Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav, including updates as of 8/31 1:50pm PT

I truly hope and pray that all folks in the mandatory evacuation areas heed all the warnings and leave. Please evacuate! This storm is 400 miles wide and is currently a Category 3 hurricane with winds gusting to 150 mph, so it is also affecting coastal areas adjacent to Louisiana, as well. Hurricane Gustav is gaining in both speed and pressure, with landfall now projected to be earlier than originally anticipated. Coastal Texas, as far west as Sabine Pass is being evacuated, as well as coastal Mississippi. Retired Lt. General Honore stated that 'landfall looks like it may be west of New Orleans, with that city hit by the most destructive east side of the storm. New Orleans is facing potentially more wind damage, rainfall, and flooding due to tidal and storm surge than during Katrina.'

Louisiana Governor Jindal has recommended Louisiana residents go to for accurate, updated information. Everything south of I-10 is subject to flooding. Storm surge is currently projected up to 12-16 feet in some areas. He has said not to take a chance riding out the storm; take the warnings seriously. Don't wait until tropical winds begin to hit your area, as that is too late. He strongly encourages you to 'pack up yourself and your family. and evacuate now! Go now! We can't be certain how the levees will hold, and the West levees weren't even tested during Katrina. If you live behind a levee, you should look at it as being there to protect your house, not your life. If it fails, you lose your home, but not your life.'

I say, better safe, than sorry (or injured or dead). Mayor Nagin said that 'if you live in or near a trailer, they are only rated to a maximum wind load of 35mph, so they can become projectiles flying around New Orleans. Post-storm, there may not be electricity, potable water, open grocery stores. There may be toxic floodwaters, downed powerlines and other extremely unsafe conditions. As for looters, they will be taken directly to Angola maximum security prison and put in with the general population of inmates who serve sentences of 50 years or more.'

The last train out of New Orleans will be at 5:30pm Central Time, due to the necessity of closing 3 sets of flood gates behind this last train, as it moves along its route. If you cannot take your pet with you, pets can be registered and left at the evacuation center at the same railroad station from which you can evacuate. Don't forget their prescription medications and instructions! They will be placed in crates and loaded onto air-conditioned trucks and taken out of harm's way.

FEMA's website is Evacuees can go there to register your current location on the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS), just as you did during Katrina: If you do not have internet access at some point, you can call 1-800-588-9822 to register, as well.

If you evacuate, the Red Cross lists important items not to forget to take with you, to which I've added a few things (because you have had time to prepare for this emergency):
Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.
Medical supplies - prescription medications, dentures and vitamins
Clothing and bedding - bring a change of clothes; a sleeping bag, blanket, or bedroll; and a pillow for each household member
Games/books/comfort items for children
Disaster supplies - including a flashlight, batteries, radio, first aid kit, bottled water, and some pre-packaged, non-perishable food such as granola bars or meals ready-to-eat (MRE)
Car keys and keys to your place of destination (friend's or relative's home)
Pets and any pet prescription medications, if at all possible
List of important phone numbers and addresses, including credit card and bank account information
Important papers such as passports and birth certificates

Those folks who would like to receive the new experimental podcast briefings or updates from the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center, please go to the following: They plan to issue the podcast every few hours upon landfall. To subscribe, go to
Those who would like to receive updates to their mobile phone should go to the following:
Text only:
Mobile/PDA's/SmartPhones/phones capable of receiving basic HTML:

If you are one of the people affected by Gustav, in addition to the FEMA site, you can let your loved ones know when you have reached a safe haven by registering yourself and family on the Red Cross Safe and Well website by going to and clicking on the Safe and Well link, then click List myself as safe and well," enter your pre-disaster address and information, and select one the standard messages appropriate to your situation. If you do not have internet access, or lose it during the storm, you can call the Red Cross to do the same at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767), and follow the prompts. If you have a family member in the affected area, you can go to their website and do a search by entering their name and pre-disaster address and phone number. If they have registered, you will be able to hear any messages they have left.

For the rest of us, yes many of us are lucky to be off work on Labor day. However, considering our fellow citizens are facing this major hurricane and the possible loss of their homes and possessions, for the second time, perhaps we can take some time out of our day to at least donate to the Red Cross or another appropriate disaster relief organization.

