Monday, August 31, 2009

Greening Greenfield News

Greenfield Eyes “Greening” Grants to Further its Economic Development Goals

GREENFIELD, MA – Greenfield is taking numerous steps to make it a “Green Showcase Community,” marrying its interests in economic development and the environment.

“Revitalization of Downtown and Bank Row, the Wisdom Way Solar Village, and the soon to be constructed zero net energy transit station are putting Greenfield on the map,” says Mayor William Martin. “These efforts will improve our economy, our downtown, and the environment, and favorably position the Town to secure additional grants for future work”.

The Town of Greenfield recently collaborated with the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) and applied for a “Climate Showcase Community” grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The $448,000 proposal would enable Greenfield to promote itself as a showcase community and take further steps to make it even greener. In particular the grant funds would enable the Town to explore creating a public power company committed to generate zero carbon electricity and/or heat; expand the citizen-initiated Greenfield 10% Challenge; upgrade Town-owned buildings and work with an Energy Service Company (ESCO) to cut energy use and climate change emissions; work with young people in the schools to institute a Zero Waste program, and rewrite our 8-year old Master plan using sustainability as its overarching theme.

Additionally, Greenfield is actively working to become designated a “Green Community”. This designation from the state will provide opportunity to access millions of dollars in state and federal monies as well as help Greenfield get recognition for energy work done to date. To facilitate this, the Town has applied for a grant to provide technical assistance to move forward quickly to meet the Mayor’s goal of obtaining the designation this fall. Last week the Mayor and his staff meet with James Barry, the new Regional Coordinator for the Green Communities Division, who was impressed with the Town’s progress to date toward the Mayor’s goal.

Greenfield is also working with the DEP to institute an composting program in the schools; Siemens Building Technologies, the Energy Service Company chosen for Franklin County, started doing detailed energy audits on the schools last week; and Greening Greenfield representatives have been working with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission on a $5 million grant proposal for an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), which is part of the stimulus packet funds.

“It was tremendously exciting to work with Mayor Martin and his staff on the Climate Showcase Communities grant,” said Nancy Hazard, co-chair of the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee. “To write the grant we looked all the great things the Town has done, or is in process of doing, and then looked for additional areas where we could all benefit economically as well as environmentally - and we found a lot of opportunity and common ground. Everyone’s efforts in Town have made it possible for us to submit what we believe is a very competitive proposal that will further the goals of the Greening Greenfield campaign and the Town as a whole.”

The Greening Greenfield campaign is a collaborative effort of the Town of Greenfield and the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) which aims to revitalize Greenfield using “greening” as the economic and inspirational engine to build a sustainable Greenfield so that current and future generations can enjoy life in this beautiful abundant valley. To find out more about the campaign, hit the Greening Greenfield button on the Town of Greenfield web site or go directly to or call 774-5667.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Main Stream Media Silent

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States.Image via Wikipedia

Cheney's 'Fodder'

FAIR logo

Cheney's torture claims debunked; will the media say so?


The release of a 2004 CIA inspector general's report on the agency's "enhanced interrogation" techniques, along with two other previously classified memos, has thrown a harsh spotlight on former Vice President Dick Cheney's oft-repeated pro-torture arguments. But corporate media seem intent on deflecting much of that glare.

Earlier this year, Cheney spent weeks on the airwaves, explaining that these CIA memos would back up his argument that torture provided valuable intelligence that helped thwart attacks against the United States (FAIR Media Advisory, 5/29/09). But the heavily redacted documents don't appear to do that. Of the two that Cheney asserted would help his case, reporter Spencer Ackerman noted (Washington Independent, 8/24/09) they "actually suggest the opposite of Cheney's contention: that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA’s interrogations."

