Friday, June 06, 2008


Over o­ne hundred million trees and forty billion gallons of water are wasted every year printing the unwanted postal clutter known as junk mail, not to mention the untold quantities of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, that are produced transporting it.

Mother Earth News reports while the direct mailers who produce and distribute those 40 million tons of sales pitches take in over $200 billion annually, taxpayers bear the burden of some $320 million to cart their unsolicited promos, pleas, and promises to and from incinerators, garbage dumps (on land and sea), and recycling centers. Sixty-eight million trees and 28 billion gallons of water (and the animals who lived there) are used to produce each year's crop of catalogs and come-ons.

And no one ones the crap.

If you're like me, and I bet you are, junk mail heads directly to your recycle bin (or your trash).

A waste of time is wasting the planet.

Did you know the U.S. Postal Service can't even deliver all the mail that comes through the system? Each year it discards about 317,000 tons -- that's right, tons -- of undeliverable junk mail.


An editorial in the Roanoke Times tells us, "Members of the Direct Marketing Association send about 80 percent of all standard mail. Think about that. The good men and women of the United States Postal Service daily slog through rain, sleet, snow and ice to deliver -- drum roll, please -- mostly junk mail!"

Something should be done about these people.

And the crap is everywhere.

Dutch households are receiving ever-larger quantities of door-to-door flyers in their mailboxes. Last year, a total of 12.5 billion flyers were distributed, a 20 percent increase over 2006.

Wales received an estimated 191 million items of junk mail in the past 12 months, according to a new survey. Another 2.6 million were sent to dead Welsh people.

Even when you die, you won't be safe.


The following is from Forest Ethics.

Support a Do Not Mail Registry!

Just as the Do Not Call Registry freed Americans from telemarketers, a Do Not Mail Registry would give us the choice to stop junk mailers from violating our privacy, wasting our time and damaging the environment.
Go to for further information and to sign petition.


Following the anti-Roma line of the what I would call pretty damn close to fascist, Italian government, vigilante attackers in late May set fire to shacks where Gypsies lived on the outskirts of the Italian city of Naples. The Naples arson attacks were apparently co-ordinated by clans of the Camorra, the Naples Mafia.

Today the State is doing pretty much the same in the capital. The government earlier this morning launched an assault on a Roma camp and chased out its residents.

When the new Cabinet of Silvio Berlusconi, who won a sweeping election victory in April, met in Naples last month, it set forth what it called an emergency decree on crime and immigration, but which was pretty much targetting the Roma community in Italy (for the time being anyway).

The Berlusconi coalition combines his Forza Italia with the anti-immigrant Northern League and the “post-Fascist” Alleanza Nazionale. All agree with Berlusconi that “Italians have the right not to live in fear” - which means targeting those who make Italians afraid.

Apparently Italians are afraid of the gypsies.

Eighty thousand Roma are legal Italian citizens, having fled from oppression, starvation, and unemployment in their "home" countries. Most Italian-based gypsies have been in the country for years, if not decades, and rarely have family or friends back in Romania, Bulgaria, or Hungary, where most of them started their wanderings.

Makes no difference to the new fascists in charge of the Italy.

Italian police last month arrested hundreds of suspected "illegal immigrants" in raids across the country. Expulsion orders were issued for several dozen of those detained. More than 100 Italians were also arrested. One raid was on a makeshift camp housing Roma (Gypsies), on the edge of Rome.

And the neo-fascist Italian government has handed Italy a new law which gives mayors power to deny residence to EU citizens who cannot show they have adequate earnings and decent housing, i.e. "get the gypsies out of here."

Earlier this week The United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights, criticized the recent decision of Italy's rightwing government headed by Silvio Berlusconi and his neo-fascist allies to criminalize illegal immigration to Italy as well as for recent attacks on Roma camps.
That condemnation seems toothless.
Others who have experience with fascists, have stepped forward to defend the Roma though so far to little avail.

“There are alarming signs of racism in Italy today,” says Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, who recently visited a gypsy camp to express Jewish solidarity. Jews and Gypsies both ended up in Hitler's concentration camps, he points out. “We have to be on the alert, not only because of what is happening but because of what could happen. First one group is singled out, then another. This must be stopped now.”

The US-based Anti-Defamation League has called on the Italian government to publicly condemn xenophobia against Roma Gypsies (as if).

"We urge the Italian government to publicly condemn xenophobia against Roma and the anti-Roma rhetoric that fosters an atmosphere in which attacks like those in Milan and Naples can be possible," said Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director.
Since it is the Italian government which is fanning the flames of racism calling on it to "condemn xenophobia" seems naive.

What is going on today in Italy is downright nasty.

The right wing election victory last month, which included the election of Rome’s first right-wing mayor since World War II and the stiffest rejection ever of communists, was part of a significant shift in favor of the Italian political right, composed of restyled former Fascists, anti-immigrant forces and traditional conservatives.

Umberto Bossi and three other members of his Northern League party were given choice seats in the new Cabinet, including control of the Interior Ministry, which oversees police and most domestic security.

Bossi is responsible for statements such as: “Illegal immigrants must be hunted, either in a friendly or a hostile manner. At some point there comes a moment when force must be used.” Bossi triggered a storm in 2003 when a newspaper quoted him as saying that immigrants arriving in Italy by boat should be stopped by a cannon that "blows everyone out of the water".

“All Gypsies must go,” the league’s Davide Boni, an official in the Lombardy regional government, said recently in an interview in his office in Milan.

In this climate, it came as little surprise that the government’s first action has been a harsh police crackdown on the Roma.

The following is from Adnkronos Internationa.

Italy: Government moves to dismantle Gypsy camp

A Roma Gypsy camp that houses 120 people, including 40 children, was being dismantled by Italian authorities in Rome on Friday.

About 40 caravans and tents were being dismantled near the capital's Tiber river in the neighbourhood of Testaccio despite protests from the residents.

Many of the inhabitants of the camp had reportedly been transferred from a camp in the area of Saxa Rubra, also previously dismantled.

"This eviction is particularly scandalous because the people concerned are Italian citizens. They are Kalderash Roma who used to live in the Campo Boario with the city government's approval," said Isabella Clough-Marinaro, a sociologist and Roma expert from the American University of Rome in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

"When they were evicted from there in 2006, the city government said it would find them a decent alternative location. So far, no such alternative has been found."

Recently, the new conservative Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi issued a number of security measures, keeping an electoral pledge to clamp down on illegal immigration and crime.

