November 2011

U.S. Power Grid Highly Vulnerable to "Catastrophic" Cyber Attack

Stuxnet opened the door to widespread and infrastructure ending cyber attacks.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that American households spend, on average, about $2,000 a year on their energy needs. The lion’s share of that cost? Heating. In fact, 43% of our annual energy expenditures is simply on the heating of our homes and the water that we use. A byproduct of all of this residential and commercial heating is the EPA estimated 27,300 pounds of CO2 annually emitted into the atmosphere per home. Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory has recently released a resource map, funded by Google, that shows that geothermal energy is a possibility almost everywhere in the continental United States. In fact, according to their report, the U.S. is sitting on almost 10 times the recoverable energy deposits from geothermal heating than what is available to the U.S. today in coal-produced energy.

Occupy Wall Street and Campaign Finance Reform

If the OWS movement adopts a campaign finance reform platform, it may just create a real force for change in Washington.

Occupy Wall Street has been ongoing for almost three months now, and the once chaotic manifestation of popular rage has been honed to the point that it’s now developing a more concise political platform. In fact, the movement that has been largely criticized for its many diverse issues; from deregulation of the financial sector, to outsized student loan debts and slashing of environmental regulations, has focused its message somewhat. Now that the message is being honed there may be one overriding principles that manages to tie in most or all of the others; campaign finance reform.

GOP Calls Net Neutrality "Internet Regulation", Attempts to Repeal

President Obama promises to veto any attempt by congressional Republicans to overturn new FCC net neutrality rules.

The Federal Communication Comission (FCC) published its new net neutrality rules back in September of this year, which spurred congressional Republicans to step up their efforts to kill the new rules. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) of the Senate Commerce Committee took the mantle in pushing a motion to overturn the new FCC rules, which prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing internet service in delivering competitors’ content; a common practice among internet service providers right now.

Want Maximum Absorbency? Have Some Toxic Chemicals

Last week, we talked about dioxin in the environment and industrial processes.  It is the single worst cancer causing agent known to man, and yet it continues to be prevalent in many industrial processes.  One of those is the manufacture of disposable diapers.  Those gleaming white diapers you slap on your baby for a few hours only got so white after a chemical bleaching process that released dioxin into our environment and is found in trace amounts on those very diapers.

You cannot trust big businesses to keep your children safe.  They’re in it for the money, and the presence of toxic chemicals doesn’t seem to bother them one bit.  Why should it?  Your baby will survive the diaper phase, which is all those big brands really need, isn’t it?

Touched By Cancer

So many of us have been touched by the effects of cancer, whether personally or by watching a friend or loved one suffer.  According to UPI, a staggering 41 percent of Americans will develop cancer, while 21 percent of us will die from cancer.  Those are some pretty scary numbers.  Today, I want us all to take a moment to reflect on the people in our lives who have battled with cancer.

My first experience with the devastation cancer can bring was when my grandmother lost her fight with ovarian cancer.  Nothing is more heart-wrenching than watching someone you love suffering so much.  I was a teenager at the time, and I can still feel the terror and frustration of watching the kindest woman in the world spend her last days in agony.

Michele Bachmann Tells Us Peasants to Eat Cake

New recipe book, "Make Something Out of Nothing, Literally!" to follow

Actually, the, as my husband is so fond of calling her, “idjit” had this to say to all of the people who are unemployed in America:

“Self reliance means, if anyone will not work, neither should he eat.”

WOW, Michele. Just…wow. So are you starving, then, since you’re not really “working” while you blaze across the country campaigning for a job no one wants you to have? My husband was laid off for seven months this year, but I might be able to find something to feed you with if you stop by Missouri—some saltine crackers or something, at least.

Cancer Research: Another Angle

President Nixon came forward with the National Cancer Act in 1971. Many of us heard it referred to as "the war on cancer." Great advancements have been made in treating, and often curing, a disease which in the distant past was generally a death-sentence. However, not nearly enough emphasis has been placed on prevention. Consequently, the rates of many forms of cancer are continuing to rise. To further complicate matters, nearly anything a person may read about "personal risk factors," etc., immediately contradicts itself-- "family history-- or no family history," for example. The bottom line is they are clutching at straws, because they really do not know. While funding needs to continue going into treatments and cures, more needs to be channeled into discovering the causes.

 

Government Shutdown: Round 3

Another government shutdown looms, but Republicans aren't likely to let it get that far.

