Politics

Seeds of Truth

From Sheila Stuff:

I have learned over the past decade if I want to know what’s really going on in the United States, I have to cruise through the foreign media to see what’s creating a furor or causing a stink. So, while searching for the status of Spain’s on-again, off-again criminal proceedings against six Bush Administration war criminals, this headline in Der Spiegel caught my eye — “Frankenfood Ban is Neither Populism nor Panic-Mongering.”

A closer look at the article revealed it wasn’t a Norm Coleman ploy to get folks in Minnesota to quit eating burgers and fries, nor a menu for the genetically obscene monster in Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” but an announcement by Germany’s Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner that Germany is banning the cultivation of MON 810, a genetically modified (GM) corn produced by US biotech giant Monsanto.

The GM Monster

It appears that MON 810 is also believed to be the “Frankenstein” of GM crops by at least five other European countries — France, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg — all of whom have banned its use. MON 810 was approved by the European Union in 1998, and was the only GM crop approved for cultivation in Germany. Aigner said she had legitimate reasons to believe that the genetically modified Monsanto seed “presents a danger to the environment.” The plant produces a toxin that not only destroys the larvae of the corn borer moth, but other, beneficial, insects as well.

Andreas Thierfelder, spokesman for Monsanto Germany, responded that Monsanto would decide “as quickly as possible” whether to take legal proceedings. She said the “matter was very urgent as the planting season was about to start.” Just how urgent was evident days later when Monsanto filed a lawsuit against the German government, claiming that its ban on MON 810 is arbitrary and contravenes EU rules. Although Monsanto sued France in an effort to overturn its ban on genetically modified corn, and lost that battle in March when France’s highest court ruled that the corn “may” harm the environment and wildlife, the German government is justifiably edgy, as it must prove conclusively to the German court that MON 810 damages the environment.

But the feeder GM corn is just one tiny blip on the Frankenfood radar. And, it’s not just Europeans who should worry. As Jim Hightower, former two-time Texas agriculture commissioner warned way back in June 2004…

“For some time, the likes of Monsanto have had their white-smocked engineers tinkering merrily and dangerously with the very DNA of food, genetically modifying the natural composition of things like potatoes so they contain a pesticide in every one of their cells, or altering rice so it contains a diarrhea drug in every bite. This is no mere lab experiment, for unbeknownst to the vast majority of Americans, Monsanto and a handful of other global biotech giants have quietly spread the seeds of these genetically altered Frankenfoods to so many farms over the past decade that about a third of the foods on U.S. supermarket shelves now contain organisms with tampered DNA — everything from baby food and milk to products made with soybean and corn. Thanks to well-placed campaign donations and powerhouse lobbying, this infiltration of our food supply has been done with practically no consumer awareness, since both Bill Clinton’s and George W’s administrations have let these foodstuffs be sold in America without so much as a label on them to tell us that we’re buying something that our families might prefer to avoid.”

Kinda ruins the appetite, doesn’t it? Not just the fact that Monsanto has infiltrated the bulk of our food chain, but that it clearly believes it has the right to do so with or without our knowledge. It has fought oversight, regulation, labeling and scientific research for years. The arrogance with which multinational biotech corporations such as Monsanto are disrupting and modifying life’s natural genetic order — from seeds to food to animals to humans to the environment — is creepy. The Almighty must surely be watching in slack-jawed amazement.

The Profit Plan

These giants are “chemical” corporations, and one of their goals is to create seeds that will withstand more (and more and more) of their herbicides. Monsanto, which gave us the deadly Agent Orange and the toxic weed killer Roundup, is not alone in its quest to manipulate, or to control the world’s order. Germany’s chemical giant Bayer, well known for its popular and effective Bayer aspirin, and for Alleve and Alka Seltzer, was the first to introduce heroin as well as mustard gas, and produces a series of neonicotinoids — insecticides that attack the central nervous systems of insects, such as bees. Other mega-corporations dealing in both pharmaceuticals and pesticides, to name a few, are Merck, Dupont, Dow Chemical, and Syngenta — but Monsanto has been around for more than a century, produces 90-percent of genetically modified seed — and has many friends in high places. Many high places.

Last year, Vanity Fair’s Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele teamed up to present a well-researched background article, “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear,” wherein they listed some, but not all, of these friends…

(…) Monsanto has long been wired into Washington. Michael R. Taylor was a staff attorney and executive assistant to the F.D.A. commissioner before joining a law firm in Washington in 1981, where he worked to secure F.D.A. approval of Monsanto’s artificial growth hormone before returning to the F.D.A. as deputy commissioner in 1991. Dr. Michael A. Friedman, formerly the F.D.A.’s deputy commissioner for operations, joined Monsanto in 1999 as a senior vice president. Linda J. Fisher was an assistant administrator at the E.P.A. when she left the agency in 1993. She became a vice president of Monsanto, from 1995 to 2000, only to return to the E.P.A. as deputy administrator the next year. William D. Ruckelshaus, former E.P.A. administrator, and Mickey Kantor, former U.S. trade representative, each served on Monsanto’s board after leaving government. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney in Monsanto’s corporate-law department in the 1970s. He wrote the Supreme Court opinion in a crucial G.M.-seed patent-rights case in 2001 that benefited Monsanto and all G.M.-seed companies. Donald Rumsfeld never served on the board or held any office at Monsanto, but Monsanto must occupy a soft spot in the heart of the former defense secretary. Rumsfeld was chairman and C.E.O. of the pharmaceutical maker G. D. Searle & Co. when Monsanto acquired Searle in 1985, after Searle had experienced difficulty in finding a buyer. Rumsfeld’s stock and options in Searle were valued at $12 million at the time of the sale.

Bartlett and Steele go into some detail about the lengths Monsanto will go to protect its patent rights, not only against GM or GE (genetically engineered) farmers, but organic farmers as well. They write…

Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers — anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records.

Once you opt to buy Monsanto seeds, you are no longer a farmer, you’re a “grower” — a serf — and you must sign a Technology/Stewardship Agreement wherein you agree, among many other restrictions, to use Monsanto seed for planting only a single commercial crop…not to sell or give seeds to any other person for planting…to pay annual technology fees (in addition to the price of the seed) due Monsanto…to turn over your records and receipts anytime Monsanto asks for them. In short, you sign your life — and your livelihood — over when you become a “grower.” And, if you’re ever taken to court (and it’s likely you could be), and you lose (and it’s likely you will) — you will find you agreed to pay Monsanto and its attorney fees and all related court costs.

The End Game

This goes way beyond garnering profits for agriculture conglomerates such as Monsanto. It is about disrupting the natural order of life — whether plant or animal. And, for those orchestrating this havoc, it is about control. As Henry Kissinger once said matter-of-factly, “If you control the oil you control the country; if you control food, you control the population.” Kissinger has long been obsessed with two things — depopulating the world and establishing a New World Order.

What better way to control the food than to ban seed saving — what better weapon is there to use against starving populations than food? The answer is laid out in detail in F. William Engdahl’s November 2007 critical book about genetic manipulation, “Seeds of Destruction.” Engdahl is no conspiracy theorist. He is a leading researcher as well as an economist and an associate and regular contributor for the Centre for Research on Globalization.

