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December 11, 2009

Bush's 'Schrodinger's Email'

EPA Determines that Carbon Pollution Threatens Health

Historic Step Will Allow Agency to Address Cause of Global Warming

WASHINGTON (December 7, 2009) -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is expected to announce a final determination today that carbon pollution, which causes global warming, is a danger to public health and welfare. This will enable the EPA to move forward with implementing the 2007 Supreme Court ruling, which found that carbon pollution can be curbed under the Clean Air Act.

Following is a statement by David Doniger, Policy Director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“This is a concrete sign that we need to address the rising impact of carbon pollution, which threatens our health -- and is causing glaciers to melt, sea levels to rise and more extreme weather to occur. Today’s announcement shows that the U.S. government is serious about tackling this problem and putting limits on the largest sources of carbon pollution, including vehicles and coal-fired plants. The Obama administration is prepared to use existing laws, even as it works with Congress on new ones, to move our country toward cleaner energy that will protect the health of people and of future generations."
“As world leaders gather in Copenhagen, this action is an important piece of the puzzle that will move the nation -- and the world -- toward a cleaner future.” NRDC Press Release

We could have had a year to work on this, had our last president not decided to apply whatever twisted lesson he might have learned regarding the Schrodinger's Cat theory to the quandary of whether or not to open an email containing this very information in 2008.

White House Refused to Open Pollutants E-Mail
Published: June 25, 2008

The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.

This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant. Read the whole story Here.

Controversial Bush-Era EPA E-mail Released WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2009

Message Buried by Bush Administration Because of Its Conclusions on Global Warming Surfaces

(AP) A controversial e-mail message buried by the Bush administration because of its conclusions on global warming surfaced Tuesday, nearly two years after it was first sent to the White House and never opened.The e-mail and the 28-page document attached to it, released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, show that back in December of 2007 the agency concluded that six gases linked to global warming pose dangers to public welfare, and wanted to take steps to regulate their release from automobiles and the burning of gasoline.

Adora Andy, a spokeswoman for EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, said Tuesday that the science in 2007 was as clear as it is today. "The conclusions reached then by the EPA scientists should have been made public and should have been considered," she said. Read the whole story Here.

September 17, 2009

Government Health Care - Too Expensive - Too Controlling - Too Important. Part Three

The US Government in the Health Insurance business? The arguments, when you can get down to those that are A) Real and B) Relevant, are varied. I've had a bit of difficulty drilling down to this list but think I've come to the gist of it. In part one we discussed the costs, in part two we discussed control and in part three we will review why American Healthcare when viewed in the long term is too all encompassing an American Problem we can no longer ignore.

Since this is America and short of revolution nothing, not even morals, weighs in heavier than money we will take another broader look at the economic impact our current health care system and it's lack of complete coverage for all Americans takes on us.

When your representative speaks to you about the cost of a plan, and how it will be paid for, there are always the stipulations that can be quantified either in costs or savings, but there are too those that cannot. The actual dollar amount of savings by providing a person basic health care (prevention and education) thereby avoiding high cost end stage treatments will not be fully addressed by the agencies responsible for providing data. Neither will the increased tax and wage dollars gained by small businesses opening that couldn't without the reform because the cost of employee health care put opening out of reach. No one will try to tally the money gained from increased productivity either, healthy people are happy and more productive, clearer thinking and dependable.

Why CBO Cannot Calculate the Savings That Will Come With Healthcare Reform -

"The CBO’s track record in predicting the effects of health legislation is abysmal,” observes Bruce Vladeck, the man who ran Medicare while serving as administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration from 1993 to 2997. “Over the last two decades, the CBO has routinely overestimated the costs of expanded government health care benefits,” Vladeck adds, “and underestimated the savings from program changes designed to reduce expenditures.”

In the early eighties, Congress adjusted the way in which Medicare would pay hospitals. Under the new Medicare woudl pay a fixed amount per admission based upon primary medical condition. “CBO predicted that by 1986 total spending would be $60 billion. Actual spending in 1986 was $49 billion.”
That’s $11 billion on 60. That’s wrong by more than 18%,” .Ricciardelli observes.

In the second case, Gabel “found that savings from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which changed the way skilled nursing facilities and home health services were reimbursed under Medicare, turned out to be 50 percent greater in 1998 and 113 percent greater in 1999 than the budget office forecast.”
“Wrong by 50% and by 113%.”

