Monthly Archives: January 2010

Health Risks of Cell Phones, and How to Protect Yourself

This message from Ben Levi pretty much sums up the dangers of cell phone use, as well as precautions that can greatly reduce risks of adverse health effects. Please make sure to educate others, especially kids, who are especially susceptible to adverse radiation effects. –t.h.g.

Dear friends,

As you all know, I’m pretty much of a techno-weenie, being an engineer by training, a Macintosh consultant, and general technology aficionado. Thus I have been very aware of the issues surrounding cellphone radiation and its impact on the human body, wherever it comes in contact (usually our ears).

The issues are highly political, and highly profit-biased, in that those companies who stand to make the most profit (cellphone manufacturers and wireless phone companies) are the ones who are doing all of the funding of studies researching the health impacts (and, of course, not finding any negative impacts at all). Here is one recent article, this is from GQ magazine, which again notes the clear evidence, being covered up, that ill health effects from cellphone radiation is a timebomb waiting to happen… ESPECIALLY FOR YOUNG ADULTS who spend many hours a day with their cellphones glued to their ears.  http://www.gq.com/cars-gear/gear-and-gadgets/201002/warning-cell-phone-radiation?printable=true&currentPage=1

So what to do about reducing the risk of developing brain tumors if you use a cellphone a lot?

1) Stop using cellphones (or reduce usage dramatically);

2) Use a headset! This is the approach I¹ve taken, and recommend to everyone who uses a cellphone. With a wired headset between the cellphone and your ear, you effectively remove the harmful effects of the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) being emitted from the cellphone during use (as long as the cellphone is not right next to your body). This is because the EMR is proportional to the cube of the distance… so its harmful effects drop off very quickly the further the cellphone is from your body. [Note: Using a bluetooth wireless headset will still use EMR to communicate wirelessly between the headset and the cellphone, so I do not recommend using them as a substitute, even though the EMR emitted from a bluetooth headset to a cellphone a few feet away is much much lower than the EMR emitted from a cellphone, which has to communicate to the nearest cellphone tower sometimes miles away, and thus must be much more powerful.

For those of us who don’t use cell phones very often (like me), I am not worried at all about using it a few minutes a day… I do think it takes a lot of usage to have a negative impact. But for all of the parents out there, please do pay attention to this for your kids, for they are the ones who will be adversely impacted. It will take years to manifest as brain tumors, but my gut, as well as a lot of scientific evidence, says that it’s a very likely possibility that can easily be drastically reduced with a little awareness, and not much expense.

Now as for wireless internet… The same folks who are talking about cellphone radiation being cancer-causing are also against wireless internet networks for the same reason. Many people have what is being called “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity”, or EHS. Here is my thinking about this:  I think in-home wireless networks are VERY low powered, in terms of EMR. Yes, we are exposed to the wireless waves all the time we are in our houses, but the actual power involved is very low, and the distance between the source (i.e. the wireless router) and our bodies, is typically many feet.

However, I am very wary of the implementation of large-scale (i.e. city-wide) wireless networks, called WIMAX, that are being tested in cities around the world. This, to me, is another disaster waiting to happen… at least for those people who have EHS. Obviously as an evolutionary “stressor,” we can learn eventually to adapt to this new parameter in our ³life conditions²… but I¹m not sure such a wide-scale implementation is healthy for human beings… they don¹t call places where wi-fi can be accessed “hot spots” for nothing.

In awareness, Ben

Ben Levi || Boulder, CO USA

Col. Bob Bowman on free speech and popular government

Colonel Bob Bowman has important things to say on behalf of popular government. Here’s one of his recent editorials. You can read others at his website. –t.h.g.

Restoring Free Speech

By Dr Robert M Bowman, Lt Col, USAF, ret

National Commander, “The Patriots”

The American people are more than angry, they are “P.O.d” and rightly so. How many times must our wishes be ignored and our clear needs be unmet before we say “Enough is enough!”

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the American people wanted an end to the Vietnam War, and yet it dragged on for years after our government KNEW we had no chance of winning. According to Robert McNamara, both he and Lyndon Johnson knew that as early as 1965!

