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True North Archives - October 09, 2007
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Featured Articles

Did Symington gain special treatment for Intervale?
By Rob Roper

Speaker of the House Gaye Symington has made it clear that environmental legislation and campaign finance legislation will be top priorities when the Legislature reconvenes in January. The recent controversy surrounding Symington and her employer, Intervale Center, relates directly to the speaker's credibility on both of these issues.

The SCHIP Veto Confrontation
By John McClaughry

The sad thing here is that this political steel-cage match diverts attention from what ought to be the central debate over health care. That debate addresses such questions as, who is primarily responsible for your health care? You and your doctor, or everybody? How can people better learn to self-manage their own health and treatment protocols, thus reducing the costs now paid to drug companies and the medical industry?

Surprising or Inevitable?
By Martin Harris

Some of those notions show up in a recent web posting of an article in The Valley Reporter, in which "the Editor" (that’s the by-line) writes that "the Waitsfield Planning Commission had an interesting and candid discussion about ;and use, prime agricultural lands, and the perceived notion of a speculative right to a financial return on land". Note the pejorative spin in the final phrase, and never mind that there’s not an acre in Waitsfield which would be considered "prime ag soils" in comparison with Corn Belt land in Indiana or Illinois. 

The Editor continues: "Part of the discussion by planners this week had to do with the notion of the land, specifically the prime agricultural lands by which we are fed, being an asset that needs to be held in trust for all the public."  This notion has ancient roots, going back to royal ownership of the kingdom parceled out to barns and earls whose serfs actually worked it, to the more recent Karl Mark prescription that the means of production must be owned by government and managed in collectives. The same notion of collective ownership showed up in the first years of the Jamestown colony 400 years ago, but was abandoned for private ownership after a few years when everyone came to realize that land owned by, supposedly, "all" was actually worked poorly by a few, and there wasn’t enough food produced to feed not only the few producers but the many non-producers as well.

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Protecting Our Children

On Saturday, September 15, Ken Wooden, nationally recognized expert on child safety and founder of Child Lures Prevention, presented at the First Unitarian-Universalist Society in Burlington, "Let’s Keep Our Children Safe! What Sexual Predators Don't Want You to Know." I thank Ken and his staff for donating their time and for sharing such invaluable information, as well as effective strategies on how to ensure the safety of our children, especially from those who prey on them. 

Anticipating a standing-room-only crowd, I was surprised by the disappointingly low number in attendance at this very important community awareness and prevention seminar. Was this just a lack of interest, or is it due to the fact that many are naïve in believing that crime, especially such as these, only happens to others? No one is immune, however, as crime does not discriminate.

Ninety percent of the sex crimes against children are committed by someone they know. Listen, believe, and talk to your children. Open communication is essential. Successfully proven tools, programs such as Child Lures Prevention, should be disseminated in our schools, as well as in our colleges and in our homes. Awareness and prevention are crucial in this continuous battle to protect our children from those who sexually abuse them. Educating them and ourselves is our best defense.

Catherine Metropoulos
Charlotte, Vermont

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Property Tax Pre-Bate Situation

I am so upset about the property tax pre-bate situation. My husband and I always used our prebate to pay our August payment in Colchester. I own a small business in Colchester and while the other two tax installments come during a time of year that my business is busy and we are able to do an owner draw to pay the installments, July and August are slow and we don't have the extra cash. This year the town of Colchester decided to take OUR money and divide it up evenly between all three installments and so we still had a large tax installment to make in August. Even though we HAD the money, it was taken and used in a way that caused us to be unable to pay our August payment on time so the town penalized us with an extra 200.00 in late fees and interest, adding to our hardship. It is simply maddening! When I went in to pay the late payment, before they added another 200.00, I asked if there is a procedure to ask the town to waive the fees, and I was told that there is no procedure. I seriously feel that we have a case in court to recover our money but I don't really know how to go about it. The people in the town offices say there is nothing they can do. I am also afraid of ruffling feathers and suffering consequences. What is your take on this, and do you have any ideas for us? I also am very concerned about our personal income information being public knowledge. 

Thank-you for your time, 

Laurie Hammond
Colchester, Vermont

I am an advocate for children and a member of the Vermont Victim's Compensation Board as well as the Vermont Sentencing Commission appointed by Governor Douglas.

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"The chronic shortage of good scientists, engineers and other professionals which plagues us is the result of time wasted in public schools which must be made up later on." -- Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover (often called the "father of the atomic submarine")

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Defining an Education: Part III of VI, October 04, 2007

Ten years after Act 60 was enacted into law, we continue to measure education equality on the basis of dollars going in, to the exclusion of results coming out.  This remains the single greatest flaw in the Brigham decision.  The crux of the problem is that we have no definition of what constitutes an education in Vermont. 

