Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review of the #TSA X-ray backscatter body scanner safety report: hide your kids, hide your wife | My Helical Tryst

Another scientist with insightful comments in opposition to the airport full-body X-ray image scanners.


via My Helical Tryst by Jason on 11/26/10

I am a biochemist working in the field of biophysics. Specifically, the lab I work in (as well as many others) has spent the better part of the last decade working on the molecular mechanism of how mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA2, result in cancer. The result of that work is that we now better understand that people who have a deficient BRCA2 gene are hypersensitive to DNA damage, which can be caused by a number of factors including: UV exposure, oxidative stress, improper chromosomal replication and segregation, and radiation exposure. The image below shows what happens to a chromosome of a normal cell when it is exposed to radiation. It most cases, this damage is repaired; however, at high doses or when there is a genetic defect, the cells either die or become cancerous.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You don't shutter a whole website because it has infringing files, or because of its links to other sites. That is a free speech violation.

You don't shutter a whole website because it has infringing files, or because of its links to other sites. That is a free speech violation.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Michael L. Love: X-ray lab home page

Michael L. Love: X-ray lab home page

Thought that some of you might like a look at the home page of the X-ray facility that I manage. I am in the midst of updating the facility progress table. Hopefully we will have current data there soon. Forecast sunny ;-}. Here is the link.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GNU-Darwin Action: Fourth Amendment Violation: Airport full-body X-ray image scanners - Rapiscan Systems

Some facts in response to the misinformation that is out there regarding the airport X-ray scanners.

It is incorrect to say that X-rays bounce off the body.  X-rays are noted for their ability to penetrate the body, and a small fraction bounces off.  The exposure numbers that have been produced by the current crop of public scanner defenders are absurdly low, and they are also inconsistent with the TSA commissioned study, which indicates that the X-ray dose is low but significant.  Critics have countered further that the exposure in the study was underestimated, and I am inclined to agree.  The level of radiation that is required to resolve a backscatter image is not insignificant, and likely amounts to a substantial dose.  Further study is indicated, but we should not forget that the aim is to eliminate the scanners from our airports. 

If you have a comparable exposure from in-flight radiation, this is another reason not to fly.  If the in-flight exposure is higher, then you have more reason not to fly.  There are many good reasons not to fly, which have been building up over the decades, such as the pollution, the fuel cost and utilization, the greenhouse effect, the terrorist threat, and the adverse reaction that we see in US foreign and domestic policy.  All of this to say nothing of the Fourth Amendment violation, which is a daily occurrence in our airports.  Much has been made of the fact that the machines are not configured to save images.  Is the operator monitored to be sure that he is not taking a picture of the screen with his cell phone?   Do we really believe that modifying the software could resolve the underlying privacy issue? 

Supporters of the scanner technology tend to dodge the question of long term effects, and this is no surprise.  If I were them, I would dodge it too.  The long term effects are likely to be devastating for the unlucky few who get various cancers and other maladies from these scanners, to say nothing about vulnerable subpopulations, such as smokers, pregnant women, children, and people with pre-existing conditions such as; cancer and thyroid problems.  What about the male germ-line cells, which can be expected to receive a larger dose than the rest of the body.  X-rays are known to be mutagenic.

The truth is that this technology was promoted by vocal and powerful wealthy minority that values airport security over our health and safety.  Their aim is that we take all the risk, and they enrich themselves by taking all the benefit.  The rest of us should band together and put a stop to these outrages now.   I am seeing widespread opposition to the new security measures across a very wide base which transcends many other issues.  Act now, and we can stop this.  Act now, or you will see the scanners in schools, banks, and other public places. Act now, or else they will become ubiquitous and unavoidable, everywhere.

If you are ready for action, here are some suggestions that you may not have thought of.  If you must continue to fly, complain to the TSA and Homeland Security, and ask them to stop these practices.  Voice your opposition to TSA officers.  Stop flying altogether and send the right message to the airlines.  Don't be fooled by the false dichotomy between scanning and groping.  Refuse both.  If you are TSA officer, stop what you are doing, because it is a Fourth Amendment violation.  Refuse to indulge in this wrongful and unpopular act.  If you are a federal officer, obey your oath and defend the Constitution against this outrage.  Everyone should spread their dissatisfaction to everyone else that they know.  THINK, and come up with your own actions.  Act now, not later.


