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House votes to end offshore drilling ban
Measure passes by wide margin; bill’s chances in Senate are uncertain
30 June, 2006

WASHINGTON – Congress on Thursday took a major step toward allowing oil and gas drilling in coastal waters that have been off limits for a quarter-century, but a battle looms in the Senate over the issue.

And the Bush administration’s support for the legislation, which was approved by a 232-187 vote in the House, is lukewarm.

The House bill would end an Outer Continental Shelf drilling moratorium that Congress has renewed every year since 1981. It covers 85 percent of the country’s coastal waters — everywhere except the central and western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a leading proponent for lifting the ban, said he believes a majority of the Senate wants to open the protected waters to energy companies.

Asked about White House opposition to some parts of the bill, especially a provision that would give tens of billions of dollars to states that have drilling rigs off their coasts, Pombo said, “I dare them to veto this bill.”

“They don’t like us giving money back to the states. I think it’s right,” Pombo told reporters after the vote. Forty Democrats joined most Republicans in favor of ending the drilling moratorium.

Florida filibuster possible
In the Senate, the measure is likely to face a filibuster from Florida senators and possibly others from coastal states that fear offshore energy development could threaten multibillion-dollar tourist and recreation businesses if there were a spill.

The Senate is considering a limited measure that would open an area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, known as Lease Area 181, that goes within 100 miles of Florida. It is not under the moratorium. Even that is unlikely to pass unless its sponsors get 60 votes to overcome a filibuster from the Floridians.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he would pursue efforts to open the Lease 181 Area. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, also of New Mexico, criticized the House-passed bill, saying it would eventually create “a huge hole in our federal budget and undermine environmental protections on our lands and off our coasts.”

Environmentalists, for their part, turned their focus to the Senate.

“Instead of catering to Big Oil and Gas, the Senate will have a chance to focus on the many faster, cheaper and cleaner ways to meet our energy needs — renewable sources of energy like home-grown biofuels, greater fuel efficiency in our vehicles, smart-growth policies, and wind and solar energy,” said Karen Wayland, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The group said the bill would exempt seismic testing and individual oil and gas lease sales from environmental impact statements; reduce the amount of royalties that oil and gas companies must pay for tar sands and oil shale development; and no longer require companies to remove offshore drilling rigs when they are done drilling.

The House vote was a huge victory for Pombo, two Louisiana lawmakers – Republican Bobby Jindal and Democrat Charlie Melancon – and Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., who spearheaded the drive to lift the moratorium.

Only six weeks ago, a proposal by Peterson to open coastal waters to natural gas development fell 14 votes short.

This time, they included a provision that would allow states to keep the moratorium in place if they opposed drilling and changed the revenue sharing so that states’ share of royalties would soar eventually as much as 75 percent.

The Gulf states where most U.S. offshore energy resources are being tapped, now get less than 5 percent of the royalties. For example, Louisiana’s royalties would go from $32 million last year to a total of $8.6 billion over the next 10 years — and even higher after that.

Loss of federal revenue
The Interior Department estimated that the changes could cost the federal government as much as $69 billion in lost royalties over 15 years and “several hundred billion dollars” over 60 years.

The White House issued a statement saying it favors much of the bill but strongly opposes the changes in royalty revenue sharing, which it said “would have a long-term impact on the federal deficit.”

The Interior Department estimates there are about 19 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 86 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath waters under drilling bans from New England to southern Alaska.

Supporters of the drilling moratorium argue there’s four times that amount of oil and gas available in offshore waters open to energy companies, mainly in the central and western Gulf of Mexico and off parts of Alaska. And they say energy companies are only developing a fraction of the government leases they have available to them.

The country uses about 21 million barrels of oil a day.

While critics of the offshore drilling restrictions argue the additional oil and gas is needed if the country is to move toward greater energy independence, supporters or the bill fear energy development could despoil coastal beaches and threatens their recreation and tourism based economies.

“Our beaches and our coastline is what is critical to Floridians,” declared Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla. “We should not be sacrificing our economy, our environment for a little oil and gas.”

Pombo countered that drilling still would be prohibited within 50 miles of shore under the bill and states could extend the ban up to 100 miles. He ridiculed the bill’s critics as “opposing everything” when it comes to increasing domestic energy production.

