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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

On the radio

Mike Hayes was defending the extra-judicial government data-mining of phone records recently. "If it will help catch a terrorist," he, and many of his listeners, are up for anything.

Greg Palast details how spying on phone records is not in any way intended to catch terrorists. Rather,
... now ChoicePoint and George Bush want your blood. Forget your phone bill. ChoicePoint, a sickened executive of the company told us in confidence, "hope[s] to build a database of DNA samples from every person in the United States ...linked to all the other information held by CP [ChoicePoint]" from medical to voting records.

But it won't stop, despite Republican senators shedding big crocodile tears about "surveillance" of innocent Americans. That's because FEAR is a lucrative business -- not just for ChoicePoint, but for firms such as Syntech, Sybase and Lockheed-Martin -- each of which has provided lucrative posts or profits to connected Republicans including former Total Information Awareness chief John Poindexter (Syntech), Marvin Bush (Sybase) and Lynn Cheney (Lockheed-Martin).

But how can they get Americans to give up our personal files, our phone logs, our DNA and our rights? Easy. Fear sells better than sex -- and they want you to be afraid. Back to today's New York Times, page 28: "Wider Use of DNA Lists is Urged in Fighting Crime." And who is providing the technology? It comes, says the Times, from the work done on using DNA fragments to identity victims of the September 11 attack. And who did that job (for $12 million, no bid)? ChoicePoint, Inc. Which is NOT mentioned by the Times.

"Genetic surveillance would thus shift from the individual [the alleged criminal] to the family," says the Times -- which will require, of course, a national DNA database of NON-criminals.


Get with it, people. This is administration is NOT INTERESTED in "catching terrorists." Heck, they are busy creating new ones every day.

Remember, Richard Clarke said,
“[O]n June 21, I believe it was, George Tenet called me and said, 'I don't think we're getting the message through. These people aren't acting the way the Clinton people did under similar circumstances.' And I suggested to Tenet that he come down and personally brief Condi Rice, that he bring his terrorism team with him.

“And we sat in the national security adviser's office. And I've used the phrase in the book to describe George Tenet's warnings as ‘He had his hair on fire.’ He was about as excited as I'd ever seen him."

Former Democratic Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado also directly told senior Bush officials loudly and clearly that, in his words, "The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming."
Hart was co-chair (with former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H.) of the U.S. Commission on National Security, a bipartisan panel that conducted the most thorough investigation of U.S. security challenges since World War II. After completing the report, which warned that a devastating terrorist attack on America was imminent and called for the immediate creation of a Cabinet-level national security agency, and delivering it to President Bush on January 31, 2001, Hart and Rudman personally briefed Rice, Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. But, according to Hart, the Bush administration never followed up on the commission's urgent recommendations, even after he repeated them in a private White House meeting with Rice just days before 9/11.

“And he said, ‘Something is going to happen.’”


Security? Security!?

Here's Air Force Colonel P.J. Crowley (ret.)

The Bush administration has not matched its homeland security rhetoric with the resources that actually make us more secure. As in other areas vital to homeland security, port security is an unfunded federal mandate. The administration talks the talk of a genuine public-private partnership involving federal, state and local governments and the private sector. However, it does not walk the walk. In the face of growing federal budget deficits, the Bush administration is attempting to push most of the cost of these new security standards down to states and the private sector.

What about the journalists who are now having their phone calls monitored? What about the claim by Governor Bill Richardson (NM) that his calls were monitored?

Every day a new lie is uncovered. What about the Quakers who've been spied upon? or the peace groups spied upon? or the animal rights groups spied upon? or the grandmothers spied upon?

It's really no surprise that WIZM listeners would be ok with this. The six plus hours of daily propaganda from spinmeister Rush and Spinnity Hannity, the FOX News of the radio, is hard to resist. We can't blame them for being ill-, mis- and un-informed.But being ignorant does not trump the Constitution. Yet.

