The Pyrotechnic Pen
Provocative, insightful advocate for children, the elderly, animals, the environment and all who cannot speak for themselves; a must read for conservatives and liberals alike!
- Name: TAL
- Location: United States
Enjoy throwing kisses to the world, hugging trees, petting my dog, cuddling up with a good book to read, loving all of God's creatures great and small, writing poetry, the romance of fireflies dancing in the fields and forests, hiking, camping, fishing, sailing, scuba diving, waterfalls, the ocean, and the company of good people who are working to make the world a better place for the children of the future.
Friday, July 08, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Of course those closest to a nuclear accident are at greatest risk to be effected by the radioactive particulate matter released into the atmosphere. They may develop cancers over time, especially if they remain in a contaminated area which increases their overall exposure to radiation over time. Remember, this radioactive material does not go away; some forms, like cesium-137 with a half life of 30 years, or strontium-90, with a half life or 29 years, will remain hazardous in the environment for hundreds of years. So where the fallout is extreme it may turn certain areas into dead zones.
This occurred at Chernobyl in 1986 when a reactor used to make material for nuclear bombs melted down and having no containment vessel resulted in radioactive material being released into high into the atmosphere for a number of months. A death zone with a radius of 30 kilometers was declared around the plant; however, people living in the area have sense been exposed to radiation through contaminated soil, water, plants or animals. If a bird flies into the area, drinks water, then is later shot and killed by a hunter who feeds the bird to his children, then the children are contaminated, even though they may live no where near the death zone. So you see, the reality of the situation is often much worse than what those who operate nuclear plants would like the public to know.
In the case of the nuclear accident in Japan we have a complex of nuclear reactors being damaged, plus containment pools where spent fuel rods are stored have caught fire when water used to cool the pools was lost due to power failure. These fuel rods became very hot, the water in the containment pool evaporated, then the rods caught fire. Explosions resulted and radioactive material was released into the atmosphere. This includes iodine-131 and cesium-137 which have half-lives of 8 days and 30 years, respectively. That means the radioactive iodine may be hazardous for up to about 80 days, where is can cause thyroid cancer in children, especially if they consume dairy products from cows exposed to the radiation. However, the cesium-137 can rain to the earth and contaminate soil and water for up to 300 years! That means a death zone could be formed around the nuclear power plant for a radius of 10 to 20 kilometers or more, depending upon how much fallout there is. Prevailing winds may have carried much of the fallout over the ocean, which means it may rain down into the water. Sea water is very good at diluting such radioactive fallout; however, the radioactive particulate mater may still enter the food chain when fish and mollusk ingest the mutagen agents. That means that over time people may become exposed by eating contaminated food harvested from the sea. Although this may constitute a very small risk, if your child is the one that develops thyroid cancer or a worse malignancy, this represents a terrible tragedy to you and your family!
Note: I personally had a brother who was born in 1946 with mental retardation, during the years of above ground nuclear bomb testing. He developed thyroid cancer at the age of 43. This resulted in removal of his thyroid gland and the necessity to be upon medication for the rest of his life. Who is to say this his mental retardation and later cancer was not due to exposure to radioactive fallout from above ground testing of nuclear bombs during the 1940's, 50's and 60's? Of course my parents were both heavy smokers and carcinogens from tobacco products could have also caused my brother's mental retardation and cancer later in life. In any case, it is imperative that parents limit their exposure and exposure of their children to mutagen agents, be that from radiation or chemical substances.
How may the nuclear accident in Japan in the aftermath of the 8.9 earthquake and devastating tsunami effect America? It is very unlikely that any significantly high levels of radiation will reach the United States from Japan. However, any military personnel or American citizens in the area near the nuclear power plant which has released radiation into the atmosphere could experience increased levels of radiation and not be aware of it unless they are wearing a radiation sensor.
What people don't tell you is that this stuff is not going away any time soon, especially if significant amounts of cesium-137 or strontium-90 are released into the atmosphere. Even though particulate matter becomes extremely diluted in the atmosphere and will be spread far and wide around the world, each particle of radioactive material is capable of mutating genes in animals and plants. That means when these toxic agents rain out of the sky they contaminate the water, plants and animals and enter the food chain. The radioactive dust which falls into the ocean will contaminate fish and other marine life -- plus it may be concentrated in mollusks. Although diluted, still every particle will remain around for hundreds of years and over that time may act as a mutagen effecting every living organism it comes into contact with over a very long, long time. That is one reason that cancers have been on the increase since the dawn of the nuclear era -- what the governments do not want people to know is that this stuff sticks around and keeps effecting every living organism it comes in contact with for what amounts to many times our life times.