Michael L. Love: X-ray lab home page

Thought that some of you might like a look at the home page of the X-ray facility that I manage. I am in the midst of updating the facility progress table. Hopefully we will have current data there soon. Forecast sunny ;-}. Here is the link.


Michael L. Love: X-ray lab home page

Thought that some of you might like a look at the home page of the X-ray facility that I manage. I am in the midst of updating the facility progress table. Hopefully we will have current data there soon. Forecast sunny ;-}.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Oxfam: Can you add your voice? - #Global #Climate

I just took action and asked world leaders to create a Global Climate Fund that would help support farmers the world over.
While some tools and funds already exist, they are scattered and often reach the most vulnerable when it's too late. A Global Fund would help farmers keep their livelihoods sustainable, and could make a difference for poor communities throughout the world. Can you ask our leaders to support this critical fund?

To take action on this issue, click on the link below: If the text above does not appear as a link or it wraps across multiple lines, then copy and paste it into the address area of your browser. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

GDAG: Tell Glenn Beck "I'm proud to be on the blackboard" and we'll give thousands to progressive groups he targets.

Dear Friend,

Glenn Beck just targeted CREDO Action and the progressive groups they

We have to send a strong message to Beck, that we progressives won't be
intimidated. And we're not afraid to stand up for progressive values or
the groups who fight for them.

Join me and thousands of other CREDO members in telling Beck that he will
not scare us into silence. For every person who signs, CREDO will donate
$.25 to five groups Beck absolutely hates.


Robert Fisk: An American bribe that stinks of appeasement

Another very interesting article from a great journalist!


In any other country, the current American bribe to Israel, and the latter's reluctance to accept it, in return for even a temporary end to the theft of somebody else's property would be regarded as preposterous. Three billion dollars' worth of fighter bombers in return for a temporary freeze in West Bank colonisation for a mere 90 days? Not including East Jerusalem – so goodbye to the last chance of the east of the holy city for a Palestinian capital – and, if Benjamin Netanyahu so wishes, a rip-roaring continuation of settlement on Arab land. In the ordinary sane world in which we think we live, there is only one word for Barack Obama's offer: appeasement. Usually, our lords and masters use that word with disdain and disgust.

Friday, November 19, 2010 should be fully back on in a few minutes. should be fully back on in a few minutes.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GNU-Darwin line down. Offline. This will take a while. Sorry for any inconvenience.

GNU-Darwin line down. Offline. This will take a while. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

GNU-Darwin Action: USTR releases finalized ACTA text: Concerns remain - #drm #law #dmca #coica #music #freedom

As usual, we expect major problems with the ACTA treaty. Here is some info from Public Knowledge about the current text. I am also posting a link to the notes I published regarding last month's ACTA revision to the twitter. Here is the link for your convenience. More on this later.

proclus: #ACTA notes - #drm #law #dmca #coica #music #freedom #downloads #internet #software #technology



Today the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the finalized text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), claiming to smooth out disagreements among the negotiating parties. However, our concerns with respect to some provisions remain. I had outlined these concerns in my previous post. Here are the changes in the new text.

read more

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Is Gas Really 'Twice as Clean' as Coal? | Environment | AlterNet

Here is the article link, and important article.'twice_as_clean'_as_coal


via Disqus - Latest Comments for proclus by proclus on 11/14/10

Thank you for the deeply insightful article, such as I have come to expect in general for Alternet over the years. It well illustrates the point that greenwashing and other PR attempts don't merely stretch the truth, but are simple outright lies made palatable by clever rhetorical techniques. It is simply absurd to think of natural gas as "clean" energy. The article lists many reasons why this is the case. I would like to add that radioactive uranium and radon deposits are often found near natural gas deposits, especially in the shale. It is a historical fact that natural gas drilling, even without fracking, can release underground toxins such as these to pollute our water supplies. In most of these areas, underground aquifers are also used to water the crops, so that our food supply is at risk of contamination as well. A simple resort to Google image search is sufficient to demonstrate these facts. Simply put, natural gas drilling is likely to give people cancer and other maladies. Of course, fracking makes this much worse. It should be noted that similar problems exist with coal ash and shale oil extraction. I remember as a child being told not to play in the nearby shale fields, because they might be radioactive, a commonplace problem. That was Utah where many underground water sources were rendered useless for human consumption decades ago.

