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Alarm system at your fingertips

May 30th, 2009


Subject:  What to take to bed with you – not a joke
Pretty neat idea. Never thought of it before.  

Put your car keys beside your
Bed at night

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr’s office, the check
-
Out girl at the market, everyone you run across..  Put your car keys beside your bed at night.
If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the
Panic button for your car.  The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound
Until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.  This tip came from a neighborhood watch
Coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away,
Think of this:  It’s a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no
Installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep
Honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob
Chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.  If your car alarm goes off when
Someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won’t stick around.
After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out
There and sure enough the criminal won’t want that. And remember to carry your keys
While walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is
Something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual
Abuse crime..  P.S. I am sending this to everyone I know because I think it is fantastic.
Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can’t reach a
Phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he
Falls outside and she doesn’t hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she’ll know
there’s a problem..
  Please pass this on even IF you’ve read it before. It’s
A reminder.




 

   

 

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Brilliant Hawkins speech

May 26th, 2009

Brilliant Commencement Address at the University of Portland, by visionary  Paul Hawken

Commencement Address to the Class of 2009

University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009

“When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there.

But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation – but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement.

Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food – but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.
The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen.

Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done.
Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true.  Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots.
Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown – Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood – and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved.
Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit.
And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets.
Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product.
We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected.
Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms.
The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe – exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party.
Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation.
You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence.
Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer.
Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

~~~~~
Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author. His books include Blessed Unrest.

A friend wrote:

Paul Hawken author of Blessed Unrest has become justifiably famous, but his bio on his site does not tell about his roots in Haight Ashbury and the sixties psychedelic era of transformation.  In fact if you look at the acknowledgements for Tom Wolfe’s “Electric Koolaid Acid Test” you will see mentioned Paul Hawken.    He was already pretty visionary in the sixties and was linked to a lot of social movements such as the Diggers, as well as psychedelics.    The book that describes his role best is “Acid Dreams” .   Hawken is an “alumnus” of the time and place doing good today for the planet….

Life is a wave. Your attitude is your surfboard.
Stay stoked & aim for the light!

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Chomsky! speaks out with noble integrity

May 21st, 2009

 

 

American Amnesia: We Forget Our Atrocities Almost As Soon as We Commit Them

 

By Noam Chomsky, Tomdispatch.com. Posted May 20, 2009.

 

Historical amnesia is a dangerous social phenomenon because it lays the groundwork for crimes that still lie ahead.

 

Also in Rights and Liberties

 

 

 

 by the White House elicited shock, indignation, and surprise. The shock and indignation are understandable. The surprise, less so.

 

For one thing, even without inquiry, it was reasonable to suppose that Guantanamo was a torture chamber. Why else send prisoners where they would be beyond the reach of the law — a place, incidentally, that Washington is using in violation of a treaty forced on Cuba at the point of a gun? Security reasons were, of course, alleged, but they remain hard to take seriously. The same expectations held for the Bush administration‘s “black sites,” or secret prisons, and for extraordinary rendition, and they were fulfilled.

 

More importantly, torture has been routinely practiced from the early days of the conquest of the national territory, and continued to be used as the imperial ventures of the “infant empire” — as George Washington called the new republic — extended to the Philippines, Haiti, and elsewhere. Keep in mind as well that torture was the least of the many crimes of aggression, terror, subversion, and economic strangulation that have darkened U.S. history, much as in the case of other great powers.

 

Accordingly, what’s surprising is to see the reactions to the release of those Justice Department memos, even by some of the most eloquent and forthright critics of Bush malfeasance: Paul Krugman, for example, writing that we used to be “a nation of moral ideals” and never before Bush “have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for.” To say the least, that common view reflects a rather slanted version of American history.

 

Occasionally the conflict between “what we stand for” and “what we do” has been forthrightly addressed. One distinguished scholar who undertook the task at hand was Hans Morgenthau, a founder of realist international relations theory. In a classic study published in 1964 in the glow of Camelot, Morgenthau developed the standard view that the U.S. has a “transcendent purpose”: establishing peace and freedom at home and indeed everywhere, since “the arena within which the United States must defend and promote its purpose has become world-wide.” But as a scrupulous scholar, he also recognized that the historical record was radically inconsistent with that “transcendent purpose.”

 

We should not be misled by that discrepancy, advised Morgenthau; we should not “confound the abuse of reality with reality itself.” Reality is the unachieved “national purpose” revealed by “the evidence of history as our minds reflect it.” What actually happened was merely the “abuse of reality.”

 