“You can’t say no on everything,” Pombo proclaimed.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., said states would have to overcome numerous hurdles to continue the drilling restrictions, including having state legislatures and the government seek such protection every five years.


Forest Service Officers Abandon Checkpoint After ‘Hippie’ Run-In
Rainbow Family Gathering Expected To Draw Tens Of Thousands
21 June, 2006

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — U.S. Forest Service officers drew their shotguns but then got into their vehicles and abandoned a checkpoint without firing a shot after about 200 people at the Rainbow Family gathering surrounded the officers, an agency spokeswoman said.

“We’re not going to compromise the safety of our officers,” agency spokeswoman Denise Ottaviano said Tuesday. “We have to reavaluate whether or not we’re going to continue any checkpoints because of what happened.”

At least 500 people have converged in Routt National Forest for the gathering but the Forest Service had been turning away new arrivals from entering because the group hasn’t gotten a permit for large groups. The group’s annual event, often described as a huge gathering of hippies, is expected to draw between 15,000 and 20,000 people to the Routt National Forest for a weeklong July 4th event.

About 60 to 80 people already at the event site approached the officers who had been turning people away and surrounded them in a “hostile manner”, Ottaviano said.

She said more than 100 other people who had been hanging out near the checkpoint because they were not allowed in joined the smaller group, forcing the officers to retreat.

Ottaviano said the checkpoint has been disbanded. No one was stopping people from entering the area but officers will continue their patrols, she said.

The Forest Service began issuing citations on Monday and so far about 60 people have been cited, she said.

Groups of 74 or more are required to get a free permit but no one has responded to the agency’s request to apply for one, she said. The group can still apply for a permit and the Forest Service must issue a response within 48 hours.

In the meantime, the Forest Service has closed two motorized trails near the gathering near Big Red Park to avoid any potential conflict between recreationists and the Rainbow Family, she said. Trails 1204 and 1199 are set to be closed through Aug. 20 because it could take that long for all the participants to leave.

The group gathers each year on public lands. Last year, about 15,000 turned out for the event in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and the 2004 event drew about 19,000 to the Modoc National Forest in California.


Rainbow Family suit filed over closed court hearings
An attorney claims a right to public trials. Meanwhile, forestry officials and the group continue to face off.
06/29/2006

An attorney for a Rainbow Family member filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday asserting that closed court hearings being held on dozens of minor infractions associated with the group’s annual gathering violate a constitutional right to public trials.

The annual Rainbow Family gathering, a counterculture bacchanal that federal officials said could attract as many as 20,000 modern-day hippies to the woods about 35 miles north of Steamboat Springs, has stirred controversy since its first adherents arrived this month.

Forest Service officials Wednesday released details of another violent confrontation with the Rainbows that required slightly injured law enforcement officers to retreat in a mist of pepper spray.

Meanwhile, Routt County commissioners and officials of the Routt National Forest enacted a regionwide ban on open fires and smoking because of the high danger of wildfires – just in time for the gathering’s July 4 climax.

Forest officials said the Rainbow Family may get permission to continue using some large fires in “kitchen” areas but campfires are prohibited.

Federal officials contend the gathering is being held illegally, and officers last week began issuing citations to dozens of participants.

The civil case, filed Tuesday by Denver attorney David Lane, argues that closed hearings on those citations being held in a nearby firehouse violate the Sixth Amendment.

The case was filed on behalf of Adam Mayo, a Colorado attorney, and William Randell III of New York, claiming that the makeshift courtroom is too small to accommodate all of those who wanted to attend.

The lawsuit seeks an emergency court order that would force the court to proceed in a way that doesn’t infringe on the plaintiffs’ rights to have a public trial.

A hearing on the case had not been set by Wednesday evening.

Many members of the Rainbow Family have claimed that law enforcement by the Forest Service has been particularly heavy-handed, boiling up into Monday’s confrontation, in which three officers were injured when two men being sought for arrest incited a crowd into an intimidating mob, according to Forest Service spokeswoman Denise Ottaviano.

“They were surrounded by a hostile crowd of approximately 200 people who were verbally abusive and hostile in their behavior,” Ottaviano said. “Individuals assaulted some of the officers and pulled the suspects away and, in one case, piled on top of one of the suspects to prevent his apprehension. The officers were forced to defend themselves with the use of pepper spray and batons.”