http://www.gnu-darwin .org/

Saturday, November 13, 2010

OPC: Texas officials covered up dangerously radioactive tap #water for years - #fracking gas drilling pollution

What do you want to bet that this water contamination results from natural gas drilling? Some of the article comments are in agreement with this idea.


via One Penny Sheet by OPS_admin on 11/12/10

Texas officials charged with protecting the environment and public health have for years made arbitrary subtractions to the measured levels of radiation delivered by water utilities across the state, according to a series of investigative reports out of Houston.

Those subtractions, based on the test results’ margin of error, made all the difference for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): without the reduction, demonstrated levels of dangerous radiation would have been in excess of federal limits for years.

This was being done in direct contravention of an order by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which told state regulators in 2000 to stop subtracting the margin of error.

The findings are part of an investigation by Houston CBS affiliate KHOU.

Full Story: Revealed: Texas officials covered up dangerously radioactive tap water for years | Raw Story.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Demand Progress: Stop the Internet Blacklist! - #drm #dmca #acta #coica #music #movie #downloads #technology

Stop the Internet Blacklist!

Just the other day, President Obama urged other countries to stop censoring the Internet. But now the United States Congress is trying to censor the Internet here at home. A new bill being debated this week would have the Attorney General create an Internet blacklist of sites that US Internet providers would be required to block. (The first vote is scheduled Thursday!)

This is the kind of heavy-handed censorship you'd expect from a dictatorship, where one man can decide what web sites you're not allowed to visit. But the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to pass the bill as soon as they get back after the election -- and Senators say they haven't heard much in the way of objections! That's why we need you to sign our urgent petition to Congress demanding they oppose the Internet blacklist.


Help Stop Arctic Drilling From Harming Polar Bears

The Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska is home to one of America's two populations of threatened polar bears and the only population of Pacific walrus. These great species of the Chukchi are losing their sea-ice habitat at an alarming rate, but that's not the only thing they have to worry about: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wants to let Big Oil drill in their home.

This summer, thanks to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and our allies, a Federal court directed Secretary Salazar to redo the analysis of the environmental impacts of a massive Bush-era oil and gas lease sale in the Chukchi Sea. But now, just two months later, Salazar has issued a draft document that leaves unanswered hundreds of questions about the impacts of drilling in the Arctic Ocean and the potential threat of a spill in those waters.

Don't let Secretary Salazar oil the Arctic. Please act now to tell Salazar that vulnerable Arctic species deserve better than his rushed and incomplete environmental analysis.

Visit to take action now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Demand a criminal investigation into former President George W. Bush's role ...

Please join me in supporting this action against a known war criminal. History will judge our actions in this matter.


Under international law, the former President's admission to having authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA's obligations to investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him.

One LED, not x-rays picture 2

Let me reiterate, there is no such thing as low penetration x-rays.  If you walk through the scanners, you are risking your life.  It is not worth it.  Please stop.


One LED, not x-rays picture 1

I just took action against the Tar Sands. I hope you will, too.


I just took an important action for our environment, and I hope you will too. It's time for US companies to clean dirty Tar Sands oil from their transportation footprint. Companies as different as Whole Foods and Walgreens have acted to remove Canada’s Tar Sands from their footprint. Who's next?

Will you send a message to Walmart and Safeway today?


Oil from Canada's Tar Sands is worse than conventional fossil fuels in almost every way. In addition to its heavier carbon footprint, the Tar Sands also involve more toxic water discharges--and more acid rain and smog causing chemicals--than conventional sources. That destruction is being financed by fuel and transportation services linked to Canada’s Tar Sands oil.

