Oil Exec Sequestration

Oil Exec Sequestration May Provide Answer to Global Warming
Posted by admin on 2007/5/4 14:03:27
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
Reno, August 12, 2012

A controversial proposal released today may offer a simple, easily applied solution to the intractable issues of climate change and global warming. Developed by scientists at the Nevada-based Reno Institute for Climate Puzzlings, the suggestion urges the long-term "sequestration" of top carbon emitters—essentially, the burying of carbon emitters in extremely deep holes within the earth's crust where they can do no further harm to the atmosphere.

"It's brilliant in its simplicity, its application of currently available technologies, and its remarkable cheapness," Dr. Derek Derrick, spokesman for Climate Puzzlings, said during a press conference today announcing the proposal.

"Older suggestions involved the sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions, the number one greenhouse gas, themselves. However, the sheer quantity of these emissions made any kind of comprehensive sequestration program economy unviable, which is why it's been essentially dead in the water this past decade, while global temperatures continue to rise."

Oil industry executive sequestration test siteAccording to Dr. Derrick, nearly 11 cajillion tons of surplus carbon dioxide are emitted annually worldwide. Even best case scenarios developed by the American Petroleum Institute indicate full sequestration of these emissions would cost more than the gross national products of France, Canada, and Mexico combined. API repeatedly used these projections to strengthen the "status quo, no worries" policies practised last decade by the administration of former president George W. Bush.

"That's why we went looking for a more efficient solution," Dr. Derrick said. "When you're taking out a hornet's nest, you can ignore the drones. All you need to do is go for the queen. Within a day or two, boom, the nest is empty. Same thing here. We decided to skip the end user and aim straight for the middleman."

Dr. Derrick said the plan would require "the annual capture, collection and sequestration of specific carbon-based life forms, including between 200 and 500 oil industry executives, lobbyists and political hacks and cronies, in a 5000-foot deep chasm far below the earth's surface."

"The concept is similar to that of the tobacco industry," Dr. Derrick said. "People get addicted to tobacco, which kills consumers, so what do you do? You nail the tobacco companies. People everywhere are addicted to oil, which is killing our planet, so the same reasoning applies."

"Our analysts estimate the sequestration procedure should be quite simple to implement using either 'gloves-off' coercive methods of the kind advocated by former Vice President Cheney, or by simply placing common oil industry 'bait', such as hookers, bribes, kickbacks and malt whisky, down in the chasm. Most execs will simply follow their noses, then we seal the lid. After, of course, extracting the hookers."

Under a pilot sequestration project proposed by the Institute, industry leaders including the CEOs of ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP, ChevronTexaco and Shell would join top oil industry flacks including the aforementioned Dick Cheney, former president George W. Bush (currently chief press officer for ExxonMobil), Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, and other oil industry apologists and climate change deniers in a "comfortable, hermetically-sealed sequestration chamber" at the institute's test facility one mile below the surface of Carson City, Nevada.

"We'd make sure they were comfortable—inbound digital tv and newspapers, plenty of canned food, drink, and gentleman's periodicals," Dr. Derrick said, "but no outbound communications, of course. Once we've licked this climate change problem in, say, 150 years, we can think about going and digging them up again."

Biofuels Running Ahead of Science

Charity attacks rush for biofuels
By Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst

The rush for biofuels could have a major environmental impact

A furious attack on the drive to grow more biofuels has been launched by a charity supporting poor farmers in developing countries.

The charity - called Grain - says their research shows the rush for biofuels is causing much more environmental and social damage than previously realised.

Biofuels from crops are being heavily promoted by the US and Europe as a welcome solution to climate change.

In theory their emissions are much lower than from fossil fuels.

But the report from the charity Grain amplifies recent warnings from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that some biofuels produce hardly any carbon savings at all.

The UN says basic food prices for poor countries are being pushed up by competition for land from biofuels.

The Grain report says its research shows how governments and biofuels firms in developing countries are collaborating to push hundreds of thousands of indigenous people and peasant communities off their land.

Grain says: "The numbers involved are mind-boggling. The Indian government is talking of planting 14 million hectares of land with jatropha.

"The Inter-American Development Bank says that Brazil has 120 million hectares that could be cultivated with agrofuel crops; and an agrofuel lobby is speaking of 379 million hectares being available in 15 African countries. We are talking about expropriation on an unprecedented scale."

It points out that one of the main causes of global warming is agro-industrial farming itself, thanks mainly the use of chemical fertilisers which introduce nitrous oxide into the air.

The group says the media has been spun into using the attractive term biofuels - and wants them referred to as "agro-fuels" instead.

The plant fuel industry accepts that there is a limit to the energy to be obtained from crops - but believes plant fuels can be produced sustainably on a large scale. The EU wants to see at least 10% of road fuel derived from plants by 2020.

Oil firms believe this target is achievable using farm surpluses combined with fuel digested by bacteria from waste - so called second generation biofuels.

But their economic calculations do not include competition for feedstock from power firms wanting biofuel for combined heat and power - which produces much more energy more economically than liquid fuel.

The UK government's climate envoy John Ashton recently told BBC News: "The policy on biofuels is currently running ahead of the science."


It's the Water


Drug of Choice

No Review of Sweetener Over Cancer Fears
"The US Food and Drug Administration says there is no need for an urgent review of the safety of aspartame, despite a new study showing the sweetener may cause cancer," reports Maggie Fox for Reuters.


To Watch and Sign


Don't Blow Your Cool

Here are six tips from the Comfort Institute to make sure you air conditioning bills don't force you to blow your cool.

1. Have your duct system tested for air leaks. Many assume that
windows and doors are the major cause of a home's energy wasting
air leaks. But according to recent research by the Department of
Energy (DOE), gaps, joints and disconnections in the typical home's
duct system are much more significant. The DOE states that the
typical duct system loses 25 to 40 percent of the energy put out by
the central heat pump or air conditioner. Authorities recommend
having an AC contractor test for leaks and then seal them with a
brushed fiber-reinforced sealant.

2. Ask your AC contractor to perform an Infiltrometer "blower
door" test. The blower door is a computerized instrument
originally invented by the Department of Energy. It pinpoints
where you home's worst air leaks are, such as duct leaks, and also
measures how leaky the overall house is. Many homes have
significant air leaks into the attic: hot dusty air often gets
drawn in through recessed can lights and pulled down stairs. New
sealing products are available to fix these significant leaks.

3. Close your fireplace damper. Did you remember to close it last
time you used the fireplace? Shut it now or waste precious cool
air all summer long.

4. Replace your air conditioner or heat pump air filter. Most
systems need this done every month to ensure safe and efficient
operation. Keep forgetting to do it? Ask your AC contractor for
information on an extended surface area whole house air filter that
needs to be replaced only once a year.

5. Have your air conditioner cleaned and tuned. A pre-season
tune-up is a great investment. It reduces the chance of breakdowns
in the middle of the summer and pays for itself through more energy
efficient operation. Make sure the AC contractor cleans both the
indoor and outdoor heat transfer coils, and checks refrigerant gas
charge by measuring "superheat" or "subcooling."

6. Consider replacing your old air conditioner or heat pump. Just
like a car, central cooling equipment doesn't last forever. Is
your system more than 12 years old? Planning to stay in your home
more than a few years? Many authorities recommend replacing it
before it fails permanently.

Reprinted with permission from Comfort Institute Inc.
Uniting Building Science & HVAC

Trust for the Future, PO Box 60322, Nashville, Tennessee 37206, USA

Harvest the Rain


It's the Water

UN issues desertification warning
Desertification represents the "greatest environmental challenge of our times", the UN warns in a report.
Full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/-/2/hi/africa/6247802.stm


Bringing Leadership Back Home

US Mayors Take the Lead in Fighting Climate Change

"Cities throughout the country, regardless of size, have initiated a host of actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, without significant support from their state and federal partners, finds a new survey released Friday during the US Conference of Mayors' 75th anniversary meeting in Los Angeles," writes the Environment News Service.


The Long Emergency


It's the Oil

Published on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 by The Guardian/UK
The Real Casus Belli: Peak Oil

In A World of Looming Fuel Shortage, Britain and The US Formalised Their Energy Fears With A War

by David Strahan

Even as one of the principal architects of the Iraq war washes his hands of the whole bloody mess, there is still only a vague understanding of the real reason behind the invasion, but evidence of the intense interest of the international oil companies continues to build. Only last week, ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson said in London: “We look forward to the day when we can partner with Iraq to develop that resource potential.” Despite their interest and influence, however, the decision to attack was not taken in the boardroom. Iraq was indeed all about oil, but in a sense that transcends the interests of individual corporations, however large.

The elephant in the drawing room was the fact that global oil production is likely to peak within about a decade. Aggregate oil production in the developed world has been falling since 1997, and all major forecasters expect world output excluding Opec to peak by the middle of the next decade. From then on everything depends on the cartel, but unfortunately there is growing evidence that Opec’s members have been exaggerating the size of their reserves for decades.

Oil consultancy PFC Energy briefed Dick Cheney in 2005 that on a more realistic assessment of Opec’s reserves, its production could peak by 2015. A report by the US Department of Energy, also in 2005, concluded that without a crash programme of mitigation 20 years before the event, the economic and social impacts of the oil peak would be “unprecedented”. The evidence suggests these fears were already weighing heavily with Cheney, Bush and Blair.

