090 AM. He talks about anything and everything financial that affects the everyday consumer.

Here are a couple items of interest:

Jul 14, 2004 -- Bring old computers, electronics to Office Depot

Clark has three old, dusty computer monitors in his home, and his wife, Lane, can’t wait to get rid of them. The trouble is that it costs money to get rid of old computer equipment the right way because there is so much lead and other harmful chemicals in them. But two companies have gotten together to help solve this problem. Office Depot and Hewlett Packard, one of the pioneers of computer recycling, are taking electronics and computer equipment off your hands for free this summer. Just bring your items to any Office Depot store. They will take monitors, computers, PDAs, fax machines, digital cameras and fax machines. They will also take televisions that are smaller than 27 inches and TV/VCR combos. The only catch is that they will only take one item per person, per day. The promotion will run through Labor Day, so gather your old goods and make a couple trips. Clark wonders when Dell will respond with an offer of its own.

Oct 21, 2005 -- BPL coming to a town near you

Clark talked last year about experiments with high speed Internet through the power company. It’s known as BPL – or broadband over power line – in the trade lingo. It started in Cincinnati, and now is in a suburb or Washington. There has been no competition in this business, so prices have remained high. Now that BPL is competing with phone and cable companies, prices are sure to go down. And, as long as you have an outlet in your house, you can get BPL. Prices have settled at $29.95 a month, but looking forward pricing is going to get cheaper and the speed will get faster.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Congressional Obligation

As more and more of our public servants are indicted for and convicted of a variety of crimes, it is extremely distressing to me to think that these crooked bastards are going to come out the other end of their prison sentences with all their Congressional benefits intact.

It seems to me that these people signed a contract with, and took an oath to serve the American People. Now that they have reneged on their part of the bargain, why is it that we, the taxpayers, are unable to do the same?

Doesn’t it seem logical that our Congressional Servants would be more inclined to walk the narrow line of honesty and integrity if they understood that wandering from the path could cost them their Golden Parachute? I think so.

I am sick and tired of the flagrant abuse of power and position that many politicians practice, and I want to see it come to an end…preferably at the hands of those in position to change the ways of their fellow lawmakers.

They know who they are, and it is time for them to act.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Methyl Bromide

U.S. farmers ignore international treaty on methyl bromide

Methyl bromide, a pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide used primarily in the growing of strawberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers, has been found to rapidly deplete the ozone layer, and is toxic to humans and animals. Because of the harm done by methyl bromide, the Montreal Protocol Treaty--signed by the United States--to phase out its use, except in the most extreme cases, by 2005. But here it is, almost 2006, and methyl bromide use in the United States is still going strong. In fact, the Bush administration plans to protect its use at least through 2008, and will not commit to a termination date.

Growers say that substitute chemicals are not as effective, and organic methods are too expensive. In California, there have been attempts to regulate the use of methyl bromide, but these attempts do not satisfy families who live near the toxic fields. Two farmworkers reported that when they went to remove the plastic sheeting from fumigated fields, there were dead dogs, deer, and birds lying about nearby. One neighborhood in southern California sued a strawberry grower because of a flu-like illness whose onset coincided with the spraying of the fields.

The so-called Environmental Protection Agency refuses to disclose the size of the U.S.'s methly bromide inventory, but it is estimated to be 11,000 tons.

Posted by Diane E. Dees on 11/28/05 at 02:09 PM

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Black box hack test

11-30-05: Nope, the hack test won't be today

What's going on with California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson?

- He asks Black Box Voting to do a test, but tells the press he's asked Finnish security expert Harri Hursti to do it, before he formally invites Hursti or obtains any agreement from Hursti to do the test;

- He gives Black Box Voting a Nov. 30 deadline, then tells the press he has no idea where the Nov. 30 date came from.

- He asks Black Box Voting to confirm they intend to do the test, they confirm. BBV never hears from the sec. state's office again.

- The participants in the test learn by reading in the newspaper... More

Black Box Voting site

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Recent news about voting machines

I tried to upload the LOGO for Black Box Voting, but it seems to have gone the way of the Votes cast for Kerry.
Click here for updated news and comments at the website.

Stoopid to the Nth degree

Pension Officers Putting Billions Into Hedge Funds

Published: November 27, 2005

(Excerpt) Click here to read the entire article.