Are Environmentalists Bad For The Environment?, October 01, 2007

According to Nobel Laureate chemist Paul J. Crutzen, crops grown to make 'green' fuel actually increase global warming. The plants could produce up to 70% more greenhouse gases than conventional diesel, due to the nitrous oxide released by fertilizers. "The study suggested scientists and farmers focus on crops which required less intensive farming methods to produce better benefits for the environment." Of course, we wouldn't be growing green fuels at all if it didn't serve the political ambitions of someone. A better suggestion would be for politicians to focus on wasting less money and let the scientists worry about science and the farmers worry about farming.

What Does It Take?
Caledonian Record Editorial,Friday October 5, 2007

On Monday's new charges, Sleeper was sentenced to 6 years in prison. That's one tenth of the 60 years that he could have been sentenced to. The question begs to be answered: What does it take for a hardened criminal like this man to get the maximum sentence? And since he didn't get it, what is the point in having maximum sentences at all? This man, over a period of seven years, has pleaded to or been found guilty of at least 18 felonies, yet he will be out on the street within about four years to do it all over again. Vermont law calls for life imprisonment of repeat felonious offenders. If 18 convictions for felonies don't qualify Jacob Sleeper for that imprisonment, it is doubtful that any number will. Isn't it time that the courts start using the teeth that the Legislature has given them?

Who's in Charge Here?
From, October 04, 2007

Funny, I think that ending U.S. cotton subsidies is a good thing (although remember that the WTO has no enforcement mechanism).  Ending cotton subsidies helps provide higher incomes to destitute cotton growers in Africa and it gives U.S. cotton consumers lower prices--and last time I looked, there were more cotton consumers than cotton producers in the U.S..  Could it be that the legislature thinks that at some time in the future, the state of Vermont's ability to raise the price of milk to 600,000 Vermonters in order to give higher prices to 1,000 Vermont dairy farmers may be jeopardized by an international agreement?

We Should Not Forget Where The Money Comes From
Caledonian Record Editorial, October 2, 2007

So, why did UVM ask for this money for this redundant project? Because the money was there. That UVM might discover something heretofore unknown about Lake Champlain is doubtful, but if they do, will it be worth $6.7 million? Highly doubtful. Which brings us to our second caution. Where did the money for this academic boondoggle come from? It came from our pockets as federal taxpayers. Because it came from the NSF shouldn't fog our judgment. It is an earmark as surely as the new awnings we paid for in John Murtha's Pennsylvania were paid for with an earmark. It is pork, pure and simple.

From, October 04, 2007

The Next Gen report demonstrates the State’s complete acknowledgment of the real, underlying problems and their willingness to divert attention from these issues to seduce young grads away from the relative prosperity of neighboring states. For example, the report notes "The state’s estimated individual "tax burden" of $11,600 per capita placed Vermont in 15th among the 50 states in 2006." This is an interesting claim because a Tax Foundation report based on U.S. Census Bureau data showed Vermonters are the most heavily taxed people, per capita, in the entire country. Regardless, the actual (#1) or imaginary (#15) tax status of Vermont is something any would-be migrant should be aware of. 

Join Vermont's Tax Revolt
By Tom Licata, October 3, 2007

Please sign Vermont’s Tax Revolt Petition – and pass the word on to others. Reading through it should convince you that our problems go beyond Vermont's weighty tax burdens.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Salafism's simple message appeals to Muslim youth
By Michel Hoebink, Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The fundamentalist Islamic movement Salafism is spreading rapidly around the world via Internet. With its simple message, it exerts a strong attraction on identity seeking Muslim youths both in the Islamic world and in the west. An international conference on Salafism took place in the Dutch city of Nijmegen last week.

The Muslim Brotherhood: An Association for Jihadists
By Frank Salvato, The New Media Journal, October 5, 2007

One of the more clandestine groups in radical Islam is the Muslim Brotherhood. Originating in Egypt in 1928, the group has been outlawed in Egypt yet it members hold seats in the Egyptian government. That this radically fundamentalist Islamist group is the parent organization to some of the most violent terror groups operating today. It thrives as a pseudo professional association for terrorists while feigning legitimacy as a political movement. So, what is the Muslim Brotherhood and why should every American be concerned about its activities both within the United States and around the world? The Muslim Brotherhood has become a central issue in federal court proceedings now taking place in Dallas, Texas. These proceedings involve what, until now, has been portrayed as an Islamist philanthropic organization, The Holy Land Foundation. But the Muslim Brotherhood, the Holy Land Foundation and over 300 unindicted co-conspirators are enabling and funding terrorist groups around the world with money derived from people right here in the United States. The Muslim Brotherhood is the name of a world-wide Sunni Islamist movement, which has spawned several religious and political organizations in the Middle East, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, dedicated to the jihadi credo: 

"God is our objective, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way, and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations."

