Archive for March, 2007

Letter to Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Rep. Capps – Initially regarding the U.S. Attorney firings, it became a call for the impeachment of Bush.

Posted in politics on March 27, 2007 by theseep

Senators Boxer and Feinstein, Representative Capps,
In the face of the obviously politically motivated firings of U.S. Attorneys, the fact that the Bush administration is refusing to testify under oath and on the record is preposterous. It seems to me as a citizen, that the politicians that are working for we, the people, and should be required to provide full, public disclosure of their actions. Playing childish games and strong-arming investigations amounts to nothing more than obstruction of justice while trying to protect themselves from a prosecutable wrongdoing. They did it with the 9/11 Commission, stonewalling their investigation and refusing to release relevant documents that made that the commission’s report incomplete and useless. We need to hold this tyrannical administration accountable for their actions – it is well known and well documented that they have:

1. Lied about reasons for going to Iraq, playing on the emotions of the people after the 9/11 attacks. Iraq and Afghanistan were planned targets prior to 9/11 with the tragedy providing an excuse to launch attacks although there was never any legitimate connection between Bin Laden and Iraq. An oil pipeline is planned in Afghanistan and Iraq’s oil is clearly one of the primary objectives there.
2. Covered up prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks and avoided any type of real investigation into the incident.
3. Did not act or possibly even ordered a “stand down” of usual procedure to allow these horrendous acts to occur, costing the lives of thousands of Americans, but significantly benefiting their policies as well as their contributors. (I realize that this is political theory, but there is much evidence to support it – see “A New Pearl Harbor”, by David Ray Griffin)
4. Allowed billions of U.S. taxpayers dollars to be lost in “rebuilding”
5. Enabled and supported policies that directly benefit corporate friends in big oil and at companies such as Halliburton (now moving to Dubai to avoid paying taxes on the money that they have already embezzled from the U.S. Government and people). The conflict of interest has been documented and is undeniable.
6. Allowed prisoners to be tortured both in Iraq and in Guantanamo Bay.
7. Exposed a CIA agent in retribution for her husband’s findings that there was no Iraq-Africa WMD connection. Once this went public, the administration itself has remained untouched, never being indicted, and Libby has been made a feeble scapegoat.
8. Ignored the will of the people and Congress by sending more troops into Iraq.
9. Fired U.S. Attorneys that were not “loyal Bushies” and were either not dropping charges on Bush-linked Republicans, or not pursuing weak or non-existent charges on Democrats.
10. Actively covered up the science behind global warming, intentionally hindering the progression of climate change solutions.
11. In the eyes of the rest of the world, the Bush administration has turned the United States into an imperialistic bully with no regard to the opinion and will of the rest of the world.

I’m sure that there are more, but this will suffice for demonstration purposes.
We have been disgraced and dishonored as a country and as a people. I urge you and your colleagues to pursue investigations and indictments on these matters and hold Bush and his administration responsible for their actions. Their policies can no longer be tolerated by our country and he should be impeached for these crimes. If the Republicans could impeach Bill Clinton, an excellent President overall, for lying about sexual favors, then certainly even a few of the issues on the aforementioned list would qualify for the impeachment of George Bush as well as Dick Cheney. Please take steps to protect our once great country from a further fall from grace.
Thank you,
Clint Slaughter, M.D.

AL GORE: Global Warming Testimony @ Congress 3.21.07

Posted in politics on March 26, 2007 by theseep

It seems that Al Gore made a good showing before the house on Friday, throwing down with the right wingers. This came the same week as the meeting of the house committee on oversight and governmental reform, exposing how the Bush administration has systematically “watered down” and covered up global warming science. As usual, this information is better summarized in an article by foreign press rather than U.S. press, as seen in The Guardian’s article. I am still suprised by the uneducated, childish, and downright dumb responses on youtube where the video is posted. Just plain sad.

via Hugg

Book Review: The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin

Posted in politics on March 26, 2007 by theseep

The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11

By David Ray Griffin

Clint Slaughter, M.D. 3/25/07
After finishing this book while waiting in LAX for a flight (CO2 offset for my treehugger bretheren), I took a very long, deep and thoughtful breath and sighed an even longer expletive.