It is at least the third physical confrontation reported between Forest Service officers and the Rainbow Family, although accounts have differed between the two sides.


553

i haven’t written that much about OCF, even though it’s a week away now, but that’s primarily because i’ve been busy with rehearsals for it for about the past 3 weeks. about a week ago i went out and bought a bunch of bird whistles and other noisemakers to re-stock my supply of sound effects. i’ve already got a crash box and two sets of coconut shells, but i needed a ratchet and a bunch of new sounds to make the effect of a forest scene (see 22 June, 2006 for stuff i already wrote about, but forgot. 8/ ) i got the nightengale call to work, after searching out an audio clip of an actual nightengale. it’s a bit more complicated than i figured, but not so much that i can’t teach pam, who is playing it.

i bought a slide whistle last year, and while it makes precisely the sound i want it to when it is in one piece, it is made of a very brittle plastic (not PVC or ABS, but something similar) and it has broken so many times that the mouthpiece is mostly glue, and the stopper at the end is being held together with a hose clamp. it shouldn’t be too difficult to make a similar thing out of one of the many plastic soprano recorders i have lying around, some PVC tubing and a bit of ingenuity.

the Big Bois With Poise are performing at the friday night fire show, which means that i won’t be performing with the philharmonic at the friday late night burlesque, but BBWP takes priority now that RA is gone. the philharmonic has been invited to play at the ritz again “sometime” (we don’t know precise details, and probably won’t until the day it happens), and we’re also sawing a lady in half every day at noon at the morningwood odditorium.

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i foresee extremely bad things happening to me, and everybody even remotely like me (which includes everybody on my friends list) if this trend continues… today it’s israel, but who’s to say that tomorrow it may be chicago or new york… or seattle…

Hamas Leaders Arrested; Israeli Executed
June 29, 2006
By STEVEN GUTKIN

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces arrested nearly one-third of the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet and 20 lawmakers early Thursday and pressed their incursion into Gaza, responding to the abduction of one of its soldiers.

Israeli warplanes also buzzed the summer home of Syria’s president, accused by Israel of harboring the hard-line Hamas leaders its blames for masterminding the kidnapping.

Palestinian witnesses told The Associated Press that Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered northern Gaza before daybreak Thursday, adding a second front to the Israeli action in Gaza that began early Wednesday when thousands of Israeli troops crossed into southern Gaza.

The Israeli military denied it moved into northern Gaza.

Adding to the tension, a Palestinian militant group said it killed an 18-year-old Jewish settler kidnapped in the West Bank. Israeli security officials said Eliahu Asheri’s body was found buried near Ramallah. They said he was shot in the head, apparently soon after he was abducted on Sunday.

Army Radio said the arrested Hamas leaders might be used to trade for the captured soldier. Israel had refused earlier to trade prisoners for the soldier’s release.

Palestinian security officials said seven ministers of the 24-member Hamas-led Cabinet and 20 lawmakers were arrested. Earlier reports that Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer was among them were incorrect, they said.

No deaths or injuries were reported in the Israeli actions. But the warplanes knocked out Gaza’s electric power plant, raising the specter of a humanitarian crisis. The Hamas-led government warned of “epidemics and health disasters” because of damaged water pipes to central Gaza and the lack of power to pump water.

Although the Israeli action was sparked by the abduction of the soldier, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government also is alarmed by the firing of homemade rockets on Israeli communities around Gaza and support for Hamas in the Arab world, especially from Syria.

In a clear warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israeli airplanes flew ovecr his seaside home near the Mediterranean port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria, military officials confirmed, citing the “direct link” between his government and Hamas. Israeli television reports said four planes were involved in the low-altitude flight, and that Assad was there at the time.

Syria confirmed Israeli warplanes entered its airspace, but said its air defenses forced the Israeli aircraft to flee.

In Gaza late Wednesday, Israeli missiles also hit two empty Hamas training camps, a rocket-building factory and several roads. Warplanes flew low over the coastal strip, rocking it with sonic booms and shattering windows. Troops in Israel backed up the assault with artillery fire.

The area’s normally bustling streets were eerily deserted, with people taking refuge inside their homes.

Witnesses reported heavy shelling around Gaza’s long-closed airport, which Israeli troops took over. Dozens of people living near the airport fled to nearby Rafah.