Some reporters managed to reach the opposite conclusion, though how they did so was unclear. On the CBS Evening News (8/25/09), reporter Bob Orr said: "The once-secret documents do support the claims of former Vice President Dick Cheney that harsh interrogations at times did work. Interviews with prisoners helped the U.S. capture other terror suspects and thwart potential attacks, including Al-Qaeda plots to attack the U.S. consulate in Karachi and fly an airplane into California's tallest building." The problem is, whatever one makes of the CIA's argument that their interrogations yielded valuable intelligence, there's nothing in the documents newly available to the public--and to CBS--that actually argues this intelligence was produced by the torture techniques like waterboarding that Cheney so publicly defended.

As Ackerman told CounterSpin (8/28/09): Cheney and his supporters' argument "depends a lot on conflating the difference between saying the documents show that valuable [intelligence] came from detainees in the program, and then saying that it came from the enhanced interrogation techniques themselves.... That's a conflation that has served the former vice president's purposes."

Many other accounts treated the release of these documents as another chance to play "he said/she said." An August 26 Los Angeles Times headline read, "CIA Interrogation Memos Provide Fodder for Both Sides." What sort of "fodder" they gave to Cheney's side wasn't evident in the story itself, which pointed out that the CIA documents "are at best inconclusive--attesting that captured terrorism suspects provided crucial intelligence on Al-Qaeda and its plans, but offering little to support the argument that harsh or abusive methods played a key role."

ABC reporter Brian Ross (8/25/09) managed to convey the lack of evidence for Cheney in the documents, but inexplicably still left things up in the air: "Nowhere in the reports, however, does the CIA ever draw a direct connection between the valuable information and the specific use of the harsh tactics. So, Charlie, there's just enough for both sides to argue about, while CIA officers in the field are left to figure out just what is expected of them."

NBC's Andrea Mitchell (8/25/09) sounded a similar note, explaining that "administration officials say there is no way to know whether the same information could have been obtained...without waterboarding" and airing a quote from an Amnesty International spokesperson pointing out that Al-Qaeda detainee Khalid Sheik Mohammed told the Red Cross that he lied "to mislead his interrogators and make them stop"--but then concluding: "An argument experts say that may never be resolved."

As FAIR noted in May, media's willingness to give Cheney a platform in the debate over torture shifted the discussion away from the central issue that torture is illegal under both U.S. and international law, and focused attention instead on torture's efficacy. The media allowed Cheney to push the discussion in this direction, in large part because Cheney assured that these secret documents would show that he was right. Now that it's clear they do not, will the media outlets that gave Cheney a platform continue to let him off the hook?
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dale C. Moss column in the Recorder

Homeopathy watching horrors of AllopathyImage via Wikipedia

MY TURN *8/12/2009 Pandemic? History shows better approach Making the case for homeopathic treatment Tired of the tempest over swine flu, the pandemic that never really was but may yet be? How about some good news that will probably come as a shock to 99 percent of you?

Recorder, The (Greenfield, MA) - Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Homeopaths know a bit about epidemics -- quite a bit. Samuel Hahnemann, the brilliant Austrian physician and chemist who developed the foundation of homeopathy over 200 years ago, earned widespread respect by successfully treating epidemics of cholera and scarlet fever which swept over Europe in the early 19th century. Roughly 100 years later, when the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19 was spreading death and devastation, the mortality rate in the United States among those treated with conventional medicine was nearly 30 percent. But for those treated by homeopathy it was less than 1 percent -- and patients who died were usually those who had received conventional treatment before seeking homeopathic help!

More recently, the Cuban government stopped its expensive annual vaccinations against leptospirosis, a spirochete that causes outbreaks of deadly "swamp fever" every hurricane season. In the past, it cost Cuba $2 million to $3 million each year to vaccinate a handful of the most vulnerable people in the worst affected provinces. There were still mass outbreaks of the disease in the unvaccinated majority -- and expensive hospitalizations.

But in 2007 and 2008, Cuba switched to homeopathic prophylaxis, using a homeopathic remedy instead of conventional vaccines. The result? Instead of past outbreaks of leptospirosis, there were only 10 cases of the disease -- and the entire population of five provinces was protected. The best news was that this far more massive effort at prevention cost only $200,000, or a fraction of what less successful vaccinations cost.

Better results for more people at much, much lower cost and without side effects? Sounds like Big Pharma's worst nightmare and something the Obama administration should be looking at carefully as part of health-care reform.