Pension officials who have been shaken by market downturns and persistent deficits are attracted by hedge funds' promise of richer, or more consistent, returns. But the trend has caused some consultants and academics to voice cautions. They question whether hedge funds, with risks that are hard to measure, are appropriate for pension funds, whose sole purpose, by law, is to pay out predetermined benefits to retired workers.

Those benefits are considered so crucial that they are guaranteed: corporate pension failures are covered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federal agency, while pension failures by state and local governments are covered by taxpayers. Given that the benefits are paid out on a set schedule, critics wonder whether it makes sense to rely on investments whose returns are hard to predict, managed by private partnerships that disclose little about their operations and charge some of the highest fees on Wall Street.

"It's very inappropriate when the company is offering a pension plan that is guaranteed by the federal government," said Zvi Bodie, a professor of finance and economics at Boston University who is enthusiastic about hedge funds in other contexts.

Hedge funds make large, sophisticated investments based on the premise that by swimming outside the currents of the markets, often betting against conventional wisdom, they can outperform other investments. Hedge funds became famous in the 1990's, when managers like Michael Steinhardt and George Soros made huge swashbuckling bets that sometimes produced returns of 30 percent or more.

More recently, hedge funds have made headlines when they ran into trouble: Long-Term Capital Management, a hedge fund whose principals included two Nobel Prize-winning economists, nearly collapsed in 1998; and this summer, Bayou Group, a $450 million hedge fund based in Connecticut, shut down after most of its money disappeared. Its two officers have pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

Hedge funds have traditionally been only for wealthy, sophisticated investors so regulators have not monitored them as they have stocks or mutual funds, although they are starting to do so.

Blind loyalty (or blind stupidity?)

The Problem with Bush and Cheney's "Faulty Intelligence" Defense

by Kristina Borjesson

(Excerpt) The entire article is lengthy and excellent. Click here to read it.

Then there was the Office of Special Plans [OSP] for advance war planning and media strategy. Created by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, it was hidden away on the Pentagon's fifth floor. The OSP operated in secret. Retired Air Force Lieutenant Karen Kwiatkowski, who was on staff there, says, "We were instructed at a staff meeting that this office was not to be discussed or explained and if people in the Joint Staff, among others, asked, we were to offer no comment." One of the OSP's tasks, according to Bamford, was to "target doubters and non-believers in the government, from the CIA to the Secretary of State. Those who wouldn't go along with the OSP's false information [courtesy of Ahmed Chalabi] or agenda, like CIA intelligence experts and General Anthony Zinni, former commander of Middle East Forces, were attacked and put on enemies lists."

The president, vice-president and Ahmed Chalabi weren't necessarily looking for good intelligence, just pro-war intelligence. Chalabi was the administration's pick to head up Iraq after the invasion. Currently wanted in Jordan for embezzling millions of dollars from a bank, he has been serving as Iraq's oil minister. Chalabi is probably still the administration's top pick for running that country, because he has promised to protect U.S. interests and to make a peace deal with Israel.

In 2002, when the Senate Appropriations Committee demanded to know why the State Department was paying Chalabi's INC for intelligence, the INC sent a letter saying that their information was going directly to William Luti in Rumsfeld's office and John Hannah in Cheney's office. The Pentagon's Kwiatkowski confirmed that the OSP had a "very close relationship with Cheney's office" and told Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay that staff members in Douglas Feith's office were giving talking points and position papers based on the INC's bogus information to conservative columnists and influential journalists.

Then there was the White House Iraq Group, headed up by Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, and charged with selling the war to the public. Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice and Scooter Libby were members of this group. A computer disk leaked in 2002 showed that they were planning a fall media blitz featuring frightening images of mushroom clouds as well as biological and chemical weapons. The blitz began in August. Cheney talked to veterans groups about Iraq's imminent and actual possession of nuclear arms. He always made the nuclear weapons pitch towards the end of his speeches, to leave a lasting impression. When Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay heard about Cheney's August 26, 2002 speech at a VFW national convention, he called a government source he knew to be well-versed on the issue of Iraq's nuclear capabilities, and the source told Landay flat out: "The vice-president is lying." Three days later, Cheney sold the same bogus message to veterans of the Korean War. Days after that, Cheney and Rice went on television to talk about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds, pointing to Judith Miller's Chalabi-sourced article entitled, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts."