For example, lets say the radioactive plume of dust and debris which exploded and rose into the atmosphere high over Japan drifts out to sea. As the radioactive dust cloud disperses the level of radiation decreases, yet each and every particle of radioactive material remains and is able to cause mutations; i.e., cancer. If the radioactive dust falls into the ocean it may be ingested by fish ... say a school of mackerel. Those fish may be eaten by larger fish and before you know it these fish are harvested and end up on our dinner tables. Those tiny particles of radioactive material are still in the fish and will end up in whoever eats those fish. Perhaps birds will eat some of the fish. Maybe whales will eat some of them. But eventually people will be eating fish or other plants and animals which contain radioactive material that was released into the atmosphere by those power plants in Japan. Mollusks also may concentrate radioactive particular matter and when people eat these they may be contaminated. This is especially a concern in areas of the world where there is extreme poverty and fishermen harvest from the sea and do not check their harvest for contaminants, such as heavy metals or radioactive particular matter.
What is so terrible about exposure to radiation is that its effects may not be seen for years. It is all a matter of probability really, and how much radiation one is exposed to over time. But here is something they (parties which profit from marketing contaminated produce) often don't tell you: these probability factors are all based upon a mean value, and some people will be in the middle, some below the middle, and some above the middle. If you are one of the unlucky ones, you may be above the mean, which means you win! You get cancer at a younger age because somewhere along the line you ingested a tiny bit of particular matter which was radioactive. It could have come from Russia with love or from Japan with denial that there is anything at all to worry about, for what harm can come to America from a little bit of glowing dust?
In truth the radioactive dust does not glow; you can only see such scintillation if you mix the radioactive material with a phosphorescent agent like that which is on the inside or a TV tube or old-style computer monitor -- glow in the dark watch faces are made in this fashion and contain a trace amount of radioactive material. If you go into a totally dark room and let your eyes adjust to the dark, then examine the glowing area of a watch under a 10X magnifying glass, you can actually see the tiny flashes of light each time an atom is excited by impact with a particle of radiation. Unfortunately there is no way to see or sense each time our body is bombarded by radiation; generally what is referred to as background radiation in the environment is very low. But it can be higher if you live in a home where radon gas from the foundation of your house or concrete blocks or bricks seeps into the home and is concentrated. Radiation also comes from other devices found in the home like smoke alarms. Plus you are exposed to radiation every time you are X-rayed at a hospital or go through an X-ray machine at an airport. Unless you wear a radiation detector from birth to death you will never know exactly how much radiation you are exposed to during your life time. The point is, you want to keep your exposure to a minimum, because radiation causes mutation of genes, and that translates to cancer.
The increase in cancer with age is ultimately the result of exposure to mutagen agents including radioactive particulate matter in the environment. Every time there is a nuclear accident or disaster and radioactive material leaks or explodes into the atmosphere, the gross incidence of environmental mutation (GIEM) is increased. It is worse for babies and children as they will live the longest and hence have the greatest probability of being exposed to the higher dosages of radiation that are in the environment.
Remember, we are talking about radioactive material from a nuclear power plant, which is really terrible stuff that may have a half-life of 30 years and remain hazardous for as long as 300 years. If a tiny particle of this dust finds its way into the food chain and you eat it, your risk of cancer is increased. If a tiny particle of this dust finds its way into your lungs, your risk of cancer is increased -- even if you cannot detect the particle and even it it doesn't find its way into your lungs for another five, ten or fifteen years -- when it does, then your risk of getting cancer increases. This may only be a minute amount, but when coupled with all the other background radiation one is exposed to it still represents an increased amount. Then if you are one of the unfortunate ones who develops cancer from an "unknown cause" just remember, I told you so!
With this in mind you may ask yourself if nuclear power plants in the US are safe? If nothing else, the disaster in Japan should signal the alarm that some of our nuclear plants are outdated. Any nuclear power plant which is more than 50 years old needs to be shutdown and/or replaced. Any nuclear power plant which is 20 or more years old needs to be upgraded especially with respect to computer technology and robotics. In fact, with the advances in computer technology and robotics it should be possible to design a new class of fail safe nuclear power plant that could be serviced by robots even in the even of a nuclear accident.
Nuclear power plants do not last forever. They need to be regularly updated to reflect advances in technology and maintained to achieve a high degree of safety. In fact, Murphey's Law of Nuclear Accidents which says, "If anything can go wrong with a nuclear reactor it will go wrong sooner or later especially if not properly maintained, " is very much in effect for all nuclear power plants. The problem is, over time inflation increases the cost to build, service, upgrade and maintain nuclear power plants. So the tendency is to not allocate money to upgrade old nuclear power plants or to not build new nuclear power plants and phase out the old nuclear power plants. This means there may be nuclear accidents just waiting to happen wherever there is an old nuclear power plant that is still online.