Sadly, it's not.

Very, very few Americans have ever heard of these homeopathic success stories.

Pick up any mass-market book that's been written on the Spanish flu pandemic and you'll find there's no mention of homeopathy's triumph in treating that deadly disease. Nor is there any mention of the role of conventional treatment in making it so deadly. The favored drug against influenza in 1918-19 was aspirin, a relatively new "wonder drug" at the time. Ignorant of its sphere of action, doctors handed it out liberally, not only to treat those already sick but as a preventative. Aspirin failed miserably on both counts.

More recent explanations of the virulence of that particular pandemic blame it on "cytokine storms" -- in other words, on an excessively aggressive immune response that ends up destroying the body. That is also supposed to explain why healthy people in the prime of life succumbed more readily to the Spanish Flu than children or the elderly: their immune systems fought back harder! In fact, that was the population that was being freely dosed with aspirin, which at the time was not considered safe for either the elderly or the young. But aspirin actually suppresses the immune system, so under the influence of aspirin, what started as influenza quickly morphed into a raging pneumonia that could kill within hours.

Conventional treatment options for the flu today are not much better. Antivirals like Tamiflu, which were stockpiled for a possible avian flu crisis, are almost certain to prove ineffectual in treating any virulent flu and doctors still hand out antipyretics like aspirin and acetaminophen, forgetting that the body's main defense against a viral attack is a nice strong fever.

In any epidemic there are symptoms common to the great majority of patients. As in epidemics past, the homeopathic community has calmly gone about the business of gathering data from cases to see what symptoms point toward the remedy or remedies that will cure. A handful of remedies were responsible for homeopathy's success in treating the Spanish Flu, and the likely genus epidemicus for swine flu has already been determined. Not only has it been performing brilliantly in cases all over the world, but because of how homeopathy works, it is not something to which a virus can build resistance.

As for vaccination against the swine flu, I remember too well the deaths and cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome that resulted from the last mass swine flu vaccination during the Ford administration. To protect myself and my family, I'll be using safe and effective homeopathic Influenzinum as a prophylactic rather than an unproven (and largely untested) vaccine.

Dale C. Moss is a classical homeopath who lives and practices in Buckland. She saw her first case of swine flu several months ago.
Section: MYT
Record Number: 12A0C02509C24A80
Copyright, 2009, The Recorder, Greenfield, MA
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Food For Thought.

Organic Agriculture Beats Biotech at Its Own Game

by Timothy LaSalle

Organic agriculture's recently recognized benefits for improving food security don't depend on a boost from genetically modified (GM) technology. While the chemically-based systems that GM requires could be cleaned up with organic techniques, there's no clear reason to degrade organic standards to accept the downsides that come with biotech-produced crops as they are currently managed.

Recently, there have been renewed efforts to pressure organic agriculture to abandon one of its foundational principles and accept genetically modified crops. While there may be nothing inherently wrong with contemplating a theoretical overlap between biotech crop genetics and organic farming systems, there's not a compelling set of reasons to do so, either.

Alleging the principled barrier between the two is merely a quirky philosophical sticking point of "hard core resistance" within the organic community diverts attention from real questions as to the net value of this pairing.

Real question #1: Why bother?

To this point, biotech crops have not produced the yield advantages or biological resilience to multiple stressors. If we're looking for reliable, multi-benefit, future-oriented farming options in an input-limited world, biotech is not a player.

The question is rather: Why spend the time, money and scientific ingenuity manipulating a handful of genetic materials to end up with a specific new attribute when we should, and could, be rigorously advancing regionally adapted varieties and building up soils organically to achieve enduring nutrient content cycling and resistance to drought, flood and disease resistance.

This organic activity is sustainable in the long term, improves water-holding capacity in soil for all crops -- not just those that happen to have a gene with drought resistance, leaving the other crops at risk.

Real question #2: Who benefits?