In 1981 and 1982, 80% of Americans wanted a nuclear freeze, yet we never got one. In the late 1980s, the overwhelming majority wanted an end to nuclear testing (after all, Gorbachev had unilaterally ended testing by the USSR). Yet testing continued year after year. A clear majority wanted an end to the Contra war against Nicaragua, to no avail. Even after Congress passed the Boland amendment, cutting off funds for the conflict, Ollie North and company ran drugs and sold arms to Iran in order to continue their illegal war. In 1993 (and again in 2009), most Americans favored a Single-Payer National Health Program. Fat chance getting that past the insurance companies! In 2004 and 2006 and 2008, the people overwhelmingly voted for an end to the corporate wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan. But too many are getting filthy rich off them. We wanted relief for homeowners facing foreclosure. Sorry, the trillions go to the banks, insurance companies, and investment firms that caused the problem.

Yes, “Enough is enough!” But to whom do we say it? The best Congress money can buy? And how can we scream it loud enough to be heard over the din of lobbyist money and the constant drone of corporate “issue ads”?? We need a populist government that serves the needs of the people, not the greeds of the corporations. There is euphoria as we elect Barack Obama who promises us Real Change. But what do we get? Chump change! And just as our frustration is at the breaking point, we do the only thing we can think of to get their attention – we elect a (gulp!) conservative Republican to the Senate … in Massachusetts, no less! (Well, he sounded like a populist independent.)

Then the very next day, the Supreme Court drowns out the last tiny echo of our free speech by handing the ruling corporations a megaphone of infinite power. You think rock bands make noise? Just wait until the multinational corporations crank up their amplifiers in the next election cycle!

For years, legislators with a populist bent have been trying to perfect campaign finance reform, one of the key steps in separating big money from political power. Just over a decade ago, Granny D (Doris Haddock) walked across the country at the age of 90 for campaign finance reform. I will never forget her stirring address to the 1999 Reform Party National Convention (where I was drafted to run for President). She said “Corporations are not ‘persons’, and money is not ‘speech’.” Her point was that corporations have no Constitutional First Amendment right to spend as much money as they want buying up politicians and influencing elections. On January 21, 2010 the Supreme Court decided against Granny D and struck down key sections of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law, opening the floodgates for big money to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens and perpetuate corporate control of our government.

For ten years, I have proposed a Constitutional Amendment restoring the intent of the Founding Fathers. It says “Corporations and other fictitious entities are not ‘persons’ under this Constitution, and shall have none of the rights and privileges thereof.” We the People were guaranteed Free Speech. Don’t let corporate money drown us out!

Supreme Court Ruling a Major Step for Democracy — IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

Corporate personhood is a major flaw in our system of government. The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding “free speech” for corporations makes a mockery of the electoral process. Here’s an editorial from the New York Times.

The Court’s Blow to Democracy

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.

The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. (The ruling also frees up labor unions to spend, though they have far less money at their disposal.)

more..

Eat weeds

I grew up eating weeds–not because we were poor, but because my grandparents and parents valued certain wild plants for both their palatability and their nourishment. In the northeastern United States, edible wild plants grew everywhere and were easily harvested. Mustard greens, dandelion greens, and burdock stems (cardoon) were family favorites. Later, as an adult, my interest in foraging continued and I learned to enjoy eating weeds like lamb’s quarters, amaranth, purslane and others.

Knowing what is edible and how to prepare it will become increasingly important as time goes on. Eating weeds can be good for your health, your quality of life, and your pocketbook.

Eattheweeds.com is one site that provides information about edible wild plants.

Haiti, The Devil and Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson has said some pretty stupid things, but his recent comments about Haiti may be the topper:

…something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.” True story. And so, the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.”

Here’s a rebuttal from the “Devil” to Pat Robertson.

Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action.

But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished.

Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”?

If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll.

You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best, Satan

LILY COYLE, MINNEAPOLIS

And if you want the real scoop from Greg Palast, a leading investigative reporter, here it is:

The Right Testicle of Hell: History of a Haitian Holocaust

Blackwater before drinking water

by Greg Palast for The Huffington Post

Sunday 17 January 2010

1. Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, “The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days.” “In a few days,” Mr. Obama?

2. There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF “austerity” plans.

3. A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, “My sister, she’s under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?” Should I tell her, “Obama will have Marines there in ‘a few days'”.