The release of the torture memos led others to recognize the problem. In the New York Times, columnist Roger Cohen reviewed a new book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, by British journalist Geoffrey Hodgson, who concludes that the U.S. is “just one great, but imperfect, country among others.” Cohen agrees that the evidence supports Hodgson’s judgment, but nonetheless regards as fundamentally mistaken Hodgson’s failure to understand that “America was born as an idea, and so it has to carry that idea forward.” The American idea is revealed in the country’s birth as a “city on a hill,” an “inspirational notion” that resides “deep in the American psyche,” and by “the distinctive spirit of American individualism and enterprise” demonstrated in the Western expansion. Hodgson’s error, it seems, is that he is keeping to “the distortions of the American idea,” “the abuse of reality.”

 

Let us then turn to “reality itself”: the “idea” of America from its earliest days.

 

“Come Over and Help Us”

 

The inspirational phrase “city on a hill” was coined by John Winthrop in 1630, borrowing from the Gospels, and outlining the glorious future of a new nation “ordained by God.” One year earlier his Massachusetts Bay Colony created its Great Seal. It depicted an Indian with a scroll coming out of his mouth. On that scroll are the words “Come over and help us.” The British colonists were thus pictured as benevolent humanists, responding to the pleas of the miserable natives to be rescued from their bitter pagan fate.

 

 

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Lady in the Justice Dept. DID THE RIGHT THING!

May 7th, 2009
Ehren Watada
Image via Wikipedia

West Hawaii Today

By GENE JOHNSON
the Associated Press

SEATTLE — The Justice
Department is dropping its
attempt to retry the first
commissioned officer to be
court-martialed for refusing
to go to Iraq.
Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada
of Hawaii contended that
the war is illegal and that
he would be a party to war
crimes if he served in Iraq.
His first court-martial
ended in a mistrial in
February 2007.
A federal judge ruled last
fall that the Army could not
try him again on key charges,
including missing troop
movement, because it would
violate his constitutional
right to be free from double
jeopardy.
The Justice Department
initially appealed to the
9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals, but later asked the
court to dismiss the matter.
The court did so
Wednesday.
Watada’s attorney, James
Lobsenz, said in a news
release that his client anticipates
he will soon be released
from active duty and “plans
to return to civilian life and
to attend law school.”
But Fort Lewis leadership
is still mulling how to handle
two remaining allegations
of conduct unbecoming an
officer against Watada that
the federal judge had kicked
back to the military trial
court for further consideration.
Options include courtmartial,
nonjudicial punishment
such as docking his pay
or giving him extra work, or
kicking him out of the Army
with either an honorable or
dishonorable discharge.
“What is most troubling to
us here is that the most serious
charge of missing movement
will not be decided
upon by a jury of the lieutenant’s
peers,” said Army
spokesman Joe Piek. “We’re
troubled by that on that on
behalf of the hundreds of
thousands of soldiers who
have deployed.” 

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My letter about Ehren–intro by Shannon

May 7th, 2009

Aloha friends,
 
It is hard to believe, but the military still wants to prosecute Lt. Ehren Watada for refusing to deploy to Iraq because he knows that to do so would violate his oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign as well as DOMESTIC.  In his trial in 2007, the army’s own witnesses testified favorably for Ehren, so the army prosecutors moved for a mistrial, which was granted.  In an attempt to prosecute Ehren for a second time, a new judge declared that to try Ehren a second time would be double jeopardy.  The army is now appealing that judgment to the Department of Justice.  The Solicitor General, Elena Kagan will decide the appeal.  Also, the army wants to prosecute Ehren for speaking out about why he refused to deploy to Iraq making freedom of speech for military officers a crime.
 
Below is a letter to Ms. Kagan from Barbara Moore, a friend, asking her to please do the right thing and deny that appeal.  Ehren was supposed to be out of the army in 2006, he has been held three years past his enlistment a virtual prisoner with no route for him to take to be discharged.
 
I want to ask you to help in a effort to bring justice for Ehren, he has “served” his time and should be allowed to go on with his life not prosecuted for refusing to validate an illegal and immoral war and commit war crimes.  Using the AskDOJ@usdoj.gov email address for Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, please send a note in support of Ehren for his release from the charges and from captivity.
 
Mahalo,
Shannon  
 
   
—– Original Message —–
From: Barbara Moore <mailto:dfly@dragonflyranch.com>  
To: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 11:31 PM
Subject: Re: Lt. Ehren Watada

Aloha Solicitor General, Elena Kagan,


I understand that you are in a key position at the  Justice Department to recommend that the army drop its appeal of the mistrial  and resulting double jeopardy judgment in favor of freeing Lt. Ehren Watada. I  am impressed that you are a woman because I feel I can speak to you honestly  from my heart and you will hear me. I am writing to beg you to use your  authority to dismiss the immoral prosecution of this honorable  lieutenant.

I am proud to say that Ehren is a personal friend of mine.  I don’t  know if you are aware of the fact that his name, Ehren, means  ”honorable.”  Honorable describes Ehren Watada precisely. After  discovering the facts and realizing that the Iraq war was (and still is)  unconstitutional, Ehren courageously spoke the truth and defended his precious  Constitution. This was not an easy stand and it has already cost him huge  legal expenses, death threats, and humiliation, as well as emotional and  physical stress for not only him but for his supportive and loving family-not  to mention wasting three precious years of his young life.

Ehren will  go down in history books as a hero, being the first officer in the United  States Army who used his intelligence, had the courage of his convictions,  listened to and then acted upon his conscience to say NO to this grotesque  war. He obeyed his oath to defend the constitution-performing that oath  precisely as he agreed to do, while humbly alerting others. (Have you seen his  moving and eloquent 2006 speech in Seattle? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj0hI4OyF3A)  Questioning this man’s honor is obvioualy inappropriate. Forcing him to face  prosecution again or even requiring another day of “service” would be  unconscionable.

Ehren once said:

When you are   looking your children in the eye in the future, or when you are at the  end of  your life, you want to look back on your life and know that at a  very  important moment, when I had the opportunity to make the right  decisions, I  did so, even knowing there were negative  consequences.