This book, by author and philosophy professor David Ray Griffin, is an attempt to summarize the known evidence against the official explanation of 9/11. It is not a “conspiracy theory” book in the stigmatic sense. It is rather an extensive review of the many inconsistencies and fallacies of the current accepted theory and a presentation of a tremendous amount of contrary evidence that not only discredits the official explanation, but supports potential alternate theories. Mr. Griffin takes great care to explain that this is not an accusatory document and there are many possible explanations for this well-documented evidence. These explanations at the very least however, point to the widely accepted and well-supported fact that the Bush administration had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks and that this information has been covered up. The explanations then imply the possibility of increasing levels of complicity, or cooperation, within the government in the attacks, all the way up to the horrifying possibility that our leaders have had a hand in planning and executing the 9/11 disaster depending on how the evidence is interpreted and how gaps of information are filled.

Again, this is not the focus of the book. It is rather to simply document evidence that has been collected thus far, garnering information from publicly known sources, documented interviews and includes a great deal of data and discussion from 4 other exhaustively documented books by Paul Thompson, Nafeez Ahmed, Michel Chossudovsky, and Thierry Meyssan. These authors have gone into much more depth in explaining sources and the stories behind the evidence and what started as an article to summarize this information, quickly turned into an entire book. If Mr. Griffin could not adequately summarize the extraordinary amount of evidence and documentation that indeibts the U.S Government for some level complicity and cover-up in the 9/11 attacks, I will not even attempt to present this data in this review. I will say, however, that this book is a well written, extensively researched discussion of facts, many of which the U.S. public already is aware of, and many that they do not want to know or recognize as even possible. The evidence and discussion ranges from the humiliating lack of response of NORAD and the FAA to the hijacked airplanes, to the implausible explanation of the small hole in the pentagon that couldn’t possibly have been made by a 757, to the shady ties between the Bush administration, the Bin Laden family, and the Pakistani secret service, and a myriad of subjects in between.

It is a daunting read, mostly because it forces us to suspend disbelief in order to absorb and process the world-shaking implications of what these pages discuss. Given the facts, Mr. Griffin and all but the most loyal “Bushies” have no choice but to come the final conclusion that the investigations into 9/11 thus far have been both orchestrated and obstructed by the Bush Administration and if justice is to ever be served, a fully independent, legal, and complete investigation into the events leading up to, during, and after the tragedy of 9/11/01 must be carried out. This investigation must include public hearings with subpoenas up to and including even our highest governmental officials with full disclosure, regardless of “national security” risks. This must be carried out in order to honor those that have fallen on that day, the 3236 American troops that have died in Iraq as of this writing, and the tens of thousands of civilians that we have killed in our misguided quest for vengeance.

This book should be required reading for every member of Congress, the Senate, state government officials, professors, students, and citizens. When these discussions enter the public forum unhindered by unfounded dismissals, candy-coated mockery, fear-mongering, threats, and screams of unpatriotism, the will of the people will certainly call for the investigation that is warranted into the most horrifying and world-changing event to occur on U.S. soil since the American Revolution.

As stated by Professor Richard Falk in the forward, “. . . It is rare indeed that a book has this potential to become a force of history.”

Treehugger’s Convenient Truths Video Competition has a Winner!

Posted in conservation, sustainability on March 22, 2007 by theseep along with Seventh Generation, sponsored a reader-inspired video contest, asking people to submit videos sharing their approach to combating climate change. I went through quite a few and there are some creative and moving entries for sure. I applaud everyone who submitted an entry!
Here is the winner!
The site is worth a look. I like this one, and this one (veggie oil guys), and there are many more.
I think a running theme is that conservation and combating the climate and the energy crises start with each individual person and grows from there. If you’re not doing what you can do to decrease your footprint, then you’re a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. Did that guilt you into making some changes? I hope so.