In his extensive three-part review of “Seeds,” investigative journalist Stephen Lendman reveals “… the diabolical story of how Washington and four Anglo-American agribusiness giants plan world domination by patenting life forms to gain worldwide control of our food supply and why that prospect is chilling.”

Lendman reminds us that Kissinger has been both at the forefront and behind the scenes since the 1960s when, as Engdahl wrote, “the Rockefellers were at the power center of the US establishment (and) Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (was) their hand-picked protege.” Kissinger was there as Nixon’s Secretary of State in 1973 when the food crisis hit and, as Engdahl said, he decided US agricultural policy was “too important to be left in the hands of the Agricultural Department so he took control of it himself.” Even back then, Kissinger’s goal was to go global and seize control of the agricultural food market. Kissinger’s “food diplomacy” was to use food to “reward friends and punish enemies.”

Lendman writes, “Food is power. When used to cull the population, it’s a weapon of mass destruction.” He says “One way or another, the Rockefeller Foundation aims to reduce population through human reproduction by spreading GMO seeds.” And the “world’s number one” in patenting seeds is Monsanto. He explains…

Like it or not, they’re advancing their agenda, and a 2004 Rockefeller Foundation report shows it. GM crop production achieved nine consecutie double digit year increases since 1996. More than eight million farmers in 17 countries now plant them, over 90% in developing nations. Far and away, the US is the world’s leader “with aggressive Government promotion, absence of labeling, and the domination of US farm production.” Here, “genetically engineered crops (have) essentially taken over the American food chain.” In 2004, over 85% of soybeans were genetically modified, 45% of corn, and since animal feed is mainly from these crops “the entire meat production of the nation (and exports) has been fed on genetically modified animal feed.” What animals eat, so do humans.

According to Engdahl, agribusiness giants, aided by the Rockefeller Foundation, the US government and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are progressing relentlessly toward the second pillar of Kissinger’s end game — controlling food to control (and expunge) populations of lesser nations. In December 2007, Engdahl sounded the alarm about yet another seed venture (adventure?), “Doomsday Seed Vault in the Arctic,” a steel-reinforced concrete seed bank built deep inside a mountain on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. This “program” is funded by the Rockefellers, by such seed giants as Syngenta and Monsanto — and by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who knows a bit about monopoly.

The Way Out

Engdahl says that, since 2007, Monsanto and the US Government together hold the patent for a commercial seed called “Terminator,” designed to commit suicide after just one harvest, and farmers will be forced to return to Monsanto or other seed giants to purchase new seeds each year for crops needed to feed their populations. He said if they’re allowed to continue their reckless pursuit of power, in a decade or so, the small farmer will be but a memory and the majority of the world’s food producers would be little more than feudal serfs in bondage to three or four giant seed corporations. “Those who say ‘it can’t happen here’ should look more closely at current global events,” he wrote. “The mere existence of that concentration of power in three or four private US-based agribusiness giants is grounds for legally banning all GMO crops even were their harvent gains real, which they manifestly are not.”

The good news is that Europe is fighting back against being forced to plant genetically manipulated seeds for plants and food. Countries like Austria and Denmark, France — and now Germany — are standing up, and standing together, to ban biotech products. As is always the case, when those who lust for power and control concoct their grand schemes, they fail to factor in the human response. Lendman says public opinion throughout Europe is strongly opposed to GMO foods and ingredients. He writes…

Several EU countries, including France, Germany, Austria and Denmark, even ban some EU-approved biotech products to further cloud the outlook. Polls show why, with European public opinion strongly opposed to GMO foods and ingredients, with hostility levels in France as high as 89% and 79% wanting governments to ban them. This shows European consumers are far ahead of Americans and much better protected (so far) by their overall exclusion as well as having labeling requirements for those allowed to be sold. That provision is crucial as it empowers consumers to use or avoid eating these foods. If enough people abstain, food outlets won’t carry them.

It’s not that Americans don’t care that the Rockefeller-Gates-Monsanto plan to solve world hunger is but a ghastly scheme to cull the population of its nonproductive bottom-feeders. Thanks to conspiratorial US media, most of us are either blissfully unaware or are unable to make a sound because, as Hightower said, our “Congress and the White House (and the media) have Monsanto checks stuffed in their ears.”

The way out is to become informed — and just say no to having unlabeled, untested products crammed down our throats. If we do nothing, we will reap what we sow. We will, as Charles Galton Darwin, grandson of evolutionist Charles Darwin, wrote in his 1952″The Next Million Years,” be condemned to the status of workers in a beehive.

We must stand up and support Europe’s attempt to organize a ban on genetically modified crops and food. It is the way — the only way — out of this mess. Lendman, who maintains “the stakes are much too high — human health and safety must never be compromised for profit,” suggests that we read Engdahl’s book, which is a “wake-up call” for all of us.

I suggest we start by reading Lendman’s review of that book, which is a much louder wake-up call.

Saw It Coming

Excellent interview with N. Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan

So, another treasured wingnut myth goes down in flames. Not only did eight Senators see this coming, but they tried to stop it – and got steamrolled by the GOP-dominated Congress.

There’s a culture, and the culture is that “Wall Street knows best.” You know, there were only eight of us in the United States Senate that voted no. This was a huge deal to repeal the protections that were put in place after the Great Depression — a huge deal. Eight of us voted no.

This thing allowed these huge financial holding companies, allowed them to bring significant risk into these banks and, you know, they just went hog wild. And now we’re in a situation in 2009 where we’ve seen this financial crisis and collapse, massive taxpayer bailouts. Now the question is how to put this thing back together and get out of this deep hole….

Hat tip to Firedoglake!

A Spread of Bloggers

Here I’d been hoping for something along the lines of ‘A Murder of Crows’ like… maybe… “An Intrigue of Bloggers” (oooh… that makes ya kinda tingle, dunnit?) or something at least a little romantic…

oh no…

Bernie Lincicome at I want my Rocky, in “I’ll get the hang of this blogging; just let me hitch up my sweatpants first” comes out with these:

I witnessed a collection of bloggers (what would that be, a pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, a barrel of bloggers?) at the Democratic Convention in Denver, and, to be honest, many of them appeared quite human, even in their sweat pants.

Now, my dear friend DJ Cline often opined that one of his favorite things about working remote was: “No Pants” so this sounds pretty accurate.

They had their own lunchroom, with a spread of coldcuts (ah, that’s it, a spread of bloggers) pastries and utensils, not many of which were used.

A ‘spread‘ of bloggers? Now I guess I really am chopped liver (but I love chopped liver… dammit!)

Wait. I have it. A tiding of bloggers. Very distinctive and usually applied to magpies. A perfect fit come to that. Like magpies, incessant noise but without intelligence. Yes. Tiding of bloggers it is.

OUCH. Dude.

At the Super Bowl, during Media Day, where freaks and self-promoters are encouraged, I thought about hanging a sign around my neck that said, “Will Blog For Food.”

I can’t really be angry at someone I think is calling me a freak since he’s now starting into the adventure I survived less than two years ago: eighteen months of desperate unemployment. Dude, I -did- ‘blog for food’ and self-promoted for all I was worth – I built websites, I fixed people’s computers and taught. (Sorry if I keep calling you ‘dude’, I’m kinda buried in the whole ‘sweat pants’ thing. But to be honest – that’s exactly what I’m wearing at this moment, so point given and taken).

