Friday, June 29, 2007

Bush Administration Uses "Executive Privilege" to Break Laws, Avoid Attourney Subpoenas

On Thursday, President Bush decided to use the gestapo-esque "executive privilege", used occasionally by presidents past, refusing to submit documents subpoenaed for the case of the fired U.S. attorneys. He has also refused to permit testimony by two former senior White House aids.

His stance is this: ". . . for the President to perform his constitutional duties, it is imperative that he receive candid and unfettered advice" from top aides." Who would be "reluctant to communicate openly and honestly" if they actually had to be held accountable for suggesting to break the law, deceive the people, and manipulate power.

So what our President is saying is that he knows that firing 9 U.S. attorneys because they weren't "loyal Bushies" was an illegal use of power, but he's using his "supreme executive power" to stop the investigation so that he can't actually be held accountable for breaking the law for his own party's interests. Bush's mafia's response is that this whole thing is an unfair media circus, designed to make them look bad and take the focus off of real issues. This, unfortunately, is a poor and empty explanation. Back in the real world, the highest parts of our administration chose to fire 9 members of the Judicial branch of our government because they were actually doing their job from a non-partisan perspective rather than illegally altering evidence and ignoring wrongdoing. That certainly does not seem like a witch hunt, it appears to be a clear and illegal abuse of power.

"Executive Privilege" should not be a way for our President and his advisers to act illegally, against the interests of the people. Our government needs to be held accountable for their actions and if they cannot defend them, they need to be removed from office. There are already dozens of reasons to impeach Cheney and Bush - lying about 9/11, lying about WMDs in Iraq, lying about Iraq, manipulating EPA data, giving away billions of dollars in unnecessarily costly contracts, literally losing billions of dollars in "rebuilding costs", manipulating scientific data on global warming, exposing Valerie Plame in retribution for her husband's report on them lying about WMDs, and the list goes on. I can't believe that they have the gall to call this a "Democratic witch hunt" when their own party's witch hunt of President Clinton could only come up with a blowjob to impeach him.

Everyone please look into these claims for yourself and once you're firmly convinced of their validity, write your congresspeople and call for the impeachment of Dick Cheney, followed by George Bush. We cannot stand for this manipulation of power. Here's a starter letter.

via The Washington Post

Official Articles of Impeachment for Cheney (pdf) introduced April 24th, 2007
Supporting docs on Dennis Kucinich’s site

Repost - Announcement: Iraq Moratorium 9/21/07

Reposted from Make/Shift Blog. Please repost this, take five minutes to help end the war.

September 21, 2007…
… and every Third Friday thereafter. Today the Iraq Moratorium project steps onto the public stage!
Over 60% of Americans want this war over–yesterday. The political process is moving glacially, at best, to make that happen. It’s got to stop! We’ve got to stop it!
The idea is simple. On September 21 and on every subsequent Third Friday, millions of Americans will break with their daily routine to take some concrete step to demand an end to the war and the return home of the troops.
The hallmark will be the wearing of black ribbons and armbands, in mourning for all of those who have died in this senseless adventure–Iraqis, American and other coalition troops, and others. All of us who want this war ended can decide what steps we will take, individually or with others, on September 21. Together, acting where we live, work and study, we will create a mighty shout so loud that the media won’t be able to white it out and the politicians won’t be able to ignore it.
The Iraq Moratorium is not an organization. It was initiated by a small group of anti-war activists from very diverse backgrounds. We see it as a project that will strengthen the work of existing anti-war groups. Even more important, the clear and simple message, the local focus and the variety of activities it can encompass will bring into motion great numbers who have not yet taken any action against the war.
It is a 21st century project: the Internet will help reach tens of millions with this message. Please help by forwarding this message widely, and in as many ways as possible.
To learn more, to pledge to take part in the Iraq Moratorium, and to get involved, please go to the website today.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Zero Energy Desalination Plant and Theater

A new "Water Theater" is being planned for the Canary Islands which will not only be a seaside cultural center for performing arts, but will also serve as an innovative desalination plant. The architecture of the sea-facing wall is such that cool sea water is pumped into tubes then sprayed on a membrane through which sun-warmed air flows. The warm air over the cooler tubes causes the condensation of fresh water which drips into collecting troughs below. This is essentially a giant solar convection powered dehumidifier that supposedly can provide enough fresh water for an entire city! It also combines aesthetic architecture with renewable resource management and doubles as a theater that benefits the entire community. I'm curious to see what a dehumidifier of this size does to the local weather patterns, though.