To avoid the consequences of future nuclear power plant catastrophes one solution would be to drill fail safe holes beneath reactors such that in a disaster an explosive device could be detonated to demolish a reactor and drop the reactor deep into the earth that it might then be sealed with earth and concrete. Such technology if properly designed would even make it possible to replace a nuclear reactor that may have suffered a melt down and dumped into a deep fail safe hole in the earth. This is essentially how underground testing of nuclear bombs is done; a hole is drilled deep into the earth and a nuclear bomb is exploded; then the hole is covered up. Well, the same principle can be used to expose of a nuclear reactor if there is a melt down simply by drilling a deep hole beneath the reactor that it will fall into this fail safe hole if ever there is a melt down.
Of course building a new class of fail safe nuclear power plants like that I have described and replacing old nuclear power plants with new fail safe nuclear power plants, is an expensive proposition and can only be done over time. However, having a long term plan to upgrade nuclear power plants and make them almost disaster proof using fail safe drop holes would greatly reduce the risk of nuclear melt downs contaminating the environment in the future and would be worth the effort and expense as it would avoid the possibility of creating death zones should worse come to worse and everything go wrong as it has in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.
That said, the reality of the situation is that radiation from Japan is a real threat not only in Japan but to America and the rest of the world. The gross incidence of environmental mutation (GIEM) will go up in proportion to the amount of radioactive material released. The environment will be contaminated; animals and plants will be effected and the incidence of mutations; hence cancer, will go up over time. There will be more mutations seen in the environment, especially in areas close to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex In some places around the world there will be more frogs or toads with six toes or two heads. There may even be human babies with six toes also and perhaps even two heads. Then there will be more cases of people with cancer. No one will attribute these mutations to radiation released into the environment by man; why that might not be good PR for the power companies. But that's okay, of course, as long as it isn't you.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Recently (late Feb. 2011) four Christian missionaries who spent their life savings to buy Holy Bibles to give to poor people around the world were killed by Somali pirates. Then only four days later Somali pirates hijacked a Danish Yacht with 7 people, including 3 children. Also the AP recently reported that, "Somali pirates commandeered a Greek-owned cargo vessel with 23 crew members," citing the European Union Naval Force. It said, "The MV Dover was hijacked in the northern Arabian Sea, 260 miles northeast of the the Omani port of Salalah, during a planned voyage from Yemen to Pakistan.
Such acts of piracy should not be tolerated by the United States or its allies. We have the means to control the high seas and to end such acts of piracy by using whatever force is necessary. This should also include action to invade Somalia port cities and seize any vessels that have been previously hijacked, to return them to their rightful owners, and to destroy all compounds or property identified as that belonging to Somali hijackers.
This may seem like strong words, but such strong action is necessary if America and its allies are to retain any respect with regard to US Naval supremacy in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Plus, if we do not take strong action to end piracy by Somali pirates, the millions upon millions of dollars they continue to receive in ransom for people, cargo and vessels will just continue to fund future acts of piracy and international terrorism.
The high seas are not Afghanistan where terrorists can hide in caves up in remote mountainous areas and mingle with the local tribal population. There is no where for pirates to hide on the open sea; they are wide open and we have the military superiority to take them all out. What we lack is the will or the gumption. What are we afraid of and why do we allow such acts of piracy to continue?
Are we afraid of how the rest of the world will view us if we exert force to destroy Somali pirates? Are we afraid that destroying pirates will cause more unrest in the Mid-east? Well, I'm not sure those are valid reasons for permitting piracy by Somali pirates to continue. Inaction makes the US and our allies look weak and only prompts more acts of piracy. Thus more innocent people will be hurt or killed by the Somali pirates in the future.
I realize the Arabian Sea covers a vast territory. But it would be possible to easily secure the coast of Somali with a blockade and to invade Somalia and establish a free port and command base of operations that could be made secure if the US just had the will to take the necessary steps to secure the region from acts of future piracy. If properly done the security thus provided would greatly contribute to the stability of the region in the future. In fact, if we established a base upon the Horn of Africa it might greatly aid in securing peace in the region for the next hundred years or longer.
Historically acts of piracy upon the high seas are greatly condemned by the majority of nations in the free world. It should be easy for both the Republicans and the Democrats to agree upon a declaration of war against the Somali pirates and all who harbor them; plus this should be a declaration that Obama and his administration should support, given it would be designed to bring peace and security to the area which is now under the power and control of uncivilized Somali pirates. Plus I would imagine that the majority of our allies would support any action taken to secure the high seas against Somali pirates, especially those nations and large companies who have suffered losses to the Somali pirates in the past.