Good luck and my hopes and prayers are with all those affected and those who remain in harm's way to provide essential services!

My information has been compiled directly from the following sources: CNN Live Broadcast and the FEMA, Red Cross, and National Weather Service websites.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Women and Gender-Based Hate Crimes

Throughout history and into today’s world, women have been the victims of gender-based hate crimes, including dehumanization, devaluation and exploitation. These hate crimes have been tolerated and sometimes even encouraged. Women are still being trafficked, abused, raped, humiliated, mutilated, killed for honor, and murdered in record numbers. When someone is not treated equally, given the same human rights and level of self-determination as those in power, allowed the same standards of treatment and equal pay, they are a slave. When someone purposefully doesn’t pay a person anything or pays someone significantly less than what they are worth, they are still dealing in human exploitation and the slave trade. Women in the USA are currently paid at 80% of a man’s salary, up from 60% when I was a child, but still unequal. We are simply cheap, slave labor. Women and female children are still prevented from becoming educated in many parts of the world. Male embryos are pre-selected over female embryos, creating a form of technological female genocide.

When all of these things affect over half of the world’s current and historical population, it is the largest brain-drain in human history and has caused a huge imbalance in the world. This is evidenced in the imbalance in gender ratios in youth in China, creating the current crisis of a lack of potential wives (and mothers of the next generation) for the, now older, pre-selected male embryos. I’m curious as to how China is going to handle the potential increase in violence due to male-male dominance hierarchy when these men compete for a smaller population of potential female mates. As for this hierarchy that still dominates the world, it has brought an unnatural imbalance of power and a concomitant increase in violence and bullying to extreme levels when encountered on a global scale. We have now had more loss of life from wars in the past hundred-or-so years than in the balance of all of recorded history.

So here we still are. Women have been slaves for thousands of years. We still do not have the same freedoms and right of self-determination as do men. We are still expected to work for less, to be quiet, to be uneducated, to stand aside, and/or be veiled and hidden. There are, of course, always those bright and shining exceptions that the people in power will hold up as examples of women’s equality, but these success stories are still in the minority. It is like when people in the 30's, 40's and 50’s would hold up Lena Horn as an example of a successful African-American performer. Yet her contracts benefited others more than herself, and she often wasn’t allowed to stay at, or even walk through the front doors of the hotels or venues in which she headlined. Many women in traditional male roles of power today have less power than they would if they were a man. They are still treated and spoken of differently, and held to a higher standard than they would if they were a man. In the United States of America, we have still never had a woman president or vice president. It has taken over 225 years for a woman to be able to even run for the office of president. I wonder if Senator Hillary Clinton thinks she was treated fairly and equitably, compared to her male running-mates, while campaigning for president.

I was recently appalled to read, in an August 11, 2008 online article on MSNBC, that the increase in the reporting of rape in Afghanistan has also led men like Ali Khan to say that women are being raped more frequently now because they are essentially exposing themselves to more violence. “These days all these young girls are going to school, and coming out of their houses. These criminals chase after them,” he said. “When these criminals come, they commit rape as well.” Khan’s 12-year-old niece was brutally gang-raped by men who invaded her family home, and beat her mother and father. Her father is still in the hospital two months after the savage attacks. Khan is using illogical circular logic to keep women home and “protected.” His niece wasn’t raped because she left her home and went outside; she was raped because rape and violence against women has been tolerated in her country and the attackers left to continue their reign of terror and rape without impunity. She was raped when her attackers broke into the very home in which her uncle and those in power wish her to remain. Here we go again, blaming the victims! Some of the men involved have been identified by their victims, yet have been allowed to freely roam their country without ever being charged, committing additional crimes of violence, including rape. They are being protected by fellow citizens, police, government officials, warlords, religious leaders, and their powerful families. Their victims are in hiding, afraid for their lives, attempting to escape retribution from their attackers because they "talked." Here we see the perfect example of tolerance, and almost the encouragement, of gender-based hate crimes.

