Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 20th, 2008

What we need to change

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

Stealing elections

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David Swanson has a biting article on how elections have been stolen and the prospects for this November:

A new collection of essays edited by Mark Crispin Miller called Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000 – 2008, tells the story better than any single source I’ve seen yet.

The Supreme Court stopped a recount in Florida in 2000 that would have made Al Gore president. This is not speculation. The recount was later done.

Numerous elections were stolen in 2002, in Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and elsewhere, including Senate, Governor, and House races in Georgia that were practically openly swiped by Diebold’s elections unit president flying in at the last minute and altering the election machines. The theft of Don Siegelman’s 2002 election as governor of Alabama was almost as transparent. One county reported a set of results from electronic machines that made Siegelman governor, then recalculated and reported a different set of results. The new results were statistically impossible, and the pair of reports strongly suggested exactly how the machines were rigged, first mistakenly and later as intended.

John Kerry and John Edwards won the presidential election in 2004. The evidence of specific fraud in Ohio and elsewhere is overwhelming, but so is the evidence of the exit polls. The unadjusted exit polls show Kerry and Edwards winning. When the results are “adjusted” to conform to the official results, we are asked to believe that Bush and Cheney increased their big city voters from 2.3 million in 2000 to 5.4 million in 2004, a 153 percent increase. While support for Cheney-Bush dropped off in rural areas, small towns, medium sized cities, etc., it skyrocketed in the Democratic strongholds of big cities. Let me be clear: that’s the official story of what happened, not the wild conspiracy theory of ordinary people who allow themselves to be influenced by facts, logic, or memory of actual events.

Election fraud was not limited to Ohio or to the presidential race in 2004, but was widespread and systematic. This was also true in 2006. In many cases, Democratic turnout overwhelmed Republican fraud in 2006, and the Democrats picked up 30 new seats. But those victories were by larger margins than people believe. In other races, Republican fraud won out, and was immediately hushed up. Read the evidence in “Loser Take All,” and then think about how the current Congress would have been different with 40 or 50 new Democrats rather than 30. The 2006 elections saw the most widespread and sophisticated election fraud our country has yet seen, combined with the greatest public confidence since 2000 that elections were honest and verifiable. That combination does not bode well for 2008.

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Daily life, Election

Chemicals and disease

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Here is a long and fascinating article on the chemical origins of some diseases, including perhaps obesity. But the chemical industry denies everything and suggests that you move along, nothing to see, no changes please. The article begins:

Researchers say endocrine-disrupting chemicals can permanently harm the developing organism and may even promote obesity. But the chemical industry doesn’t want you to believe them.

Never in his wildest dreams had Fred vom Saal pictured himself studying urethral outlet obstruction. Nor, for that matter, had he ever thought much about the causes of obesity. For most of his 30-year career, vom Saal, a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, studied the harmful consequences of tiny changes in natural hormone levels at critical periods during the development of the brain and reproductive tract. But he began to include synthetic chemicals in his investigations when he learned that pesticides and other environmental contaminants caused reproductive defects in wildlife much like those seen in lab animals exposed to abnormal estrogen levels.

During embryonic development, steroid hormones like estrogen control gene-expression programs to coordinate cell differentiation, growth, organogenesis, and metabolism. Adding extra estrogen—whether foreign (exogenous) or natural (endogenous)—can irreversibly alter these developmental processes by mimicking, blocking, or otherwise disrupting pathways that have been fine-tuned over millions of years to respond to minuscule changes in hormone levels. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) offered a tragic illustration of the risks of exposing a fetus to synthetic compounds that mimic the behavior of endogenous estrogen: the drug was prescribed to millions of pregnant women before doctors realized it was causing rare cancers in their daughters.