By having Congress make a Declaration of War against Somali pirates we would then be justified in taking whatever military action is required to resolve the situation and would be doing it openly and honestly, rather than as a police action or undeclared military action as has often been done in so many situations in the past. Plus, it would be very good to establish a naval and/or military base in Somalia to control the Gulf of Aden and entry into the Red Sea.
This said, those who might view such strong action as unwarranted should note that we the people of the United States have no ill will toward the majority of good people in Somalia ... it is only the pirates and those who harbor them that we should take up arms to defend the free world against. There are many good people in Somalia and those who are just struggling to survive we may embrace with aid; but those who turn to piracy we should annihilate and destroy, especially when they pose a threat to the free and loving souls of the world who are only trying to make it a better place by worshiping a God of love.
Yes, I realize that it may sound contradictory to be recommending war against the Somali pirates in one breath and then preaching about a God of love in the next. But if you believe there is good and evil in the world, then there is nothing wrong with fighting for God and country, for freedom and liberty against all that is evil and corrupt. That is basically what the United States of America has endeavor to do historically when we waged war against Nazi German and Imperialist Japan during World War II. It is also what we did in during the Korean War and Vietnam War as well as the Cold War against communist Russia. So why should we cower away from doing what would be right and just to secure the high seas against Somali pirates who are evil, inhumane and anti-God.
Certainly the world would be better off without Somali pirates and the majority of humanity would thank America for taking action to secure the high seas against future acts of piracy. Plus this would set a precedent for how future acts of piracy might be dealt with around the world. If we declare war on the Somali pirates and bring them to justice, it will go a long way to deterring future acts of piracy all around the world, and so make the high seas safe for all of humanity.
One last though: The Horn of Africa includes that region where man as a species is believed to have first evolved. All the people of the world may be traced back to this region of the globe, genetically linked to that Eve of Genesis where the fossil bones of our ancient ancestors have been discovered in dried earth. Thus the Horn of Africa justifiably belongs to all the people of the world and we would have as much right to be there as does anyone else. It would thus be fitting that our great nation reclaim a piece of the Horn of Africa for civilized humanity and perhaps turn it back into a Garden of Eden. God only knows the Somalis are never going to do much with the Horn of Africa except use it to plunder the high seas.
Friday, December 03, 2010
It is utterly appalling that anyone in the position of publishing a newspaper can be so misinformed and misguided as to not be aware of why it is our civic duty and responsibility to be ever vigilant toward bullies, predators, child molesters, wife beaters, animal abusers, and other brutish people, be they men or women, as to allow these behaviors leads to even worse behavior such at murdering fellow human beings.
A bully is one who uses force to gain power and control over another individual. Children who are bullies can turn into adults who beat their children or their wives -- or if too angered, kill them. Young people who beat up on their peers turn into men and women who cannot maintain relationships, do not know how to love, and often go through one failed marriage after another because no one in their right mind is going to stay married to a brut and a bully.
Our world is rapidly changing and such technologies like the Internet have shown how young people can bully others on-line to cause such deep and profound mental distress that children kill themselves. In other cases those bullied have sometimes armed themselves to the teeth and lashed out killing their fellow students and teachers in horrible mass murders. Then there are the Mel Gibsons of the world who play warlord fictional characters yet in real life express serious psychological problems and borderline personality behavior issues, beating up on women and children with their fowl mouths and violently raging tempers, seeking to gain power and control over their victims.
I would suggest that if the publisher of a newspaper does not understand the difference between freedom of speech and bullying that they should NOT be publishers as they set a very bad precedent and example for the community. The result is usually censorship which begins with limiting the length of editorial letters, an attempt to indoctrinate the public with political propaganda by bringing in outsiders as guest columnists, and ultimately gaining power and control of their little space of newsprint, using it to beat up on citizens, calling them liars, racists, or otherwise assaulting their good character -- all unjustified acts I've had done to me by a bully pulpit publisher.
Yes, a bully can be a newspaper publisher. Anyone who uses their position like a mad bull, enraged with too mush testosterone, to beat up on others to gain power and control over them is a bully. When there is only one political party, one newspaper, one king, dictator, despot, or tyrant, you get extreme forms of bullying. Everything from the Inquisition to genocide by The Third Riche was bullying taken to the extreme.