We’ve come full circle on the congressional carousel again, with lawmakers once again squabbling all the way up to a November 18th deadline before a government shutdown. Before that date, Congress must agree on a 2012 budget to continue to fund operations throughout the next fiscal year. This time the Republican Study Committee is warning House Republican leaders that the Budget Control Act, which agreed to a $1.043 trillion cap on federal spending back in August, is not considered a significant enough spending cut by many House Republicans. It cuts the discretionary spending in the federal budget by $7 billion, a number at which many Tea Party conservatives are shaking their heads.

Hydraulic Fracturing and Upcoming Elections

 

With voters heading to the polls tomorrow (11/8/2011) for state general elections, I thought I would review a topic hot on the minds of voters and candidates in my home state of New York, as well as Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. That topic is hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking.

In a time when we are still burning coal for much of our power it seems logical to look towards natural gas as a cleaner alternative. According to the Department of Energy natural gas releases ½ the amount of greenhouse gasses that coal does. On top of that, we have a huge supply of natural gas in this country. I for one would love us to be able to kiss Middle Eastern oil goodbye.

There exists, however, much concern over the safety of water in the areas where fracking is being used. In this video courtesy of ReasonTV, Ron Bailey talks about the pros and cons of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) including the issue of water contamination.

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I hope you enjoyed this concise video as much as I did, regardless of whether you agree with him or not. I have always believed in learning about the opposing argument to understand the issue better. I do not agree with Ron Bailey’s optimistic view of fracking, but I do find him to be very knowledgeable and he certainly gives a good interview. He does however, off some contradicting comments. Early in the video he denies that water has been polluted by fracking but then goes on to openly admit that gases have contaminated water in Demic, Pennsylvania. Hmmm.

The next couple of years will likely be when the future of fracking will be decided. When heading to the polls, please learn where candidates stand on this issue and know that while fracking could certainly have some positive effects on our current energy situation, it is no way the future of energy. It is simply another non-renewable, polluting resource. 

Balanced Budget Voters Eye Cain's Proposal

Balanced budget voters are watchful and interested in what Herman Cain's tax proposal will do to the country's budget overall. The bold, as it has been called, 9-9-9 tax proposal did get a lot of attention at numerous Republican presidential debates but many are looking farther into the federal budget.

In an announcement towards the end of October, Cain announced he was working to balance the government's budget in just one year, a task many say is virtually impossible to do. The move would require the elimination of more than $800 billion of deficit that's projected for 2013. Is it possible?

President Obama Announces New National Monument

 

President Obama announced plans to make Virginia’s Fort Monroe a National Monument. The fort is historically 

significant for the role it played in the Civil War. It served as a place of refuge for escaped slaves and was also where Confederate President Jefferson Davis served time after the war. The fort, which is 188 years old, was closed in 2005 as a cost-cutting measure.

Why We Need The American Jobs Act

 

Americans need jobs. With millions out of work, the economy sluggish, and employers slow to hire, some spur is necessary to invigorate the economy. 

 

Cutting the payroll tax in half for most American businesses and a complete payroll tax holiday for employers that increase their payrolls by either adding new hires or increasing the pay of the people they have is a major business incentive that American small business and the American public needs.

Tax credits aimed at making sure that returning veterans get hired is something that these returning vets sorely need.

Creating thousands of jobs and fixing this nation’s crumbling infrastructure through government works projects is something this nation has been asking and hoping for for a great number of years.

The American Jobs Act makes it easier for companies to hire the long term unemployed by giving employers a $4,000 tax credit for hiring the long term unemployed. This is government acting as government should, as a steward of progress, making sure that the path to prosperity is one that all American have a shot at.  Government of late has gotten a bad reputation as being a bloated machine that cares only for itself.  In the American Jobs Act we see government as it really is, a mechanism that assists those in all levels of society make the most of the opportunities that they have.

Government is not the enemy of progress, partisanship is, and the best thing for America to do is to make sure that the employers, and future employees of this great nation get all the help they need to make sure that the future is the brightest one possible. This bill goes a long way in making that future the best one we can make from where we stand today.

And the beauty of it?  This bill pays for itself. 

Portland Occupy Movement Split On Method

Some Portland Oregon Occupy Movement protestors want to go about things in a peaceful diplomatic way. Others think it is time for more aggressive action.

 

Last Wednesday, a Portland Police Officer got shoved against a moving bus. It was reported as an accident and the officer was not badly injured but this prompted Portland City Major Sam Adams to ask the police to be "riot ready." All Portland police officers are now required to have gas masks, batons, and a helmet ready at all times.