I think there IS money in blogging. The folks at Examiner.com think so and appear to be making it work – according to Guy Asakawa, speaking at the recent WordCamp Denver. I’d support pay-for-premium content. I tried the Post’s electronic edition and it stank. Do something better (you’ve got a heckuva start!) and I’ll buy it and encourage others to also.

So… here I sit, trying to imagine Bernie in sweatpants.

Hm. (blinks several times as if in pain)

Welcome to the blogsphere Mr. Lincicome, keep those sweatpants hitched up. (please)

Don’t Sell Kathleen Short

by Mary Pitt

I have been watching the news reports about the appointment of Kathleen Sebelius to the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services. There was a time when she was considered a possible candidate for the job of Vice-President and there is no reason why those who write the news for television should not have done their homework on her qualifications. However, after the announcement was made of her new appointment, they treated her like a total unknown and spoke briefly about her eight-year career as Kansas Insurance Commissioner before she won the governorship of our “red state” not once, but twice.

Kathleen (the name by which Kansans speak of her with varying degrees of reverence, depending on our political leanings), literally imbibed politics with her Pablum since her father, John Gilligan, was Governor of the State of Ohio, and the father of her husband, Gary, was once US Representative from the State of Kansas. She is an accomplished politician and earned honors from both sides of the aisle in establishing many programs in Kansas that are of benefit to the poor and, particularly, to children. The MSNBC newscast early in the day could only refer to her one big defeat as Governor in failing to get full-coverage health care for all children in the State. They did not mention the Kansas Health Wave program which allows working parents of young children to “buy in” to a program similar to Medicaid and provides a means for working, low-income women to provide affordable medical care for their children rather than giving up their jobs and living on welfare.

She also bore ultimate responsibility for the administration of the Federally-funded programs for the poor as well as the Home and Community-Based Services, which saved the State a lot of money by allowing handicapped and retarded people to live in their own homes in the community rather than in nursing homes or the horrendous State institutions. As the parent of a severely handicapped daughter, it was a godsend to have her near home for her remaining years and I will be eternally grateful..

As State Insurance Commissioner Kathleen blocked the takeover of the customer-owned Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas by a national corporation, thus saving the people in the State from the great premium increases that would have been inevitable under the new ownership. She kept honest those insurance companies who did operate in Kansas by strict oversight and enforcement of their policy provisions. Most important, she knows the insurance business thoroughly and will surely hold their feet the fire once the new medical-care plan is ready for implementation.

Kathleen is a sweet, compassionate person and, rather than boasting of her performance, she often appeared apologetic that she could not accomplish even more for the people of her State. She is a good Catholic who ran afoul of the Church for her opposition to measures that would have abolished abortion because she felt that it is a religious matter in which the State has no right to intrude. How sad that such good people are having to choose between Church and State for having stood up for their Constitutional separation!

It is with a great deal of trepidation that Kansas surrenders this great leader to the rest of the nation. There is no really ready replacement among the Democratic leadership of the State but perhaps there will be by the next election in 2010. Do not worry about her ability to cope with Congressional opposition in her new job. She has had six years of experience with a solid Republican Legislature and she drove them like a 20-mule team with a soft voice and a long whip, accomplishing more in the area of social services than any Governor in the last 30 years.

Go with our love, Kathleen! And in the words of the late, great Tip O’Neill, “Never forget where you came from and who sent you here.” In addition, if they don’t treat you right, come on back home! We love you.

The author is a very “with-it” old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for “societal perfection”.

It’s Time for the Madness to Stop

It’s Time for the Madness to Stop

By Sheila Samples

Sometimes it’s hard to come to grips with the truth — especially if that truth is about our own country, and is in direct opposition to everything we’ve been taught since childhood. Patriotism is in our genes, and through the years it has been a national conviction that, if our country needed us, serving in the military to protect our freedom was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do. We still believe that. We still leap to our feet at the first beat of a drum at a military parade, clutch our hearts at the sight of the Stars and Stripes, weep at the refrain of the National Anthem. However, far too many of us succumb to the pomp and pageantry of war — of mission accomplished — with little concern for the human beings who made that possible — what they went through, what they’re still going through — so we can maintain our arrogant national pride.

From the beginning, those in the military have served their country with unswerving loyalty. They continued to march even after Henry Kissinger belched out the truth that Duty–Honor–Country is a one-way street because “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used” as pawns for foreign policy. And, it has long been a dead-end street for those captured or left behind on foreign soil — for those who return from battlefields maimed both mentally and physically, and for those who are innocent victims of malicious life-destroying experiments who have no chance of the extent of their injuries being recognized and are refused the necessary health care.

The most ghastly experiment the military ever conducted was Operation Crossroads, a series of “Manhattan Project” tests requested by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1946 to study the effects of nuclear weapons on ships and equipment. After bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki the year before, US officials knew the effect of massive radiation on human beings and animals. They had to know. So what else were the thousands of navy personnel positioned on ships from five to eight miles from the Bikini Atoll bomb site in the central Pacific if not guinea pigs?

One young sailor stationed at the Bikini Atoll in 1946 was Anthony Guarisco who, like thousands of others, has suffered horribly for the last 63 years as a result of radiation poisoning and like those others, has been denied the proper health care. Guarisco is the founder of both the National and International Alliance of Atomic Veterans. In 1994, Academy Award-winning team Vivienne Verdon-Roe and Michael Porter produced a documentary, “Experimental Animals,” featuring Guarisco who, very calmly, describes the horrors of that 1946 July. (Note: Ecological Options Network has just re-released “Experimental Animals” on-line and as a DVD, because EON filmmaker/activist Jim Heddle says, “we think it’s as relevant today as it was when it was produced.”)

The first bomb — Able — was dropped from a B-29 on July 1. As a health precaution, military personnel in the area were told to “cover their eyes.” Guarisco said it was awesome. He said it immediately “came home to me what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I could see how 55-65 thousand people could die in one-and-a-half seconds.”

But the second one — Baker — was beyond awesome. Guarisco said it was detonated beneath the ocean from a depth of 90 feet, and “sucked a target array of approximately 100 ships into the air like little toys. I saw the U.S. Arkansas soar into the air about 200 feet and come down in two pieces. I saw aircraft carriers just flinging around as if they were toys.”

According to the Navy’s historical report, “The inability to complete inspections on much of the target fleet threatened the success of the operation after BAKER. A program of target vessel decontamination was begun in earnest about 1 August. This involved washing the ships’ exteriors using work crews drawn from the target ships’ companies under radiological supervision of monitors equipped with radiation detection and measurement devices. Initially, decontamination was slow as the safe time aboard the target ships was measured only in minutes. As time progressed, the support fleet itself had become contaminated by the low-level radioactivity in marine growth on the ships’ hulls and seawater piping systems.”

Ironically, although the ships were towed out of the area just 10 days after the blast where the work could be done in uncontaminated water, no warning was given to the human experimental animals, who were allowed to swim in contaminated water, walk barefoot on beaches and breathe poisonous air.

