Archive for February, 2008

??? With the price of oil above $100 a barrel, Congress is again taking action to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and support the domestic production of renewable energy. The House of Representatives passed legislation this week that would repeal some $18 billion in tax breaks for big energy companies. “The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing oil and gas companies during times of record profits and record prices at the pump,” Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said last week when he introduced the energy tax package.

??? The legislation includes tax credits to promote renewable energy production. Renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, ethanol, and biofuels will be promoted by these tax credits. The legislation would also give consumers a $4,000 tax credit for buying plug-in hybrid vehicles, extend the tax credits for installing certain energy-efficient appliances and increases tax breaks for gas stations that install pumps for dispensing alternative fuels.

You may remember that I wrote on a very similar bill introduced and passed by the House of Representatives that met strong opposition from the Senate. Perhaps there are more Senators on the “Big Oil” payroll than in the House. The House once again has the right idea, that is best for the country, but look for the Senate to fight it tooth and nail. And even if it does pass the Senate it may be met by a Presidential veto as the White House stance was opposed to it before so I doubt he has changed his mind and decided to do what is best for the country instead of what is best for him and his “friends” in the oil industry.

As the debate on extending the Protect America Act goes on now would be a really good time to contact your Congress man or woman and tell them to not vote for amnesty for the telecoms. I just watched Bush and his rhetoric on it and the economy. Him telling me that there is not a recession on the horizon tells me there surely is as I no longer believe anything he has to say. If he were to tell me it was raining outside I would have to go look for myself before I would believe it.

The Protect America Act basically gives them the right to spy on communications that pass through or originate in the U.S. onward to foreign destinations. The only problem is they have been spying on us domestically also. They were not limiting the scope of the spying to foreign communications but were capturing all the communications. Yours and mine along with every American were being copied to a huge master data base or so it seems.

I have already been ringing the phone off the hook in the Washington office of my Congressman Bob Inglis. Telling him to not give amnesty to the telecoms. Bush’s logic of “they won’t assist us in the future” is not going to float with me. I know that given a warrant they not only will assist in the spying but are bound to by law. They will be reluctant to hook up illegal wiretaps I am sure, as they should be.

It is very easy to contact your congress person as they all have pages from the House of Representatives once there at the top left of the page is a locater. All you do is enter your zipcode and it will give you your Congressperson name and link you to their page. If you care about the direction this country has gone since the Bushies have taken over then you should call today before it is too late. Letters are great but telephone calls get their attention right away.

It has been nearly nineteen years since the disaster of the Exxon Valdez running aground and dumping eleven million gallons of crude oil into the then pristine, Prince William Sound. The spill covered twelve hundred miles of coastline with the crude oil. Oil that stuck to everything, killing off untold thousands of marine animals and birds. The damages inflicted then still have not fully recovered.

Cordova itself, 45 miles from Bligh Reef [what the Valdez hit], was not directly touched by the slick. But its economy and citizens were devastated by the loss of so many jobs. The town depended heavily upon commercial fishing that was ruined by the insidious crude. Salmon have started to rebound, but the numbers of Harlequin ducks and sea otters are still well below pre-spill levels.

To the casual observer, the sound?s stunning beauty has been restored, but an estimated 85 tons of crude linger, according to a federal study released last year. At the Prince William Sound Science Center jars of oil-stained rocks and sand that are sill being dug up can be examined.

Amidst this backdrop Exxon is fighting tooth and nail to get out of paying punitive damages to the local citizens. In 1994, an Anchorage jury awarded victims $5 billion in punitive damages. That amount has since been cut in half by other courts on appeals by Exxon Mobil. Now it is going in front of the U.S. Supreme Court which will hear why Exxon feels it should not have to pay the damages at all. Almost 33,000 plaintiffs – including commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, landowners, businesses and local governments – could see the $2.5 billion judgment taken away by the high court. It is not like they can not afford to pay. They just posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company ever – 40.6 billion dollars. Lets wait and see how the court handles this. Hopefully they will do the right thing and not bow to corporate demands.