One Mormon Candidate May Be Just Too Normal.

The New York Times’ GDP Election Calculator shows that a Mormon has the best chance of beating President Obama in next year’s election.  That Mormon, however, is not Mitt Romney. It is Jon Huntsman.  Jon who?  Outside of Utah, many voters are barely aware of who Mr. Huntsman is and that he is running for President.  With the current cast of characters in the race, it seems that Huntsman is being overlooked.

Use Banxodus to Find a Good Guy Bank in Your Area

Search for locally owned banks and credit unions

If you took park in Bank Transfer Day today or you’re searching for a good bank to transfer to, you might want to check out the new Banxodus tool to find one. Created by BoldProgressives.org, Banxodus is an easy-to-use search tool that lets you plug in your address and find a bank that’s positively-rated near you. It will provide information about both banks and credit unions, and you can span out with a mapping tool to find the banks that are closest to you to ones that might be a bit farther out but still worth considering. Sometimes a short drive is worth a good bank!

What is Energy Self Sufficiency?

 

I realized that I have been preaching about the value and importance of energy self sufficiency for weeks, but never actually gave a proper definition of the term. How many people read my posts and thought to themselves exactly what the heck does he mean?

At its very heart, energy self sufficiency is the ability for a company, country or even person to provide enough energy to live on without depending on anyone else. On a country level, it would mean the United States creates enough energy both to power our homes and our cars that it doesn't require the importation of oil and other items from other countries.

The distribution of wealth and the free market

In America at the end of 2001, 10 percent of the population owned 71% of the wealth. Additionally, the top 1 percent owned 38 percent. But, the bottom 40 percent owned less than 1 percent of this country’s wealth.[1]

Obviously, the United States is not a free market and so is every other economy. Any time the government intervenes to regulate business, it is more of a managed economy. In any case, the free market, definitely proposes the profit motive. This is contrary to the understanding that neither a profit motive or profit itself are required for a free market. A contemporary free market economy would usually consist of other aspects, such as a financial services sector and a stock exchange, although this is not outlined explicitly. Additionally, all of the free markets today are assumed to comprise entrepreneurs who can be also in the shape of businesses.

The "99%" Recuits The Other "1%"? Maybe.

The Resource Generation, claiming to represent the other 1%, joins the Ocupy Wall Street protestors.

Occupy Wall Street has continued to grow and spread over the previous months into not only a national movement, but an international one. Recently, it seems, the movement, which refers to themselves as “the 99%”, have even converted another group to their cause: the other 1%. Similar to ultra-rich mogul Warren Buffet asking President Obama to raise his taxes, a group of alleged One Percenters has come forward in support of the other 99%. This group, called The Resource Generation, has been plugging their message on social media networks. A mission statement on their website reads: “We believe that we have more than we need, while the 99 percent struggles to survive. This has to change. We believe in an equitable distribution of wealth.”

Anti-Tax Bus Tour Hits the Ground Running

In an effort to show support and advocate the abolishing or at least lowering of Kansas income taxes, a Kansas anti-tax bus tour launched from Topeka Kansas on Friday. They are receiving a good share of funding from Rex Sinquefield, a Missouri billionaire who is an anti-tax advocate and is in the process of trying to abolish taxes in his home state of Missouri. The bus tour stopped in Lenexa today November 4th.

Ashley McMillan, president of Kansas for No Income Tax (KNIT), states for reporters that the purpose of the tour is to educate Kansas residents about the many opportunities that become available in raising their individual wealth by eliminating Kansas income tax. They'll also be distributing information regarding tax legislation that's being proposed. In addition, they have a wealth of information at the KNIT website.

Equal Rights for Women

The Need to Level the Playing Field

For over a hundred years women have been fighting for the right to be seen and treated as equal in the eyes of the law. This push for equality is gaining renewed strength as the powers that be see fit to strip and regulate women’s issues more and more.

Women live and breathe the same way men do. We work, raise families, and fight just like the male half of the species. We go above and beyond the call of duty to still receive less credit than our male counterparts. Yet, we are still treated a second class citizens. We still have a majority male population who has a tremendous desire to turn back time in order to control women as property once again. What is even scarier are the women who are afraid of what the future can hold with a level playing field. As our constitution currently stands, without the Equal Rights Amendment, women are still chattel with the ability to vote.

Even scarier are the newer generations of women who forgot what their mothers and grandmother fought for just to get us where we are now. Young women today take for granted the gains made by others over recent decades and are allowing archaic minds to wash all of those advancements away.

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