Where will "if it catches a terrorist" end?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Coming this week

Monday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at the La Crosse Public Library: A free screening of the film WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION by award-winning independent filmmaker, Danny Schechter. FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. Bring your own comfy beanbag or lawn chair. Sponsored by Open Eye Documentary and Independent Film Society.

Wednesday, May 17 at 4:30 p.m. a RIDE OF SILENCE to honor those who have been killed or injured in bike-car collisions. If you know someone who has been killed, please wear a black arm band. If you have been injured please wear a red armband. Ride begins at 4:30 at the UW-L Clocktower and will go down La Crosse Street to City Hall. Please email Cathy for more info.

Thursday, May 18 at 7 p.m. in the Cleary Alumni and Friends Center at UW-L: The Struggle Against Myths, Propaganda, Violence and Annexation in Palestine and Israel - Long time Nonviolent peace activists and Christian Peacemaker team members, Jerry and Sis Levin, will report on the nonviolent Struggle against Israel’s continuing the U.S.-encouraged effort to dismantle the land of Palestine.

Be there!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Coming events

This week it's time to write your letters to the editor and gear up for a summer of activism.

TONIGHT at 7:00 p.m. in the Ward Room, Wisconsin State Senator, Dan Kapanke will be at a form presented by WISPIRG and UW-L Progressives talking about Wisconsin's new Energy Efficiency and Renewables law. BE THERE!

Coming events in May include a May 12 fundraiser for Chris Danou, candidate for Wisconsin's 31st Senate district, a May 15 movie, Weapons of Mass Deception, at the La Crosse Public Library; the May 13/14 Campout for Peace in Viroqua; and a May 17 Ride of Silence to remember those who have been killed or injured in bike-car accidents.

Read more at the Progressives' Calendar.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Anti-war music

This came from Jim:

The La Crosse Choral Union will Perform Ralph Vaughn Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem at their May 7 concernt at 7:30 p.m. at the Cathedral, 530 Main Street. Dona Nobis Pacem is a powerful and moving piece of anti-war music. Ralph Vaughn Williams wrote it in 1937 just as it appeared that the world would be engulfed in another global war. Vaughn Williams had experienced the incredible carnage of WW I serving as a ambulance driver and wrote Dona Nobis Pacem (from the Latin Mass meaning "Grant us Peace") as a plea to avoid the hatred, suffering, and destruction of another war.

Tickets for the concert may be obtained at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, and $5 for students. Tickets may also be purchased in advance from Choral Union members.


Also featured on the program are Nancy Matchett’s new setting of the Quaker hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing On?” and Tom Benjamin’s “O Sing a New Song.” These pieces won the first and second prizes in the Choral Union’s recent composition contest, which honors the memory of soprano Sigrid Mount.

The Choral Union is the University’s symphonic chorus, made up of UWL students, faculty, staff, and community singers from throughout the Coulee Region. The Choral Union will be accompanied by an orchestra of faculty, student and community musicians, under the leadership of Dr. Paul Rusterholz.

Vocal soloists in “Dona Nobis Pacem” are sopranos Nancy Matchett, Katharina Schneider, Linda Zoerb, and baritone Hans Laping. For more on Vaughn Wililams' Dona Nobis Pacem click here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Support your local farmers

The Cameron Park Market (Fifth Avenue and King Street) opens its season on Friday, May 5. The Market will be open on Friday evenings from May 5th through October 29th, 4pm to dusk and will host food tastings and musical events throughout the summer, showcasing the region’s farmers every week with vendors specializing in: organic vegetables and fruits, honey products, artisanal cheeses, free range meats, eggs, dairy, maple syrup and baked goods.

Other county markets, including the Saturday morning "courthouse square" market, the Sunday morning Onalaska market and the Wednesday morning Bridgeview Plaza market will open in early June.

With gas prices increasing weekly and the average "food-mile" at around 1,500, you can bet locally grown food will be an even better deal this summer, not to mention it's fresh and grown by people you can actually meet and talk to.