In a world of looming shortage, Iraq represented a unique opportunity. With 115bn barrels, it had the world’s third biggest reserves, and after years of war and sanctions they were the most underexploited. In the late 1990s, production averaged about 2m barrels, but with the necessary investment its reserves could support three times that. In a report to the security council, UN inspectors warned in January 2000 that sanctions had caused irreversible damage to Iraq’s reservoirs. But sanctions could not be lifted with Saddam still in place.

Cheney knew, fretting about global oil depletion in a speech in London the following year, where he noted that “the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately lies”. Blair too had reason to be anxious: British North Sea output had peaked in 1999, while the petrol protests of 2000 had made the importance of maintaining the fuel supply excruciatingly obvious.

Britain’s and the US’s fears were secretly formalised during the planning for Iraq. It is widely accepted that Blair’s commitment to support the attack dates back to his summit with Bush in Texas in April 2002. What is less well known is that at the same summit, Blair proposed and Bush agreed to set up the US-UK Energy Dialogue, a permanent liaison dedicated to “energy security and diversity”. Its existence was only later exposed through a freedom of information inquiry.

Both governments refuse to release minutes of Dialogue meetings, but one paper dated February 2003 notes that to meet projected demand, oil production in the Middle East would have to double by 2030 to more than 50m barrels a day. So on the eve of the invasion, UK and US officials were discussing how to raise production from the region - and we are invited to believe this is coincidence. The bitterest irony is, of course, that the invasion has created conditions that guarantee oil production will remain hobbled for years to come, bringing the global oil peak that much closer. So if that was plan A, what on earth is plan B?

David Strahan is the author of The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man Lastoilshock.com

Food Fight

The Fight for the World's Food

Already there are signs that the food economy is merging with the fuel economy. The ethanol boom has seen sugar prices track oil prices and now the same is set to happen with grain. In the developed world this could mean a change of lifestyle. Elsewhere it could cost lives.


Beneficial Insects Workshop, Goldsboro

Note: Please don't forget National Pollinator Week. We have two days of activities THIS week -
Wednesday at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro and Thursday at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro. Consult the Growing Small Farms Calendar of Events at http://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms/calendar.html for details.

July 9, 2007: Seasons of Sustainable Agriculture Workshop on Making Use of Beneficial Insects for Crop Pest Management and Pollination from 9:00-3:00 pm at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) in Goldsboro, NC.

Leaders: Dr. David Orr (NCSU) & Debbie Roos (NC Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center).

This workshop will include information on beneficial insects used for pest
management as well as beneficial insects involved in pollination. The pest
management portion of the workshop will begin by providing a background on
biological control and how it relates to IPM. We will also take an objective
look at how and where biological control can be used and improved. We will
cover the DOs and DON'Ts of purchasing and releasing beneficial organisms.

We will also objectively examine beneficial insect habitats, a common pest
management approach on organic farms. Field demonstrations and hands-on activities will provide participants with a practical background in beneficial insect habitats and straight-forward strategies for increasing the value of beneficial insects released on farms.

In the pollinator portion of the workshop participants will learn about the
important crop pollinators and the habitat that can help increase their numbers.

Visit the CEFS Workshop Calendar for registration forms and directions.

Contact CEFS at 919-513-0954 or cefs_info@ncsu.edu for more information.

Debbie Roos
Agricultural Extension Agent
Organic and Sustainable Agriculture
North Carolina State University
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Chatham County Center
Growing Small Farms Website:
Post Office Box 279
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Email: debbie_roos@ncsu.edu
Phone: 919.542.8202 Fax: 919.542.8246

Echinacea, Colds

Echinacea 'can prevent a cold'
Taking the herbal remedy echinacea can more than halve the risk of catching a cold, researchers say.
Full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/-/2/hi/health/6231190.stm

Infection from Pigs to Humans



Cheney, Rove Distorting Finding of Climate Scientists

The Bush Administration's Secret Campaign to Deny Global Warming

It is no secret that industry-connected appointees within the White House have worked
actively to distort the findings of federal climate scientists, playing down the
threat of climate change.

But a new investigation by Rolling Stone reveals that those distortions were sanctioned at the highest levels of our government, in a policy formulated by the vice president, implemented by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and enforced by none other than Karl Rove.

Check Out Your Sunscreen



Kucinich on Health Care

Please submit the action page below to call for passage of H.R. 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act. Are you tired of being a cash cow for greedy
pharmaceutical companies and HMOs who deny care as their first response to your illness, while they post record profit margins almost as astronomical as the oil companies? Speak out now to finally regulate these industries for the common good.

H.R. 676 ACTION PAGE: http://www.usalone.com/hr676.php

Dennis Kucinich has been one of the strongest advocates for the passage of this bill since its original introduction in 2003? Today Dennis Kucinich stood shoulder to shoulder in the Capitol with Michael Moore as he expressly called for passage of H.R. 676 as the primary policy agenda behind his new movie. Why don't you make a donation to Dennis to encourage him to keep standing strong for us on this issue.

KUCINICH DONATIONS: http://www.usalone.com/donations_kucinich.php

But Not in NC


Remember the Wife, June 24

Rooster's Wife presents


April Fools open at 6

June 24

The Postmaster’s House

204 E. South Street, Aberdeen, NC

Admission $8., Children under 12 free

Gates open at 5:30 Picnics welcome.

Info: (910)944-750 theroosterswife.org

Conservation Insider Bulletin

Conservation News to Peruse & Use

Editor: Dan Besse, earthvote@ccnccpac.org

June 22, 2007

Utilities Try to Use Energy Bill to Renew Old Scam
: The leading environmental legislative item this week is the attempted renewal by the electric utilities of a bad old idea whose time has already come and gone: the "construction work in progress" financing gimmick for new power plants.

After lengthy negotiations on the Senate side's version of HB 77, "Promote Renewable Energy / Energy Efficiency", an unlovely hybrid emerged into the light. The new SB 3, renamed "Promote Renewable Energy / Baseload Generation", represents an ugly merger of some of the best ideas of this legislative session and some of the worst ones.

CCNC's legislative bulletin, HotList, comments as follows on the result:

"SB 3 is a crucial first step toward...innovation and energy efficiency, saving the state's consumers money, and creating a cleaner environment for the future. However, the current version of SB 3 includes provisions creating substantial incentives for major energy providers to construct more coal and nuclear plants, a major step backward for any kind of clean-energy plan."

It goes on to explain: "The current version of the bill subsidizes the construction of new nuclear power plants, along with allowing for construction costs to be included in calculations of new electric rates. In addition to this, SB 3 lets utility companies include the cost of their environmental compliance measures in their rate calculations, with little review from state agencies. This allows the utilities to pass on these costs to their customers, and removes an important obstacle to new construction. These provisions encourage the power industry to build more new coal and nuclear plants, a serious step backward. These outdated technologies harm the environment, put citizens' health at risk, and only further entrench the state's dependence on foreign energy sources. The General Assembly should reward industry for responsible behavior, not for building new coal or nuclear facilities."

Citizen environmental groups gave mixed reactions to this perverted merger of measures promoting construction of more coal and nuclear baseload plants with the original concept of steps to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy production. Some groups, such as Environmental Defense, continued to stress the bill's original positive measures. Others, such as Environment North Carolina and the N.C. Public Interest Research Group, declared that the negative additions were so bad that they would have to oppose the bill altogether so long as those provisions remained in it. Even if the revised bill passes the Senate, there will be vigorous efforts to remove the offensive provisions during review by the House.

[Editor's Note: CIB's editor sides with those who say that the "baseload construction" measures must be deleted from the bill. These measures include a return to the kind of "construction work in progress" (CWIP) financing provisions which essentially guarantee that any dollar spent on building a new plant gets added to our electric bills—even if it is cancelled during construction. In our view, this guarantee would represent an environmental and economic disaster in the making.

The reason is simple: If the utilities are guaranteed that ratepayers/consumers will pay for whatever plants they build, they will build more than we need--regardless of what is invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Utility profits are based primarily on the interplay between the size of their rate base and their rate of return. Therefore, the bigger their rate base (the value of their plants and other facilities), the more potential they have for high profits to their stockholders.

Transferring the entire risk of new construction from their stockholders to the public ratepayers, via CWIP financing, skews their entire planning process. New baseload (coal and nuclear) construction becomes a vastly more attractive proposition, with little or no downside risk to the corporation.

This form of extreme CWIP financing was repealed by the N.C. General Assembly in 1982. The final cancellation of several unneeded nuclear units which were clinging to life via the artificial life support of guaranteed subsidies followed suit. Today is not the time to return to the bad old policy of total assumption of construction risks by the ratepaying public.]

Hog Warriors Occupy the Mall: As noted in last week's CIB, environmental advocates and other concerned parties converged on the mall area adjacent to the legislative building in Raleigh this week, for a 51-hour "Hog Vigil". Participants kicked off the vigil on Wednesday morning with a news conference and unveiling of a model of a hog farm, complete with miniature sprayfield and waste lagoon. Cleanup advocates got an unexpected and ironic PR boost from officials who warned them that if any of their (real) sample hog waste spilled on the ground, it would be considered hazardous waste and they would be fined. Some of the vigil participants live near working farms and sprayfield mist which crosses onto their properties and homes on a daily basis. They just wish that the state would be as aggressive in protecting them as in protecting the sensitivities of our legislators.

Budget Notes: Final budget negotiations continued all week between House and Senate conferees, aimed at resolving the many and wide differences between the chambers' versions of the budget. Treatment of the State Energy Office remains the most important environmental difference. Advocates continue to press House leaders to stand firm in support of their version of the budget on this item. The Senate version dissolves the State Energy Office altogether. That's no way to treat an agency that has saved state taxpayers tens of millions of dollars through its effective leadership in support of implementing energy efficiencies.

