Friday, June 30, 2006

The Science Is Clear: No Smoking

Surgeon General Warns of Secondhand Smoke
Published: June 27, 2006

Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona declared today that the evidence is now "indisputable" that secondhand smoke is an "alarming" public health hazard, and warned that measures like no-smoking sections don't provide adequate protection.

"Smoke-free environments are the only approach that protects nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke," he said.

Dr. Carmona did not call for a federal ban on smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants, as a growing number of cities and states have done. He said he saw his role as providing the American people and Congress with definitive information on the subject.

"We hope that they will make the right decision on behalf of their constituents," Dr. Carmona said.

Smoking bans have often been bitterly resisted by business owners worried about losing customers and by groups skeptical about the dangers posed by secondhand smoke. But Dr. Carmona today said that "overwhelming" evidence showed that secondhand smoke is responsible for "tens of thousands" of premature deaths from heart disease and cancer among nonsmokers each year.

"I am here to say the debate is over: the science is clear," Dr. Carmona said at a televised news conference this morning, at which he released a report updating the original surgeon general's study of secondhand smoke in 1986.

If only the EPA Chief was as definitive and observant as this.

Full article

Monday, June 12, 2006

John Bonifaz for Secretary of State

There has been a lot of commotion in Massachusetts with the upcoming November election. That is because there are three very important seats being contested: Governor, Lt. Governor, and Secretary of State. I have taken a particular interest in the Secretary of State election, because we are fortunate enough to have a national icon for voting rights running for office.

That candidate is John Bonifaz

Here is what people are saying about John:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., did the nation a huge public service yesterday by elevating the 2004 stolen election controversy to a higher plateau, in this Rolling Stone article.

And that's why the Democratic Party in Massachusetts needs to put John Bonifaz on the ballot this weekend. We need John Bonifaz, a bona fide voting rights champion, contesting a primary race for Secretary of State that is about our fundamental right to vote.
John Bonifaz was there before I was, before almost anyone else from outside Ohio was...John led the court recount fight to count every ballot in Ohio, on behalf of the David Cobb & the Green Party and Michael Badnarik & the Libertarian Party.
John was not a Secretary of State then. He was no office-holder or campaign official. He went to Ohio on his own because it was the right thing for a public service lawyer to do.

Just like he did when he stood up to the Bush/Cheney war machine, and on behalf of John Conyers & Dennis Kucinich and 10 other progressive House members, filed suit to stop the Iraq War before it started. John argued this antiwar case in court, on the true grounds that to go to war against Iraq in the winter of 2003 would be unconstitutional--because the President could not go to war himself, without an official declaration of war from the Congress.

He lost, of course. The judge followed the time-honored precedent of refusing to follow the U.S. Constitution when a President wants to go to war. But John was right, and it was the right thing to do.

Full article

But John Bonifaz is also not your typical liberal candidate. He is one of the nation's leading experts on voting rights. Further provisions in his Bill of Rights reflect that background. They include:

--election day registration;
--early voting;
--ensured absentee voting;
--publicly financed elections and campaign spending limits;
--instant run-off voting;
--cross endorsement voting (fusion voting);
--proportional representation;
--redistricting reform;
--eliminating language barriers;
--non-partisan election administration;
--and support for congressional re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and for a constitutional amendment that affirmatively guarantees the right to vote.

Are you getting the picture? Electing Bonifaz Secretary of State would mean putting in office someone who actually cares deeply and passionately about the right to vote and who knows more about protecting that right than does almost anyone else alive.

Full article

And on his website, I found a post by a Massachusetts resident about why they want John to be the next Secretary of State:

The foundation of our democracy begins with our right to vote. As our democracy has evolved, so must the process of voting. IRV, Fusion Voting, paper trails, technological transparency and constitutional assurances of equality and availability are reforms that we need to bring to the commonwealth. John Bonifaz is uniquely qualified and has shown the integrity to get the job done. Please help support his campaign for Secretary of State and bring this discussion to the forefront of our society.

My support for John has followed a gradual evolution. After hearing him speak on C-Span at the downing street memo forum in Washington, I came out to hear him again in Boston at a downing street memo forum with Gloria Fox and Barney Frank. I learned about how John challenged Blackwell in Ohio for the 2004 recount, and when he sued Bush for not having the constitutional authority to go to war in Iraq. The evening before he delcared his candidacy in this race, he came to a meeting of the Progressive Democrats of Jamaica Plain, and I was hooked. It was great talking with John, and I knew then I wanted him to win. I am a believer.

Becoming the signature gathering coordinator for Somerville and volunteering at the recent state convention only reaffirmed to me that I was doing the right thing, and seeing the 30% delegate vote, tells me there’s a good chance John will be the next Secretary of State for Massachusetts.

Your donation right now helps us all reach this goal and bring about real progressive voting reform to our great state.

Skinny Cats for John Bonifaz

Please consider making a donation to the campaign with the link above and get John that much closer to leading the nation on voting reforms. If you care about Ohio 2004, if you care about Florida 2000, you already know what to do.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Myspace and Mygovernment

"I AM continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves." So says Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, a Silicon Valley-based maker of encryption software. He is far from alone in noticing that fast-growing social networking websites such as MySpace and Friendster are a snoop's dream.

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

Full article

Government spying - which we already knew about - continually
reaffirming my boycott of social network websites and specifically

Thursday, June 01, 2006

An Inconvenient Opening

This is a shout to encourage you all to go see An Inconvenient Truth, which opens this weekend around the country. Check the website for theaters and get a move on.

Also you can get the book