Monday, August 27, 2007

Private War, Private World (for the rich), Makes The Common Man Expendable And Exploitable

"The Great Iraq Swindle
How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury
--From Issue 1034... Rolling Stone Magazine

How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins -- he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq. "

"Many Take Army's 'Quick Ship' Bonus
$20,000 Is Lure to Leave Within Days

More than 90 percent of the Army's new recruits since late July have accepted a $20,000 "quick ship" bonus to leave for basic combat training by the end of September, putting thousands of Americans into uniform almost immediately."

"Blackwater Buys Brazilian Bombers
August 27, 2007: Security company Blackwater U.S.A. is buying Super Tucano light combat aircraft from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. These five ton, single engine, single seat aircraft are built for pilot training, but also perform quite well for counter-insurgency work. Brazil. The Super Tucano is basically a prop driven trainer that is equipped for combat missions. The aircraft can carry up to 1.5 tons of weapons, including 12.7mm machine-guns, bombs and missiles. The aircraft cruises at about 500 kilometers an hour and can stay in the air for about 6.5 hours per sortie. One of the options is a FLIR (infrared radar that produces a photo realistic video image in any weather) and a fire control system for bombing. Colombia is using the Super Tucanos for counter-insurgency work (there are over 20,000 armed rebels and drug gang gunmen in the country). The aircraft is also used for border patrol. The U.S. Air Force is watching that quite closely. The Super Tucano costs $9 million each, and come in one or two seat versions. The bubble canopy provides excellent visibility. This, coupled with its slow speed (versus jets), makes it an excellent ground attack aircraft.

Blackwater already has a force of armed helicopters in Iraq, and apparently wants something a little faster, and more heavily armed, to fulfill its security contracts overseas. Initially, Blackwater is getting one two-seater, for pilot training in the United States. '

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rule to Expand Mountaintop Coal Mining

From The New York Times

Original article click here
Picture from Michael Temchine for The New York Times From mountaintop coal mining at Hale Gap, Va.

Published: August 23, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.

It has been used in Appalachian coal country for 20 years under a cloud of legal and regulatory confusion.

The new rule would allow the practice to continue and expand, providing only that mine operators minimize the debris and cause the least environmental harm, although those terms are not clearly defined and to some extent merely restate existing law.

The Office of Surface Mining in the Interior Department drafted the rule, which will be subject to a 60-day comment period and could be revised, although officials indicated that it was not likely to be changed substantially.

The regulation is the culmination of six and a half years of work by the administration to make it easier for mining companies to dig more coal to meet growing energy demands and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Government and industry officials say the rules are needed to clarify existing laws, which have been challenged in court and applied unevenly.

A spokesman for the National Mining Association, Luke Popovich, said that unless mine owners were allowed to dump mine waste in streams and valleys it would be impossible to operate in mountainous regions like West Virginia that hold some of the richest low-sulfur coal seams.

All mining generates huge volumes of waste, known as excess spoil or overburden, and it has to go somewhere. For years, it has been trucked away and dumped in remote hollows of Appalachia.

Environmental activists say the rule change will lead to accelerated pillage of vast tracts and the obliteration of hundreds of miles of streams in central Appalachia.

“This is a parting gift to the coal industry from this administration,” said Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va. “What is at stake is the future of Appalachia. This is an attempt to make legal what has long been illegal.”

Mr. Lovett said his group and allied environmental and community organizations would consider suing to block the new rule.

Mountaintop mining is the most common strip mining in central Appalachia, and the most destructive. Ridge tops are flattened with bulldozers and dynamite, clearing all vegetation and, at times, forcing residents to move.

The coal seams are scraped with gigantic machines called draglines. The law requires mining companies to reclaim and replant the land, but the process always produces excess debris.

Roughly half the coal in West Virginia is from mountaintop mining, which is generally cheaper, safer and more efficient than extraction from underground mines like the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, which may have claimed the lives of nine miners and rescuers, and the Sago Mine in West Virginia, where 12 miners were killed last year.

The rule, which would apply to waste from both types of mines, is known as the stream buffer zone rule. First adopted in 1983, it forbids virtually all mining within 100 feet of a river or stream.

The Interior Department drafted the proposal to try to clear up a 10-year legal and regulatory dispute over how the 1983 rule should be applied. The change is to be published on Friday in The Federal Register, officials said.

The Army Corps of Engineers, state mining authorities and local courts have read the rule liberally, allowing extensive mountaintop mining and dumping of debris in coal-rich regions of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

From 1985 to 2001, 724 miles of streams were buried under mining waste, according to the environmental impact statement accompanying the new rule.

If current practices continue, another 724 river miles will be buried by 2018, the report says.

