Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Maria’s Monday Memo

Senator Maria Cantwell’s Weekly Update for Washington State

Monday, January 30, 2006

Keeping America Competitive

To stay competitive in today’s changing global economy, we need an aggressive national strategy that invests in the industries of the future, strengthens math and science education, and creates good, family-wage jobs right here in the Pacific Northwest. To boost our economy, I’ve joined a bipartisan coalition of senators to call for increased investment in research, development, and education to help America maintain its competitive edge. The Protecting America’s Competitive Edge (PACE) Acts would increase America’s talent pool through higher education investments, incentives for innovation, and scholarships and fellowships for future scientists and teachers. The legislation would also increase federal research spending and make permanent an important tax credit for research and development. Based on recommendations made by the National Academies, the three PACE Act bills—one focusing on education, another on energy, and a third on tax incentives—represent a comprehensive and coordinated federal policy aimed at fostering innovation and creating high-quality jobs for Americans.

Investing in Alternative Energy to Break America’s Dependence on Foreign Oil

It’s time for America to get serious about energy independence. Our over-reliance on fossil fuels poses a threat to our economy, our international competitiveness, our national security, and our climate system. That’s why I’ve joined Senator Hillary Clinton to call for a latter-day “Manhattan Project” aimed at accelerating the development of advanced energy technologies that will provide clean, reliable fuel sources and good, family-wage jobs. The Advanced Research Projects Energy (ARPA-E) Act would fund the groundbreaking research and development needed to move toward a 21st century energy system, and would create a new office within the Department of Energy charged with leading the way toward energy independence. With an authorized funding level of $9 billion for fiscal years 2007 to 2011, the office would take on high-risk, high pay-off research to move cutting-edge energy technologies into the marketplace. With vision and focus, we can capitalize on American ingenuity, put Washington farmers in the fuel business, and break our dependence on foreign oil.

Enhancing Security Without Slowing Commerce or Travel

A proposal to strengthen security along our border with Canada could cut off border communities, slow tourism, and deliver a damaging blow to our economy. Considering the important role of international trade in driving our regional economy, and the fact that the 2010 Winter Olympics are coming to Vancouver, we need to find a way to enhance security without bringing our border to a standstill. To make sure our border crossings stay both secure and manageable, I’ve joined Congressman Rick Larsen and the rest of Washington state’s Congressional delegation to make sure the administration minimizes any negative consequences brought on by the proposed Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The initiative would require American and Canadian citizens to present a passport or other secure federal identification before crossing into the United States, which could slow legitimate travel and commerce between the United States and Canada and bring busy border crossings to a grinding halt. I’m calling on the Departments of State and Homeland Security to hold local public forums on the proposed changes, and consider accepting alternative forms of identification that are both secure and more affordable. Our economy depends on trade, tourism, and a border open to legitimate travel. We need to make sure we secure our border without unnecessarily harming Washington state commerce or impeding travel.

Putting Money Back into the Pockets of Washington Taxpayers

As Washingtonians begin receiving their W-2 forms, I want to make sure everyone remembers to take advantage of the sales tax deduction. Taxpayers across our state are facing the strain of sky-high energy, education, and health care costs. The sales tax deduction is a good way for them to get hard-earned money back into their wallets. In most states, taxpayers are allowed to deduct state income tax from their federal taxes. However, residents of states with a higher sales tax in place of state income taxes have not been allowed a sales tax deduction since changes to the tax code were made in 1986. In 2004, I worked to pass provisions to promote tax fairness and allow Washington state taxpayers to deduct state and local sales taxes from their annual federal income tax returns. Last year, Washingtonians used the deduction to claim $2 billion on their tax returns. Taxpayers who took advantage of the cut saved an average of over $500 each. This is about tax fairness. Without this deduction, Washingtonians get taxed twice—once when they make a purchase and again when they file their tax returns. With the sales tax deduction expiring after the 2005 tax season, I’m leading the fight to make it permanent.

The IRS has posted tables and instructions at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040sa.pdf. See page 11 for the Washington state table. There is a fact sheet on the sales tax deduction at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=152316,00.html.


ExxonMobil Posts Largest Annual Profit for US Company

By Simon Romero and John Holusha
The New York Times

Monday 30 January 2006

Houston - ExxonMobil, the nation's largest energy company, today reported a 27 percent surge in profits for the fourth quarter as elevated fuel prices gave rise to the most lucrative year ever for an American company, with profits in 2005 reaching $36.13 billion and revenue $371 billion.

Exxon's profits are expected to generate new scrutiny of the company's operations in Washington, where legislators have recently expressed concern over Big Oil's good fortune as soaring oil and natural gas prices pressure consumers. Exxon said its profits climbed more than 40 percent last year, while its tax bill rose only 14 percent.

"This might be the best macroeconomic environment ever for oil," said Dave Pursell, a partner at Pickering Energy Partners, Houston-based research firm. "More than any of its peers, Exxon knocked the cover off the ball with its long, disciplined view of global projects."

Exxon's revenue last year allowed it to surpass Wal-Mart as the largest company in the United States, and by some measures Exxon became richer than some of world's largest oil-producing nations. For instance, its revenue of $371 billion surpassed the gross domestic product of $245 billion for Indonesia, an OPEC member and the world's fourth most populous country with 242 million people.

Shares in Exxon closed at $63.37, adding $2.08 or 3.4 percent in New York after the announcement. However, even as investors applauded Exxon's new chief executive, Rex W. Tillerson, who replaced Lee Raymond at the start of this year, its results masked potentially weaker profits if oil and gas prices begin to decline.

Production on an oil-equivalent basis at Exxon's oilfields around the world declined 1 percent in 2005, excluding stoppages at platforms in the Gulf of Mexico from last year's hurricanes, illustrating an industrywide dilemma: an inability to tap into the world's richest oil exploration areas in the Middle East and Venezuela because of political instability.

However, political instability also worked in Exxon's favor in the most recent quarter as concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions and tension in Nigeria and Venezuela kept oil prices high. Crude oil prices have doubled in the last two years, driven by strong demand in rising economies in Asia and in the United States. Oil for March delivery fell slightly by 38 cents to $67.38 a barrel in New York trading. High gasoline and heating fuel prices have prompted some political leaders to call for a windfall profits tax on oil companies. But the company said today that it was reinvesting in exploration and refining capacity to meet the world's need for energy.

"Our strong financial results will continue to allow us to make significant, long-term investments required to do our part in meeting the world's energy needs," Mr. Tillerson, said in a statement accompanying the earnings report.

Gas production declined in the fourth quarter to 9.822 billion cubic feet per day from 10.43 billion in the comparable period last year. New gas supplies, the company said, were more than offset by declines in output from older fields, lower demand in Europe and the lingering effects of hurricanes on operations on the Gulf Coast.

Earnings from the sales of chemical products were down $413 million to $835 million, the company said, due mostly to the higher cost of raw materials and hurricane damage.

For the year, the company said, its exploration and capital expenses were $177 billion, an increase of $2.8 billion over the 2004 total. Earnings excluding special, one-time events totaled $33.86 billion, an increase of 31 percent, with all segments of the business contributing to the performance, the company said.



JON ROWE, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR - The news that a town in Texas has
changed its name to that of a corporation, in exchange for free TV, made
me think about my elementary school, which was named for a local man who
died in World War I. I'm not going to pretend that I sat at my desk each
day and pondered his bravery, as opposed to, say, the little League Game
that evening.

But I still remember the awe I felt when I looked up at the plaque in
the main corridor. Somehow the message penetrated my unruly mind, that I
was supposed to be brave and unselfish, and to serve my community and my
country, the way young Albert Edgar Angier had done.

America once was full of messages like that. Schools, arenas, and public
places bore the names of civic leaders and national and local heroes. A
Washington Square Park, a Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, was not just
a memorial to a dead person. It was a testament to the qualities of
character that the nation purports to stand for and to pass along to its
young. . .