Please, take action against the Tar Sands:

UCSF biochemist: 'Naked' X-ray scanners still unsafe

Not flying. It appears that I am not the only biochemist who thinks these things.

Michael L. Love Ph.D
Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry
School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University
725 N. Wolfe Street
Room 608B WBSB
Baltimore MD 21205-2185

Interoffice Mail: 608B WBSB, SoM
Shipping Dock: 1915 E. Madison St.

office: 410-614-2267
lab: 410-614-3179
fax: 410-502-6910
cell: 443-824-3451

via CNET on 11/11/10

UCSF biochemistry prof says Obama administration's claim that scanners are safe is based on "many misconceptions." He and his colleagues are preparing a response.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thurs. Rally to Save KPFA's Flashpoints, Hard Knock & more

I really love those shows. Why do they always seem to land on the chopping block!
ANSWER San Francisco
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Join the Rally to Save KPFA's Hard Knock, Flashpoints & Full Circle! 
Thursday, Nov. 11, 4:30pm
In front of KPFA and the Pacifica network
1925-1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley

Sponsored by Full Circle, Hard Knock, Flashpoints and radical radio workers at KPFA.
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Act Now to Fully Protect Polar Bears

Last week, a federal judge ordered the Department of the Interior to reconsider a Bush administration decision that granted polar bears only partial protection under the Endangered Species Act. Now we have just a few short weeks to convince the Obama administration to do what the law and science require: Give the polar bear full protection as endangered, rather than merely threatened, under the Endangered Species Act.

Thanks to an interim court ruling in the Center's ongoing litigation, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has until December 23 to reconsider the definition of an endangered species used by the Bush administration to deny polar bears endangered status despite the best science (which shows an overwhelming probability of extinction for two-thirds of the world's polar bears by 2050 and a high risk of extinction even within the next 10 to 20 years). This means we have a small window of time to convince Salazar to break with flawed Bush policies and upgrade protection of the polar bear from threatened to endangered. Please, ask Salazar to grant full endangered status to the polar bear today.

Visit to take action now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PublicCitzen: Independence and Power

Michael L.,

Hundreds of people—from New Hampshire to Oklahoma, Arkansas to Oregon—responded to the email we sent last Friday by contributing to Public Citizen.

Thank you!

We are all part of an unbreakable movement of citizens refusing to be debilitated by last week’s elections, recognizing instead that now is the time to stand united against corporations and their collaborators in office.

Because Public Citizen accepts no corporate or government funding, it is only with the remarkably generous support of ordinary Americans like you that we have the independence and power to challenge corporate greed and its chokehold on our democracy.

If you haven’t already, please consider making a contribution to Public Citizen today.

contribute now button

Big Business is on an unprecedented spending spree: buying votes, bankrolling legions of lobbyists, dismantling progress at every turn. And turmoil is coming to Congress.

Our shared mission—to make sure that democracy works for We, the People, the way it was intended—has never been easy. It will be even harder in the coming months.

At times like these, the members and activists of Public Citizen must rise up together. Side by side, we have the strength to take on the corporate behemoths.

Contribute $20, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford and help Public Citizen resist the corporate takeover.


Allison Fisher, Anna White, Glenn Simpson & Rick Claypool
Public Citizen’s Online Action Team

P.S. Build the movement! Please forward this email to friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers today!

To get regular e-alerts about opportunities for activism and other ways to help with Public Citizen's work, sign up for the Public Citizen Action Network. If you do not want to receive future emails from Public Citizen, go to

© 2010 Public Citizen | Take Action

Support ESA Protections for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Overfishing has reduced Atlantic bluefin tuna populations by more than 80 percent since industrial fishing practices began. On September 21, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced it will consider protecting Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act in response to a Center for Biological Diversity petition. Now is the time to voice your support for this protection.

There are two imperiled populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna: one that spawns in the Gulf of Mexico and another that spawns in the Mediterranean. The petition seeks endangered status for both populations, which are intensely overfished due to demand for high-grade sushi. Scientists estimate that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill killed more than 20 percent of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna this year, further reducing an already-imperiled species.