Environmental groups have gone to court many times, with limited success, to slow or stop the practice. They won an important ruling in federal court in 1999, but it was overturned in 2001 on procedural and jurisdictional grounds.

The Clinton administration began moving in 1998 to tighten enforcement of the stream rule, but the clock ran out before it could enact new regulations. The Bush administration has been much friendlier to mining interests, which have been reliable contributors to the Republican Party, and has worked on the new rule change since 2001.

The early stages of the revision process were supported by J. Stephen Griles, a former industry lobbyist who was the deputy interior secretary from 2001 to 2004. Mr. Griles had been deputy director of the Office of Surface Mining in the Reagan administration and is knowledgeable about the issues and generally supports the industry.

In June, Mr. Griles was sentenced to 10 months in prison and three years’ probation for lying to a Senate committee about his ties to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the heart of a corruption scandal who is now in prison.

Interior Department officials said they could not comment on the rule because it had not been published. But a senior official of the Office of Surface Mining said the stream buffer rule was never intended to prohibit all mining in and around streams, but rather just to minimize the effects of such work.

Even with the best techniques and most careful reclamation, surface or underground mining will always generate mountains of dirt and rock, he said.

“There’s really no place to put the material except in the upper reaches of hollows,” the official said. “If you can’t put anything in a stream, there’s really no way to even underground mine.”

He said the regulation would explicitly state that the buffer zone rule does not apply for hundreds of miles of streams and valleys and that he hoped, but did not expect, that the rule would end the fight over mine waste.

Mr. Lovett of the Appalachian Center said the rule would only stoke a new battle.

“They are not strengthening the buffer zone rule,” he said. “They are just destroying it. By sleight of hand, they are removing one of the few protections streams now have from the most egregious mining activities.”

Monday, August 20, 2007

Canada's forests are not disposable, Hemp is the next wave, get on board or miss the boat, Your choice CEOs

send a letter here to the corporate greedists... be nice, It is written for you already pretty much if you are angry. If you feel creative go for it and add some of your original thoughts.

I feel the wholesale deforestation of the planet must stop at present with global warming and the over production of CO2.

From Vote Hemp

USDA Research Shows Hemp Has Potential for Paper Production
In 1997, the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin conducted an evaluation of hemp as a potential feedstock for the paper industry in that state. They concluded that "... hemp could profitably be used as a fiber source for the paper industry" and that "Wisconsin farmers could meet the demand for fiber by the fine paper manufacturers of Wisconsin." To view the report, click here. (PDF file 569k)

With all the cutting going on. Hemp could replace paper from trees, 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees saved without the toxics involved in processing! No pestisides needed and it is renewable.

Canada's forests are not disposable

Logging companies are cutting down Canada’s Boreal forest - destroying this ancient forest at an alarming rate. Three of the largest companies involved in this destruction are Abitibi Consolidated, Bowater and Kruger. These companies are regularly clearcutting areas the size of 17 000 football fields. As one of the world’s last remaining original forests, Canada’s Boreal deserves better. We need your help getting the message to The CEOs of Abitibi Consolidated, Bowater and Kruger: Canada’s forests are not disposable.

Greenpeace is calling these companies to account - over the next few weeks and months we will be putting pressure on these companies to clean up their practices. We need your help in letting these companies know that Canadians - their customers - want them to clean up their logging practices.

Tell Abitibi CEO John Weaver, along with Kruger and Bowater CEOs Joseph Kruger and David Paterson what you think of the way in which their companies continue to treat Canada’s Boreal forest.

Canada's forests are not disposable, Candadian hemp is the next source, use it!

Dear Mr. Kruger, Mr. Paterson and Mr. Weaver,

I am writing to express my concern regarding your company's logging practices in Canada's Boreal forest. As a concerned customer of many of your clients, I hope that Abitibi-Consolidated, Kruger and Bowater will implement without delay new and responsible forest management policies.

The Boreal forest represents a unique and vital natural resource. It acts as home for many First Nations communities, contains countless animal and plant species and helps curb global warming. In Canada, we hold the power to protect this incredible ecosystem. As the country's largest logging companies, Abitibi, Bowater and Kruger should be at the heart of these protection efforts. Instead, your companies continue to act irresponsibly.

Reckless logging practices such as massive clear-cutting are destroying the Boreal's remaining intact forest landscapes. Considering that only 25% of the world's original forests remain, these practices are especially unacceptable. Thus, I support Greenpeace's demands that your company immediately:

1. Defer on logging in all intact forest landscapes and mapped endangered forests including caribou habitat, and work with Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations and governments to have these areas formally protected.

2. Shift to FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification across all tenures.

3. Publicly commit to cease licensing in currently unallocated areas.

4. Discontinue logging without prior and informed consent of First Nations whose territories are affected.

As natural resource and forest scarcity continues to increase, these objectives are becoming more important than ever. Forest protection must be considered as a priority by global citizens, governments and especially, logging companies.