It's not the kind of message that young Americans are getting much these
days. . . A high school football field in Illinois has become Rust-Oleum
Field. In New Jersey, an elementary school now has a ShopRite gym. It's
not just the schools. Piece by piece the civic landscape is collapsing
under a deluge of commercial self-promotion. Sports stadiums, parks, and
other spaces all are dropping civic names for corporate ones. Ballparks
once were a kind of lyric poetry of place. Crosley Field meant
Cincinnati. Briggs Stadium meant Detroit. Candlestick conjured up the
San Francisco fog, and the wondrous Willie Mays. Now you hear Cinergy,
Comerica, SBC, and you are everywhere and nowhere. . .

Next time ideologues bemoan the decline in traditional values in America
today, and how young people choose self-indulgence over service, they
might look at the propaganda they have invited into the schools, and
into the culture at large. Character comes with a price; and if you
aren't willing to pay for it, don't blame others when it is gone.




FORTUNE - Buying groceries with the touch of a finger could be closer
than you think, if new research touting the benefits of biometric
payment for retail giants like Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco is anything
to go by. The report, by Sanford Bernstein analyst Emme Kozloff, found
that the use of so-called "electronic wallets" reduces the potential for
fraud and identity theft, speeds up the checkout process, and most
importantly, lowers transaction processing fees for retailers, improving
their bottom line. A 20% reduction in processing costs at big-box
discounters like Wal-Mart over the next several years could result in a
3% to 4% increase in earnings per share by 2009, the report estimated.
"We believe both Wal-Mart (Research) and Costco (Research) are looking
at it closely," Kozloff wrote. (Both companies declined to comment.)

Already in use at supermarket chains like Albertsons (Research) (which
yesterday agreed to be sold to a group that includes CVS and Supervalu),
Cub Foods (part of Supervalu), and privately held Piggly Wiggly,
biometric systems are just one of several emerging payment technologies
that retailers are currently experimenting with. Others include
self-checkout (widely deployed at Home Depot), contactless cards like
J.P Morgan Chase's "blink," and so-called "near field communication,"
which involves waving your cell phone, say, near a reader.

Here's how biometric payment works: To set up an account, customers scan
their fingerprint at an in-store kiosk, enter their phone number, and
then submit checking and credit card account information. To make a
purchase, they place their finger on a scanner at the register, enter
their phone number, and choose how they want to pay (credit, debit, or
checking.). . .

The privacy issue "remains a deep bone of contention and will mitigate
against pervasive usage," says David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson
Report, an industry newsletter. One industry source calls biometric
readers "clunky." And if enrollment is confusing or time-consuming, few
shoppers will even bother.


ALICE HILL REAL TECH NEWS - Associate Professor of Electrical and
Computer Engineering Stephanie Schuckers and her team at Clarkson
University found that most scanning systems can be fooled 90% of the
time by taking a mold of the mark’s finger, filling the mold with
Play-Doh, and using the fake digit to gain access. Don’t go running out
to Toys ‘R Us just yet, though, as the Clarkson team also designed an
algorithm that detects the spread of perspiration from the pores out to
the ridges of a live person’s finger, and is only foiled by the Play-Doh
method 10% of the time.

Library / No Fly / & Banking


DAN ATKINSON - Law enforcement and Newton Free Library officials were
embroiled in a tense standoff for nearly 10 hours last week when the
city refused to let police and the FBI examine library computers without
a warrant.
Police rushed to the main library last Wednesday after it was determined
that a terrorist threat to Brandeis University had been sent from a
computer at the library. But requests to examine any of its computers
were rebuffed by library Director Kathy Glick-Weil and Mayor David Cohen
on the grounds that they did not have a warrant. While one law
enforcement official said he was "totally disgusted" with the city’s
attempt to hold up a time-sensitive investigation of potential terrorist
threat, Cohen is defending the library’s actions, calling it one of
Newton’s "finest hours." "We showed you can enforce the law . . .
without jeopardizing the privacy of innocent citizens," Cohen said. . .
Cohen was asked by FBI officials to turn over information on all the
computers, but said he could not without a warrant. It took U.S.
attorneys several hours to finally get a warrant, Glick-Weil said, and
they took the computer from the library at about 11:30 that night, after
the library had closed. . .

Nancy Murray, director of education for the Boston branch of the
American Civil Liberties Union, said she was surprised the FBI asked for
information without a warrant. "They couldn’t possibly expect to get
[the computer] without a warrant," she said. "Good for the library for
knowing more about warrants than the police."




[Not surprisingly, the major media has paid no attention to one of their
colleagues be treated in this fashion]

DOUG THOMPSON, CAPITOL HILL BLUE - When my wife’s favorite aunt died
last November we immediately made plans to head for St. Louis for the
funeral. We drove the 700 miles to St. Louis. I am not allowed to fly on
an airplane within the United States because the Department of Homeland
Security and the Transportation Security Administration consider me a
threat to the security of the United States. Yep. I’m on the official
“no-fly” list, along with some 80,000 other Americans.

Most people don’t learn they are on the list until they get to the
airport and attempt to get a boarding pass. I’m lucky. A longtime friend
who works for an airline tipped me several months ago that I’m on the
list. So I don't even bother trying to fly.

Those who don’t know in advance are allowed to buy an airline ticket and
make the often long trek to the airport only to be told that they are
not allowed to board a plane and must call an “800” number to see if
they can be cleared to board the plane. Some are, some aren’t but the
process takes so much time that many who are cleared end up missing
their flights anyway.

As a known enemy of Uncle Sam, I’ve got a lot of co-conspirators: U.S.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., U.S. Rep. John Lewis D-Ga., and even
actor David Nelson from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Each found
themselves having to prove they are not terrorists before getting on a

But my favorite partner in crime is Edward Allen of Houston, Texas. . .
Edward is four years old and was stopped along with his mother when they
tried to board a plane over the holidays. . . "Is this a joke?" Eddie’s
mom, Sijollie Allen, told Continental Airlines agents at, of all places,
Bush Intercontinental Airport. "You can tell he's not a terrorist." But
Continental’s agents weren’t laughing and told young Eddie he would have
to be cleared by TSA before getting on the plane. They allowed him to
fly but he and his mom went through the same process when they tried to
fly back home to Houston. . .

Senator Edward Kennedy understands what little Edward had to go through.
He had to make multiple phone calls to get his name off the list. So
did Congressman Lewis. If it takes a powerful U.S. Senator that much
trouble to get off the list, an ordinary person is doomed says John
Soma, professor of computer and technology law at the University of
Denver and executive director of its Privacy Foundation. . .

The TSA won’t tell anyone why they are on the no-fly list. That, they
claim, is “classified.” Yet the list seems to carry a lot of names of
people whose only crime is being critical of the Bush administration or
the Iraq war. People like Democratic senators or congressmen or James
Moore, co-author of Bush’s Brain, the best-selling book about Bush and
Karl Rove. Moore found out he was on the list when he tried to board a
flight a year ago. He hasn’t’ been allowed to fly since. When he tried
to find out how he got on the list, he was told that information wasn’t
available to him.




DEE ANN DIVIS, DC EXMAINER - BB&T, one of the largest banks in
Washington area, announced Wednesday it will no longer lend to
development commercial projects that involved the seizure of private
property under eminent domain rules. "It's a philosophical decision
consistent with our values," said Ken Chalk, BB&T's senior executive
vice president and chief credit officer. "We think this is just not good
public policy.". . .

The bank is the third-largest in Virginia with some 405 branches. It has
nine branches in the District and 127 in Maryland. Nationally, BB&T
makes roughly $75 billion in loans a year, with half of that going to
commercial projects. . .