According to the left-wing Italian politician, Rita Bernardini, the government's latest move is in clear violation of the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

"The dismantling of the camp in Testaccio violates the (treaty)....ratified by Italy.....which forbids the dismantling without providing people alternative housing," said Bernardini, opposition politician and joint-Chairwoman of the Italian Radicals Party.

The city's new Roma commissioner, Carlo Mosca, said on Friday that the Roma Gypsies would be 'monitored', and a 'census' would be carried out.

In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday, Mosca said that Roma Gypsies would also be fingerprinted and photographed and this would allow the authorities to identify them.

Responding to Mosca's comments, Clough-Marinaro said that the census of Roma camps would be discriminatory because it targets a single ethnic group for special surveillance and security measures.

"Its main purpose is to scare the Roma into leaving the city and to prepare the ground for mass deportations," she told AKI.

Mosca was appointed as special Roma Gypsy commissioner for Rome and surrounding areas. His new powers include the power to move Roma Gypsy camps and to keep legal Gypsies under surveillance.

Mosca concluded saying that no new camps would be created but it was unclear whether he referred to legal or illegal camps.

"We do not intend to create new discomfort in other areas and provinces outside Rome. We must solve the problem with what we already have and not create new settlements that can spark new protests," concluded Mosca.

In May police had to evacuate two Roma Gypsy camps in the low-income Ponticello suburb of the southern city of Naples before it was torched by a mob.

The mob attacked the camp after a teenage Roma Gypsy girl allegedly attempted to kidnap an Italian baby.

Tens of thousands of Roma Gypsies have entered Italy in the past few years since Slovakia and Romania joined the European Union, and they are being blamed by many Italians for much of the recent rise in crime rates.

Many Roma Gypsies come from Romania and of the 150,000 Roma gypsies who live in Italy, about 70,000 have Italian citizenship.

Also, in the northern Italian city of Milan, a census was carried out on Friday in the camp of Via Impastato. All inhabitants were identified and will reportedly receive a card allowing access to the camp.

A protest to defend the rights of the Roma Gypsies and Sinti Gypsy community was scheduled to take place in Rome on Sunday.

Rights group Amnesty International and the Anti-Defamation League, both recently attacked Italy for its treatment of Roma Gypsies and illegal immigrants.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Another prominent activist has been arrested in Myanmar.

The man, Zarganar,Zarganar, also known as Ko Thura (pictured here), the country's best known comedian, was arrested at his house in Rangoon.

His crime appears to be that he has been providing relief to the many poor people impacted by last month's cyclone.

Friends said he also faced prosecution for mocking comments made by the Junta about aid to victims of the cyclone.

According to the Democratic Voice of Burma Rangoon’s Western District police commissioner and other local officials came to Zarganar’s house at 8pm on Wednesday.

“There were nine of them, including the Western District police chief, five officers from police special branch and two Ward PDC members,” the comedian’s family member said.

“They showed up at 8pm and searched the whole house until 10.45pm. Then they took him away; they said they would be holding him for a while.”

The authorities also confiscated a computer, VCDs of Rambo 4, a CD of the wedding of senior general Than Shwe’s daughter, CDs about the lives destroyed by Cyclone Nargis, 30 Foreign Exchange Certificates and two ledger books from Zarganar’s house.

“The police chief said they would take Ko Thura in for two days to investigate if he has been involved in any political activity,” the family member told DVB.

In a recent interview with The Irrawaddy, Zarganar said the authorities had tried to interfere with his relief missions.

“At the beginning, we took risks, and we had to move forward on our own. Sometimes we had confrontations with the authorities,” he said. “For example, they asked us why we were going on our own without consulting them and wanted us to negotiate with them. They said they couldn't guarantee our lives.”

The following is from Asia News it.

Famous Burmese actor arrested for helping cyclone victims

He brought vital aid to the victims of cyclone Nargis and he spoke with International media denouncing junta corruption in Myanmar, this was why yesterday evening the country’s most famous comic actor, Zarganar, was arrested. The news was broken this morning by The Irrawaddy, citing sources close to the artist. Around 22.30 nine officials took him into custody The officials searched Zarganar’s Tangon home and seized his computer and CD’s documenting the disaster zones ( in the Irrawaddy and Yangon divisions)as well as thousands of dollars in cash which he had collected for survivors. The artist had already been arrested in October 2007. On that occasion he had publically sided in favour of the Buddhist monks peaceful protests which were bloodily repressed.

The authorities reportedly said Zarganar would be held for two or three days for questioning about the sources of the money he collected for cyclone victims. Friends said he also faced prosecution for mocking an article in the state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar, which said cyclone survivors could exist on what they could scavenge in the countryside rather than on “chocolate bars” from western air groups.

Zarganar organized relief missions into the cyclone-hit areas and returned with personal accounts of the terrible hardship he had encountered there. He recruited more than 400 volunteers and divided them into groups of helpers, who took aid to 42 villages, some of which had until then received no help at all after the cyclone. He ignored official instructions not to talk to the foreign press, who valued him as a reliable source of information about the situation in the Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon Division. According to some the regime is trying to disrupt the aid process. By arresting Zarganar, the authorities are hoping to intimidate other helpers and donors.


Following up on Tuesday Oread Daily article "THE LAWSON FILE: DADGUMMIT ALL, LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE FOR ONCE" Minnesota regulators today decided not to decide about a proposed coal power plant in South Dakota.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the delay came after a representative for the five utilities wanting to build Big Stone II said deferring the decision wouldn't necessarily kill the project.

Two members of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission were ready to approve transmission lines that would connect to the plant to west-central Minnesota. Three others have said they aren't ready to approve the lines.

Approval of the lines is necessary for the project to move forward.

The vote was 3-2 to defer a decision until the commission can hear from an outside independent expert about the cost of carbon emissions and natural gas.


It never ceases to amaze me that there are Jews out there who can overlook the obvious anti-Semitism of those on the religious right like John Hagee just because they spout some support (based in a vision of Armageddon) for the state of Israel. These folks believe that Jesus can return only after Armageddon, and to this end it is best if Israel continues to be at war?

These are Jews who would apparently sell their soul for some right wing political agenda that they happen to be pushing.

As one Jew to another, you people make me sick!

The outrageous statement by Reverend Hagee is an example of extremist views that are being ignored by those who laud the support Israel gets from evangelicals.

As you know Hagee argues, Hitler and the Holocaust, were part of a divine plan to expel Jews from Europe and bring them to the Land of Israel. It was written about and prophesized in the Bible, Hagee says. How will God restore Jews to their homeland? asks Hagee. The answer: "through fishermen and hunters. A hunter is the one who comes with a gun and forces you; Hitler was a hunter."