While Bush and Condi were hitting the airwaves with their "mushroom cloud" speeches, Israeli prime minister Sharon and his top aide, Ra'anan Gissin, were issuing similar dire warnings about Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities. The Associated Press reported on a briefing Gissin gave during which he said that Saddam gave Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission orders to speed up their work to make their weapons operational. The AP's headline was: "Israel to U.S., Don't Delay Iraq Attack." This was no coincidence. According to the UK Guardian's Julian Borger, the Office of Special Plans had a mirror office in Israel. Douglas Feith was the liaison between OSP U.S. and OSP Israel.



Kristina Borjesson is the author of the newly released FEET TO THE FIRE: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out, a BuzzFlash Premium. This editorial is largely based on her interviews with national security and intelligence journalists in her book, including James Bamford and Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel. Among the other journalists interviewed for the book were Ron Suskind, Walter Pincus, Barton Gellman, Paul Krugman, Peter Arnett, Helen Thomas, Tom Curley and Ted Koppel.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Life changing values

(My Comments)

There are so many ways that the Government is failing to represent the best interests of the governed that it is chilling and depressing to think about it too much, but the generational future of this country and the world hangs in the balance. We are acting out like a Nation of immature pre-teens with nothing more pressing than instant gratification and the value of corporate stocks on our minds. Our populace is becoming unhealthier every day at the hands of Corporate Government, our children are losing the battle of obesity, and the Bush Administration continues to move further away from any pretense about changing the course. In fact, their battle cry continues to be “Stay the Course” without the benefit of any public debate.
With our stomachs still stretched from holiday overindulgence, this would be a good time to contemplate the wisdom of the eating habits we have been trained to over the years. It is well beyond time for some new understanding of, and changes in the food industry that funnels the goods to our cupboards.

Organic and Beyond

(Excerpt) Read the entire article here

Unfortunately, the future of organic food is in the hands of an Administration and a regulatory agency--the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)--that are backed by powerful agribusiness interests, all of which are openly hostile to the organic and beyond alternative. In less than a year from passage, the Bush administration has sought to seriously undermine the national organic standards in a number of significant ways, including creating numerous potential loopholes that would allow placing unacceptable chemical materials on a list of substances approved for organic use; a number of unapproved additives to be used in processing organic foods; eliminating outdoor access requirements for poultry; eliminating the requirement that livestock feed be 100 percent organic; and forcing small-scale, farmer-based organic certifiers out of the program. If the Bush administration's current policies are continued, the integrity of all organic food could be fatally compromised, and this crucial alternative to industrial agriculture would be lost.

CFS seeks to maintain strong organic standards that live up to the quality and integrity that consumers expect from organic foods while evolving the ethic by promoting agriculture that is local, small-scale and family operated, biologically diverse, humane, and socially just. The ultimate goal of the Organic & Beyond campaign is to replace the industrial agriculture model with a new vision of farming with the natural world.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Tabled until after my nap

Have a great Thanksgiving.

How education has changed

This was e-mailed to me by a friend. It is very interesting.

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS -1895 Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie,""play," and "run."
5. Define case; Illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.
Gives the saying "he only had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Giving Thanks

To my wonderful friends and once-in-a-blue-moon visitors, I would like to extend my sincere wishes that Thanksgiving Day and the rest of the holiday season are the best you have ever experienced.

This is the time of year we like to reach out to those less fortunate in an attempt to share the things we are thankful for. I hope you will concentrate on your local community first, because that is where we can best witness the results of our sharing.

I have made the commitment to purchase absolutely NO JUNK for Christmas gifts this year. If I am in a quandary about what is appropriate, I will opt to give a twenty dollar bill rather than a gift certificate, because I know that cash will be used where it will best serve the person receiving it.

I will absolutely NOT use a credit card to finance gift buying (as I have done so many times in the past), because the slippery slope is much steeper than it has ever been before, and it is very dark at the bottom. I would like to think that I have finally reached some level of fiscal maturity, and hope to be able to maintain that image in my mind.