"I think there is a good change other banks will follow," said George
Nation III, and expert on commercial lending a professor of law at
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. "From a strictly legal point of view,
I think there is a good chance you may wind up with more litigation in
these types of projects," said Nation, who noted that there was also
little incentive to take on a project likely to generate negative
publicity. . .

"This is a unique move," said Susan Besaw, a spokeswoman for the
American Bankers Association. No other banks have implemented similar
policies, she said, but the announcement was very new.



[BB&T serves AL, DC, FL, GA, IN, KY, MD, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV]

Daily Grist / Weekly Digest 1-18-06

The Trend Is Near
Meet and greet turns green in NYC

Chances are you didn't spend your Wednesday night at a swanky bar in Manhattan, rubbing elbows with a fashion model in a bustier. (But if you did, omigod, we totally did too!) And chances are you're thinking, hey, what does this have to do with the environment? Well, a new green scene was on display this week at the purported first-ever gathering of "New York's eco-conscious elite," positively oozing style, sustainability, socializing ... and satin bustiers. Emily Gertz sends a dispatch from the high life.

new in Dispatches: The Trend Is Near

Re-Spent, Ye Sinners
Bush admin plans to fund new dawn for nuclear power

Like an atomic Dr. Frankenstein determined to reanimate the corpse of the civilian nuclear-power industry, the Bush administration intends to allot $250 million in fiscal year 2007 to researching new ways to reprocess spent nuclear fuel -- technology largely abandoned in the 1970s as too dangerous. The funding is seen as a down payment on billions in future federal spending for nuclear power, with the nuclear industry in position to reap millions of dollars in profits as a result. The fuel-reprocessing scheme is part of a larger Bush plan -- thus far cheerily termed the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership -- that would allow the industry to sell smallish reactors and fuel to developing nations as long as they send their spent fuel back to the U.S. for reprocessing. The administration quietly sent two senior officials to Japan, Russia, and other countries last week to sell the initiative, and Bush may mention it in next week's State of the Union address.

straight to the source: The Wall Street Journal, John J. Fialka, 26 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Washington Post, Peter Baker and Dafna Linzer, 26 Jan 2006

Kernel Ganders
Ethanol decent on efficiency but not on greenhouse gases, study finds

The heated debate over biofuels took another sharp turn this week: New research in the journal Science claims that replacing fossil fuels with corn-based ethanol is energy-efficient (contrary to some previous studies), but doesn't do much to cut greenhouse-gas pollution. Researchers from UC-Berkeley determined that ethanol results in a net energy gain of about 20 percent, but that the pollution generated in processing the corn offsets most of ethanol's gains in greenhouse-gas emissions. Cornell University scientist David Pimentel -- author of several studies questioning ethanol's energy efficiency -- disagrees with the findings, saying they failed to factor in farm machinery and overestimated the value of corn byproducts. But all agree that the future of ethanol is not corn, but higher-cellulose plants like switchgrass and willow trees -- news the powerful agribusiness and corn lobbies will no doubt try to play down.

straight to the source: Nature.com News, Mark Peplow, 26 Jan 2006

straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Elizabeth Douglass, 27 Jan 2006

straight to the source: National Public Radio, Christopher Joyce, 26 Jan 2006

see also, in Gristmill: Biofuels again

I Get the Nic Out of You
California deems secondhand smoke a toxic air pollutant

Californians may soon breathe a little easier than the rest of us, now that the state has become the first in the nation to classify secondhand tobacco smoke as a toxic air pollutant. In a 6-0 vote on Thursday, the state Air Resources Board put secondhand smoke in the same category as diesel exhaust and arsenic, citing a report published last September that found a sharply higher risk of breast cancer in young women passively exposed to the fumes, as well as linking it to other cancers, asthma, heart disease, and health problems in children. Oh, the humanity. The immediate effect of the board's vote will be an investigation into the places where Californians most often encounter secondhand haze, and how to reduce them. Highly contentious public hearings on new rules and legislation are likely to follow.

straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle, Jane Kay, 27 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Boston Globe, Associated Press, Don Thompson, 27 Jan 2006

straight to the source: BBC News, 27 Jan 2006

Mass Backward
Mass. lawmakers introducing bill to push state toward climate pact

Last month, Massachusetts governor (and 2008 GOP presidential hopeful) Mitt Romney abruptly pulled his state out of the Northeast's landmark seven-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative -- but now a group of state lawmakers is poised to introduce legislation that would effectively put Massachusetts in compliance with that ambitious effort. Muckraker susses out the story.

new in Muckraker: Mass Backward

sign up: Receive word by email each time a new Muckraker column hits the scene

Dropping Acid
EPA asks companies to phase out toxic chemical PFOA

The U.S. EPA, having recently discovered that P stands for "protection," has asked DuPont and seven other chemical companies to phase out use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon cookware, stain-repellant fabrics, microwave popcorn bags, and other scarily ubiquitous household goods. If the eight companies and their overseas affiliates comply fully, says the EPA, PFOA use would decrease 95 percent by 2010, and vanish by 2015. Major PFOA maker DuPont immediately agreed to stop all emissions of the chemical from its manufacturing facilities over the next decade, noting it has already made big strides in cutting its use, but the company hasn't committed to totally eliminating use of PFOA. Health advocates are hailing the agency's move to rein in the bioaccumulative chemical, which is turning up in people and animals worldwide and has been linked to cancer and other health problems.

straight to the source: Chicago Tribune, Michael Hawthorne, 26 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The New York Times, Michael Janofsky, 26 Jan 2006

straight to the source: Reuters, Timothy Gardner, 25 Jan 2006

see also, in Grist: DuPont to pay $16.5 million for hiding chemical's risks

Solution Finds New Problem
Republicans in Congress reanimate efforts to drill in Arctic Refuge

Iran -- the world's fourth-largest oil producer -- has threatened to cut oil exports if other nations impose economic sanctions to punish it for restarting its nuclear-power program. Some analysts say oil prices could spike to $100 a barrel if Iran stopped exports entirely. In response to this geopolitical dilemma, a handful of congressional Republicans have redoubled their efforts to ... drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A bewildered nation can only respond: What the $%@! is wrong with these people? On Wednesday, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, evoked the threat of an Iran-sparked oil shock when threatening to attach an Arctic-drilling measure to a new budget bill. You will recall from the last 1,583 debates over this issue that even if drilling in the refuge started today, seven years would pass before a single drop of oil was produced. So WTF?

straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle, Zachary Coile, 26 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Guardian, Robert Tait, 16 Jan 2006

Take a Toxic Load Off Annie
Environmental factors may cause many breast cancers, report says

Up to half of all new breast cancers may be caused by environmental factors -- including exposure to everyday chemicals -- rather than heredity or lifestyle, a new report says. Released this week by the Breast Cancer Fund and Breast Cancer Action, "State of the Evidence" analyzes the findings of more than 350 ecological, epidemiologic, and experimental studies of breast cancer, with an eye to determining why an American woman's risk for breast cancer has nearly tripled in the past 40 years. The groups' analysis found persuasive scientific evidence that implicates some of the 100,000 synthetic chemicals in use today, including bovine growth hormone, dioxin, and phthalates. Little is known about how these substances may affect women when they're combined.

straight to the source: NorthJersey.com, Bob Ivry, 25 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Oakland Tribune, Douglas Fischer, 24 Jan 2006

straight to the source: CBS5.com, 24 Jan 2006

straight to the report: State of the Evidence 2006

Two Prongs Make a Right
New coalition lobbies Big Auto to build plug-in hybrid cars

