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True North Archives - September 09, 2008
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Featured Articles

The Frenzied Attack on Nuclear Energy
By John McClaughry

Here's the perspective: According to the NRC, the average American absorbs 296 millirems a year from rocks and soil (29), cosmic rays (29), radioactive potassium-40 in the blood (40), and indoor radon (198). Manmade emissions - mostly from medical X-rays and consumer products - add around 60 more. Emissions from the nation's 104 nuclear power plants add one millirem.

This one millirem is thus less than one third of one percent of the normal background radiation. Yankee's contribution to this one millirem is on the order of one one-hundredth of a millirem. Increasing that tiny contribution by 30% is ridiculously insignificant. In fact, a conventional Geiger counter at the plant boundary cannot even tell whether the reactor is shut down or running at full power.

Who’s Responsible for Education?
By Retta Dunlap

Ensuring that a child gets a good education is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. This responsibility implies that one is accountable for actions taken, that the education chosen is a good one. There are many ways this can be accomplished. Parents have taught their own children for centuries, and the United States, even before its inception as an independent republic, has had schools of one kind or another. There are many definitions of what constitutes a good education as well. This editorial will not cover those definitions but rather who is responsible for that education. Is there someone we can point to? Yes, there is. The responsibility to ensure delivery of a good education lies ultimately with the parents. 

The SED on SAT
By Martin Harris

Here’s the caption of the –dare I say "gleeful"?—news release from The State Education Department (SED) on the subject of the College Board’s recent release of nationwide, state-by-state, Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), results for 2008: "Vermont Students Show Strong Results". The article went on to do exactly what the College Board warns against, as you can read for yourself on its web site: engage in a state-by-state comparison. The text offers this: "Vermont has higher mean scores in each SAT section compared to both New England and the nation". The College Board offers this, as reported by "The College Board released average SAT scores from the States Tuesday (8/28) but warned journalists not try to use the scores to rank states. Instead, the examination board listed the states by the percentage of students that sat for the test". And, the SED concedes, Vermont’s percentage went down 2 percent from last year, illustrating a test result pattern which explains why Mississippi, with 4 percent participation, posts far higher scores than Connecticut with 82 percent of students enrolled. 

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Regarding Obama Flunks Rick Warren's Abortion Question by Deal W. Hudson,, August 18, 2008... After hearing Obama's response to when human life begins, I just had to address his "above my pay grade" comment.

If Obama were really concerned about the black race, he wouldn't be pimping for Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.  Rather, he would be exposing them for what they are... racial bigots that target black neighborhoods to reduce (I believe eliminate) the black population.

To quote from the website , "...If the current (abortion) trend continues, by 2038 the black vote will be insignificant".

Blacks like Obama who purport to identify with poor blacks are nothing more than political pimps and whores for the abortion industry.  I neither respect nor condone them or their actions.  Obama, simply put, is no Dr. Alan Keyes, a black man I would vote for in a heartbeat because he recognizes that abortion is worse for the black race than slavery.  Millions of black babies have been murdered by abortion.

As for Obama's "above my pay grade" statement, he's absolutely right.  He's not qualified to lead our country.  If a man cannot make a decision based on solid biological science that has determined that human life begins at conception, but defers to an ideological agenda with an evasive answer, he's absolutely not fit to lead our country.  I sure as hell will not follow his lead if he ends up in the white house.

What will America do when the majority of blacks in the inner cities learn the true intention of Planned Parenthood and their abortion agenda?  Whatever their response, it will make the riots after the Rodney King beating look like a Sunday walk in the park.

David D. Demar
Georgia, VT


"Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen" --Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC 

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

(This article first appeared in the Vermont Education Report)

Proponents of the Vermont Local Education Affordability Formula (LEAF) continue to talk throughout the state about their proposal, hoping to gain supporters and refinements to their plan as they go. LEAF seeks to address the issue of high property taxes and the unintelligible formulae of Act 60, the state’s education tax law passed in the wake of the 1997 Brigham decision mandating more equitable funding for the state’s schools. 

We are really been listening to people, says Rep. Pat McDonald (R, Berlin) of LEAF’s community presentations. When we first put LEAF out there, we said it was a framework and needed discussion.

One of the discussion points is what defines equity. The Vermont State Supreme Court ruled in the Brigham decision that the state needed to address education equity.  LEAF supporters believe that the Brigham decision is still open for analysis and discussion, particularly on the issue of absolute equity whether it’s required and what exactly it is. 