On the positive side, both House and Senate budgets this year contain a provision which conservationists have unsuccessfully sought for years: extra inspector positions for the state Sedimentation Control program. (Not enough new positions, but some—which in this case would represent a noteworthy step forward.)

Washington Watch: EPA Proposes Tougher Ozone Standard

Beyond the General Assembly, the other major news we were following this week came from the EPA in the air quality arena. After months of delay, the agency has proposed a tougher standard for ground-level ozone, the major ingredient of urban smog.


The EPA's proposal actually recommended a standard somewhere within a range from 0.070 to 0.075 parts per million (ppm). However, it said at the same time that it would continue taking comments on "alternative standards" from as low as 0.060 ppm to as high as the current standard, 0.080 ppm.

Non-technicians may well be excused for reacting, "Huh?" And, "Whatever it means, why should I care?"

On these questions, we offer our analysis as follows. EPA's scientists think that a tougher standard is appropriate in order to better protect human health from the harmful effects of ozone. It's an irritant which can harm lungs and bronchial passages, trigger asthma attacks, and place additional stress on people with heart conditions and other cardiovascular ailments. On high ozone days, such health complications and emergency room visits for these problems typically go up in impacted areas.

However, pollution-emitting industries strongly oppose the stronger standards. Many local governments, still working on meeting the existing standards, also find the prospect of a new and higher bar to be frustrating. As a result, the ever-timid Bush EPA is keeping its options open. (Stall long enough, and the clock ticks over to a new president.)

By the way, ground-level ozone is formed through a chemical reaction in the atmosphere. Take "precursor" pollutants like nitrogen oxides from power plants and vehicle tailpipes, mix in volatile organic compounds from human and natural sources, and heat well with the summer sunshine. Soon, it produces an unpleasant soup including that unhealthy ozone. That's why ozone pollution tends to be a seasonal problem, associated with weather conditions in addition to pollution levels.

EPA will take comments on its proposal and alternatives for the next three months. For full details, check out its website: http://epa.gov/groundlevelozone/ .

Agenda, National Pollinator Week, Weaver St Mkt, Chatham Marketplace

Wednesday June 27 at Chatham Marketplace

Chatham Marketplace is located in historic Chatham Mills, 480 Hillsboro
Street, Suite 320 in Pittsboro, NC; visit their website at
http://www.chathammarketplace.coop/ for directions and store information.

1:00-1:45 pm – Protect our Pollinators and Plant a Bee Garden (that looks great and provides forages for both honey bees and native bees!) – Presentation by Debbie Roos, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center

1:45-2:30 pm – Watch “bee TV” (observation hive), view exhibits, meet and mingle with NCSU faculty and Chatham County Beekeepers, ask your burning questions…

2:30-3:15 pm – How to Become a Backyard Beekeeper – Presentation by Dr. David Tarpy, NCSU Apiculture Specialist

3:15-4:00 pm – Watch “bee TV” (observation hive), view exhibits, meet and mingle with NCSU faculty and Chatham County Beekeepers, ask your burning questions…

4:00-4:45 pm – Overview of North Carolina Pollinators – Presentation by
Dr. Steve Bambara, NCSU Entomology Specialist

Thursday June 28 at Weaver Street Market

Weaver Street Market is located at 101 East Weaver St. in Carrboro, NC; visit their website at http://www.weaverstreetmarket.com/ for directions and store information.

10:00-noon – visit the information tables and displays and talk with beekeeping experts from NC State University, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, the NCDA&CS, and the Orange County Beekeepers' Association.

Noon-1:00 - Bee Cage - watch an experienced beekeeper open a hive and talk
about bees and beekeeping; get your burning questions answered

1:00-1:30 – Protect our Pollinators and Plant a Bee Garden – Presentation by
Debbie Roos, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center

1:30-2:30 - Bee Cage Demonstration repeated

2:30-3:00 - How to Become a Backyard Beekeeper - Presentation by Dr. David
Tarpy, NCSU Apiculture Specialist

3:00-4:00 - Bee Cage Demonstration repeated

4:00-4:30 - Overview of North Carolina Pollinators – Presentation by Dr. Steve Bambara, NCSU Entomology Specialist

You will also be able to visit the produce section of Chatham Marketplace and Weaver Street Market to learn which crops are pollinated by honey bees and what this means to North Carolina’s economy. And check out the special display of the many products of the hive available at each store, including honey harvested by local beekeepers!

Debbie Roos, Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent, will also provide a sneak peek of her new Pollinator Conservation website where you can learn about plants appropriate for the Piedmont region that will provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators; view photos of each plant species and our common pollinators; and discover print and Internet resources to learn more about pollinator conservation!

For more information about these events, contact Debbie Roos at debbie_roos@ncsu.edu.

For more information about National Pollinator Week, visit the Pollinator Partnership website at http://www.pollinator.org/pollinator_week.htm

Bring the family and join the fun!


SiCKO Review, The Nation

Published on Friday, June 22, 2007 by The Nation
SiCKO Is Boffo

by David Corn

In 1971, Edgar Kaiser, the son of the founder of Kaiser Permanente, one of the first big HMOs, went to see John Ehrlichman, a top aide to President Nixon, to lobby the Nixon White House to pass legislation that would expand the market for health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Ehrlichman reported this conversation to Nixon on February 17, 1971. The discussion, which was taped, went like this:

Ehrlichman: I had Edgar Kaiser come in…talk to me about this and I went into it in some depth. All the incentives are toward less medical care, because the less care they give them, the more money they make.

President Nixon: Fine.

The next day, Nixon publicly announced he would be pushing legislation that would provide Americans “the finest health care in the world.”

When tapes of the Nixon-Ehrlichman conversation and Nixon’s subsequent public statement are played halfway through Michael Moore’s new movie SiCKO, it is one of the film’s more revealing moments. By this point in the film, Moore has already demonstrated that health insurance companies and HMOs are parasitic villains that routinely deny necessary medical care to make more bucks–even when their money-grubbing leads to the death of patients. Looking for the original sin that led to the present mess, Moore zeroes in on this Nixonian moment, which encapsulates the film’s premise that the United States health care system is defined by a fundamental conflict: profit versus care, and–no surprise–profit beats care.

Moore makes this point magnificently in SiCKO, which is the best film in the Moore canon. I say this as one who had a mixed reaction to Fahrenheit 9/11. (See here.) This time around, Moore has crafted a tour de force that his enemies will have a tough time blasting (though they will still try). It’s not as tendentious as his earlier works. It posits no conspiracy theories. The film skillfully blends straight comedy, black humor, tragedy, and advocacy. You laugh, you cry–literally. And you get mad.

The film stitches together a string of health care horror stories. Moore opens the movie by looking at two cases involving Americans who don’t have health insurance. One fellow who sliced off the tips of two fingers is told at the hospital that he can attach the ring finger for $12,000 and the middle finger for $60,000. He can’t afford both. Ever the romantic, Moore reports, this man opts to save his ring finger.

But SiCKO is not about the uninsured. It’s about those who have insurance and who have been screwed. Moore began this project by advertising on the Web for tales of health care woe. Within a week, he had received 25,000 emails. That’s plenty of raw material. One enterprising father of a child who was going deaf and whose insurance company would only pay for one ear implant wrote his insurance firm and asked if its CEOs would like to appear in Moore’s film. The company–whaddayaknow–quickly authorized payment for the other implant.

From this flood of complaints, Moore drew compelling and heartbreaking stories. A woman is denied payment for a major procedure because she neglected to mention on her insurance application that she once had a yeast infection (which was, of course, unrelated to the procedure she needed). A mother loses her 18-month-old daughter because a hospital won’t treat her without authorization from her insurance company and her insurer insists she takes the child (during an emergency situation) to an in-network hospital. A woman who was in a car crash is denied payment for an ambulance trip because she did not receive pre-approval for that cost. A man is denied a bone-marrow transplant that could save his life and dies.

Moore interviews health care industry insiders who confirm the worst suspicions. A former employee at a health insurance sales centers cries as she talks about how she was trained to handle prospective clients who might be health risks. “I’m such a bitch on the phone,” she says. Doctors who worked for health care companies tell how they were encouraged to deny claims to save their companies money. Medical reviewers for one health insurance company who rendered the most denials received bonuses. Footage from a video surveillance camera shows a Los Angeles hospital dumping an indigent patient on Skid Row. “Who are we?” Moore asks. “Is this what we have become: a nation that dumps its own citizens?”

Moore’s meta-message is, It doesn’t have to be this way. He visits Canada, England, and France and compares their health care delivery systems to America’s. He plays this for loads of yucks. In a British hospital, he goes looking for the place where a patient has to pay his or her bill. He cannot find such a check-out counter. Then–a-ha!–he finds a cashier. But–here comes the punch line–this is where the hospital hands out cash to patients who need a few pounds to cover the cost of their transportation home. Yes, in a British hospital you can leave with more money than you came in with.

What about those put-upon doctors who must work under the heavy yoke of Britain’s National Health Service? He interviews a young doctor who drives a new Audi and lives in a posh million-dollar flat. The British system, the doc says, is fine for doctors–unless you want to live in a $3 million flat and own three or four cars. As for drugs, every prescription in England costs the equivalent of ten bucks–no matter what drug or how much of it. An American who blew out his shoulder trying to walk across the famous intersection at Abbey Road on his hands tells Moore that he obtained great hospital care for no money.