Why have patented seeds good for a single planting when what most farmers in the world need are replicable, open-pollinated varieties that thrive in the particular mix of soil, degree days, weather and pest pressure where they are grown? The patented seed path is entirely under the control of a company and requires substantial chemical inputs to survive. The latter path, relying on finding the optimum fit with natural systems and fluctuation (thanks to climate change) over time, is controlled much more by sustainable farmers and the heroic seed companies dedicated to their service.

Real question #3: Is the stuff safe to eat? And who knows?

There is no data from independent, long-term studies on the human health impacts from eating GM crops. There's lots of research, but it's all tucked within the files of the companies that paid for it. The same companies prevent independent research on the efficacy and health impacts of their crop seeds. Many of the handful of intrepid researchers who do manage to carry out studies and dare to publish results showing problems with the GM approach face amazingly virulent reactions from the biotech community, and the institutional systems that depend on them for funding.

I think this quote from the editorial in the recent issue of Scientific American tells how little we really are allowed to know about GM crops:

Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers.

Dr. Judith Carman of Australia is conducting one of the few long-term, independent animal feeding studies with GM materials. She says recent Australian and Italian studies finding reduced fertility and immune function, respectively, in mice are disturbing. Here she talks about extreme difficulty of doing meaningful research into this area. She is a PhD in medicine in the areas of metabolic regulation, nutritional biochemistry and cancer.

To us, it does not make biological sense that you can create brand-new proteins through genetic engineering in food and expect that our bodies will have the enzymes and capacity to break them down. These novel proteins are foreign to our immune systems because they have never before existed in nature.

Given how much we are not being allowed to know, our scientific, agricultural and food safety leaders need to take the reasonable step of following the precautionary principle until we have the knowledge we need. Organic agriculture proponents are eager for more high-quality research on biological systems, because the promise for improving soils, sequestering carbon and feeding more people with healthier diets is so great all around the world.

Simply, this means that, facing irreversible potential harm, the onus for generating the proof of scientific consensus falls upon those seeking to take the action. With biotech crops and our long-term health and ecological well-being, that's a pretty big onus.

The organic community may eventually be open to biotech crops if long-term, independent studies would some day show there are no ecological or human health impacts. Because there is no research available to prove that yet, who needs them? Why risk it?

Timothy J. LaSalle is CEO of the Rodale Institute, an internationally recognized leader in regenerative organic agricultural research, advocacy and education. LaSalle is the first CEO of the non-profit organization, located in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, which was founded in 1947 by J.I. Rodale to explore the scientific foundation of organic agriculture.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our Love is Greater than Our Fear

Annie Hassett informed me today that the Bridge of Flowers had been repeatedly vandalized recently and she was using the occasion to strengthen the connection Greenfield has with Shelburne Falls. Annie handed me a poem which I read and she gave me permission to share it here.

Be thankful for all transgressions
bestowed upon you by enemies or fate.
Return every abuse with a smile,
pay for each insult with a gift.

A wonderful opportunity to practice
forgiveness and understanding has been gifted.
Only the hurt can hurt; only the angry can anger.
Who but those previously abused, abuse?

It is not the grace of God that keeps me from going there;
I am already there, one with my transgressor,
enmeshed in human misery.
But with thanks I choose not revenge but tolerance.

When the heart opens there are no strangers.
Our love is greater than our fear.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

August Doldrums

Local Bias had a guest cancellation and is repeating the interview with May Ristich.
May teaches meditation and spiritual philosophy at the Renaissance Center in Gill Ma.
Our next scheduled guest is singer/songwriter Laura Siersema who is currently promoting her recent CD release "Talon of the Blackwater".
Most of the crew are on vacation and I'll be looking for a couple of volunteers to assist in the August 20th production.
While the TV show has been quiet lately, events in our community continue and I invite readers of this blog to send me notices and columns which I will do my best to post in a timely manner.
Several issues in particular pique my interest: Health Care, Energy policy including efforts to shut down Vermont Yankee, Bio Mass, Tax policy, and yes, the debate about Big Box development. Personally, I want to see Vermont Yankee closed, single payer health care, no Bio Mass facility as presently planned in Greenfield and a return to the progressive tax policies which would help curtail the abuses perpetrated by our financial system.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Support Network Neutrality