4. China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.

5. Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “I don’t know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has.” We know Gates doesn’t know.

6. From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It’s all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people.” Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.

7. Send in the Marines. That’s America’s response. That’s what we’re good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.

8. But don’t worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They’re from Iceland.

9. Gates wouldn’t send in food and water because, he said, there was no “structure … to provide security.” For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it’s security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

10. Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the right half of the island of Hispaniola. It’s treated like the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected president.

11. How did Haiti end up so economically weakened, with infrastructure, from hospitals to water systems, busted or non-existent – there are two fire stations in the entire nation – and infrastructure so frail that the nation was simply waiting for “nature” to finish it off?

Don’t blame Mother Nature for all this death and destruction. That dishonor goes to Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28 years. Papa and his Baby put an estimated 80% of world aid into their own pockets – with the complicity of the US government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo militia, Tonton Macoutes, as allies in the Cold War. (The war was easily won: the Duvaliers’ death squads murdered as many as 60,000 opponents of the regime.)

12. What Papa and Baby didn’t run off with, the IMF finished off through its “austerity” plans. An austerity plan is a form of voodoo orchestrated by economists zomby-fied by an irrational belief that cutting government services will somehow help a nation prosper.

13. In 1991, five years after the murderous Baby fled, Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resisted the IMF’s austerity diktats. Within months, the military, to the applause of Papa George HW Bush, deposed him. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The farce was George W. Bush. In 2004, after the priest Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped and removed again, to the applause of Baby Bush.

14. Haiti was once a wealthy nation, the wealthiest in the hemisphere, worth more, wrote Voltaire in the 18th century, than that rocky, cold colony known as New England. Haiti’s wealth was in black gold: slaves. But then the slaves rebelled – and have been paying for it ever since.

From 1825 to 1947, France forced Haiti to pay an annual fee to reimburse the profits lost by French slaveholders caused by their slaves’ successful uprising. Rather than enslave individual Haitians, France thought it more efficient to simply enslave the entire nation.

15. Secretary Gates tells us, “There are just some certain facts of life that affect how quickly you can do some of these things.” The Navy’s hospital boat will be there in, oh, a week or so. Heckuva job, Brownie!

16. Note just received from my friend. Her sister was found, dead; and her other sister had to bury her. Her father needs his anti-seizure medicines. That’s a fact of life too, Mr. President.

***

Through our journalism network, we are trying to get my friend’s medicines to her father. If any reader does have someone getting into or near Port-au-Prince, please contact Haiti@GregPalast.com immediately.

Urgently recommended reading – The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, the history of the successful slave uprising in Hispaniola by the brilliant CLR James.

Haiti, a sobering reminder of the need for survival planning at the grassroots

The situation that has been unfolding in Haiti following the recent earthquake is a sobering reminder of just how vulnerable our modern way of living is, especially for those of us who live in urban areas. Having spent some time in big cities, I marvel that they work at all. People have grown to depend upon the intricate interrelationships of very complex systems that provide us with the essentials of life–food, water, shelter, transportation, medical care, and SECURITY.

I like to think that in an emergency situation, people will pull together to help one another, but we’ve seen plenty of evidence that when people are in desperate straits, some of them can get very nasty and behave badly toward one another. The breakdown of order is probably the greatest worry.

Besides the limited and damaged port facilities, security concerns seem to account for the long delay in the arrival of rescue teams and the delivery of emergency relief from outside. A report in the UK Telegraph titled, Haiti earthquake: gunshots and panic as locals fight back against looters, describes what is happening in Haiti. I have heard that in such situations it takes about 72 hours for order to break down if relief supplies and peace-keeping forces do not arrive within that time.

It is true that Haiti is underdeveloped and lacking in resources, but that should not cause us to think the same cannot happen here in the US or other “developed” countries, it has– in New Orleans, just a few years ago.

Sustainability groups everywhere would do well to include emergency preparedness and disaster planning in their studies and action plans.

One useful source of information on this comes from James Wesley Rawles, an experienced military planner. See his The Daily Web Log for Prepared Individuals Living in Uncertain Times.

