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April, 2007



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Letters by readers
We'll Testify If We Can Lie

Bush says his people can testify to Congress as long as they don't have to swear they are telling the truth, and as long as it's in private, and there are no transcripts or recordings of the testimony. In other words, as long as they are in an environment where they can lie. Makes you wonder what people would have said if Clinton has tried that.
Marc Perkel
San Bruno, CA.
Side note: If global warming causes the North Pole to melt into a sea, what's going to happen to Santa? Will this be the end of Christmas? Think about it!

Urge Congress to Decriminalize Marijuana!

Thirty-five years ago today, a Congressionally mandated commission on US drug policy did something extraordinary: they told the truth about marijuana.

On March 22, 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana (sic) and Drug Abuse - chaired by former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer - recommended Congress amend federal law so that the use and possession of pot would no longer be a criminal offense.

The Commission concluded: "[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. ... It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance."

The Commission recommended, for the first time, that Congress enact a national policy of marijuana 'decriminalization,' whereby the possession of cannabis for personal use as well as the casual distribution of small amounts of marijuana for little-or-no remuneration would no longer be a criminal offense.

Then-President Richard Nixon, predictably, ignored the National Commission's recommendations. However, NORML took the Commission's report to the legislatures of nearly a dozen states -- advocating that they enact the Marihuana Commission's recommendations.

Thanks in large part to NORML's effort, more than 30 percent of the U.S. population now lives under some form of marijuana decriminalization, and according to government and academic studies, these laws have not contributed to an increase in marijuana consumption or negatively impacted adolescent attitudes toward drug use. Nevertheless, Congress has refused for more than 35 years to have any serious legislative discussions on the topic of decriminalization. This attitude must change.

The Truth Has No Expiration Date
With the Democrat takeover in Congress, NORML believes that the federal government is primed, for the first time in over a decade, to hold legislative hearings on the subject of decriminalizing marijuana. NORML is working closely with Democratic leadership on this issue, and expects to see federal legislation introduced later this year to remove criminal penalties on the possession and use of cannabis by adults. However, in order to gather needed bi-partisan support for this effort, Congress needs to hear from you - articulately and often.

Please take a moment today, on the 35-year anniversary of the Marihuana Commission's recommendations, to contact your federally elected representatives and tell them to amend federal law so that the adult possession and use of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense.

Consider this: Since the Marihuana Commission issued its recommendations 35 years ago -

Approximately 16.5 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana violations - more than eighty percent of them on minor possession charges;

US taxpayers have spent well over $20 billion dollars enforcing criminal marijuana laws, yet marijuana availability and use among the public remains virtually unchanged;

Nearly one-quarter of a million Americans have been denied federal financial aid for secondary education because of anti-drug provisions to the Higher Education Act. Most of these applicants were convicted of minor marijuana possession offenses.

Today, one in every eight inmates incarcerated for drug crimes is behind bars for pot, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1 billion per year.

Tell Congress that the Marihuana Commission's recommendation to cease arresting minor marijuana offenders was the right thing to do then and is the right thing to do now. For your convenience, NORML has drafted a pre-written letter that will be automatically mailed to your Senator and House members here:

Paul Armentano
Senior Policy Analyst
NORML Foundation
Washington DC,

Global Warming or Global Hoax?
Less than a decade ago, we were being deluged with unending reports on the coming horror that would be created by Y2K. Billions of dollars were spent to correct an imaginary problem. Then on that long predicted moment when January 1, 2000, came and passed, nothing happened! The fact was very simple - unless a computer had been programmed to cut off when its calendar turned over "00," nothing was going to happen. A computer is only a machine and doesn't in itself know the difference between two zeroes and two of any other number. Some would argue that nothing happened because of all the money spent to prevent anything from happening. But, the companies that did nothing came out as good as those who spent millions. It was all a farce!

Then there was the hysteria about El Nio. Now, El Nio was real, but it was nothing new. It has existed as a weather cycle as long as weather has been recorded.

Now we have a new crisis - man-made global warming. If a scientist dares to question this theory of man-made CO2 causing a coming world disaster, that scientist is accused of being on the payroll of the big energy companies or of just being incompetent. No dissention is allowed in the discussing. Open scientific dialog is forbidden.

Any time political correctness demands that open discussion from both sides cannot be part of a discussion, true science goes out the window.

