August 2007


spy vs spyWhy can’t we go back to a time when the government didn’t spy on people? Who are FBI and NSA spying on today? What happened to all the rights that are amended to our constitution?

Paper: FBI spied on MLK widow for years

Federal agents spied on the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. for several years after his assassination in 1968, according to newly released documents that reveal the FBI worried about her following in the footsteps of the slain civil rights icon.

Coretta Scott King might try to tie “the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement” according to some of the nearly 500 pages of intelligence files, which go on to show how the FBI trailed King at public appearances and kept close tabs on her travel.The documents were obtained by Houston television station KHOU in a story published Thursday. Coretta Scott King died in January 2006. She was 78.

One memo shows that the FBI even read and reviewed King’s 1969 book about her late husband. The entry made a point to say that her “selfless, magnanimous, decorous attitude is belied by … (her) actual shrewd, calculating, businesslike activities.”

The documents also focus on her relationship with Stanley Levison, who was a close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and a person the government long suspected was a communist.

There is also evidence that the Nixon administration and then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were kept informed of the FBI’s surveillance.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s activities were long known to have been monitored by the federal government. News of intelligence gathering on famous Americans and war critics became so infamous that rules to curtail domestic spying were put in place in the 1970s.

solar panelsOK. Texas started. In addition to the ones mentioned here, there are also schools with some solar panels. Can the whole country do this? Can we do a better job at recycling at school? Can we turn in more work electronically and not on paper? Can they cut down on the AC sometimes? What’s happening where you live?

Schools find it easy being green

Districts strive to make campuses eco-friendly.

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, August 26, 2007

When it comes to building schools, district leaders and taxpayers are focused on being green: being environmentally friendly as well as fiscally responsible.

Several campuses are opening for the first time Monday in the Austin area, and dozens of other campuses and school buildings are under construction or are being renovated. Many have gone green — using recyclable materials in construction and operation and saving on water and energy — as part of a nationwide movement that touts green schools as healthier for students and cheaper to operate.

Almost four years ago, the Austin school district made the largest purchase to date of renewable energy from Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program: 45.7 million kilowatt-hours annually of solar, wind or geothermal power. It was the largest such purchase by a school district nationwide. The district is eligible for $430,000 in Austin Energy rebates for environmentally friendly projects in the 2004 $519.5 million bond program.

When Pickle Elementary School opened in Northeast Austin in 1999, it was the first Austin campus to include green building features like proper solar orientation to better take advantage of natural light, which helps it use 25 percent less energy than other campuses, along with rainwater collection to replace water that evaporates out of air conditioners and salvaged long-leaf pine floors. An analysis estimates that those features will save the district $12 million over the life of the school.

Schools represent the largest construction sector in the nation, with $53 billion being spent this year, and they are the fastest-growing market for green building, which is expected to account for 5 percent to 10 percent of the school construction market by 2010, according to the Council of Educational Facility Planners International.

About 60 schools across the country, including two in Dallas and Houston, have been certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization in Washington that sets “green” standards. An additional 370 are in the pipeline; one San Marcos school is among the nine in Texas.

I wonder who is behind THESE people.

Not everyone believes that it’s easier being green, however. Saying that building costs would skyrocket, the Fast Growth School Coalition, a group of 124 Texas school districts, helped defeat a bill during the most recent legislative session that would have required all school construction to fall in line with standards set by the Green Building Council.

So …. If half the republican people want us to withdraw troops from Iraq, we can assume that even more of the democratic people want to withdraw troops. So when will the politicians in Washington know what the people know? When will they listen? When will they start a withdrawal?

This is from ThinkProgress:

51 percent:

Number of Republicans in Iowa who “favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months.” Just 39 percent are against a withdrawal. (via Atrios)

Why does Fox News want us to have a war with Iran? Why do Americans let Fox News decide what is happening in our foreign policy? Why don’t they have to report real facts?

I just got this email. But it sounds like people in other states can call their governor too.

—Freckles Cassie

Dear Cassie,

George Bush has done it again. He has sided with insurance and drug company profits over the health and well-being of our nation’s children. Late Friday night, the Bush administration released a letter to state health officials that
effectively eliminated health insurance coverage for millions of American kids. This underhanded one-size-fits-all cutback limits Texas’s ability to cover uninsured kids and cripples any chance of reasonable expansion.¹

What can you do? Let’s face it; President Bush isn’t going to take your call.

On the other hand, when the governor of a state calls, even Bush will listen.

Call Governor Perry right now and demand that Texas stands up to President Bush’s anti-children campaign.