The militant Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades said it fired a rocket with a chemical warhead at the Israeli town of Sderot Wednesday night, the first such claim. The Israeli military said it did not detect a rocket fired then. Al Aqsa is linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.

In Rafah, Nivine Abu Shbeke, a 23-year-old mother of three, hoarded bags of flour, boxes of vegetables and other supplies. “We’re worried about how long the food will last,” she said. “The children devour everything.”

Prior to the latest incursion into northern Gaza, the Israeli army dropped leaflets warning residents of impending military activity.

Dozens of Palestinian militants – armed with automatic weapons and grenades – took up positions, bracing for the attack.

Anxious Palestinians pondered whether the incursion, the first large-scale ground offensive since Israel withdrew from Gaza last year, was essentially a “shock and awe” display designed to intimidate militants, or the prelude to a full-scale invasion.

Olmert threatened harsher action, though he said there was no plan to reoccupy Gaza. Abbas deplored the incursion as a “crime against humanity.”

The Israeli assault came as diplomatic efforts to free the 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, bogged down with Hamas demanding a prisoner swap and Israel refusing, demanding Shalit’s unconditional release. Shalit was abducted by Hamas-linked militants on Sunday and is believed to be in southern Gaza.

“We won’t hesitate to carry out extreme action to bring Gilad back to his family,” Olmert declared.

Abbas and Egyptian dignitaries urged Assad to use his influence with Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader exiled in Syria, to free Shalit. Assad agreed, but without results, said a senior Abbas aide.

As for Mashaal, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said the hard-line Hamas leader, who appears to be increasingly at odds with more moderate Hamas politicians in Gaza, is in Israel’s sights for assassination.

“Khaled Mashaal, as someone who is overseeing, actually commanding the terror acts, is definitely a target,” Ramon told Army Radio.

Israel tried to kill Mashaal in a botched assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997. Two Mossad agents injected Mashaal with poison, but were caught. As Mashaal lay in a Jordanian hospital, King Hussein of Jordan forced Israel to provide the antidote in return for the release of the Mossad agents.

The United Nations and European Union on Wednesday urged both Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and, echoing a statement from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to give diplomacy a chance.

The White House kept up its pressure on Hamas, saying the Palestinian government must “stop all acts of violence and terror.” But the U.S. also urged Israel to show restraint.

“In any actions the government of Israel may undertake, the United States urges that it ensures that innocent civilians are not harmed, and also that it avoid the unnecessary destruction of property and infrastructure,” said White House press secretary Tony Snow.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged restraint in a phone call to Olmert, saying he had spoken with Assad and Abbas and asked them to do everything possible to release the soldier. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa called on the U.S. to assume its role as “honest broker” and to make the Palestinian-Israeli conflict its top priority in the Middle East.

Hamas’ negotiators’ tentative acceptance Tuesday of a document that Abbas allies claimed implicitly recognizes Israel appeared beside the point a day later, with Israel saying no political agreement can substitute for Shalit’s freedom.

On Wednesday, Palestinian militants braced for a major strike, fanning out across neighborhoods, taking up positions behind sand embankments and firing several rockets into Israeli communities bordering Gaza. Civilians stockpiled food, water, batteries and candles after warplanes destroyed the coastal strip’s only power plant, and main roads linking north to south.

Gaza’s economy was already in the doldrums before the Israeli assault, a result of five years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and an international aid boycott that followed Hamas’ parliamentary election victory in January. The Israeli assault threatened to turn a bad situation into a disaster – underscoring the extent to which hopes have been dashed following the optimism that accompanied Israel’s pullout.

Palestinian plans for high-rise apartments, sports complexes and industrial parks in lands evacuated by Israel have given way to despair, with rising poverty, increasingly violent relations with Israel and a looming threat of civil war.


waitaminute… it is happening here at home… against good old american homegrown terrorists hippies!!! that’s it… the first chance i get, i’m outta here, and i’m not coming back.

Rainbow Children Detained in the name of Homeland Security
June 27, 2006

Dear Friends and Family,

I need your help to protect my family, the collective efforts of tens of thousands of citizens known as the “Rainbow Family.” This week, near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service has taken illegal action to stop this annual assembly for expression and prayer, in gross violation of the participants essential Constitutional rights.