Published on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 by Save the Internet
American Library Association Wants Network Neutrality

by Carrie Lowe

At last month’s American Library Association annual conference in Chicago, I served on a Sunday morning panel presentation on the topic of Network Neutrality. On that day, there was no Network Neutrality legislation in Congress (like there is today, thanks to Reps. Markey and Eshoo). There was no flashy evening news piece on the topic, no rock stars on the Hill advocating for a free and open Internet. Yet 500 librarians showed up on a spectacular Chicago summer morning to hear Cliff Lynch, Greg Jackson and me talk about Network Neutrality.

If you are not familiar with librarians, this story might surprise you. But if you have ever found yourself on the business end of a discussion of intellectual freedom issues with someone from our community, you can predict what I am going to say next: The audience asked incredibly thoughtful questions and challenged some basic assumptions.

You see, Network Neutrality is, at its core, an issue central to librarians’ professional hearts. Like other issues that we’ve dealt with – such as censorship or book banning – Network Neutrality is fundamentally about having access to ideas.

Libraries’ Position on Network Neutrality

The ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy laid out its position on Network Neutrality in an issue brief published in 2006. In that paper, we argued that libraries’ interest in Network Neutrality is twofold.

First, Network Neutrality is an intellectual freedom issue. The ALA defines intellectual freedom as the right of all people to seek and receive information from all points of view, without restriction. Unfortunately, there is no law that protects intellectual freedom on the Internet today. Internet service providers (such as the cable and telephone companies) have the ability to block or degrade information or services travelling over their networks. If these companies discriminate against certain kinds of information based on the content of the message being delivered, this would represent a severe violation of intellectual freedom.

Second, Network Neutrality is a competition issue. Libraries in the digital age are providers of online information of all kinds. Among hundreds of examples, public libraries are developing online local history resources, and academic libraries allow the online public to explore some of their rarest treasures. Libraries, as trusted providers of free public access to information, should not compete for priority with for-profit history or literature Web sites that might be able to afford to strike deals with service providers. This makes the Network Neutrality debate not only a matter of philosophy and values for librarians, but also of livelihood.

In addition, librarians value innovation. Many of the technologies most central to the Internet are founded in principles of librarianship. Metadata? We call it cataloging. Online search? May I point you to the online public access catalog (OPAC)? Linked content? Cross references in the card catalog. Indexes, full-text search – the list goes on and on. We understand that in the context of the Internet, innovation begins at the edges; a killer app is more likely to be developed by two guys in a garage than by a highly paid executive in an industrial park. It is vital to preserve and encourage this innovation that has built the Internet. Network Neutrality is central to achieving this goal.

So What Do Libraries Want?

While our profession is built on some lofty principles – and librarians are among the fiercest free speech and intellectual freedom advocates you’ll meet – we are also a community of pragmatists. We believe that there is a way to strike a balance on Network Neutrality.

There oughtta be a law. The FCC changed the rules in 2005, removing the legal protections that guaranteed consumers the right to send and receive communications and content of their choosing over the Internet. Legal protections to prevent discrimination by ISPs and to protect intellectual freedom and innovation on the Internet should be restored. There are two ways to do this:

1. The “fifth principle”of nondiscrimination is right on the money. The language of the nondiscrimination condition the FCC applied to the AT&T/BellSouth merger (and echoed in the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program rules) is rational and appropriate. We urge the FCC to make this principle official.

2. Congress should act to preserve the neutral and open nature of the Internet. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act is the right bill at the right time. We urge Congress to pass this legislation.

Tiered pricing structures are both fair and unrelated to the central debate. We strongly agree that any Web site or organization (including libraries – nearly all public libraries provide no-cost access to the Internet) with a high-bandwidth connection should pay more for that service than a home user or a smaller organization. This is a traditional tiered pricing structure, and it is a fair and proven model. However, once a user has purchased bandwidth, there should be no artificial restraints on the legal content that he or she receives.