As a customer of the many businesses you supply, I urge Abitibi, Kruger and Bowater to begin considering their role in forest protection as a serious part of their corporate citizenship. Should your companies choose to continue ignoring these duties, I will avoid buying products from the customers you supply: I refuse to support the continued devastation of Canada’s Boreal forest.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Karl Rove Retire? LOL The Devil Is Unleashed

This morning, Aug. 13, 2007, Steve Inskeep, on NPR, made a statement on how Karl Rove called republican higher ups, election day 2004, telling them to ignore exit polls.

Karl Rove was in Ohio that day with President Bush and Kenneth Blackwell. That same day, as reported by independent investigators ( ) it was noted that Ohio elections results servers were switched from Ohio and then originated from the same servers that the RNC had been using for various sites of their own interests, possibly including their emails.

(I have been told there are plenty of questionable emails, as well, from local Ohio republican officials questioning the authority of court ordered ballot retention in the state.)

Is this why Karl was so SURE the exit polls in 2004 needed to be ignored?

Since then many concerned individuals (see election section) have gone to many counties throughout Ohio and found, in fact, that their suspicicions were confirmed when hand counting ballots, checking signature books, and other investigative techniques uncovered the reality that Karl Rove's election results did not match reality on the ground.

There is a plethora of evidence there that Paddy Shaffer, Dr. Robert Fitrakis, Richard Hayes Phillips, Harvey Wasserman (and others) could attest and provide the facts to this happening. At this point, the Ohio attorney general has ignored the evidence these people have provided as proof and Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner also has slighted them by ignoring the urgency of the situation in light of the pending 2008 elections.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Top Ten Myths About the Illegal NSA Spying on Americans

(Download a printable version of the full ACLU report. Download a printable version of this summary.)

NSA Spying on Americans Is Illegal

Audio: ACLU v. NSA Clients Respond to White House Claims About Illegal Spying

Learn More About Illegal Government Spying

ACLU Calls for a Special Counsel: Add Your Voice

MYTH: This is merely a "terrorist surveillance program."
REALITY: When there is evidence a person may be a terrorist, both the criminal code and intelligence laws already authorize eavesdropping. This illegal program, however, allows electronic monitoring without any showing to a court that the person being spied upon in this country is a suspected terrorist.

MYTH: The program is legal.
REALITY: The program violates the Fourth Amendment and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and will chill free speech.

MYTH: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allows this.
REALITY: The resolution about using force in Afghanistan doesn't mention wiretaps and doesn't apply domestically, but FISA does--it requires a court order.

MYTH: The president has authority as commander in chief of the military to spy on Americans without any court oversight.
REALITY: The Supreme Court recently found the administration's claim of unlimited commander in chief powers during war to be an unacceptable effort to "condense power into a single branch of government," contrary to the Constitution's checks and balances.

MYTH: The president has the power to say what the law is.
REALITY: The courts have this power under our system of government, and no person is above the law, not even the president, or the rule of law means nothing.

MYTH: These warrantless wiretaps could never happen to you.
REALITY: Without court oversight, there is no way to ensure innocent people's everyday communications are not monitored or catalogued by the NSA or other agencies.

MYTH: This illegal program could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.
REALITY: This is utter manipulation. Before 9/11, the federal government had gathered intelligence, without illegal NSA spying, about the looming attacks and at least two of the terrorists who perpetrated them, but failed to act.

MYTH: This illegal program has saved thousands of lives.
REALITY: Because the program is secret the administration can assert anything it wants and then claim the need for secrecy excuses its failure to document these claims, let alone reveal all the times the program distracted intelligence agents with dead ends that wasted resources and trampled individual rights.

MYTH: FISA takes too long.
REALITY: FISA allows wiretaps to begin immediately in emergencies, with three days afterward to go to court. Even without an emergency, FISA orders can be approved very quickly and FISA judges are available at all hours.

MYTH: Only liberals disagree with the president about the program.
REALITY: The serious concerns that have been raised transcend party labels and reflect genuine and widespread worries about the lack of checks on the president's claim of unlimited power to illegally spy on Americans without any independent oversight.

(Download a printable version of the full ACLU report. Download a printable version of this summary.)

Original AT:

Saturday, August 4, 2007

[update] 'Roots News: Kucinich is sole Dem vote against STEM - America Competes bill b/c of nuclear energy provisions

I copied this direct, Jill does some investigation worth noting here!