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has identified some 70 U.S. communities that already have managed to do what progressives claim health care reform can do: change how care is delivered so that it is both less expensive and more effective. As I reported here, IHI spotlighted 10 of those communities at a recent conference where IHI president Don Berwick stressed: “We don’t have to ration needed care. We don’t have to raise taxes” for the middle-class or the upper-middle class. Structural changes in our health care system can ultimately provide the savings needed to pay for universal coverage. This is not a theory dreamed up by ivory-tower academic physicians. It is an idea that has been realized in some 70 communitites. Health Beat 2009

4 Hidden Costs of Healthcare

Health care is by far the most cartelized, anti-competitive big business in America. The market is crippled by a web of quotas, entry barriers, monopolistic licensing laws, and discount limits that wouldn't be tolerated in any other industry.

Health insurance: Low-dose competition
In most cities or regions, the health insurance market is dominated by one or two giant carriers, the biggest being the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans. A recent study by the American Medical Association found that in 56% of America's 314 urban areas, a single insurer held over half the market.

The prices these gigantic players charge are soaring: A General Accounting Office study found that over the past ten years, premiums have risen 120%, compared with inflation of 44% and wage growth of 29%. "Profits in the industry are as high as we've ever seen," says John Sheils of the Lewin Group, a health care consulting and research firm.

Certificate of need laws: Rationing goods and services
One of the most damaging and obsolete -- but stubbornly pervasive -- restrictions on the supply of medical goods and services is the Certificate of Need Law.

The laws make it impossible for the numbers of hospitals and diagnostic centers to grow naturally with rising patient demand. Instead, they create artificial shortages as entrenched providers lobby state governments tirelessly to prevent competitors from entering their markets with sorely needed state-of-the art equipment.

Acute Pain: America's Doctor Shortage
The essential raw material needed to treat the tens of millions of new patients is our supply of physicians. Today, America is suffering from a painful doctor shortage that is another legacy of poor regulation. And it will get worse. The population of new doctors who go into practice each year is governed by the number of residency slots in America's teaching hospitals. Incredibly, those positions have been frozen for 25 years at around 25,000 as demand has soared.

The Medicaid 'Best Price' Policy: Putting a Floor on Discounts
Working Americans are often paying too much for pharmaceuticals because of still another wrongheaded regulation. It's called the Medicaid "Best Price" policy.

But here's the catch: If an HMO or another private buyer got a bigger break, the manufacturer had to extend the same discount to all the Medicaid programs in the fifty states. Suddenly, it became extremely expensive to give deep discounts to pharmacy benefits managers or drugstore chains. The additional business didn't come close to paying for the lost revenue from Medicaid. In a short time, the rule put a floor under discounts of -- you guessed it -- 16%.
Fortune 2009

Hidden Drain
Many of the most compelling reasons for health care reform are medical or moral in nature, such as insuring the 46 million Americans without health coverage and expanding access to care. But health care is also an economic issue, and there is a strong case to be made that reforming the system is essential to the long-term recovery of our economy. At a health care reform summit in March, President Obama said that “[i]f we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy and get our federal budget under control, then we have to address the crushing cost of health care…”2 This is exactly right. Health care is an evermore-costly-burden that weighs down government, businesses, and workers alike. In the midst of recession, these costs become even more unbearable, greatly hindering all parties’ ability to recover from economic catastrophe—and making health care reform a top priority.

Crippling Government Costs
This year, the United States is projected to spend a whopping $2.5 trillion on health care—about the same amount of money that the federal government has spent on recession-related bail-outs since December 2007.3 (And this is without taking into
account the indirect costs of an ineffective health care system, such as the $207 billion in economic losses that the U.S. suffers every year because of the poor health and shorter lifespan of people without health insurance.)4 According to the most recent OECD data, health care spending eats up more than 15 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product(GDP), a far greater proportion than in comparable countries around the world. New America Foundation 2009

Will the Deficit Save Health Reform?
If the latest budget projections are keeping you up at night, the best way to ease your troubled mind is to support health-care reform.

You've probably already heard that the deficit projections released yesterday are a threat to the president's plan to reform health care. In fact, Reuters tried to tell you this a week ago, in a story headlined "New deficit projections pose risks to Obama's agenda." But these critics, and Reuters, are wrong. The latest deficit projections make reforming health care -- the inclusion of a public insurance option -- all the more important.

