Monthly Archives: July 2010

What if? Ron Paul’s brilliant speech on U.S. foreign policy and war.

Congressman Ron Paul has once again spoken truth to power, and to the American people.  What if we DID wake up and  actually supported him and put our energy and resources behind his agenda? What if we refused to participate in America’s illegal imperial adventures? What if we started to wean ourselves off of our dependency upon fossil fuels and mega-corporations and put our resources into securing our own food, energy, and other necessities of life in our own local communities? What if we stopped using banks and took control of our own credit to allocate it to one another according to our own needs and priorities? What if we took responsibility for ourselves and our communities–our health, our education, and all the things that make life worth living? –t.h.g.

Toxic chemicals used to disperse oil in the Gulf amidst secrecy

In his newsletter of July 13, Ian Crane reports on the effects of the toxic chemicals being used to disperse the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. He says:

The dispersants causing greatest concern are COREXIT 9500 and the even more toxic COREXIT 9527A. Corexit 9527 is stated by its manufacturer to be potentially harmful to red blood cells, the kidneys and the liver. The chemical 2-butoxyethanol, found in Corexit 9527, was identified as having caused lasting health problems in workers involved in the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. According to the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the use of Corexit during the Exxon Valdez oil spill caused people “respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders”. Like 9527, 9500 can cause hemolysis (rupture of blood cells) and may also cause internal bleeding.

He also reports on the attempted cover-up, saying:

Despite researchers, reporters and news crews being threatened with felony charges if they should persist in taking photographs or filming the oil-soaked wildlife and shoreline, and being threatened with immediate arrest and jail if they report on clean-up workers being hospitalised with respiratory difficulties; word is filtering out. The vast majority of US-based vacationers are already cancelling any plans to head towards the affected states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida in the coming months. BP has already paid out almost $40 million  in compensation to small businesses in these states and is expecting to receive further claims in the coming months.

So, what can we do about it?

About the spill itself, the options of individuals and communities are very limited, but we CAN do something about our need and demand for gasoline and petroleum-based products like plastics, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Last night we hosted in Tucson a presentation by David Blume, author of the book, Alcohol Can Be a Gas!, who described the many benefits of small-scale local alcohol fuel production. This approach has the potential to solve virtually all the problems associated with our petroleum addiction. That’s a bold statement, but David is able to back it up with hard facts and an amazing knowledge of permaculture, history and the politics of technology. -t.h.g.

The smoking gun on aspartame

If you’re still not convinced about the adverse health effects of aspartame, watch this Fox news report. It provides convincing evidence that the Federal Drug Administration approval was politically influenced. The FDA initially rejected it. When Reagan took office, he replaced the FDA commissioner and aspartame approval sailed through.–t.h.g.

Security When Using Public WiFi

Excerpted from:,0

Safety first

So you’ve found your Starbucks location, you’ve hit the landing page and now it’s time to check your email and maybe fire off a Google Doc or two, right? Wrong. While free, public Wi-Fi is a treat, it’s also a great way for a hacker to invade your privacy and it exposes you to identity theft. So before you go anywhere online, let’s go over some “free Wi-Fi” basics:

1. You are not alone: Keep in mind that every laptop and smartphone user around you is probably on the same Wi-Fi network that you are. Anyone armed with the right software can become a master hacker, leaving you vulnerable to email snoops, Web traffic analysis, and general file snooping.

2. VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to protect yourself when using a public Wi-Fi access point. A VPN encrypts all your Web traffic and blocks any potential snoopers sitting nearby from horning in on your privacy. Think of a VPN as a super-secure train tunnel that sends all your Web traffic through a secure server and then out to the rest of the Internet. Many corporate types should have private VPN access through their employer, but you can also download Hotspot Shield (for Macs and PCs) from AnchorFree at no charge. [From Ben: another site I’ve used is] Hotspot Shield is an ad-supported VPN that works very well. The biggest downside to Hotspot Shield is that it places a banner ad at the top of every Web page you visit.  You can easily close the ads by looking for the “X” on the top right corner of the banner. Hotspot Shield may also slow down your surfing speeds, but the added security is worth it. Tip: Using Hotspot Shield form overseas can often fool regionally restricted premium content sites for music and video. Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield is not smart enough to trick Hulu.

3. SSL email: If you’re checking your email on public Wi-Fi, the best thing to do is to make sure your Web mail is encrypted using HTTPS address header instead of the wide open HTTP. While many Web mail sites, like Yahoo Mail and AOL, use HTTPS to log you in, the encryption quickly disappears once you hit your inbox. So try using Gmail instead, which offers HTTPS security for every single part of Gmail and Google Docs. If you’re a Firefox user, another option is to download the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor Project. The HTTPS Everywhere extension encrypts your online activities when you visit a variety of sites, including Twitter, the New York Times, Google search, Wikipedia, and Facebook. But HTTPS Everywhere is not foolproof, and the EFF warns that it is not possible to encrypt all traffic. In my tests, for example, visits to Yahoo, Hotmail, and other Windows Live sites were not encrypted using the extension. So watch to see if the browser’s lock icon in the lower right corner is broken or has an exclamation mark. If it does, you’re not encrypted.

4. Common sense: Don’t forget that while you can encrypt some of your Web activities, no security system is perfect. So don’t use Starbucks’ free Wi-Fi for accessing sites that require your most personal information, such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or banking information. Save that stuff for your encrypted home network.

(Those are the basics; to learn more, check out PC World’s article “How To Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi” and “How To Secure Your Wireless Network” for more information about home Wi-Fi security.)

Thanks to Ben Levi for passing this along.

K.D. Lang sings Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

This moving performance sends shivers down my spine. Take 6 minutes to listen to it.