Ditto Canada. Ditto France. Doing his I-can’t-believe-it act, Moore grills Americans and locals in each country who relate stories of receiving quality care for no payments. A Canadian doctor, with a straight face, says that he has “never told anyone we couldn’t put a finger back on” because of a patient’s inability to pay. In the land of surrender-monkeys, Moore discovers that government-paid doctors–Sacre bleu!–make house calls, and new parents are visited by federally-paid daycare providers. And get this: a fellow who completes chemo in France gets three months of paid leave to recuperate (on a beach in the south of France, no less). No wonder, the United States ranks 37th in the world when it comes to the health of its citizens, just edging out Slovenia.Moore whacks the U.S. political system for catering to the needs of the insurance industry not the citizenry, pointing out that the health care lobby pumps millions of dollars into the campaigns of lawmakers.
He notes that Senator Hillary Clinton, once the scourge of the health care industry, has become a top recipient of contributions from health care firms. (Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, executive producer of the film and a friend of Hillary Clinton, pressed Moore to cut that part of the film. Moore turned him down. In a recent interview, Weinstein conceded he had asked Moore to delete this portion.)
In the film’s climax, Moore gets on a boat in Miami with three 9/11 rescue workers who have been unable to obtain the necessary treatment for ailments apparently caused by their exposure to debris at Ground Zero. His mission: bring them and other health care industry victims to the Guatanamo detention facility in Cuba, where (according to the Bush administration and Republican congressional leaders) the detainees typically receive fine medical treatment. Gitmo, Moore cracks, is “the only place on American soil with free universal health care.”

Moore’s small flotilla approaches the camp. He takes out a bullhorn and shouts, I have three 9/11 rescue workers who need medical attention. He adds, They just want the kind of treatment al Qaeda is getting. No one in the guard tower responds. A siren goes off. Maybe we better leave, he says. Moore takes the rescue workers and the others to the Havana Hospital where they receive–as do all Cubans there–free quality treatment.

Sure, it’s a stunt–but a telling one. One of the rescue workers is living on a monthly disability payment of $1000. Her inhaler costs $120, and she needs at least two a month. She breaks down and cries when she learns she can purchase the same drug in Cuba for five cents. Were she a suspected terrorist in Gitmo, she would get the device for free.

Moore’s right. The health care system in the United States is a bad deal for many Americans. (Don’t get me started about Oxford, which routinely denies almost every claim I submit for my family.) He glosses over some of the problems overseas (the French social welfare system is under much pressure), but he debunks the hyperbolic scare-’em criticisms hurled at the Canadian and British systems by free-marketeers who defend the U.S. system. As for the charge that a universal health care system would be “socialized medicine,” Moore rightfully counters that in the United States there’s socialism when it comes to the public well-being; there are public schools, public fire departments, and public libraries. What about public health?

In the film, Canadians, Brits and French laugh at Americans for their cockamamie health care system. Explaining their own systems, they all say that it’s a matter of communal security: we take care of each other. In other words, leave no citizen behind. Moore does not explicitly call for a particular set of reforms. But he clearly wants a taxpayer-funded system that cuts out the insurance companies and provides universal care to all.

Health care policy can be mind-numbingly complicated. Try to sort out the differences between Senator Barack Obama’s health care plan and Senator John Edwards’ proposal. And remember the wire chart the GOP cooked up for Hillary Clinton’s proposed reform? But Moore, to his credit, cuts through the surface-level details and gets to the essentials. Why not health care for all? Why allow corporate profit-mongers to decide whether an 18-month-old girl lives or dies? Why is the population of the United States, as wealthy as this nation is, not as healthy as the population of Britain, France, Canada, and 33 other countries? Why settle for a sick system?

Advocates of universal health care (note I say care, not coverage) are hoping SiCKO leads to political change. The California Nurses Association, which supports a single-payer system, is organizing across the country in conjunction with the movie’s appearance. It’s hard to see a film moving a nation–and, in particular, the politicians who pocket all those health care industry dollars. But Moore has produced a work that maximizes his talents as social critic, humorist, filmmaker, journalist, and advocate. SiCKO is brilliantly funny and sad. It’s a dead-on diagnosis. Don’t get sick before seeing this film.


Pollinator Day, Pittsboro, June 27

The Chatham County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension and North Carolina State University invite you to join in the celebration of National Pollinator Week June 24-30 with an afternoon of educational programs on Wednesday June 27 at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro.
Did You Know?

About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization. Most pollinators are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees. A small percentage of pollinators are vertebrates such as hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals such as mice.

Pollinators are essential components of the habitats and ecosystems that many wild animals rely on for food and shelter. As landscapes are converted from wild to managed lands, many pollinators’ habitats may be destroyed or fragmented. These changes can lead to the loss of wildflowers used by pollinators for foraging, nesting, and/or egg-laying.

Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fiber, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend. Examples include blueberries, melons, chocolate, coffee, peaches, vanilla, almonds, apples, oranges, lemons, carrots, avocados, onions, broccoli, and much more!

Honey bees are the primary insect pollinator of approximately 100 crops nationwide. Honey bees are responsible for one-third of everything that people eat every day! In North Carolina, many of the economically important crops such as cucumbers, apples, blueberries, and melons are dependent on honey bees for pollination and account for $100 million every year.

We have a full afternoon of educational programs scheduled for inside the store. Come learn about the fascinating world of pollinators, their role in our food system and ecosystem, and what you can do to help protect them.

1:00-1:45 pm – Protect our Pollinators and Plant a Bee Garden (that looks great and provides forages for both honey bees and native bees!) – Presentation by Debbie Roos, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center

1:45-2:30 pm – Watch “bee TV” (observation hive), view exhibits, meet and mingle with NCSU faculty and Chatham Beekeepers, ask your burning questions…

2:30-3:15 pm – How to Become a Backyard Beekeeper – Presentation by Dr. David Tarpy, NCSU Apiculture Specialist

3:15-4:00 pm – Watch “bee TV” (observation hive), view exhibits, meet and mingle with NCSU faculty and Chatham Beekeepers, ask your burning questions…

4:00-4:45 pm – Overview of North Carolina Pollinators – Presentation by Dr. Steve Bambara, NCSU Entomology Specialist

You will also be able to visit the produce section of Chatham Marketplace to learn which crops are pollinated by honey bees and what this means to North Carolina’s economy. And check out the special display of the many products of the hive available at Chatham Marketplace, including honey harvested by Chatham County Beekeepers! Debbie Roos, Chatham County Agricultural Extension Agent, will also debut her new website on “Gardening for the Bees”.

For more information on these events, contact Debbie Roos at debbie_roos@ncsu.edu or call Chatham Marketplace at 919-542-2643. Visit their website at http://www.chathammarketplace.com/ for directions and store information.

We hope to see you there! Bring your family and join in the fun

Debbie Roos
Agricultural Extension Agent
Organic and Sustainable Agriculture
North Carolina State University
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Chatham County Center
Growing Small Farms Website:
Post Office Box 279
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Email: debbie_roos@ncsu.edu
Phone: 919.542.8202 Fax: 919.542.8246

No Child Left Behind Law

Documentary: Law Gives Military Access to Student Data


It began as a class assignment for Alexia Welch and Sarah Ybarra: Make a five-minute video news story about advertising in public schools. But the Lawrence, Kansas, teenagers'project snowballed into a 25-minute documentary on how the federal No Child Left Behind law to improve education promotes military recruitment, infringes on students' privacy and encourages school officials to look the other way.


Database of State Incentives, Energy


Vertical Gardening, NY


Hogs in Our Future

[contact your legislators!] Hog Farms and North Carolina's Future

North Carolina is one of the top hog producers in the nation, with around ten million hogs on farms scattered throughout the state. In fact, North Carolina has more hogs than people. The hog industry is obviously an important part of the state's economy. However, hog waste is a major problem, one that poses serious dangers to public health and the environment.

The swine industry's traditional method of handling hog waste has been placing it in "lagoons," which are basically massive open-air pools full of animal waste. These pools of waste release ammonia and other pollutants into the air as the waste breaks down. While this alone is bad enough for the environment, the problems don't stop there. Hog lagoons have enormous potential for leakage and overflow, and such environmental disasters have already occurred.

In 1995, the Ocean View Farms lagoon in Onslow County overflowed, releasing millions of gallons of hog waste into the New River. This overflow polluted the entire river, putting public health at risk by contaminating drinking water and killing native fish populations. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd hit North Carolina, causing flooding and more lagoon overflow. Because these waste pools are open to the air, they remain likely to flood and overflow, with no protection for nearby groundwater, lakes, or rivers.

Another traditional method of dealing with hog waste are sprayfields. This method, usually employed in conjunction with lagoons, involves spraying excess hog waste onto agricultural fields for fertilizer. While this may seem to be a better way of dealing with the problem, sprayfields are both inadequate and hazardous to public health. Even when used in moderation, sprayfields create harmful runoff, allowing hog waste to enter local lakes, streams, and groundwater, and thus the public water supply. Hog lagoons and sprayfields are an environmental and health disaster waiting to happen, and it may just a matter of time until another accident pollutes our waters and land.

Despite the clear risk that hog lagoons and sprayfields pose, the swine industry is pushing for the moratorium on construction to sunset. Various bills have been proposed to regulate the industry and call for more environmentally sound ways of dealing with hog waste. The moratorium expires in August, and it is vital that the General Assembly pass a strong bill this session. We need strong environmental standards for hog farms, making sure they deal with waste in a responsible and reasonable way. The time to act is now. Please support a strong hog farm bill.

Short History of Gastronomy


Was There a Depression?