Opponents of health-care reform are using that jaw-dropping number to say that Americans can't afford to pursue health-care reform, never mind that the president and congressional Democrats intend for the bill to be deficit neutral or that the math and budget experts both testify that most of the deficit is a hangover from the Bush years. (Indeed, all of the measures enacted by President Barack Obama to combat the recession have only added about $300 billion to what the deficit would have been had President George W. Bush's policies continued through 2009.)

The single major driver of growth in government spending is health care, which is increasing widely out of proportion to population growth and, if left unchecked, could make up 25 percent of the United States' gross domestic product by 2025. Proposals currently under discussion in Congress aim to slow the growth in health-care expenses with a variety of policy tools, including a public plan that could increase competition (and thus lower costs overall), cutting deals with various industry stakeholders to find savings, new studies to determine the most cost-effective ways to treat illness, and an independent board to study Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and set more realistic prices.

First of all, reform will provide more information to policy-makers. Studies of comparative effectiveness and data from a public insurance plan will provide a deeper understanding of inefficiencies in the system and the solutions to those inefficiencies. The White House Council of Economic Advisers has also estimated that health-care reform will lead to increases in GDP, reaching over 2 percent in 2020 that would lead to proportional increases in tax revenue and lower deficits. But most important, eliminating the "crazy system of cross-subsidies," as Center for Budget and Policy Priorities economist Jim Horney calls the complex interweaving of publicly and privately subsidized care for the under- and uninsured, would create a much simpler framework for future cost-reduction efforts.

"It really is important to get universal or near-universal coverage in order to help create a system that is more sensible," Horney explains. "That system will help us to design [more efficient] reimbursement systems." The American Prospect 2009

Our health is our future, it impacts everything we do. If we're to be the best country, we need to be the best people, and that means healthy people utilizing education, experience and science to enact thoughtful legislation that keeps us on the cutting edge. We've fallen off the map when it comes to health care, we have the money and the technology to be the best and in doing so we secure our future.

Ten Myths About Health Care Reform
Myth 1: Health care reform will limit patient choice.
Myth 2: Americans will lose their existing coverage.
Myth 3: The government will ration care.
Myth 4: Affordable health care reform will create a government monopoly.
Myth 5: A new public program will only drive-up health care costs.
Myth 6: Health care reform in Massachusetts is “an unfolding disaster.”
Myth 7: Being uninsured is not a problem; it’s people’s own fault.
Myth 8: Illegal immigrants are driving the nation’s uninsured problem.
Myth 9: Health care reform won’t save money.
Myth 10: Deregulating the health care industry will solve the health crisis.Wonkroom at Thinkprogress 2009

September 2, 2009

Government Health Care - Too Expensive - Too Controlling - Too Important. Part Two

The US Government in the Health Insurance business? The arguments, when you can get down to those that are A) Real and B) Relevant, are varied. I've had a bit of difficulty drilling down to this list but think I've come to the gist of it. In part one we discussed the costs, in this entry we will review the 'Too Controlling' issue.

It will be too controlling! I don't want GOVERNMENT in charge of my body! They can't be trusted with anything.

I could take this more seriously if we were living in Iran or Burma, where 'President for Life' is no joke. But we're not. We get to elect our government. If we don't like the job they do, we don't vote for them. What control do you think you have over CEOs of the corporation that own YOUR health insurance company? You'd need to hold or at least have influence over 51% or more of the corporate stock to have any say at all. A government run program designed and overseen by people YOU elect, or a corporate entity who's stated purpose and legal obligation is to secure profits?

But lets take a look around, just to be sure:

U.S. Health Care Puts Profit Over People
Modern medicine has morphed from a healing profession into a business where the primacy of profit takes precedence over greater human needs. Trusting relationships with medical professionals have taken a back seat to efficiency standards as patients are rushed through doctors’ offices. Physicians for a Seattle P.I. 2007

Harvard Researchers Say Insurers Put Profits Over Health
More than a decade after Harvard researchers first revealed that life and health insurance companies were major investors in tobacco stocks - prompting calls upon them to divest - the insurance industry has yet to kick the habit, they say. Medical News Today 2009

McConnell Puts Profits Over People Yet Again
Fifty million people are one tragedy away from bankruptcy because of the greed and excess of the insurance companies and who does McConnell side with?? The insurance companies of course. I mean, he has his taxpayer funded coverage, so why should he care about the taxpayer?? He can not even respect us enough to make a dental appointment. Hillbilly Report 2009

Blue Cross Praised Employees who Dropped Sick Policyholders, Lawmaker Says
The state's largest for-profit health insurer told The Times 18 months ago that it did not tie employee performance evaluations to rescission activity. And executives with Blue Cross parent company WellPoint Inc. reiterated that position today. But documents obtained by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and released today show that the company's employee performance evaluation program did include a review of rescission activity. Los Angeles Times 2009

The Journal - Profits Over People
Bill Moyer hosts former insurance insider Wendell Potter on Health Care Reform.