And this guy is welcome by the likes of AIPAC.

And unfortunately it isn't just AIPAC.

An official from the American Jewish Committee recently would not criticize Pastor John Hagee for his comments about Hitler as a "hunter" sent by God to drive European Jews to Palestine.

Then there is Joe Lieberman who will speak at a July conference hosted by the pastor, "Christians United for Israel," in Washington.

According to the AP, Lieberman said that "while Hagee's comments were unacceptable and hurtful, he will judge him on his life work fighting anti-Semitism and building bridges between Christians and Jews."

Joe, in addition to everything else wrong with you, you are a dope.

By the way this reverend has been making anti-Semitic statements (and anti-Catholic ones, as well) for years.

Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of us Jews aren't as stupid as these misleaders of ours. We know what these schmucks are all about. We've no use for them.

A sermon by Rabbi Jonathan Biatch (a supporter of the state of Israel) of Temple Beth El in Madison, Wisconsin, in August, 2007 laid it all out:

"The normative viewpoints of both Christianity and Judaism both look toward the coming of the Messianic Era. Christianity prays for the Second Coming; Judaism hopes for the Messiah to arrive – as our liturgy says – ‘speedily, and in our day.”

This is all well and good, and through our worship and religious observances we pray that whatever the nature of the Next World, or as we call it in Hebrew, the Olam Habah, it will be good for all of us."

Those who call themselves Christian Zionists in this era do not simply PRAY for the return of the Christian Messiah. They have lobbied our government to actualize and hasten Armageddon, that prophesied battle that will presage the coming of the Messiah."

And they do it through their agitating for war with Iran."

One of the most prominent Christian Zionist groups these days is Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Its leader’s name is Pastor John Hagee, a charismatic preacher who has predicted that this ‘end-times’ battle of Armageddon will take place within a modern-day confrontation with Iran."

In the summer of 2006, during the Israel – Hezbollah war, Pastor Hagee and his organization – which claims to represent 50 million evangelical Christians in this country – lobbied our government against imposing a diplomatic solution during the early stages of the war. They were hoping that Israel and Hezbollah’s battles would eventually bring Syria and Iran actively into the fighting, thereby resulting in the Armageddon they seek."

Pastor Hagee advocates striking Iran also because of its animosity toward Israel, and because Iran is, in Hagee’s view, the spawning ground of radical Islam, an enemy to both Israel and the United States."

I do not deny that the current president of Iran represents a serious threat to Israel; he would decimate us immediately had he the means to do so."

No: My real fear regarding Pastor Hagee’s approach is that he and his 50 million followers would push our government toward an unnecessary and pre-mature confrontation through which, they believe, they would attain Christian religious fulfillment."

In my view, such a crusade would result in far greater death and destruction than we could imagine."

We Jews see things with different eyes. The prophet Isaiah, for example, describes the so-called ‘end of days’ in decidedly different terms. He writes:

'It shall come to pass in the last of days, that the mountain of the Eternal God’s house shall be established above all mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall go and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Eternal, to the house of the God of Jacob; and God will teach us God’s divine ways, and we will walk in God’s paths; for from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Eternal from Jerusalem." And God shall judge among the nations, and shall decide for many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they ever again train for war” (Isaiah 2:2-4)'"

What a vision! Lofty, peaceful. A Messianic era heralded and conducted by a desire to draw near to God’s learning and instruction, and marked by a DISMANTLING of machines of war."

...One other aspect of Pastor Hagee’s philosophy concerns me, and that is his maligning of Islam."

If he were only to condemn RADICAL Islam, or Islamism, as a perversion of Islam, we might be able to agree with him."

But in sermons that Pastor Hagee has given, he questions whether Islam is a religion of peace,1 and he questions the patriotism of American Muslims."

He cites, for example, some of the bellicose statements found in the Koran, and therefore concludes that Islam is not a religion of peace."

I seem to recall a few war-like verses in the Hebrew bible. We, Muslims and Jews, share this trait. Yet no one I know would label Judaism as anything other than a religion that strives for peace."

He also asserts that 82% of American Muslims did not support the first Gulf War with Iraq, and therefore were disloyal Americans."

If a similar poll were taken of American Jews regarding the current war in Iraq, I might guess that a large majority of American Jews would likely express very similar attitudes. Would that cause Pastor Hagee to label us Jews as disloyal Americans as well?"

The following is from the Jewish Daily Forward.

Hagee’s a No-Show at Israel Lobby Meet, But He Has Plenty of Friends There

Controversial evangelical leader Pastor John Hagee did not attend this week’s annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but the continuing support he enjoys within the pro-Israel community was nevertheless on display.

Just two weeks ago, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement due to the pastor’s past controversial comments about the Holocaust and the Catholic Church. But in a closed-door, off-the-record session at the Aipac conference devoted to the topic of evangelical support for Israel, there was plenty of enthusiasm for the embattled pastor among those who crowded into a Washington Convention Center meeting room.

Speakers at the session, titled “Friends in Faith: Evangelical Christians and the Pro-Israel Movement,” included Gary Bauer, president of American Values; John Buhler, founder of Christian Advocates for Israel; and David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, the group led by Hagee.

“I want to take a moment to discuss with you a good man, evangelical pastor John Hagee,” Brog said to the audience. Before Brog could finish the sentence, the crowd broke into a lengthy round of applause, ending in a standing ovation. Among the few attendees who did not cheer at the mention of Hagee’s name was Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who has occasionally been critical of the ties between the Jewish community and Christian Zionists.

“It was a heart-warming sign for me,” Brog told the Forward later, adding that it indicated to him that the pro-Israel community still strongly supports Hagee.

Leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism spearheaded the criticism of Hagee last month, after it emerged that in past sermons the pastor had portrayed the Holocaust as an attempt by God to force Jews to move to Israel.

Last year, Hagee was one of the keynote speakers at the Aipac policy conference and was warmly welcomed by attendees. According to Brog, Hagee was invited to join this year’s conference as a participant but could not attend due to his busy schedule.


The truth is way out there and the truth is that now the so called pro-life fanatics want to outlaw the birth control pill. A mainstay in women's reproductive freedom since the 60s is under attack by a bunch of nuts who have nothing better to do then creep in to the bedrooms of every American and issue a seal of approval or disapproval on whatever is going on there.

Give me a break already.

Pro-lifers led by the American Life League (ALL) are planning June 7 protests outside of facilities that distribute the pill because they say the pill kills babies and is just another form of abortion.