Whatever your level of affluence or state of mind, I wish for you an abundance of Love and Friendship to lift you high enough to see my perpetual smile throughout this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Merry Buddhamas, Merry Allahmas, Merry Candlemas, and any other choice of worship that may exist. The only thing that really matters is how you interact with your fellow human beings.

Blessed Be.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why our kids are sick and fat

Via Left Edge North

Chemical Farm
By John Feffer, AlterNet. Posted November 22, 2005.

Americans remain largely oblivious to the intrusions of the pharmaceutical industry into our kitchens. Across the pond, however, the Europeans are wising up.

(Excerpt) Link to complete article for an excellent read

But conventional turkeys are practically a health food compared to some of the other dinner options, such as roast beef. Turkeys, unlike cows, don't get pumped full of growth hormones. Hormone residues in milk and meat likely play havoc with our endocrine systems.

Meanwhile, the routine use of antibiotics potentially builds up our resistance to drugs and encourages the spread of super resistant bacteria. "Eighty percent all antibiotics in the United States are given not to people to cure disease but to animals to make them fatten up and enable them to survive unhygienic confinement in factory farms," according to Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. If one of those little bugs survives the onslaught of antibiotics at the factory farm, it's going to give you one hell of a bad case of food poisoning.

So what, you might ask. Food is cheap in America, and if that means that little Anna hits puberty at age nine or both Mom and Dad contract breast cancer or a new strain of E. Coli resists drug treatment, it's a small price to pay. Life in modern industrial society comes with risks. If you don't like it, then you're welcome to go to the chemical-free hinterlands of Greenland or the Gobi Dessert.

I am so proud to be a "Liberal"

Sen. John F. Kennedy, acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination, September 14, 1960.

(Excerpt) link to complete text

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word "Liberal" to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a "Liberal," and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

In short, having set forth my view -- I hope for all time -- two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.

Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world's history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

Truth: illegal immigrant in Bush Administration

Found at What Really Happened

In Truth

By Monica Benderman

George W. Bush:

When are you going to tell the truth to the people of the United States? Why don't you tell them why you want to be in Iraq so bad? I was there for six months and I did not see the first weapon of mass destruction. I did receive orders from the company commander to shoot children if they threw small rocks at us and that was when I figured out that the entire thing was way over the line.

Over 1200 soldiers have died in Iraq so that you can have a couple billion more dollars that should make you feel very good about yourself. The soldiers that have died for this sham that you have put over on the American people are so much more deserving than that. You are not worth the dust off of their boots. If you truly had respect for the military and the people that serve then you would not continue to kill them in your war. I joined the Army to protect my country and not to be a mercenary for a political despot. If you wish to put me in prison because of my views then you should make room for about 75% of the military. And while you are at make some room for yourself and about half of your administration. You are responsible for what happened at Abu Gharib and you are shirking your responsibility. The commander in chief is not above the UCMJ, as you would like to believe.

I want to fulfill my contract that says I joined the Army to protect my country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and as far as I am concerned you are a domestic enemy of the United States. You care nothing for this country; you just care about the profits that are made from the oil in Iraq. That much is evident to me from the way the contracts were passed out to Halliburton and KBR. It must be nice to have the deck stacked in your favor by the president of the USA. Since your are raising the debt ceiling of America so that we can pay the bills that you have run up, why don't you forgive the debts of every one in the armed forces since they are the ones that are making it possible for you to make billions from the oil from Iraq."" (Sgt. Kevin M. Benderman, Nov. 20, 2004)

Dear Mr. Bush ­

Over one year ago, my husband showed the integrity of a true leader by facing everything he had committed to for you, in the name of ­ well, first there was national security, then it was freedom from tyranny for the Iraqis, then it was terrorism, then it was freedom for the American people, and what is it now???? Don't worry ­ we know. It hasn't changed. First it was oil, then it was saving face for a president who has never faced responsibility for his actions ­ EVER. But now, you are a president who has nowhere left to hide ­ you've seen for yourself, the doors are locked you cannot escape us.

You and your army of commanders could not allow my husband to have his voice ­ you actually thought you could control him ­ and the TRUTH he had to speak. You put him in prison, and thought you could take him away from me. You dared to believe we would go away quietly and leave you to your war.