I have a couple of dear friends who have talked me into signing up for a bloggers service called Pay Per Post. How was I to know that you can actually get paid to blog. What an exciting concept. I am thrilled that they have accepted me into Pay Per Post. I think the idea is great as long as it does not denigrate the integrity of my blog. The idea of making money with my blog sounds really great as long as you, my readers know that occasionally it is a paid post and also know that I will never rant and rave about a product or service unless I feel they are worthwhile.

I have became rather excited and passionate about my blog and am thrilled that I am getting even more readers. I also have started to make new friends in the blogging world and have several blogs that I must read every day. I try to always tell the truth the way I see it. I am excited also about the opportunity to write and be paid for it as well. I believe I can balance wanting to make money – it will help with bills such as web hosting – while maintaining my line of balance with my blog. Hopefully this will help out financially. I sure could use it, being disabled and not able to work doesn’t leave much money left at the end of the month. Any how if you are a blogger and are interested in blog advertising you should check into Pay Per Post. There is a link on my sidebar to the right in the widgets you can follow to sign up yourself. But believe me I will not subjugate you to a steady diet of ads with no real meat to the postings.

??? Keith Olbermann really lets loose on Bush with both barrels. He gives a great account of how Bush has lied to us and Congress. I have been seeing through those lies for the past 7 years but have mostly kept my opinions to myself. Or actually I was somewhat outspoken about him but limited myself in the number of people I was speaking to. Anyhow he [Keith Olbermann] out and out calls George Bush a fascist and a liar and not even a good liar anymore. Bush said that without the Protect America Act that Americans lives are at risk. Yet he said he would veto any extension of the Protect America Act that did not give immunity to the telecoms who have (or so it appears) broken the law in their spying on Americans without a warrant. Ted Kennedy said, “If we take the President at his word, he is willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies” Myself I think it is not just the telecoms he is trying to shield with this immunity but another method of hiding his involvement in illegal spying. Under Bush we have gotten closer to the Orwellian state of 1984. It is looking like George Orwell was right but his dates were wrong.

??? Anyhow the video, while being a little long (9 min) brings out some very valid points. You should watch the video, read the text if need be, and contact your Representative in the House of Representatives and tell them to stand up to the President and his lies and do not grant immunity when we don’t even know what if any laws have been broken. He won’t say what was done he just wants immunity for everyone involved and thats not good for the country. You can also sign the ACLU petition with its “Facts Over Fear” campaign.

??? Terrible news for the wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies. This past Thursday the Bush/Cheney Administration stripped these amazing animals of vital federal protections, officially opening the door to the shooting, trapping, and killing of up to 1,200 wolves.

??? That is approximately 80% of all the wolves in that region. That is outrageous. They are supposed to be federally protected animals and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted them under authority of the Bush Administration. This is a potentially devastating blow to the wolves in that area. There could be as few as 300 left in the wild. The herds of deer and elk – they are trying to protect – are made stronger by the wolves that follow the herds – killing the weak, sick and injured.

??? Idaho officials want to use aerial gunning to kill wolves in their state. Wyoming agencies have left the door open to the use of traps and poison to eliminate wolves. And officials in both states – and Montana – have proposed wolf hunts.

??? As I wrote last month, federal officials already made it easier to kill wolves while they were still protected under the Endangered Species Act. Now they’re taking the final step, and eliminating these federal protections altogether. You can help with their legal defense by visiting Save Americas Wolves and making a donation.

??? You can also call or write your congress man or woman and tell them to get on board with the PAW Act. Right now they are trying to let it die in committee. The only way the wolves will be saved is if you and I make an outcry for them. It is the squeaky wheel that greased first.

??? As many of you might know I have fibromyalgia and many times it is a “tough row to hoe” so to speak. I have been really feeling its effects this week therefor my lack of new posts everyday as I try to do normally. I did make it out with my wife yesterday afternoon, the first time this week, and then only rode with her to pick our up daughter from school.