If you don't grow your own (why not!?) or even if you do, it's your Progressive Patriotic duty to support your local farmers.

For more info: check this site. (As soon as I get a link for the Cameron Park Market, it will go into the Progressive Business page.)

Call a special session

The latest on the murder of SB1 is that the Assembly voted late Tuesday to block an effort to bring it to the floor for a vote. Now we are asking the Governor to immediately call the Legislature into a special session on Senate Bill 1, creation of a Government Accountability Board. If you'd like to sign the letter, please email Bev Speer with your name and the name of your organization no later than Friday morning at 9 a.m.


According the The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign,

Two legislators who were initially recorded as voting "yes" – Representatives Frank Lasee of Green Bay and Al Ott of Forest Junction – later asked to have their votes changed to "no."

There was evidence of violent arm-twisting to ensure the ethics reform legislation was not taken up. Several Republican sponsors or self-proclaimed supporters of SB 1 – including Representatives Steve Freese of Dodgeville, Eugene Hahn of Cambria, Dean Kaufert of Neenah and Terry Musser of Black River Falls – voted to kill their own bill.

Assembly Republican leader Mike Huebsch and Senate Republican leader Dale Schultz were signaling they plan to alter the legislative calendar – a move that will allow state lawmakers to begin soliciting campaign donations from lobbyists.

Last year, majority Republicans extended the legislative session through December 2006 to block Governor Jim Doyle from raising the state's minimum wage. However, by doing so they unwittingly hindered their ability to collect campaign contributions from lobbyists. They later reached a deal with Doyle allowing a modest increase in the minimum wage, but now have to change the calendar to allow lobbyists to give to their campaigns in the months before this fall's elections.

Don't let this go. It's very important for our future. Do you want Wisconsin to be the next FLOHIDO????

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Senator Kohl's march to Iran - ACTION NOW

This is from a dailykos diary. Note that Sen. Herb Kohl is on the list of people marching us to war on Iran. Call him (Washington office: Phone: (202) 224-5653, Fax: (202) 224-9787; La Crosse office Phone: (608) 796-0045, Fax: (608) 796-0089) or use his online form RIGHT NOW! and volunteer to support GP candidate for U.S. Senate, Rae Vogeler.

(And, by the way, Ron Kind was a co-sponsor of the house version of this bill. For a discussion of it and how it fits in with the PNAC plan to take over the Middle East, read Rep. Ron Paul's (R-TX) April 5 speech before the House.)

21 Dem Senators Follow Santorum Into War With Iran Hotlist

Kossacks are rightly paying a lot of attention to what must surely qualify as the most critical issue of the moment: the march to war with Iran. You're read how the Secretary of State is trying to bribe governments to use their airspace for an attack. You've been pointed to Steve Clemons' warnings of imminent war. And you've digested Juan Cole's passionate plea to rise up against this impending war.

What are the Democrats doing to stop this madness?

Many are rushing to join the insanity. Last week, the House voted 297-21 in favor of the Iran Freedom Support Act that Dennis Kucinich describes as a "stepping stone to war." But wait, you say, our heroes in the Senate, working with a few sane Republicans, won't allow us to fall into the same, step-by-step march to war took place in 2002-03.

Well, you'd be wrong. Rick Santorum has introduced a similar version of the Orwellian named Iran Freedom Support Act in the Senate and its chances of passage look pretty good.

It has 58 (fifty-eight) (FIFTY-EIGHT) cosponsors. Judging from the numbers, there must be a few Democrats on that list.