On Punishment and Intervention–some insights from Tom Atlee

Tom Atlee is a leading scholar and promoter of actions related to co-intelligence and group wisdom. In his recent newsletter below, he expresses some important insights regarding the role of punishment in changing individual behavior. His conclusions are entirely consistent with my own beliefs and research findings that behavior is determined not only by personal predisposition, but also by the situational context and systems in which people find themselves embedded. Please consider the points that Tom makes in this posting. – t.h.g.

Dear friends,

In my post yesterday I noted that punishing people who do bad things is a form of low-leverage intervention. Here I want to add some nuance and perspective to that statement.

I still believe that punishment BY ITSELF will not, in most cases, make a significant difference in whatever social, economic or environmental problem we think it will solve. One person or group is seldom the cause of what’s wrong. They are usually part of a larger picture — a system, a culture, a worldview, a way of doing business — that enables or encourages people to behave in the ways that they do. If we don’t change such larger dynamics, those dynamics will just continue to generate more problematic perpetrators.

Reading the article below about the coming investigation of bankers and other financial titans, I realized that punishment can, in significant ways, be part of a solution. It just has to be be done in a way that serves the transformation of those larger social dynamics. It can be used to drum up public support for systemic changes that confused citizens otherwise wouldn’t appreciate. It can rouse a sense of “Never Again!” in the larger public, leading to deep reform or transformation.

Punishment can also be embedded in the systemic changes, themselves.  The systemic logic of punishment is its deterrent effect (as contrasted with its psychological logic, which may look more like revenge or self-righteousness). If you set things up such that the prospect of punishment causes potential perpetrators to think twice and thus significantly reduces the number of anti-social acts, then the prospect of punishment has served its systemic purpose.  Furthermore, if the punishment includes efforts to reform the perpetrator — to expand their awareness, to change their behavior, to set them on a new, more socially benign course in life — that, too, has a systemic impact.

The evolutionary purpose of rewards, punishments and other incentives of all kinds is to help align the self-interest of the individual, group, corporation, or country to the needs and well-being of the larger whole — the whole society, the whole world, the whole of life. The pleasures of food and sex, and the pain of poisons and predators, have had an obvious impact on the evolutionary ability of species to sustain themselves over time. Moral codes and legal systems, social status and myths of heaven and hell, all play roles in aligning the behavior of individuals to the needs of the larger societies they are part of.

CONSCIOUS evolution involves, among other things, setting things up so that when we do the “right” thing we experience pleasure and when we do the “wrong” thing we experience discomfort or pain.  “Artificial” incentives are needed to the extent that intrinsic impacts are not sufficiently clear and compelling. When we fill up the gas tank or turn on the light, there is no direct link in our experience to our degradation of the climate. So we may need a “carbon tax” to help us “feel” the negative impacts of our fossil fuel use.

However, the proof of punishment’s value is in the actual impact on behavior. If we see an endless stream of perpetrators being punished — as we do with the drug war — then punishment is not serving its systemic role. If we see the worst perpetrators avoiding punishment because they can buy powerful lawyers or politicians or find loopholes or otherwise undermine enforcement, then punishment is not serving its systemic role. This is not all bad. From a social change perspective, each instance of avoiding deserved punishment gives us more data about what ELSE in the system needs to change in order to support the ongoing health of the larger society and world.

If the identification, publicizing and punishment of perpetrators of the financial meltdown described below reaches deep enough to not only send them to prison BUT ALSO to reform the financial system AND ALSO to change the political/governmental system so that those with undue wealth and political leverage cannot undo those financial reforms (as happened with the New Deal reforms during Clinton’s term), then the punishment would have served its highest systemic purpose. Gigantic concentrations of wealth, the “personhood” of corporations, campaign financing, the “revolving door” of powerful government and corporate positions, the adversarial vote-based system of majoritarian democracy itself — these are just a few of the hot targets for reform at the level that it is needed.

If change is not AT LEAST that deep, the punishment of financial titans will simply discharge some of the public’s energy of upset, and we shall see renewed financial crises over and over, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow because the earth keep spinning, because that’s the way things are set up to play out.

Coheartedly, Tom PS: And of course this applies to every other issue where punishment is proposed or in place as part of the solution. Tom Atlee, the Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440 http://www.co-intelligence.org / http://www.democracyinnovations.org Tom Atlee’s blog – http://tom-atlee.posterous.com