hearts and minds

November 10, 2018

The Ultimate Universal Invasive Species is Bound for Planet “B”

[first posted on Groundhog Day, 2016; revised on Earth Day, 2018]

Human beings are now facing the greatest challenge that we have ever faced.  The incessant, increasing activity of modern times is rapidly depleting and despoiling existing ‘natural resources’, and destroying the ability of this beautiful planet to sustain life.  The never satiated enterprises and the profligate ways of what we call civilization are feverishly and rapidly reversing ancient processes, which transformed a bleak and barren planet into our verdant, multi-cellular-organism sustaining Earth. Global warming appears foremost in immediacy among those man-made process reversals, which threaten life itself.  Can we yet stop and reverse the rush to ruin?  We need to learn quickly what is keeping us from working together to protect the ability of this planet to continue to sustain life as we know it. (more…)

May 30, 2013

Does a Corporation Have Constitutional Rights? – A PA judge says “No!”

A Note of Respect and Gratitude to Debbie O’Dell Seneca, President Judge Emeritus of the Washington County, PA. Court of Common Pleas, for her Ruling in a Case involving Damages Suffered by Families due to “Fracking” (Extraction of Natural Gas) done by a Corporation:

Please accept my congratulations for your recent courageous ruling that a corporation does not possess Constitutional rights, and for asserting that, if corporations could claim Constitutional rights, then corporations would become a “… legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it”.

I share with many people a deep concern about the struggle that will define the 21st Century – Corporations v. Persons. I have studied and, from time to time, written about this struggle for more than a decade, and a little over two years ago I finally felt impelled to personally dig into the tap root of the problem and closely examine an underlying question: “What, specifically, is in the U.S. Constitution that would allow a Supreme Court Justice to conclude that a corporation legitimately possesses the rights that are defined there as being the rights of a person?” I found an answer that has been overlooked for too long, and to our peril.

February 25, 2011

Block the Koch Party Attack on the Working Class

Federal, state, and local government budgets, and the lives of working people, across America, are in deep trouble for three dominant reasons:
(1) Federal and state policies, including tax policies, during the last three-plus decades have redistributed a consistently and drastically increasing percentage of the income and the wealth of the nation to large corporations and the super-rich. The consistently increasing tax cuts lavished on corporations and the very wealthy over this period have been substantially financed from the Social Security Trust Fund.
(2) Deficit financing of the military-industrial complex, the escalating cost of empire, and the undeclared wars waged, and continuing occupations, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
(3) The national economic crisis (which immediately expanded worldwide, and trickled-down to state, local, and family budgets) that was caused by the largest fraud and larceny ever perpetrated in world history.

This worldwide economic crisis, with its massive, tragic consequences, was intentionally perpetrated by decision makers in huge, transnational financial and insurance and investment and accounting corporations. Neither the government that is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, nor either major party, has taken the necessary steps to:
(a) prevent such an outrageous fraud from happening again,
(b) prosecute the looters, and
(c) recover the loot.
Instead, we have been expected to collectively dig the very crooks (and only the crooks) out from under the collapsed consequences of the disaster they initiated.
We must defeat efforts to scapegoat any portion of the people and force them/us to pay even more for this continuing economic crisis.

April 12, 2010

Forests, Money, and Rights at Copenhagen Climate Talks

Filed under: Economics,Environment,Freedom and free trade — Hearts & Minds @ 12:00 pm

by Claire Vanderslice
President – League of Women Voters of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin

As part of the US League of Women Voters delegation to Copenhagen in December 2009, I investigated REDD; “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”, a mechanism originally conceived to reward “custodians” to keep the remaining tropical forests intact instead of cutting them down. Carbon dioxide is released when trees are cut and burned and the soil is exposed to oxidation. Living trees, on the other hand, convert CO2 to oxygen and sequestered carbon. So protecting forests reduces atmospheric greenhouse gases.

May 14, 2008

Stop-Loss needed for both Wetlands and for Wisconsin Farms

There is an unfortunate, unintended, inherent contradiction between two government agricultural policies, or their administration, in Wisconsin. This interaction acts to defeat the intention of both policies, and it fleeces the average taxpaying citizen in the process.

April 3, 2008

How Wisconsin Legislators Voted on Conservation Issues

44 bills introduced to the Wisconsin legislature during the last ( 2007-2008 ) legislative session were tracked by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters (LCV). Now that the legislature has adjourned until 2009 (long after the November general election will be over) what has been the fate of those bills?

March 16, 2008

Appalling Votes of Glenn Grothman

Filed under: Environment,Glenn Grothman,Politics & elections,Wisconsin legislature — Hearts & Minds @ 1:22 pm

See how Glenn Grothman, one of 33 Wisconsin State Senators, voted during the 2007-2008 legislative session. This is just a short page, a concise quick read, and packed with links to further information if and when you need it.