Your army cannot control him, because the Truth will not hide. And the commitment my husband made to defend the constitution, to keep his soldiers safe ­ and to defend his home and his family ­ has a depth of integrity you will never understand.

Your doors are locking around you, Sir. And the jail cell that you put my husband in ­ the prison that confines all of our soldiers ­ this war and the horrific actions you have asked them to commit in our country's name ­ their doors are opening. I hope you feel every moment of this ­ and, Sir, I hope you know it comes from Kevin and me.

For over a year, my husband, Sgt. Kevin Benderman took everything the military could pound him with, and walked tall, held his head high ­ knowing the day would come when the "Truth would set him free." I walk every step with him, Sir ­ not to hold him up when his drugged stupor wears off, no, Sir ­ I walk proudly by my husband's side, because I know the leader that he is, and I know the strength that he has. It is an honor, Sir ­ to stand by his side and help him build his case against you, and all of those who have dared to disrespect him.

What is it that you and the commanders who imprisoned him are so afraid of?

Why was it that they were so willing to commit crimes, to tell lies and to manipulate evidence in my husband's case?

Because they have known from the beginning that he speaks the truth ­ and my husband's voice is a powerful voice. They should be afraid ­ you should be afraid - very, very afraid.

You dared to use this country to give yourself a place in history. You dared to use my husband's integrity, his honor and his commitment to duty, and thought that his dignity could somehow serve to make you great.

You were wrong, Sir.

One year ago, my husband told the world what he knew to be true. Attorneys -advisors told him it would be difficult to prove. Kevin and I knew better ­ and I stood beside him knowing we would face what you and your commanders would try to do, together, and in time, YOU would prove what he already knew. That is what happens with the Truth. He knew this ­ because he lives this ­ a powerful man.

You, Sir ­ wouldn't know the truth if it looked you in the eye. AHHH I'm wrong ­ you know the truth and it terrifies you.

Those locked doors in Korea ­ they are the end of your road ­ there is no one to help you, and what you thought you had locked away is your worst nightmare now.

My husband will not be silenced ­ for he speaks the Truth, and it is coming for you.


Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, Prisoner of Conscience, serving a 15 month sentence at Ft. Lewis Correctional Facility, for speaking out against war, and for daring to tell the Truth. Please visit their websites at and

Monica and Kevin may be reached at

Monday, November 21, 2005

Show me the money



My portrait of the perfect fool of randomness is as follows: he does not believe in religion, providing entirely rational reasons for such disbelief. He opposes scientific method to superstition and blind faith. But alas, human skepticism appears to be quite domain-specific and relegated to the classroom. Somehow the skepticism of my fool undergoes a severe atrophy outside of these intellectual debates:

1) He believes in the stock market because he is told to do so. — automatically allocating a portion of his retirement money. And he does not realize that the manager of his mutual fund does not fare better than chance — actually a bit worse, after the (generous) fees. Nor does he realize that markets are far more random and far riskier that he is being made to believe by the high priests of the brokerage industry.

He disbelieves the bishops (on grounds of scientific method), but replaces him with the security analyst. He listens to the projections by security analysts and "experts"— not checking their past accuracy and track record. Had he checked them he would have discovered that these are no better than random — often worse.

2) He believes in the government's ability to "forecast" economic variables, oil prices, GNP growth, or inflation. Economics provide very complicated equations — but our historical track record in predicting is pitiful. It does not take long to verify these claims; simple empiricism would suffice. Yet we have confident forecasts of social security deficits by both sides (democrats and republicans) twenty and thirty years ahead! This Scandal of Prediction (which I capitalize) is far more severe than religion, simply because it determines policy making. Last time I checked no religious figure was consulted for long-term business and economic projections.

3) He believes in the "skills" of the chairmen of large corporations and pays them huge bonuses for their "performance". He forgets that theirs are the least observable contributions. This skills attribution is flimsy at best — there is no account of the possible role of luck in his success.

4) His scientific integrity makes him reject religion but he believes the economist because "economic science" has the word "science" in it.