See the video on

More technical info and photos here.

via Victor Argueta, Ph.D.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Senate Passes Energy Bill Increasing Car Efficiency Standards, Republicans Still Bought Out By Big Oil.

In a partial victory on June 21st, the Senate passed a new energy bill that requires a "10 in 10", or 10 mpg increase in 10 years, to 35 mpg for auto manufacturers' CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. Not suprisingly, the American auto industry was out in gangbusters fighting this resolution and although this was a heavy blow to their unscrupulous production of gas-guzzling monstrosities, their friends in the oil and energy industries bought their way out of the parts of the bill that would have cost them money. Other provisions of this energy bill included raising taxes on oil companies that would have generated $32 billion dollars for tax breaks on alternative energy and fuels as well as legislation requiring electric utilities to significantly increase energy produced from renewable sources. The former was blocked by aggressive campaigning by the oil lobbyists, and the latter was blocked by, according to the NY Times, "Republicans."

So here we have a bittersweet victory. Over the next 10 years, American car makers must increase their fleet's average fuel economy to a whopping 35 mpg. They have already been complaining that this will cost an extra $5000-$7000 per car and "it's not fair, foreign manufacturers have been able to meet these standards for years, how will we sell our SUVs, how will we continue to ignore the destruction of the environment so that we can make more money?" OK, I'm paraphrasing, but they were definitely whining.

Lobbyist/government rant: My biggest issue is, how could our Congress, representing the best interests of the people of the United States, in good conscience have allowed oil and energy companies to dictate the future of our national energy policy? I know this is a completely naive question, but when there is blatant corruption and bribery afoot, how can it be allowed to go on? It's disgusting and an insult to our founding fathers and what America is supposed to and used to stand for.

Governmental procedure rant: Looking through the Thomas Database, the Library of Congress's legislative search engine to write about this topic, I found multiple resolutions submitted for alternative energy programs, incentives, efficiency increases, and various other excellent ideas for decreasing our energy dependence. I can't, however, imagine a less efficient way to run a government. Anybody can take time and manpower to research and generate their own proposal, it gets submitted, eventually reviewed by a committee, kicked around, filed, revised, filed again, brought forth for review, potentially debated, revised again, scheduled for another review, reviewed, loopholes and earmarks added, debated again, revised again, and maybe brought forth for a vote. Multiply this by hundreds of proposals that may be redundant, poorly informed, supported by special interests and corporate lobbyists (legal bribery), and it's no wonder we can't get anything done!

Kudos to The Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility for their group letter writing efforts that helped to get this passed. Keep up the activism, keep writing your Representatives and Senators, these efforts do make a difference, however small.

via Hybridblog, NY Times,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Patagonia Releases Environmentally Friendly Wetsuits

Our favorite clothing company, Patagonia, has released their new line of wetsuits:
"Patagonia wetsuits use the highest quality Japanese neoprene – made from 80% non-petroleum based ingredients – which has a 98% higher closed cell ratio than other neoprene.

We line the entire wetsuit with a merino wool grid, bonded to recycled polyester, to trap more insulative dead-air space and quickly wick moisture away from the skin. (Pat. Pending)"

Yvon Chouinard and his band of eco-ninjas have been pioneers from the start, using organic cotton and hemp fabrics for years, recycled soda bottles for their fleeces, founded 1% for the Planet, have solar panels on their Ventura headquarters, and even have a used underwear recycling program!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Scapegoat has Been Sentenced. Libby Goes to Jail, or Does He? Oh Yeah, and Let's Impeach Dick Cheney!

We all know the story by now, CIA operative Valerie Plume gets exposed in retaliation for her husband's article exposing faults (ie, lack of WMDs) in the Bush administration's handling of prewar Iraq intelligence, a partial investigation ensues, it culminates in the hanging of Scooter Libby for perjuring. At the end of it all, he has been sentenced 30 months in jail and fined $250,000 and news agencies are calling the whole thing "over". But is it really over? Bush still has the power to pardon Libby if he so chooses. Should he? Will he?
It doesn't really matter.
Does anyone care that Carl Rove, Dick Cheney, and George Bush haven't even been investigated properly for this whole ordeal? Did anyone notice that no fault was placed and no punishment was actually given for exposing Plume in the first place? It is incredulous that the press and the people have allowed this witch hunt to continue to "completion". Once again, we should be disappointed and outraged by our government's handling of a serious situation, allowing them to present us with a slipshod puppet show and being satisfied with their predictable, fenestrated, and poorly written plot.