Guarisco said, “We went back into the ground zero area immediately after each of the detonations, and I spent a total of 67 days in the Bikini lagoon within one mile of the epicenter. And I became ill after the second detonation, approximately four or five days after that…I had symptoms similar to having a bad case of influenza. I had welts on my body — I broke out with welts — and it was scary for me. I was urinating blood, I was very sick.”

And Guarisco wasn’t the only one who became ill. In a 1998 National Radio Project interview with Michael O’Rourke, who monitors veterans health issues for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Guarisco said, “Other people on my ship were also feeling very sick. And for many, many years I thought that, well, certainly if there was anything wrong surely they would let me know. But,” he said, “I found out many years later that’s not how it is. You know, the government and the U.S. military are not about to say anything about anybody who’s exposed to high levels or low levels of radiation. It was hard for me to come out of denial, to understand that I was dealing with people who really were not interested in anything else but waiting for me to die.”

Guarisco says that, in one — two — blinding flashes, “we saw what World War III will look like. We have seen the firestorm, we have been witness to the sacrilegious devastation that nuclear weapons put forth, and we have seen our brother and our sister veterans die from being exposed to this terribleness.” He says the bottom line of nuclear weapons is the bottom line of the profit margin — that “deterrent” or “first strike” are fear code words used to keep the population at bay and to pave the way for the nuclear industry to keep building more expensive (profitable) weapons.

In his March 2008 tribute to both of his parents, Guarisco’s son, Vincent, goes into greater detail about his father’s lifelong battle, not only with the effects of radiation but with the nuclear industry and government itself. For more than 60 years, both Anthony and Mary Guarisco were out there, militant activists armed with the truth, relentlessly attempting to derail the nuclear train before it goes over the cliff, taking human survival with it.

The United States has more nuclear weapons than any other nation. Although we have avoided the instant, negative repercussions of another Nagasaki or Hiroshima, we have nevertheless managed to contaminate most of the world with Depleted Uranium.

In 2006, Japanese professor Dr. K. Yagasaki, by using the known amount of uranium used in the Hiroshima bomb — about the size of a two-litre milk container — calculated that a ton of DU used on the battlefield results in the equivalent of 100 Hiroshima bombs worth of radiation released into the atmosphere. So, when it was reported that 2,000 tons of DU were dropped on Iraq from 2003 to 2006, we need to understand that what was released in the Iraqi atmosphere, and then spreading worldwide, was the equivalent of 200,000 Hiroshima bombs.
The total amount of DU the US has used since 1991 is approximately 4,600 tons (1,000 in the first Gulf War, 800 in Kosovo, 800 in Afghanistan and a further 2,000 tons in the second Iraq war.) This amounts to approximately 460,000 Hiroshima bombs, ten times the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere from all previous nuclear testing worldwide. And, it’s important to note this calculation was three years ago. Since that time, we’ve had three more years of non-stop DU bombing…

Throughout the ’60s, the US conducted numerous toxic and chemical weapons tests on its military personnel. In July 2008, Nic Maclellan, journalist, researcher and development worker in the Pacific, wrote…

“Under Project SHAD, the US Navy conducted six tests in the Marshall Islands and off the coast of Hawai’i between 1964-68. Pentagon documents released in 2002 show the US Defense Department sprayed live nerve and biological agents on ships and sailors, and sprayed a germ toxin on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

“These Cold War-era experiments to test the Navy’s vulnerability to toxic warfare involved about 4,300 US military personnel, mostly from the Navy. Most were never informed that the tests were being conducted, breaching all ethical principles about informed consent for test subjects.”

It’s time that we, as a nation, not only face the truth — but come to grips with it. Those who serve with such trust and loyalty cannot imagine that they are, at best, “experimental animals” to be used and cast aside by ruthless corporate thugs.

How many generations of Anthony Guariscos must we lose before we realize that “support the troops” means protect the troops? Like Guarisco said, we must stand up, stand together and demand the abolition of all nuclear weapons if human beings on this planet are to survive.

It’s time for the madness to stop. Before we are all atomic veterans.

[Sheila Stuff]

Never Forget The Lessons Of Yesterday For The Sake Of Tomorrow

By Vincent Guarisco

February 23, 2009

“You can walk away from these stories today, but if you choose to follow them they will become a profound part of you and will deeply affect your life.” ~~Anthony Guarisco, Founder and director, International Alliance of Atomic Veterans (IAAV, with AAV here in the US), to photo-journalist James Lerager. (Note: Anthony was the first of many Atomic Veterans Lerager interviewed)

In a world full of mind-wrenching turmoil, I am a gentle dreamer searching for some soulful serenity. But in reality, my dreams are not always so pleasant when I revisit the arc of history when our pentagon warmongers worked day and night to demonize our own Stars and Stripes when they unleashed nuclear hell-on-earth to establish the most powerful military presence on earth. Indeed, the Hibakusha people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki know this lesson well. Just as surely as all 300,000 Atomic Veterans (including my father) know they are the government’s best-kept-secret when they were quickly deemed “expendable” by Uncle Sam’s nuclear weapons testing programs.

Sadly, the wars of our fathers are the most unforgiving testament of time.  This testament has filled the Pacific ocean to the brim with blood-soaked tears that will haunt our memory for generations to come. In present-day terms, the Armageddon clock may have notched back a tick or two from the days of President Harry Truman to our new modern day President Barack Obama, but we still have many concerns to worry about before the clock has spider webs.  In reality, the clock-hand did palpitate nervously during the Bush years, and the world is a much happier and safer place without him.  But we have a long way to go before we can call it “safe.”

I am a long-standing peace activist who joined the anti-nuclear movement three decades ago to abolish all atomic weapons.  Such weapons have proven unequivocally to cause prolonged, inhumane suffering and death. I entered the activist fray as a young lad back in the late 70’s with my atomic veteran father, Anthony Guarisco who, after his exposure, was battling the government for his VA healthcare, plus working hard to prevent any further annihilation the likes of which he had already seen while serving in the military during WWII.  He was a maverick among men for humanity with a simple dream — that no one should ever have to endure the effects of radiation exposure as he and many others did.

My father was a powerful voice for those in society who seemingly had no voice at all, and he devoted much of his life to this worthy cause. The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was an instant heartfelt relief to everyone involved.  And, on September 24, 1996, when President Bill Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) 25 years of brutal campaigning against nuclear testing came to an end.

Yes, the dream of ending the atomic madness was finally going our way for a change.  Plus, 1996 was the last year a “nuclear reactor” went on-line in the US — the pregnant mother whose afterbirth gave us nuclear weapons production. Indeed, we all hoped this horror show was finally ending, and that we had constricted the nuclear firefly of plant construction, missile production and atomic testing.  However, it was hard to rest easy because we still had enough missiles in our nuclear arsenal to destroy the world several thousand times over. Had it not been for the production of uranium (U-238) which has been ongoing since the days of President Ronald Reagan, we could have licked our wounds and focused most of our attention on weapons disarmament and clean energy to replace nuclear power. But that’s not how the story goes. Thus, we still continue to produce this tough, high-density toxic metal with armor piercing ability, and incorporate it into our military hardware apparatus.