The ‘Rainbow’ Gatherings have borne a legacy of spiritual & cultural pilgrimage to the National Forests since 1972, the purest exercise of open consensual assembly in our time. The annual ‘Gathering of the Tribes’ draws thousands over the first week of July, focusing on the 4th as a holy day of prayer for peace and freedom. In recent years small regional events in this mode have emerged, and such gatherings have taken place in many nations around the world.

THE GATHERING EXPERIENCE —

Some say the “Rainbow” Gathering is the continuation of the idealism of Woodstock. I think of it more as my annual spiritual retreat and family reunion. Since 1980, I have gathered with my family to compare ideas and pray for peace. I arrive loaded with the burdens of my work, depressed about the world situation. Each year I depart with my faith in humankind renewed and with the energy to fight the beast another year.

The rainbow family is not organized in any way; it is an exercise in self-determination and cooperation in the public interest, without need of government controls. We understand that no matter what comes down, it is the respect and care for each other that win in the end. We have no leaders or leadership, we have no offices or officers, we have no treasurer or treasury. We sit in counsel, often for days at a time in order to make mutual decisions, but there is no power to enforce these decisions on any individual. In the end, just like in society, it works because enough responsible people make sure that what needs to be done gets done.

We have been doing rainbow gatherings for over 30 years, each time in a different national forest across the country. We come in and set up a village in the woods. Cooperative kitchens pour out a wide variety of foods. Seminars on just about any topic are run by the hour.

The Rainbow is known as a healing gathering; people with various ailments come for help. Here in one place they can receive healing, from herbalists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and masseuses working with osteopaths and physicians. These healers work as a team and share their knowledge in a holistic approach that teaches all involved a lot about the roots of medicine.

Religious groups, ranging from Christians to Hare Krishnas set up camps. It’s truly a free society. We go pretty far back in the woods to get away from the ills of civilization like alcohol and hard drugs. We have our gathering and then restore any damage we cause to the woods. And we have a perfect record of restoration of the forest.

It’s great to walk through a gathering and see so many people but not a scrap of paper on the ground, not a cigarette butt in sight. Each year we train thousands of newcomers how to get along in the woods without destroying the place. Knowledgeable Forest Servide ‘Resource’ personnel love us; it’s the Federal bureaucrats and police from Washington who are on our case.

REPRESSIVE FEDERAL POLICIES —

The Bush Administration has spent millions of dollars trying to stop the Rainbow Gatherings. They are enforcing a ‘Noncommercial Group Use’ permit regulation that is impossible for unaffiliated individuals to comply with. 36 CFR 251.54 They require that that someone sign as an agent for a fictional group entity named as permit Holder — which then must assume full liability from the Government and bind participants vicariously to its terms.

By the creed of the gatherings, no one can appoint themselves to such a position. More importantly, such an ad hoc gathering has no legal capacity to designate agents or act as a group party in any way. As a result, individuals are denied personal standing in First Amendment exercise and subjected to harsh criminal prosecution for being anywhere near the area

The Forest Service requires that a permit be applied for in advance of the gathering. And they use any excuse possible to deny a permit application when we manage to submit one. This year their denial was based on the fact that a logging company had a permit to log in a nearby parcel of the national forest, even though there is no logging activity present whatsoever. The site is far remote from any inhabitants — but still the Forest Service is all over our case.

Millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to block this harmless gathering from taking place. The scariest aspect of all this is how Homeland Security is using these gatherings to perfect their techniques of martial law. Regulations written for the Federal Emergency Management Authority to deal with natural disasters are now being used to crush dissent in this country.

Each year the Rainbow Gathering is declared a “National Incident” and federal military law ensues. A Special Agent is appointed “Incident Commander”, with a Delegation of Authority, a large law enforcement “Team”, and huge budget to control the gathering. Qualified Forest Service administrators lose their power, while the county sheriff and other officials are brought into targeted law enforcement actions by inclusion in the Incident Team and other inter-agency agreements.

Each year Homeland Security gains more power over the individuals involved.

RIGHTS CRISIS IN COLORADO —

At this writing Forest Service law enforcement has issued over 500 tickets to the early arrivals at the gathering in Colorado. They have blocked the road and have prevented food and water from reaching those who managed to get into the gathering before the police roadblock was set up.