Advance Tickets for LEAF, October


Hersh on Rumsfeld, Taguba

Seymour Hersh Reveals Rumsfeld Misled Congress over Abu Ghraib; How Gen. Taguba was Forced to Retire over his Critical Abu Ghraib Report; and the Site of Another Secret U.S. Prison (Mauritania)

Over three years ago, Seymour Hersh exposed the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib in an article largely based on a leaked report by Major General Antonio Taguba. Now Taguba has spoken to Hersh in his first interview since being forced to retire. Taguba reveals that he was blocked from investigating who ordered the abuse at Abu Ghraib and how more pictures and video exist showing the torture.


Concert, Aberdeen, June 24

The Rooster’s Wife
Summer on the Porch

The April Fools open at 6

June 24

The Postmaster’s House

204 E. South Street, Aberdeen, NC

Admission $8., Children under 12 free

Gates open at 5:30 Picnics welcome.

Info: (910)944-750 theroosterswife.org

The Rooster’s Wife is a private non-profit association organized to celebrate the performing arts in Aberdeen, North Carolina. Created to serve the community by preserving our cultural heritage and presenting the talent of the next generation, the Rooster’s Wife is committed to offering affordable programs for every age to enjoy.

Nestle Boycott

[site is overview of bottle-fed vs breat-fed infants; Nestle is US corporation that leads in baby formula production and promotion worldwide]

Call or Fax TODAY, Farm Bill!

Phone calls or faxed letters are needed immediately, directed to members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to urge them to include organics in their Farm Bill Proposal. The Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Tom Harkin (D-IA) is finalizing his initial draft version of the 2007 Farm Bill as we speak, and has promised to include all of our organic priorities. Now the other members of the Committee need to hear from us about the importance of including organic provisions in the 2007 Farm Bill. If we can get all the organic priorities into the initial version of the bill with the active, or at least tacit support of a majority of the Committee members, it will put us on the path to victory without having to try to amend the bill later in the process.


The message is simple: I am a resident of the state the Senator represents and I am calling to ask Senator _______ to advocate for key organic provisions in the Committee’s Farm Bill proposal.

To compete for the huge increases in consumer demand for organics, U.S. producers need a fair share of federal support in the 2007 Farm Bill. This package will encourage domestic production of organic goods, keeping the economic and environmental benefits in this state and in the U.S.

Key provisions:

National Organic Certification Cost-Share ($5 Million/yr. mandatory funding.)
Organic Conversion Stewardship Incentives ($50 Million/yr. mandatory funding, equal split for financial and technical assistance.)
Fair Share for Organic Research (at least $15 Million/yr. mandatory funding for Organic Research and Extension grants; amend the National Research Initiative to include classical plant and animal breeding; adequate funding for organic data collection.)
Conservation Security Program (full mandatory funding and integrated application for organic producers.)

[See more background below. If you are able to engage the Senator’s staff in a longer conversation, this will help you communicate the importance of each specific item.]

It’s easy to call or write. Please call your Senator’s office (phone numbers below). Ask the receptionist to connect you with the staff person responsible for agriculture. If the agriculture aide is unavailable, leave your name, phone number, and the message above on the aid’s voice mail, or if necessary, with the receptionist.

If you prefer to write, fax a brief letter with the same points above, along with your name, address, and contact information (fax numbers below).


National Organic Certification Cost Share Program – The Organic Certification Cost Share Program was authorized in the 2002 Farm bill and provides modest assistance to help farmers cover the cost of organic certification, an expense that has risen considerably since the advent of USDA’s National Organic Program. The program received $5 million in mandatory funding in the 2002 Farm Bill, which was completely utilized by 2006. The program should be reauthorized in the next Farm Bill with increased funding to meet the overwhelming demand from the growing organic sector, and per farm payments should be increased to a maximum of $750 per year, an amount consistent with increasing USDA organic certification fees.

Organic Conversion – As a result of the high production standards required of organic producers, and the three-year minimum time requirements for converting land to organic production, the barriers to organic conversion are significant. It is critical that the standards for organic production remain high, because they are the underpinning of growing consumer demand for organic products. However, it is also critical that the new Farm Bill include financial and technical assistance to help farmers convert to organic production, including assistance for implementing organic conservation practices and for business and marketing planning. At least half of the funding allocated to transition support should be dedicated to technical assistance and education programs, due to the knowledge-intensive character of organic farming.

Research – USDA research programs have not kept pace with the growth of organic agriculture in the marketplace. Although organic currently represents about 3 percent of total U.S. food retail market, the share of USDA research targeted to organic agriculture and marketing only represents 0.6% annually. A coordinated strategy for scaling-up organic agricultural research, outreach and development should provide a mixture of funding methods and programs to gradually achieve an overall “fair share” spending total of approximately $120 million/year. This should include $15 million mandatory funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative competitive grant program that funds research and extension projects to meet the production, marketing and policy needs of the growing organic industry. Classical plant and animal breeding should be listed as one of the priorities for competitive research grants under the National Research Initiative, as public resources for classical plant and animal breeding have dwindled, causing limited access to germplasm and the diversity of seed variety and animal breed development that organic and sustainable farmers depend upon. Adequate funding should be allocated to expand the Organic Production and Marketing Data Initiative which requires USDA to collect and publish segregated organic data to meet the needs of organic producers, processors, and consumers.

Conservation Security Program - The Conservation Security Program is an innovative and proactive stewardship incentives program that was authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill. The CSP provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who develop and maintain conservation systems that solve critical natural resource and environmental concerns, rewarding them for investments of labor, management, and capital aimed at fostering healthy, productive, and non-eroding soils, clear air and water, energy savings, and wildlife habitat.

Despite its wide popularity with farmers and ranchers, the intent and scope of CSP have been stunted by repeated cuts to its funding levels. Changes need to be made to make it easier for organic producers to participate in the program.



Tom Harkin (IA), Chair


Patrick Leahy (VT)


Kent Conrad (ND)


Max Baucus (MT)


Blanche Lincoln (AR)


Debbie Stabenow (MI)


Ben Nelson (NE)


Ken Salazar (CO)


Sherrod Brown (OH)


Robert B. Casey, Jr. (PA)


Amy Klobuchar (MN)



Saxby Chambliss (GA) Ranking Member


Richard Lugar (IN)


Thad Cochran (MS)


Mitch McConnell (KY)


Pat Roberts (KS)


Lindsey Graham (SC)


Norman Coleman (MN)


Michael Crapo (ID)


John Thune (SD)


Chuck Grassley (IA)


Liana Hoodes
3540 Route 52
Pine Bush, NY 12566
Phone and Fax: 845-744-2304
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
P.O. Box 396, Pine Bush, NY 12566


Digging It Up


An old man lived alone in the country. He wanted to dig his tomato garden, but it was difficult, as the ground was hard. His only son, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote to his son.

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty badly. It looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if were here you would be happy to dig the plot for me.
Love, Dad

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Dad,
Don't dig up that garden. That's where I buried the bodies.
Love, Vinnie

At 4 a.m. the next morning, federal investigators and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day he received another letter.

Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love you,

Refugee Numbers Up, Iraq

Iraq drives' global refugee rise
The global number of refugees rises for the first time in five years, mainly due to the Iraq war, the UN says.
Full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/-/2/hi/middle_east/6766067.stm


DNA Damage from Herbicide

Studies Find DNA Damage From Anti-Coca Herbicide


US-funded aerial spraying of coca plantations in Colombia near the Ecuador border has severely damaged the DNA of local residents, a new study has found.

Alice Waters on Eating Well

"When we claim that eating well is an elitist preoccupation, we create a smokescreen that obscures the fundamental role our food decisions have in shaping the world. The reason that eating well in this country costs more than eating poorly is that we have a set of agricultural policies that subsidize fast food and make fresh, wholesome foods, which receive no government support, seem expensive. Organic foods seem elitist only because industrial food is artificially cheap, with its real costs being charged to the public purse, the public health and the environment." -- Alice Waters


Probable Cause of Bee Drop?

[entire article at http://www.hyperstealth.com/haarp/index.htm]
e-address for Sutton suttonmaureen@hotmail.com

HAARP Transmissions May Accidentally be Jamming Bees Homing Ability, June 1, 2007
By Guy Cramer

Beginning in the Summer of 2006, bee hives in more than half the U.S. States, four Canadian Provinces and a number of countries in Europe have mysteriously been losing billions of bees in what is now being termed Colony Collapse Disorder. Canadian officials have yet to declare their bee losses are due to this disorder.
Mature worker bees leave the hive and do not return, leaving the queen and immature workers unable to sustain the hive. Due to the recent outbreak and distances involved in the regions affected, most researchers are unable to explain why this is occurring.
Currently one theory suggests that electromagnetic waves may be causing interference with bees’ navigation, as previous small scale research showed that 70% of the bees did not return to the hive when cordless phone transmitters were placed within the colonies. Here we show that a U.S. military radio transmitter (ionospheric heater) array, the most powerful in the world, transitioned to full power in 2006 and reception of signals transmitted cover the same region as the Colony Collapse Disorder.
The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project is an antenna array located in Alaska. It a congressionally initiated program jointly managed by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. The Array has been used to conduct numerous ionospheric and radio wave propagation research studies over the past decade. One project study conducted in 1997 showed the radio transmission range was only received in North America and Europe. This Array transitioned to full power and military use just prior to the summer of 2006 with an increase in output from 9.6 kilowatts to 3.6 megawatts. The corresponding timing and range with the Colony Collapse Disorder suggests recent transmissions from the array could be the most likely cause of the bee problem.