Plug-In Partners is not, as the name might indicate, a swingers' club. Rather, it's a diverse national campaign -- encompassing cities, electric utilities, national-security hawks, and others -- pushing for plug-in hybrids: gas-electric vehicles with batteries that can be recharged via a regular wall socket. Once powered up (ideally at night, when electric rates tend to be lower) such vehicles could go 20 to 35 miles or more on electricity alone and achieve fuel efficiency of 80 to 100 miles per gallon. The coalition says plug-in hybrids could substantially reduce demand for oil and curb air pollution. Most automakers say plug-in hybrids would cost more than consumers want to spend, so the campaign has vowed to drum up demand. Member city Austin, Texas, led the way on Tuesday by vowing to buy 600 of the next-gen green vehicles as soon as they come to market.

straight to the source: Star Tribune, Greg Gordon, 25 Jan 2006

straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Nick Timiraos, 25 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Wall Street Journal, John J. Fialka, 25 Jan 2006 (access ain't free)

Al's Well That Pens Well
Al Gore to publish new book on global warming

The self-proclaimed "former next president of the United States" -- currently at the Sundance Film Festival (and, may we point out, looking quite natty) to promote his new documentary about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth -- has announced that he'll soon be coming out with a new book on the same subject, with the same name. The book, to be published by Rodale (of South Beach Diet, uh, fame), will serve as a sequel of sorts to Al Gore's controversial 1992 best-seller Earth in the Balance. It will cover not only the overwhelming evidence that global warming is accelerating, but Gore's personal story of how the issue came to occupy a central place in his life. It will also serve as the kickoff for his 2008 run for the presidency. No, no, we totally made that up!

straight to the source: The Morning Call, Dan Shope, 25 Jan 2006

straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Tina Daunt, 18 Jan 2006

see also, in Gristmill: Al at Sundance

Tadpole Position
Real-world combos of pesticides highly lethal to frogs, study shows

Frogs exposed to a pesticide mix similar to what's found on the average farm die in greater numbers than those dosed with just one pesticide, a new study shows. In new research in the online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists at UC-Berkeley exposed tadpoles to individual pesticides, and found that about 4 percent kicked it before they matured into frogs. But when the tadpoles were exposed to a mix of atrazine and eight other pesticides -- a combination that mimicked conditions on a real-world Nebraska cornfield -- the mortality rate rose to 35 percent. The chemicals suppressed their immune systems, making them vulnerable to infections and illnesses, and increased their transition time from tadpole to frog, lowering their survival chances. The researchers conclude that pesticides are likely playing a major role in the massive global decline of amphibian species. Frogs to humanity: Get us organic farming -- stat!

straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Marla Cone, 25 Jan 2006

The Colbert Report
A recyclable museum shows off photos of charismatic megafauna

Photo: Gregory Colbert. A moveable, recyclable museum made of old shipping containers and brown paper beams recently touched down on a pier in Santa Monica, Calif., where it's serving as a backdrop for the "Ashes and Snow" exhibit of photographs by Gregory Colbert. This Canadian artist -- whose large black-and-white images feature elephants, cheetahs, and whales interacting with humans -- aims to inspire viewers to a higher connection with nature. Writer Michael J. Kavanagh perused the exhibit and shares his assessment.

new in Arts and Minds: The Colbert Report

But It's Still Friggin' Raining in Seattle
2005 is hottest year on record, and 2006 weather is wacked

We know you've been waiting with bated breath to hear the outcome of the competition between 1998 and 2005 for hottest year on record, and NASA's results are in: 2005 wins! 1998 had El Nino, but 2005 had a remarkably warm Arctic. Congratulations, 2005, on your Highest Annual Global Average Surface Temperature Award! The top five hottest years on record have all occurred in the last decade, but that's probably just a coincidence. In related news, Edmonton, Alberta -- that's in Canada -- is forecasted to reach a balmy 50 degrees today, breaking a 72-year-old record. What if their igloos melt? Meanwhile, over in Europe, a vicious cold wave continues to cause penguins at zoos to be moved indoors, elephants to be fed vodka, and, oh yeah, people to die. Perhaps Europeans would do well to move to the Arctic.

straight to the source: Reuters, Deborah Zabarenko, 24 Jan 2006

straight to the source: Edmonton Journal, Tim Lai, 25 Jan 2006

straight to the source: Globe and Mail, Associated Press, William J. Kole, 24 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Independent, Andrew Osborn, 19 Jan 2006

The Royalty Wee
Taxpayers have been getting screwed on oil and gas royalties

A three-month New York Times investigation has uncovered a complex tale of oil and gas royalties, price discrepancies, accounting chicanery, and lax enforcement. But at its heart, it's the same old story: The Bush administration is essentially helping energy companies screw taxpayers. The American people own oil and gas reserves on public land; energy companies pay royalties to extract and sell them. Oil and gas prices have been rising sharply for years, but the royalties haven't -- if they had, taxpayers would have received an additional $700 million in natural-gas payments in fiscal year 2005 alone. A hubbub over oil-royalty underpayment around the turn of the century resulted in a wave of legal settlements and regulatory reform. Only a couple of years later, though, the Bush administration loosened the rules around gas royalties and booted a couple of the toughest enforcers. The results were predictable. After the NYT published its story yesterday, lawmakers -- shocked, shocked to find energy companies were gouging the public -- started demanding investigations. Stay tuned.

straight to the source: The New York Times, Edmund L. Andrews, 23 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The New York Times, Edmund L. Andrews, 24 Jan 2006

Nice Work
A look at green job prospects for 2006

Hooray for green jobs! Can't face another year chained to the same old desk or stuck in the same old cube? Itching to start a new career in an environmental field? Fortunately for you, Kevin Doyle of the Environmental Careers Organization knows a thing or two about job searching. He assesses the upcoming year's eco-jobs market and dispenses advice on how to remake your living.

new in Gristmill: Remake a Living: Green job prospects for 2006

Kid Tested, Mother Appalled
Bush admin to accept pesticide testing on humans, and in some cases kids

Enviros, public-interest groups, members of Congress, and even some government scientists are criticizing soon-to-be-released U.S. EPA rules on pesticide testing on humans. The regulations -- leaked in advance of their formal unveiling, which could happen as soon as this week -- would accept tests of pesticides on non-pregnant adults. In most cases the EPA wouldn't accept data from studies that involve the "intentional pesticide dosing" of children and pregnant women, but manufacturers could still conduct those tests, and the agency could accept the data if it decided it was needed to protect public health. Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says the new regs also wouldn't rule out tests that expose kids to pesticides without putting the chemicals directly into their systems, like a controversial study, scuttled last year, that would have paid parents to spray pesticides near their children's beds.

straight to the source: USA Today, Associated Press, John Heilprin, 23 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Scientist, Anne Harding, 24 Jan 2006

straight to the source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, McClatchy Newspapers, Michael Doyle, 24 Jan 2006

F'd Troops
Whistle-blower says Halliburton supplied foul water to troops in Iraq

Former employees of a subsidiary of Halliburton, the big military-services contractor once helmed by Vice President Dick Cheney, say the company exposed thousands of American troops and Iraqi civilians to sewage-laced water. Testifying yesterday before Senate Democrats, whistle-blower and water-quality expert Ben Carter said he informed his Halliburton superiors last year that the water it was supplying to Camp Junction City in Ramadi was contaminated by coliform bacteria and other microorganisms. Carter said the water sickened residents, who routinely used it to shower, shave, and brush their teeth. Halliburton didn't act, says Carter, but did instruct him not to tell the military its water needed treatment. "They told me it was none of my concern and to keep my mouth shut," says Carter, who resigned over the matter. Halliburton denies the allegations.

straight to the source: Reuters, Vicki Allen, 23 Jan 2006

straight to the source: ABC News, Julianne Donofrio, 23 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Guardian, Julian Borger, 24 Jan 2006

