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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Divine Strake: More Madness From the Team that Brought You the Iraq War


Get a load of Divine Strake, the latest project of the madness that is the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld team. Not content with our current behemoth supply of "old fashioned" nuke weapons left over from the Cold War, the insane warmongers of Bush II plan to develop a whole new crop of "tactical" nukes that can be used all over the world to shock and awe nations into compliance.

Oh, we'll be hitting their underground command bunkers, and maybe even Iranian underground nuclear facilities, like they've never been hit before. Or at least making lots of work for defense contractors and federal nuke labs to counteract the funding impacts caused by the fall of the USSR and the end of the Cold War.

The ironically named blast test is set for detonation on June 2nd at the Nevada Test Site, which is on Western Shoshone land. According to GlobalSecurity.org, Divine Strake will entail blowing up a 700 ton buried heavy charge, made of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, above a tunnel structure. Boom. The explosion will be 280 times more powerful than the one that destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building, and 50 times larger than any current American conventional weapon. It's not really a bomb, however. It's more like 700 tons of chemicals buried in a hole, so there's no way it could be carried by any airplane known to humankind.

Although many media accounts have been garbled and inaccurate about the test's goals, it's clearly aimed at simulating a "low yield nuclear weapon ground shock" so our nuke pushers can study the effects of "low-yield tactical" nukes. In this way, they can better plan nuke attacks on whatever we determine to be the latest "battlefield." Like Iran.

DisarmamentActivist.org lays out truths thast counteract the distortions being tossed around in the media. And Albuquerque Journal reporter John Fleck has more, including links to coverage at other science blogs. Fleck characterizes the claim that the test is merely for a new convention weapon as "frankly preposterous." In fact, the Defense Department has admitted the test is designed to simulate the explosion of a "low yield" nuke.

The Western Shoshone tribe has mounted a protest against this and any other bomb testing on their land, citing a United Nations treaty to back their position:

The Western Shoshone said the test would be in direct violation of the recent decision of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. CERD, in the decision made public March 10, urged the United States to ''freeze,'' ''desist'' and ''stop'' actions and threats against the Western Shoshone.

The tribe, along with representatives of two Salt Lake citizens groups, has filed suit to stop the Divine test. One of the plaintiff's said the massive explosion "could kick up radioactive dust from previous nuclear testing," and claims "the Pentagon has sprung it on everybody with no examination of its effects."  You can rest assured that Rumsfeld has his hand in this one.

According to Time Magazine:

The lawsuit demands that the Defense Department publish its plans in the Federal Register, provide the opportunity for public comment and conduct a full environmental impact statement on the effect of the explosion. "The Department of Defense appears to have learned nothing from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl and the devastating deaths caused to nuclear veterans and downwinders by atmospheric nuclear testing," the suit contends.

The Western Shoshone Defense Project is organizing an International Day of Action across from the Nevada Test Site on Sunday, May 28, during Memorial Day Weekend. Protest activities will continue throughout the week.

Air America's Randi Rhodes is leading an effort to push the media to video and photograph the test, as well as provide accurate and truthful information about its purposes. What can we do to apply pressure to stop this madness?

  • Contact the media and insist they travel to the site to cover the explosion
  • Contact your members of Congress to urge them to stop the test
  • Support the efforts by the Shonshones to stop any further testing at the Nevada Test Site, which is on their tribal lands

April 26, 2006 at 11:44 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Angry About Gas Prices? Attend This Forum

I'm passing this along from Communities United to Strengthen America. You may recall that this group made a presentation about their issues-based, nonprofit and nonpartisan work at a recent DFA-DFNM Meetup:

Communities United to Strengthen America cordially invites you to attend our inaugural community education event:

The Domino Effect:
Connecting the Dots on Rising Gas Prices
Thursday, April 27, 2006 @ 7:00pm
Albuquerque Academy
Gardenhire Hall
6400 Wyoming Blvd NE

Featured Guests:
Micha Gisser, Ph.D. – The Rio Grande Foundation
Ben Luce, Ph.D. – Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy
Mark Mathis – Citizen's Alliance for Responsible Energy
Lawrence Waldman, Ph.D – UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Communities United to Strengthen America is a 501(c) 4 organization. Contributions made to Communities United to Strengthen America are not tax deductible. For more information, please contact Martin M. Gutierrez or Irene E. Parra at 237.0120

April 26, 2006 at 09:18 AM in Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

ACTION ALERT: Roadless Rule Public Hearing Wednesday

IMPORTANT! From the NM Wilderness Alliance:
Voice your support
for New Mexico's roadless national forests!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 7-9 PM
UNM Conference Center Auditorium

(NE Corner of Indian School & University)
Or Submit Written Comments by 5/1/06

The State of New Mexico is soliciting public comments on Governor Bill Richardson's petition to protect 1.6 million acres of roadless natoinal forests in the state. This is your opportunity to provide your suggestions for protecting roadless areas. Suggestions can also be mailed to Secretary Joanna Prukop, EMNRD, 1220 S. St. Frances Dr., Santa Fe, NM 87505. Letters must be postmarked by May 1, 2006 to be considered for the petition.