Governor Rick Perry
512 463-2000

Here’s what you can say:

“President Bush’s new rules which reduce the availability of the Children’s Health Insurance Program for uninsured kids must be repealed. Governor Perry must call President Bush today and demand a complete rollback of the new rules. Can I count on the governor to stand up for our kids?”

Please report how your call went here:
http://www.DemocracyforAmerica.com/chipcalls

This is a very important time. Congress is poised to send an extensive expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Plan to Bush’s desk next month, and Bush has already threatened to veto it. If we amp up the pressure now on a rules change they didn’t even think we’d notice, we send Bush and Republicans in Congress a clear message that the health of America’s children always comes first.

Please call the Governor right now. Your neighbor’s kid might be depending on it.

Charles Chamberlain

Political Director

¹: “Rules May Limit Health Program Aiding Children” NYTimes,8-21-2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/washington/21health.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

 

a home library full of books

I can not imagine going a whole year without reading a book. Can you? 25% of American adults did not read a single book last year! I hope that they at least read teen political blogs! Ye gads! AND, it turns out that liberals read a lot more than conservatives. That shouldn’t be a surprise! Two stories about this:

POLL: Liberals Read More Books Than Conservatives

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A new AP-Ipsos poll finds that liberals read more books than conservatives. Some highlights from the poll:

34 percent of conservatives have not read a book within the past year, compared with 22 percent of liberals and moderates.

– Among those who had read at least one book, conservatives “typically read eight” books in the past year. Liberals read nine, moderates five.

– “By slightly wider margins, Democrats tended to read more books than Republicans and independents. There were no differences by political party in the percentage of those who said they had not read at least one book.”

Pat Schroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, attempted to explain the results: “The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: ‘No, don’t raise my taxes, no new taxes. It’s pretty hard to write a book saying, ‘No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes’ on every page.”

Responding to the poll, White House spokesman Tony Fratto attacked liberals for being too “locquacious”:

Obfuscation usually requires a lot more words than if you simply focus on fundamental principles, so I’m not at all surprised by the loquaciousness of liberals.

A recent Pew Research Study survey also found that viewers of the conservative Fox News channel had the lowest knowledge of national and international affairs.

One in four read no books last year

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer

There it sits on your night stand, that book you’ve meant to read for who knows how long but haven’t yet cracked open. Tonight, as you feel its stare from beneath that teetering pile of magazines, know one thing — you are not alone.

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.

(more…)

When I was in elementary school, I went to a really old school. It was OK, but not new. A lot of neighborhoods in my town had newer schools and I always thought it would be cool to go to one. Mine was fine, but a new one looked like it would be cool. Everything pretty and clean. But I just saw this in the paper and I am glad I went where I did. NO WAY would I go to a school like this? What were they thinking when they decided to build it on the site of a chemical company? Who is checking that it is safe? Who is double-checking? And why didn’t they test the water before now? Is this going to be one of those places where half the kids have cancer in 10 years and then they still won’t shut it?

State says school is safe but needs tests before opening

School is planned to open on the site of a former chemical company

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

State officials say that an elementary school opening on the site of a former chemical company is safe but that the groundwater on the property needs to be tested before the school opens in the Leander district next year.

Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the tests are necessary to determine whether harmful vapors found at the 40-acre site had reached the water, 70 to 80 feet below.
The water would not pose a threat to people at the school if vapors are found, but it could affect karsts and creatures that live in the water, said Alan Batcheller, director of the commission’s remediation division.

He said the tests are an environmental issue, not a “health effects issue.”

“Based on everything we’ve looked at, and Leander ISD has collected a lot of information … there are no reasons to believe that the building cannot be converted to a school,” he said.

The commission has been reviewing the site for months and issued its final report to the district and a roomful of parents during a town hall meeting Monday night.

“They agree we may open the school and it’s a safe place for students and teachers,” district spokesman Bill Britcher said.

The findings came as a relief to most parents, some of whom raised concerns about harmful chemicals, such as mercury, found on the site.

“There really were no surprises,” said Kelli Merchant, the school’s Parent Teacher Association president. “I’m just ready to put this all to rest and move forward.”

Last month, the panel ranked the site a “moderate to high potential hazard.”

Until 2003, the chemical company Sasol North America Inc. operated a research and development facility on the site, using chemicals to produce products such as shampoos and soaps.

The commission recommended that the district build a well on the site to test the ground water and show whether the vapors are naturally occurring or man-made, Batcheller said.

The recommendations add to ones made by Weston Solutions, an environmental engineering firm hired by the district to test the site.

In May, the firm said the site was safe but recommended testing during the first year Grandview Hills Elementary is open.

The district will meet with the commission and Weston Solutions to determine the next step, Superintendent Tom Glenn said.


mmixon@statesman.com, 512- 246-0043

Here is a TV report on the same school.

 

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