November 8, 2007

Welcome, Stranger, to New Grafton, Wisconsin

Filed under: Development,History,Race relations — Hearts & Minds @ 11:17 pm

There’s a wonderful, little heralded landmark in the rapidly changing surroundings of downtown Grafton, Wisconsin. (more…)

October 8, 2006

A Clear and Present Danger to the Alaska Peninsula

Filed under: Alaska,Metal sulfide mining — Hearts & Minds @ 12:23 pm

There’s an awful looming threat of a huge Metallic Sulfide Mining District proposed in the grand, wild, and immensely productive Alaska Peninsula. We can afford no delay in alerting people to the environmental dangers posed by SULFIDES, in the proposed Pebble mining project. Just the opening phase of the Pebble proposal would entail a sulfuric acid generating tailings pond the size of Manhattan Island, impounded by an earthen dam larger than the Three Gorges Dam being built in China.

I comment here about
(I.) sulfide mining chemistry,
(II.) the Wisconsin Metallic Sulfide Mining Moratorium, and
(III.) genetic engineering in sulfide mining.

I hope these brief notes contribute positively to community awareness.

September 8, 2006

Government of, by, and for the FAT CATS

F. James Sensenbrenner has been a professional politician since college. He’s been a state senator and our Representative from the 5th Congressional District since then. And he has accumulated a personal fortune of more than ten million dollars. He has very large holdings in drug and insurance companies, as well as in banks, military contractors, the oil industry, and media conglomerates. His largest holdings, not counting Kimberly-Clark, are in three giant pharmaceutical manufacturers.

August 6, 2006

Wisconsin Conservation Congress Advisory Question

(This Resolution regarding wetlands protection on farms appeared on the printed ballot at the 2006 statewide Wisconsin Conservation Congress meeting and was approved 3345 to 674. The article hyperlinked in the preceding sentence provides more information.)

Wetlands Protection on Wisconsin Farms

“When you’re up to your armpits in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came here to drain the swamp.” This familiar old aphorism is out of date. They’re not swamps anymore. They’re “wetlands”. And you ain’t s’posed to be draining ‘em, anyhow.

Cheney visits Chappaquiddick

No doubt you recall my old friend, Sid D. Complex, who’s visited with us before in this column, on rare occasions over the last four years. Well, he and I decided to take a final winter opportunity to do some small game hunting. My mouth has been watering thinking about hasenpfeffer, and Sid, as you know, has his own preferences, which don’t usually coincide with mine. But we are both keen on joining the many other carnivores in the predatory pursuit of rabbits. C’mon along, if you like, but keep your safety on when you’re busting brush, and mind where your muzzle is pointed.

Fixing the coop, or covering up the raids?

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute introduced its latest citizen survey with a big bang. Only 5% of Wisconsinites now believe that the ethics of our state legislators is better than in the past, while 42% believe that our state legislators ethics have gotten worse. Only 6% of Wisconsinites believe that elected officials represent the actual interests of their constituents, while 87% believe that elected state officials represent their OWN interests and/or what WPRI termed “special interests”. The percentages represented by 5 and 6 percent have never been so low, and the percentages represented by 42 and 87 percent have never been so high. The report concludes, “Unfortunately, Wisconsin citizens are clearly saying that they think lobbyists have much more influence than they (citizens) do, and that is negatively affecting the ethics in state government.”

Nonsense’n’nobrainer: Questions of Our Congressman

Congressman Sensenbrenner’s latest Annual Questionnaire has come again, prepared and mailed at taxpayer expense. It began with the assertion that “The 109th Congress is involved with many issues vital to you, your family and the nation.”


Domestic Feral Cat tracks a Red Herring

Filed under: Environment,Media criticism,Wisconsin Conservation Congress — Hearts & Minds @ 4:49 pm

The Conservation Congress feral cat resolution is getting miles of publicity and is unfairly billed by the media as a hunter versus animal rights controversy. C’mon. Do you actually believe there is a hunter out there who is planning a domestic cat hunt? Do you really think there are any animal rights advocates who are ignorant of the damage and depredations caused by careless, ignorant people who unleash domestic cats to reproduce and prey on threatened nesting native birds? If someone needs a conflict here to promote their career or agenda, it’s between wildlife biologists and cat fanciers.


Changing the Rules During the Game

Warmer winters with less snow, and wilder storms around the equinox; is this a clue to the future? The fields have been too soaked to work, and I was visiting your friend and mine, Sid D. Complex, for a change, and letting off some steam, as usual.

“Sid how much vacant land do you want around your home?” I asked.

“Much as I can get” said Sid, “as long as I don’t have to mow or weed it.”

“You like to see what’s called ‘rural ambiance’ while you’re driving around, don’t you Sid?”

The Appearance of A Rock

Filed under: Environment,Paddlesports,Recreation — Hearts & Minds @ 1:39 pm

We drifted around the corner into a quiet swamp, looking at and listening to this new neighborhood we were invading. My attention was drawn to a large wetted rock protruding slightly above the water’s surface. It didn’t quite fit with the surroundings. Everything else was water in near flood stage, the expansive swamp all around, and luxurious wetland vegetation. Not another inorganic solid was in sight.


Counting our Wintry Blessings

Filed under: Environment,Recreation — Hearts & Minds @ 1:02 pm

Winter in Wisconsin reminds me of springtime in coastal northern California. For example, have you ever heard or seen a thunder and lightning storm, or a tornado in either place in January or February? Not likely. And you can’t see the other side of Lake Michigan from the Wisconsin shore, any more than you can see the other side of the Pacific Ocean from the California shore, either. I rest my case. But instead of belaboring the obvious similarities, leave us explore a couple of the differences.