For more information, contact Nathan Newcomer at 505-843-8696 or nathan@nmwild.org.

Editor's Note: Here's some background on this issue regarding Bush's move to ditch Clinton-era regulations thats ban roads within many national forests to protect vital habitat.

April 25, 2006 at 01:51 PM in Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Speak Up: Another Tuesday Open Thread

Following suggestions from readers, I'm offering another Tuesday Open Thread where you are free to discuss any topic that's on your mind. Click on the Comments link below and keyboard away. We'd love to hear from more of the hundreds of daily visitors to this site.

As for me, I'm pondering the latest travesties of the Bush administration. Pick your poison. It can be difficult to keep up because so many frightening details emerge on any given day. For a visual rendition of just some of the awful realities of BushCo, see this video one more time. Then vow to be ACTIVE to stop this madness.

Dscn1166_1Given the current national nightmare, thank goodness I've also got my mind on our garden out back. We've been digging, emptying bags of well-composted soil and applying mulch made of broken pecan shells (also good for stopping snails in their tracks). We've been planting, seeding and weeding.

Dscn1170To make up for the water we'll use in the garden, we'll be taking a few less showers a week, flushing only when it's absolutely necessary (you know what I mean) and washing clothes less often with larger loads. What we'll get in return is a place of serenity, beauty and ever-changing vibrance. A place of respite where we can retreat, if only for a little while, from the realities of the neocon nightmare. A place to recharge!

April 25, 2006 at 12:21 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (10)

Call Heather Wilson TODAY to Preserve Internet Freedoms

From Common Cause:
On Wednesday, the House Commerce Committee will be voting on the absurdly-named (Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act).

But the only "promoting" and "enhancing" this bill does is for the cable, phone and media interests that have poured nearly half a billion dollars into lobbying Congress over the past eight years to get the perks they so desire.

Please call your House member today. Ask Rep. Heather Wilson to vote NO on the COPE bill. The phone number is (202) 225-6316. The vote is happening on Wednesday, April 26 so your calls are needed today.

The COPE bill would:

  • Place control of the Internet in the hands of few powerful corporations;
  • Transform the Information Superhighway into a toll road, where only the rich get unfettered access to all that the Internet has to offer;
  • Vastly increase special interest monopoly power;
  • End consumer protections against abuses by cable companies;
  • Allow cable and phone companies to raise the prices in poor neighborhoods, while giving special deals to the affluent;
  • Expand the "digital divide" that puts the poor, racial and ethnic minorities and rural families at a disadvantage; and
  • Stifle innovation and economic growth, because it will be too costly for any new Googles or eBays to draw customers to their websites.

Rep. Wilson's vote is critical to stopping this dangerous bill in its tracks. Please call today: (202) 225-6316.

Just eight of the country's most powerful communications companies and their trade groups have spent more than $460 million lobbying Congress to gain all the favors in the COPE bill.  Millions of your voices are necessary to block it.

Please call your Member of Congress today, and be sure to let us know how the call went on the Common Cause blog. Thank you for all you do for Common Cause.

The Common Cause Media Reform Team
Lauren Coletta, Celia Wexler and Dawn Holian

April 25, 2006 at 09:42 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, April 24, 2006

An Historic Event: Salt of the Earth at Guild Cinema

PosterThe seldom seen and controversial independent film, Salt of the Earth, will be screened at Albuquerque's Guild Cinema on May 1-4, accompanied by panel discussions and more. If you've never seen this movie, you've missed an important, powerful film. If you have, this is a good chance to see it again in the company of other good people.

Filmed in New Mexico in 1953-54, during the height of Senator McCarthy's witch hunt, Salt of the Earth is an earthy and factual look at union action in the face of a mining company's brutal treatment of its Hispanic workers. Rare for its time, the movie takes a pro-feminist tack in highlighting the courage of women on the picket lines. It's based on actual events at a 1951 miners' strike against Empire Zinc that took place in Bayard, near Silver City, NM. Many strike participants acted in various roles in the film.

Much has been written about this compelling and rare film that was, in essence, banned during the era in which it was produced. Here are some resources that discuss its controversial elements, the tenor of the times during the 1950s when it was made, and much more:

  • A detailed and scholarly analysis of the film appeared a few years ago in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, including many photos and historical nuggets.
  • Wikipedia provides all kinds of background info on many aspects of the movie.

  Photo credit WCFTR.