The 500 people with tickets are being herded into trials like none anyone has seen before in America. These pseudo trials are prototypes for what Homeland Security will use in the cases of insurrection or even a plague. Defendants lose the right to a public hearing (this year these hearings are being held behind closed doors in a firehouse garage near the site.

Attorneys and legal observers have been denied the right to even view these trials. The defendants are not explained their rights nor afforded the right to an attorney, the right to summon witnesses, the right to a jury trial, etc. Defendants ordered to appear each day at 9:00 a.m. and sit in the hot sun without water or sanitary facilities until their trials. Some have now been waiting for several days. These abbreviated trials only take a few minutes. Last year I tried to help a string of defendants defend themselves in these trials but felt helpless to do much as the system was clearly stacked against them.

This year is especially frustrating to me as I have to watch this come down from 6000 miles away. Right now I am in Hungary at a medical conference for my employment. I am flying home on Thursday and plan on being in court Saturday, July 1st, to defend some of my best friends who got a ticket for illegally gathering as they drove down a public highway.

WHAT TO DO —

The confrontation this year is getting more intense by the minute, which is why I am asking for your help. The only way to stop a massive conflagration in Colorado in the next few days is to get thousands of people to contact their political representatives as well as the responsible administrators at the Forest Service to demand that this repression stop immediately.

Please, even if you can never conceive of yourself at a Rainbow Gathering, you must understand that if these citizens lose their constitutional right to gather, we all lose such rights. This year the Rainbow Gathering is being used to set precedents that will be turned against drug policy, civil liberty, anti-war or other activists in the near future.
**********************
Following are some instructions on who to write and/or call

We hope to start flooding the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service with complaints starting Monday morning and not stopping until harassment stops. It is especially important that we get a few Congressional representative and Senators concerned enough to write the Forest Service for an explanation of why so much money is being spent to keep people from camping in the National Forest set aside for exactly that purpose.

Please keep the pressure on these bureaucrats until we are able to spread the word that the government has backed off and that the gathering can proceed unhindered.

If you do not know the contact information for your Congressman or Senator, you can find this here. You can call your representative at 212-224-3121. Besides your representatives in Washington, please call and write the following people to voice your protest to this harsh treatment of people who just want to go on a camping trip in the woods. Keep the calls coming until word is passed around that the government has called off their dogs. Please forward this letter to your friends and feel free to re-post it on any listserv or website you wish. Email me if you have any questions.

Don E Wirtshafter
Attorney at Law
Box 18 Guysville, OH 45735
740 662 5297
don [at] hempery.com

USDA, Natural Resources & Environment
Mark Rey, USDA Undersecretary
1400 Independence Ave. SW, .. 217-E
Washington, DC 20250
202-720-7173 Fax: 202-720-0632
mark.rey [at] usda.gov

Kathleen Gause, Director 202-205-8534
USDA Forest Service
Civil Rights Staff
Stop Code 1142
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington., DC 20250-1142
Tel (202) 205-1585

Office of the Chief
Dale Bosworth, Chief
USDA Forest Service
Yates Federal Building (4NW Yates)
201 14th Street, SW – Washington, DCÊ20250
202-205-1661; Fx: 202-205-1765
Executive Assistant…Karla Hawley, 202 -205-1195

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests,
Mary H. Peterson, Supervisor
2468 Jackson Street — Laramie, WY 82070-6535
307-745-2300 Fax: 307-745-2398

U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region (R-2)
Rick Cables, Regional Forester
Mail: P.O. Box 25127 — Lakewood, CO 80225-0127
303-275-5451
Richard Stem, Deputy Regional Forester, Resources: 303-275-5451

Steve Silverman, Office of General Counsel, Regional Attorney: 303-275-5536

Bill Fox, Law Enforcement & Investigations, Special Agent in Charge: 303-275-5253

Jerome Romero, Deputy Director of Civil Rights: 303-275-5340

Some resources to research these issues further:

The best Rainbow website:
http://www.welcomehome.org

A good article written before the feds came down hard:
http://www.csindy.com

More recent coverage:
http://www.rockymountainnews.com and http://www.denverpost.com


551

i wonder how the “christian” right-wing will respond to this, which appears to be more scientific evidence to support the idea that they’re wrong…

Men with older brothers more likely to be gay
Research adds to idea of biological basis for sexual orientation

WASHINGTON – Having several older brothers increases the likelihood of a man being gay, a finding researchers say adds weight to the idea that there is a biological basis for sexual orientation.