I have a great respect for different religions and cultures; however, when these are used to justify human rights abuses and slavery, I believe the secular and religious leaders, the men holding the reins of power, also abuse the beauty of their religion and culture to maintain their positions in society at any cost. They will do anything to keep women controlled and in the home, and to maintain the status quo. I personally believe there is nothing wrong with a woman choosing to stay home of her own free will, when she has all the same freedoms, political power and right to self-determination as a man, and is not being pressured by religious and cultural norms. Please don’t get sidetracked by a discussion on the family and women’s roles in the family, the breakdown of family values because of feminism, and that women who are out in the workforce have irreparably damaged the family core. Again, that would be blaming the victims, as well as oversimplifying a discussion that would also need to include such topics as economics. A fair and legitimate debate can only occur when both genders approach the forum wielding both equal rights and power.

Unfortunately, after thousands of years, the traditional and modern value system in the human hierarchy remains, from top to bottom, adult males, male children, adult females, female children. How and when will this imbalance of the genders finally be erased? Unfortunately, I believe that the only permanent way to change the system is from within the male gender. Which male leaders and role models will have the courage to stand up and say that this is unconscionable and will no longer be tolerated? Maybe the time will come when the testosterone-driven male-male hierarchy will be overshadowed by enlightened men who use their incredible powers of self-control, humanity, and intelligence to help women rise up and share equally in their power and human rights. Only then, will a true balance and partnership between both genders change the world, hopefully into a safer, more peaceful place upon which all people can live and thrive, without gender-based hate crimes.

Please check out Amnesty International's website:
and the United Nations website:

ADDENDUM 1/22/09
I just read an excerpt from The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women (Peace; 2006), by Diana Washington Valdez, Prologue and Chapter 32. This is something all people, but especially women, should read and consider:

This article by the Global Fund for Women, states that, in the past 10 years of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo...
4 million people have died because of war and starvation
1/2 million women have been raped and tortured
Approximately 3 million people are displaced

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nevada is Not Your Dump Site

Since it's psychologically easier to dump on someone you don't know, please let me endeavor to introduce you to my state, help you really get to know it, and then convince you why transporting and storing nuclear waste here is a bad idea. Nevada, with the first /a/ being correctly pronounced as a short /a/, means snow-covered in Spanish. The State of Nevada is highly populated, has greatly influenced the history and development of the United States, and continues to contribute to our country's growth, defense and position in the world.

Although we are known for our gaming industry, Nevada is also a mining, cattle ranching, tourist industry, and agricultural state. We have the largest concentration in the United States of one of the most iconic symbols of the American West: wild horses. The University of Nevada, Reno campus was built using plans designed by Thomas Jefferson. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has a world-class culinary and hospitality program. Great Basin National Park includes 13,063-foot Wheeler peak, 5,000 year-old bristlecone pines, and Lehman Caves, which contains over 300 rare shield formations. We are home to Nellis Air Force Base and the Thunderbirds, Fallon NAS, Tonopah AFS, and Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field. Nevada is also home to approximately 238,128 military veterans (2000). Area 51 is purported to be in our state. If you'd like to experience flight without actually parachuting out of a plane, Las Vegas' Flyaway Indoor Skydiving is America's first vertical wind tunnel, voted number 10 in National Geographic Adventure Magazine's Top Ten Sky-High Adventures.

Although we are nicknamed the Silver State, Nevada is the true Golden State. We are the third largest producer of gold in the world behind the continents of Australia and Africa, and are also second in US silver production after the state of Alaska. The Comstock Lode, made public in 1859, forever altered the population distribution of our country through multiple mass migrations when people rushed West to mine gold and silver. When we became the 36th state during the Civil War, the Battle-Born State, it was our silver and gold that both helped pay and pave the way for the war to be won by the abolitionist North. Our gold, silver and copper ore also helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution.

Nevada is the most mountainous state in the United States of America, containing over 300 individual mountain ranges. Hikers, scramblers, skiiers, and climbers flock to our mountains. We are a world-class destination for mountain climbers with one of the top 5.9 routes anywhere in the world: Epinephrine in Black Velvet Canyon, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, near Las Vegas. In addition, Nevada happens to have 43 named summits over 11,000 feet. Some of our ski resorts receive more than 33 feet of snow a year.