Here's more event info from the Central New Mexico Labor Council:

May 1 --­ 4: An Historic Event
By: Jon Thomas-Weger, President, Central New Mexico Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Since its release in 1953, the movie Salt of the Earth was only shown at a few  movie theaters before, due to political pressure, it was essentially banned. Rarely to be seen again, except in 16 millimeter showings at small gatherings in union halls and on college campuses.

Filmed in New Mexico in 1952 and 1953, written by blacklisted film writers, directed by a blacklisted director, crewed by a blacklisted crew, and starring the blacklisted actor Will Geer, Salt of the Earth had little choice but to turn to the communities of Silver City and environs in order to make this movie a success. While never successful financially, Salt of the Earth has been successful in inspiring generations of unionists, and community activists to become involved to achieve a better future.

That is what the Salt of the Earth strikers and their families did. They built a strong union that protected their rights, protected their heritage and eventually brought about an end to official discrimination against the Mexican-American/Chicano community in Bayard, Silver City, Tyrone and other small towns in Southwest New Mexico, and Arizona as well.

Because of Local 890's determination and their parent union's opposition to the Cold War, many strikers, especially the leadership, were tarred with the communist brush. If these folks were communists, then the only thing to say is we wish there were more people like them. They helped change and improve the legal and political status, as well as the standard of living for thousands of miners in New Mexico and Arizona.

Beginning May 1, the Central New Mexico Labor Council will be sponsoring our First Annual Labor Film Festival. And, of course, the featured film will be New Mexico¹s own Salt of the Earth. To our knowledge, this is the first time that Salt of the Earth has ever been shown in a commercial movie theater in New Mexico. For that matter, it has rarely been shown in a commercial theater anywhere in the country.

So far many local unions have purchased bulk tickets. There will be a reception sponsored by IATSE 480, on the first night. Following every showing there will be a panel discussion on the significance of the Salt of the Earth strike and the making of the movie.

This is not only an historic event, but it will also be educational and informative and a time for unionists and their families to come out and learn more about the Trade Union Movement in New Mexico.

Rapping: The Council has asked local rapper Jeremy Giannini to write and perform a rap song about Salt of the Earth. He will be performing every evening. There will be something for everybody. Bring your family!

Panels: Panels following the movie have yet to be finalized. But the panels will feature family members of strike leaders, activists in Mine, Mill and Smelter Local 890, lawyers who have represented workers against Phelps Dodge; people who participated in the strike and the movie,  and others. The event will end by 9:30 PM every night.

Please support this effort as much as possible. Bulk tickets of ten or more are available for $3 each (call Jon Thomas-Weger at 505-306-4870 or Greg Chávez at 505-301-4519). Tickets will be $6 at the door. This can be more than an historic event. It is time that we all come together. Remember our history. And, work for a better future. As we all know, unionism is a key part of a better future for everybody.

April 24, 2006 at 03:12 PM in Film | Permalink | Comments (3)

Study Predicts Sandia Dump Will Contaminate Albuquerque’s Drinking Water

From Citizen Action New Mexico:
Contamination from a Cold War-era waste dump will reach Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer as early as the year 2010, according to a new study conducted by Sandia National Laboratories. The dump, known as the Mixed Waste Landfill, contains an estimated 100,000 cubic ft. of radioactive and chemical waste from nuclear weapons research buried in unlined pits and trenches at Sandia.   

The study conducted by Sandia, known as a “fate and transport” model, predicts the movement and releases of contaminants from the dump. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) ordered Sandia to conduct the study as a requirement of a permit the NMED issued to Sandia that, instead of clean up, allows Sandia to cover the dump with 3 feet of dirt and monitor the site indefinitely. The news that the dump will eventually contaminate Albuquerque’s sole source aquifer came after Ron Curry, NMED Secretary, issued a permit to Sandia to cover the waste.

Sandia’s study predicts that tetrachloroethane, a man-made chemical commonly referred to as PCE, will reach Albuquerque’s aquifer as early as the year 2010. PCE can persist in the groundwater for years, and has been classified as a “probable” human carcinogen linked with liver and kidney cancers. PCE decays and forms other chemical compounds that include trichloroethane (TCE); dichloroethane (DCE); and vinyl chloride (VC), all of which are linked to cancers of the brain, liver, stomach, lungs, prostate, cervix and endometrium.

Sue Dayton, Director for Citizen Action New Mexico, a public interest group advocating for clean up of the  waste site, said that Sandia has consistently maintained it is highly unlikely that contaminants from the dump will ever reach the groundwater below.

Paul Robinson, Research Director for the Southwest Research and Information Center, who reviewed the study for Citizen Action, said, “Sandia’s study only models for the movement of one chemical (PCE) to the groundwater, even though previous investigations by Sandia have shown that at least a dozen various chemicals have escaped the dump.” 