Is Clark County being bullied by a publisher who can’t tell the difference between freedom of speech and bullying? Are we being censored by a bully pulpit publisher who is so blinded by their own distorted perception of reality and life that they see bullying and abuse as a God given right? Perhaps. Therefore I’m starting an open forum on entitled The Free Press, with a link at www.freepress.byteland.org where everyone can come and freely speak their minds about important issues. Let’s come together and show the bullies and censors we won’t let you bully us any more! What you are doing is WRONG and the fact you cannot even see the difference between bullying and freedom of speech makes that perfectly clear!
So people, come to The Free Press and speak you mind. Let’s show the blind leading the blind publisher of the Clarke County Tribune that we ain’t going to take your bullying or your ignorance anymore. It is not only WRONG, it ultimately hurts the entire community!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I think it was very foolish for a general to permit a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine to travel around with him and his staff and have access to private discussions and conversations. Any one who knows anything about Rolling Stone magazine and is a general would not let one of their unethical gossip monger, fame, fortune and glory seeking tabloid journalist any where within a 100 miles of a general, especially not in the middle of war!
I believe in freedom of the press, but war is hell and you have to have secrets. Often it is secrets that win wars. You don't broadcasts your movements. You don't let the enemy know what is on the minds of the generals who plan and implement strategy. And you certainly don't allow unethical reporters free access to top commanders in the mists of a war, for risk they will publish information that would be useful to the enemy.
If I were President Obama I'd issue an executive order prohibiting press access to high command and officers in the field. This is not as issue of freedom of press; it is an issue of security. One aspect of security relates to discipline of forces and obeying orders from the President on down the chain of command to the lowest man on the totem poll out there digging fox holes, hiding behind rocks, fighting for their life! When permitting access to commanders at any level jeopardizes the security of forces on the ground, then you must fix the problem by kicking the press out!
War is hell and sometimes it simply is very foolish and unwise to let the press have free access to commanders in the field. But you know what, I believe General Stanley McChrysta knew this all along. I believe he wanted to create a situation where he would have to resign because I believe he wants to go into politics. I'd not be surprised if he runs for office in the next election or on down the road!
As an Army brat I grew up listing to my father talk about General Dogulas MacArthur, who he served under in WWII and the campaign to retake the Philippines. My father won two Bronze Stars in combat in the Pacific and later also served under MacArther during the Korean War. He was a leader of men and believed that Harry S. Truman was way out of line in 1951, that he should have left the fighting of the war to General McArthur, who is most remembered perhaps for his eloquent statement that, "Old soldier never die, they just fade away." My Dad would often preach how Truman was gutless, with such evocative expressions as, "To hell with the communist forces! We should have let MacArthur blow them to hell if that's what it came down to! It would have been best for everyone!"
Maybe my father was right. One thing is for certain, where there is a widely published conflict between the Commander in Chief and any of his generals during a time of war, it benefits only our enemies. That is why in this modern age of instant communication, where it is especially difficult to control communications, it is vital, a matter of life and death, that a free press NOT be permitted access to command and control officers, their staff, or anywhere near a headquarters or field operations command unit. To do so risks everything from leaking of critical classified information to the such ridiculous situations as that of a Rolling Stone tabloid journalist publishing private statements that would cause the resignation of a very fine general.
If I were General Stanley McChrysta I'd sue Rolling Stone magazine and put them out of business. I've never liked that magazine anyway, as they were greatly responsible for popularizing the drug culture in America which misguided many young people and caused them to be hurt and harmed, their lives destroyed, by blowing away their minds on everything from alcohol and marijuana to LSD and psilocybin magic mushrooms! I would not be unhappy to see Rolling Stone magazine get hit with a law suit by General McChrysta, especially if President Obama joined in the claim!
Whatever happens, my thoughts and prayers are with the men and women of our fighting forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. God bless America! Keep us free and bring our soldiers home safely ... leaving not an opium poppy standing, nor a Taliban to profit upon the opiates derived from their latex sap. The terrorists in Afghanistan, you see, are funded by the opium poppy, and the war on terrorism could be won quite easily by total eradication of opium poppies! Now I may not be a general, but I'm certain about that! So if you're listening President Obama, and want to win this war, wage it against the poppy and get even with Rolling Stone while you're at it!
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Boycott BP: Drilling for oil is risky business but BP should take full responsibility
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon which killed 11 people and has resulted in the biggest oil spill in US history should have taught us that drilling for oil is risky business. This is not child’s play, but a deadly game. The risks increase with off shore drilling operations; the deeper beneath the surface one drills, the greater are the perils as has been clearly demonstrated by the sinking of Deepwater
Indeed, the name Deepwater Horizon has now taken upon a whole other meaning, one that is ominous in nature rather than symbolic of exploring new horizons. Just like the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank upon its maiden voyage, the Deepwater Horizon has exploded, sank into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and has now polluted the pristine gulf waters, threatening to destroy the lives of fishermen, those who depend upon the associated tourist industry, and to further destroy the beaches, wetlands and wildlife of the Gulf Coast ecosystem.