The reality is depleted uranium (DU) munitions are still widely being used on multiple battlefields today. This will breed a whole new generation of atomic veterans. Those of us in the know call it “The Metal of Dishonor” causing many sick veterans to be inflicted with “Gulf War Syndrome.”   I would like to remind everyone of DU’s true meaning to us offspring of atomic soldiers. We call it: “Death Unlimited.”  Remember this well, when DU particles lodge inside your body, the only thing “depleting” is your health — and ultimately, your life.

Astonishingly enough, it is estimated that up to five billion years worth of U-238 (DU) is currently sitting in power plants today and is available for immediate commercial production for building future shielding, bombs, missile warheads and bullets. This is very scary indeed. Especially, in knowing DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.  Even the thought of this should ripple goose-bumps across your skin. It did mine.  And that is why I will never give up the fight in my search for serenity.  People should ever have to feel afraid to close their eyes and dream a lovely image filled with peaceful song.

It always amazes me how the world can continue surviving under the threat of such unsettling madness, I have the right to say this because I have already seen the effects on those who walked the plutonium path of guttering death. I still have flashbacks when I remember what happened to many of my dearest friends and loved ones whose lives were tormented in unimaginable ways.

Such was the case for my father’s friend, John Smitherman.  Like my father, John was a Navy seaman who fought in WWII, one of many unlucky humans to be exposed to radiation at “Operation Crossroads” in 1946.  But he suffered much worse than most. After being exposed, he later developed lymphedema which caused his limbs to painfully swell two to three times their normal size, resembling elephantitus. Eventually, after having both legs amputated, and with his left hand largely swelled, he died in 1983 after the cancer attacked his colon, liver, stomach, lungs, and spleen.

Had his cancer not changed course by attacking his vital organs, John would have become “a living-nub” before dying. He is featured in Oliver Stone’s “Radio Bikini,” which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1987.  Even though his limbs were painfully swelled with cancer, he gladly allowed himself to be wheeled around from one podium to the next tirelessly working with the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV) as a living example of how radiation exposure can hideously tear a man apart bit by bit. Disregarding his own suffering, he tirelessly continued his work as the cancer ate away at him.  Indeed, he bravely fought the nuclear weapons industry with all his might, allowing himself to be exploited with every ounce of life he had left to give.

Aside from my own father, Smitherman is the bravest and kindest man I ever had the privilege of knowing. He was shamefully denied service-connected disability from an uncaring government and Veterans Administration seven times.  How sweet.  God rest his soul.  May he peacefully rest under God’s gracious wing where denial, pain and suffering and “nuclear weapons” will never be included in his vocabulary again.

Over the years, I have thought of John and my father on many a sleepless night.  I make use of this time by pounding aching fingers across this old keyboard to write articles, letters to editors, or  letters to my representatives to remind them of the many patriots who have paid a very heavy price for the decisions they make.  If I am passionate in my writing, it is because — if we are to have a tomorrow — yesterday’s truth must not be forgotten.  I open doors, but others must enter to fulfill our collective dream of peace.  I have watched many honorable men and women perish as a result of those who inhumanely considered them to be nothing more than test animals and, therefore, “expendable.”  Thus, in memory of those who fell victim to this onslaught of misery, it shall remain my catalyst to inspire all those I can to be one collective vigilant voice without end. Hopefully, with enough involvement, maybe it will finally be enough to deliver us to a much better, brighter and friendlier place for which to rest our aching heads, and heal our weary souls.

Never succumb to the powers that be.  Americans are a powerful force when we combine our efforts under one banner. When I first arrived here at this outermost edge of the anti-nuclear peace movement with my parents so many years ago, we became a mighty collective force that shook the Presidential pillars, and we dried many inkwells for a number of rubber-stamping lawmakers and legislators. We brought them to their knees with truth that even they could not deny. And it paid off, one small victory at a time. It can be done.  Let’s rekindle that old activist spark, let us teach the younger generation to carry the torch of tomorrow. Get involved. Spread the word. We must close this Godforsaken nuclear nuthatch once and for all before more radiated Kool-Aid is doled out or before we destroy not only ourselves but the hopes of those not yet born.

Indeed, change is in the air. We must now hound this new Obama administration and all members of both houses of Congress to come to our way of thinking.  We must not fail. We must engage the “obstructionists” and battle them in our own home theaters. We must enlighten those individuals with narrow vision, rejuvenate healthy minds who have been told lies without end, and we must again dry the inkwells of those individuals who not give it a second thought to snap the peaceful olive branch of hope like a useless twig to be destroyed. Because they are the scoundrels of human arrogance. And because…we serve a higher purpose in life.

Our mission is clear and not necessarily in this order: fix the economy, give us a comprehensive single-pay health care program, nationalize the banking industry, regulate Wall Street, stop our ongoing wars in Asia and the Middle East, refuse to build a stupid missile shield to restart the cold war with Russia, offer a fair and even-handed approach in the Israel-Palestine conflict with equal land rights restored to the original charter and an equal amount of aid money (if offered) given to both Israel and Palestine.  Don’t screw-up the New Deal, No more throwing vets to the waste-bin of time like old worn-out shoes once their services are no longer needed. No more secret, covert actions running amuck, get rid of our Nukes and address the needs and wants of the American people so that even the most vulnerable among us can take part in our continued pursuit of happiness…

Will President Barack Obama will rise to the occasion? Only time will tell. If not, he will quickly be added to a very long list of previous war-mongers before him who did not serve the will of the people and could very well be remembered as just another official assassin of peace who helped to foster our eventual annihilation. The moment is here and the choice is his. For now, I will remain optimistic that he will achieve greatness.  May the wings of change forever inspire all of us to do our part to guide his leadership. God bless and good will to all…


Author’s Bio: Vince is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I’m wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word — it’s past time to take back what is ours — the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It’s time to take it back. For replies, send to: vincespainting1@hotmail.com


They Still Don’t Get It

by Mary Pitt

Just three weeks after Barack Obama was sworn in, we are barraged with complaints because he has not yet wiped out all the vestiges of the Bush administration from the environs of Washington, D.C. We are daily confronted by newspaper items, editorials, and blogs telling us of his shortcomings and failure to correct all the bad Department of Justice decisions, all the illicit Executive Orders, the no-bid contractors, to withdraw all the troops from Iraq, and to restore our country to a state of peace. And yet, the polls show an unprecedented approval by the people!

This is, above all, a man who is measured and prudent in his thinking and has established his priorities for action. He has chosen first to put right our economic state, no insignificant or simple task. Believing in our tri-partate system of government, he allowed the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives to write the necessary legislation, to offer it for a vote, and send it to the Senate where it was amended, passed, and sent to Conference. It moved through the process in record time and is within his recommendations as to the amount of money involved.

This is the way it should be done, people! Are we all so accustomed to the Bush system of change that we expect the President to issue an order and both parties match in lockstep to issue a blank check as they did in his request for authority to “handle” the aftermath of September 11, 2001? Now, that really worked, didn’t it?