The Fries Have It
Boston diner gets its heat from used veggie oil

Restaurant owner Don Levy geared up for this year's chilly Boston winter by getting rid of his furnace. Wait, it's not as batty as it sounds: Levy replaced his old heating system with a boiler that runs on 100 percent vegetable oil -- a readily available resource, so long as Bostonians keep eating fries. Not only is Levy avoiding high natural-gas heating prices, he also doesn't have to pay sanitation workers to haul away his leftover oil. "I'm saving money, and I'm saving the planet, too," says Levy, who is confident that he'll recoup his investment within five years. To those that argue that alternative-energy systems aren't economical, we say: Booyah!

straight to the source: The Boston Globe, Peter J. Howe, 21 Jan 2006

We're No. 28!
U.S. environmental performance ranks below Malaysia, Chile, 25 others

We beat Cyprus! Yeah, boyee! The Mediterranean island nation comes in at 29th in a landmark pilot study ranking countries by their environmental performance. The U.S. comes in at a blazing 28th -- just behind most of Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Chile, and, uh, Slovakia. The 2006 Environmental Performance Index -- jointly produced by Yale and Columbia Universities -- ranks New Zealand No. 1 for overall success in attaining such environmental goals as sustainable fisheries and greenhouse-gas emission cuts. The U.S. scored at the top for environmental health factors like indoor air pollution and sanitation, but poorly on agricultural, forest, and fisheries management. The final report will be released at the World Economic Forum, the exclusive annual summit of business and policy pooh-bahs taking place this week in Davos, Switzerland.

straight to the source: The New York Times, Felicity Barringer, 23 Jan 2006

Matters of the Hearth
Umbra on fireplaces

A shivery Grist reader wonders: Is it more eco-friendly to use a fireplace or a gas-powered central heater? Or, um, just keep freezing? And, speaking of fireplaces, what's up with those prepackaged logs? Advice maven Umbra Fisk warms up to the topic.

new in Ask Umbra: Matters of the Hearth

sign up: Receive word by email when new Ask Umbra columns hit the scene

A Greening Tide Lifts All Boats
Reports say cutting greenhouse gases will enhance California's economy

Curbing greenhouse-gas emissions will massively boost California's economy, according to two independent analyses of the state's ambitious plans for fighting global warming. The Center for Clean Air Policy, a D.C.-based environmental think tank, found that California could meet its proposed 2010 emissions goals -- mandated last year as part of a climate-change action plan by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) -- at no cost to citizens. And researchers at U.C.-Berkeley determined that cutting greenhouse-gas emissions would save on fuel, putting money in Californians' pockets, and create new clean-tech jobs. Dirty industries are fond of claiming that emissions reductions will hurt the economy, but in light of these new studies those claims look suspiciously self-interested.

straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Usha Lee McFarling, 23 Jan 2006

see also, in Grist: Schwarzenegger declares war on global warming

Post-Katrina Promises Unfulfilled

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post

Saturday 28 January 2006

On the gulf coast, federal recovery effort makes halting progress.

Nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, President Bush's lofty promises to rebuild the Gulf Coast have been frustrated by bureaucratic failures and competing priorities, a review of events since the hurricane shows.

While the administration can claim some clear progress, Bush's ringing call from New Orleans's Jackson Square on Sept. 15 to "do what it takes" to make the city rise from the waters has not been matched by action, critics at multiple levels of government say, resulting in a record that is largely incomplete as Bush heads into next week's State of the Union address.

The problems include the slow federal cleanup of debris in Mississippi and Louisiana; a lack of authority for Bush's handpicked recovery coordinator, Donald E. Powell; the shortage and poor quality of housing for evacuees; and federal restrictions on reconstruction money and where coastal communities can rebuild.

With the onset of the hurricane season just four months away, there is no agreement on how to rebuild New Orleans, how to pay for that effort or even who is leading the cross-governmental partnership, according to elected leaders. While there is money to restore the city's flood defenses to protect against another Category 3 hurricane, it remains unclear whether merely reinforcing the levees will be enough to draw residents back.

New strains emerged this week when Bush aides rejected a plan by Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-La.) to set up a government corporation that would buy back the mortgages of storm-damaged homes around New Orleans. Instead, the government limited the use of $6.2 billion in grants to the rebuilding of 20,000 homes destroyed outside federally insured flood zones.

Dismayed state and local officials said the president's approach does not provide help for an additional 185,000 destroyed homes. They warned that the federal government's halting recovery effort is undermining, at a critical juncture, the confidence of homeowners, insurers and investors about returning.

"They gave us a ladder to reach all of our housing needs, but the top rungs are missing," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) said in statement from Baton Rouge. "You can't fix a $12 billion problem with $6 billion."

Without a government mechanism to compensate homeowners and then clean up and repackage entire, devastated neighborhoods for developers, much of the city will never be rebuilt, Baker said.

Below are some of the major promises Bush made in his Jackson Square speech, and how the government has fared:

Housing. Bush promised to empty shelters quickly, meet the immediate needs of the displaced, register victims, and provide housing aid in the form of rental assistance and trailers.

In Mississippi, 33,378 occupied trailers are meeting 89 percent of the estimated housing needs. But there have been 34,000 repair requests and maintenance complaints, according to Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.).

In Louisiana, trailers have been provided for about 37 percent of the estimated 90,000 displaced families in need of housing. Officials acknowledge production bottlenecks and in-state battles over sites. Trailer costs have swelled from $19,000 to $75,000 apiece.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration are struggling to meet unprecedented demands. FEMA is providing rental assistance to 700,000 families, but about 75,000 people are still in hotels. In some places, there is a shortage of rental housing available for evacuees.

As of Jan. 16, 18,943 applications for rental help had yet to be processed. As of this week, the SBA said that 190,000 of 363,000 applications for disaster loans to homeowners and businesses are still pending.

"It just doesn't seem to be well organized," said Ronald D. Utt, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has written about disaster housing policy. "Things in some respects have gotten more confused than they were a couple weeks after the storm."

Cleanup. The president vowed "to get the work done quickly . . . honestly and wisely," but a key first step - cleanup - has not gone smoothly.

Thirty million cubic yards of debris remain uncollected - enough to build a five-sided column more than 50 stories tall over the Pentagon - provoking environmental concerns, fears of runaway spending abuses and a spirit-sapping despair. Layers of subcontractors have caused debris removal costs to quadruple from $8 per cubic yard to $32 per cubic yard, said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who visited the region on Jan. 17 as part of a Senate delegation.

Legal questions initially slowed the cleanup effort, along with red tape and contracting disputes.

"The worst fears of many policymakers are being realized," Coburn said. ". . . Bureaucratic delays have caused the recovery effort to be appallingly slow and inefficient."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said she is working with a bipartisan group of senators to broaden Powell's authority over people and funds.

Rebuilding. On the broader question of rebuilding, Bush promised "a close partnership" with state and local leaders, with the federal government playing a secondary role. But the US government is the key player because it provides money, determines access to flood insurance, and takes primary responsibility for infrastructure and cleanup.

Officials from both parties credit the president for committing $85 billion in federal funds and for approving tax relief and incentives such as the Gulf Opportunity Zone, which provides tax breaks for businesses in Mississippi and Louisiana. Still, they say the overall cost of the rebuilding is a major concern. "I want to remind the people in that part of the world, $85 billion is a lot," Bush said at a news conference on Thursday.

Baker's proposed Louisiana Recovery Corp. would cost another $10 billion to $30 billion, although supporters say the entity would recoup its costs as land values rise.

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin's commission has recommended a plan that would not rebuild heavily damaged neighborhoods unless a critical mass of residents return, possibly shrinking the city and making it easier to defend against floods. But state and local governments say the Bush administration is thwarting their plans to take the next step by opposing Baker's bill.

Bush said he opposes "creating additional federal bureaucracies." But Baker said that the White House should develop an alternative. "That is the discussion we need to have: What does their plan really mean - what does this region of the world look like 10 years from now, versus what does our version look like?" Baker said.