And now for a sub-category of 'It's too controlling' -

It's Un-American Socialism! Private opportunity and and the free market are the American Way!

So, you're a 'Free Marketer', are you? Well so am I. But this country hasn't seen a "Free Market" in decades. When corporations with profits larger than that of most countries employ media companies, lawyers and lobbyists that outspend local efforts $15-1, utilize psychologically designed media, file frivolous lawsuits and make bribes to government officials, there is no "Free Market" only a "for sale to the highest bidder" market. If we were still a developing country, I might find that the proposed "gist" of the reform legislation and it's costs would be too much to bear. But we are not. The only thing we spend more on in America than health care is military, and we outspend every other country on the planet 20 times over for our military. However our military dominates the world, our health care does not.

August 17, 2009

Government Health Care - Too Expensive - Too Controlling - Too Important

The US Government in the Health Insurance business? The arguments, when you can get down to those that are A) Real and B) Relevant, are varied. I've had a bit of difficulty drilling down to this list but think I've come to the gist of it.

It will be too expensive. Not only will it cost more for taxpayers and employers, but private insurance holders will see premium increases!

I didn't find much data to back up any part of this statement. I expected to find short term, up front increases with long term and periphery cost decreases. What I in fact found was both short and long term savings, and with periphery costs (lower overall costs to treat due to better health resulting from access to health care, less costs due to decreasing stress levels) included the savings would be enough to make an oil company drool with envy.

Survey Shows Private Health Insurance Premiums Rose 11.2% in 2004
Premiums Increased at Five Times The Rate of Growth in Workers’ Earnings and Inflation. About Five Million Fewer Workers Covered By Their Own Employer’s Health Insurance Since 2001. Kaiser Family Foundation
In the U.S., job insecurity equals health insecurity. Without significant subsidies to buy into COBRA, most unemployed workers will also quickly morph into uninsured workers. Healthpopuli .com

For the seventh straight year, premiums for employer-based health insurance rose more than twice as fast as overall inflation and wages, an annual survey of employers shows. (2006) McClatchy Newspapers
Workers face more cost-sharing in the form of higher deductibles and co-pays. (2008) American Medical News

And then there are the peripherals....

Health Care Scandal has Real Victims. The U.S. health care system is an open scandal. We devote far more of our national income to health care than any other industrial nation. Yet we get worse results -- higher child mortality, higher deaths from breast cancer, less prevention and more expense. If you have wealth, the best medicine in the world is available to you. If you are poor, or increasingly a middle- or low-income family, too often you will lack insurance or be vastly under insured. You will forgo costly tests and let illnesses fester until they become debilitating. Chicago Sun Times

Hidden Costs of Health Care Report. Rising deductibles, Higher Co-payments and Escalating out of pocket costs. Healthreform .gov

The cost of job stress to American industry is estimated at $150 billion per year thru absenteeism, lower productivity, health insurance and medical expenses. Examinetics

And it turns out that a large portion of the profits you provide these companies is being spent to ensure they can continue squeezing the turnip that is apparently you.

Pharmaceutical Companies

Insurance Companies
That's it for part one, "It's too expensive!" Stay tuned for "It's too Controlling!"

May 18, 2009

May 30th: National Day of Action For Single Payer

SarahLee's diary ::

Nationwide Rallies for Improved Medicare for All

Join thousands of single-payer supporters in a nationwide week of action to support improved Medicare for all (HR 676). Single-payer activists will be gathering all over the country to say, "Healthcare, yes; Insurance companies, no," and to show solidarity with demonstrations at the AHIP (American Health Insurance Plans, a private health insurance lobby) conference in San Diego.