“It’s likely to be a prenatal effect,” said Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, “This and other studies suggest that there is probably a biological basis for” homosexuality.

S. Marc Breedlove of Michigan State University said the finding “absolutely” confirms a physical basis.

“Anybody’s first guess would have been that the older brothers were having an effect socially, but this data doesn’t support that,” Breedlove said in a telephone interview.

The only link between the brothers is the mother and so the effect has to be through the mother, especially since stepbrothers didn’t have the effect, said Breedlove, who was not part of the research.

Bogaert studied four groups of Canadian men, a total of 944 people, analyzing the number of brothers and sisters each had, whether or not they lived with those siblings and whether the siblings were related by blood or adopted.

He reports in a paper appearing in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that having several biological older brothers increased the chance of a man being gay.

It’s an effect that can be detected with one older brother and becomes stronger with three or four or more, Bogaert said in a telephone interview.

‘Some sort of prenatal factor’
But, he added, this needs to be looked at in context of the overall rate of homosexuality in men, which he suggested is about 3 percent. With several older brothers the rate may increase from 3 percent to 5 percent, he said, but that still means 95 percent of men with several older brothers are heterosexual.

The effect of birth order on male homosexuality has been reported previously but Bogaert’s work is the first designed to rule out social or environmental effects.

Bogaert said he concluded the effect was biological by comparing men with biological brothers to those with brothers to whom they were not biologically related.

The increase in the likelihood of being gay was seen only in those whose brothers had the same mothers, whether they were raised together or not, he said.

Men raised with several older step- or adopted brothers do not have an increased chance of being gay.

“So what that means is that the environment a person is raised in really makes not much difference,” he said.

What makes a difference, he said, is having older brothers who shared the same womb and gestational experience, suggesting the difference is because of “some sort of prenatal factor.”

One possibility, he suggests, is a maternal immune response to succeeding male fetuses. The mother may react to a male fetus as foreign but not to a female fetus because the mother is also female.

It might be like the maternal immune response that can occur when a mother has Rh-negative blood but her fetus has Rh-positive blood. Without treatment, the mother can develop antibodies that may attack the fetus during future pregnancies.

Whether that’s what is happening remains to be seen, but it is a provocative hypothesis, said a commentary by Breedlove, David A. Puts and Cynthia L. Jordan, all of Michigan State.

The research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


and then, there’s a public toilet in thailand designed to make you uncomfortable.

549

Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.
     — President Ronald Reagan

Americans demand top-quality service from the private sector. They should get the same top-quality service from their government.
     — President George W. Bush

it’s really strange for me to be agreeing with the great satan, but at the same time, why isn’t the government doing a better job of protecting our rights? it makes one wonder when they are they are the champions of democracy everywhere but in their own back yard…

Close vote expected on flag-burning amendment
BY MARNI GOLDBERG
26 June, 2006

WASHINGTON – Culminating emotional debate on patriotism and individual rights in the age of terrorism, the Senate is preparing to vote as early as Tuesday on a constitutional amendment to ban the burning or desecration of the U.S. flag.

It could become the first change to the Constitution approved by Congress in 35 years.

Supporters and opponents said the final result would be a cliffhanger, likely coming within one vote either way of the 67 needed to achieve a two-thirds majority and send the amendment to the states. If the Senate joins the House in approving the amendment, ratification by three-fourths of the states (at least 38) appears likely as many have already passed resolutions saying they would ratify it.

On one level, the debate takes its place among other culturally contentious issues the Republican congressional leadership has introduced in recent weeks, including a proposed ban on same-sex marriage. The issues are designed to appeal to the GOP’s conservative base ahead of the November congressional elections, but unlike some of those proposals, the flag desecration ban is seen as having a chance of passage.

The battle to ban the desecration of the flag has a long history. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that burning an American flag was a form of speech protected by the Constitution. In response to that ruling, Congress passed a law that would have punished anyone who purposefully mutilated, defaced, burned or trampled on the flag, among other actions. However in 1990, a 5-4 Supreme Court decision invalidated that law, once again coming down on the side of free speech.

Congress in response has attempted several times to change the Constitution and ban the activity, falling short each time. But a greater Republican majority and conservative presence in the Senate makes passage more likely this time, as does the emotional resonance of the Sept. 11 attacks. The amendment passed the House for the sixth time in 2005, on a 286-130 vote.