Robinson also said the study failed to model the movement of the PCE decay products, and the complete range of other metals and radioactive materials buried in the dump. Robinson’s review submitted to the NMED also cited the failure of the study to model the release and transport of radioactive contaminants through plants and burrowing animals at the dump by Sandia. Sampling efforts by Sandia have shown deer mice and vegetation living at the dump to be contaminated with radon and tritium, two radioactive materials.

Dayton added: “This new study demonstrates that contamination from the dump is inevitable and raises serious concerns about the potential for contamination from the Mixed Waste Landfill to Albuquerque’s drinking water, from new wells drilled to provide drinking water for the future residents of Mesa del Sol, and future groundwater development by Sandia’s neighbors including the Pueblo of Isleta. We are calling on Governor Richardson to step up to the plate and take action on this matter.”

For more information contact Citizen Action New Mexico: (505) 262-1862. To read Citizen Action’s comments on Sandia’s Fate and Transport Model visit the Citizen Action website at www.radfreenm.org.

April 24, 2006 at 09:04 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunday Chile Cookoff Blogging


No bird blogging today, but I do have some photos from the Democratic Party of Bernalillo's 2nd Annual Chile Cookoff benefit held Saturday in Albuquerque at the State Fairgrounds (Expo NM). Nice turnout and a delicious time was had by all. Above is the award-winning chile team sponsored by James B. Lewis (center, wearing sombrero), the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer. He's unopposed in the June primary election. How 'bout that hat?

These photos were taken by Shay Rose, the Democrat who's running for State Representative in District 28 in Albuquerque. Her's was the only State Rep or Senate campaign entered in the cookoff, so she deserves special recognition. Here are a few of her photos that show her team:

Above, here's Shay Rose (center) with her Campaign Treasurer, Don Schiff (R), and Campaign Manager, Ana Canales (blue shirt).

Again, that's Shay on the left standing with Don Schiff, and Ana on the right.

Here's Shay and Ana with their 2nd Place ribbons in the Green Chili catagory, thanks to Ana's original Green Chili Queso. (Click on photos for larger images.)

Please email Shay Rose if you'd like to volunteer or donate to her campaign for State Representative. Check out the website of James B. Lewis to do the same for his campaign for State Treasurer. To contact the Bernalillo County Party, go here.

April 23, 2006 at 02:49 PM in Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Happy Earth Day: Now More Than Ever


MikereynoldsIn honor of today's 36th anniversary of Earth Day, Alternet published an article honoring the nation's top grassroots environmental heroes.

Those honored include Michael Reynolds of Taos (left), who has worked since the 1970s to create the most efficient version of his Earthships. As the article says, "Using solar and thermal heating and cooling, wind electricity, water harvesting, and contained sewage treatment, Reynolds has developed off-the-grid housing that is both environmentally and economically viable." Check out Reynolds' Earthship Biotecture website.

Also worth a look is their archive of their best environmental writing from recent months. The articles cover everything from global warming to energy independence to water to the false promise of "clean coal."

Here are some local events honoring Earth Day:

Ecoversity Earth Day Parade & Festival
Saturday, April 22nd, 10am-7pm
Ecoversity, Santa Fe

La Montanita Co-Op Earth Day Celebration
Sunday, April 23rd, 10:30 AM - 6:00 PM
La Montanita Co-Op, Nob Hill store, Albuquerque

The Nature Conservancy includes hopeful remarks about the future and our environment submitted by a variety of well-known eco-supporters including Jimmy Carter, Jane Goodall, Tom Hanks, Maya Lynn and Bill McKibben.

The Public Radio Exchange has audio of an appearance by beloved Taos writer and activist John Nichols from an Earth Day past, describing what he hears in nature (and from ravens) while hiking New Mexico. Enjoy.

Some earthy poetry:

Spiritual Connection with the Earth, By Chief Seattle

How can one buy or sell the air, the warmth of the land?
That is difficult for us to imagine.
We do not own the sweet air or the sparkle on the water.
How then can you buy them from us?
Human kind has not woven the web of life,
We are but the thread of it.
Whatever we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together, all things connect.
Whatever befalls the Earth befalls also the children of the Earth

For more Earth and ecology poetry check out Eco-Forum's collection.

April 22, 2006 at 10:49 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

You Be the Judge

Photo Credit Tim Sloan/AFP

Here's Cheney at a briefing this week with Bush and Chinese President Hu. Many people believe he's napping, or passed out, or something. However, Cheney's apologists claim he was merely reading his notes. I don't know, do people usually rest their heads on their chests when they read?

Perhaps Dick is really just dreaming of quail hunting trips past, or visualizing war, or free-associating about torture or imagining oil rigs in the Arctic. But I, for one, believe he's snoozing, like the crochety old chickenhawk he is. The light of day can be daunting to vampire-like  creatures who spend most of their hours in cavelike bunkers. Watch out if he starts wearing capes....

April 22, 2006 at 09:41 AM in Visuals | Permalink | Comments (0)