The Two Faces of Al Qaeda
By Raymond Ibrahim, Victor Davis Hanson’s Private papers

Whatever position one takes as to why Al Qaeda has declared war on America, one thing is clear: We must begin to come to terms with all of Al Qaeda's rhetoric, not just what is aimed specifically at Western readers. We must particularly come to better appreciate the theological aspects that underpin radical Islam. As Butt puts it: 

"The main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology. They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever — and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace and hope that all of this debate will go away."

When news of The Al Qaeda Reader leaked to the press in 2005, some on the left questioned whether the book would be a pseudo-scholarly attempt to demonize Muslims. Others on the right worried that unfiltered exposure to the radical beliefs and propaganda of bin Laden and his cohorts might unintentionally lead to more converts or sympathizers.

Window of Opportunity
On the ground in Iraq
By Rich Lowry, National Review Online, October 5, 2007

Inspired tactics by our troops, coupled with a Sunni turn against al-Qaida, have — in a microcosm of what’s happening throughout Iraq — transformed the northwest part of Baghdad controlled by this brigade. "People ask me if we’re at a tipping point," says the brigade’s leader, Col. J.B. Burton. "I say, ‘No, we have a window of opportunity.’" The opportunity is knocking at, among other places, an intersection on one of the main roads in the Sunni neighborhood of Ghazaliya. Once, Americans couldn’t come here without getting hit. Now, they stop and get out to shake hands with some of the same people who had been shooting at them. They are the "Ghazaliya Guards," local Sunnis who volunteered to police their neighborhood and man a checkpoint controlling access in and out. They don’t look like much. One American soldier jokes that their plain tan uniforms could have been bought at JCPenney. But they have been a game-changer.

COIN Is Not Small Change
By Clifford D. May, National Review Online, October 4, 2007

As for why was the Army was unprepared, Nagl’s explanation is simple: "After the Vietnam War we purged ourselves of everything that had to do with irregular warfare or insurgency, because it had to do with how we lost that war. In hindsight, that was a bad decision." Eventually, however, a good decision followed. The military went to work on the problem and this year published the results: "The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual," a 419-page guide to fighting what military scholar Andrew Krepinevich expects will be "the dominant form of warfare over the next decade." Gen. David Petraeus, the current commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, was a principle author of the manual. Following its rules for counterinsurgency — abbreviated as COIN — he has "surged" more troops into Iraq and stationed them not inside FOBs but on the hot, dusty streets of Iraqi cities and villages. To conventional military thinkers, this is insanity: It gives the enemy more troops to kill — and it places them in more vulnerable positions. But Petreaus’s soldiers and Marines have quickly made it clear that their mission is to provide security for their hosts. Local populations have responded by treating the U.S. forces as valued guests rather than foreign occupiers. And they have been providing the one thing a COIN operation must have to succeed: intelligence on where the enemy is lurking.

Saudi Cleric Issues Edict Against Foreign Jihad
By Rick Moran, The American Thinker, October 04, 2007

Counterterrorism Blog is reporting that the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia - the leading Wahhabi cleric in the Kingdom - has issued a surprising edict that forbids Saudis from participating in Jihad outside the country. ... It has been the worst kept secret in the world that Saudi Arabia is one of the leading financiers of terrorism in the world today. Their funding of the religious schools in Pakistan supply a ready stream of jihadists to the Taliban and al-Qaeda while individual Saudis have funded terrorist groups around the world. Part of the problem has been the Royal Family's policy of trying to buy off the terrorists by allowing them to be financed as long as they don't target the Kingdom or the government. There are signs that this myopia with regards to terrorists has been changing in recent years as the government has begun to crackdown on cells that set up shop in Saudi Arabia.

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From Elsewhere

Moral legislation
Part 8 of 'The Crisis of the Republic'
By Alan Keyes, 2007 Renew America

In a republic such as the United States is supposed to be, the sovereignty of the people derives from and reflects the personal sovereignty of the individuals who comprise it. Therefore, the capacity for private choice and the nature of the choices made are inherently matters of public consequence. Failure to take account of this fact has produced enormous confusion and error in defining and dealing with vital issues of self-government. Demagogues in politics and the judiciary, with the help of self-worshipping elitists in the communications and entertainment media, have relentlessly promoted the idea that issues of personal morality (those in particular having to do with sexual gratification) are strictly private concerns that do not involve, and should not be subject to the authority of, the people as a whole. "You can't legislate morality" is their absurd mantra. "It's a private affair."

