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