But, some scientists have put their reputations on the line to do the unspeakable. They are challenging the global warming theory. In a 75 minute documentary, which can be viewed at, these scientists clearly show that the scientific evidence doesn't fit the theory. These researchers say without hesitation that the sun causes global warming cycles. But, there is money involved in being on the global warming bandwagon. So, scientists who want their projects financed, must go with the cash flow.

Now, it doesn't take a scientist to see good reason to question the global warming theory. Science has taught us that, thousands of years ago, there was an ice age. If that is correct, then this old world has been warming up for a long time. And, we should be glad it did or we would all be Eskimos. By the way, there was no man-made CO2 around way back then to cause all that melting of the ice.

I for one want to go on record as having my own theory about the cause of global warming. My theory will cause me to be labeled a heretic by the politically correct high priests. And, I do hope that the big energy companies will put me on the payroll so I can afford their products.

My theory is this: Global warming is caused by political rhetoric.

Steve Casey
P. O. Box 487
Stonewall, LA 71078

Aerial Pesticide Spraying: The Outrage Continues

Again this year ranchers and farmers in northwest Marin are aerial spraying toxic pesticides to "control" thistles-2,4D, other phenoxy herbicides and Transline are being sprayed.

Helicopters were sighted in early February near Tomales. The general public is not allowed any advance notification of when and where the helicopters will spray. The County Dept. of Agriculture, which issues permits, said that there might be spraying in February and March.

Last year, a Tomales resident bicycling on Fallon Road was sprayed by helicopter with the restricted herbicide 2,4D, and had illness symptoms. Her clothes have tested positive for the toxin. However, it's a year later and the administrative judge has not resolved the case, according to the Agriculture Dept.

There is also ground spraying of these and other pesticides during most of the months of the year from the northwest county corner through farm areas near Marshall and Point Reyes Station, and in Nicasio and Olema.

Aerial applications have increased in number and area every year from 2002 on, according to Ag Dept records.

Transline (clopyralid) caused what an EPA reviewer called "substantial" reproductive problems. It is persistent in soil, measured for as long as 14 months. 2,4D herbicide residues may be detected in still water after 6 months. Nervous system damage from 2,4D absorbed through the skin causes damage that may be irreversible. Long term exposure has been reported to cause liver, kidney, digestive, muscle, nervous system damage. 2,4D has reproductive and endocrine disruptive effects and is linked with cancer. These toxins poison our soil, plant and wildlife as well as ourselves.

Change depends on us. Thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated people, the Marin Agriculture Dept. has just mandated tougher requirements for permit use for the most toxic herbicides. Help is needed in monitoring whether the tougher requirements lead to less toxic spraying. (Contact Moreva Selchie, 669-1317; [email protected])

To express your opinions to the Agriculture Dept, call 499-6700. Contacting Supervisor Steve Kinsey helps, too.

Moreva Selchie, Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell


Problems With Local Transit
Since expanding the number of local, WITHIN Marin County bus routes last September, routes that are the responsibility of the Marin County Transit District, the service on the Route 23 from Fairfax Manor to and from the San Rafael Transit Center, and the Route 22 from the SR Transit Ctr to and from the Sausalito Ferry has suffered greatly.

Its ontime record is poor, causing missed connections, drivers are often surly when asked why they are late, and in the mean time passengers paying what HAS to be the highest local bus fare in the entire Bay Area of 2 dollars are left with a system that may lead them to being unemployable, or give them a proclivity toward crime in order to obtain a coveted automobile, or who knows what?? Me, I'm just more likely to stay home and live off my disability and let the "precious" American economy suffer because of loss of productivity I could provide.

Later suckers, enjoy your traffic jams and $4/gallon gas prices later this year.

Keith Bramstedt
1355 Drake Bvd
San Anselmo

Immigration Service Raids And The Patriotic Act

Regarding the ICE raids on illegal aliens, what part of the words "illegal" and "unconstitutional" do we, ourselves, not understand? There is nothing wrong with enforcing immigration laws, so long as such enforcement does not violate our rights to be secure in our persons, papers and effects.