5) He believes in the news media providing an accurate representation of the risks in the world. They don't. By what I call the narrative fallacy, the media distorts our mental map of the world by feeding us what can be made into a story that can be squeezed into our minds. For instance (preventable) cancer, not terrorism remains the greatest danger. The number of persons killed by hurricanes, while consequential, is dwarfed by that of the thousands of isolated daily victims dying in hospital beds. These are not story-worthy, implying; the absence of attention on the part of the press maps into disproportionately reduced resources allocated to their welfare. The difference between actual, actuarially defined risks and the perception of dangers is enormous — and, sadly, growing with the globalization and the media, and our increased vulnerability to visual stimuli.

Dennis Kucinich

The major difference between the way I feel about Dennis Kucinich and any other Congressional Representative is simply this:
I would be comfortable giving Kucinich a key to my house and access to my dog.

Visit the Kucinich website.

Check out this Kucinich message.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

If Congress is not aware...make them aware

( A People’s Tribunal is called for to place accountability and set the record straight about Depleted Uranium munitions and how their use affects cellular life across the globe. No hearing utilizing selective witnesses and experts will do justice to this issue, so Congress should simply stay in the back seat they currently love to occupy. It will take people of Honor and Integrity to lead the way toward unveiling the truth about Depleted Uranium munitions.)

Radioactive Tank No. 9 comes limping home
by Bob Nichols


Across the plains of Kansas, destroyed, radioactive Abrams tanks, perched on railroad flatcars, rolled towards an uncertain future. Only one thing was certain. They would be radioactive forever. This would be their everlasting death mask. The Pentagon deceptively calls it "depleted uranium."

The Abrams tanks are constructed with a layer of radioactive uranium metal plates. The big tanks fire a giant uranium dart at 2,100 mph, much faster than an F-16 fighter aircraft, mach III to airplane pilots and very, very fast to the rest of us.

American taxpayers paid to ship the tanks to Iraq and to return them for disposal or re-building in the United States. The tanks are 12 feet wide and weigh a stout 70 tons, or 140,000 pounds.
The enduring vigorous stupidity of the U.S. military pretends that radiation is one of those things that if you can't see it, it can't hurt you. They are thoroughly delusional, of course. A National Academy of Sciences report released June 30, 2005, finds that there is no safe level of radiation. Any radiation is bad.


"Sally Devlin, a little old lady in tennis shoes, went to a public meeting several years ago, held by the Air Force in Pahrump, Nevada. Two officers told the citizens of the town that the Air Force would be moving 80 old target practice tanks and tons of old depleted uranium munitions through their town.

"The radioactive bullets had been picked up off the Nellis gunnery ranges by order of the state of Nevada and were being transported to the Nevada Test Site [a nuclear weapons test site] to be buried as radioactive waste.

"When Mrs. Devlin politely asked them how they would prevent the residents of the town from being contaminated by the radioactive dust on the tanks and bullets, the officers said, 'We're wrapping them in Saran Wrap.' She told them that would be unacceptable and stopped the Air Force dead in their tracks," Moret concluded.

Whether it is Saran Wrap in Nevada or nothing at all in Kansas, the Pentagon just doesn't get it when it comes to uranium radiation dispersing weapons. It is way past time to take all their nuclear weapons and uranium munitions away from them and send them home to get real jobs. They are clearly incapable of protecting this country from all dangers, including those created by our own U.S. military.

The U.S. military shows so little regard for Americans in Kansas, one wonders what on earth they have done to Iraq. The U.S. military has distributed an estimated 8 million pounds of weaponized ceramic uranium oxide gas, aerosols and dust on a practically defenseless little country of 26 million people (see Note 6), according to an estimate by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

What is this lethal radioactive weapon supposed to do? Why was it used? Ceramic uranium oxide gas is a genocidal weapon, for God's sake. It persists in the environment forever. In Leuren Moret's pithy words, "The Iraqis are uranium meat."

The politicians, Pentagon staff, generals, commanding officers and others responsible for this war crime must be arrested, tried, convicted and appropriately punished for their crimes against humanity.

There is much more to read here.

Ignorance fails to bring bliss to masses

This book is available HERE.

Cell Phone Hell

Are you having problems with your cell phone service provider, and would like the world to know what you are going through?

Check out Cell Hell and Hear Us Now

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Why is this big news?

Illegal Workers at Wal-Mart Site Deported

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer
Sat Nov 19, 4:04 AM ET

Federal officials say the arrest of 125 workers at a construction site for a new Wal-Mart distribution center should serve as a warning to employers who hire illegal immigrants.