Reimbursement. Bush said the government would reimburse states for the costs of taking in evacuees and cities for emergency costs. But Mississippi and Louisiana officials say their needs are greater and will continue for years.

Searching for money to pay for reconstruction, Louisiana officials want a share of more than $5 billion in federal offshore oil and gas revenue generated from the state's industries. The administration opposes such a change.

Louisiana state and local governments say they face more than $8 billion in lost taxes and fees over the next four years.

Eddie Favre, the mayor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., whose population has fallen from 8,200 to 6,000 since the storm, noted that half the city's $7 million general fund came from a casino, a fourth from sales taxes and a fourth from property taxes.

But the casino is closed, sales tax revenue amounts to "a couple hundred thousand dollars" and income from property taxes is expected to fall to 10 percent of pre-storm levels. "The one thing we have not seen anything on to date . . . is funding for the governmental entities to make up for lost revenue over the next three, five, seven years," Favre said.

Levees. Bush said New Orleans and Louisiana "will have a large part in the engineering decisions" to protect New Orleans. But clear differences in federal and local interests are emerging.

State and local officials have said employers and investors will not take the risk of returning unless New Orleans's flood defenses are strengthened to withstand the strongest, Category 5, storms, an undertaking that could cost more than $30 billion.

Because of budgetary constraints and the approaching hurricane season, the administration has committed to spending $2.9 billion to restore levees to pre-Katrina (Category 3) design standards, with additional floodgates and concrete and steel reinforcement, and $8 million to study going further.

"It's a step where a leap is needed," said former New Orleans mayor Marc H. Morial, now president of the National Urban League. "We believe that everyone should have a right to return, and everyone should have a right to rebuild."

Beyond levees and housing, the region faces other huge challenges, Powell said, including jobs, schools and health care. One in every five Louisiana prime-rate mortgages is 30 days or more past due. One in six adults is unemployed. Only 15 percent of schools and 32 percent of hospitals are open in Orleans Parish, and one in three grocery stores and restaurants in the region are open.

Louisiana officials who are working with the president say that he is committed to help but that his administration has had to be pushed by Congress, and is failing to lead because its attention is focused on Iraq, the domestic spying debate and producing a new budget.

"This great city will rise again," said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). "The question is whether the city and the region will be doing it alone, dragging the federal government with us every step of the way, or will this administration get in gear and put their mind to the task at hand."

Louisiana officials say that they expect the president to offer new funding and initiatives, and that they will try to revive Baker's measure, a $2 billion health care relief plan and a $450 million business bridge-loan program.

Monday, January 30, 2006


January 30, 1948

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian
independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic.Born the
son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi's Vaishnava mother was deeply
religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian
religion that advocated nonviolence. Gandhi was an unremarkable student but in
1888 was given an opportunity to study law in England. In 1891, he returned to
India, but failing to find regular legal work he accepted in 1893 a one-year
contract in South Africa.Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South
African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later
recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway
compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he
decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man. When
his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and
launched a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right
to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to
the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought
to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first
campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of
protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African
government.In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and
spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the
First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain's
mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to
protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. He
reorganized the Indian National Congress as a political force and launched a
massive boycott of British goods, services, and institutions in India. Then, in
1922, he abruptly called off the satyagraha when violence erupted. One month
later, he was arrested by the British authorities for sedition, found guilty,
and imprisoned.After his release in 1924, he led an extended fast in protest of
Hindu-Muslim violence. In 1928, he returned to national politics when he
demanded dominion status for India and in 1930 launched a mass protest against
the British salt tax, which hurt India's poor. In his most famous campaign of
civil disobedience, Gandhi and his followers marched to the Arabian Sea, where
they made their own salt by evaporating sea water. The march, which resulted in
the arrest of Gandhi and 60,000 others, earned new international respect and
support for the leader and his movement.In 1931, Gandhi was released to attend
the Round Table Conference on India in London as the sole representative of the
Indian National Congress. The meeting was a great disappointment, and after his
return to India he was again imprisoned. While in jail, he led another fast in
protest of the British government's treatment of the "untouchables"--the
impoverished and degraded Indians who occupied the lowest tiers of the caste
system. In 1934, he left the Indian Congress Party to work for the economic
development of India's many poor. His protýgý, Jawaharlal Nehru, was named
leader of the party in his place.With the outbreak of World War II, Gandhi
returned to politics and called for Indian cooperation with the British war
effort in exchange for independence. Britain refused and sought to divide India
by supporting conservative Hindu and Muslim groups. In response, Gandhi launched
the "Quit India" movement it 1942, which called for a total British withdrawal.
Gandhi and other nationalist leaders were imprisoned until 1944.In 1945, a new
government came to power in Britain, and negotiations for India's independence
began. Gandhi sought a unified India, but the Muslim League, which had grown in
influence during the war, disagreed. After protracted talks, Britain agreed to
create the two new independent states of India and Pakistan on August 15, 1947.
Gandhi was greatly distressed by the partition, and bloody violence soon broke
out between Hindus and Muslims in India.In an effort to end India's religious
strife, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas. He was on one
such vigil in New Delhi when Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who objected to
Gandhi's tolerance for the Muslims, fatally shot him. Known as Mahatma, or "the
great soul," during his lifetime, Gandhi's persuasive methods of civil
disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world,
especially Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States.

Update on Spiritual Freedom Issue

Last Tuesday, we testified before a State Senate Committee regarding
inclusion of an exemption in the smoke-free law to allow smoke for religious
purposes. (We are Storm Reyes - Puyallup, Deb Moran - Kiowa, Ted Moran -
Port Gamble S'kallam/Makah (and something else I forget). We were given 1
min. 30 seconds each to talk. I won't go into details other than to say
that I was humbled and pleased by the support from the general Faith
Community. The Jewish Federation, Associated Ministries and Catholic
Council signed up to speak in support of our bill. Although they were not
allowed to speak, it is on the record nonetheless. The opponents main
argument is that the exemption will open up to big a loophole in the law, so
even though spiritual practices involving smoke will remain illegal, they
would be willing to use 'discretion' in enforcing the law with us. This did
not go over well with the Senators.

I believe we received a fair hearing from the Senators. The next steps
would be that it has to be voted out of their committee, referred to the
Rules Committee, voted out of that committee and sent to the floor for vote.
The exact same action has to happen in the House. And then, there must be a
2/3rds yes vote by the House and the Senate.

Frankly, this is not going to happen. The cut-off date for bills to leave
committees is soon, and our bill has not even been scheduled for hearing by
the House Committee. If by chance it does get scheduled, we're going to
need lots of emails to House legislators urging support.

And here's my funny story. We smudged outside the building before going in
for the hearing. Capital security smelled the smudge and thought we were
smoking dope and called the police on us. Two State Patrol officers came
into the hearing room looking for us. Nothing came of it, but I almost
ended up with a ticket...would have proved the point at least.

We were interviewed by reporters from the Seattle Times and the Olympian.
The articles are below. I was also asked for an on-camera interview by KIRO
news and declined.


Amendment sought to state smoking ban

By Karen Johnson
Seattle Times Olympia bureau, January 25, 2006

OLYMPIA - Storm Reyes regularly burns sage, willow bark and tobacco during
prayer ceremonies - a practice she worries is now illegal under the state's
new smoking ban.

On Tuesday Reyes, who has Puyallup tribal ancestry, burned sage just before
testifying at a Senate hearing in favor of a bill that would exempt
religious ceremonies from the anti-smoking law approved by voters in

"The point is not to smoke it, it is to send it," said Reyes, who explained
how she uses smoke during the ceremonies.

Lawmakers in the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research and Development Committee
considered a bill to amend the law, which bans smoking in public buildings
and workplaces, as well as within 25 feet of doorways.