??? I did notice something that brought back memories of when I went to high school, that was students gathered up right off of the edges of the school grounds smoking. I noticed a group of maybe a dozen and a half lit up and puffing away, oblivious of the fact that they are dangerous and a hard habit to kick. Now when I went to school the only ones that had to sneak off campus to smoke were the lower class men or one that did not have a permission form signed by their parents. Every rest room or at least every one for the boys was smoke filled as there was always someone sneaking a smoke that was not allowed to. Students who had permission slips filled out and on record could use the student smoking areas. I think back on those days as I see how the new rules are layed out. Tobacco itself is forbidden anywhere on campus, much less its use by anyone on campus student, teacher or visitor. Gone are the days where they had to catch you in the act and even then it was only a slap on the wrist. Now simply having cigarettes on your person is an offense that will get the student a few days off from school as well as their parent having to come in and have a conference before the “vacation” is over.

??? I am glad that they have made smoking so much harder to do for students than when I was a teenager. I smoked all through school with and without a permission slip. Tobacco is a gateway drug. It opened up the gates for many of us to use drugs. I was skipping school smoking cigarettes and helping consume a stolen bottle of wine when I first smelled and tasted the sweet aroma of marijuana burning. I am not saying that I would have never been exposed to it had I not been smoking cigarettes but it would not have been during my school days. Or was that school daze? I know that as a teenager you are supposed to be a little wild, rebellious, and willing to try new things but making it harder at each step for them to get a hold of things that can hurt them is a good thing. I worry about my daughter the same way I worried about my son when he was that age.

??? I wish there was a way I could have made the students I saw smoking see what they are letting themselves in for by smoking cigarettes. As many of you know it is a very hard habit to break. Even though it has been over 6 weeks since I had my last smoke I still reach for one every time that I lean back to let my hands rest up or to catch my thoughts. It has become that ingrained – smoking is insidious. Like the Sirens of Odysseus day that Homer tells us of. If only they had Orpheus, (a talented musician) on board with them. [He played music even more beautiful than the Sirens so that the men did not hear them.] I doubt we can find anything good for us that is more alluring than cigarettes other than good health and being able to breath. Though those are two darn good reasons in themselves. At least smokers are becoming less and less in the norm and it is lots harder for children to start.

??? Well this is my sixth week of being smoke free. It is still a battle though. I went to pick up an antique bedroom set we bought for my daughter and the auctioneer was smoking a cigar and goodness it smelled so good. Made me yearn for one of my own. But I made it through the loading and unloading of the furniture. Pretty heavy stuff and I am paying the price for it as my back, neck and shoulders are killing me even after doubling up on my pain pills. It was worth it though to make my little girl so happy. I call her my little girl even though she is no longer little but a young woman instead. Anyway we loaded the bedroom set onto my brother – in – laws truck and away we went smokeless.

??? It is still a struggle at times with me quitting smoking. Often times I lean back from this keyboard and still try to reach for a cigarette. I haven’t gotten rid of the cigs I smoked. I had a full carton in the freezer still until my brother came and snitched him a pack of mine as he is not making the progress of not smoking as well as I. I do not know how long the taste for a smoke will last in me as this is the first time since I was a teenager that I was totally smoke free. If I wasn’t smoking cigarettes I was smoking cigars or a pipe. Mostly cigars though as they were easier to smoke that a pouch of tobacco and a pipe to carry. Plus I had something to clench in my teeth and chew on when it wasn’t burning.

??? Six weeks in and I can taste my food better and the aroma of cigarettes don’t bother me, except to annoy or disgust me as I do not like the smell of them. I do still love the smell of a cigar or a pipe and that is the hardest thing to ignore. I am glad I was not close to a store when he was smoking near me today, or him offer me one of those as I might have taken him up on the offer. I hope I have the will power to stay smoke free but for some reason that type of tobacco makes me drool for some like it. Cigarette smoke itself I now find disgusting. I did notice something else that comes from no longer smoking. My nicotine stained fingers and nails have cleaned up. My fingers used to be stained with a semi permanent brown from the second joint of my fingers to the tip and nail. My index and middle finger were stained that way and no matter how hard I tried it would not come off even washing them in bleach did nothing. Now I could take a knife and scrape the fingernail semi clean but not the fingers. I am very tickled about that as my hands look clean now. Not like they used to be.