DuPont Makes Cellulosic Ethanol a Reality?

Posted in green energy on March 14, 2007 by theseep

Inside Greentech posted an article discussing that DuPont, the chemical giant is claiming that they have developed a new method to produce cellulosic ethanol that is more efficient that corn ethanol and maybe even gasoline. They are also moving forward with BP in commercializing biobutanol, which, as I posted months ago, is much more usable than ethanol since, unlike our moonshine-soaked, biofuel-boon-turned-political-power-play friend, it requires no modification to gasoline-powered vehicles and can be stored and transported using available pipelines and infrastructure.
DuPont has already licensed this technology to Broin, a company that is already a leader in U.S. ethanol production. If these claims are true, ethanol could actually become a viable and sustainable biofuel! Throw in some biobutanol, a few million gallons of biodiesel, some fuel efficiency restrictions, and a boatload of public conservation, and we as a nation could actually wean ourselves off of foreign oil and maybe even hold on to some of our own fossil fuel reserves to be used conscientiously for generations to come. Although this knowledge and technology would be much better off in the hands of non-profits or public domains, at least we are seeing research progress being made.
Nice work DuPont, now let’s see if you can share like a good little boy.

Captain America is Dead!

Posted in politics on March 14, 2007 by theseep

It’s been covered in the NY Times, and G has written an excellent eulogy on the coastal dissident site. It has also been well covered on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart as well as by our favorite pseudo-republican pundit for freedom, Steven Colbert. He first professed “The Word“, and now he has been named in Steve Roger’s will to be the recipient of Captain America’s indestructible symbol of adamantium/vandanium alloy freedom!

Does Marvel want Steven Colbert to run for president? Or do they want to give him an experimental “Super Soldier Serum” so he can try to rebuild a divided and corrupt America where our last bastion of justice and liberty has failed?
To me, the death 0f the legendary hero, Captain America, is symbolic of the fall of the noble American dream of freedom. Freedom from persecution for your beliefs, freedom to create, to speak, to discuss, to challenge, freedom to be your own person. His death symbolizes the rise of imperialism, evangelism, and fanaticism the world over. He has become an ink-spattered martyr, sacrificing himself for the oblivious, self-absorbed masses. I for one will be wearing my black ribbon in memory of one of our most noble defenders of humanity.

Bush’s South America Visit Met With Protests

Posted in politics on March 12, 2007 by theseep

As our unbeloved fuhrer visited Brazil last week for some ethanol wheeling and dealing, protests and rioting erupted in many cities not only in Brazil, but in all of South America. Many posters and signs compare Bush to Hitler, call him a terrorist, and were screaming for him to leave.
Although the visit was covered in U.S. media, the protests were hardly discussed. Gavin dug up some excellent photos from demonstrations across South America in his blog, the coastal dissident.
I’m dissapointed to find that these days I am ashamed and disheartened to be an American these days. When your president is viewed by an entire continent as a terrorist and compared to the most horrible despot of modern times, you tend to lose a little faith in your country and it’s management of domestic and global issues. Through American imperialism, our voracious appetite for global energy resources, and corruption and political power plays, a once great nation has been reduced to nothing more than a greedy, selfish bully.

