Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Coal Can Do That

Yes, Coal can do this! This is Centralia, WA, home to TransAlta Centralia Mining as well as the TransAlta Coal Fired Power Plant. The upper gray blotch is the 1,700 acres around the Coal Plant. This plant started in April of 2001 and already boosts 5 Huge settling ponds to contain the waste ash produced by the Coal Fired Plant.

The lower gray blotch is the actual mine property. About 5,000 acres have been strip-mined and the mine has been closed for over two years. The company promised to reclaim the land when it closed back in 2006, so far very little has been do to return the 14,000 acres to anything resembling useful land.

This is just one very small operation of more than 140 Coal Fired Power Plants in the Western States. These companies have sold the idea of Clean Coal for years, but now it is easy to see just how "clean" it really is. Centralia lost 14,000 acres of prime farm land to "Clean Coal" and the SECOND that TransAlta had to start cleaning up the mess they closed the operations.

The Army Corps of Engineers and Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) published a notice of intent in the April 7, 2006, issue of the Federal Register (71 FR 17840) to prepare an EIS on TCM's proposed Pit 7 Mining Project. By November, the coal mine was "closed with reservation to reopen in the future." The environmental Impact Study was canceled. The area lost 600 jobs and the company canceled health insurance for more than 2000 employees, spouses and children.

I love the page sponsor listed at the bottom a whole site dedicated to promoting the positive side of coal. There isn't a single web page devoted to pollution, fly ash impoundment, strip mining, mountain top removal, water quality, black lung disease, mine reclaimation. Not a single page devoted to cleaning up the messes that the coal industry has already left in thousands of locations around the world. Yes, Coal can do that!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stop The Waste--Legalize Marijuana!

Dear Obama Team,

President Elect Obama has pledged to fight waste in all levels of Government, so Will Barack Obama consider the waste involved in the marijuana issue?

The monetary value of Marijuana in the United States is staggering, even with the Government's attempts to abolish it at every level. Most recent reports state the marijuana sales are over $35 Billion per year and have been increasing every year. That money is mostly being paid to Foreign Drug Cartels that profit at every turn selling this controlled substance. The drug wars being fought around marijuana are killing thousands of people every year and leading to the incarceration of many thousands more. All of this adds up to near $8 Billion a year to arrest, prosecute, and house people for possession of a substance no more addictive and much less harmful than alcohol. The waste must stop!

Abortion Laws, Doctor Assisted Suicide, and the rejection of Prohibition all point to the public's demand for Self-Determination, the right to live, control our bodies, and die the way we want to. Adults in America demand and receive the right to drinks as much as we want, have relationships with those we choose and in many states the right to die when we want to. Marijuana laws need to reflect the spirit of Self-Determination and be freed from outside influences that are counter to Self-Determination.

A Better Way: Follow the Alcohol Model for Marijuana- Decriminalize Growing and Possessing Marijuana for personal use. Allow growers to apply for a Permit to sell marijuana to their state governments for a set price based on a set potency. The States control the potency, sale and taxation of the marijuana.

The current street value of marijuana is $20 per gram. Let the States buy it from licensed growers for $5 per gram. The jobs created in the US growing marijuana--about 4 Million jobs at $40,000 per year in the first 2 years. (Triple that number to include hemp growing as an agricultural product that can be used in over 25,000 products.) The States sell the marijuana with a taxation rate of 200% making the street price about $15 per gram. The States would gain $22 Billion per year in taxes. And, that is just the first year. Following years would see even more jobs created and more taxes collected.

Will the Obama Administration stop the WASTE of law enforcement efforts, WASTE of salary and tax money and WASTE of non-violent incarceration by decriminalizing marijuana and hemp?

* Disclaimer: I do not, have not, and never will use marijuana due to an allergy to the plant and all of it's parts. Even though I cannot smoke it, I do see the benefits of legalizing it for Adult Usage as well as an agricultural product.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Consequences of Foreign Debt--Good Bye America

National Debt & Immigration

In the United States, we are watching in horror as our government digs us ever deeper in debt. Billions in bailouts have quickly soared into Trillions and there is no end in sight. What happens when that debt is so great that the US is forced to support foreign policies whether we agree with them or not just because we owe another country so much money that they have purchased our agreement? Just the last 8 years has proved this is not only possible but currently happening.

In the 1960's Mao Zedong forged links with African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Senegal by loaning the countries money, selling them weapons and generally supporting local revolutions. Later, China used that debt as leverage to open the way for Chinese Immigrants to those countries. The current estimate by the South African Institute of Internal Affairs states that 750,000 first generation Chinese have moved to Africa complete with Chinese bank loans and governmental approval.

These are not the standard type of immigrants looking to blend in but a whole new kind of wealthy businessman-immigrant looking for fresh opportunities to exploit and share(for a profit) with China. Lax immigration laws enable them to bring even more Chinese in as cheap labor, excluding local workers from working in the new businesses. They advertise their businesses in Chinese, they advertise job openings in Chinese--locals not needed or wanted.

Since, 2002 more than 20,000 Chinese have immigrated to Angola alone. [1] They are invited and protected by the $4 Billion in interest free loans made by the Chinese government to oil-rich Angola to build infrastructure designed to pump the oil and then ship it back to China to repay the loan. According to the loan agreement, at least 70% of the work must be done by Chinese companies. Their paychecks come from Chinese companies so their taxes go back to China, not to the country where they are working.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil--The real Bush Legacy

China, once blacklisted as an American trade partner now enjoys favored trading status and leads the world in exports to America. Did China suddenly come to the light concerning human rights? Did China suddenly agree to stop polluting or allow Tibet to go free? No, China bought up enough American debt to force us to turn a blind eye to their problems, and throw open our ports to everything they had to offer. What does our future hold in terms of our freedoms to make policies and enforce trade regulations that benefit Americans? The outlook is not good.

Several writers have mentioned this concern in the last few years, even before the current crisis. Nikkei Weekly says Chinese leaders have boasted that because China is such an important lender to America, “Beijing is holding a dagger to Washington’s throat.” In September of this year China surpassed Japan as the largest American debt holder with the US owing China $585 Billion compared to $60 Billion in 2000. even stated "serfdom is a reality many Americans may face in the future."

The Face of China in Africa--and Soon in the United States:

South Africa
Kenya & Nigeria
Uganda-- war financing leads to tourism and big business