??? If you are trying to quit smoking cigarettes yourself, my advice would be to make up your mind that you are no longer a slave to the cigarette and are going to quit. Not that you are thinking of quitting or may quit. You have to make the decision that strongly says “I QUIT” then stick to it. There is almost half a pack of cigarettes in the old keyboard slide in/out drawer directly below my keyboard but even when I do get the urge I say “NO” and stick to it. In the end that is what it all boils down to- Saying No to Cigarettes.

??? Despite the outcry of thousands of environmentalists the? Bush/Cheney Administration auctioned off key habitat for endangered polar bears to Big Oil. Mothers and cubs are coming out of their dens to compromised habitat. The influx of men and machines entering an already fragile eco system will wreck havoc upon it. While the climate warms up taking its toll on polar bear habitat, federal officials are selling off the very places these great white bearsdepend on for hunting, denning and survival.

??? Polar bears in America will likely be extinct according to government scientists in 50 years. Yet federal
officials have once again delayed action to protect these struggling animals as
“threatened” under the
Endangered Species Act. Instead of acting to protect these magnificent animals they instead auctioned off millions of acres of vital habitat in Alaska‘s Chukchi Sea to Shell and other Big Oil companies. And once again he has included drilling in the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) in his proposed budget.

??? Increased drilling in these critical habitats could devastate America’s polar bears. But Exxon, Mobil, Shell and other Big Oil companies continue to use their billions in profits to press for harmful drilling in the places polar bears need to survive – and continue our dependence on the fuels that spur rising temperatures that are causing the bears’ demise. Shell bid more than $105 billion for a single tract of drilling acreage in the Chukchi Sea. So as you can see these beautiful bears are quickly becoming between a “rock and a hard place”

??? I’ll try to keep up better than I have in the past few days and let you know when the vote to include ANWR in the budget comes around so you can call your representatives in Congress.

??? Here is something I did not know and all of us who are environmental activists should. The large cargo ships that carry all of the imports and exports to and from our country for the most part are huge polluters. They burn diesel oil that is closer to asphalt and is 1800 times dirtier than the fuel burned in U.S. trucks. The Bush administration is claiming to have made headway in talks with other nations to reduce the dangerous emissions coming from these giant diesel-burning ships that pollute U.S. ports.

??? During hearings by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Dr. John Miller, an emergency room physician from San Pedro, California said, “International standards for pollution from ship engines, written mostly by the shipping industry, are so lax as to be meaningless.” The panel is considering legislation to sharply curb emissions from the largest cargo carriers, most of which are foreign flagged. Bush officials want to pursue a new global standard instead of tougher standards for ships entering our waters, according to the associate director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They say that if we make our own regulations and not use worldwide standards then we risk having shipping prices going up because there will be fewer ships that meet the new qualifications therefor fewer available ships to carry cargo to and from our ports.

??? Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said EPA should act quickly, regardless of the international action. “I just don’t get it,” Boxer said. “Our people are suffering because foreign flags are coming in and they’re filthy and they’re polluting. And we are sitting back saying we can’t do anything until we get this international agreement.”

??? The Bush administration and EPA are being pressured by Congress and environmentalists to enact new regulations and not wait on the U.N. International Maritime Organization to reach an anti-pollution agreement. The EPA intends to issue its new rules in 2009 after the global group comes to a decision about the pollution regulations. They [U.N. International Maritime Organization] are meeting again in April and last met last week. Ms Boxer (Committee Chairwoman) countered that talks have been going on since 2003 and asked, “How long does Jonah have to wait?”, a reference to, Jonah Ramirez, a 12 year old sixth grader from San Bernardino, Calif., who told the hearing of his battles with asthma. “If these particles that I breathe every day are safe, then why do I depend on daily medication and the fast relief of my inhaler to do something that everyone has the right to do: Breathe,” Jonah Ramirez asked the panel.

??? I know our economy depends upon shipping, both into and out of our ports but surely we can do something about emissions coming from these huge ships. I for one think that we are such a prized market that ship owners will do what it takes to keep returning to our lucrative markets. It might cause some short time problems but in the long run it will be better for us, especially those who live close to these large ports. Or even those who happen to live along the shore where these ships travel on there way to the ports. Plus- and this is something I just thought of- It may have an added benefits to U.S. business if the price of cheap imports from China go up.