The 21st Century Bite of the Gold Bug

Filed under: Environment,Metal sulfide mining,Toxins — Hearts & Minds @ 11:07 am

There’s RAW GOLD in Wisconsin and you have a vested interest in it. You’re vested because it’s taxpayer’s money that has funded the research, the ‘pure’ science, the surveys and publications done through the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA, the U.S Navy, and the University of Wisconsin that has been given to (and used free of charge by) trans-national mining corporations in order to ‘discover’ and exploit the lodes of commercial minerals hidden within the earth’s crust. Gold is no longer discovered by a grizzled, tobacco chawing sourdough with mule, pick and pan. Now the mining moguls use you and me (through our tax supported institutions) to find the gold for them.

Environmentalists vs. Hunters?…Not Again!

Filed under: Environment,Hunting rights and history — Hearts & Minds @ 10:18 am

During the terrible warfare in Europe during WWII he was a combat infantryman in the 10th Mountain Division. Later, this soft-spoken and honest, gentle but tough veteran supported the movements to end Jim Crow racial injustice and stop the tragic, mistaken War in Vietnam. He is a lifelong union member who worked to drag unions out of their lethargy and reactionary racism and genuflecting before the icons of ‘free trade’ and jingoistic pseudo-patriotism. He is an environmentalist, a member of the Sierra Club and Common Cause, and introduced me to membership in those organizations. And my friend was a great hunter. He hunted, killed, butchered and ate fish, deer, elk, moose, pheasant, ducks and geese. He fished salmon on the open ocean from an outboard powered open skiff. Never using a tree stand, he stalked deer and elk and packed his kill, sometimes for miles. His family ate what he bagged and wasted nothing. He was not the sort of person who would pretend that because he didn’t personally kill a steer, haddock, pig or chicken, he bore no responsibility for its life and death.

Saving the Farm – With Use Value Assessment

Mathias and Anna Maria, born in the late 1700’s, and their son and his wife homesteaded their Cedarburg farm in 1848, and a farm it’s been ever since. They were my great, great, great grandparents, and we live in the log cabin hand built by them and cared for and modified by their descendants, right down to my parents who were able to retain the farm in family ownership.

Observing a Quiet, not quite Silent Spring

Filed under: Development,Environment,Toxins — Hearts & Minds @ 9:18 am

A pair of Great Horned Owls, two feet tall with a four and a half foot wingspan are rearing two fluffy fledglings in the vacant nest built last year by the high-soaring similar-sized Red Tail Hawks to raise their young. Earlier this spring the carcass of a Coopers Hawk was discovered in the old barn where it had evidently pursued a pigeon through the silo. The hawk perished when it was unable to find its way back to the sky.


August 5, 2006

Here’s looking at you, Congressman Jim

Representative Sensenbrenner’s annual questionnaire has again arrived in our mailboxes. There is not space for a proper critique, so I will make my limited case here by quoting just five “questions” he asks, and following each with a re-phrasing that allows for a wider response or focuses on the issue he hides.


Fair Game & Good Hunting

Filed under: Environment,Hunting rights and history,Recreation — Hearts & Minds @ 7:53 pm

The Hunter’s Moon is upon us, and the frost at dawn, the flying leaves and the migrating flocks call and resonate to the very marrow. People all over the world share a hunting tradition rooted way back. European migrants to Wisconsin during the 19th century were fleeing a deforested homeland ravaged by epidemics, torn and bloody from unending wars and from violent suppression of the common people by the aristocracy that kept them poor, uneducated, powerless and landless. In much of Europe you had to be a titled lord in order to own a gun and go hunting. Game was only for the ruling class.

Buy Back the Stolen Land

Filed under: Environment,Metal sulfide mining — Hearts & Minds @ 7:13 pm

The prospect of large scale metals mining still looms in Wisconsin because ore deposits are claimed by multinational corporations who would like to extract the profits. The mining industry touts jobs at the mines and local economic development. But mines represent boom for imported workers followed by bust for the local economy when closed. Sulfide ore bodies will inevitably produce large quantities of sulfuric acid when pulverized and exposed to water and air. The Wisconsin ore bodies are 70% sulfide, so the acid generation potential is as high or higher than anywhere in the world. Wisconsin has not yet experienced it, but everywhere massive sulfide ores have been mined and processed has suffered environmental damage from the acid, the dissolved heavy metals, and the processing chemicals, including sodium cyanide.


Hitch your Wagon to a Star

Filed under: Environment,Light pollution — Hearts & Minds @ 6:12 pm

A local amateur astronomy club last week unveiled its impressive homemade Panarusky telescope, weighing a ton and sporting a twenty inch primary light gathering mirror. This spring has been an especially good time for stargazing, with the once in a lifetime planetary show to which we’ve been treated. Folks in the city don’t get to enjoy the night sky. Too many concentrated artificial lumens block the splendor of those billions of twinkles from so far away.

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