The downside of our basin and range topography is that Nevada is also the fourth most geologically active state, meaning we have earthquakes. Remember that we are also next to California, the second-most geologically active state, and damage from earthquakes centered there can reach out and touch Nevada. Earthquakes don't respect borders. 3.7% of the 778 earthquakes in Nevada between 1973 and 2004 registered 3.5 or higher on the Richter scale. 23.2% of the 4896 earthquakes in California in the same time period were 3.5 or higher (USGS). The proposed Federal Nuclear Waste Depository is sited on a fault at the Yucca Mountain Repository approximately 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. North Las Vegas, Henderson and Las Vegas, all part of the Greater Las Vegas Area have been some of the fastest growing cities in the United States for the past ten years. When you take all of this into account, and that it's quite possible that the containment technology is inadequate and will not last as long as our government misstates, oops, I mean claims, this is a problem. I haven't even discussed infiltration of groundwater, the truth and accuracy of government reports, or the potentially negative environmental and cultural impacts.

Transportation security is transparent, and therefore penetrable by terrorists and other interested parties. If you don't believe me, check out the security of our country's chemical sites as an example of how ineffectively our government regulates and enforces chemical plant security in our post-9/11 world. As ineffective as they've been here, how well do you think they'd perform in regards to nuclear waste security?

Now, imagine high-level radioactive nuclear waste driven, transported by train, or floated on barges, as it moves through 45 states and the District of Columbia, past your door, your neighborhood, or your city to get here. It will be transported over a weakened infrastructure of bridges (remember the Minneapolis bridge collapse?), roads (need I say more), waterways (anyone for clean water and fishing?), and railway tracks (how many derailings?). At this point, I would also like to remind you of the renegade railroad car that went rolling unsecured and out-of-control on railroad tracks through part of highly populated Clark County, NV (1,777,539 est., US Census, 2006) . The Greater Las Vegas area in Clark County, receives approximately 33 million visitors a year (tourists and convention attendees) or an average of 90,412 per day, with many more people transiting between flights at McCarran International Airport, 14th in the world for passenger traffic in 2007. In fact, during each month, May and June, 2008, McCarran hosted approximately 4 million passengers. Have you ever been here, traveled through or over Southern Nevada? You could be affected, too.

Would you entrust your safety to government assurances? Do you remember Hurricane Katrina and the broken levies? FEMA's response? Also, please don't try to use the unpopulated desert wasteland excuse. As of July 1, 2007, Nevada ranks 35th, not 50th, in population (2,565,382 est., US Census, 2007) followed by such states as New Mexico, Maine, Montana, Hawaii, Idaho, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont. Maybe we should store nuclear waste in the state or district with the lowest population! And the winner is...the District of Columbia! I'm sure our leaders wouldn't mind, as it would affect the least amount of people! Although Nevada's State Motto is "All for our country," this is one time I believe we should not "take one for the gipper." Personally, I don't think we should even be creating nuclear waste, never mind transporting it all across the country through millions of people's neighborhoods, and finally being so rude as to permanently park it in someone else's backyard. But, then, that's another discussion on clean, safe, and sustainable energy sources. Later!

Russia’s Invasion of Georgia, Oil and the Effects of Panic on the Environment

The Russians have invaded Georgia, again. When is the UN going to effectively sanction countries, including our own, for illegally invading other countries? The Russians waited for world attention to focus on the coming Olympics to add yet another invasion notch to their Soviet/Russian belt of aggressive oppression: Georgia (the first time) - 1921, Finland and Poland - 1939, Hungary - 1956, Czechoslovakia - 1968, Afghanistan - 1979, Georgia (for the second time) - 2008, who's next??? Are they trying to reconstitute the Soviet Union or is this strictly to gain possession of Georgia's oil pipeline and wield greater international power? Considering Russia's considerable natural resources, including huge quantites of oil, is the USA going to politically and economically sanction, boycott, or ignore this invasion? Since Bush has not developed any real diplomatic relationship (neither Bush's strength nor focus) with Putin, US-Russian diplomatic talks are unlikely to have any impact on this indefensible invasion.