Typical, Rural, Small Town

June 14, 2007

Dear Friend of Common Dreams,

Last night, residents of the small, Maine coastal town Arrowsic came together for their annual town meeting. Among other town business, they voted 71-17 in favor of a resolution asking President Bush and Congress to immediately stop all war funding, to end American occupation in Iraq and to bring the troops home now.

No equivocating there.

Arrowsic is just across Casco Bay, about 30 miles from our offices in the Old Port neighborhood in Portland. I know Arrowsic. And believe me, it's a typical, rural small town.

And yet.

No mention of 'benchmarks'. No 'we broke it, we have to stay and fix it'. No 'we have to keep funding flowing for the troops.'

The mainstream media doesn't tell you the hundreds of other similar stories from towns all over the USA. We rarely hear the voices of ordinary Americans, the voices of people just like those in Arrowsic.

Instead you hear from the John McCains. The Joe Liebermans. The retired General Talking-Heads who provide 'commentary' while on the payroll of the biggest military contractors.

Arrowsic's town meeting vote is the kind of news that we seek out. Thinking locally - acting globally. Inspiring. Lighting sparks that keep our progressive movement growing.

We are making a difference but we need your help.

First, if you hear of a local news story that you think we should share with our CommonDreams.org community, please e-mail the link to me at editor@commondreams.org.

Second, over the next couple of weeks, CommonDreams.org needs to raise $75,000 to keep us going another few months. Can you pitch in to keep the CommonDreams.org site up and running?

CommonDreams.org doesn't accept advertising or corporate sponsorships -- because we don't want to have to answer to anyone except you.

But that means we have to rely on you - our readers - for 100% of our funding.

Please help us harness the power of the independent media!

You can make your secure, tax-deductible online donation right now here. Or, you can print our donation form and mail it back to us with a check here.

Thanks so much. We can't do it without you.


Craig Brown
Executive Director
for the whole CommonDreams.org team

Our readers are our only source of funding. We'll send everyone who pitches in a free "Out of Iraq NOW!" bumpersticker.


51-hour Hog Vigil, Raleigh Leg.

"51-hour Hog Vigil"
June 19-21, 2007 Raleigh, NC

Join Fellow Citizens from Across the State to Call on our Government to End Unnecessary Hog Waste Pollution

Well, the dates have been set, the permit is in hand, and specific plans are being finalized. We are talking about the upcoming "51-hour Hog Vigil" to be held later this month.

Starting at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, June 19th, and running straight through until 6:00 PM on Thursday, June 21st, there will be a Vigil held in Halifax Mall which is in the middle of the Legislative and other government buildings in downtown Raleigh. WE NEED YOU TO BE THERE!! Come for the entire 51 hours, or pledge to give us a 3-hour shift or more. Please come join the Neuse River Foundation, Concerned Citizens for Tillery, Environmental Justice Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, ARSI, REACH, Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, and many other organizations from across the great state of NC as we stand with one voice calling for an end to corporate pollution of our public resources.

Given the current efforts presently being undertaken in the General Assembly, it is felt that this effort is CRITICAL to raise the awareness level, and get the attention of those who can make a difference. To do that, we will need a lot of support and some time commitment from everyone who is in this fight.
The purpose of the vigil is to dramatically draw attention to the issue of hog waste, and the direct affect it is having on OUR PEOPLE, COMMUNITIES, RIVERS, CREEKS, STREAMS and AIR.

Here is what is needed...PEOPLE TO TAKE AN ACTIVE PART IN THE VIGIL!!!!!! We need to have as many people participate as possible.

This is the year when this issue needs to come to an end. Many people have been working hard for years, while others have just recently gotten into the fight. But the impressive part of this is the dedication and desire to put the Hog Waste issue to bed. Now is when YOU need to step up to the plate. This 51-hour vigil has the potential to make a major statement about who we are and what we want. BUT IT WILL TAKE A SERIOUS COMMITMENT FROM ALL OF US TO PULL IT OFF!!!

We are depending on your passion and your drive to help us with this effort.

Reply to Larry Baldwin at riverkeeper@neuseriver.org with the names, dates and time slots that you can fill. Get your members, friends, family, community members, students, kids and anyone you know who has the same feelings that we do, and bring them out to the vigil.

We look forward to hearing from you.


"51-Hour Hog Vigil" Planning Committee:
*Devon Hall *Gary Grant *Naeema Muhammed
*Don Webb *Heather Jacobs *Rick Dove
*Dothula Baron-Hall *Larry Baldwin

Sicko Health Care

*Ahead of ³Sicko² Release, Michael Moore Brings Health Care Campaign to
California State Assembly*

Michael Moore's campaign to overhaul the nation's health care industry has officially begun. On Tuesday, the Academy Award winning filmmaker joined 1,000 members of the California Nurses Association in a rally outside the California State House to secure guaranteed health care for all in this country. Moore also testified at an unofficial legislative briefing inside the State House. The organizing coincides with the upcoming release of ³Sicko², Moore's new documentary on the nation's health care system.


*³Sicko² Interviewees Tell Harrowing First-Hand Stories of U.S. Health Care Failures*

As Michael Moore called for legal action against health insurance executives, lawmakers also heard testimony from several people featured in ³Sicko.² Dawnelle Keys talked about how her 18-month-old daughter died after being denied treatment at a hospital. Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles testified about how hospitals dump patients on Skid Row. And Dr. Linda Penno spoke about her work as a medical reviewer for the health insurer Humana. She says she denied one patient a life-saving operation to protect company profits.


World Oil, Four Years

World Oil Supplies Likely to Run Out Faster Than Expected

Scientists challenge major review of global oil reserves and warn that
supplies will start to run out in four years.

More on Immigration Bill

Talks revive US immigration bill
US Senate leaders agree to revive debate on a controversial immigration
bill after it stalled last week.
Full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/-/2/hi/americas/6755233.stm

Bush's European Disaster

Bush's European disaster
The president's trip was a pageant of disdain, delusion and provocation masquerading as a respite from his troubles at home.
By Sidney Blumenthal

Jun. 14, 2007 | I returned from Europe a week before President Bush departed for the G8 summit in Germany. In Rome and Paris I met with Cabinet ministers who uniformly said the chief issue in transatlantic relations is somehow making it through the last 18 months of the Bush administration without further major disaster. None of the nonpartisan think tanks in Washington can organize seminars on this overriding reality, but within the European councils of state the trepidation about the last days of Bush is the No. 1 issue in foreign affairs.

One of the ministers with whom I met, who had supported the invasion of Iraq and had been an admirer of outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair's, ruefully cited Blair's remark about Iraq at his joint press conference with Bush on May 17 at the White House: "This is a fight we cannot afford to lose." "Cannot? Cannot lose?" mocked the minister. "Should not have lost."

High officials of European governments describe U.S. influence as squandered and swiftly eroding (one minister went down a list of Bush administration officials, rating them according to their stupidity), the country's moral authority nil. Lethal power vacuums are emerging from Lebanon to Pakistan, and Europeans are incapable on their own of quelling the fires that burn far closer to them than to the United States through their growing Muslim populations and proximity to the Middle East. They have no illusions that they will be treated seriously as real allies or that there will be a sudden about-face by the Bush administration. Their faint hope -- and it is only a hope -- is that they have already seen the worst and that it is not yet to come. Even worse than Bush, from their perspective, would be another Republican president who continued Bush policies and also appointed neoconservatives. That would toll, if not the end of days, then the decline and fall of the Western alliance except in name only, and an even more rapid acceleration of chaos in the world order.

Bush's procession through Europe was a pageant of contempt, disdain, delusion, provocation and vanity masquerading as a welcome respite from his troubles at home. In Albania he landed at last in a place where he was hailed as a conquering hero. His demolition derby of U.S. influence was presented as a series of bold moves, but it confirmed the fears of the other world leaders at the G8 summit (and elsewhere) that the rest of Bush's presidency will be an erratic series of crashes. His performance ranged from King Nod, issuing proclamations oblivious to and even proud of their negative effect, to King Zog (the last king of Albania). No president has had a more disastrous European trip since President Reagan placed a wreath on the graves of SS soldiers in the Bitburg cemetery. Yet Reagan's mistake was unintentional and symbolic, a temporary and superficial setback, doing no real damage to U.S. foreign relations, while Bush's blunders not only reinforced counterproductive policies but also created a new one with Russia that has the potential of profoundly undermining U.S. national security interests for years to come.

Bush's foreign policy has descended into a fugue state. Dissociated and unaware, the president and his administration are still capable of expressing themselves as if it all makes complete sense, only contributing to their bewilderment. A fugue state should not be confused with cognitive dissonance, the tension produced when irreconcilable ideas are held at the same time and their incompatibility is overcome by denial. In a fugue state, a trauma creates a kind of amnesia in which the sufferer is incapable of connecting to his past. The impairment of judgment comes in great part from a denial of distress. Bush's fugue state involves the reiteration of a failed formula as though nothing has happened. So he proudly reasserts the essence of his Bush doctrine: Our acts are independent of other countries' interests. And he adds new corollaries: Other nations must forgive our unacknowledged mistakes even if we threaten their national security. To this, Bush overlays cognitive dissonance: Our policy is working; it just needs more time. Thus the incoherent becomes coherent.

Bush's amusing gaffes should not divert attention from the gravity of his underlying decline. Though his verbal hilariousness has been present since the beginning, his miscues, misstatements and mistakes now highlight a foreign policy in utter disarray.