If an action isn't already in your city, plan your own day of action! It can be a town hall meeting, demonstration in front of a local insurance company, film showing, vigil, or your own unique idea. Let us know what you'd like to start planning by contacting
47 million Americans are uninsured. Private insurance rates are rising faster than inflation and our incomes. By 2025 the cost of private health insurance will exceed our projected income. A national, single-payer healthcare system is the only healthcare reform option that will cover every American resident while saving us billions of dollars. The majority of Americans want it. The majority of physicians want it. The only thing missing is the political will in Washington.

Demonstration Locations

Planning is happening in:
Albany, NY - May 27th Atlana, GA - May 27th Augusta, ME - May 30th Austin, TX - May 30th Billings, MT - May 16th Boston, MA - May 30th Chicago, IL - June 2nd Denver, CO - May 30th Elmwood Park, NJ - June 5 Fenton, MI - May 21st Gainesville, FL - May 28th & 30th Greeley, CO - May 30th Indianapolis, IN - May 20th Lawrence, KS - May 30th Los Angeles, CA - TBA Louisville, KY - May 28th Middleton, CT - May 28th New Albany, IN - May 30th New York City, NY - May 30th Philadelphia, PA - May 30th Pittsburgh, PA - May 29th Phoenix, AZ - May 30th Pontiac, MI - June 16th Portland, OR - May 27th Princeton, NJ - May 31st Rochester, NY - May 30th San Diego, CA - June 3rd San Francisco, CA - TBA Seattle, WA - May 30th Springfield, MA - May 27th Tampa, FL - TBA Topeka, KS - May 30th Towson, MD - May 30th Wheaton, MD - May 30th

Click here to get more info from DailyKos

Take a little time out of your day to learn how it can be done, and IS being done, in five democracies around the world. Click here, and watch Frontline's 'Sick Around the World', get details on the five countries already providing this stabilizing, cost cutting service to their citizens.

United Kingdom

An interview with an expert on the UK's system +
Percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on health care: 8.3
Average family premium: None; funded by taxation.
Co-payments: None for most services; some co-pays for dental care, eyeglasses and 5 percent of prescriptions. Young people and the elderly are exempt from all drug co-pays.


An interview with an expert on Japan's system +
Percentage of GDP spent on health care: 8
Average family premium: $280 per month, with employers paying more than half.
Co-payments: 30 percent of the cost of a procedure, but the total amount paid in a month is capped according to income.


An interview with an expert on Germany's system +
Percentage of GDP spent on health care: 10.7
Average family premium: $750 per month; premiums are pegged to patients' income.
Co-payments: 10 euros ($15) every three months; some patients, like pregnant women, are exempt.


An interview with an expert on Taiwan's system +
Percentage GDP spent on health care: 6.3
Average family premium: $650 per year for a family for four.
Co-payments: 20 percent of the cost of drugs, up to $6.50; up to $7 for outpatient care; $1.80 for dental and traditional Chinese medicine. There are exemptions for major diseases, childbirth, preventive services, and for the poor, veterans, and children.


An interview with an expert on Switzerland's system +
Percentage of GDP spent on health care: 11.6
Average monthly family premium: $750, paid entirely by consumers; there are government subsidies for low-income citizens.
Co-payments: 10 percent of the cost of services, up to $420 per year.

April 26, 2009

Help me ID this Viola - Garden Specimen Pics

Can you help me ID this viola? I bought it a few years ago for a spring sun, summer shade garden and remember it being called African pansy, the trouble is this plant doesn't resemble the plant of the same name when compared to photos online. These leaves are very heart shaped like a puffy heart and the underneath is purplish. It is unaffected by slugs, readily self sows, and as this past winter has proven, can withstand heavy snow and weeks of below freezing temperatures. I've never fertilized them. The few plants I purchased grow in a mound eight to ten inches high and have seeded dozens more and about one in ten have light green leaves and a more upright than mounded habit. They didn't flower this year until I brushed away the leaf mulch but then performed better than ever. I would really like to know what I have here so if the picture or description rings a bell for you please drop
me a message. I will add more photos later. Thanks and hope are are enjoying your spring!

Below are some pictures of the plants growing in the garden. I originally planted 3 r four plants, all along the far edge of the garden just before the hill drops off. Now, as you can see, there are lots of them scattered about.

Throwback or hybrid, lighter more 'viola' looking leaves and a lighter purple color flower.

A self seeded plant of the originally planted variety.

Here you can see the darker original alongside the lighter throwback/hybrid.