As the debate began Monday, the amendment’s supporters on the Senate floor used patriotic rhetoric to suggest the importance of the flag as representation of patriotism, liberty and the American union.

“I think of the veterans in our society,” said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I think of the veterans’ expectation of the sanctity of the flag, I think of the flag as a symbol of what the veterans fought for, what they sustained wounds for, what they sustained loss of limbs for, what they sustained loss of life for.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, one of the amendment’s chief supporters, said, “The flag is a unique symbol of our nationhood that demands protection. There are few public symbols that we do share as people.”

Hatch along with such organizations as the Citizens Flag Alliance, an umbrella group that favors the amendment, say that the court erred in labeling flag desecration a form of protected speech.

If the amendment becomes part of the Constitution, it would return to Congress the authority to pass federal legislation protecting the American flag.

Those who oppose the amendment suggest that the measure has nothing to do with flag protection, and they are frustrated by Congress’ frequent attempts to amend the Constitution in what they call a political tactic.

“(Republicans) want to exploit America’s patriotism for their gain in November,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., adding, however, that he finds flag burning cruel and contemptible. “The real issue here is not the protection of the flag, it’s the protection of the Republican majority.”

Other organizations opposing the amendment said this debate diverts attention from ongoing issues facing Congress, and contributes to turning the Constitution into a bulletin board for posting the latest slogan.

“The Constitution has served the country well with a limited number of amendments,” said Elliot Mincberg of People for the American Way, a group that has spoken out against the amendment. “I have never seen (an amendment) like this one that would cut away from free speech.”

First Amendment concerns resonated on the Senate floor and elsewhere. Robert Corn-Revere, who wrote a report on the Flag Desecration Amendment for the First Amendment Center, pointed to history, suggesting that attempts to limit using the flag for political protest have only increased instances of flag burning.

Furthermore, the amendment would raise new problems while lawmakers and the courts struggled to define the terms “flag” and “desecration.”

For example, a shirt displaying the image of the flag may fall outside the law, as may a 47-star flag, which has never existed in U.S. history.

Opponents of the measure say the amendment would increase law enforcement’s ability to selectively prosecute people whose political messages were disagreeable.

“(The amendment) will open up a great period of uncertainty in a lot of litigation,” Corn-Revere said. “What it won’t do is increase respect for the flag, because you can’t force what goes on inside another person’s mind, and what it also won’t do is reduce the amount of flag burning and desecration.”


Burning the Bill of Rights

Senate Republicans are trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow federal and state authorities to punish flag-burning.

With the Fourth of July fast approaching, Senate Republicans are holding a barbecue. Unfortunately, instead of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, they are trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow federal and state authorities to punish flag-burning.

Some things should be out of bounds even in a competitive election year. Messing with the Constitution is one of them.

In reality, of course, the Stars and Stripes are in no urgent need of protection from scruffy match-wielding protesters. The Senate has been debating the flag issue on and off for years – ever since the Supreme Court’s 1989 decision holding, quite properly, that flag-burning, however offensive it may seem, is constitutionally protected free speech. The amendment’s return – just in time to distract voters from G.O.P. failures on more pressing fronts – might be dismissed as a bad joke except for two things: an intense lobbying campaign on its behalf by the American Legion, and the fact that no lawmaker relishes taking a stand that might be portrayed as unpatriotic, especially in an election year.

The last time the full Senate voted on the amendment, in 2000, the measure came up just four votes short of the required two-thirds. Nose counters on both sides say that supporters of the amendment are now just a single vote shy. That means that when the roll call is taken on the amendment later this week, there are no freebies. On this round, every vote counts. The House has already approved the amendment, and its ratification by the states is virtually certain should the Senate go along.

As an alternative to the amendment, two of its opponents, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, and Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, have proposed a statute against flag-burning instead. Unquestionably, passing a law to address this nonproblem is preferable to rewriting the Constitution. But in crafting a bill with a comparatively narrow reach, its sponsors have not cured the affront to free speech. For that reason, it deserves to be defeated.

As debate on the amendment proceeds, past supporters like Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, owe a duty to search their consciences. Each senator must cast a vote as if it is the deciding one. Given the political math, it well could be.