As I am  sure you know, according to international law, those who follow immoral and  illegal orders, like the Nazis who murdered the Jews, are responsible for  their actions and should be punished. At a price of well over a million Iraqi  lives, an immense number of American lives of soldiers who have died or who  are destined to a life of living hell with debilitating DU in their systems  and horrible memories in their psyches, along with over a trillion dollars of  tax payers money, we all now know that this war has been a tremendous  FIASCO. Ehren investigated and knew it before others were willing to admit it.  No one questions anymore that this war was and still is, a mistake. So why  would we not honor a man for recognizing the wrongness of this immoral and  illegal war, refusing to mindlessly take orders in violation of our War  Power Act of the Constitution as well as the UN Charter, the  Geneva Convention and the Nuremberg Principles?

I humbly   beseech you, as a woman with a very intelligent and well educated brain,  a kind heart (judging by your looks), and a refined sense of  conscience–please make the right decision by encouraging the release of this  noble man, Lt. Ehren Watada–with an HONORABLE discharge. It is the  just thing for a person in your position in the Justice Department to  do. I realize that such a decision will take courage on your part. I  appreciate the unique position you are in and sincerely pray that you have the  moral fiber it takes to deliberate carefully and make this judgment  correctly.

Respectably yours,

Barbara Moore
Honaunau, HI   96726

PS After you tell the army that this man deserves an  honorable discharge immediately, please come to the Dragonfly Ranch for  R&R!

“In the Sweetness of Friendship,
let there be Laughter
and the Sharing of Pleasures ”
Khalil Gibran
Barbara Ann Kenonilani Moore
President of Hawaii Island Wellness Travel Association (HIWTA.org)
soul proprietor of Dragonfly Ranch: HEALING ARTS CENTER
Voted #1 B&B in West Hawaii by readers of West Hawaii Today daily paper
(808)328-2159
http://dragonflyranch.com
where Aloha abounds
72 degrees and sunny on Big Island’s Kona Coast



 

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Write to Help End Noble Lt. Watada Agony

May 2nd, 2009

End the U.S. Army’s prosecution of Lt. Ehren Watada! PDF Print E-mail Image The Justice Department can say no to Army’s legal appeal;

“Dear Solicitor General: Tell the Army to drop the appeal against Lt. Watada”

By the Ad Hoc Campaign to Free Ehren Watada. April 27, 2009 In June 2006, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada refused orders to Iraq on the grounds that the war was illegal and immoral. His court martial in February 2007 ended in an Army-contrived mistrial. In October 2007, the Army attempt to have a second court martial was stopped by a Federal judge who ruled that a second court martial would be double jeopardy. But the Army has not allowed Lt. Watada to leave military service. Instead, they have notified the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit of their plans to appeal the double jeopardy ruling. The Army has also threatened to revive old charges stemming from Lt. Watada’s speech in Seattle to the 2006 convention of Veterans For Peace. Justice Department to decide if Army will appeal double jeopardy ruling

The U.S. Solicitor General’s office in the Department of Justice will soon decide whether the Army can go ahead with its plans to appeal Federal Court rulings in Lt. Watada’s favor. An campaign of public pressure is being called by Lt. Watada’s supporters in the peace movement. The ad hoc campaign is being spearheaded by two Vietnam War resisters, Mike Wong and Gerry Condon, who are active members of Veterans for Peace in San Francisco and Seattle. The Call to Action is being issued in the name of Asian Americans for Peace and Justice, formerly the Watada Support Committee, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Project Safe Haven, a war resister support group. We are sending out this email alert to all our contacts and organizations – including Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, United For Peace and Justice, ANSWER, Code Pink, American Friends Service Committee and others.

We ask you all to phone, write, and email Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Deputy Attorney General Neal Katyal immediately.

1. Ask the Solicitor General: Tell the Army to drop the appeal and any other charges against Lt. Watada, and to release him from the Army with an honorable discharge. If we all act quickly, we can flood the Solicitor General’s office with hundreds of phone calls, letters and emails, which could tip the balance in Ehren Watada’s favor.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 202-514-2201 Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, 202-514-2206 Send letters to: U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530.

E-mails to AskDOJ@usdoj.govThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it will reach the Solicitor General and Attorney General Eric Holder.

A sample letter is included below. Feel free to edit as you wish, or to write your own. It is possible that both the Solicitor General and her Deputy may be open to our plea. Please be respectful and polite in all your communications with these Obama appointees.

2. Please forward this alert to all activists, friends, and organizations you know that would be supportive. If you are involved in an organization, please ask that it forward this alert to its entire membership.

3. We will approach the friendliest of our allies in Congress and ask them to make inquiries to the Justice Department. If you or your organization has contact with any members of Congress, please email Gerry Condon at projectsafehaven@hotmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it so we can coordinate our Congressional outreach.

4. Various groups may also wish to mount demonstrations, press conferences, lobby, or use other means of peaceful political pressure. You may also call for an end to the persecution of all war resisters. Mike Wong, Vice President, SF Bay Area Veterans For Peace; Asian Americans for Social Justice Gerry Condon, Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace; Project Safe Haven Sample letter:

Date

Solicitor General Elena Kagan Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Solicitor General Kagan and Deputy Solicitor General Katyal, I am writing to urge you to direct the U.S. Army to drop its appeal and any other charges in the case of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, and to release him from the Army with an Honorable Discharge.

Lt. Watada was the first Army officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, because he believes the U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, and that orders to participate in it are therefore also illegal and immoral. Lt. Watada’s Army court martial in February 2007 ended in a mistrial that was illegally construed by the Army judge, Lt. Col. John Head. When the Army then attempted a second court martial in October 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle halted the proceedings on double jeopardy grounds. Judge Settle had just been appointed to his position by George W. Bush and was a former Army JAG lawyer.