Here they are:

Akaka (HI)
Baucus (MT)
Bayh (IN)
Boxer (CA)
Cantwell (WA)
Conrad (ND)
Corzine (NJ)
Dayton (MN)
Dorgan (ND)
Durbin (IL)
Feinstein (CA)
Johnson (SC)
Kohl (WI)
Landrieu (LA)
Levin (MI)
Lieberman (CT)
Lincoln (AR)
Mikulski (MD)
Nelson (FL)
Nelson (NE)
Stabenow (MI)


Please read the rest of the post at the link above and take action now. With Bush poll numbers sinking and increasingly hostile rhetoric from the White House and Tehran, and the planned MOAB2 on June 2, we don't have much time. (Remember, MOAB was tested just a few days before the U.S.'s 2003 attack on Iraq.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Skull Valley

Those who saw the film Skull Valley last fall (presented by Open Eye Documentary and Independent Film Society know what a tangled web is the PFS (Private Fuel Storage) plan for above ground, private nuclear waste storage on the lands of the Goshute Indians.

The plan has been pushed for years, suffering setbacks and victories. In February, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a license to PFS to build its storage facility. But in January the Cedar Mountain Wilderness Area was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System (as part of the Defense Authorization Bill.) The new wilderness area includes land PFS wants to use to build a rail spur to the Goshute site.

This is a new opportunity to stop PFS.

Here's what Kevin Kamps of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service says:

Now we have another strategic opportunity to stop PFS in its tracks, and we hope your group will join us by signing onto the letter pasted in below. We’re thankful to the 45 groups that have already signed on, and hope that the rest of you will also do so as soon as possible by copying and pasting the letter below, signing it and emailing it to me and Jason Groenewold at HEAL Utah. Our deadline for submitting this group letter is May 8th, so please sign on as soon as possible.

A significant hurdle to the project was placed in the way recently when Congress designated wilderness in the area where PFS was planning to construct a rail-line for the purposes of transporting nuclear waste to Skull Valley. Not to be deterred, PFS is still pursuing a right-of-way to construct a transfer facility that would allow them to move the waste from rail to truck in order to get the waste to Skull Valley.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering whether to grant a right-of-way for the rail-line or to issue a permit to construct the transfer facility since both would impact public land managed by the BLM.

Jason at Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah drafted the coalition letter below that addresses the criteria against which the BLM will make its decision, and we would be honored if your organization would sign on to it.

Thanks,

Kevin Kamps
Nuclear Waste Specialist
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Washington, D.C.
(301) 270-6477 ext. 14
kevin@nirs.org
www.nirs.org


May 8, 2006

Ms. Pam Schuller
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Salt Lake Field Office
2370 South 2300 West
Salt lake City, UT 84119

RE: PFS Proposed Right-of-Way Application

Dear Ms. Schuller,

We respectfully request the BLM to deny a right-of-way for Private Fuel Storage (PFS) to transfer or haul high-level nuclear waste to the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation. The proposed PFS project is inconsistent with BLM’s management plan for these public lands; the project is not in the public’s interest; PFS is not qualified for receiving a permit for the project; the project conflicts with Federal Land Policy and Management Act, other laws and regulations; and PFS lacks the technical and financial capabilities to carry out the project.

Private Fuel Storage had proposed constructing a rail-line across federal lands in order to haul high-level nuclear waste to the Goshute Reservation, and it had requested a right-of-way from the BLM for these purposes. However, with the passage of the Cedar Mountain Wilderness Area, granting such a right-of-way would violate the Wilderness Act as well as BLM’s management plan for this area. Therefore, a right-of-way for the rail line should be denied by the BLM. BLM must also deny the construction of a transfer facility because BLM’s Resource Management Plan prohibits the use of public lands for storing hazardous materials or hazardous waste.

A right-of-way or permit to operate a transfer facility should also be denied because it is not in the public interest. The overwhelming majority of Utahns are opposed to the storage or disposal of nuclear waste in Utah. Furthermore, a private, above-ground nuclear waste storage site protected by a chain-link fence contravenes the intentions of Congress for how our country should handle these dangerous wastes. Our public lands should not be used in a way that undermines national policy.

PFS is a shell company comprised of various utility companies. It has not demonstrated it is qualified to manage the project in a way that would protect public health, especially as it relates to security. The transfer facility would be built in close proximity to Interstate-80. If an accident or intentional act of sabotage were to occur at the transfer facility, it could have tremendous health and economic impacts on the region. PFS is not in a position to adequately protect the site, and therefore, a permit should be denied.