Supporters of the bill, SB-6213, say it restricts Native American religious
practices, such as pipe ceremonies that use tobacco.

Many of the ceremonies by urban tribes like the Puyallups are held in public
buildings off tribal land, said Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, who sponsored
the bill.

Critics of Regala's bill say the exemption could be abused by smokers and
business owners.

"There are a lot of folks out there looking for loopholes in the existing
law," said Nick Federici, a spokesman for the American Lung Association,
which helped sponsor the anti-smoking initiative.

"I think they would be delighted to try to take advantage of a religious

Opponents to Regala's bill also say the new no-smoking law targets tobacco,
not materials used in religious ceremonies.

But Jennifer Shaw, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties
Union, isn't so sure.

She said the anti-smoking law doesn't specify tobacco, so burning incense or
sage could be considered illegal. The ACLU supports the religious exemption.

Because the smoking ban was passed by an initiative, the bill must be
approved by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to become law.

If the exemption fails, Reyes said, she will sue the state.

Karen Johnson: 360-943-9882 or karenjohnson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

The Olympian, January 25, 2006
Senate Bill 6213, sponsored by Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, would make a
religious exemption to Initiative 901, allowing smoking in public for
religious purposes.

The bill is being spearheaded by religious organizations such as the Jewish
Federation, the Catholic Conference and Associated Ministries.

Members of Washington state American Indian tribes testified at a public
hearing Tuesday as the main proponents for the exemption.

Storm Reyez of the Puyallup tribe said funerals, weddings, powwows and other
cultural or religious events usually require tobacco to be burned or smoked
in a public space during the ceremony.

"Tobacco is considered sacred and used for prayers," Reyez said.

The bill met opposition from the American Heart Association and the American
Lung Association.

"There would be unlimited cigarette and cigar smoking because people would
say it was part of their religion," said Chris Covert-Bowlds of the American
Lung Association. "It's well-meaning, but it has a loophole the size of a
truck in it."

"The point is, my prayer shouldn't be criminal," Reyez said. "No one wants
to live their spiritual life like that."

A secret government within a government and Team B

October 26, 2005 --The classic case is the "missile gap" of the late
1950s. Air Force Intelligence was estimating that Soviets would
deploy 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles by the early '60s.
The intelligence branch of the Strategic Air Command figured the
Soviets would, or might already, have 1,000 or more. The CIA, on the
other hand, calculated the number at about 50. (By the time John F.
Kennedy took office in 1961, photos from spy satellites revealed
that the Soviets had just four ICBMs.)

Air Force Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. George Keegan, had briefed
officials on the thousands of hidden Soviet missiles back in
the '50s. He later after retirement from the Air Force, became a
member of Team B in the 1970s.

In the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon's policy of detente was
under attack by some former military officials and conservative
policy intellectuals, Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and
Donald Rumsfeld were among those challenging as too soft the CIA's
estimate of Moscow's military power.

Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted to create a "Team B," which would have
access to the CIA's data on the Soviets and issue its own
conclusions. Cheney, as White House chief of staff, and Rumsfeld, as
secretary of Defense, championed Team B, whose members included the
young defense strategist Paul Wolfowitz, who a quarter-century later
would be one of the chief architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Vested interests can be ideological as well as institutional. In the
mid-1970s, a group of well-known hawks, mainly former policy-makers
and retired officers, started clamoring that the Soviets were
acquiring a first-strike capability and that the CIA was gravely
underestimating their prowess and might. President Gerald Ford,
under growing pressure from the right, succumbed to what seemed a
modest demand—to let a team of their analysts examine the same data
that the CIA had been examining and come up with alternative
findings. It was sold as an "exercise" in intelligence analysis, an
interesting competition—Team A (the CIA) versus Team B (the
critics). Yet once allowed an institutional footing, the Team B
players presented their conclusions—and leaked them to friendly
reporters—as the truth, which the pro-detente administration was
trying to hide.

The Team B report read like one long air-raid siren: The Soviets
were spending practically all their GNP on the military; they were
perfecting charged-particle beams that could knock our warheads out
of the sky; their express policy and practical goal was to fight and
win a nuclear war.

Almost everything in the Team B report turned out to be false. Yet
it provided the rallying cry for a movement against detente and arms-
control accords. Its spokesmen became outspoken figures of
opposition during the Jimmy Carter years (most notably, Paul Nitze
and his Committee on the Present Danger) and senior officials in the
Ronald Reagan administration and beyond.

Pres. Clinton found out that from 1980 on, the CIA annual assessment
report of the Soviet Union was being doctored and that essentially
two different reports were being produced. There was a real CIA
document, which was called the Annual Assessment Report of the
Economic and Military Strength of the Soviet Union.

As early as 1979 when Carter was still president, the CIA
assessment clearly indicated that the Soviet Union was beginning to
crumble internally. Its economy was virtually in shambles. What
little export business it had was quickly going down the tubes. Its
infrastructure was falling apart.

Then in 1981, the started CIA sending its annual assessment report
to the White House directly and not to anybody else. (Later in the
1980s Tommy Rheinhardt the CIA liaison officer to Congress lied
extensively about this very same subject matter.) The White House
then would reproduce a whole new CIA report that showed the exact
opposite of what was really happening,

The Bush Sr. Cabal then used this as a justification to embark upon
a policy of enormous defense buildup and the wasteful expenditure
thereunto and the enormous amount of debt necessary to finance said
defense buildup.

The Soviet Union was very close to bankruptcy in 1987 and the Bush
Cabal was scared. They knew that if the Soviet Union fell apart
economically in 1987, the jig was up and people would know they had
lied (about the threat and the corporate welfare) . Everybody would
know that they had lied about the military and economic strength of
the Soviet Union. Therefore the West Germans secretly lent the
Soviets $80 billion and the Japanese secretly under Bush pressure
lent them another $40 billion. However, the money was lent with the
understanding that the US treasury and the people of the United
States would be ultimately responsible for the$120 billion should
the Soviet Union default on said loans.


CIA Director William Colby rejected the Team B idea and was fired.
Colby's successor as head of the spy agency, George H.W. Bush, the
current president's father, accepted it.

Team B's conclusion that the CIA was indeed soft on the Soviets was
leaked to sympathetic journalists and generated public support for a
new round of military spending, particularly on missiles. Team B's
conclusions turned out, years later, to be false.

Another run at controlling the CIA was taken when then-President
Ronald Reagan appointed businessman William Casey CIA director with
a mandate to ride herd on supposed agency liberals. Casey set up the
irregular, covert operation led by Marine Corps Col. Oliver North,
which eventually ended in the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.
Likewise, when Reagan's Secretary of State George Schultz wanted to
secretly back Saddam Hussein against the Iranians, Schultz bypassed
the CIA and sent Rumsfeld, then a businessman, to Baghdad to seal
the deal.



A secret government within a government

In his landmark historical study, Operation Mind Control, author
Walter Bowart describes the cryptocracy as "a secret bureaucracy
still supported by all the power of the federal government, but
which operates outside the chain of government command."

Former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams called it "a
shadow government in the United States." A Lt. Commander from the US
Naval Reserves, Al Martin's own words, it's a "Government Within a
Government, comprising some thirty to forty thousand people the
American Government turns to, when it wishes certain illegal covert
operations to be extant pursuant to a political objective."

Bowart describes the cryptocracy as "a technocratic organization
without ideology, loyal only to an unspoken, expedient, and
undefined patriotism... Its funds are secret. Its operational
history is secret. Even its goals are secret."

One of Al Martin's roles was acting as a fundraiser for the "War
Against Communism" in Nicaragua. His expertise as a finance and
corporate securities specialist served "The Cause," as Oliver North
called the enterprise of raising cash for secret illicit operations.