I urge you to uphold U.S. and international law by directing the Army to end its prolonged prosecution of Lt. Ehren Watada. Thank you very much.

 

Sincerely yours,

Mike Wong

 

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Democrats’ “Battered Wife Syndrome”

April 30th, 2009


****************************************************************
DEMOCRATS’ ‘BATTERED WIFE SYNDROME’
By Robert Parry

Consortium News
April 25, 2009

http://consortiumne ws.com/2009/ 042509.html

In recent years, the Washington political dynamic has often resembled an
abusive marriage, in which the bullying husband (the Republicans) slaps
the wife and kids around, and the battered wife (the Democrats) makes
excuses and hides the ugly bruises from outsiders to keep the family
together.

So, when the Republicans are in a position of power, they throw their
weight around, break the rules, and taunt: “Whaddya gonna do ‘bout it?”

Then, when the Republicans do the political equivalent of passing out on
the couch, the Democrats use their time in control, tiptoeing around,
tidying up the house and cringing at every angry grunt from the snoring
figure on the couch.

This pattern, which now appears to be repeating itself with President
Barack Obama’s unwillingness to hold ex-President George W. Bush and his
subordinates accountable for a host of crimes including torture, may have
had its origins 40 years ago in Campaign 1968 when the Vietnam War was
raging.

President Lyndon Johnson felt he was on the verge of achieving a
negotiated peace settlement when he learned in late October 1968 that
operatives working for Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon
were secretly sabotaging the Paris peace talks.

Nixon, who was getting classified briefings on the talks’ progress, feared
that an imminent peace accord might catapult Vice President Hubert
Humphrey to victory. So, Nixon’s team sent secret messages to South
Vietnamese leaders offering them a better deal if they boycotted Johnson’s
talks and helped Nixon to victory, which they agreed to do.

Johnson learned about Nixon’s gambit through wiretaps of the South
Vietnamese embassy and he confronted Nixon by phone (only to get an
unconvincing denial). At that point, Johnson knew his only hope was to
expose Nixon’s maneuver which Johnson called “treason” since it endangered
the lives of a half million American soldiers in the war zone.

As a *Christian Science Monitor* reporter sniffed out the story and sought
confirmation, Johnson consulted Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Defense
Secretary Clark Clifford about whether to expose Nixon’s ploy right before
the election. Both Rusk and Clifford urged Johnson to stay silent.

In what would become a Democratic refrain in the years ahead, Clifford
said in a Nov. 4, 1968, conference call that “Some elements of the story
are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be
good for the country to disclose the story and then possibly have a
certain individual [Nixon] elected. It could cast his whole
administration under such doubt that I think it would be inimical to our
country’s interests.”

So, Johnson stayed silent “for the good of the country”; Nixon eked out a
narrow victory over Humphrey; the Vietnam War continued for another four
years with an additional 20,763 U.S. dead and 111,230 wounded and more
than a million more Vietnamese killed.

Over the years, as bits and pieces of this story have dribbled out –
including confirmation from audiotapes released by the LBJ Library in
December 2008 — the Democrats and the mainstream news media have never
made much out of Nixon’s deadly treachery. [See Consortiumnews. com’s “The
Significance of Nixon’s Treason.”
(http://www.consorti umnews.com/ 2008/120808. html)]

THE WATERGATE EXCEPTION

The one exception to this pattern of the Democrats’ “battered wife
syndrome” may have been the Watergate case, in which Nixon sought to
secure his second term, in part, by spying on his political rivals,
including putting bugs on phones at the Democratic National Committee.

When Nixon’s team was caught in a second break-in — trying to add more
bugs — the scandal erupted.

Even then, however, key Democrats, such as Democratic National Chairman
Robert Strauss, tried to shut down the Watergate investigation as it was
expanding early in Nixon’s second term. Strauss argued that the inquiries
would hurt the country, but enough other Democrats and an energized
Washington press corps overcame the resistance. [For details, see Robert
Parry’s *Secrecy & Privilege*.]

With Nixon’s Watergate-compelled resignation in August 1974, the
Republicans were at a crossroads. In one direction, they could start
playing by the rules and seek to be a responsible political party. Or
they could internalize Nixon’s pugnacious style and build an
infrastructure to punish anyone who tried to hold them accountable in the
future.

Essentially, the Republicans picked option two. Under the guidance of
Nixon’s Treasury Secretary William Simon, right-wing foundations
collaborated to build a powerful new infrastructure, pooling resources to
finance right-wing publications, think tanks, and anti-journalism attack
groups. As this infrastructure took shape in the late 1970s, it imbued
the Republicans with more confidence.

So, before Election 1980, the Republican campaign — bolstered by former
CIA operatives loyal to former CIA Director George H.W. Bush — resorted
to Nixon-style tactics in exploiting President Jimmy Carter’s failure to
free 52 American hostages then held in Iran.

The evidence is now overwhelming that Republican operatives, including
campaign chief Bill Casey and some of his close associates, had
back-channel contacts with Iran’s Islamic regime and other foreign
governments to confound Carter’s hostage negotiations. Though much of
this evidence has seeped out over the past 29 years, some was known in
real time.

For instance, Iran’s acting foreign minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh told Agence
France-Presse on Sept. 6, 1980, that he knew that Republican candidate
Ronald Reagan was “trying to block a solution” to the hostage impasse.

Senior Carter administration officials, such as National Security Council
aide Gary Sick, also were hearing rumors about Republican interference,
and President Carter concluded that Israel’s hard-line Likud leaders had
“cast their lot with Reagan,” according to notes I found of a
congressional task force interview with Carter a dozen years later.

Carter traced the Israeli opposition to him to a “lingering concern
[among] Jewish leaders that I was too friendly with Arabs.”

Israel already had begun playing a key middleman role in delivering secret
military shipments to Iran, as Carter knew. But — again for “the good of
the country” — Carter and his White House kept silent.

Since the first anniversary of the hostage crisis coincidentally fell on
Election Day 1980, Reagan benefited from the voters’ anger over the
national humiliation and scored a resounding victory. [For more details
on the 1980 “October Surprise” case, see Parry’s *Secrecy & Privilege*.]

GOP’S GROWING CONFIDENCE