This is from Jill's site:

The House bill that provides funding for science, technology, engineering and math programming passed overwhelming yesterday. But, as noted in that news item, Dennis Kucinich was the lone Democrat who voted against it (56 Republicans also voted against it). His congressional primary opponent in his home district, Ohio 10th, Rosemary Palmer, had this to say:

“This is exactly the sort of investment that our regional economy needs,” said Rosemary Palmer, who is challenging Congressman Kucinich for the Democratic nomination in 10th Congressional district of Ohio. “It is obvious that northeast Ohio needs to replace the jobs and industries that we have lost over the past few decades,” she said. “An education-based approach aimed at developing high tech industry would be a major boost in the effort to bring new industry to the Cleveland area,” she said.

No Google or other search I conducted turned up information as to why Kucinich might vote against the bill. His presidential website, under the education issue button, only hinted at the possibility: the focus on these four subject areas is too narrow for Kucinich.

So, I did what people who want answers do: I wrote his campaign and I called. A young man named Hasher, who said that he was in fact in Cleveland, took down my question, my name and my email and promised he'd see what he could find out. He was completely unaware of the bill, the issue or the vote prior to receiving my call. I will say that I was very impressed to get a human and not a voice mail directory. Nice touch. Can't be cheap, even with volunteers. But I liked it.

In the meantime, I was also emailing with Palmer's campaign manager, Anthony Fossaceca, to find out if they knew why Kucinich voted no - and they didn't either.

Then, within an hour, I received an email from Kucinich's presidential campaign, in response to the emailed query I'd sent through the presidential site. It said that they were sorry that they couldn't answer me because the question was, in their opinion, a congressional matter and never the twain shall mix. Gail, the contact person, who is in Iowa, suggested that I fax my question to his congressional office. An excellent suggestion since trying to go through the email labyrinth would weed me out as someone who does not live in Kucinich's district.

I wrote her back a polite thank you and mentioned that although I don't find Kucinich to be my speed of candidate, I admired his chutzpah and wished them well.

Then, I proceeded to do Shabbat with my kids, have a little dinner, do a few dishes and sit down again to do some writing. And what do I find in my inbox?

An email from Dennis Kucinich - no, really - I am quite sure it's actually from himself. The subject line says, "from the congressional record." Just like that in small letters. Now, Hasher had already told me, after I mentioned it, that Kucinich is indeed in Chicago at Yearly Kos. So I would guess this was sent from his Blackberry or something - but I don't actually know. Here's what the email said:

Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Extension of Remarks
August 3, 2007

Madame Speaker:

There is much to be excited about in H.R. 2272, the America COMPETES Act, a bill that endeavors to maintain America's preeminence in math and science. It doubles funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. It establishes a number of initiatives to encourage diversity in energy choices and participation. It also establishes a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), to overcome the long-term and high-risk technological barriers in the development of energy technologies.

However, the directive of ARPA-E explicitly includes provisions for the advancement of nuclear energy. The perils of nuclear energy are numerous. Indeed, in March 2002, workers at the Davis Besse nuclear power plant discovered a deep cavity in the head of the nuclear reactor, leaving only a thin stainless steel lining. Experts have concluded that if the hole were not discovered, the reactor could have ruptured within the next year of operation. Furthermore, the lack of a long-term solution to dispose of nuclear waste necessitates that we dump tons of highly toxic waste on several generations to come. Finally, the economics of nuclear power requires billions of dollars in federal subsidies, which would be far better spent on development of truly renewable energy technologies.

For these reasons, I voted against H.R. 2272, the America Competes Act.

So there you have it. I believe I have the first known from the horse's mouth explanation from Dennis Kucinich as to why he would vote with 56 Republicans and against every Democrat in the House who voted on the STEM - America Competes bill.

It's not the reason I would have expected at all. I hate to call it trivial, but it does seem like posturing when the real money behind the STEM curriculum could be good for a wide variety of students (gifted included, my pet group).

But hey - Dennis responded, he gave a reason and now we know.

So have at it - his reason. And Shabbat Shalom.

UPDATE: Rosemary Palmer's campaign responds:

Once again, Dennis gives up on the possible while demanding the perfect. Here was an excellent opportunity to show potential investors worldwide that there are congressional leaders in Cleveland and northeast Ohio with their finger on the pulse of emerging technologies and the power of ideas. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones understood it. Betty Sutton understood it. Tim Ryan understood it. Instead of coming back later to offer a fix to a very, very minor piece of an otherwise important piece of legislation, Congressman Kucinich lines up and votes with Steve Chabot, John Boehner, Jim Jordan and 53 other Republicans. This is the kind of decision making that has voters in this district scratching their heads again and again.

Well, I have a hard time arguing with that. I also would like to know from the Congressman, did he consult with his constituents on this one?

Permalink posted by Jill at 8/03/2007 07:23:00 PM

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R.D. Laing

R.D. Laing
Speaking on Autonomy