In the meantime, behind the scenes, there is a small army of people working feverishly; going through records and subpoena-ing those that are lacking, compiling data, incovering facts, and putting information into presentation form that will be given his attention in the order of his pre-determined order of priorities. Buried in those piles of papers are things of which we, the people, have known nothing and we can expect to find several surprises there which President Obama will deal with as they arrive.

Meanwhile, the newly-appointed Secretary of State and the various Ambassadors are travelling all over the world, renewing acquaintances with foreign leaders and establishing bases for official talks to try to correct some iof the ills of the rest of the world. Shifts have been made in the accents on the tasks of our troops around the world and in the personnel involved in directing them. There is much yet to be done there and it will be done in due time.

So, what are all the complaints about? Some of the Cabinet choices had to be withdrawn before being confirmed. Has that never happened before? The Vice-President has a bit of a mouth problem, not much of a surprise and at least, he is not running a sub rosa spy program from his basement! Health care and Social Security problems have not yet been solved. Again, not a surprise inasmuch as several administrations have failed in that effort and the President determined that the economy, (the number one concern of the voters), was the most important thing to do first.

The largest and loudest complaint is that President Obama has been unresponsive to the demands for investigation of the previous adminitration for their many instances of illegal actions and violations of the Constitution. His answers have not been sufficiently decisive for those who feel that this should be done as soon as possible. Suspicions are voiced that the President is “in cahoots” with the “Bush criminals”! Yet we have no knowledge of the tasks that have been assigned to the Department of Justice other than the fact that we have been told that, if and when the necessary information reaches his desk, he will be ready to respond.

And yet, when the Congress began to lag in the passage of the economic stimulus bill, he turned to the people. Not just to any people and not just to Democratic strongholds where he would be assured of support but the states where he lost to his Republican opponent. The audience was not vetted and there was no “protest zone”. It was come-one-come-all and the cheers were as supportive as those on his campaign trail. It may not have caused the bill to pass but it certainly did not hurt the effort when Congress was exposed on the evening news to the faces of their own suffering constituents as they voiced their pleas for relief.

This is a different kind of President. He is probably the most intelligent and, so far, appears to be the most thoughtful and mentally-organized person to hold the office in a very long time. He can carry the weight of all the troubles of the world on his shoulders and yet be able to “put it away” and enjoy a fast game of basketball, take the kids to the beach, and treat his wife to a romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day, and then come back to work refreshed and ready for action. He may not be Super Man but he comes close.

The point that the complainers still just don’t get is that Barack Obama was not elected to the presidency simply because we wanted to get rid of the Bushes by changing the person in the White House. The “revolution” was not only against George Bush; it was against the “business as usual” of the Washington culture. We sat through eight years of watching the Democrats in Congress roll over and act in a “spirit of bipartisanship” while Bush and Company raped our nation and destroyed much of the world. Retribution can wait. First, the welfare of the people must be restored and the working class put back on their feet so that our neglected infrastructure can be restored and we can, once again, be a proud nation and a leader of the free world.

Let us give the man time, stop carping and nit-picking, and give him a decent amount of time to show progress. It is a Herculean job that cannot be done overnight. It’s the least we can do, considering what he is trying to do for us.

The author is a very “with-it” old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for “societal perfection”.

2fer Maybe More

Wow. The crash of flight 3407 sure helped with the revisionist efforts to delete or distort the history of the Bush Years.

Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow who had stated publicly that ‘my silence cannot be bought’ was killed as was Alison Des Forges who tried to warn the world of the impending genocide in Rwanda – another huge embarrassment for Bush and Co.

I’ve been winking at the conspiracy theorists on this one, but two women with ties to spectacular blunders of the last administration…? The rest of the passenger list could prove even more interesting.

The Truth About Your Income Tax

by Mary Pitt

As the spouse of a working man, often in remote areas and long before you woould find an H&R Block firm within easy driving distance, the job of filing the annual income tax forms fell to me. As the rules changed, it was necessary to study the instructions every year to remain current and legal. While that may seem difficult to many, a bit of initial concentration should get one through it. I did it with a bit less than a high school diploma at that time.

As the result of this responsibilty, I became aware of the evolution over the years and can see the pattern of the changes that occurred with the many “reforms” instituted during the Republican administrations. It has always been an article of faith within the party that taxes were a nuisance that should be visited only on the private wage earners and every effort at “reform” will demonstrate their efforts to shift the burdens to the working class. This was accomplished on the pretext of “simplifying” the reporting forms. In fact, it is now so “simplified” that you do not even know how much your tax really is or the means by which it has been increased.

While I make no claim to be any kind of an expert and am speaking only from personal experience, I will attempt to delineate some of these changes that have been made in order to deprive the working class of exemptions and deductions and how their loss impose the greater tax burden upon them while lessening that borne by businesses and the wealthy.

Exemptions:

In 1949, when I was first assigned this task, a family was allowed a personal exemption of $600 per year for the support of each child. Compare that figure with the allowance this year and then compare that figure to the deflated dollar and it will be obvious that this deduction has been radically cut.

Taxes to Other Entities:

Until recent times, the amount of income taxes paid to the State in which you lived was an allowable deduction as was the sales and local tax, based upon a chart which was tied to your total earnings. You were allowed to deduct state gasoline taxes based upon the mileage readings of your automibiles. This alone, is a large factor in any family budget.

Interest payments:

Another large tax deduction that has been lost to the interest of “reform” is the one that allowed people to deduct payments for interest paid. This included interest on your home, your car, credit cards, and store charges for major purchases such as furniture. You could either include statements from your creditors or use the chart on the sliding scale. This deduction, except in special circumstances, is now denied to the working class while businesses are still allowed to deduct it as a “cost of doing business.”

Medical Expenses:

All medical expenses, including prescription medications and medical insurance premiums were allowed in excess of 3% of gross income. You could also deduct any medical equipmant, appliances and supplies that were prescribed by a physician and any payments for disability received from privately- or employer-paid insurance were exempt from taxation. If your medical insurance was paid entirely by your employer, no accounting at all was necessary.

I am sure that there are many other exemptions and deductions that may have existed that have quietly disappeared over the years but they do not come to mind at this time, (or perhaps I never had occasion to use them), but these alone would account for a major part of the expenditures of the average family and greatly their restoration would reduce the tax liabilities of the working class.

Where did these privileges of the working class go and why? It’s simple. In effect, these “reforms”, instituted on the pretext of making the tax report more simple, effectively increased the amounts of taxable income and thereby increased to taxes on the average wage earner while preserving the privilege of the ruling class. Even the deductions from our pay checks for Social Security reflect our second-class status. While most of us pay the same percentage of our entire income for this purpose, those who are paid amounts beyond our wildest dreams are allowed to stop contributing. This “cap” is possibly the only tax computation that is adjusted for inflation and that only after near-destruction of the system.

Do not listen to those calamity-criers who are bellowing for a “fair tax” which will further shift the “burden” from the backs of the wealthy, or even to those who tout a “value-added tax” which will radically increase the price of everything that we buy. They tell us, “This would be so easy that you won’t even realize that you are being taxed”, but what they mean is that THEY won’t realize it because THEY will not be paying their fair share! This is their Valhalla and what they have worked toward for all these years, the total exemption of their own class from the burden of paying for our government, their privileges, and any wars into which they wish to send our children.