Here (easier to see if you click on the photo for the larger view) you can see the self seeded plants (and the weeds I've yet to pluck).

April 14, 2009

Sarah Palin: DOH!

"Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin acknowledges global warming is affecting her state,

But the former GOP vice presidential candidate contends gas drilling will help curb rising temperatures"

Update: US wind usage animation below appears to show NO ONE in Alaska has heard the wind howling and thought to take advantage of it.

"We Alaskans are living with the changes that you are observing in Washington," she said. "The dramatic decreases in the extent of summer sea ice, increased coastal erosion, melting of permafrost, decrease in alpine glaciers and overall ecosystem changes are very real to us." At Tuesday's hearing, she made it clear that she recognizes the problem of global warming and cast energy development as part of the answer. Conservation groups warn that plunging drilling pads into the frozen Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and in Bristol Bay could open the door to a catastrophic oil spill in one of the Earth's most fragile environments. Read the entire article HERE.

And, just as a reminder:

Exxonmobil pays skeptic groups. Defending their right to profits before congress, why would they pay for something if they could get it for free? Click HERE

"The southeast Alaska Panhandle has wind resources consistent with utility-scale production. Major areas of excellent and outstanding resource are found on the ridge crests throughout the region and on the interior marine passageways. Population centers located close to excellent resource areas on these marine passageways include Ketchikan, Petersburg, Juneau, and Skagway."

Wind Turbine - A Social Network; A Wind Powering America Supporting Partner

UPDATE: The good folks at have posted a US wind usage animation. I've added and linked it below. Having the most potential for energy doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone in Alaska yet.

(End Edit)

With such an abundant, 'God Given' resource available, why is she still talking about oil? What could her motives POSSIBLY be? Oh... Oil Money of course! ('08 cycle alone, KNOWING the Democrats were coming into the majority)

March 24, 2009

Boom Boom! Out Go the Lights! Earth Hour 2009

The power plant pictured below, planned to go online from a near downtown location, no longer has to thanks to an equal amount of energy SAVED through conservation alone. No noise or pollution, no resources wasted, no energy burned. Click the image to get the details, then be sure to share them with your city, county and state officials.

March 16, 2009

Stop Subsidies for Big Oil

Think oil companies should pay their fair share of taxes? So does President Obama. In his budget, the President has proposed cutting billions of dollars in special subsidies and tax loopholes for oil and gas companies.

But Big Oil is already fighting back. Like other corporate special interests, they're lobbying heavily to gut Obama's budget.

So we've got to be louder than Big Oil, and remind our elected representatives that they work for us, not ExxonMobil.

A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to your Senators and Representative.

"Obama seeks repeal of industry tax breaks, subsidies," Greenwire, February 26, 2009.

"Exxon 2008 profit: A record $45 billion,", January 30, 2009.

"Obama budget boosts green spending,", February 26, 2009.

February 7, 2009

Obama Speaks to America on the Economy

The above image, created by Paul Rosenberg at Open Left, shows figures that combine data from Moody's and Dean Baker's Center for Economic Policy and Research. It shows the return on investment for different stimulus options. The takeaway? Food stamps, unemployment benefits, and infrastructure investment put the most money back into the economy for every dollar spent on them. Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy do the least. (A payroll tax holiday, which is essentially a tax break for poor people, isn't so bad.) Job creation maps similarly.

So when conservatives tell you that FDR's public investment programs made the depression worse and that we need to hold fast to the conservative economic principles that created the current mess, shoot them this link. Perhaps President Obama should use that snazzy new BlackBerry of his to email it to his Republican opponents in Congress.

In the video below, commonly asked questions regarding the stimulus package are answered in clear, easy to understand terms.

Solid cutting edge infrastructure has been the secret weapon of every successful country/kingdom/empire. Our (US) interstate highway system is one of relatively few key reasons for our success. Without it we wouldn't have been able to transport goods (metals during the war, food always) across our vast country quickly and efficiently. We took one giant step forward after WWII, and it was because we put building a national infrastructure for transportation, water, power and food as well as communications on a double-step fast track. We are still working with that infrastructure in all parts of the country today, and more places than you would think still run entirely on that old system.

It is my belief that it is time to close up the foreign lending shop for a while, hang out an 'Under Construction' sign and get to work re-working our workings! We have the information and technology, the manpower the money and most of all the WILL to remake our systems into more efficient, longer lasting, safer systems that will once again throw us headlong over the goal post of expectations just as we have done in the past.