Charge It! America
Money changes everything.
By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, October 4, 2007

Still, there are problems with these easy rationalizations about charge-it America. First, we will have to spend trillions of dollars for unfunded Social Security and Medicare commitments in the next few years as our population ages. Ever fewer workers must support more lavish benefits for ever more retirees. Our military has put off necessary plane and ship replacements, and needs billions to replace worn equipment. At home, neglected bridges, roads, airports and railroads need even more money in fresh investment. So we should be saving now, not going into debt, for an upcoming nasty date with fiscal reality. Even more critical is the toll on our national psyche. Americans don’t like to read that they are borrowing to pay their annual bills, borrowing to import their gas, borrowing to buy Japanese

Congress Is Full of SCHIP
Expansion isn’t the best way to help the uninsured
By Paul Howard, Ph.D., Medical Progress Today

Nicole Garrett is not one of the uninsured. Her family is covered by Michigan's Medicaid program. And so when her daughter Jada developed painful joint inflammation and needed to see a specialist, she turned to her Medicaid plan. But if she had coverage, she lacked access: there was only one rheumatologist in her network, and the wait to see him was more than three months. Unfortunately, her story is all too common, an example of the failure of public programs—designed with the best of intentions—to produce acceptable outcomes. With Congress debating a massive expansion of such programs, the better prescription is for a smarter safety net, not a pricier one.

He’s Back: Sandy Berger Now Advising Hillary Clinton
By Bill Sammon, The Examiner, October 8, 2007 

Sandy Berger, who stole highly classified terrorism documents from the National Archives, destroyed them and lied to investigators, is now an adviser to presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. ... Berger has admitted stealing documents from the National Archives in advance of the 9/11 Commission hearings in 2003.

Neo-Cons and Neo-Commies
By James Lewis, The American Thinker, October 05, 2007

Everybody talks about the evil Neo-Cons, but nobody talks about the resurgent Neo-Commies. "Communist" has been expelled from the Politically Correct lexicon -- which tells us a lot about the Commissars of the PC. They bear the most amazing resemblance to the old Commissars of (deleted) who killed 60-100 million people in the 20th century. (And Kim Jong Il, not to mention Red China, are still doing it....)

Mikhail Gorbachev, who should know them when he sees them, recently warned about a "resurgence of Stalinism" in Russia and Eastern Europe.   The history of Communist crimes was being erased, he said.  Well, he was right. But resurgent Stalinism is not limited to those countries. It's in the US and all over the world, as David Horowitz, another former radical, continues to document in great detail.  The Boomer Left is simply filled to the gills with those who used to be called Commies, but who are now "progressives." 

Columbus Day Celebrates Western Civilization
From the Ayn Rand Institute, October 04, 2007

"Columbus Day is, at root, a celebration of the worldwide spread of Western civilization--a value that is under attack from multiculturalists at home and Islamic totalitarians abroad. Multiculturalism, which rejects the idea that some cultures are superior to others, makes it possible for American Indian activists to get away with castigating Columbus as a 'cultural imperialist,' calling for abolition of his holiday and replacing it with 'Indigenous Peoples Day.' This is outrageous. Contrary to the multiculturalist position, it is possible to demonstrate objectively that one society is superior to another--by the standard of what benefits human life. By this standard, modern industrial society is incomparably superior to the barbaric, tribalistic Stone Age culture of the Indians who predated Columbus.

"Those who attack Columbus Day are attacking the distinctive values of Western civilization that America so proudly embraces--reason, science, individual rights, and capitalism. This is especially dangerous at a time when those exact values are under assault from Islamic totalitarians who terrorize us as part of their quest to destroy our civilization and replace it with a worldwide Islamic theocracy.

Singer Says Climate Change Natural, Not Man Made

"What we're experiencing now is entirely natural, not manmade," he said. "It has nothing to do with carbon dioxide gas, greenhouse gases. It has nothing to do with the burning of fossil fuels, coal or gas.

"I want you to reflect on that. If indeed this is correct and it is natural, then it is unstoppable -- nothing you can do about it. Just enjoy it. Be glad it's not cooling." 

He said two significant factors influence climate change -- solar activity and clouds -- and humans cannot control either one. He presented data from the analysis of stalagmites from a cave in Oman that show a correlation between solar activity thousands of years ago and a concurrent rise in temperatures.

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