Though much of the public saw Reagan as a tough guy who had frightened the
Iranians into surrendering the hostages on Inauguration Day 1981, the
behind-the-scenes reality was different.

In secret, the Reagan administration winked at Israeli weapons shipments
to Iran in the first half of 1981, what appeared to be a payoff for Iran’s
cooperation in sabotaging Carter. Nicholas Veliotes, who was then
assistant secretary of state, told a PBS interviewer that he saw those
secret shipments as an outgrowth of the covert Republican-Iranian contacts
from the campaign.

Veliotes added that those early shipments then became the “germs” of the
later Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.

But the Republicans seemed to have little to fear from exposure. Their
media infrastructure was rapidly expanding — for instance, the right-wing
*Washington Times* opened in 1982 — and America’s Left didn’t see the
need to counter this growing media power on the Right.

The right-wing attack groups also had success targeting mainstream
journalists who dug up information that didn’t fit with Reagan’s
propaganda themes — the likes of the *New York Times* Raymond Bonner,
whose brave reporting about right-wing death squads in Central America led
to his recall from the region and his resignation from the *Times*.

This new right-wing muscle, combined with Ronald Reagan’s political
popularity, made Democrats and mainstream journalists ever more hesitant
to pursue negative stories about Republican policies, including evidence
that Reagan’s favorite “freedom fighters,” the Nicaraguan contras, were
dabbling in cocaine trafficking and that an illegal contra-aid operation
was set up inside the White House.

In mid-1986, when my Associated Press colleague Brian Barger and I put
together a story citing two dozen sources about the work of NSC official
Oliver North, congressional Democrats were hesitant to follow up on the
disclosures.

Finally in August 1986, the House Intelligence Committee, then chaired by
Democrat Lee Hamilton and including Republican Rep. Dick Cheney, met with
North and other White House officials in the Situation Room and were told
that the AP story was untrue. With no further investigation, the
Democratic-led committee accepted the word of North and his superiors.

LUCKY EXPOSURE

It was only an unlikely occurrence on Oct. 5, 1986, the shooting down of
one of North’s supply planes over Nicaragua and a confession by the one
survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, that put the House Intelligence Committee’s
gullibility into focus.

The plane shoot-down — and disclosures from the Middle East about secret
U.S. arms sales to Iran — forced the Iran-Contra scandal into public
view. The congressional Democrats responded by authorizing a joint
House-Senate investigation, with Hamilton as one of the mild-mannered
co-chairs and Cheney again leading the GOP’s tough-guy defense.

While the Republicans worked to undermine the investigation, the Democrats
looked for a bipartisan solution that would avoid a messy confrontation
with President Reagan and Vice President Bush. That solution was to put
most of the blame on North and a few of his superiors, such as NSC adviser
John Poindexter and the then-deceased CIA Director Bill Casey.

The congressional investigation also made a hasty decision, supported by
Hamilton and the Republicans but opposed by most Democrats, to give
limited immunity to secure the testimony of North.

Hamilton agreed to this immunity without knowing what North would say.
Rather than show any contrition, North used his immunized testimony to
rally Republicans and other Americans in support of Reagan’s aggressive,
above-the-law tactics.

The immunity also crippled later attempts by special prosecutor Lawrence
Walsh to hold North and Poindexter accountable under the law. Though
Walsh won convictions against the pair in federal court, the judgments
were overturned by right-wing judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals citing
the immunity granted by Congress.

By the early 1990s, the pattern was set. Whenever new evidence emerged of
Republican wrongdoing — such as disclosures about contra-drug
trafficking, secret military support for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and those
early Republican-Iran contacts of 1980 — the Republicans would lash out
in fury and the Democrats would try to calm things down.

Lee Hamilton became the Republicans’ favorite Democratic investigator,
because he exemplified this approach of conducting “bipartisan”
investigations, rather than aggressively pursuing the facts wherever they
might lead. While in position to seek the truth, Hamilton ignored the
contra-drug scandal and swept the Iraq-gate and October Surprise issues
under a very lumpy rug.

In 1992, I interviewed Spencer Oliver, a Democratic staffer whose phone at
the Watergate building had been bugged by Nixon’s operatives 20 years
earlier. Since then, Oliver had served as the chief counsel on the House
Foreign Affairs Committee and had observed this pattern of Republican
abuses and Democratic excuses.

Oliver said: “What [the Republicans] learned from Watergate was not
‘don’t do it,’ but ‘cover it up more effectively.’ They have learned that
they have to frustrate congressional oversight and press scrutiny in a way
that will avoid another major scandal.”

THE CLINTON OPPORTUNITY

The final chance for exposing the Republican crimes of the 1980s fell to
Bill Clinton after he defeated President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Before leaving office, however, Bush-41 torpedoed the ongoing Iran-Contra
criminal investigation by issuing six pardons, including one to former
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger whose cover-up trial was set to begin
in early 1993.

Special prosecutor Walsh — a lifelong Republican albeit from the old
Eisenhower wing of the party — denounced the pardons as another
obstruction of justice. “George Bush’s misuse of the pardon power made
the cover-up complete,” Walsh later wrote in his book *Firewall*.

However, the Iran-Contra investigation was not yet dead. Indeed, Walsh
was considering empanelling a new grand jury. Walsh also had come to
suspect that the origins of the scandal traced back to the October
Surprise of 1980, with his investigators questioning former CIA officer
Donald Gregg about his alleged role in that prequel to Iran-Contra.

The new Democratic president could have helped Walsh by declassifying key
documents that the Reagan-Bush- 41 team had withheld from various
investigations. But Clinton followed advice from Hamilton and other
senior Democrats who feared stirring partisan anger among Republicans.

Later, in a May 1994 conversation with documentary filmmaker Stuart
Sender, Clinton explained that he had opposed pursuing these Republican
scandals because, according to Sender, “he was going to try to work with
these guys, compromise, build working relationships. . . .

“It seemed even at the time terribly naïve that these same Republicans
were going to work with him if he backed off on congressional hearings or
possible independent prosecutor investigations.” [See Parry’s *Secrecy &
Privilege*.]

NO RECIPROCITY

But the Democrats — like the battered wife who keeps hoping her abusive