Where am I?

Marie Hahnenberg, Project Manager of Protest the Pill Day says, “Pro-lifers understand that life does in fact begin at fertilization and the birth control pill kills babies.”

The fact that such proclamations are medical hogwash doesn't really matter to these people. They've got an agenda to promote. On their website amongst other gems are the following:

The regular birth control pill is a “chemical abortion.”

The pill “can make a woman more susceptible to the AIDS virus.”

And “sexual activity outside of marriage is seriously wrong.”

As you'd expect ALL does not believe abortion should be allowed in any instance, including protecting the life of the woman, rape, or incest.

ALL's commander in chief Judie Brown resigned from the National Right to Life Committee because its leadership decided to make exceptions for rape and incest for abortion; Brown says exceptions "can never be morally justified" and that "expert medical opinion" insists "abortion can never be necessary to save the life of the mother."

But what else could a woman who has also said a, "single cell zygotic child" is "not a potential human being; she is a complete human being," believe.

All out for zygotes!

And what about Sex education. The SF Chronicle way back in 2001 reported:

"...the group contends sex education, must be "built on absolute truth. There are absolute standards of right and wrong, and no one has the 'right to choose' immorality." The only sex ed programs that ALL will tolerate are those that lead students toward "the practice of virtue and that avoid examining the subject of sex in any concrete, detailed or descriptive way in the classroom or other public setting."'

People for the American Way says ALL founded by Judie and Paul Brown with help from right-wing strategist Paul Weyrich is closely aligned with the Catholic Church and opposes birth control, stem cell research and euthanasia. ALL was an enthusiastic backer of the extreme anti-abortion tactics promoted by Operation Rescue.

It was one year ago today that Erik Whittington, American Life League's youth outreach director summed up her organizations mission in a press release as ALL demonstrated at a Sojourners conference, "This past weekend, Sojourners opened Pentecost 2007: Taking Vision to the Street, a conference aimed at placing “poverty at the top of our nation’s agenda.” Today, Sojourners will host a march that will run from National City Christian Church to the Upper Senate Park. American Life League, through its youth outreach project Rock for Life, will be there to present to conference attendees the importance of putting abortion, not poverty, at the top of the list of social concerns."

You wouldn't think they'd be so stupid as to openly reveal their agenda, but, when you're speaking on behalf on the Almighty, well, what can I say.

I almost have to be glad to see ALL these fools out protesting and spouting their line. It once and for all exposes what the so called pro-life movement is all about.

In that vein, I'd encourage everyone to check out their website at .

The following is from

No, Virginia, the Pill does NOT "Kill": How the Latest Anti-Roe Strategy Misleads Women
Contributed by Dr. Dana Stone, MD

Many people who agree with anti-choice advocates in the abortion debate may not be so comfortable with the more radical subgroup whose goal is abolishing access to birth control. The American Life League (ALL) plans to commemorate June 7th, the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling establishing the right of married couples to make the personal decision to use birth control, as "Protest the Pill Day."

As a practicing doctor, and an OB/GYN, I'd like to point out that the primary claims on ALL's "The Pill Kills" Web site -- that birth control pills are a form of "chemical abortion" able to "kill innocent preborn children" -- are 100% medically inaccurate. And most of the others have been cherry picked from the drug insert the FDA requires with the pill, then spun in a way that is purposely misleading. (More about that later.)

That's because ALL's work has absolutely nothing to do with medical accuracy or maternal or fetal health. What we're seeing here is just the latest round in a grudge match that's been going on since 1965, the year that SCOTUS decided Griswold v. Connecticut.

This landmark case established the constitutional right to privacy as the basis for striking down a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives. Eight years later, in 1973, it underpinned the SCOTUS decision in Roe v. Wade, which held that most laws against abortion in the United States violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

And that's what's really bugging ALL.

We now face fringe movements trying to turn a woman's egg into a baby, birth control pills into a form of abortion, and all forms of contraception into murder. Call it nostalgia for the good old days, when men were men, sex was unspeakable, and women lived in fear of unintended pregnancies.

Let's get the medical facts straight. Birth control pills use two different mechanisms to prevent the release of an egg each month. Other effects of the pill can either reduce sperm motility or thin the uterine lining -- all simply to keep a fertilized egg from implanting if ovulation does occur.

There. That's it. That's the basis of ALL's claim that the pill is equivalent to "chemical abortion": more colorfully, that hundreds of millions of such losses have occurred within a 30-year span.

But that number, like the myth of "chemical abortion," is a complete fabrication: 30-60% of all pregnancies are spontaneously and naturally lost in the first three months -- half of them so early that they are unrecognizable as pregnancies. So there's no way that ALL can possibly quantify how often it allegedly occurs due to the use of birth control pills.

Equally sketchy is ALL's claim that birth control pills are "absolutely" dangerous to women's health. Yes, pills can have some dangerous side effects. That's why women are required to visit a doctor before getting a prescription, and encouraged to make follow-up visits. But ALL -- this time conveniently skirting the information on the FDA insert -- doesn't mention that women ages 15-39 have up to 20 times higher risk of death from pregnancy than from using birth control pills.

Or that the medical benefits of being on the pill are proven. Studies have shown that the pill can reduce uterine and ovarian cancer risks by 50%. It also protects against tubal pregnancy, pelvic infections, anemia, endometriosis, and other gynecological problems. By contrast, the federal government's Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data showed that 12% of pregnant women required a hospital stay unrelated to their delivery of at least one day during their pregnancies.

Let's stick with the facts. Women's and children's health improve when a woman has the freedom to plan the number and timing of her children. All birth control methods have consistently been shown to be safer for a woman than pregnancy; meanwhile, multiple, fast-paced pregnancies run demonstrably high risks for pregnancy loss, fetal growth restriction, and infant mortality.

Pro-choice and pro-life advocates alike should understand that the best way to decrease the number of abortions is to make effective contraception available for couples.

Dr. Dana Stone, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who practices in Oklahoma City. She works actively in her specialty and state medical organizations to promote women's health issues.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


What are they trying to hide and who is trying to hide it?

Why is House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes (Democrat) suddenly signing on with the GOP on their plan to rewrite the electronic surveillance laws. That plan would let a secret "court" grant immunity, even for past actions, that are illegal to those big communications companies that helped our President spy on all of us.

The blog Digby's Hullabaloo points out,"There just isn't enough money at stake to explain this. Nobody's suing for the money, they are suing for the discovery. Something bad happened here and the Democrats are helping the Republicans cover it up."