How should we respond to this ecological disaster? How should money granted to the various states by BP be used? What can we each do to lessen the hurt and harm done by this catastrophe? Should we just pout and blame Obama, trying to turn the BP oil spill into Obama’s Katrina? Or should we look for ways that we can each help those who have been hurt and harmed the most by this tragedy?
I suggest that after praying for the victims of the oil spill and their families, that we each try to help in whatever way we can. I personally think everyone should boycott BP, cut up their BP gas credit cards, and use alternative sources of
gas and energy where possible. This should include using the money granted to the various states to invest in clean, renewable sources of energy, like wind generated power and solar power. We should not waste this money on trying to advertise to get people to come to Mississippi at a time when oil threatens the gulf coast. Rather, we should invest that money wisely to promote small businesses in Mississippi which foster alternative sources of energy. Also the funds might be spent to support the rescue of wildlife, fisheries, and other projects that will help in the recovery of the hurt, harm and damage done by the oil spill to marine animals, birds and other wildlife.
Yes, drilling for oil a mile beneath the ocean’s surface is risky business, as is coal mining deep within the earth’s surface. There are great risks associated with any large operation such as building a damn to harness hydroelectric power or maintaining an electric power grid to supply power to homes and businesses everywhere. The fact that there is risk associated with any given utility provider or large industrial operation does not mean we should stop
developing our natural resources. But it does mean we should learn from our mistakes, value life as most precious, and not cut corners. It also means taking responsibility for our actions!
BP has indicated they wish to pass blame to others, to be responsible only for clean up, and not all other associated damages with respect to the megalithic oil spill. That is where I take issue with BP. I think BP should be held accountable for all damaged, for all hurt and harm associated with the oil spill. The $25-million dollar grants to various Gulf Coast states, though a large sum of money, does not even begin to compensate for the loss many people are suffering. The fishing industry and the tourist industry are billion dollar industries and it may take generations to recover from the BP oil spill. Thus $25-million dollars is a drop in the bucket, a mere bribe to politicians and the various states to move forward with fossil fuel power production rather than invest in clean,
renewable energy development. Why it was only days after receiving this grant that the Kemper County coal burning power plant, which had been put on hold given Mississippi Power agree to restrictions, was permitted! I smell a rat!
We should learn our lesson and stop giving in to the big oil and big utility companies! We need more restrictions, more safety, more responsibility, not less! Therefore I feel a boycott of BP is warranted. Plus every state effected by
the BP oil spill should seek the maximum amount of money they can from BP. Louisiana is already asking BP for some $325-million. Mississippi, Alabama and Florida should do the same. But I believe each state should be asking for at
least a billion dollars because it is going to take that much just to begin to recover from all the mess, goo and pollution this oil spill has already cost.
I would not put it past BP to change their name to something like “AmeriOil” after this mess, that they can try to disassociate themselves with the biggest oil spill in US history. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the oil tanker was renamed so that it would not be associated with that largest of oil spills. We should not let BP get away with the hurt, harm and injury they have done to people, to wildlife, and to the ecology by the massive oil spill which threatens to tarnish and darken what is a wonderful region, that jewel and treasure which is the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida! All who live or visit this great natural resource fall in love with the sea, the white sand beaches and the relaxed lifestyle. To think that that may all be lost by the irresponsibility of BP to accept ALL THE BLAME for this ecological disaster is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
American Cancer Society uses convict labor
By Terry Lynch
American Cancer Society uses forced convict labor to make luminaries in Quitman, Mississippi. The identities of those individuals making the luminaries has been concealed with "blue dots" so as to protect their privacy. PHOTO © 2010 by Terry Lynch
The American Cancer Society is using convict labor in its Relay for Life preparations at a fund raiser in Quitman, Mississippi. On May 14, 2010 a visit to the old Mill Warehouse located at the south end of town in Quitman, revealed that non-punitive convict labor under the watching eyes of armed guards was being used in preparations for the Clarke County Relay for Life, an annual fund raising event which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
Verlynn Robinson, Event Chairperson, said that with the poor economy times were hard for everyone, but she did not mention just how hard they were for the American Cancer Society, which is now utilizing non-punitive convict labor in preparation for its fund raising events. Convicts were observed preparing "luminaries" which are memorial tributes to the victims of cancer. The convicts were standing around a container of sand filling paper bags. Each paper bag had the name of someone's most dearly departed loved one who had died from cancer. A short distance away an armed guard sat, firearm strapped to his waistline, at the entrance to the old Mill Warehouse. No one was going to escape from this Relay for Life!