LEAF sponsors’ goal is twofold: to support local education efforts with appropriate help from the state and to relieve local taxpayers of heavy education tax burdens. 

One of LEAF? guiding principles is that what is controlled locally should be paid for locally. With this in mind, LEAF sponsors welcome discussions on how to pay for things like special education services, which come with various state and federal mandates. 

LEAF sponsors, Rep. Rick Hube (R, South Londonderry), Carolyn Branagan (R, Georgia) and Pat Mcdonald (R, Berlin) have set up a comprehensive web site ( that provides answers to frequently asked questions about the plan, as well as a way to look at what tax obligations would be under a LEAF plan. Pasted below is the explanation of LEAF from that web site: 

How LEAF Works

In summary, each school district would receive a per-pupil grant equal to 85% of the average statewide per-pupil spending for the prior year (we have used a figure of $8,500 for discussion purposes, which would require an additional $158M in revenues). The grant will be funded through existing broad-base tax revenue sources, the existing non-residential education property tax structure, and cost savings accrued under this plan. 

There would no longer be a statewide property tax on residential property, and the CLA for residential properties would be eliminated. However, any spending in excess of the grant would be paid for with a property tax raised on the local residential grand list. Towns that spend less than the grant would receive a credit for 20% of the per-pupil savings, as an incentive to hold spending increases below the grant amount. Non residential property would continue to be taxed under the existing structure. 
The LEAF proposal would bring transparency and clarity to the local budgeting process - there would be a direct correlation between the decisions of voters and the impact on their tax bills. 

Of course, it is difficult to evaluate any new funding proposal without understanding the impact on individual circumstances. For that reason, we have provided tools to help illustrate the impact of our proposal on individual property tax bills. Using the options in the left-hand column of this site, you can lookup your property and see what your education property tax bill might look like under our proposal. We hope that you find the information provided here to be helpful. 

Highlights of the Plan: 

  • Eliminates statewide property tax for residential properties 
  • Eliminates Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) for homesteads 
  • Restores local control of school funding 
  • Eliminates excess spending penalties 
  • Eliminates the rural acreage penalty by eliminating the 2 acre limitation 
  • All special education to be paid from the state education fund 
  • Reduces complexity of current education funding plan (Act 60/68) 
  • Increases transparency of school funding mechanism 
  • Directly ties local education spending decisions to local tax liability 

The Vermont Special Interest Research Group
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 03, 2008

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), if it were to be truly honest, would rename itself the Vermont Special Interest Research Group (VSIRG). That's because its research and cheerleading is always for issues to the left of left, over to the place on the left margin where they used to say of uninhabited, unmapped, essentially unknown areas, "Here be dragons." 

How Much Does Carbon Cost?, September 06, 2008

Actually, the real question is, how much does it cost a utility to reduce its output of carbon by one ton?  That will be equal to the amount a utility will pay for the right to produce one more ton of carbon, at least at the margin. We'll find out on September 25, when the first Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction takes place.

New Age Laws And The Social Conscience du Jour
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 06, 2008

The new and current social conscience du jour is our national obsession with obesity and the demons that cause it. All over the country, newly appointed Food Police are outlawing the strangest things and prosecuting thoughtless offenders. Salt is out. Trans-fats are verboten. Peanuts and peanut derivatives are anathema in schools. Fast-food restaurants in low income neighborhoods are tools of the corporate devils. Soft drinks are as bad as hard liquor. French fries are all being sent back to France, and room temperature water is far healthier than ice water in restaurants (where water is even served, anymore).

We've seen it before; we will see it again. In the 16th century, chocolate came to Europe from the New World. It was so exotic that only the rich could afford it. In the age of the Inquisition, when virtually all pleasures were condemned, chocolate became a seduction of the devil in the eyes of many. That belief became so pervasive that the Jesuits made it part of their permanent vows not to eat chocolate. It was a springboard to hell. And as late as the 1960's (and perhaps, even now), newly professed Jesuits still forswore chocolate.

A More Activist Supreme Court Than Ours?, September 06, 2008

The ruling junta that is the Florida Supreme Court nixed ballot items to require a 65 percent rule for classroom spending and allow parents to be issued vouchers for any school they wish their children to attend.  Said one union official, "Public education will be saved!"  Saved for what?   There was a movie that came out two years ago called Idiocracythat brings to mind what we are saving our public education system for.  Well, anyway.  It appears that the Florida Supreme Court now has the power to set fiscal policy in Florida.  Even more so than ours does here.