Upon meeting Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican last weekend, Bush presented him with a gift of a wooden cane carved with English words. When the pope asked the president what they were, Bush told His Holiness, "The Ten Commandments, sir." To sir? With love?

In Rome, on June 9, a reporter asked Bush about setting a deadline for Kosovo independence. "What? Say that again?" "Deadline for the Kosovo independence?" "A decline?" "Deadline, deadline." "Deadline. Beg your pardon. My English isn't very good." Bush then declared, "In terms of the deadline, there needs to be one. This needs to come -- this needs to happen." The next day, asked when he would set a deadline, he replied, "I don't think I called for a deadline." Reminded of his previous statement, Bush said: "I did? What exactly did I say? I said, 'Deadline'? OK, yes, then I meant what I said."

Before offering that tongue twister, Bush quite deliberately upset German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal for climate change at the G8. She put before the summit a program for carbon limits and an emissions trading system supported by, among others, Tony Blair, as his final gesture to burnish his reputation before he leaves office on June 27. Bush countered with a proposal for voluntary limits that would have to be approved by China, India and other major industrial countries that would not agree. In short, Bush's program was no program at all, except as a gambit to push aside Merkel's. With that, Bush demolished the possibility of any positive plan emerging from the summit. He also deprived Blair of a last achievement. Were it not for his relationship with Bush and support for his Iraq policy, Blair would not be leaving Downing Street. He has sacrificed his career to Bush's fiasco. His advice on the reconstruction of Iraq ignored, his advocacy grew more passionate. From whom much has been asked, nothing has been given.

While Bush was undermining traditional allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin was making child's play of him. Bush's proposal to put tracking stations for a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic gave Putin his opening. In response, he offered a radar site in Azerbaijan to be jointly operated by the United States and Russia. Bush had deployed the wrong tactic on behalf of the wrong strategy. Bush's missile shield has not been proved to work, has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and has an uncertain purpose. Is the plan meant to reassure eastern European nations of the former Warsaw Pact, Donald Rumsfeld's "new Europe," against Russia, or is it a short-term ploy to rally support in the one region in the world that still likes Bush because of deep residual pro-Americanism? If Bush intended to persuade Putin to temper his authoritarianism, he only succeeded in antagonizing the Russian leader. As Bush's "freedom" agenda has collapsed, he has reverted to a Plan B for a new ersatz Cold War. His ham-handed move allowed the adroit Putin to change the subject and corner him. Meanwhile, the engagement of Russia in areas of mutual interest -- containing Iran -- languishes.

In Iraq, Bush's policy is now to arm all sides in the sectarian civil war between Shiites and Sunnis. He claims to be devoted to nation building, which he previously dismissed, while he presides over a mass exodus of 2 million Iraqis, upholds law and order while holding tens of thousands of prisoners without due process, and conducts a "surge" of troops to secure the capital city of Baghdad whose main effect has been to facilitate its ethnic cleansing. The Iraqi government, for its part, has not met any of the benchmarks in reforming its laws demanded by the United States as the sine qua non of continuing support.

And where in the world is Condoleezza Rice? While Bush was in Europe, the secretary of state was at home. Instead of attending the summit, she delivered a speech at the Economic Club of New York, announcing that the new doctrine of the administration henceforth should be called "American realism." Until that moment, we were supposed to refer to it as "transformational diplomacy." Rice, the former realist turned neoconservative fellow traveler, seemed to have come full circle. But what was it exactly that she was doing with her rhetorical adjustment?

Rice's frenetic but feckless diplomacy in the Middle East has been fruitless. She is unwilling or unable to break beyond the bounds that Bush establishes, forbidding relations with Syria, for example, and thus guaranteeing her failure.

As she shuttles endlessly and meaninglessly, neoconservatives within the White House undermine her foredoomed initiatives. Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security advisor for policy, in briefing a meeting of Jewish Republicans, said that Rice's "talks are sometimes not more than 'process for the sake of process,'" the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on May 14. According to Haaretz, "Those attending the meeting of Jewish Republicans understood Abrams' comments as an assurance that the peace initiative promoted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice doesn't have the full backing of President George W. Bush." As she engages in an academic exercise to rebrand empty rhetoric with new empty rhetoric, the neocons continue to create a parallel foreign policy.

Rice contradicts herself but forgets that she has. Bush continues to prattle about "freedom" but cannot remember his benchmarks. Only Dick Cheney remains consistent. The new mission statement is the old mission statement. The new scenarios are the old delusions. Time marches on.

-- By Sidney Blumenthal

Nuke On Hold


Progress Energy has announced that it will spend the next two years promoting energy efficiency, putting a hold on building a new nuclear reactor at Shearon Harris and observing a moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants. You can read the News & Observer's article [link above]. Progress will invest $50 million to $60 million a year in efficiency programs similar to those proposed by Duke Energy, including duct testing for leaks, home energy audits and promotion of compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Progress and Duke do not strongly believe that their customers will choose energy efficient solutions, even if they offer them.

NCSEA encourages you to become a leader in your family, circle of friends and community in adopting energy efficiency solutions and helping others to do so as well. Prove Progress and Duke wrong!

Poison DUst

Let’s reach our youth BEFORE they’re contaminated!


**Order the Poison DUst Educator's Packet at http://www.iacenter.org/DUeducatorpackets.html
Packet contains 2 different length film versions of Poison DUst, lesson plans, photos, bibliography, class projects, reprints and more.

Three years ago, The Daily News ran a story about reservists returning from Iraq in 2004 from the same unit who were suffering from what euphemistically has been called “Gulf War Syndrome.” It turned out that they all had been exposed to radioactive dust during their tour of duty in Iraq. The short term and long term effects of this exposure are slowly emerging into public consciousness.*

The military has yet to acknowledge the severity and the extent of the damage to our young men and women and to their offspring.

Today, half of the 697,000 U.S. Gulf War troops from the 1991 war have reported serious medical problems and a significant increase in birth defects among their newborn children.

The effects on the Iraqi population are far greater.**

Many other countries and U.S. communities near DU weapons plants, testing facilities, bases and arsenals have also been exposed to this radioactive material which has a half-life of 4.4 billions years.

This issue is of particular importance to high school students who are considering joining the military after they graduate. In addition to all the obvious dangers, entering the military today puts them at risk for cancer and all the symptoms associated with radiation and heavy metal poisoning—fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, to name a few. There is now also ample documentation that exposure to the dust can cause birth defects in their children, the same birth defects that are showing up in Iraqi children.****

What’s in the dust? Depleted Uranium

The military says depleted uranium emits low-level-radiation, and is therefore harmless, but for decades scientists have demonstrated the lethal effects of low level radiation on human beings and their offspring.***

DU is a central component of the U.S. military arsenal.

It is in the tanks, the shells, the bombs. It is used in training as well as in battle. It is almost everywhere the U.S. military stations its troops. Our youth and their loved ones need to know what they face when they go into the military.

Poison DUst is a film that pulls together the crucial information about DU. It includes interviews with veterans contaminated by DU; simple, scientific explanations about the nature of DU and radiation by noted authorities such as nuclear physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, epidemiologist Dr., Sr. Rosalie Bertell and Dr. Helen Caldicott, supplemented by clear, uncomplicated graphics; a visual history of military use of toxic substances affecting troops and target populations; and information about the proliferation of DU. It also discusses what we can do about this crisis.

The full length dvd, released by Lightyear Entertainment in 2006, is available commercially through, Netflix, Amazon.com, Border Books and Leftbooks.com.
Now the producers have compiled a comprehensive Educators Packet of Poison DUst for teachers, parents, veterans, community and anti-war groups, and for use by the youth themselves.

“Students should watch this video because it’s good people know so they can tell their families and let it spread.”

-Shuhana, NYC 12th grader

Order the Poison DUst Educator's Packet at http://www.iacenter.org/DUeducatorpackets.html

The Poison DUst Educators Packet includes:

• A 30 minute educators' version of the DVD Poison DUst suitable for classroom viewing

• An 84 minute, full-length Version of Poison DUst, with additional interviews and information.

• Short “primers” and articles with background information and resources

• An online bibliography, with links to a multitude of resources for class projects and research papers through the Poison DUst website, http://www.poisondust.com. Also on the website is a link to the Depleted Uranium Education Project (http://www.iacenter.org/depleted/du.htm ), and full chapters from the book, Metal of Dishonor (http://www.iacenter.org/depleted/mettoc.htm ).

• A set of detailed lesson plans for use with a range of audiences and presentation lengths. Some of the lesson plans were developed by NYC teachers and 12th grade students. Not only were the lessons integrated into their high school curriculum, the students themselves then enthusiastically and creatively brought their new knowledge into their communities.

• The students’ DU Outreach Project is also documented in the packet.

• A Photo Gallery of pictures for mounting on chart paper on walls around a room. Students can look at the pictures and captions and write their reactions as part of an introduction before viewing Poison DUst.

• Brainstorming ideas by students and teachers for other possible uses of Poison DUst, as well as student questions and comments.