Internet communications lends itself to working from home or local 'communal' office spaces, lends itself to fewer flights, fewer buildings spewing carbon, fewer drivers, fewer accidents. The technology noted above is only a fraction of what is available.

There are still going to be jobs to be done, but new and different jobs. There will still be things to be sold, but different things. Business will not come to an end, it will just change. I think this will lead to more businesses ending up in the hands of the small business owners, the local communities. Working, shopping and eating local.

February 4, 2009

A Tough Week For Coal - No Clean Coal

A Tough Week for Coal

February 4, 2009, 8:44 am — Updated: 12:34 pm -->
Tom Zeller Jr.

Protesters chained themselves to an excavator at a coal operation in West Virginia on Tuesday. (Photo: West Virginia Blue/Flickr)

The coal industry, which suffers from an image problem to begin with, has had a particularly rough few days. Without additional interpretation, we present a selection of articles, published over just the last 48 hours, from around the Web:

A Bad Week for Coal Plants in North-Central MontanaLast Thursday, the Air Force announced that it had rejected proposals to build a large coal-to-liquid-fuels plant at or near Malmstrom Air Force Base. Tuesday, Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission announced it is giving up on a proposed coal-fired power plant northeast of the city, at least for now.

Anti-Coal Activists Chain Themselves to Equipment at Massey OperationFourteen people were cited by State Police today in two separate protests against Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal operations in southern West Virginia.

W.Va. Towns With Bad Well Water Sue Coal Companies About 250 people with orange and black water in their taps are suing eight coal companies they believe poisoned wells in two southern West Virginia communities.

Click Here to read the remaining "Bad Coal Day" Headlines from the NYTimes.

Just as a reminder, There Is No Clean Coal.

The Myth of Clean Coal
The coal industry and its allies are spending more than $60 million to promote the notion that coal is clean. But so far, “clean coal” is little more than an advertising slogan.

Collapse of the Clean Coal Myth
More broadly, the authority’s recent travails may help persuade the public that coal is nowhere near as “clean” as a high-priced industry advertising campaign makes it out to be.

Even Obama has been duped,
I hope his promise to listen more to science than corporations is one he intends to keep.

January 13, 2009

What I Had for Dinner - Shrimp Jambalaya

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well it WAS, and it only took about 45 minutes to prepare. Thanks to a sale at my local grocer and a tip from a television cook that stuck, I managed this great tasting meal fast.

I started with one of the boxes I picked up at 10 for $10. The store was offering 2 varieties of the Zatarain's mixes, the Red Beans and Rice along with the New Orleans style Jambalaya Mix. I usually try to get my foods from the health food section of my local Fred Meyers store, but when I see a deal like this I start comparing labels. A few pennies and sometimes a few dollars savings aren't enough to convince me to eat what I read on some of those labels. But while the ingredients on the Zatarains didn't make me all warm and fuzzy, thiamine mononitrate {I don't like to see any nitrate or nitrite on the label}, thiamine hydrochloride and MSG were the only objectionable items so I went with it considering the cost saving was $2.39 per box!

The shrimp was picked up at the same store during the same shopping trip. As I was passing by the wall of freezers containing the processed fish and premade burger patties, I remembered an episode of Good Eats in which Alton Brown explains that the only ingredients one wants to see on a bag of frozen shrimp is shrimp, water and possibly salt. Any other ingredient is a preservative, adding to weight, detracting from flavor and producing an odd slimy/mushy texture. I decided to see if my grocer carried this 'plain' variety. Of the 4 I found, only one was 'plain. 'Arctic Shores' is what I brought home. These were individually flash frozen, raw, shell on ez-peels. You'll want to feel the bag in the store, make sure the shrimps are separate (mostly) and not one giant lump. This indicates the bag has been thawed at least partially and then re-frozen. Re-freezing degrades the texture and taste of the shrimp. I pulled about 15 from the bag, pulled apart the few that had stuck together, and lay them flat on a paper towel while I prepared the Jambalaya mix. You could just as easily pull that package of smoked chicken apple sausage from costco out and chop it up, or a Johnsonville's Brat.

