December 2011

Donate Your Old Socks to Science

Help scientists study the rare fisher weasel

I must confess that I do not throw away old socks. I pretty much don’t throw away anything, to tell you the truth. The apple and cheese platter I had for lunch? It’s sitting in my office, cleaned and ready to be used to hold paint. And every sock that has a hole in it goes into an orange box where it will ultimately be turned into a puppet, sooner or later.

But what if your hoarded—I mean reused!—refuge could be used for something more meaningful and important, such as studying a rare form of animal? Researchers at the UC Davis Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Program are using old socks to help attract and study the rare Pacific fisher weasel.

Merry Christmas from Congress

House Republicans Retreat and 160 Million Americans Cheer


Congress finally agrees to give a small Christmas gift in the form of a Payroll Tax Extension – well for 2 more months, that is.

Despite their attempt to stall, our Congress finally found it in their heart (or their pocketbooks) to continue helping out over 160 million Americans affected by the Payroll Tax Extension.  +1. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find it in their hearts to move forward on this for more than two months.  -1.  Guess that puts us back to zero again.  While these short-term deals are one way that we can keep Congress workings, it doesn’t seem to be an effective way to govern. 

Solar Panel Technology Predicted To Make Solar Cheaper Than Coal By 2020

New developments are transforming the solar market, overtaking natural gas in a year, and cheap as dirt coal in eight.

When photovoltaic cells (the business end of the solar panel) were first proposed as an energy alternative, opponents dismissed them as far too expensive to be realistic. Supporters predicted advances in photovoltaic technology that would make them cheaper than traditional fossil fuels within a decade. Well, it took a bit longer than that (about twenty to thirty years longer), but it seems that the age of the solar panel has arrived. Recent improvements in technology have dramatically lowered the cost of solar energy, in addition to an increase in the expertise of people installing, operating, and maintaining them.

Solutions Can Only Begin By Raising the Bar

the word 'normal' needs to be acknowledged

First, I will say I believe every law-abiding citizen (and non-citizen) deserves respect, human dignity, and a chance;  I in no way condone discrimination, or any other negativity directed toward fellow human beings.  With that said, most if not all of the problems common in America today are due to the spreading opinion that "there is no such thing as normal."


What Do You Do?

Stand Up, Fight Back!

“When civil rights are under attack, what do you do? Stand up, fight back!”


That's a chant commonly heard at Occupy rallies all over the country. Based on the Department of Defense training materials that label peaceful protests as “low level terrorism,” that chant could be enough to get an Occupier labeled as a terrorist. And based on the military detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, just participating in a chant like that could someday earn you a visit from the military in the middle of the night.

Stop The NDAA

And Tell The Senate How We Feel

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 is the day for standing up against the military detention of American citizens, according to the national day of action called by Occupy Saint Paul. The plan is to stage a sit-in at the offices of every Senator who voted for this disgraceful law. We need to let them know that we aren't willing to let them turn their backs on the Constitution.

Careful How Many Groceries You Buy

You Could Be a Terrorist

Did you know that if you keep more than a seven day supply of groceries on hand, you too may be a terrorist? That's one of the things on the checklist for spotting a possible terrorist according to some of the floor debate on the National Defense Authorization Act. And since that same act gives the military the power to detain you for the rest of your life without charges if you're suspected of being a terrorist, you'd better keep those grocery trips to one a week and make sure you use up every bite before you go get some more.

But I'm Not A Terrorist!

That Won't Matter When They Define Protests As Terrorism

Now that the National Defense Authorization Act seems almost certain to become law, the struggle against military detention of American citizens moves into a new phase. The only hope we have is in solidarity and resistance, in the absence of which we face a grim future. This law makes it possible for the military to pick up citizens and detain them indefinitely- even for the rest of their lives- if they are suspected of engaging in terrorist activity.


You might be thinking “well, that's only for terrorists. I'm not a terrorist!”

Are Protests A Form Of Terrorism?

Yes, According to the DOD

This is a direct quote from the Pentagon's current counter-terrorism training examination:


“Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorism activity?