We have recently accomplished the task of returning to the people the privilege of running our own democracy as The Founders intended but we must not relax. We must hold that responsibility in our calloused fists and wield it wisely. We must get on the backs of our representatives and insist that they keep our welfare and our will constantly in mind if they want to keep their jobs. Any resistance must be met by a wall of voices, using the words of our new President, “WE WON!”

The author is a very “with-it” old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for “societal perfection.”

Basement Zombie Spews More Hate And Politics of Fear…

By Vincent L. Guarisco
February 5, 2009

“Fighting fire with fire only gets you ashes”~~Abigail Van Buren

Goodness gracious, please pass me an oxygen mask –quickly — so I can escape the dreaded plume!  Whoa, I need some fresh air to replace the foul stench lingering from Dick Cheney!  Indeed, Take a bow Mr. Dubious Ex-VP, thanks to you (and the little junior genius), 11 million worried Americans are now out of work and struggling to survive.  How sweet and, just recently, while scrambling for our next meal, we got to hear basement Dick gush on the public airwaves that there’s a “high probability” were going to get attacked with biological agents or perhaps a nuclear device in the near future.

Gosh! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Gee, talk about tying your nutsack in a underwear slipknot! I guess it’s appropriate to say that evil absurdities such as this will always remain a constricted, smelly area without sunshine. Especially, after considering all the corruption, inequality, failure and violence that happened during his horrible eight-year tenure. Am I alone when I say I wish we could quickly remove Cheney from the public airwaves like a bad jar of peanut butter?  Indeed, just last week alone, over 626,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits. And, I would add, this trend has no end in sight.  Yet, Mr. Cheney saw fit to seize the moment — yet again — to instill more fear. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I just witnessed a dangerous jar of talking salmonella spewing vicious venom from a poisonous peanut gallery. “Wow” comes to mind…

It’s so amazing how some leaders can achieve such greatness and others not.  In 1962, John F, Kennedy said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.  How true. And, with Dick Cheney in mind, Abigail Van Buren appropriately coined another keeper: “Wisdom doesn’t automatically come with old age. Nothing does — except wrinkles. It’s true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place”.

Phooey, all wine-cellars beware — Cheney’s eight year vintage is bitter-tasting spittle at best.

Yes, regardless of Cheney’s feeble scare tactics, our perseverance, courage, diligence and compassion for life will now prevail over his mundane threats. Sorry, Dick, your fear-mongering no longer has the desired effect. The time of hateful redundancy is over. It’s time to look ahead and push forward with this new administration to birth a hopeful tomorrow that will eventually offer promise and prosperity. At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, on January 18, 2009, two days before his inauguration as US President, President Barack Obama said:

“I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.”

And so it is…a new wiser era has begun.  In truth — this short piece has probably wasted more digital space than this jerk deserves!  So I will end it with this: Angry old teeth-gritting salts like Dick Cheney are a useless dying breed. Indeed, Cheney’s dishonorable legacy will be always be remembered (with astonishment) as the world’s only known living heart donor. Yes Dick, slither back to your dark, dank zombie basement and we’ll send you a complimentary case of yummy Kroger peanut butter paste for to chew on. Bye, bye, and Amen.

Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Bullhead, Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I’m wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word — it’s past time to take back what is ours — the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It’s time to take it back. For replies, contact: vincespainting1@hotmail.com

RIAA still slimy

(From a friend with inside experience in the music publishing business and extensive computer networking background, I trust his opinion implicitly.)

RIAA and BSAS favorite lawyers taking top DOJ posts (from Gizmodo)

I am not sure why the DOJ is packed with a bunch of corporate loving lawyers that like to sue people and business. I do not think these jerks can serve the public best because they have a perceived conflict of interest in preserving what they have been advocating. In the RIAA’s eyes, all people that use peer-2-peer technology, of which one use is file sharing, are criminals to be sued.

They want to shut down the first next generation computer communication model since client-server. I do not advocate pirating music, but I have an issue with an organization that sets up a dragnet and abuses our judicial system for their gain when the legal theories being used are questionable (i.e. making available for distribution argument is equal to illegal distribution).

By the way, you do not upload anything to a P2P network, you share a directory on your local machine. So, by having the software they are targeting and a shared directory that contains music might make you a target if they can illegally access your machine.

Currently, the RIAA is making deals with ISPs to police your connection to the Internet. Do you like spying on your communications by non-governmental entities? Do you believe you should be able to download music from the Internet you already own with a end user copyright? Do you think entities like ISPs should self-deputize in order to fulfill the RIAA’s version of justice? The RIAA wants ISPs to shutoff your broadband pipe if they believe you are pirating music. Where is the due process?

The BSA is a front group for Microsoft among other IT companies like IBM, Sun, HP, etc. Essentially, the BSA tries to encourage people to tattle on people if they are using pirated software or try to influence governmental policy either to enforce copyright or entrench MS in government. I am not an advocate of pirating software, but setting up a gestapo-esque atmosphere raises my hackles.

Have you heard of Sen. Orrin Hatch a BSA cyber champion. He proposed a “kill switch” for your computer if you were pirating software. Even more importantly, though, the BSA is used to fight governments considering moving off of MS technology to open source software like Linux and ODF (Open document format). ODF does not imply a move off of MS technology, but it is in MS’ interest to keep all government business in their format.

Why should government keep taxing people to pay for MS licenses that use a format that restricts non-MS applications access to public documents? The non-MS applications have to use a plug-in that can cost a royalty fee. By the way, MS Office can read/write ODF docs with no added expense for a plug-in. I feel strongly about these issues. Nevertheless, I can see that there is a conflict of interest with these individuals with regards to doing what is best for the public versus what is best for copyright holders. I already wrote the White House to let them know that this is “change I can’t believe in.” I urge you to do the same. Right now.

Tons of Bricks Lighter

By Vincent Guarisco

January 23, 2009

“When authoritarian forces seize control of a government, they typically move first against the public’s access to information, under the theory that a confused populace can be more easily manipulated. They take aim at the radio stations, TV and newspapers. In the case of George W. Bush in 2001, he also took aim at historical records, giving himself and his family indefinite control over documents covering the 12 years of his father’s terms as President and Vice President. It was, therefore, significant that one of Barack Obama’s first acts as President was to revoke the Bush Family’s power over that history and to replace it with an easier set of regulations for accessing the records.” ~Robert Parry 1/22/09 (Consortium News)

Oral History

From Doug’s Dyanmic Drivel

A Must Read

23 January, 2009 (20:44) | Political

If you only read one article this weekend (ya right like that’s going to happen eh :) ) this oral history of the Bush years, in , is an absolute must. It’s 14 pages long though so grab a cup of joe, take your laptop to a comfy chair and settle in for a very good read as you “listen” to real toss the Bush cabal under the bus, over and over again.

Go read the selected quotes at Doug Alder at Doug’s Dynamic Drivel and you’ll for sure want to read the rest.