Biofuels Boom Raises Tough Questions: AP Report

Posted in biodiesel, conservation on March 12, 2007 by theseep

A recent Associated Press article, republished in Wired magazine, Salon Magazine, and other popular internet sites, confronts some of the issues with using Ethanol. This, in the wake of Bush’s unwelcome visit to Brazil, making deals with the Brazilian government for importing sugar cane ethanol. The article is straightforward and honest, raising questions to the feasibility and efficiency of this biofuel political and economic scheme. Now I’m all for biofuels, but ethanol has already become riddled with corporate and lobbying interest and is being touted as a far better solution than it really is.
The article covers a great deal of the problems with using corn-based ethanol, as is being pushed politically in the U.S.. To break it down: The U.S. Government is encouraging the use of certain biofuels, especially ethanol made from U.S. grown corn, with a goal of 20% biofuel use by 2020. Production on this scale using present technology would take an estimated 100 million, or 12.5%, of the 800 million acres of farmland in the U.S. and supposedly is a realistic goal in some politician’s eyes.
A few issues:
1. Ethanol takes on water and is difficult to transport and store, requiring retrofitting to infrastructure and vehicles to use it.
2. Corn-based ethanol is extraordinarily inefficient to produce – it takes 3 gallons of petrol or biofuel to make 4 gallons of corn ethanol, a 1:1.3 ratio! By comparison, biodiesel is more on the order of 1:8, and sugar cane ethanol is 1:15!
3. Ethanol is approximately 10% less efficient than gasoline, meaning that we would be using 8.5% more E85 to go the same distance. This brings overall production efficiency down even further, to around 1.22 gallons of ethanol produced for every 1 gallon of fuel used!
4. Corn requires a large amount of water, chemical and petroleum-based fertilizers, as well as toxic pesticides to grow. More of these harmful substances will be used and will run off into streams, rivers, and water sources.
5. By losing 12.5% of American farmland, other produce and crops will increase in price, affecting millions of people and potentially leading to food shortages around the world. With the beginning of the ethanol boom in the U.S., tortilla prices in Mexico have already risen by 60%!
6. Cellulosic ethanol, that is, ethanol made from plants like switchgrass and straw rather than food crops, yields 3-4 times more fuel for the same input, but is more expensive.
7. The corn-growers and the American auto industry have a significant vested interest in making ethanol work. Growers stand to profit significant subsidies (misplaced though they may be). Auto makers are able to meet new fleet efficiency standards by making enormous, overpowered SUVs that are “flexfuel” and able to run on ethanol even though it isn’t even available in most areas.

There are many more problems with our current push towards corn-based ethanol. All of the promise and hooplah around CO2 offsets, CO2 sequestration, so-called “clean coal”, and even some of the biofuel and alternative energy technologies is being misrepresented and already corrupted by corporate involvement and political powerplays. CO2 offsets are simply a money-making trading scheme that may help somewhat, but money is often mismanaged and projects to fulfill the credits are poorly planned and lead to other environmental problems. CO2 sequestration is expensive, untested, and yet another temporizing method. “Clean coal” is an oxymoron but is being promoted in congress by coal miner’s union lobbyists and energy companies and is simply an excuse to build more relatively dirty power plants (albiet somewhat cleaner than traditional coal). Current ethanol policy is allowing automakers to “greenwash” their production of biofuel and gas-guzzling SUVs and promoting the least efficient biofuel technology that we have available. All of these misguided policies are actively being misguided by special interest groups and corporate interest groups that stand to make significant profits, rather than being guided by proper research, development, and use of technologies that will benefit us all.
What few seem to realize is that every single energy technology that we produce, is still much more resource intensive than the simple act of conservation. I propose that we as a country can decrease our fossil fuel use within the next 5 years by at least 25% simply by personal and community conservation and a transition to currently viable technologies such as solar, wind, and highly efficient building techniques. This requires an active participation by every American and a conscious effort to use, consume, and waste less. We use 8 TIMES as many resources per person than any other country in the industrialized world and by curbing our appetite, we will decrease our impact far more quickly and inexpensively than by falsely promoting poor technology as the U.S. is doing now.
Despite this, research into biofuel production is absolutely necessary as we grow closer to peak oil production and resources become more strained. Last summer, researchers in Minnesota found that biodiesel made from wildflowers and naturally growing field grass without irrigation or chemicals could yield a 15:1 ratio of production to input! Advances have been made in algae-based biodiesel and our incredible scientific knowledge can put transgenic technologies into growing highly efficient crops for biofuels rather than utilizing sorely needed food crops. There is much work to be done, but rather than relying on nascient or burdgeoning technologies, we can start our conservation now, individually, in our own homes and businesses.