At a meeting with General (Ret) Richard V. Secord and Lawrence
Richard Hamil, the US Governments own con man, Martin was briefed
about Iran Contra operations and allowed to view CIA white papers
on "Operation Black Eagle," the code name for the illegal George
Bush/Bill Casey/Oliver North program of government-sanctioned
narcotics trafficking, illicit weapons deals and wholesale fraud.

When the George Bush, Bill Casey and Oliver North State-sanctioned
fraud and drug smuggling, Iran Contra, finally fell apart, they had
ended up using 5,000 operatives and making $350 billion.

After he retired as from the Navy, Al Martin's life went into
the fast lane as a black ops specialist and an Office of Navy
Intelligenc (ONI) officer..

Because of his failing health, Al Martin has decided to go
public and tell the whole story of the Iran-Contra Conspiracy. His
book The Conspirators is a secret history of the late 20th
century. He tells the facts that have been ignored, ripping off
the covers of the sleaziest secrets of the Washington.

He says while working as a black operations ONI agent he learned
that Peru would become a staging area for CIA cocaine production and
trafficking. The CIA Deputy Station Chief in Lima at the time, the
famous Buzz Barlow, Eugene 'Buzz' Barlow.


AWOL Bush's Team B
F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, head a secret
intelligence unit, named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or
the "Wurmser-Maloof" project. The four- to five-person unit, a "B
Team" commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uses
powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed
documents. Wurmser is a known advocate of regime change in Iraq,
having expressed his views in a 1997. David Wurmser, the director
of Middle East studies for the American Enterprise Institute, to
serve as a Pentagon consultant.

F.Michael Maloof, a former journalist. Maloof was also reportedly
involved in a bizarre scheme to broker contacts between Iraqi
officials and the Pentagon, channeled through Perle, in what one
report called a 'rogue [intelligence] operation' outside official
CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency channels." He was twice stripped
of his high-level security clearances.


A secret government within a government (aka Team B)

This is the power that hides behind the open face of democratic
government that some have called the "Octopus." Activities include
high level narcotics trafficking, illegal transfers of ultra high-
tech weaponry, money laundering on a massive scale

Tatum states it was in 1981 that "President Reagan signed National
Security Decision Directive Number 3 (NSDD-3), which authorised the
vice president to chair the Special Situation Group (SSG). The
Special Situation Group was a division under the national Security
Council (NSC). One entity formed to support the SSG was the
Terrorist Incident Working Group (TIWG). TIWG was formed in April
1982, by authority of President Reagan in NSDD-30. This group
consisted of representatives of the following: Director of Central
Intelligence, Department of Defence, FBI, NSC staff and others as

As a deep cover (allegedly) CIA and DIA operative, Gene "Chip" Tatum
(aka Major Gene Duncan) saw or participated in a remarkable series
of covert operations. Foremost in his mind are the years 1986-92,
when he operated for a group he called Pegasus. This group operated
on behalf of the US and other governments undertaking tasks that
ranged from narcotic smuggling to assassinations.

In a very real sense, Chip Tatum's story has now gone full circle.
In March 1996, Tatum wrote to former Director of Central
Intelligence, William Colby. Readers will recall that it was Colby
who originally recruited Tatum into the CIA in 1971, and set him on
his career as a covert intelligence operator. Since that time, Tatum
had developed a fondness for the super-spook and Colby, in turn,
played the role of mentor.

"The purpose of TIWG is to provide SSG with direct operational
support. TIWG then recommended to the President that a Terrorism
Task Froce be formed and chaired by the head of SSG (the vice
president). Reagan approved NSDD-138 in April 1984, which extended
TIWG's arm and ability to form sub-groups. As a result of NSDD-138
was the formation of the Operation Sub-Group. The subgroup was a
select NSC-DOD-CIA-FBI-Foreign Intelligence Agency which operated so
as to by-pass the regular operations of intelligence/military/law
enforcement agencies. OSG was formed in February 1986."

Having revealed the framework of the authorising Presidential
Directives necessary for the conduct of these covert operations,
Tatum then details the nitty-gritty of the OSG. "I was an operative
for OSG from April, 1986 through January, 1992. When I was operating
under the authority of the OSG I would report directly to the OSG,
not to the CIA or DIA. This `secret government' apparatus, built by
Bush from 1981 to 1986, was able to draw upon assets from the CIA,
the DOD Special Operations Units, and the private sector. Using the
private sector clause, Don Gregg, VP Bush's National Security
Advisor, included a representative from British Intelligence and
Israeli Intelligence. To date I have called this group Pegasus in an
attempt not to divulge it's true identity until I was on safe
ground. Although most of the missions performed by OSG-2 are
classified, the existence of the organisation is now declassified."

Until Tatum forwarded these details, the existence of more than one
Operations Sub-Group (OSG) were unknown. In fact, Tatum has now
revealed the existence of three OSGs. OSG-1 was headed by Ted
Shackley and was "our anti-narcotics group.' OSG-2 was the anti-
terrorism group and OSG-3 was "our `alignment' group." Tatum was
originally posted to OSG-2 which was commanded by Col. Oliver North.
The third group, OSG-3 was commanded by Richard Secord. Following
the exposure of Oliver North's role in Contragate in 1987 he
resigned as head of OSG-2, and his spot was taken over by Secord.
Tatum moved up to command OSG-3 at the same time.

All three OSG's answered to those individuals who sat on the TIWG.
General Colin Powell, represented the Department of Defence, William
Casey the CIA, Donald Gregg for the National Security Council. "FBI
guys rotated in and out…" Tatum says. "It was like they couldn't get
anyone," he concludes. Representing British Intelligence was Sir
Colin Figure. Formerly head of MI6, Sir Colin

transferred in 1986 to become "Security Co-ordinator" one of the top
slots at the Cabinet office, under the Premiership of Margaret
Thatcher. He retired in 1989. Amiram Nir represented Israeli
interests until his assassination by an "Archer" team led by Tatum -
at the request of high level Israeli individuals - in 1988. Any of
these six could "call a mission." In addition, George Bush could do
likewise. Of significance too, was the occasional representation on
the TIWG of Lord Chalfont. The British lord was an adviser on "Mid-
East affairs" between 1986 and 1990.

From the moment Tatum was recruited to the OSG, he was posted to up
state New York where he established a number of cover businesses.
Tatum's up-state New York operation was also involved in shipping
the most sophisticated weapons across the border to Canada. Not
least are the known connections between Oliver North's related gun-
running operations that saw dirty money being laundered through the
British Channel Islands and the London based BCCI bank. Money
laundering was one of the principal activities of Col. Oliver North.

Tatum has stated that it was routine for all the OSG operatives to
establish their own businesses as "covers." Funding was provided as
a line of credit with the Key Bank of Central New York, Watertown,
New York state by Republican Harry Hyde. The company was formed by
attorney, Ben Whitaker. Legal representation was through O'Hara and
Crough in Syracuse, NY. Tatum also operated through a number of
other similar "fronts."


Tatum would be tasked by Mr. Bush with the neutralization (kill) of
a Mossad agent in 1988, an army Chief of Staff in 1989, the
President of a third world country in 1989, and the leader of a
revolutionary force in Central America in 1991.

o Ami Nir was killed in 1988.

o General Gustavo Alverez was killed in 1989.

o Enrique Bermudez, Contra leader and overseer of the cocaine
kitchens, was killed in 1991.

In 1992 I was tasked to neutralize an American citizen (Ross
Parot) . I refused. I decided that day to leave the Black Operations
unit. When I told Mr. Colby of my decision, he told me that one
can't just walk away. I explained to him that I understood the fate
of those who walk away. For that reason, I began documenting my
activities on film, on audio tapes, and with copies of documents,
all of which I compiled through the years. I explained that the film
and tapes were placed in strategic locations around the world to
insure my safety.


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