We need your help to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna. Your letter will help persuade NMFS to act now before it's too late.

Visit to take action now.

ANSWER raising funds: Right Now, Every Dollar Counts. Twice.

"There could be no better time to support to the anti-war movement."

I agree completely.


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Dear ANSWER supporter,

Right now, every dollar we raise counts. Twice.

Starting immediately, donations made to the ANSWER Coalition via Paypal will be matched for a total of up to $5,000. If you don't have a Paypal account yet, you'll be given the option to create one—it only takes a minute.

There could be no better time to support to the anti-war movement. Please make an urgently needed donation right now via Paypal.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

All Out for Mumia: Monday 11/8 and Tuesday 11/9

Free Mumia!





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All out for Mumia!

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Please join us for the following upcoming events:

  • Mon, Nov. 8 – Debate about Mumia’s case
  • Tue, Nov. 9 – All Out to Support Mumia at his hearing at the Third Circuit Court

Mon, Nov. 8, 6:30pm - 9:30pm

National Constitution Center - Kirby Auditorium, Philadelphia

Join Mumia supporters at a debate between Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and attorney/activist Michael Coard as well as a debate between Hill and Professor Johanna Fernandez, producer of the new documentary "Justice for Mumia."  The debates will follow a screening of Tigre Hill's documentary "The Barrel of a Gun," financed by the Philadelphia FOP to promote their line on Mumia's case.

Lynn Doyle, Emmy award winning host of the Comcast Network’s “It’s Your Call” will moderate the discussion.

Let's pack the house with Mumia supporters!  Blocks of tickets have been purchased at $13 each so we can make sure Mumia supporters are in the audience, and not just the FOP.  If you want to purchase one of these tickets, please contact International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal at 215-476-8812.

Tue, Nov. 9, 12 noon


Rally at 12 noon at 6th & Market Streets, Philadelphia
Pack Mumia’s Hearing with Supporters: 2pm, 601 Market Street

On January 19, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a federal appeals court ruling that threw out Abu-Jamal's death sentence because of a confusingly worded verdict instruction that arguably led the jury to a sentence of death over life in prison. Prior to that ruling, Mumia was serving a life sentence. Mumia is now scheduled for a resentencing hearing at the Third Circuit Court this Tuesday. D.A. Seth Williams has stated clearly that when the time comes, he will ask for the death sentence for Mumia. THAT TIME IS NOW. Join supporters to defend Mumia’s life and demand justice for this important Philadelphia activist.

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CredoAction: Turn Off #Fox - Turn on #new action, Turn off Fox in #US, Read current #news and events online- #fauxnews

Dear friends,

Many of us already know that Fox News is biased -- but it's actually
much worse than that. For years they have used lies, distortions, and
race-baiting to divide this country. Recently, it's gotten downright
dangerous. Earlier this summer, a heavily armed man got into a gun
fight with police after he was pulled over on his way to kill people
at the Tides Foundation[1] -- an obscure non-profit that Glenn Beck
regularly demonizes on his Fox News TV show.[2]

Fox News is bad news for America -- and it spreads, and is
legitimized, partly through TVs in public places.

That's why I've joined the TurnOffFox campaign -- the first part of a
larger campaign to diminish the influence of Fox. It's about educating
people about Fox and getting it turned off in stores, restaurants, and
other public places.

Will you join me? It takes just a moment to declare your own household
"Fox free", and at the same time appeal to public establishments in
your community to stop playing Fox. *And you'll get a FREE Turn Off
Fox sticker when you do.* Click here:

No other news organization that's considered legitimate consistently
wages smear campaigns based on lies and race-baiting. But for years
Fox News has done exactly that, and the pattern has only gotten worse
since Barack Obama entered national politics.