Order the Poison DUst Educator's Packet at http://www.iacenter.org/DUeducatorpackets.html

* Vet's Ills Mounting Fast, by Juan Gonzales, Published on Tuesday, February 7, 2006 by the New York Daily News - "Nearly 120,000 veterans - more than one of every four who served in Iraq and Afghanistan - have already sought treatment at Veterans Health Administration hospitals for a wide range of illnesses, according to an internal study the VHA completed late last year." http://www.democracynow.org/static/Vets.shtml

**Flounders, Sara, "Another War Crime? Iraqi Cities 'Hot' with Depleted Uranium", 2003 http//www.PoisonDUst.org

*** Nichols, Bob, ‘Depleted, it ain’t! So-called depleted uranium, that is!’, 5/31/2005, Project Censored Award Winner & Online Journal Contributing Writer http//www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/053105Nichols/ 053105nichols.html

****Iraqi cancers, birth defects blamed on U.S. depleted uranium. By LARRY JOHNSON SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER FOREIGN DESK EDITOR ...
seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/95178_du12.shtml - 44k - May 26, 2007 -


Headlines from Democracynow

- 25 Killed, 100 Wounded as Palestinian In-Fighting Soars
- UN Mideast Envoy: US Hampering Peace Efforts
- Bombing of Iraqi Shiite Shrine Raises Escalation Fears
- Commander: Iraq Will Need Long-Term U.S. Military Ties
- Red Cross Urges NATO on Afghan Strikes
- Nuremberg Prosecutor Criticizes Gitmo Trials
- ACLU Files Suit Over Deported U.S. Citizen
- Officer Accused in New Orleans Beating Commits Suicide
- Moore, California Nurses Rally to Call for End to For-Profit Health Care



Tell It, Gravel!

Published on Sunday, June 10, 2007 by the Progressive Magazine
Maverick Mike Gravel

by Joe Lauria

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel is running for President in the Democratic primaries. At seventy-six, he has been out of politics for two and a half decades. Now he wants back in. And he’s making his strong opposition to the Iraq War the centerpiece of his longshot effort to win the nomination.Gravel’s outspoken performance at the first Democratic Presidential debate in South Carolina on April 26 brought him some instant attention.

Gravel said from the podium that the Democrat frontrunners “frightened” him with their refusal to rule out the use of even nuclear weapons against Iran. “Tell me, Barack, who do you want to nuke?” Gravel asked Senator Obama.
“Our leaders are promoting delusional thinking when boasting that the United States and Americans are superior to the rest of the world,” says the Democratic Presidential candidate.

By the next morning, “the Internet was abuzz with Gravelmania-blogs were burbling and clips showing his debate highlights were circulating online,” reports the New York Daily News.

Gravel was merely echoing a position he’s been stating for months, only this time the media could not ignore him. He told the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in February that because of the “extreme importance of any decision to go to war,” anybody who voted for it “is not qualified to hold the office of President.”

Though the Democrats controlled the Senate at the time of the vote, “the fear of opposing a popular warrior President on the eve of a midterm election prevailed,” he said. “Political calculations trumped morality, and the Middle East was set ablaze. The Democrats lost in the [2002] election anyway, but the American people lost even more.”

Gravel says implicit in Congress’s power to declare war is the power to end it, so he wants Congress to pass a law declaring the Iraq War over and shame a filibustering Republican minority into submission.

“It goes to Bush. He has two choices: End the war or veto it. Obviously he’ll veto it because the good God told him to invade and keep it going, so God trumps the Congress,” Gravel says.

Gravel thinks Bush should be criminally indicted. “He lied to the American people and it has cost us more than 3,000 people,” he says. “They have manipulated the powers of government and thousands of people have perished. Until you do that, our leaders will never be disciplined. They will feel like they can get away with anything.”

For Gravel, opposing a foolish war is nothing unusual. He cosponsored a resolution in the Senate to cut off funding of the Vietnam War. And on June 29, 1971, even as he was hooked up with a colostomy bag and was hauling two large, black-leather valises, he entered the Senate on a new mission against that war.

“I went onto the floor with the flight bags and put them next to my chair,” says Gravel. “Muskie comes over to me and asks, ‘What the hell have you got there? The Pentagon Papers?’ ”

Maine Senator Ed Muskie was on target. Daniel Ellsberg had given Gravel the top-secret Pentagon study detailing government deception in the Vietnam War, which had been published a few days earlier in The New York Times. But the Nixon Justice Department had then shut down further publication with a prior restraint order.

Without a quorum, Gravel was forced into a basement conference room for an emergency session of his Building and Grounds Committee. Gravel read from the Papers until just after midnight on June 30, when he broke down in tears, emotionally distraught over what his country was doing in Vietnam. He de facto declassified more than 4,000 pages. Later that day, the Supreme Court reversed the prior restraint against all publishers but indicated that they would be at risk if they continued to publish.

Gravel not only released the Pentagon Papers and filibustered an end to the draft, he also spearheaded the opposition in the Senate to nuclear weapons testing in Alaska, an issue that led to the creation of Greenpeace. His iconoclastic stands against the draft, government secrecy, American adventurism, and corporate dominance and for public financing of elections, national government by popular ballot initiative, a universal single-payer health care voucher plan, and a national sales tax were essentially laid out while he was still in the Senate. But he believes current times have resurrected those positions and refurbished his relevance.

After emerging from his disillusionment with representative government that stemmed from his 1980 loss in the primaries to State Representative Clark Gruening, Gravel worked in real estate and finance.

He then began a foundation for the study of direct democracy in America. He consulted constitutional experts and conducted ten years of research to come up with what he calls the National Initiative for Democracy. It would greatly expand the power of the initiative process for direct passage of legislation on both the state and federal level.

Gravel says he decided to run for President after a friend suggested it was the only way to get publicity for direct democracy and for his other major issue: what he calls the “fair tax,” which would tax all goods and services at 23 percent. This turns some liberals off. But Gravel says his tax would be cushioned by a “prebate”-every citizen would receive a monthly government check to help offset life’s basic costs.

Calling himself a maverick, Gravel says, “I am not far left. I’m not far right. I’m eclectic.”

He is for a carbon tax on energy companies to fund an international scientific consortium to find alternative energy sources, and he wants to build a nationwide high-speed railway system. He also backs gay marriage and the legalization of drugs. He believes that marijuana should be sold in liquor stores, and that harder drugs should be dispensed only by a doctor’s prescription.

But Gravel’s foreign policy agenda is what sets him apart from the other Democratic Presidential contenders, except perhaps for Dennis Kucinich.

“We have a military presence in 140 countries,” says Gravel, who opposes an aggressive American empire. “Who the hell are we? Who are we afraid of? Are we that paranoid?”

He is the anti-candidate, pricking Americans’ exaggerated opinion of themselves, an opinion that the other candidates, the media, and the schools constantly reinforce. Gravel thinks America can change only by dispelling its comforting myth of exceptionalism.

“Our leaders are promoting delusional thinking when boasting that the United States and Americans are superior to the rest of the human race. We are no better and no worse,” he says, in a highly unusual pitch for a candidate.

Gravel says “we’re number one” is a hollow slogan when the United States is actually number thirty-seven in health care and when 30 percent of students fail to graduate high school.

On the other hand, the United States is number one, he points out, in the production of weapons, consumer spending, government, commercial, and personal debt, the number of prisoners, energy consumption, and environmental pollution.

Gravel’s platform would make him a mainstream Social Democrat in Europe. But in America, he’s seen as either confused or mad.

Even emissaries of foreign governments dismiss him. Asked what he thought of Gravel, an ambassador from a Central American nation told me: “He’s slightly more serious than Pat Paulsen, right?”

Until the South Carolina debate, the American mainstream media ignored him, except for the occasional swipe.

“The larger disaster was the long harangue of former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, a strident critic of almost everything and promoter of a folly-a national initiative process- not even a deranged blogger could love. Someone has to give him the hook before the real debates begin,” wrote The Washington Post’s David Broder, the dean of American political reporters, about Gravel’s speech before the Democratic National Committee in February.

CNN, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and a local television station initially bought Broder’s advice and said they would exclude Gravel from a June debate. CNN said in a written statement that Gravel was not invited because he hadn’t shown “measurable public support.” (According to a mid-March Harris Poll, Gravel, Kucinich, and Senators Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd all had support in the single digits.) But after Gravel’s performance in the South Carolina debate, CNN reversed course and invited Gravel, after all.

© 2007 The Progressive Magazine


Urgent--Call or Write

ACTION ALERT-Call or write your congressional representative
requesting removal of recently added Sec. 123 in the 2007 Farm Bill draft that
would prevent states and counties from determining whether genetically
modified crops can be grown.

The biotech industry and agribusiness have been pushing similar state
bills, but now they are trying to hide it in the very lengthy Farm Bill.
Please write to the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture,
Collin C. Peterson, MN and other members of that committee. You can view
the list of committee members at:

Many house members prefer that you contact them via their web site.

Sample letter to members of the House Committee on Agriculture

(You can cut and paste this letter or modify as you choose)

Subject: No preemptive language in the Farm Bill to override local
democratically-passed laws that protect citizens from risky foods

Dear (name of representative);

I write to strongly oppose the pre-emptive language of Section 123
"Effect of USDA Inspection and Determination of Non-Regulated Status," in
the House Farm Bill inserted by the subcommittee on Livestock, Diary and
Poultry on May 24.

This language in the Farm Bill would preempt the rights of states and
localities to pass regulations regarding food or agricultural products
or methods that the USDA has granted "non-regulated status."

STATUS. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no State or
locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that
the Secretary of Agriculture has:

(1.) inspected and passed; or

(2.) determined to be of non-regulated status."

If included in the Farm Bill, this would negate all current state and
local safety laws, including laws on genetically engineered crops and
organisms. Hiding this provision in the Farm Bill without full public
debate would negate the will of voters who have decided that precautions
should be taken until genetically engineered agricultural products can
be proven safe.

I urge you to oppose any language in the Farm Bill that would preempt
state and local rights to make democratic decisions to protect their own
health, food safety, and agricultural production.


(Your name)