Robinson said this years goal was to raise $105,000.00 by August 1st. Yet times were hard and they were way behind schedule with donations. So far they had raised only about $55,000.00. Hopefully that amount will rise after the Clarke County Relay for Life, and certainly the usage of non-punitive convict labor makes things a little easier and cheaper. Apparently such non-punitive labor is viewed as giving inmates the opportunity to rehibilitate themselves or make a positive contribution to the community through their labor; hence, this years Clarke County Relay for Life in Quitman employed such non-punitive convict labor in its preparation.
ADDENDUM: Sometime after this article was initially published on-line I received an email from the Mayor of Quitman objecting to my usage of the term "forced" convict labor. Mayor Eddie Fulton politely informed me that this terminology was not "factual" as prisoners who "volunteered" to work were given an extra meal at the end of the day, instead of their normal two meals, and that this also helped work off their fines. Mr. Fulton said, "Prisoners have a choice! They are fed twice a day, but if they volunteer to work they get another meal and the freedom of being outside prison walls. Several prisoners have outstanding fines and have asked the Court to let them work outside to pay off their fines. Many prisoners want to be outside and jump at the chance to work." So enlightened, I decided to replace "forced" convict labor with the term "non-punitive" convict labor, given that term has been widely used for convict labor which may serve some beneficial or rehalibative purpose.
Looking around I saw that the walking course was well on its way to being completed. Those convicts were doing a very good job, filling the luminaries and setting them around the walking course. Tomorrow teams would come and the public would enter the old Mill Warehouse and walk around the course, paying tribute to cancer victims. Cancer survivors would be wearing T-shirts to identify them as survivors. I wondered if it was generally known that the American Cancer Society was now using non-punitive convict labor to prepare the memorial tributes to dearly departed souls, those who have become victims of this terrible disease?
As I looked around the old Mill Warehouse I notices a large photograph of Elvis Presley -- at least it looked like Elvis. Apparently the entertainment scheduled for this years Clarke County Relay for Life tomorrow included the appearance of Shane Tucker, an Elvis impersonator from Foley, Alabama. As I watched the convicts fill the luminaries with sand, laboring in the heat of the old Mill Warehouse, sounds of "Jail House Rock" came to mind. I wondered what Elvis might think and if the Elvis impersonator would be playing that classic tune on the 'morrow when the public gathered to walk around and around the course of luminaries, each flickering with candles lit and spirits of loved ones lost to cancer remembered by those gathered. Yet did anyone even realize non-punitive convict labor was used to to make those luminaries?
I thought that the American Cancer Society was a well funded, large organization, supported by the general public which wanted to find a cure for cancer. I did not know that the American Cancer Society endorsed using non-punitive convict labor in its Relay for Life fund raising events. I certainly was not aware of the fact that in these "hard for everyone" economic times force convict labor was used to make the luminaries. Somehow learning this fact made me wonder why those luminaries could not be made by volunteers, by everyone who wanted to help freely and give of their time to freely help the American Cancer Society. Why was it necessary to resort to non-punitive convict labor to make luminaries? In fact, the more I think about it I am quite disturbed by the fact that people do not care enough to lend a hand to the local Clarke County Relay for Life, that volunteers might be making those luminaries, instead of convicted criminals!
It was hot in the old Mill Warehouse, a huge steel building which use to house a machinery for making fabric. But the mill had closed down and was now empty, as are many old cotton mills in the deep south, the cost of labor simply being too high such that many of the textiles which we now buy in America are produced off shore in nations like India, China, Singapore and the Philippines. Now the old Mill Warehouse lies silent and the only reason this year's Clarke County Relay for Life is being held there is because bad weather caused it to be cancelled and moved indoors, the large size of the old Mill Warehouse and the fact that the building was vacant and had plenty of parking space, making it the perfect location for the Clarke County Relay for Life.
The convicts making the luminaries were wearing white T-shirts and bright orange, neon colored pants, which made them stand out among everyone else as they filled the paper bags with sand. I had seen convicts working around Quitman before; this was quite common given Quitman is the Clarke County seat. Both the Clarke County Courthouse and the Clarke County Correctional Office or jailhouse are located in Quitman. So it was not unusual to see non-punitive convict labor being used on public projects and public highways. Often non-punitive convict labor is used to clean up litter and debris along highways, in public parks, or do other manual labor work on public property. On one occasion I even saw a labor force of bright orange appareled convicts working upon the Clarke County Courthouse roof. But I was not aware of the fact that non-punitive convict labor could legally be used by the American Cancer Society to prepare luminaries. The American Cancer Society is a nonprofit organization; it is not a State of Mississippi agency. How can non-punitive convict labor be used by a nonprofit organization, even in these hard economic times, without this being a violation of the law?