The Network Neutrality debate shows no signs of slowing down, and as I witnessed in Chicago, librarians show no sign of losing interest in this topic. We look forward to working with policymakers to protect the free and open nature of the Internet. Our libraries – and our nation – deserve nothing less.
Carrie Lowe is the Director of the Program on Networks at the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, August 10, 2009

What the Left Can Learn From the Right

Published on Monday, August 10, 2009 by
Stop Complaining About Right-Wing Protests! The Left Should Be (Re)Learning How It's Done

by Dave Lindorff

OMG! Those protesters showing up at Democratic "town meetings" to promote the president's health care "reform" program are being bused in from out of town?

Scandal! Que horrible! (Gasp!)

But wait! That's exactly what we on the left always did when we held demonstrations--at least if we could. Who in the trade union movement hasn't called on fellow workers in other unions to join them in rallies during struggles with an employer, or asked them to join sparse picket-lines? Who hasn't pulled out the stops trying to get people from other cities to attend a local protest?

Okay, if it were shown that the Republicans were hiring fake protesters to go to those Democratic pep rallies to mess them up, as was done during the 2000 Florida vote recount, there'd be a good investigative story, but from the righteous if ignorant anger that is being expressed by the tea-baggers and anti-government types that I've seen in news reports, these seem like legitimate right-wing cranks, who are willing to be rallied to the cause of opposing what they see as a socialist plot. Never mind that you've got ignorant numbskulls demanding that Democrats in Congress "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" or that you've got right-wing protesters in their 70's who are all on Medicare irrationally shouting "Keep government out of health care!" The point is that confused and ignorant or not, these people are willing to make the effort to travel fair distances to make their voices heard, and they're willing to stand up, shout, and even scuffle for the chance to make their point.

It's not as if Democrats haven't gone to great length to fill those same halls with earnest supporters.

The real question is why is the left in the US so goddamned polite and domesticated that these Right Wing cranks look positively rowdy.

Back in the late 1950s and the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement wasn't polite and domesticated. It brought activists to events in the Deep South all the way from New York and Boston. Its members rallied in the thousands to shut down segregated public and even private institutions. Its activists occupied buildings on university campuses, boldly confronting police and police dogs and armed men in white robes.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, anti-war protesters in turn shut down recruiting and induction centers, destroyed draft board records, tried to close down Washington, DC, got arrested in the hundreds, incited soldiers to desert and then helped hide them from the law, exposed the 1968 Democratic Convention as a farce, and faced down armed police and soldiers repeatedly, at one point in 1970 closing down the nation's campuses in a national student strike when soldiers shot and killed four unarmed students at Kent State University.

Years earlier, when workers were being abused, they occupied factories, forcibly shutting them down with sit-down strikes, battled Pinkerton detectives and armed National Guard forces, and set up tent cities in Washington to make themselves heard.

And they won great victories.

Where is that passion today? For the most part, the left, in all its various guises--environmentalists, labor unions, civil rights advocates, health care reform advocates, anti-war activists--have become neutered office-chair potatoes, sending canned emails to their elected representatives or to the White House, occasionally marching politely inside of pre-approved, permitted and police-prescribed routes, and attending sponsored events like the current round of town meetings, perhaps to raise polite objections to aspects of a proposed piece of legislation.

The agenda of the left in today's America is being written not by uncompromising radicals in the street as in earlier decades of struggle, but by the bought-and-paid Democrats in Washington. The left, such as it is, has become simply a reactive force, trying to make discrete little improvements in the truly horrible legislation--health care "reform," cap-and-trade, the Employee Not-So-Free Choice Act, continued Iraq and Afghanistan War funding bills--that is being offered by a wholly corrupt Washington in thrall to corporate lobbyists.

We all need to take a lesson from the Right, and from those lusty, cantankerous folks who are raising hell at those pathetic "town meetings."

How can it be that 10 percent of American workers don't have a job, and that the government is expecting that number to keep rising for another year or more, or that another 7 percent have either given up even trying to find a job, or have taken part-time work in desperation, and yet we have not had one mass protest in Washington demanding public jobs for the jobless!