But wait, a senior Reyes aide has now "clarified" his boss’ positions by saying that while Reyes thinks the GOP's proposal introduced by Sen, Kit Bond is a positive one, he remains supportive of Hoyer’s efforts to improve on it.

One guy could end the confusion and that is the newly anointed leader of the Democratic Party - Barack Obama.

Digby (?) on his blog writes:

"Barack Obama could put an end to this today if he wanted. He could tell his colleagues in the House and the Senate that they should not work so hard to codify into law what his opponent (McCain) is calling for - the ability for an executive to secretly spy on Americans."

Seems like something a guy who is all about "change" might do, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the American Civil Liberties Union says the Republican "compromise language" on telecom immunity (ed. - which Reyes thinks is postivie) is not an improvement over the original Senate bill. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court is still not empowered to determine whether the warrantless wiretapping program was legal - just whether the attorney general sent a letter to the companies requesting assistance.

The compromise "just says that the existence of an order — whether legal or not — is enough to dismiss the cases," said Michelle Richardson, a legislative consultant with the ACLU.

Huh? More simply put the Bond "compromise" would handle the existing court cases against the telecom companies' illegal surveillance activities like this.

* If you believe the government is spying on you, and want to bring a court challenge, your case will be heard by a Secret Court.

* The primary concern of the Secret Court will be to confirm that the Attorney General (AG) certified the surveillance.

* If the secret court determines that the AG did in fact certify the surveillance, your case will be dismissed.

As some fellow by the name of Darryl W. Perry puts it at his blog,"The Executive Branch would decide what the Executive Branch should be allowed to do. The AG is, after all, a member of the Executive Branch. So the only role for the Judicial Branch would be to confirm that the Executive Branch really decided to do what it decided to do."

Oh by the way, the FISA Court membership is chosen (from the ranks of sitting Federal Judges) by the Chief Justice.

If that doesn't make you feel better, then you must be some sort of commie scum.

The following is from Congress Daily.

House Chairman Open To Republican Compromise On FISA
by Chris Strohm

The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat disclosed late Tuesday that he is ready to accept a Republican-brokered deal to rewrite the nation's electronic surveillance laws, signaling that a long-running congressional impasse could soon be coming to an end.

House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes told CongressDaily that he is "fine" with language offered by Senate Intelligence ranking member Christopher (Kit) Bond and other Republicans to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Notably, the GOP language, which was offered a day before the recent congressional recess, would leave it up to the secret FISA court to grant retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have helped the Bush administration conduct electronic surveillance on the communications of U.S. citizens without warrants.

About 40 civil lawsuits already have been filed against the companies. The administration, Bond and other Republicans had backed a Senate-passed FISA bill that would have shielded the telecom firms from the lawsuits upon enactment.

"It's about finding middle ground and we have middle ground," Reyes said of the compromise offered by Republicans. "It's not going to please everyone but let's get on with it."

Reyes said he believes enough Democrats will support the proposal to pass it in the House.

But he said House Majority Leader Hoyer told him that House Democratic leaders want to have the liability of the telecoms reviewed in federal district court as opposed to the FISA court.

A senior Reyes aide clarified his boss' positions by saying that while Reyes thinks Bond's proposal is a positive one, he remains supportive of Hoyer's efforts to improve on it.

A FISA reform bill passed by the House earlier this year would have had the cases heard in district court.

Efforts to obtain comment from Hoyer's office were unsuccessful at presstime and Reyes' assertion that the GOP language would pass the House could not be confirmed.

Public interest groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized the GOP language on the immunity issue, saying it does not empower the FISA court to determine if the administration or the telecom firms broke the law. They say the court review would be too limited to give plantiffs in the lawsuits a fair hearing.

On another issue, the proposed GOP compromise would require the administration to submit its procedures and certifications to the FISA court for review before surveillance could begin, except in exigent circumstances. This would apply to wiretaps involving the communications of a U.S. citizen inside the United States.

Republicans also have said they will accept, for the most part, language from House Democrats making FISA the exclusive means for conducting wiretaps to collect foreign intelligence. House Speaker Pelosi has said that having such language in a final FISA bill is her top priority.

And Republicans have agreed to accept a Democratic demand that the inspectors general of the intelligence agencies conduct audits of the terrorist surveillance program.

The House-passed FISA bill included a provision that would have established an independent commission to investigate the administration's warrantless wiretapping activities.

"We knew we weren't going to get everything, but we need to get this done," Reyes said.


The headquarters of General Motors Canada in Oshawa, Ontario was blockaded early Wednesday by union auto workers protesting the plant's scheduled closure.

Access to the site, east of Toronto, was blocked by as many as 30 trucks, forcing corporate workers to park off site and walk into the building, the Toronto Sun reported.

The protest was organized by the Canadian Auto Workers union Local 222, angered over GM's announcement Tuesday it will close the plant in the third quarter of 2009 along with two in the United States and one in Mexico.

Union leader Buzz Hargrove charges General Motors of Canada has breached a contract by planning to close its Oshawa truck plant next year.

Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said that decision clearly violates a contract commitment of less than three weeks ago to keep the operation open.

An angry Hargrove said GM made written commitments for future truck production and a new generation of models at the plant beyond 2011, and is now "illegally violating" those contract terms.

CAW Local 222 president Chris Buckley said workers overwhelmingly accepted the three-year contract with a wage freeze because of the commitments for future work.

"Can you imagine how our members today feel?" Buckley said. "They're now told by General Motors, `You don't have a job in 2009.' That's absolutely disgraceful of GM."

A seething Buckley placed the blame for the plant's demise squarely at GM's feet.

"It's corporate greed," he told reporters, slamming the manufacturer for the "highest level of betrayal" two weeks after workers signed a three-year contract they believed was a commitment to build the next generation of pickup trucks at their plant.

"They lied to the union and employees and misled the entire world," Buckley said, stressing the trucks will still be built, but in Mexico and the U.S.

"I challenge them to try to take one part of our plant. That truck will not leave Oshawa. We'll fight them to the bitter end."

When plant worker Nigel Drane heard the news yesterday that General Motors planned to halt production of its pickup trucks in Oshawa, Ont., a decision that would leave about 2,600 people out of work, he phoned in sick.

"I told them it was a day of mourning," he said.

The following is from Canadian Press.

Behind bluster of protest, GM workers fearing for their future

OSHAWA, Ont. — Angry General Motors workers put up a defiant front Wednesday as they blockaded the company's corporate offices, a show of protest they hope will help reverse the embattled automaker's decision to mothball a truck plant that employs 2,600 people.