Some Insight into the Costs of Smoking

Posted in ethical consumerism, healthcare on March 1, 2007 by theseep presented an excellent article on the environmental and social impacts of cigarette smoking. This, of course, has inspired a S.E.E.P.-worthy rant on the subject. Highlights from the Treehugger article are to follow.

Also see the “More Insights Into The Costs Of Smoking” follow-up post.

In the ER, we see a skewed subset of the population: we see people who are truly sick, people who are injured, and a multitude of people who make themselves ill by their own personal choices and are allowed to abuse our medical system as a result.  The interesting and scandalous thing is, a large percentage of the people whose healthcare is paid for by our tax dollars are smokers. Let’s do some simple calculations: 1 pack per day of cigarettes at $4.50/pack = $135/month and $1620/year. It seems to me, that if you don’t smoke, the money you save can buy you a reasonable personal health plan ($113 and up for a $0 deductable PPO policy on, thereby making you responsible for your own health. If we spend billions of healthcare dollars treating smoking related illness, the real question is, why do we allow those on public assistance to smoke? This is especially shocking considering that the money that these patients spend on cigarettes can pay for the majority of medical coverage that they demand from the state. This, is in addition to the medical costs incurred by the habit of smoking – it is the #1 risk factor for heart attacks, significantly increases risk for stroke, blood clots, 95% of people with lung cancer are smokers, and nearly all patients with emphysema and COPD are smokers as well!

Our healthcare system is in shambles and is stressed beyond belief.  The main reasons for this are unfair insurance practices, frivilous lawsuits, and abuse of the current system by many of those who utilize it.  Besides passing restrictions on insurance companies and significant tort reform, we need to introduce accountability into our public health system.  You are responsible for your health.  If you choose to smoke, drink to excess, and participate in many other self-destructive behaviors, you should not qualify for public assistance.  If you can show that you are responsible and deserve assistance, it shall be given to you.  On the other hand, if you can afford to support multiple children, a tobacco habit, an alcohol or drug habit, etc. and you are paying for private insurance, then you have no restrictions to your American rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  It’s a very similar concept to living in your parents’ house: “You live under my roof, you play by my rules.”

Here are some highlights from the Treehugger article:

“Global cigarette production in 2004 was 5.5 trillion units, or 868 cigarettes per every man, woman and child on the planet . 1

There are around 1.2 billion smokers in the world (about one-third of the global population aged 15 and over). 2. Nearly forty per cent (39.4%) of Europeans smoke, (up from 1995, when a figure of 33.9% recorded.) 2a.

Each year nearly 600 million trees are destroyed to provide fuel to dry tobacco. Put in another way one tree is destroyed for every 300 cigarettes. 6

In 1995 worldwide tobacco manufacturing produced 2.26 billion kilograms of solid waste and 209 million kilograms of chemical waste. 7

Releases to the environment of Toxics Release Inventory chemicals by the tobacco manufacturing industry in the United States recorded for 1996 included (but weren’t limited to):
Ammonia 946,155 kg
Hydrochloric acid 407,371 kg
Methyl ethyl ketone 340,821 kg
Nicotine and nicotine salts 900,377 kg
Sulphuric acid 67,228 kg
Toluene 349,622 kg 3

Tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. It is currently responsible for the death of one in ten adults worldwide (about 5 million deaths each year). If current smoking patterns continue, it will cause some 10 million deaths each year by 2020. Half the people that smoke today -that is about 650 million people- will eventually be killed by tobacco. 10

Cigarette smoke contains polonium 210, a radioactive element. One study shows that a person who smokes 20 cigarettes a day receives a dose of radiation each year equivalent to about 200 chest x-rays. 5

In 1999, tobacco-related medical expenditures and productivity losses cost the United States more than $150 billion—almost 1.5 times the revenue of the five largest multinational tobacco companies that year. 11

Tobacco and poverty are inextricably linked. Many studies have shown that in the poorest households in some low-income countries as much as 10% of total household expenditure is on tobacco. This means that these families have less money to spend on basic items such as food, education and health care. 10

Also see “More Insights into the Costs of Smoking.”