All 125 workers arrested in the raid will be deported, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday. The workers from Mexico and Central America were detained Thursday at the site outside Pottsville, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

"Employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, and those who utilize false documents to gain employment, face significant criminal and administrative charges," said John Kelleghan, acting special agent-in-charge for the immigration agency in Pennsylvania.

Some of the 125 workers, who are from Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, used fake documents to obtain employment with subcontractors, officials said. The arrests came after search warrants were executed for six companies at the site.
The Pennsylvania job site remains shut down, Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires said Friday. He did not know when construction would resume.

Agents obtained the search warrants after learning that 10 workers employed by Destin Drywall & Paint were using Social Security numbers that did not match their names.
Another three used Social Security numbers that were never issued by the government, according to an affidavit unsealed Friday at U.S. District Court in Scranton.

Houston-based Destin has worked on Wal-Mart projects around the country, said office manager Cindy Wyman. She said the company verifies that employees are permitted to work in the United States. "As far as I know, their Social Security numbers are good," Wyman said of the Pennsylvania workers.

A Wal-Mart spokesman has said the detained workers were not employed by Wal-Mart but by the subcontractors. Wal-Mart's contracts with the companies require that they follow local, state and federal employment laws, the company said.

Last month, Wal-Mart shut down work on seven stores under construction in North Dakota to check for illegal aliens after two illegal immigrants working on Wal-Mart projects in Bismarck were charged with molesting two 13-year-old girls. Charges against one of the suspects were dropped after authorities found out he was a juvenile.

In 2003, a raid of 60 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states led to the arrests of 245 illegal workers. An affidavit claimed a pair of senior Wal-Mart executives knew cleaning contractors were hiring illegal immigrants. The retailer agreed to pay $11 million in March to settle the case but denied senior executives knew of the hirings.

(My Comments)

I can see this article showing up in the Pottsville local paper, but why does it merit more widespread attention? Could it be an attempt to appease those critical of the Bush Administration immigration policy?
Even though I choose not to shop at WalMart on matters of principle (mine, not theirs), I can't seem to get away from possessing items that have been made in China. The Walmartization of products dictates that they will be made in China because the labor force is malleable in the hands of a cruel corporation and the political minds that support it.
The illegal aliens mentioned in this article are simply another byproduct of Walmartization. Using a work force that is vulnerable to exploitation is how Walmart keeps cost down. I would like to see local mandates that demand the use of at least 75% local labor on every project executed in that particular community or county setting. Most projects are Government sponsored and funded at the county or state level anyway, so the money is being provided by those who should be benefiting from the availability of the work as well as the results of the work.
I have no problem with the people pouring across our southern border to find work. I would do the same were I in their position, and I would like to see an effort made to utilize their skills and abilities as soon as our own labor force is able to work at a sustainable level.
The companies mentioned in this article should be mandated locally to serve the common good of the community.

Non-accidental home heating

LNG: The Next Battle Line


The United States derives 23% of its consumed energy from natural gas, and an increase to 28% is expected by 2020. Presently, 85% of US consumption is from domestic wells, with a little less than 15% piped from Canada. Only a fraction of a percent comes from liquefied natural gas ( LNG ), imported by ocean tankers. Today, however, this pattern is changing. Domestic wells are showing production decline. New finds are smaller and rapidly depleted. Obviously, from a ruling class point of view, the answer is to import more natural gas, just as 63% of US oil is now imported. An alternative solution through conservation, life-style change, and conversion to wind/solar energy is unacceptable to the ruling class ( because its elite social position is based on economic expansion ). In a July 10, 2003 statement to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural resources, Alan Greenspan said, "As the technology of LNG liquefaction ( sic ) and shipping has improved, and as safety considerations have lessened, a major expansion of US import capability appears to be underway." A flurry of corporate proposals for new US LNG port terminals has surfaced, many for the West Coast where no such facilities now exist. An Institute of the Americas' conference held in La Jolla, California on January 29-30, 2004 considered a "boom in liquefied natural gas consumption in the United States, Mexico and Canada" ( The Washington Times ).