To understand how exogenous estrogens interfere with developmental pathways, vom Saal started by feeding pregnant mice minute doses of DES, along with the endogenous estrogen estradiol, which he had long studied. In both cases, giving the mother these estrogens when prostate development is occurring raised fetal estrogen levels ever so slightly, with profound consequences: male offspring experienced accelerated prostatic gland growth and showed permanent increases in both the number of androgen receptors (androgen mediates prostate differentiation) and the size of the prostate [1].

But it wasn’t until vom Saal reported similar effects from a synthetic chemical still in mass production that his research focus, and his life, would take an unexpected turn. In 1997, vom Saal’s group reported that feeding pregnant mice trace amounts of bisphenol A—the building block of polycarbonate plastics—caused enlarged prostates in male offspring, just as estradiol and DES had. “Our findings,” the researchers wrote, “show for the first time that fetal exposure to environmentally relevant parts-per-billion (ppb) doses of bisphenol A, in the range currently being consumed by people, can alter the adult reproductive system in mice”[2].

The next year, vom Saal’s group showed that a similar treatment with bisphenol A also shrinks seminal vesicles, enlarges preputial glands (which produce sex pheromones), and reduces sperm efficiency [3]. The 1998 study, which observed these effects at a dose six times lower than a patient might swallow during application of a plastic dental sealant, immediately caught the attention of the chemical industry—and transformed Fred vom Saal into a tireless crusader against bisphenol A.

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 12:44 pm

Mass killings in Canadian Residential Schools

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The horror of the genocide in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools became public, as the locations of 28 mass graves of Indian children were revealed.

An unknown number of Indian children died in captivity at Indian Residential Schools in Canada.

The murders included children killed in electric chairs. Some of the bodies were incinerated in the school furnaces, while others were buried in mass graves.

Eyewitness Sylvester Greene described how he helped bury a young Inuit boy at the United Church’s Edmonton residential school in 1953.

“We were told never to tell anyone by Jim Ludford, the Principal, who got me and three other boys to bury him. But a lot more kids got buried all the time in that big grave next to the school.”

The location of mass graves of residential school children was revealed by the Independent Tribunal Established Squamish Nation Territory (“Vancouver, Canada”) on April 10.

At a public ceremony and press conference held outside the colonial “Indian Affairs” building in downtown Vancouver, the Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (FRD) released a list of twenty eight mass graves across Canada holding the remains of untold numbers of aboriginal children who died in Indian Residential Schools.

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Pulsing drop of mercury

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Science

Dorothy M. Johnson, 1905-1984

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Have you read any of Dorothy M. Johnson‘s stories of the American West? She can really touch your heart. I just read “A Time of Greatness” in her book The Hanging Tree and almost cried. Here are the books that I have (all trade paperbacks):

The first two are short-story collections, Buffalo Woman is a novel and All the Buffalo Returning is the sequel, and the last is a nonfiction work that describes various women who went West. More titles at the Wikipedia article linked to above. And here’s a brief biography.

You owe it to yourself to read some of her work. Your library undoubtedly has some titles.

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 11:59 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

The development of torture by the US

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The US has worked up its torture repertoire from various sources. This thorough article by Phillipe Sands in the Guardian explores the developments and the history of what occurred—and the lies that were told to the US public:

On Tuesday, December 2 2002, Donald Rumsfeld signed a piece of paper that changed the course of history. That same day, President Bush signed a bill to put the Pentagon in funds for the next year. The US faced unprecedented challenges, Bush told a large and enthusiastic audience, and terror was one of them. The US would respond to these challenges, and it would do so in the “finest traditions of valour”. And then he signed a large increase in the defence budget.

Elsewhere in the Pentagon, an event took place for which there was no comment, no fanfare. With a signature and a few scrawled words, Rumsfeld reneged on the tradition of valour to which Bush had referred. Principles for the conduct of interrogation, dating back more than a century to President Lincoln’s famous instruction of 1863 that “military necessity does not admit of cruelty”, were discarded. He approved new and aggressive interrogation techniques that would produce devastating consequences.