Palin As VP - The People’s Choice
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 4, 2008

Palin is proud of her old-fashioned rural American values and is more than willing to stand up and defend them. Palin terrifies the left wing who have wasted no time in launching vicious attacks on her. They fear her strength and her resolve. They fear her support for states' rights, honesty in government and a willingness to challenge the Washington establishment.

Palin is the instrument of change that Obama claims to be, but is not.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Georgia's Human Chain Stronger than Russian Tanks
By David J. Smith, American Thinker, September 06, 2008

Priests joined hands with enthusiastic teenagers.  More sedate youngsters prayed in Rustaveli Avenue before the Kashueti Church.  Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II blessed the human chain, which wound up the hill to Sameba Cathedral.  Inside Sameba, a power greater than any tank was in charge.  With the serenity gained inside Sameba, gazing down the marble promenade, across the city, the reason for the hullabaloo was clear: Georgia won; Putin's Russia lost.

One westerner scoffed at this conclusion. "It looks like a football game; too many flags; disgusting, with all these people dead."  Sorry.  If you do not understand it, then you do not understand it.

The human chain was not a funeral procession; the anthem, "Freedom" is not a funeral dirge.  The girl with the green sneakers, the priests, the old ladies did not march like Putin's tin soldiers in a Red Square Mayday parade.  They gaggled-proud, defiant and cacophonous.  They celebrated Georgia the Georgian way.  Under the gaze of Russian invaders-in some places, literally-while effete westerners dithered, they joined hands to say, we are Georgia and we will stop Russia.

The staff and volunteers of Information Center on NATO wore the best T-shirt of the day: "We are from Georgia's future!"  Indeed!  Georgia's human chain leads to the future; Putin's tanks lead to the past.

Battered Baghdad Being Transformed
By Patrick Walters, The Australian, September 03, 2008

The first impression after an absence of two years is the stunning reduction in the appalling level of violence that had torn the city's suburbs apart over the past four years. A relative calm has now descended. On the day I arrived, there was not a single serious security incident across the whole of Baghdad.

The Pentagon is Sudying Ways of Countering the Tthreat of an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack
By Patrick Chisholm Military Information Technology

Amid increasing reliance on computer networks and other electronic technology and the rise of new and technologically sophisticated potential adversaries, military officials are taking a renewed look at ways of countering the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. 

During the Cold War, the possibility of an EMP attack was a prominent concern for U.S. defense planners. In such an attack scenario, a nuclear bomb is exploded miles—typically hundreds of miles—above the target area. The explosion generates an EMP that disrupts or destroys electronic devices everywhere in the target area, which could include an area as large as the continental United States. 

With the downfall of the Soviet Union, the threat of EMP from that part of the world has greatly receded. However, since the end of the Cold War, new EMP vulnerabilities have emerged, the most obvious of which is terrorism. As a 2004 report by a panel of experts warned, terrorists or other adversaries could launch an EMP attack without having a high level of sophistication, such as through a short-range Scud missile. Also of concern are non-nuclear, small-scale E-bombs that target localized areas. (See MIT, Volume 8, Issue 8, page 8.)

Cold Warriors and the Georgian Crisis
By Tony George, American Thinker, September 06, 2008

Russia's bait and switch plan using South Ossetia militiamen to goad the Georgian Army into an ill-advised attack and then ride to the rescue of its newly minted Russian citizens, was a masterful operation using all of the tools in the combined arms and services toolbox.  And while there will be no new Cold War, the Russian offensive into Georgia has revealed that despite our individual unit superiority, our military is no longer the global hyper-power as touted by the Pentagon's PR machine. 

Russia went into Georgia to accomplish its regional goals simply because Putin realized that a weakened West could only respond with a lot of shouting and diplomatic finger-pointing.

Iraqi Security Forces Continue Improving, Army Colonel Says
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg, Special to American Forces Press Service, September 4, 2008

An Army colonel working with Iraqi security forces in the country’s southern provinces said yesterday their proficiency and dedication have been impressive. 

"I am very impressed with the professionalism and the willingness of the Iraqi army to go out there and fight and go after the insurgents, smugglers or other special groups out there," Army Col. Philip F. Battaglia, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, told bloggers during a teleconference about the brigade’s mission in Iraq since deploying there in mid-June. 