(My Comments)

Mr. Natural at Left Edge North has posted about this numerous times, as there is a plan to install one of these storage facilities near the mouth of the Columbia River (his proverbial stomping ground).
I share a concern about the danger of such a facility to the surrounding communities, but I am really concerned about the lack of Government support for a trend toward renewable energy that is capable of home heating without the use of combustibles.
At some point, I would like to help spring the trap-door on the big oil pricks who are currently holding America in the hands-on-ankles position while they lever cash from our pockets to theirs. Did I mention how much I hate those bastards (thanks Mike)?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Republican Pooter-ooze lashes out

Sen. Stevens' crude attack on Puget Sound

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is having a hissy fit, trying to take his frustrations out on Puget Sound.

Stevens, R-BridgetoNowhere, is upset the House of Representatives balked at opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil leasing and drilling, and Senate Republicans are flinching as well.

Stevens' ire is directed in particular at Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, who introduced an amendment as part of a budget reconciliation bill, the current turf for ANWR battles. Her amendment lost, but Stevens was incensed. Stevens immediately sought to lift restrictions on BP's Cherry Point refinery near Bellingham, which would increase production capacity and expand tanker traffic in Puget Sound. Both were capped in 1977 by Sen. Warren Magnuson with a tweaking of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Magnuson identified the navigable waters of Puget Sound as a national asset threatened by increased domestic and international tanker traffic, adding that the waters and surrounding natural resources needed protection. The foresight of his actions was affirmed a dozen years later by the example of the Exxon Valdez travesty in Alaska's Prince William Sound.

Cantwell responded in the honorable tradition of Northwest legislators defending — protecting — things unique to the region, from its natural and visual resources to the Bonneville Power Administration and the region's hydroelectric resources.

Stevens is in full reprisal mode, and he essentially is declaring "game on" with Senate Bill 1977, which just so happens to be the year the Magnuson Act was passed.

House and Senate Republican leadership are surprised at the resistance to ANWR drilling and business as usual on the budget among their own party. Cantwell has parliamentary allies in the GOP who, combined with a unified Democratic Party, can push back on Stevens' slap at Puget Sound.

Feeding the wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his Grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Time to clean house (and senate)

We, the people, are currently plagued by a host of ills brought to us by a Congress that is as obviously effective as the proverbial limp-dick in the honeymoon bed. We are mired down in an illegal pre-emptive war initiated by a self-serving administration, which has resulted in the absolute waste of this country’s most valuable resources (our young …and older… men and women) as well as our much needed economical resources.

I have gravitated away from the Republican Party toward the Democrat Party, but I am still not being adequately represented by the Congresspersons selected and sworn to that simple duty. As I seek more ethical and trustworthy representation in Congress, I am drawn to the following ten key values of the Green Party of Washington State. These values happen to reflect MY values.

Please follow this link and exercise your own critical judgment about how America and we, the people, will be best served in the coming years.

Ten Key Values

Respect for Diversity
We honor the biological diversity of the Earth and the cultural, racial, sexual and spiritual diversity of its people. We respect the dignity of all individuals, and their right to access and fully participate in all aspects of our society.

Feminism and Gender Equity
We are committed to gender equity in all aspects of our society. We wish to replace top-down domination with cooperation, compassion, communication and understanding.

Social Justice
We oppose systemic global injustice and poverty. All oppression including that based on race, class, gender, age, citizenship or sexual orientation must end.

Grassroots Democracy
The influence of big business and big government combined is undermining genuine democracy. To help overcome this, we promote public participation at all levels of government. We believe that electoral systems need reform to enable full and more equitable access by all people.

Violence is shortsighted, morally wrong and ultimately self-defeating. We must develop effective alternatives to society's current patterns of violence. We will work globally to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

Ecological Wisdom
We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit from the practices of our generation. We seek to protect ecological diversity and balance.

Decision-making in our social, political, and economic institutions should reside at the individual and local levels, consistent with ecological sustainability, civil rights, and social justice.

Community-Based Economics
We seek a new economics based on global ecological sustainability, livable wages, sufficient social safety nets, and democratically accountable businesses. Balanced local economies create more equitable and stable communities.

Personal & Global Responsibility
We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of our planet. We take personal responsibility in upholding our values.

Future Focus
As did the Iroquois, we strive to create a society where the interests of the Seventh Generation are considered equal to the interests of the present