The View from the Bottom

by Mary Pitt

The greatest problem as the new President and the Congress attempt ro enact remedies to the very real problems of the poor, the disabled, and the laboring class, (not the much-broader “working class”), is that they do not know or understand exactly what it is that they are trying to “fix”. With the exception of the President, none of them have ever wanted for food, clothing, or medical care, (and even he, Thank God, had grandparents of substance who were able to be of assistance.) …

The Necessary Remedy

by Mary Pitt

With an economy that is sadly in the tank, a stock market that cannot get its feet back under it, with record and growing unemployment, and with working class and poor people suffering with too little income and too many expenses, the economists and politicians are quarreling over what will be required to heal the ills of our nation. …

Pirate lies

From the Huffington Post

You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

Johann Hari
Columnist, London Independent

Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as “one of the great menace of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell — and some justice on their side. …

A New Wind Blowing

by Mary Pitt

The whole country is agog with the news of the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the billions he scammed from big investors, but nobody appears to realize that it is only the tip of a huge iceberg. There are other so-called legitimate institutions afloat in the private sector that are profiting from similar scams with the heartfelt approval of the raging capitalists in government as well as private individuals. …

Fearing the Frightful Filibuster

by Mary Pitt

The Republicans are already indicating their intent to use the same tactics that they used in the past two years in the minority to block many of the programs that are vital to the plans of President-elect Obama. They cling to the “sixty-vote cloture” rule as if it were the Holy Grail and intend to exercise it at every turn in the deliberations of the upcoming Congressional session.

Let them! …

Laws not Men


Democratic Pressure on Obama to Restore the Rule of Law

By ADAM COHEN
Published: November 14, 2008

In a Senate hearing room in September, weeks before Barack Obama won the election, a series of law professors, lawyers and civil libertarians outlined one of the biggest challenges that will be facing the next president: bringing the United States government back under the rule of law.

Over the past eight years, they testified, American legal traditions have been degraded in areas ranging from domestic spying to government secrecy. The damage that has been done by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others is so grave that just assessing it will be an enormous task. Repairing it will be even more enormous.

Read it

Veterans Day

firedoglake points to a Prairie Sun Rising story from 2007

Had a really poignant drive into town. Turned on the Fargo radio for weather and road reports. Right at the freeze mark and rainy dismal white-knuckle driving all the way back.

Then the radio mentioned a motorcade for the [——] soldier’s remains which were arriving in Fargo and asked people to come out to honor him.

Just west of Hawley we started seeing pickups and SUVs at the ends of driveways. Flags flying in front yards. By Dilworth, the fire dept trucks were all out along the road. As we drove into Moorhead, the police escort led the way for their group.

My God, I had tears running down my cheeks. Flashing our lights seemed such a small gesture. All those fatheads on the Sunday shows and cable news with their strolls and photo-ops and posturing.

And it’s all about this. One 28-year-old kid coming home for the last time.

This is the damage the Bush Administration has done to our country – thousands of white-hot spikes into the heart of a nation. Don’t wonder why the GOP lost so bad, wonder instead that it took so long to happen.

Provocateurs

This is terrible. The first comment (by sufimarie) points out something horrendous… and shows no hope of any decency.

Some people wonder why the Democrats won this election so decisively. To me it’s abundantly obvious when symptoms like these surface. Self-destructive behaviors are a sign of a system out of balance. Here’s hoping the current trend continues and rationality returns.

So, so wrong (as usual)

Lifted directly from firedoglake: (FDL ROCKS)

Hugh Hewitt, Townhall:
So, despite the rapture of college students and the registration of the homeless in Ohio, the common sense of Americans will override curiosity about Barack Obama and infatuation with his celebrity, and trust John McCain to pilot the country for the next four years…America is a great and good nation, and it will not turn itself over to a party in the grip of its hardest left cadres, its most corrupt machine and its least experienced nominee ever.

Statesman speaking

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

Ye gods, it is so refreshing to have a president that speaks well. What an acceptance speech.

‘Unyielding hope’

I love that.

Yes we can, and as I’ve already seen on the web, yes we did. Oh yes, we did.

Support Collective Bargaining for Longmont’s Police and Fire

I completely and wholeheartedly agree with collective bargaining for our Police and Fire employees – these people have made their workplace ‘harms way’ to make our homes and our city safe. We cannot deny them the basic right to have a voice in their compensation. The following is reproduced from the website http://www.longmontpolice.com/

McCain in a Nutshell

John McCain In A ‘Nutshell’– Philanderer, War Pimp, Bush Policy Clone, and Neocon Liar…
(Without his shell, McCain is simply a nut that needs to be cracked, picked apart and exposed)

By Vincent L. Guarisco

Back in April 2007, I wrote a zinger about the foolish maverick John McCain after he returned from his triumphant walkabout on the brutal streets of Baghdad. Johnny Boy headed straight for the public airways, where he smirkingly gushed that the streets of Iraq are now ‘safe.’ The foolish war pimp tried to sell the lie that everything was cozy and secure, even as he strutted around wearing his bulletproof vest, surrounded by a heavily armed military entourage buzzing in air and on the ground all around him. Indeed, according to McCain, Baghdad was safe then, and it’s even safer today.

Palin Simply Does Not Matter

by Mary Pitt

This comment may seem to come from far left field but, when you stop to consider it, the perfect sense of it will become apparent. First, Senator John McCain was all set to prove his “bipartisanship” by naming his colleague and good buddy, Senator Joe Lieberman, as his running mate. His Republican advisors vetoed that idea and told him he needed to choose someone to to bring around the religious right who had, to that time, been lukewarm about the prospect of voting for the secular McCain and would not be impressed by the addition of a Jew and a Democrat.

Now, McCain was not overly impressed by Governor Mike Huckaby and the other possibilities might have expected to be asked to actually do something in the McCain administration if they won. I am a contemporary of John McCain, (actually a few years older), and I am familiar with his history throughout his adult life. He is a man who, while being happy to appear to be agreeable to a bipartisan approach to getting what he wants, is also willing to “go it alone” despite any opposition and has actually been quite successful at it. In fact, anybody who was anticipated a “partnership” adminstration in the manner of Bush/Cheney or even Clinton/Gore is to be greatly surprised.. In the macho world of the military, there is only one “Top Dog”.

When interviewed prior to being named for the slot, Governor Palin questioned what the duties of a vice-President might be. Well she might. The Constitutional duties of the holder of that seat are to, “preside over the Senate and inquire about the President’s health daily”, she is likely to find that this is precisely the extent of her duties under a President McCain. If McCain wants someone to do the job of Dick Cheney in a new administration, he will name someone like Joe Lieberman to a new post which he has the authority to create after the changes in “Executive Privilege” as interpreted by George W. Bush, and the veep will fade into the background as they so often have. I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse the good Senator of being a male chauvinist but he has not been known for expressions of his “female sensitivities”.

Goevernor Palin should realize that she is trying to play in the Big Leagues now and being named as the vice-Presidential candidate is not winning Miss America. She is as much “a decorator accent” as Britney’s dog. It doesn’t matter what she thinks nor what she says beyond attracting the religious nuts to vote for the “big guy” and the best she can hope for as the result of her efforts will be a good paycheck, a fine temporary home in the Naval Observatory, and a lifetime pension. All of which will be good for now but, twenty yeas from now, she will be approached in the street with the question, “Didn’t you used to be somebody?”

The author is a very “with-it” old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for “societal perfection”.