In Long Run, Russia Is Still Third World
By Richard Ebeling, Investor’s Business Daily, September 05, 2008

Still, Russia's ability to throw its political and military weight around heavily depends upon the state of the Russian economy and how much fat can be sliced off to feed the purposes of those in power. In the short term, revenues from an energy-hungry world will enable Moscow to play for its place in the sun. In the longer run, Putin's authoritarian and nationalistic insistence on a strong, centralized and intrusive government will prevent a truly normal and prosperous Russia.

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From Elsewhere

Why They Hate Her
Sarah Palin is a smart missile aimed at the heart of the left
By Jeffrey Bell, The Weekly Standard, September 15, 2008

The simple fact of her being a pro-life married mother of five with a thriving political career was--before anything else about her was known--enough for the left and its outliers to target her for destruction. She could not be allowed to contradict symbolically one of the central narratives of the left. How galling it will be to Sarah Palin's many new enemies if she survives this assault and prevails. If she does, her success may be an important moment in the struggle to shape not just America's politics but its culture.

Drill For Oil And Cut Interest Rates
From Investor's Business Daily, September 05, 2008

Two things need saying about Friday's jobs data showing marked deterioration in the U.S. economy. One, it's not as bad as it looks. And two, it might get worse if policymakers do nothing.

The Peasants Are Revolting (updated)
Rosslyn Smith, American Thinker,September 06, 2008

The national press corps is beginning to get a taste of the anger they have created among a large percentage of the American public over their treatment of Sarah Palin. It will take some longer than others to grasp the magnitude of the disaster they have created for their failing industry.

High Energy and Food Prices: Driving the August Employment Report Slowdown
By James Sherk, The Heritage Foundation, September 5, 2008

On Friday, September 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its employment estimates for August 2008. Government data shows that employers continued to shed jobs for the eighth consecutive month, while the unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent, a five-year high. The manufacturing sector experienced particularly large job losses, mostly in automobile manufacturers. Temporary employment services also experienced large job losses.

Given such statistics, economic concerns are understandably weighing on the minds of many Americans. However, these economic concerns must be considered in the proper context. Job losses are largely confined to sectors affected by the collapse of the housing bubble or the high cost of energy. Although the job security of American workers has deteriorated over the past year, workers still have much greater job security in this downturn than a generation ago. Workers are significantly less likely to lose their jobs now than during the downturns of the early 1980s or 1990s. The economy faces significant challenges, but it is not in a recession.

Is it Really 'Public' Education If Voters Get No Say?
By Andrew J. Coulson, Cato Institute, September 2, 2008

But, ever since the Florida Supreme Court's 2006 decision in Bush v. Holmes, legislators have been forbidden to offer families any new alternatives to the traditional public-school system. If Amendment 9 does make it onto the ballot, and voters approve it, lawmakers would once again be free to design new educational options to serve Florida families. The amendment wouldn't create a single new program; it would just permit legislators to create such programs if they wished to do so.

And that's what's so remarkable about the case before the court on Wednesday. The Florida Education Association, the union representing the state's public-school employees, has sued to prevent Floridians from even having a say on the future of public education. Would it even make sense to keep calling it a "public" school system if voters are given no voice in the matter?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Avoiding the Next Big Mistake
By David C. John, The Heritage Foundation, September 4, 2008

While the political establishment may prefer to do nothing and hope that they can survive, this would be a huge mistake. The one clear lesson of the past several months is that the basic structure of Fannie and Freddie is fatally flawed. While both may have made significant contributions to housing ownership in the past, they are remnants of the 1960s Great Society and no longer reflect today's realities. Doing nothing is likely to both increase the eventual cost to the taxpayer and delay the creation of a more modern housing finance system that can meet the needs of homebuyers without the risk posed by Fannie and Freddie.

If doing nothing is the worst option, then nationalizing Fannie and Freddie is the second worst. ...The best way to deal with Fannie and Freddie would be for a receiver to take over and then to sell the remaining good quality assets either as several newly chartered entities or to other financial services firms. These new entities would not retain any type of taxpayer backing—either explicitly or implicitly. Bad assets would be liquidated over time in a way that would recoup to the maximum feasible extent any costs to the taxpayers.

To Drill or Not to Drill...
OPEC Considers Cutting Oil Production
By George Jahn, Associated Press, September 7, 2008

With oil prices off nearly 30 percent from their highs of almost $150 a barrel, OPEC oil ministers are considering what was unthinkable just a few weeks ago — cutting back output to prop up the price of crude.

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