Select the correct answer and then click Check Your Answer.


Attacking the Pentagon


Hate crimes against racial groups



The official correct answer is “Protests.” I know that's almost impossible to believe, but it's true. The Department of Defense is actually training its employees to see protesting as a terrorist activity.


When you consider that fact, the new law allowing for the military detention (with no charges, no trials and no evidence needed) for any Americans suspected of engaging in terrorist activities will maybe scare you as much as it ought to.


We're not just talking about a law that authorizes military actions against people making bombs in their basements. Even if you don't think the military is the right way to handle that, that's not what we're talking about.

It Doesn't Matter If They're "Progressive"

If They Voted For The NDAA, They Must Be Held Accountable

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, Occupy Saint Paul will be occupying the offices of US Senator Amy Klobuchar. Why? Because when she took office as a Senator, she swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” When she voted to allow the military to detain United States citizens without trial in violation of Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights, she broke that oath.

It's Time For Deeds, Not Words

"If It Happened Here.."

If you're like me, you've heard it a million times: “If anything like that ever happened here, I'd...”


The “anything like that” refers to dictatorship, martial law, a fascist takeover or any variation of the above. The sad reality, though, is that it's not the truth. During World War II, only two percent of all French people participated in the French Resistance. You read that right. Even when the Nazis were literally at the door, most people did absolutely nothing. They preferred to play it safe, to stay comfortable, to wait it out. They lost the opportunity to do the right thing at the right time.

Can the Christmas Spirit Rebound in 2012?

"Which side of the Christmas spirit do our conservative, evangelical politicians proclaim through word and deed?"

Here we are, closing in on another Christmas. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy to forget why it is that we celebrate Christmas. For many Christians there are deeply religious reasons for Christmas (even if it is pretty obvious that Christ wasn’t born in December and most traditional Christmas symbols stem from a pagan holiday).  Nevertheless, Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the Birth of our Savior, no matter the specifics of your Christian beliefs.

Bank of America's $335 Million Racism Settlement

President Barack Obama’s aggressive pursuit of Bank of America for having discriminated against African American an Hispanic borrowers has yielded some fruit. Bank of America has had to settle a $335 million lawsuit on behalf of its Countrywide arm as a result of its discriminatory policies against minorities. It is the largest one in history over fair lending practices.

Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that the pursuit and resulting settlement has made it clear that the administration will “hold financial institutions accountable”. This statement is made in the face of the Occupy Wall Street protests across the country wherein protesters have been stating that this is exactly what Barack Obama’s administration has failed to do.

Three last minute DYI Christmas gift ideas

Last-minute gift ideas to make everyone on your list happy

As Christmas has been approaching, our time of getting everyone a gift has been dwindling. This last week can be an exhausting time, try any of these 3 DYI Christmas gifts project and give a gift that shows how much you care. Give a gift that will highlight the fact that you took the time to create something with the recipient in mind.

Obama Caught Between Rock And A Hard Place On Keystone XL Pipeline

...if the rock were environmentalists and the hard place were labor unions.


he Keystone XL Pipeline has been one of the most divisive, and potentially damaging, battles for the Democratic Party this election cycle. TransCanada, the oil giant from our northern neighbor, has been seeking to build the pipeline directly through the Midwest, essentially bisecting the country and connecting the tar sands oil extraction in Canada to the global petrochemical hub that is the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way TransCanada has promoted the pipeline aggressively as good for Americans; a job creator with huge potential for American companies. Environmentalists are not so sure. This great divide, between labor and the environment, is creating a very difficult problem for the White House.

American Justice Triumphant

Passage of DOD Bill Mandates Due Process

            The passage of the Department Of Defense bill in the U.S. Senate is somewhat relieving for those watchdogs of human civil liberties and freedoms.  The important provisions of allowing transfer from military/legal to a civilian legal jurisdiction allows prisoners and detainees, and those suspected of terroism a possible right to trial and legal proceedings.  This is a necessary image boost to the American system of justice and the perceptions of that system by those around the world, it also strengthens the President's power as well as that of other civilian and military bureaus.