Democrat and Independent Thinker..."The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." -Nietzsche

Commenting on many things, including..."A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from." - Keith Olbermann

Thursday, November 23, 2006



Let us be thankful for what we have and let us learn how to live.


Turkeys: Personal, Political & Planetary


It’s hard not to feel like a cash cow for insurers and drug companies. I could decline to be jerked around with their accounting maneuvers and fight back, or spend my days "shopping" for better deals for medical crises I may never have. I could refuse to take their *questionable drugs, and risk dying sooner. Or I could redesign my life to avoid stresses that raise my blood pressure, though I figure that’s not basically different from being dead.

Health Care Challenges in '07 video

Canada's Health Care Lauded by One Who Knows


For most of my adult life, I worked as a journalist in Canada and took full advantage of Canada's health-care system. My wife, daughter and grandchildren were free to choose their own primary doctors and specialists. Service was consistently kindly, prompt and concerned. If something serious was suspected, we were tested, X-rayed and examined in a matter of days. Our physicians were highly trained and the hospital facilities modem and pleasant.

It is important for Americans to know that people in Canada tend to live a couple of years longer than their U.S. counterparts and that Canada's infant mortality rate is lower. This is attributed to the fact that everyone — young, old, working or unemployed — is covered for basic hospital and medical care in Canada without co-insurance or deductibles. This is in contrast to the United States, where there are more uninsured people (over 40 million) than Canadian inhabitants.

American critics of Canada's health care are quick to cite the fact that there are lengthy waiting lists for non-emergency medical procedures. It is also true that there is considerable overcrowding in some hospitals, but this is due to the fact that emergencies are treated immediately even if it means a lineup of gurneys in the hospital corridor — a situation I have found exists in American emergency wards as well.

Domestic Violence: A Special Report


Pace of Global Warming Causes Alarm
'Very different and frightening world' coming faster than expected, scientists warn


At least 70 species of frogs, mostly mountain-dwellers that had nowhere to go to escape the creeping heat, have gone extinct because of climate change, the analysis says. It also reports that between 100 and 200 other cold-dependent animal species, such as penguins and polar bears, are in deep trouble.

"We are finally seeing species going extinct," said University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan, author of the study. "Now we've got the evidence. It's here. It's real. This is not just biologists' intuition. It's what's happening."

"I feel as though we are staring crisis in the face," Futuyma said. "It's not just down the road somewhere. It is just hurtling toward us. Anyone who is 10 years old right now is going to be facing a very different and frightening world by the time that they are 50 or 60."

US: Climate Change Climate Changing


Come January, those in the world who are concerned about the slow pace of climate action could see the global response get a boost with the United States becoming a significant part of it, according to an environmental group that is part of the global campaign for a swift response to global warming.

"With Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, changes in the federal policy are to be expected," said Gary Cook, director of the Climate Action Network, an umbrella organization representing over 350 environmental organizations worldwide.

Cook and his colleagues hope that with environmentally conscious Democratic lawmakers holding key positions in the Senate, the United States will soon be making real progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, as well as moving the global agenda on climate change forward.

Let Them Eat CO2
News: The Bush Administration's global warming spin turns desperate.


Yesterday, in response to U.K Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement that global warming poses a dire threat not only to the global environment, but to the global economy, White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters that President Bush "has, in fact, contrary to stereotype, been actively engaged in trying to fight climate change and will continue to do so."

This is demonstrably false. For starters, in 2001, Bush
reneged on a campaign promise to regulate carbon emissions and withdrew the U.S. from the Kyoto treaty, which seeks to slow global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A year ago, a Mother Jones
expose showed how ExxonMobil funds global warming deniers (reporting which has led Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller to recently demand that the company "come clean about its past denial activities") and reported on the ties between sisters Paula and Larisa Dobriansky and Exxon Mobil.

WWF Award for Nasa Scientist Who Sounded Climate Alarm


A leading Nasa researcher who pioneered the case for tough action to combat climate change in the US has been awarded the WWF's top conservation award. James Hansen, whose testimony to the US senate on global warming is featured in Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, received the medal from the Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony yesterday at St James's Palace in London.

Diet for a Hot Planet


Thirty-five years ago, Frances Moore Lappé's revolutionary cookbook "Diet for a Small Planet" warned of the dire consequences of a growing taste for meat. For example, it takes up to 16 times more farmland to sustain people on a diet of animal protein than on a diet of plant protein. As US, European, and Asian farmers run out of land for crop expansion, her warning rings prophetic. The emerging meat-eaters of the emerging economies -- especially China -- are driving industrial agriculture into the tropical forests of South America, sending greenhouse gases skyward in a dangerous new linkage between the palate and the warming of the planet.

The Last Days of the Ocean

Global Warming: It's Personal
Naysayers who argue that climate change is unsolvable because of 'human nature' ignore how past crises were averted.


Perhaps if we're vigorously informed about how global warming endangers our neighborhoods, we'll individually forgo the McMansions and the Hummers and make sustainable choices. Anything less compromises our children's future.

Until then, our denial facilitates "social loafing" — the tendency of individuals to slack when work is shared and individual performance is not assessed.

12-Step Plan for Climate Action

1. Increase fuel economy for the world’s 2 billion cars from an average of 30 mpg to 60 mpg.

2. Cut back on driving. Decrease car travel for 2 billion 30-mpg cars from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year, through increased use of mass transit, telecommuting, walking and biking.

3. Increase energy efficiency by one-quarter in existing buildings and appliances. Move to zero-emissions plans for new buildings.

4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero, and double the rate of new tree plantings.

5. Stop soil erosion. Apply “conservation tillage” techniques to cropland at 10 times the current usage. Encourage local, organic agriculture.

6. Increase wind power. Add 3 million 1-megawatt windmills, 75 times the current capacity.

7. Expand solar power. Add 3,000 gigawatt-peak solar photovoltaic units, 1,000 times current capacity.

8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from an average of 32 percent efficiency to 60 percent, and shut down plants that don’t meet the standard. No net new coal plants, for new plants built, an equal number should close.

9. Replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal with natural gas, a four-fold increase in natural gas usage over current levels—a short-term step until zero-emissions renewable technologies can replace natural gas.

10. Sequester CO2 at existing coal plants. Sequestration involves storing carbon dioxide underground, an unproven technology that may, nonetheless, be better than nothing.

11. Develop zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.

12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement for fossil fuel until better carbon-free technologies are developed -- but only biofuels made from waste, and made without displacing farmland and rainforests.

This framework can help us think big and fast enough to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. If we are to achieve each wedge by 2054, the next 10 years must see major action. Anything less and we’re kidding ourselves. The good news? We can do this. We have the technologies and the know-how. We can take many of these steps today, on our own. For the rest, we need to persuade our elected officials, contact our power companies and auto manufacturers, and demand action from those with decision-making power. The best news? Beating climate change opens the door to more jobs, energy security, progress against poverty, a cleaner environment, and a safer world -- a better future for all of us.


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