Behind all the placards, flags and shouts of anti-government rhetoric in this auto-manufacturing hotbed, however, loomed the grim reality of an uncertain future - one that Tuesday's sudden bad news has given few GM workers much of a chance to prepare for.

"We try to make light of it, keep a smile on our face, keep our spirits up, (but) I'm pretty sad," said Bob Cain, a 23-year veteran of GM who showed up at the protest in hopes of winning some form of concessions from the company.

Cain, 42, struggled to keep his composure as he spoke about his nine-year-old son Ashton and how he plans to provide for his future.

"I don't know," he said jokingly. "Get a paper route?"

More than 150 workers were at the blockade throughout the day Wednesday, promising to stand their ground until GM either changes its mind about closing the plant next year or agrees to compensate the affected employees, said union spokesman Chris Buckley.

Buckley, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union Local 222, later said GM had agreed to meet Friday in Detroit with senior union leaders. Until then, he said, the protest isn't going anywhere.

"I would have travelled to Detroit this afternoon to meet with them, but apparently they can only meet on Friday morning," he said.

"(Given) the severity of the situation, one would think they'd want to meet as soon as possible to put this issue behind us."

The protest could be just the first step in an ongoing fight against the automaker's plans, although GM plant workers were being told they should continue working, Buckley added.

"We are encouraging our members in the plants to continue to build cars and trucks. We are not asking our members to withdraw our services."

The protest began early Wednesday as a blockade of the GM building, but eventually some corporate employees were allowed to pass and enter the building. Shortly after the business day began, however, GM decided to send its corporate staff home.

General Motors spokesman Stew Low called the protest "understandable" and said the company wasn't looking for police assistance.

"This is a very tough thing for employees to go through and for the union to go through and us as well," Low said.

The company would be willing to meet with the union to explain its decision, which is a reflection of the changing market for more fuel-efficient vehicles, he added.

"We'd love nothing better than to be continuing to build pickup trucks in great volumes, but . . . consumers are moving away from big trucks to cars and smaller crossover vehicles and we're transforming to be a part of that," Low said.

Ontario NDP Leader Howard Hampton arrived in the afternoon to meet with protesters and said companies that receive public money, such as General Motors, should be held accountable for the treatment of their workers.

"Protests like this are a way of saying to companies that we expect companies to live up to their agreements," Hampton said. "We expect companies to respect workers."

The company shouldn't be allowed to take public money, then backpedal on a contract deal negotiated two weeks ago, he added.

The Ontario government plans to try to recoup part of a $175-million provincial loan earlier than planned if GM was found to be violating minimum job levels specified in their agreement.

Premier Dalton McGuinty wouldn't say Wednesday whether he thinks the protest should continue, but said he understands the plight of the workers and respects their right to earn a living.

"This is their livelihood," McGuinty said. "There aren't that many things that are more important than that. It's their ability to feed their families and build a bright future for themselves."

Tracy Ryder, 41, worked for GM for 20 years before she was laid off at Christmas, a move that has forced her to make tough decisions ever since.

All employees can do for now is put faith in their union, Ryder said.

"I've sold my house because of the uncertainty already, and then when I heard the news yesterday about the truck plant closing altogether, I thought, 'Well, I've made the right decision."'

Protesters said they plan to continue their demonstration through the night and possibly the next several days in order to stand up for their jobs and their industry.

It likely won't be enough, said one analyst.

The industry is changing so rapidly that there just isn't demand for the types of vehicles GM's truck line was producing, said Scotiabank economist Carlos Gomes.

"The shift from big vehicles has accelerated quite dramatically," Gomes said, citing a sales decline in trucks of 15 per cent in the first quarter of 2008 alone.

"These types of vehicles are not selling at the moment."

Tuesday's cuts are another blow to the battered manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec, which has been decimated by layoffs and closures in the lumber, auto assembly, textiles and auto parts sectors. A high Canadian dollar and a slump in the United States have squeezed exports in those industries and produced widespread streamlining at the so-called Big Three carmakers - GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Demonstrations against the Iraq war are old hat in Seattle, but this one was a little different. It was led by a contingent of Iraq veterans fresh from a regional Winter Soldier hearing in that city. They were out front of hundreds of others marching through the streets of downtown Seattle on Saturday.

Before the march, at the Seattle Town Hall, some 800 people gathered to hear the testimonies of veterans from Iraq. The event was sponsored by the Northwest Regional Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and endorsed by dozens of local and regional anti-war groups like Veterans for Peace and Students for a Democratic Society.

"I watched Iraqi Police bring in someone to interrogate," Seth Manzel a vehicle commander and machine gunner in the U.S. Army (and pictured here), told the audience. "There were four men on the was pummeling his kidneys with his fists, another was inserting a bottle up his rectum. It looked like a frat house gang-rape."

The Washington University Daily told of another vet, twenty-three-year-old Sergio Kochergin, who served two tours with the 7th Marines as a scout and sniper, and who testified that the dehumanization and racism was institutionalized even before they were in Iraq.

"We were told we'd be deploying to Iraq and that we needed to get ready to have little kids and women shoot at us," Kochergin told the audience. "It was an attempt to portray Iraqis as animals. We were supposed to do humanitarian work, but all we did was harass people, drive like crazy on the streets, pretending it was our city and we could do whatever we wanted to do."

IPS wrote as the other veterans on the panel nodded in agreement, Kochergin testified, "We were constantly told everybody there wants to kill you, everybody wants to get you. In the military, we had racism within every rank and it was ridiculous. It seemed like a joke, but that joke turned into destroying peoples' lives in Iraq."

"I was in Husaiba with a sniper platoon right on the Syrian border and we would basically go out on the town and search for people to shoot," Kochergin said. "The rules of engagement (ROE) got more lenient the longer we were there. So if anyone had a bag and a shovel, we were to shoot them. We were allowed to take our shots at anything that looked suspicious. And at that point in time, everything looked suspicious."

Kochergin added, "Later on, we had no ROE at all. If you see something that doesn't seem right, take them out." He concluded by saying, "Enough is enough, it's time to get out of there."

Former Army Sgt. Joshua Simpson served in Mosul with an intelligence team trying to get information about insurgent forces attacking Americans reported the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

"Ninety-five percent of the people we arrested had nothing to do with the insurgency, but we were still told to interrogate them," Simpson told the crowd.