I suppose things are done a little different in Quitman. After all Quitman is a small rural town and hard economic times means sky rocketed unemployment such that everyone who might volunteer is struggling to survive and feed their own families. Who would even notice if a few convicts are taken over to the old Mill Warehouse and used to make luminaries for the American Cancer Society? Plus it is for a very good cause. Certainly the convicts themselves may benefit from being put to work to support this very good cause. Reading the "Crime Report" every week in the Clarke County Tribune I see these convicts are not exactly model citizens. There are arrest reports for possession of marijuana, alcohol, disorderly conduct, trespassing, robbery, assaults, and sometimes even worse offenses -- which probably land those convicted in a state correctional institute. But those who have not killed someone or committed some other really terrible crime end up in the Clarke County jailhouse and are often seen around town under the watchful eye of an armed guard as they clean up litter or contribute their labor to other public work projects. I just did not know that now the American Cancer Society was so hard pressed for volunteers that it was using non-punitive convict labor!
Obviously the need for money is great and in these hard economic times there is simply not enough money to support all those vital causes such that now the American Cancer Society is having to resort to non-punitive convict labor to prepare its fund raising events. If nothing else this sad situation should make everyone realize how important it is that they make a contribution to the American Cancer Society. God only knows if Clarke County Relay for Life Committees are using non-punitive convict labor to make luminaries, they are in desperate need of contributions!
Convicts collect garbage during Relay for Life
I was rather disappointed to see that on the day of the event, the Clarke County Relay for Live using non-punitive convict labor to mingle among the public and collect garbage. At least the convicts were dressed in their bright neon orange suits; they stood out like Jock-o-lanterns on the Forth of July -- totally inappropriate viewing for a family audience! Perhaps you don't agree and think that having convicts do their time for whatever crime they committed at a cancer fund raiser like the Clarke County Relay for Life is a wonderful and bright idea. But quite frankly I disagree. Whoever made this call it was a bad idea, and even the best of coaches can sometimes make bad calls.
Even if you don't agree and think its perfectly appropriate and safe for convicts to be put to work making luminaries the day before the Clarke County Relay for Life, consider a worse case scenario. What could happen if these convicts decided to gang up, take a weapon from a guard and reek havoc! The consequences could be tragic!
But lets just say the issue is using non-punitive convict labor to make luminaries. Is that appropriate? I think not. As soon as convict labor is used to make luminaries it is no longer "the Lord's work," as Peggie said she was doing, but something else akin to being crucified.
We must remember that crucifixion was a form of capital punishment as is the use of convict labor. When convicts do work they are always under the watchful eyes of armed guards and constitute a form of non-punitive labor, for when anyone is watching over you with a gun, it is not volunteer service that you do.
Therefore I question the ethics and the good sense of using non-punitive convict labor at the Clarke County Relay for Life, especially in the making of luminaries or memorial tributes to those who have died in their fight against cancer. It tarnishes the memories of loved ones when non-punitive convict labor is used to make luminaries.
Plus there is a big problem with having convicts at a public, family oriented event, like the Clarke County Relay for Life where there are children. Convicts are not the type of people you want to be around children as it would only take one convict flipping out and going berserk to injure or kill a child. Even the remote possibility that such a terrible thing might ever happen at the Clarke County Relay for Life should not even be something people have to worry about as convicts, convicted criminals, dressed in bright orange Jack-o-lantern apparel should NOT be present at the Clarke County Relay for Life whether they are those collecting garbage or making luminaries.
It is a very bad idea to have groups of convicts working at a family oriented event like the Clarke County Chamber of Commerce. A gang of two to four convicts could easily take a child hostage, get a knife or gun from a guard or member of the public, and as a gang cause hurt, harm, injury or even loss of life at the Clarke County Relay for Life. It simply is not a very smart idea to be using non-punitive convict labor at the Clarke County Relay for Life. Even if law enforcement is present, if discharge of a firearm did become necessary at such a crowded pubic event, it could easily hurt, harm or kill someone.
I therefore question if it is wise to use convict labor under the supervision of armed guards at the Clarke County Relay for Life or other public fund raising events where children are present. I would urge those who don't see anything wrong with this practice to please reconsider this matter taking into consideration a worse case scenario. You are putting the general public at risk and in danger anytime you use groups of convicts to do non-punitive labor at a public event such as the Clarke County Relay for Life. Please cease and desist the use of convict labor at the Clarke County Relay for life and in the future let the many eager and willing volunteers from the community do all the work associated with this great and worth cause!