How can it be that the country has been mired in two wars now for eight years, and we haven't had a million people storming the Pentagon to shut it down (or at least levitate it)!

How can it be that we have 49 million Americans who can't even afford to see a doctor when they're sick, and we're talking about a health care "reform" plan that not only won't fix the problem, but will actually end up costing us all $600 billion over 10 years without solving it! And we just write letters to Congress! Why aren't we liberating hospitals and opening them up to the uninsured?

How can it be that the ice cap at the North Pole is actually disappearing, and the whole arctic tundra across Canada, Alaska and Siberia is starting to boil with the release of prehistoric methane trapped under now-melting permafrost, threatening the very lives of our grandchildren, and we're calmly watching as even the Obama administration's pathetic "cap-and-trade" legislation gets stalled by coal-state Democrats! Why aren't we on the left lying down on the tracks to block the coal trains, or tearing up those tracks!

Where is the passion and commitment we once had?

It all seems to be on the Right these days.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains (BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). His work is available at

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, August 3, 2009

Conservation is Key

A solar cell made from a monocrystalline silic...Image via Wikipedia

John Ward of the Solar Store offered his insight on energy policy recently on Local Bias. He mentioned that the average american household uses 29 kilowatt hours per day. He and his partner Claire use 4. This past month, my family used 8 kilowatt hours per day.
We do not have an energy crisis. We have an energy waste crisis. Because their own usage is so small, and they have a modest solar electric system; John and Claire use almost no energy generated by nuclear, coal, or bio-mass plants.
It is difficult for big business to monopolize root-tops. It is also difficult for them to monopolize the sun. Our present energy policy reflects the desires of the big energy companies to treat energy as an expensive commodity. I don't feel it serves our society, but it is reflective of our collective idolatry of capitalism.
Being a wise consumer of energy is something that each one of us can pursue. We can also write our representatives in government and let them know how we feel.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tolerably Brief Review

Old friend Warren Lapine mailed me a copy of Realms of Fantasy with the stipulation that I write a review on my blog. The idea of writing a review, or at least having a review written has a certain appeal. As if I am enough of an authority that my views on writing merit consideration.
I'm not, and they don't but I but will plow ahead undaunted, secure in the knowledge that any damage to the oeuvre will be negligible.
First, let me mention that "Realms of Fantasy" is a magazine which recently returned from the great newsstand in the sky. Reports of it's demise were not greatly exaggerated, yet publisher Warren Lapine, with his incurable desire to promote and share speculative fiction, stepped in and resuscitated the venerable publication after the lid already had been nailed shut and the coffin lowered into the well you get the idea.
Bravo, well done sir. I greedily devoured the August issue while procrastinating on more pressing obligations. And it was worth it. The pain of my wife's exasperation was nothing to the pleasure I derived from the majority of stories.

Tanith Lee, Ian Creasey, Dennis Danvers and Bruce Holland Rogers offer up new fiction in the issue. Reviews of games, movies, music, art and books are also present. For myself, the review of the new Harry Potter movie by Resa Nelson was the first article I read and it only served to whet my appetite.

My only disappointment was the story "Well and Truly Broken" by Bruce Holland Rogers. It was too short. As the last story in the issue, finishing it only meant my chores could be put off no longer.

The connection that Publisher Warren Lapine has to Local Bias is that he lived in Greenfield many years and began his career as Sci Fi Mogul here. I had the honor to read some unsolicited manuscripts for him while chowing on pizza and hanging out with other readers during "slush" parties.

I was always impressed by the number of stories generated by unsolicited writers. Some of them were quite enjoyable, but the majority were given only a cursory look. Warren himself rarely got past the first sentence before consigning the missive to be returned or recycled. Occasionally, one would be so poorly written that it had to be read aloud and everyone would have a good chuckle. That's why I choose to use a pseudonym.

I don't have to hide behind a false name to say that I'm impressed with the resurrection of Realms of Fantasy and encourage any lover of speculative fiction to give it try.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]