He'd scream and yell at the prisoners, sometimes reducing them to tears or self-abuse such as hitting their heads repeatedly against the wall. He saw prisoners horribly bruised and bloodied by Iraqi interrogators. He wants the war to end.

The veterans called for better medical support for returning soldiers, saying they'd see friends suffering from untreated post-traumatic stress, leading to suicide, domestic violence and divorce.
"Where is our government when they need them the most?" asked Tracy Malzan, who spoke along with her husband, Seth. "We must talk about these issues every day ... until every service member comes home."

Interestingly when the UW Daily asked Master Sgt. Corey Sanders, senior military science instructor at the UW’s ROTC, what his feelings were about the hearings, the vets who testified and who marched, he replied he defended these former military members’ right to demonstrate against the war. He said he would continue to do so as long they told the truth and did not resort to violence or violate the law.

“Mistreating civilians serves no purpose, as it only makes an already tough job even harder,” Sanders, a soldier of 22 years and veteran of both the Iraq war and Desert Storm, wrote in an e-mail. Soldiers dislike war and have an obligation to report atrocities, he wrote.

And that is exactly what they are doing.

The following is from IPS.

Winter Soldiers Hit the Streets
By Dahr Jamail

SEATTLE, Jun 3 (IPS) - In a clear change of strategy to energise public anti-war sentiment, Iraq veterans led a determined demonstration of hundreds through the streets of downtown Seattle last Saturday, following regional Winter Soldier hearings at the Seattle Town Hall.

A larger Winter Soldier event occurred at the National Labour College in Silver Spring, Maryland from Mar. 13 to Mar. 16 earlier this year. But the strategy for those hearings appeared to be based on keeping the event from being directly affiliated with any demonstrations or anti-war activities in an attempt to reach a broader audience. Those hearings were closed to the public, and no demonstrations or other overtly public actions were tied to the event.

This tactic was apparently meant to draw in more national mainstream media coverage of the event, which, with few exceptions, did not materialise.

Chanan Suarez Diaz, the Seattle Chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), which organised last weekend's event, had told IPS that his chapter, along with others in the northwest region, intended to make a major effort to draw the public into both the testimonials and taking action afterwards.

The Seattle regional Winter Soldier event was open to the public.

A late April poll conducted by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. found that nearly three-quarters (68 percent) of respondents opposed the Iraq war. The strategy of the regional IVAW groups is clearly meant to capitalise on the growing opposition to the occupation of Iraq among the U.S. public.

Christopher Diggins, a psychotherapist who attended the demonstration, reflected the feelings of many -- that this strategy is important.

"This tactic is better because you have to get the community involved," Diggins told IPS. "You have to have community awareness and support."

"I want to show my solidarity for vets who are against the war, because it is the only way this war is going to stop," he added. "It's hard to have the war if nobody is going to fight."

Diggins founded the Soldiers Project Northwest in Washington State ( The project is a group of therapists that volunteer to work one hour per week each with soldiers and their families who need assistance.

Saturday's event found veterans leaving their testimony to lead a crowd directly onto the streets to begin a demonstration. Protestors chanting "U.S. out of the Middle East, No Justice, No Peace," and carrying signs such as "You Can't Be All You Can Be If You're Dead!" stopped traffic for nearly an hour.

"I'm here to support the war resisters," Theresa Mosqueda, a Seattle resident who works on health policy advocacy for children and marched behind members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), told IPS, "They are the core part of ending this war. This is an illegal and immoral war, and the resisters have the power to stop it."

At least one Iraq war veteran joined IVAW as a result of attending the hearings last weekend.

Several of the vets urged onlookers to join the march, and many did as the demonstration passed by Seattle's bustling Pike Place Market.

Nick Spring, a student from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, was one of the marchers. "I came down today because it's a great way to be informed by the vets, support GI resistance, and try to end the war," Spring told IPS.

The regional winter soldier hearings were a smaller event, and there was no national mainstream media coverage. However, there was heavy local and alternative media coverage. At least one of the major Seattle television stations covered the testimonials, as well as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the largest paper in the region.

The group Just Foreign Policy estimates that over 1.2 million Iraqis have died since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003. The Opinion Business Research group in Britain estimates the same number.

According to the U.S. Department of Defence, at least 4,086 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq.

Many of the demonstrators were vets themselves who had just given testimony about their time in Iraq. They included Josh Simpson, Sergio Kochergin, Seth Manzel, Mateo Rebecchi, Jan Critchfield, Doug Connor, and many others.

Children numbered among the demonstrators as well. Nine-year-old Wes Cunningham, accompanied by his father, was asked by IPS why he was in attendance.

"It's a cool march," he said. "And I think it's bad to kill other human beings."

IVAW now boasts over 1,200 members, a 50 percent increase since the March Winter Soldier hearings in Maryland. The fastest growing segment of their membership is active-duty soldiers.


A demonstration by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members in Harare on Wednesday May 28 resulted in the arrest of 13 women and 1 man, all of whom remain in custody and whom were today again denied bail sent back to prison.

The demonstration was held to commemorate Africa Day, mourning the lack of anything to celebrate, and to protest against the political violence being perpetrated in the weeks leading up to the Presidential run-off election of June 27.

Approximately 200 members were stopped by the police as they marched in the street in central Harare carrying placards and distributing flyers. Specific members were targeted for arrest, including Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.

WOZA says all 14 have been charged under s 37 1c (ii) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (formerly part of the Public Order and Security Act) -“Participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of the peace or bigotry”. This offence involves “acting with one or more others,…. intending or realizing that there is a risk of forcibly disturbing the peace, security or order of the public”. Some of those arrested were not participating in the demonstration, but were arrested at gun point while inside a vehicle. They included the driver of the vehicle. The vehicle was seized.

Jenni also has two other charges under the same Act: s 30 - “Causing disaffection among the Police Force or Defence Forces”.

Amnesty International today called for the immediate release of the detainees.

Simeon Mawanza from Amnesty told Southwest Radio Africa the WOZA activists were arrested for simply exercising their right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of speech. In that regard they are considered prisoners of conscience, and the Zimbabwe government has no justification to hold them.

Mawanza also said amnesty was concerned for their safety because the government had denied them bail for the first time. He explained, "This is a new strategy that the government has used since the arrest of the ZCTU leaders, to unreasonably detain human rights defenders in order to harass and frustrate their work."

Mawanza said human rights defenders have historically been tortured in Zimbabwe, and Amnesty believes the denial of bail on Friday is a sign that the women, particularly the 2 leaders, may be in grave danger of torture or other ill-treatment.

The following is from AFP.