husband will change — found a different reality as the decade played out.

Rather than thanking Clinton, the Republicans bullied him with endless
investigations about his family finances, the ethics of his appointees –
and his personal morality, ultimately impeaching him in 1998 for lying
about a sexual affair (though he survived the Senate trial in 1999).

After the impeachment battle, the Republicans — joined by both the
right-wing and mainstream news media — kept battering Clinton and his
heir apparent, Vice President Al Gore, who was mocked for his choice of
clothing and denounced for his supposed exaggerations.

Though Gore still managed to win the popular vote in Election 2000 and
apparently would have prevailed if all legally cast votes had been counted
in Florida, the Republicans made clear that wasn’t going to happen, even
dispatching rioters from Washington to disrupt a recount in Miami.

George W. Bush’s bullying victory — which was finalized by five
Republican partisans on the U.S. Supreme Court — was met with polite
acceptance by the Democrats who again seemed to hope for the best from the
newly empowered Republicans. [For details on Election 2000, see our book,
*Neck Deep*.]

Instead, after the 9/11 attacks, Bush-43 grabbed unprecedented powers; he
authorized torture and warrantless wiretaps; he pressured Democrats into
accepting an unprovoked war in Iraq; and he sought to damage his critics,
such as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Now, after eight destructive years, the Democrats have again gained
control of the White House and Congress, but they seem intent on once more
not provoking the Republicans, rather than holding them accountable.

Though President Barack Obama has released some of the key documents
underpinning Bush-43’s actions, he opposes any formal commission of
inquiry and has discouraged any prosecutions for violations of federal
law. Obama has said he wants “to look forward as opposed to looking
backward.”

In dismissing the idea of a “truth and reconciliation commission,” Obama
also recognizes that the Republicans would show no remorse for the Bush
administration’ s actions; that they would insist that there is nothing to
“reconcile”; and that they would stay on the attack, pummeling the
Democrats as weak, overly sympathetic to terrorists, and endangering
national security.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs admitted as much, saying
that Obama rejected the idea of a bipartisan “truth commission” because it
was apparent that there was no feasible way to get the Republicans to be
bipartisan.

“The President determined the concept didn’t seem altogether workable in
this case,” Gibbs said, citing the partisan atmosphere that already has
surrounded the torture issue. “The last few days might be evidence of why
something like this might just become a political back and forth.”

In other words, the Republicans are rousing themselves from the couch and
getting angry, while the Democrats are prancing about, hands out front,
trying to calm things down and avoid a confrontation.

The Democrats hope against hope that if they tolerate the latest
Republican outrages maybe there will be some reciprocity, maybe there will
be some GOP votes on Democratic policy initiatives.

But there’s no logical reason to think so. That isn’t how the Republicans
and their right-wing media allies do things; they simply get angrier
because belligerence has worked so well for so long.

On the other hand, Democratic wishful thinking is the essence of this
political “battered wife syndrome,” dreaming about a behavioral
transformation when all the evidence — and four decades of experience –
tell you that the bullying husband isn’t going to change.

–Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the
Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, *Neck Deep: The
Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush*, was written with two of his
sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook. com. His two
previous books, *Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from
Watergate to Iraq* and *Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press &
‘Project Truth’* are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

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Italy takes care of DU victims

April 20th, 2009

My friend, Shannon rudolf, keeps me posted  on DU:

Follow-up:   EUR30m to 1703 veterans (77 dead) : DU compensation
   Posted by: “Kazashi” nkazashi@yahoo.com nkazashi
   Date: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:40 pm ((PST))

Dear all,

  Feb. 17 a Japanese syndicated media, Kyodo Press, reported that
they asked the Italian Ministry of Defense about the DU compensation
approved by Italian Cabinet on Dec. 18, 2008, about which ICBUW has
already reported as below based on a report by Stefania Divertito,
journalist and a member of ICBUW Steering Committee.

  According to the answer Kyodo Press received, the number of
Italian veterans suffering from serious diseases like cancers and
regarded as entitled to this compensation package is 1,703, among
whom 77  have already passed away. The areas where these veterans
were deployed include Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and
Iraq. The Italian government is trying to make  standards for
compensation to the veterans and the bereaved by March and start
payments then.
  This follow-up news by Kyodo Press has already been taken up by
several papers in Japan.  For your reference.

                     Kazashi,
                     ICBUW, NO DU Hiroshima Project

***
EUR30m veterans´ DU compensation package approved by Italian Cabinet
Italian compensation package agreed after Ministry of Defence
convinces government of link between ill health and DU exposure.
Health survey of personnel who served overseas to be published in the
next few months.

9 January 2009 – ICBUW
During a meeting of the Italian Cabinet on the 18th December 2008,
the Italian Ministry of Defence, Ignazio La Russa, managed to win
approval for a EUR30m compensation package for DU victims. The money
will be paid out over the next three years.

In addition to the financial assistance for sick veterans, the
decision acknowledges that some service personnel have become ill
through exposure to uranium weapons. At a press conference following
the Cabinet meeting, the Ministry said: “It’s a duty for us to
support the soldiers and their families, victims of depleted uranium
and nano-particles.” This important statement was largely ignored by
the mainstream media.

The decision marks the final step of a process begun by the previous
Prodi government who appointed an investigative commission. The
commission finished its work in March 2008 and while it didn´t name
DU as a definitive cause of ill health among veterans, it did find
that environmental pollution in war zones where DU had been used as a
likely cause of illness.

The commission also stated that the burden of proof should be
inverted, concluding that proof that the service personnel had been
deployed in areas where DU had been used was sufficient evidence to
support compensation when they later got ill or when heavy metal nano-