It is not true that such rights belong only to citizens:

The 4th amendment says that "all persons" have a right to be secure in their persons. It did not say "all citizens." Yet the Patriot Act violates the 4th amendment, granting warrantless search and seizure powers to officials in the absence of evidence of wrongdoing which violates the requirement of "probable cause." Further, without warrant or evidence of wrong-doing, government secrecy is assured: Who is next in line to be dubbed "Terrorists?" Don't laugh: In actual fact, Greenpeace, the Quaker Peace Movement, and UC Berkeley students against the Iraq War have been dubbed "terrorists" by this Administration. According to the ACLU, more than 850 Guantanamo "terrorists" are proven innocent, yet continue to be tortured. Former FBI agent Mike German, now counsel to the ACLU, made a written statement that 143,000 National Security letters were issued between 2003 and 2005, 53% of which were issued to summon.... drum roll...American citizens.

Let's connect the dots: It is not only illegal aliens who are vulnerable to ICE "police" raids. It is you and I, folks, who are vulnerable. That is, until the Patriot Act is overturned.

Please contact your legislators and remind them that we PAY them to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution, not to violate it with their vote for the Patriot Act, twice (see Congressional voting score records to be sure it is your local legislator who violated in this way. Yes, Feinstein and Boxer both did vote for it, twice. Woolsey did not).

Working Assets Long Distance and Qwest have issued public, written pledges not to wiretap in the absence of court warrant, to the upholding of the 4th amendment: Support them with your dollars and you will be side-stepping the wiretapping program, which after all requires no evidence of wrong-doing for clamping down on who-knows-what. Like illegal aliens, and....activists.

Sophia Leicht

Garden Society Event Needs Support
April 28th and 29th 2007, from 10 am to 4 pm, the Garden Society of Marin will be holding their 61st annual Spring Plant Sale at the Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross, California. The sale will offer many California Native, drought and deer-resistant plants. A Donation $3.00 is requested. For more information or (415) 892-0594.

Bob Battersby

Stop Dump Expansion On Old Marshland
The Redwood Landfill, north of Novato, is a dump built on old marshland immediately adjacent to the largest tidal marsh in California. Waste Management, Inc. (WMI), wants to expand its operations significantly to enable it to build a garbage mountain 166 feet high to become a regional landfill that accepts up to 70% of its waste from outside Marin. Christopher Gilkerson and Bruce Baum of the Green Coalition will show the video "A Tale of Two Dumps" and answer questions at the monthly meeting of Democracy for America-Marin on Tuesday, April 3rd at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Center Community Room in Corte Madera. The public is urged to attend. For information, contact Carole Mills: (415) 246-5837 or [email protected]

Eileen Siedman
Mill Valley

Cars are MORE FUN Than Bicycles
Needless / groundless guilt about having more than other people - and spreading that guilt - does not work. It only makes people miserable and resentful - or appropriately angry.

Cars are more fun than bicycles and most everybody wants one.

The challenge is manufacturing, driving and recycling them in an environmentally sustainable way. see:

Unfortunately a more significant challenge for the majority of humanity is, first, getting together sufficient income to raise their children in material compassion, BEFORE PROCREATING. Thanks to the Catholic Church.

"tick tick tick"
Why am I expecting something unpleasant, now?

Steven Brooks
Mill Valley

When "Enuff" Is Not Enough
Nazi Germany's Propaganda Director Joseph Goebbels once opined that if you "tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth." I was reminded of this remarkable and likely perceptive observation, as I read this week's news reports of the catastrophic state of California's public school system. One of the most damming comments of this highly regarded report concluded that "...the system is 'broken,' crippled by complex bureaucracy, flawed teacher policies, and misspent school money, leaving it in need of sweeping reforms that could cost billions of dollars."

In spite of increased revenues from a booming 80's and 90's economy; rapidly increasing home prices; new school bond issues; and revenues from both the State lottery and legal settlements reached with the cigarette industry, more has never been enough. How could any educational system with such an embarrassment of riches, so spectacularly fail its students and parents?

In part, we have been propagandized by our State politicians and vested interests into believing that no voter with an ounce of humanity could vote "NO" on spending requests, if the monies are as they remind us "for the children." As a result, voters for decades have responded positively to the constant drumbeat for ever more expenditures for education.

The report also found that California's educational system is so fundamentally dysfunctional that "...spending additional funds without fundamentally reforming our education system would be a wasted effort." Yet, the hubris of both the State Government and the educational bureaucracy is simply breathtaking, as news for their request for even more money is reported on the very day that this report is issued.