To show your discontent, you can start by writing to your congressperson to support Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich's Articles of Impeachment for Dick Cheney! (he has to go first, then W!)
Official Articles of Impeachment (pdf) introduced April 24th, 2007 - how did I miss this?
Supporting docs on Kucinich's site
washington post


Monday, June 04, 2007

Estimated Rate of Global Warming is Tripled in Recent Study

On June 3, The Independent revealed the results of a study published on May 22 in the National Academy of Sciences that has reassessed the rate of CO2 emissions and global warming. It shows that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions is three times higher than the numbers used to generate the frightening forecasts by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the 1990's. The growth of CO2 emissions has risen from 1.1% per year for 1990-1999 to >3% per year for 2000-2004. 73% of these global emissions is now from developing countries such as China and India, even though they only account for 23% of cumulative global emissions since the mid 18th century. The full PDF file can be read here.
This study is a cooperation of many respected institutions including Stanford's Department of Global Ecology, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany, The British Antarctic Survey, The University of East Anglia in the U.K., The Laboratorie des Sciences du Climate et del'Environnement in France, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Australia's Global Carbon Project out of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and was edited by a Harvard Researcher! The authors have declared no conflict of interest, meaning that the information presented is as objective as possible and they have no connections with special interest groups either for or against the climate change argument.

The implications of this are horrifying. If we have tripled our CO2 emissions in the past 10 years, despite the majority of civilized nations (with the exception of Australia and the U.S.) participating in the Kyoto treaty to reduce greenhouse gases, we are heading for disaster much faster than previously anticipated. There are more and more reports of findings indicating accelerating global warming and loss of polar ice, and this report supports those observations from a greenhouse gas perspective. Are China and India to blame? Partially. But so are we. Can you really blame the Chinese people for each wanting to have their own refrigerator and a car? They are simply trying to improve their lives and follow the Western cultures great example of excess and waste.
Our consumption here in the U.S. of cheap, mass produced goods made overseas has directly lead to jumpstarting the Chinese economy. That places the blame partially on us. Combined with the fact that we have some of the most advanced science, the best technology and the most money to begin an aggressive fight against climate change yet we have remained inert and impotent, allowing special interest groups and oil companies to dictate our energy policies and only continuing to contribute to the problem. Europe is trying to answer the call to combat climate change. We, the most powerful, richest, and supposedly most advanced society the world has ever seen, are doing next to nothing. We are part of the problem, we have catalyzed and are supporting changes in other countries that are the future of the problem, and we have the power to slow and maybe even stop the problem. That is, if we choose to stand up, grow up, and face our global climate crisis.

via Treehugger and The Independent

Gravitational Vortex Micro-Hydro Generator is Fish Friendly

An Australian engineer by the name of Franz Zotlöterer inadvertently discovered an efficient way to harness water power in his quest to aerate and improve water quality. It seems that by diverting a bit of a stream into a circular basin, with as little as 0.7 meters of drop, you can produce power with up to 80% efficiency. The prototype is larger and somewhat less efficient, but it does demonstrate that it works with relatively low turbine speeds which will aerate the water well and is safe for fish swimming upstream. This seems to be an excellent alternative to standard micro-hydro generators which generally require larger drops to be efficient (the patent is already in the mail).

via Treehugger

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bush Administration Delays Climate Change Talks by Planning New Ones

On Thursday George Bush called for a series of meetings on climate change and global emissions to begin this fall involving 15 of the greatest greenhouse gas emitting countries. Bush wants to set up long-term goals for greenhouse gas emissions by the end of next year then allow each country to individually determine how they will reach these goals.
Wow, that sounds like an amazing offer Mr. President, you must be really, really concerned about the environment to go to all that trouble to be so generous as to propose a series of meetings on the subject. What an innovator.
Here's the problem - THE MEETINGS HAVE ALREADY BEEN HAPPENING! The U.S. administration has refused to take seriously the U.N. Panel on Climate Change meetings that have already taken place and this announcement comes just a week before the G-8 summit, a major topic of which will be climate change. All this proposal does is allow Bush to have a media hype that he is concerned and has a plan about the environment when in reality he now has an excuse to dismiss the proposals for emissions reductions already authored by all of the other world superpowers. Our administration is simply trying to delay any commitment to action. We are one of two major nations not to have ratified the Kyoto protocols in 1997 and we continue to snub our noses at the remainder of the civilized world in regard to climate change.
This stance is shortsighted, greedy, bullish, childish, and irresponsible. Write your senators and congresspeople urging our country to join the rest of the civilized world in the fight against climate change!
via CNN

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