Women activists denied bail after Zimbabwe protest

HARARE (AFP) — Thirteen members of a prominent women's rights group detained on a march against violence ahead of Zimbabwe's run-off poll have been denied bail and ordered held in prison, the organisation said Tuesday.

The 12 women and one man from the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), including their outspoken leader Jenni Williams, are due to appear in court again on Friday, said Tafadzwa Mugabe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

They were arrested May 28 during the demonstration in Harare, said London-based rights group Amnesty International which called for their immediate release.

They were marching to the Zambian embassy to deliver a petition over poll-related violence when they were arrested.

Zambia is the current chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has tasked South African President Thabo Mbeki with mediating between President Robert Mugabe's ruling party and the opposition.

Violence has mounted in Zimbabwe since March first round elections that saw opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeat Mugabe, but without enough votes to avoid a run-off.

According to the MDC, more than 50 of its supporters have been killed in attacks by pro-Mugabe militias in recent weeks while tens of thousands have been displaced in order to prevent them from voting.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmaker Ian Kay, arrested last month on public violence charges, was granted bail on Tuesday.

"The high court has granted him 60 billion dollars bail (90 US dollars) after it was upped from 20 billion," Tafadzwa Mugabe said.

Kay, one of the only two white lawmakers, was arrested in Marondera, east of the capital Harare, on May 22 on charges of fanning violence in Mashonaland province.


Protesters are out in Minnesota today at a meeting of the Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in an effort to stop the construction of power lines and a huge coal burning power plant in just across the state line in South Dakota.

The PUC will hear oral arguments today on the findings of two Minnesota judges who ruled that power lines from the new plant should not be built across west-central Minnesota.

The PUC is then expected to decide Thursday whether or not to issue a certificate of need to build transmission lines in Minnesota for the project.

Public News Service says Attorney Beth Goodpaster with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy wants the commission to accept the judges' ruling, which was based on a recommendation by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. She says the power companies have failed to show that another coal plant makes more sense than renewable energy or increased efficiency when it comes to meeting the demand for electricity.

"This type of coal that has been proposed at Big Stone is what is called conventional coal. It's not capable of capturing its carbon dioxide emissions. From that perspective this case is about the end of that technology. And, so, by building a power plant like this right now, you're taking extreme risks about the costs to run the power plant. We think that this is the worst time to make a new investment in coal."

Earlier this year the Minnesota Department of Commerce concluded that the Big Stone II power plant’s utilities had not proven the need for a new, large coal-fired power plant, a conclusion. The department also stated the shareholders, not ratepayers, should pay if the utilities underestimated the cost.

Oppenents of the whole idea also have the support of South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds who argues that the coal plant (Big Stone II and its power lines) will hinder the development of wind power in his state. Governor Rounds says those same power lines could carry 1,000 megawatts of wind power from South Dakota.

Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth and the White Earth Land Recovery Project, agrees with the Gov. She says there's no such thing as clean coal, and she says the Big Stone corporate partners instead should build a 1,000-megawatt wind farm.

These are not the only recognizable voices who are siding with the good folks of the area.

The head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies sent a letter to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty urging him to oppose the Big Stone II power plant as well. Dr. James Hansen questions the decision to build new coal-fired power plants that add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Pawlenty says the plants like Big Stone will only continue to add to the problem of global warming. He says alternative energy sources must be developed right not, not later.

"It is going to require a lot of investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency, and we need to get going on that now. One way you do that is by not building more coal-fired power plants, because that reduces the pressure to do energy efficiency and renewables."

According to Hansen, South Dakota has considerable renewable energy potential. He says it would be smart for the state to get even more aggressive developing its bio-fuel and wind energy resources.

"What we really need to do is have a low-loss electrical grid across the country because we have various renewable energies, some of which are intermittent. You know, eventually we are going to have to go beyond fossil fuels, and that means no carbon emissions. The point is, South Dakota has potential to be a big contributor to that."

The Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe also has something to say about the matter.

On May 9, two Minnesota administrative law judges recommended against building transmission lines to carry power to their state from the proposed coal-burning electric power plant, Big Stone II which Otter Tail Power Company wishes to build in South Dakota, just southeast of Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate's Lake Traverse Reservation. The new plant, by the way, would be right next to an existing coal-fired one, Big Stone I, which began operating in 1975.

''I commend the judges,'' said Office of Environmental Protection Administrator Myrna Thompson, a Sisseton-Wahpeton tribal member upon hearing the ruling. ''Rather than focusing on immediate financial gain, they demonstrated a vision for future generations and the environment.''

Indian Country today reports though Thompson was pleased about the decision and hoped the PUC would be influenced by it, she noted that Native people had been left out of the planning all along. The absence of mandated government-to-government, federal-tribal consultations on the project meant that the tribes' concerns were ignored, she said.

''They're forgetting the impacts on us. Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate is a treaty tribe. Where is the Interior Department when it comes to protecting our health and resources?''

Cancer, asthma and respiratory diseases are widespread on the reservation and in the counties surrounding the plant, according to Indian Health Services (IHS) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) data. Children under 10 are especially prone to asthma, Thompson said, while many older people also have illnesses such as bronchitis and lung cancer.

Local cancer rates are not just high; they are also rising, according to NCI figures. Mary Jo Stueve, program coordinator of the national environmental group Clean Water Action, called the area around BSI ''a cancer hot spot, thanks to one of the dirtiest coal-burning plants in the nation.''

Tribal members fear an additional plant will increase the health risks, said Big Coulee District Council Representative Norma Perko, Sisseton-Wahpeton: ''Prevailing southeasterly winds bring the pollution right here.''

Surely, you say, in the face of the wishes of the citizens of of the area, an Indian tribe, a governor, a NASA expert, several will know environmental activists, a state Environmental Protection Administrator, several administrative law judges, a state department of commerce, and god only knows who else, the ruling will go against the power plant.

But then this is the United States of Corporate America, so who knows.

The following little story is from WKBT in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Big Stone protesters rally at Minn. commission meeting

Dozens of protesters are hoping to sway Minnesota commissioners as they consider whether to clear a path for a coal-burning power plant in South Dakota.

Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission has the power to approve or block transmission lines from the plant called Big Stone II. Two administrative law judges have recommended rejection.

A spokesman for the utilities backing the plant, Todd Guerrero, says people need the power the plant would provide.

Opposition groups argued that the utilities haven't proven their case, and haven't taken into account new federal costs they might someday face on carbon emissions.

After Tuesday's testimony, the commission is supposed to announce its decision Thursday.