The real tragedy is that there is utterly no evidence that our "leaders" will ever address the real underlying causes for the system's failure, because they have neither the initiative nor the courage to take on the vested interests and the politically correct dogma that censures anyone that speaks to critical factors that underlie this catastrophic failure: the cultural environment of the student, the absence of adequate parent involvement and supervision; and the lack of a meaningful merit based reward system for the teachers and administrators.

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that simply spending more money on education does not guarantee better results and smarter students. Some of the most highly funded school districts in the U.S. have produced some of the lowest test scores and basic student skills. Nothing of significance will be achieved here in California as well, until the above issues are effectively addressed and this new latest elephantine $17 billion "fix-it", will fail just as surely and as spectacularly as the others have.

When are we going to wake up? Our "leaders" are hoping that you will not, and that each one of you will continue to trust them, drink their "Kool-Aid", and endorse their double-speak and monotonous mantra that "it's for the children, "it's an investment in the future," and most importantly "trust them". This time they will tell us, the money will be spent is to fix the mess that they spent billions in creating. The same familiar rogues gallery of politicians and administrators who produced this disaster will now tell us to place our trust in trust them in correcting it. Are you going to continue to believe that?

Perhaps Mr. Goebbels didn't perish in the final days of WWII, but is alive and well and living in Sacramento.

Anthony Gaas
Mill Valley

What's Bad About Rodenticides And Hawks
A Red-shouldered Hawk came to WildCare on January 26, 2007, suffering from rodenticide poisoning. A visitor to Golden Gate Park had seen the bird eating a rat prior to its collapse.

Although severely debilitated and barely breathing upon intake, the hawk received nearly two months of rehabilitation at WildCare with medical treatments that included twice-daily injections of Vitamin K.

This hawk was released today, March 16, 2007 at her home in Golden Gate Park. The San Francisco Chronicle and several local television and radio stations were on hand to report on this event. Look for the story in the news tonight and in tomorrow's Chronicle.

This hawk's plight demonstrates the need for stricter regulation by the EPA of second generation rodenticides which kill thousands of hawks, eagles, falcons and other wildlife, not to mention domestic pets every year through secondary poisoning (eating a poisoned rodent).

The EPA is currently looking at a proposal to mitigate the risks of nine common rodenticides to protect children and wildlife from rodent poisons. Comments are due to the EPA by May 18, 2007. Please visit WildCare's website to learn more about how you can make your voice heard on this issue and on behalf of all wildlife and the environment we all share.

Karen Wilson
Executive Director
[email protected]
visit WildCare online at

Smithsonian Time Travel And Evolution
I'm looking at a book celebrating 150 years of the Smithsonian Institution; the first major picture is of fossil shark teeth 4.5 million years old. On the next page, a picture of a pterosaur (flying animal) which flourished between 150 and 70 million years ago. Next, pictures of spiders, flies and ants preserved in amber, about 23 million years old.

So why is it that millions of fundamentalists and evangelicals have been brainwashed into believing the earth is only four to six thousand years old? And the dirty little secret is: fundamentalist children are being programmed into thinking the same way.

* * *

Bush Compromise
Bush promises immigration compromise. Compromise with racists, bigots and right-wingers who are pushing the anti-immigrant debate? Can you negotiate with extremists?

* * *

With Bush... Let's Hope
Democracy consists in voting and in verifiable counting. Let's hope Congress gets it straight in '08.

The GOP is no longer mainstream but has become an enclave controlled by fundamentalists and evangelicals.

President Bush has not come clean with the American people for six years and the president is still trying to pull the wool over our eyes; Example: Increasing troop strength when 67 percent of voters are saying get out of Iraq.

The darling of the super patriot crowd, Dick Cheney, continues his career of blaming the anti-war movement for lowering troop morale. Recent surveys prove otherwise.

Why, when we have wars going on, huge deficits, and rising crime statistics, do Republicans keep spoon-feeding Americans non-issues like anti-abortion, same-sex marriage and anti-immigration hypocrisy?

Ron Lowe
Grass Valley

Try This Out
Let me introduce myself as a Bay Area hiker and writer. I used to write an outdoors column for the Pacific Sun here in Marin County. I've just self-published a book titled Secret Waterfalls of Marin which may interest your readers. If we ever get spring rains, check out the book for directions to 40 waterfalls and cascades hidden all over Marin. Log on to my website for chapter samples. Great reading and hiking to all! Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Best,

Michael McCarthy

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