I diverge just a little from the preparations listed on the box, but not much and you don't have to at all. First, of the 2 1/2 cups of water called for, I substituted 1 cup of Pacific organic vegetable stock and dropped about 1/8 of the water since I was going to be adding frozen shrimps. Pacific's line of stocks are very tasty, I think the fact that they come in a carton rather than a tin can is a large reason for this. Organic stocks and broths are available, even a free range organic chicken stock. YUM! Also, I have a little red pepper flake and garlic in a grinder and used about 5 turns of that along with a turn or two from the black pepper grinder in with the stock, water and olive oil. When that came to a boil I added the mix as directed but set the timer to 23 minutes instead of 25. And DO NOT add the shrimp at this point as directed.
I hate over cooked seafood, and so should you. The taste and texture are bad, and memorable. You only need to cook a frozen shrimp about 5 minutes, and a thawed one about 3 minutes. The difference between 5 and 3 minutes is stringy, rubbery, hard and tasteless VS tender, succulent and flavorful.
Like any rice dish, do not lift the lid during cooking after bringing it to a boil and then reducing the heat. The steaming process is critical to the liquid absorption and cooking process. In this case, we have to make one exception so we have to do it quick. At the 22 minute point move the shrimps over near the stove, at 23 lift the lid and stick the shrimps in by the tale quickly around the outside of the pan but not touching the pan edge. Raise the temp just slightly from simmer, recover quickly and cook for the remaining 2 minutes. Turn off the stove and remove from heat at 25 minutes. Let stand covered for about 7 minutes. Just a little longer than the directions call for, since we are starting with frozen shrimps.

When the time is up LIFT THE LID! If you're like me, your mouth has been watering for about 20 minutes. Give the Jambalaya a quick light fluff and let it set for just another moment while you get a nice wide, shallow bowl. If you happen to have a lime, a quick squeeze would taste great right over the top. I didn't....

A couple of toasted cracked wheat sourdough slices with a light coating of real butter on the side and I had a nearly perfect dinner. "What?" you say? Why not perfect? Well, that comes tonight! Jambalaya is one of those dishes that really comes into it's own the second night. Most foods fall into this category in my opinion. Really, only some fish dishes are the exception. Tonight is the perfect dinner night for me.
Some other things I could have added to this dish, fresh or preserved tomatoes comes to mind. Any sort of cooked meat really, and I almost considered roasting up some fingerling potatoes and tossing those in. It still sounds really really good, something about the texture made my mind think that double carb was perfectly normal. My logical brain won out, no potatoes this time. I suppose any of your leftover veggies and meats could be added and this would only get better and better.

Follow this link for a full 'from scratch' recipe from the folks at Yumsugar.

January 6, 2009

The Bush Administration's Dirty Time Line

From the beginning of President George W. Bush's first term through 2005, NRDC compiled a comprehensive account of his administration's actions on environmental matters. You can use the links above to search the Record's hundreds of stories or to browse by topic, or click here to view by date.

You can follow the timeline to see some of the 'lowlights' of the Bush administration's environmental actions between 2001 and 2008 -- dismantling safeguards, ignoring climate concerns, marginalizing sound science and catering to industries that endangered Americans' health and natural heritage.

January 4, 2009

Eyeless in Gaza - Lets Help Them to See

"Israel has bombed the power plants, water and sewage treatment facilities, and restricted movement in and out of Gaza which has essentially become the world's largest standing concentration camp. Why? What is this about? And why is Israel getting away with this starkly inhumane treatment?

Before you start lecturing me about what the Palestinians have done to bring this upon themselves, stop. No. I'm well aware of the tortuous politics of the Middle East (or West Asia, if you prefer). Here's a timeline of the events leading up to today's report of tanks entering the much-bombed and repeatedly destroyed strip of Gaza."

Everything you ever wanted to know about the fiasco in Gaza but could never figure out, thanks to Mainstream Media. Please take the time to click on the title link or the 'Shrinking Palestine' image to read the whole, informative article.

The Center for Public Integrity

The 380,000-plus-word database presented here allows, for the first time, the Iraq-related public pronouncements of top Bush administration officials to be tracked on a day-by-day basis against their private assessments and the actual “ground truth” as it is now known. Throughout the database, passages containing false statements by the top Bush administration officials are highlighted in yellow. The 935 false statements in the database may also be accessed by selecting the “False Statements” option from the “Subject” pull-down menu and may be displayed within selected date ranges using the selection tool below. Searches may also be limited by person or subject, or both, by using the appropriate selections from the pull-down menus.