The document had been drafted a few days earlier by the general counsel at the Defence Department, William J Haynes II (known as Jim Haynes), Rumsfeld’s most senior lawyer. The Haynes memo was addressed to Rumsfeld and copied to two colleagues: General Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the most senior military official in the US, and Doug Feith, under-secretary of defence for policy and number three at the department.

Attached to the memorandum were four short documents. The first was a legal opinion written by Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, a staff judge advocate at Guantánamo. The second, a request for approval of new methods of interrogating detainees from Beaver’s boss, Major General Mike Dunlavey, the army’s head of interrogation at Guantánamo. The third was a memorandum on similar lines from General Tom Hill, commander of US Southern Command (Southcom, covering Central and South America). Last, and most important, was a list of 18 techniques of interrogation, set out in a three-page memorandum.

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 10:38 am

Some useful reference sites

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Good sites if you’re interested in doing some research on:

And from those pages you can quickly locate good reference sites on other topics as well.

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 10:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Clinton conflicts of interest

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Thanks to Bob Slaughter for pointing out this article:

Next week’s Pennsylvania primary is forcing supporters of former President Bill Clinton to view his efforts to produce free trade for Colombia reflected in an embarrassing looking glass.

In 1997, his own State Department condemned Colombia’s reign of terror against its citizens.

“During the first nine months of the year, government forces committed 7.5 percent of all politically motivated extrajudicial killings,” the Clinton administration’s report said. Particular targets of these state-authorized murders were labor leaders.

Five years later, in 2002, the International Labor Organization “deplored that, despite numerous requests, the [Colombian] government has thus far not reported any convictions of individuals for the murder of trade unionists.”

Human Rights Watch the same year said Colombia had allowed the paramilitary forces that did the killings to remain “beyond the reach of the law.”

Since 1986, 2,500 labor leaders have been murdered in Colombia.

Only Clinton knows why he took $800,000 in speaking fees from Colombia business interests that are pushing the free trade bill, or why he accepted a “Colombia is Passion” award by Colombia’s controversial President Alvaro Uribe last June.

The killings go on despite the deep interest shown by private citizen Clinton in the lethal Colombian regime.

“Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists,” Dan Kovalik, general counsel for United Steel Workers, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month.

Also in March, the International Trade Union Confederation said: “So far this year, 10 workers have paid with their lives for being trade unionists and for fighting to improve the lot of the Colombian working class.”

The murders poke into the news cycle now because the Wall Street Journal revealed that Mark Penn, the top strategist in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, was working at the same time through March as a lobbyist for the Uribe regime in trying to pass the Colombia tree trade bill.

Penn’s company took $300,000 from Colombia, despite Sen. Clinton’s opposition to the trade bill.

Sen. Clinton said she didn’t know about Penn’s side job. Wide-eyed reporters said Sen. Clinton and the former president were “furious” with Penn. He was relieved of his title, but still does polling for her campaign.

With Penn gone from Sen. Clinton’s command, the slack will be picked up in part by chief spokesman Howard Wolfson. Wolfson was a principal in the Glover Park Group consulting firm that got about $100,000 to push for U.S. approval of the takeover of strategic American harbors by Dubai Ports two years ago.

While Sen. Clinton said she was opposed to the Dubai ports deal, which was subsequently quashed, her husband supported it. It turns out he earned $15.4 million between 2003 and 2007 from an investment firm that includes the ruler of Dubai.

Not only was Wolfson against Sen. Clinton’s position on Dubai ports, it turns out Wolfson also worked briefly last year for the Colombia trade pact she opposes, according to the Huffington Post.

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Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 10:22 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Projjex: groupware

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Thanks to commenter Leah for pointing out Projjex, a Web 2.0 application for group projects. At the link is a video that explains its use, and it really seems well conceived and designed. Have any of you been using this? What do you think?

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2008 at 8:09 am

Posted in Business, Software

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