Here are just a few examples:

-- A frequent Fox guest, Jesse Lee Peterson, said that the majority of
Black people have poor moral character, and cited "what they did to
the dome" after Hurricane Katrina as evidence.[3] Peterson has also
used his platform on Fox to claim that 90% of Black people are racists
-- against Whites.[4]

-- In a case of naked race-baiting, Fox host Glenn Beck called
President Obama a "racist" who had a "deep-seated hatred for White
people or the White culture."[5] Earlier that week, Beck claimed that
the President's health insurance reform proposals were a form of
"reparations" designed to "settle old racial scores."[6]

-- Fox host John Stossel argued that the public accommodations section
of the Civil Rights Act -- which prevents businesses from
discriminating based on race, sex, and other factors -- should be

-- Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity were the first to air
deceptively edited and incomplete video of Shirley Sherrod's remarks
to the NAACP.[8] The video made it seem like Sherrod was confessing to
using her position at the USDA to discriminate against White farmers,
when she was really talking about the importance of overcoming
prejudice. Sherrod lost her job over this misrepresentation, which Fox
enthusiastically repeated without seeking the facts. Fox has since
tried to pretend it had nothing to do with this smear -- but Fox is
the number one reason these kinds of distortions and smears have any
part in our national dialogue.

The examples above aren't even a tenth of Fox's vicious lies and
smears, and over the years they've just gotten more brazen.

The goal of Turn Off Fox is to reduce the number of public TVs showing
Fox News, while spreading the word about Fox's poison (and how it
works) to those who don't know.

Signing up for the campaign is just the first step. We make it easy
for you to tell us about businesses playing Fox. If you're willing to
talk with them, we'll provide you with straightforward materials that
explain why they shouldn't be a party to what Fox is doing. And if
there are businesses you know that want to tell the world they would
never play Fox, you can help them declare themselves a "Fox-free

As businesses Turn off Fox and stand up as Fox Free, and as we
encourage our friends and family to do the same, we'll help make
clear, to people across the country, what Fox is about. And we'll
reduce their ability to do harm.

Please join me in signing up for the TurnOffFox campaign:




Friday, November 5, 2010

Fight back against corporate front groups

Corporate front groups are growing in size and influence, but their secret funders want to remain in the shadows.

If they're trying to influence your vote with election-season political ads, then you should know who they are.

Passage of the DISCLOSE Act (S.3295) would reveal the funders and restrict political ads by government contractors and foreign entities.

Public Citizen set up a page where you tell your senators in Congress to support this act at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Koch Industries is the Worst -- Do You Agree?

Hi --

Do you know how far the fossil fuel industry is willing to go to protect their profits?   

Big polluters fight dirty. They blow smoke about the science of climate change and use scare tactics to slow the progress of clean energy -- costing us hundreds of thousands of jobs and putting our economy at risk.   

Like the people who sold "magic elixirs" in the Old West, they will say anything to part you from your money, even while they're peddling something toxic. That's why Repower America is presenting the 2010 Snake Oil Awards to shame the worst of the worst, and we get to decide who wins. I voted for Koch Industries because they have spent decades funding attacks on climate change science and our clean energy future.

Join me and cast your vote for  today:

Let's show the fossil fuel industry that they can't get away with their lies any longer.


Executions, Secrecy and the Public Right to Know

I am giving my FULL support to Amnesty in the matter of the death penalty, although death penalty opponents might be disappointed by a small hedge on my part.

I cannot deny that there are possibly good reasons to execute a person, however; there is NO agency with the required infallibility and moral authority to carry out such executions. It is now known that the US carried out a vast number of wrongful executions, the ultimate injustice. We must put a stop to the horrendous practice of state executions. There are no exceptions.


Sakineh Ashtiani is on death row in Iran and at risk of execution by stoning. Last month, her lawyer and her son were arrested, apparently for discussing her case with foreign nationals.  Her other lawyer, prominent human rights and death penalty defense lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, was hounded into exile over the summer when he refused to be silenced.

Alan Shadrake is due to be sentenced next Tuesday 9 November © Alan Shadrake

In Singapore, Alan Shadrake is now a convicted criminal because he wrote a book about capital punishment in that country.  He could be sent to prison next week.