particles were found in their bodies. This important move has been of
great help to the families of soldiers who have died and to personnel
ill with leukaemia who are suing the state administration.

One such compensation case was that of the widow of helicopter pilot
Stefano Melone. In December, and after many years of fighting, the
High Court finally agreed to a compensation package for his death.

However, in spite of the Cabinet´s decision, two major issues still
remain, both concern the health assessment of Italian personnel who
have returned to Italy after missions abroad.

Hundreds of officials have been involved in collecting and collating
data on ill soldiers from each Italian military district and the
results are overdue. The data has been collected in paper format and
the thousands of often incomplete paper files are slowly being
transferred into digital format. The original deadline for the survey
was October 2008 and Defence Ministry staff are working hard to
complete the survey. The results – the first complete screening of
Italian personnel – are expected to be publicly announced in a few
months. It is hoped that the results will give a clearer picture of
the extent of ill health among Italian veterans.

In addition to the health assessment being published later than
planned, veterans groups, including Osservatorio Militare and
Anavafaf have complained that the data will be incomplete. The
investigation only covers the decade between 1996 and 2006, this
means it will exclude the years when Italian troop were deployed in
Bosnia and Somalia – 1994 and 1995 respectively.

This year will be an important one for the Italian scientific
committee nominated by the government at the end of 2007 and whose
work has been delayed for a year. The committee includes nuclear
energy expert Prof. Massimo Zucchetti, nano-particle researcher Maria
Antonietta Gatti and the epidemiologist Valerio Gennaro.

 

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Obama’s diplomatic victories in Europe and Turkey

April 11th, 2009

 

 

My friend Gordon’s son lives in Germany and I find his analysis of Pres. Obama’s European trip (below) interesting.  I thought you might as well.  

Peace,

Janice

Life is fragile.  Handle with care.

 

 

 

From Len in Germany, after I had asked him a similar question on the phone.

G

It is better to wear out than rust out.!!!!

— On Wed, 4/8/09, Shirts Len <len.shirts@theater-rab.de> wrote:

 

Hi all,

I just wanted to let you all know a bit about the impact of President Obama‘s trip to Europe. On reading the internet news I have a feeling that in the USA you just don’t get a feel of what this trip meant.

Obama has scored high. That is putting it mildly. I read an article in “Stern” (comparable to Time or the old Life) which made that clear. It wasn’t the huge popular crowds of an impressed Europe – the comments, especially from the BBC, are all a bit jealous comparing him to a “pop star”. No, it was what actually went on in these summits.

In the New York Times they say that he didn’t get everything he wanted. That may be true, but when one knows how contrary Europe was, then it is more true to say that he got a lot more than anyone here ever expected. There was a lot of opposition and he just ironed them flat and suddenly the leaders were all exuberantly speaking of an historic moment of compromise and agreement.

Obama was also central in preventing several major european political fiascos, that probably weren’t noticed over in the States. He did it by taking leaders of opposing factions aside, speaking quietly to them, then reconciling them with each other. 

This was the case with Denmark and Turkey: Turkey was resisting Denmark’s taking up the chairmanship over an old feud over a political cartoon. After a talk under six eyes they were all friends again. In reconciling these two countries he saved France’s and Germany’s faces – they had backed Denmark.

He managed to win over Germany’s support for more funds. Again, by taking Angela Merkel aside and speaking to her alone. Suddenly she voted for something she had adamantly resisted.

He impressed the leaders by doing something that they never expected from a leader of the USA: acknowledging that the present financial crisis had it’s start in the USA and then accepting responsibility. This took the wind out of a lot of sails that might have steered the Europeans to a deadwind deadlock. Instead, they managed to agree on a program which might not satisfy all but nevertheless was an astoundlingly quick compromise.

His knowledge (respectively, his astute use of knowledge fed to him by his team) allowed him in his speeches to make local references and local relevances… I watched the speech in Prague and was astounded how he created bridges between the Czech situation and his agenda. 

In Turkey he again did something that was a complete surprise and which seems to have won over the Turkisch people and politicians. He said, basically (not a direct quote) I have my feelings and opinions (about the turkish genocide on the  Armenian populace at the beginning of the twentieth century) and they haven’t changed. But I will keep them to myself. More important than the past is the present reconciliation, and I want to help Turkey and Armenia come together again.

This is an example of what is truly new in Obama’s strategy. Expected was a condemnation of this historical genocide, which certainly would have been politically correct but which would have only put fuel on the fire. Obama changed course, but without denying his/the USAs own personal/political views.. 

There were several other things he said and actions he took in Turkey that were very positively taken by the turkish people. I don’t think you know this, I didn’t know this, but up until this point the USA was very unpopular in Turkey. I can hardly believe this, but I read that the turkish people had the lowest opinion of the USA in the world. In any case, very very low. Obama has turned this around. This is extremely important because Turkey is the meeting point of East and West.

Theater R.A.B.

Random Acts of Beauty

Franziska Braegger & Len Shirts GbR

Basler Straße 29

D – 79100 Freiburg im Breisgau

NEU AB 1. JANUAR 2009

Privat:

Schwimmbadstraße 12

D – 79100 Freiburg im Breisgau

Tel: ++49 761 20 21 203

Fax: ++49 761 319 6336

info@theater-rab.de

www.theater-rab.de

 

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Lighting the Green Life

April 1st, 2009

 

Fwd: Be prepared if you break a CFL

 

 

Sorry for any redundancy, but here is info for disposing of broken compact bulbs — If you only have time to skim — look for the clean-up instructions at the end of the piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2009

 

CFLs AND MERCURY

 

 

 

Hysteria or Legitimate Concern?

 

 

 

 

Occasionally, I meet people who are reluctant to switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) despite a serious interest in living more sustainably. Maybe you’re one of them.

 

I’m guessing that cost is not the problem. You are doubtless aware that even though you pay more up-front for the bulbs, you save in the long run from lower electric bills.

 

I assume you also know that today’s CFLs are comparable, or even superior, to incandescent bulbs in terms of the quality of the light. No moreflicker or buzz either.

 