The widespread panic over skyrocketing oil prices in the USA is creating a panic-driven shift in public opinion on the questions of nuclear energy, offshore drilling, and drilling in ANWR. Speculators, investors, oil companies, and oil lobbyists are all profiting from these high prices. When people panic, reason and forethought often go out the window. They readily believe, without question, the disinformation from product defense ads and commericials. The panic over high prices has erased any semblence of hunkering down, thinking calmly, working together, demanding the use of existing viable alternatives, and protecting our environment for the future of our species.

There have been superlative reasons not to pursue our investment in nuclear power - security, safety, public health, and waste disposal and storage. These have not changed! One nuclear accident will spill over to irradiate millions of people, plants and animals (remember Chernobyl?), and render the affected land sterile and uninhabitable for thousands of years.

The original reasons for prohibiting offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR have also not changed. Think about the security of our food supply, namely fish, crustaceans and seaweed, and put this in the same thoughts as offshore drilling and accidents (Exxon Valdez, anyone?). Obviously, they are not compatible. Drilling in ANWR will also not magically solve the oil crisis, but it will forever change an untouched wilderness. Experts state the oil will not reach the market for approximately 10 years. This, obviously, will not help us now. Also, let's not forget that we have our own untapped strategic reserves. Think about why we're not tapping what is readily available, yet are being directed to open up yet more avenues to profit for Big Oil!

I believe that our government leaders, lobbyists, and the automotive, oil and chemical industries have purposefully and successfully conspired to block or remove any shift to sustainable energy alternatives. The electric car (which was purposefully pulled from the market), solar and wind power have been around for years and could have been subsidized and developed for a safe, clean, sustainable, secure energy supply. Instead, oil companies have been given millions of dollars in subsidies by our government leaders (many of whom have been suspected and/or convicted of bribery and corruption, go figure. Also, how coincidental is it that gas prices have dropped just in time for Congress to go on vacation?). It is only now, with the full weight of public pressure and scrutiny that Big Oil has embarked upon a campaign of, oh, what a shock, disinformation and self-published positive publicity about all they do for us. Hopefully very few naive citizens buy it, though.

Yes, I am a treehugger. I believe that when you damage the earth and its plants and animals, you also ultimately hurt the human species. Let's not allow the powers that be trick us into panic-driven, short-term decisions influenced by disinformation and red herrings that take our collective eyes off the ball of our future, only to continue to enrich their already overflowing coffers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Should We Re-elect Our Leaders?

I have already informed my Representatives and Senators that I may not be voting for them in the next election. When "our" representatives purposefully voted to remove our constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms, they chose to no longer represent the people of this country; neither did they protect and defend the Constitution, which they swore to uphold when elected. I believe that We the People need to "clean house;" demand free, clean and fair elections with a real paper trail; outlaw lobbyists; and only allow publicly financed campaigns with reasonable spending limits. Part of cleaning house must include putting an end to the cross pollenization between corporations and our government, especially in the area of shared jobs. Corporate entities flagrantly go back and forth between high-level corporate and government jobs (both appointed and elected), in order to unduly influence and craft policies, reports and laws to advance their corporate interests. Their ethics have consistently been left unquestioned and unchallenged, and there has been little recusal. As a result, we now have a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. As for our no-longer-free press, resume your role as the Fourth Estate, corporate policy and advertising dollars be darned. Each and every one of us must stand up and demand change or this will continue! Whatever you believe, please do question everything, and absolutely do get out and vote!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In Memory of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: 11 December 1918 - 3 August 2008

I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn a long time ago, in high school. The world has lost a great man and writer who so compellingly documented life under tyranny.

Memorable Quotes:

A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.

Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.

It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones.

Man has set for himself the goal of conquering the world but in the processes loses his soul.

In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.

The whole raison d'etre of serfdom and the Archipelago is one and the same: these are the social structures for the ruthless enforced utilisation of the free-of-cost work of millions of slaves.

Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory.

You can have power over people as long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power.

The next war... may well bury Western civilization forever.