While these episodes may be extreme, the same efforts to suppress information about the death penalty are at work here in the USA where, for instance, a state law in Missouri makes it a crime – even for journalists – to reveal the identities of those who participate in executions.   

It’s the same principle of secrecy that allows Arizona and California to continue to conceal the source of their execution drugs, or for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to call for such information to be classified as a “state secret.”  The claim that such secrecy is necessary to protect executioners from harassment is incredibly weak.  Other government agencies and employees (for example, the guy at the DMV who makes you wait in line, or the city employee who gives you parking tickets) don’t benefit from such undemocratic anonymity.  The public has a fundamental right to know what a state agency is doing with their tax dollars, especially when that agency is engaged in the ultimate act of state power – the killing of a human being.

Most of us would agree (I hope) that lawyers should not be detained for publicizing their client’s case, and that no one should be punished for writing about a country’s death penalty (although that could happen under Missouri’s law).  When government is exercising its greatest power, that’s when we should demand the greatest transparency.  This is essential to ensuring accountability and preventing that power from being abused.

Instead, we are seeing, both globally and here in the USA, a disturbing trend towards imposing greater secrecy on the executions that are carried out in our name.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

UCS: Welcome your freshman class of #climate deniers - #change #glo bal #warming #BP #boycottbp #oilspill #blacktide

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Union of Concerned Scientists
Dear Michael,

Our New Freshman Class
In Their Own Words

"With the possible exception of Tiger Woods, nothing has had a worse year than global warming. We have discovered that a good portion of the science used to justify "climate change" was a hoax perpetrated by leftist ideologues with an agenda."
—Todd Young, new congressperson from Indiana 

 "I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate." —Ron Johnson, new senator from Wisconsin 

 "I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don't even believe the crap." —Steve Pearce, new congressperson from New Mexico

 "It's a bigger issue, we need to watch 'em. Not only because it may or may not be true, but they're making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They've already caught 'em doing this." —Rand Paul, new senator from Kentucky

 "There isn't any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth." —Roy Blunt, new senator from  Missouri

Last night an unprecedented number of climate contrarians were swept into office.

How did we get to such a place where attacking scientists and their work is not only acceptable, but helps win elections? And more importantly, what is UCS going to do about it?

First, we must acknowledge that these people didn't get into office on their own. They are backed by big oil, the coal industry, and electric utilities—opponents who have deep pockets and a singular goal of protecting their own interests.

UCS is going to continue to expose these polluting industries and their cronies who knowingly mislead the public about climate science. And we're going to challenge them to get their facts straight.

Because when it comes right down to it, the public's confidence in science and scientists remains high. In fact, just last night in California we saw a tangible example of science trumping industry spin, when voters thwarted an aggressive attempt by out-of-state oil companies to kill the state's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act.

It's examples like this that give me hope and remind me that we can—and will—still achieve concrete victories.

The truth of the matter is that it's been difficult to move Congress for months. The people who are supposed to be representing our interests in the nation's capitol have been too busy carrying water for narrow corporate interests rather than coming together to make real, positive change.

So we're moving forward, with them or without them. As the victory in California yesterday reminds us, there are plenty of other ways to effect change on the issues you and I care about. In the coming months, UCS will:

  • Defend the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to reduce power plant, transportation, industrial, and agricultural global warming emissions;
  • Push state utility commissions to shut down the oldest and dirtiest coal power plants;
  • Pressure the administration to further boost fuel economy for cars and trucks and decrease tailpipe pollution, and cut our nation’s oil use in half by 2030;
  • Advocate for strong, science-based state and regional climate programs that can reduce heat-trapping emissions at the local level;
  • Bring agricultural experts and scientists together with government officials to build support for scientifically sound, forward-thinking farming practices that can improve our air, water, and climate; and
  • Reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security policy, further reduce their numbers, and prevent the development of new weapons.
No matter what changes happen in Washington, D.C., UCS will continue to do what we do best: develop and advance science-based solutions to major environmental and security issues.

I am deeply grateful for your support of our work and look forward to tackling the challenges we have ahead of us together!

Kevin Knobloch Sincerely,
Kevin Knobloch
Kevin Knobloch

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