So, those issues are not what’s holding you back. It could be simple inertia — or it could be the mercury inside the bulb. What if it breaks, you may wonder. Would I have to get the guys in the haz-mat suits in for $2,000, like that woman in Maine was advised to do? Would my children be safe? Would I?

 

It’s true that mercury is a dangerous substance, which can damage the nervous system, brain and other organs at miniscule doses. Young children and fetuses are at greatest risk because their developing brains absorb the mercury easily and don’t readily flush it out. During certain stages, so-called “windows of vulnerability,” neurotoxins like mercury can throw brain development off course, resulting in problems ranging from memory impairment to mental retardation. Clearly, you are right to be cautious wherever mercury is concerned.

 

However, you are only at risk of exposure from CFLs if a bulb breaks AND you don’t follow a straightforward set of steps when cleaning up. (The woman in Maine was advised incorrectly.) I am going to list the steps on the right. PRINT THIS PAGE or the printer-friendly version and put it in your kitchen where the instructions will be available if you ever need them.

 

Now you’re ready to go out and buy some bulbs.

 

Families with young children might want to skip over the table or floor lamps in the play area on the off-chance that a lamp gets knocked over when a pillow fight gets out of hand. On the other hand, if you’re not the kind of parent who is already worried about the possibility of broken glass, you may feel this precaution is unnecessary.

 

If and when you are pregnant, do not change the bulbs yourself in case one should happen to break when you screw it in, the same way you wouldn’t change kitty litter because of the risk of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii. Simply having and using the CFLs is no problem. You kept your kitty, didn’t you?

 

There is only one other thing I would strongly recommend you do — recycle the compact fluorescent bulbs when you’re done with them so they don’t break in the garbage or landfill and jeopardize the health of sanitation workers and the environment. (CFLs are amazingly long-lived, so you won’t have to deal with this eventuality for years.) Your town may have a special drop-off place for CFLs or you can take them to your local Home Depot or Ikea. Plug in your zip code at earth911.org to find the drop-off place nearest you.

 

Meanwhile, if mercury is on your mind, watch what fish you eat (especially if you are pregnant) and what fish you feed your children. Fish consumption is a route of exposure that is not a “what if” like a broken bulb. Larger, predatory fish are known to have high levels of mercury. The ones at the top of the food chain, such as shark, swordfish and big-eye and ahi tuna are the most contaminated and should be avoided altogether. (They are also species whose numbers are perilously low, so shouldn’t be eaten for that reason as well.) Other fish, such as Chilean sea bass, bluefish, halibut, snapper, lobster and canned tuna have somewhat lower levels of mercury. You can eat these without undue risk a few times a month (not each one a few times a month but all of them together).

 

There are also plenty of fish that are low in mercury and safe to eat, such as freshwater trout, sardines, catfish, crawfish and clams. Since fish is part of a healthy diet, you should put these on your shopping list. Download NRDC‘s wallet guide to fish so you know which fish to buy at the store.

 

It’s important to recognize that our energy use is one of the major causes of mercury contamination of fish in the first place. (The mercury is emitted by coal plants and settles in the water where it is taken up by the fish.) By replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, you will reduce your energy usage and help to reduce the amount of mercury you and others are exposed to.

 

You will also help in the effort to rein in global warming, which is a much greater risk to your family’s welfare down the road.

 

Honestly, if you are looking to make a difference, switching to compact fluorescent bulbs remains the simplest way.

 

 

 

 

Sheryl Eisenberg, a long-time advisor to NRDC, posts a new This Green Life every month. Sheryl makes her home in Tribeca (NYC), where-along with her children, Sophie and Gabe, and husband, Peter-she tries to put her environmental principles into practice. No fooling.

 

 

 

 

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ONLINE RESOURCES

 

 

 

 

NRDC

 

CFLs Are Safe for Your Home

 

 

 

 

TREEHUGGER

 

Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous?

 

 

 

 

ENERGY STAR

 

Choose a Light Guide

 

 

 

 

EARTH 911

 

Where to Recycle Light Bulbs

 

 

 

 

NRDC

 

Mercury in Fish

 

 

 

 

FAST COMPANY

 

How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change the World? One.

IF YOU BREAK A BULB…

 

1) Open a window before cleaning up, and turn off any forced-air heating or air conditioning.

 

 

 

 

2) Instead of sweeping or vacuuming, which can spread the mercury around, scoop up the glass fragments and powder. Use sticky tape to pick up remaining glass fragments or powder. Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or wet wipes.

 

 

 

 

3) Dispose of the broken bulb through your local household hazardous waste program or recycling program. If that service is unavailable in your area, place all clean-up materials in atrash container outside the building.

 

 

 

 

4) Wash your hands after cleaning up.

 

 

 

 

5) If vacuuming is needed afterwards, when all visible materials have been removed, vacuum the area and dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag. For the next few times you vacuum, turn off any forced-air heating or air conditioning and open a window before doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND HERE IS A BIT OF VERY INTERESTING INFO . . . . maybe switch to canned salmon??

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most common risk of mercury exposure to children comes from canned tuna because kids eat so much of it. Give them chunk light tuna rather than white albacore, since it’s lower in mercury, and limit the portions and frequency according to their weight. Pregnant women should do the same. Get guidelines here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read This Green Life on the NRDC website, go to http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/ * * *

 

This Green Life is a monthly online publication of NRDC, the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC is the nation’s most effective environmental action organization. We use law, science and the support of more than 1.2 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. For more information about NRDC or how to become a member of NRDC, please contact us at:

 

 

 

 

Natural Resources Defense Council

 

40 West 20th Street

 

New York, NY 10011

 

212-727-4511 (voice) / 212-727-1773 (fax)

 

Email: thisgreenlife@nrdc.org

 

http://www.nrdc.org

 

 

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