Both right-of-ways should be denied because granting a permit to transfer and store high-level nuclear waste would violate the Pony Express Resource Management Plan which governs how the BLM is to manage this parcel of land. The management plan states, “no further authorizations will be made for the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste on public lands” and “public lands will not be made available for inappropriate uses such as storage or use of hazardous materials.” High-level nuclear waste would be handled and stored at the site while it is being transferred from rail to truck, which violates the BLM management plan.

Finally, Private Fuel Storage lacks the technical and financial capabilities necessary to obtain a permit. Half of the original partners in the consortium have either pulled out of the project or frozen their financial support for the project. Therefore, the BLM and the public would be in a vulnerable position if nuclear waste were to contaminate the site and PFS walked away. This is especially worrisome since the Department of Energy has stated it is prohibited by statute from providing funding or financial assistance to the PFS project because it falls outside the scope of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Related to its inability to demonstrate technical capabilities to properly manage the site, PFS has admitted that it has no way to repair leaking shipments of nuclear waste other than to ship them back across the country to the place of origin.

For all of the reasons listed above, we respectfully request that the BLM reject the right-of-way request made by Private Fuel Storage for a rail line and the construction of a transfer facility on public lands managed by the BLM.

Sincerely,

Son of TABOR

Unable to pass off TABOR on an informed Wisconsin public last time around, state Republicans have put new lipstick on their pig and are trying to pass it off as something new. TPA is just one more way to cut social services and further unravel our social fabric. We don't want it. This is from Guy:

Last week, over 500 of you took action by making calls, sending letters, signing postcards and letting your state representatives know that ANY form of TABOR has no business in our constitution – you made all the difference. The first TABOR vote was overwhelming defeated. The final TABOR compromise was passed in a private back room Assembly caucus while the public slept, and even then by only one vote.

Now TABOR moves to the Senate for a vote on Wednesday, May 3 – together, with your continued help, we can stop it there. Call your State Senator TODAY, and tell them to oppose any version of TPA. The toll-free NO-TABOR hotline is 1-800-844-2847. If you ever considered calling, make sure you call NOW!

TABOR, otherwise known as the Taxpayer “Protection” Amendment (TPA), will constrict the state and local government’s ability to provide needed services. Funding for our K-12 schools, crime labs, technical college and UW systems and unemployment services will dwindle to the point of crisis. TABOR’s formula is flawed, and is unable to account for the spiraling inflation of energy and healthcare costs. And because it will be cemented into our constitution, it will be very hard to change.

We must stop it now.

Please contact your state senator TODAY, and tell him or her to oppose TPA. Fiscal policy does not belong in our constitution.

What can you do?

1. Call your State Senator TODAY, and tell them to oppose any version of TPA. The toll-free NO-TABOR hotline is 1-800-844-2847. If you ever considered calling, make sure you call TODAY! A sample script is below.

2. Send an Email opposing this Amendment:

Click Here for the “Who Are My Legislators” website at http://waml.legis.state.wi.us/
Type your home address into the box. Press enter.
Click on the Email Legislator link.
Cut, paste and edit the script below, and add your home address.

3. Watch the online video on why TABOR failed in Colorado, and why it will fail here. Visit http://www.cbpp.org/taborvideo.htm to view this 10 minute video.

You’ve already made a tremendous impact on the Assembly – together we can make sure the Senate hears our message loud and clear – TPA is bad for Wisconsin. Every call and email counts!

SAMPLE SCRIPT

Dear Senator XX,

Please oppose any form of TPA. Our state constitution is not the proper place for rigid budget formulas. This gimmick simply shifts the funding burden unto local governments, ignores the real problems facing our future, and avoids making hard choices on spending issues. TABOR was a failed experiment in Colorado, and we don’t need to repeat the mistake here in Wisconsin.

Sincerely,
(Please put your name and address here)