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True North Archives - November 30, 2010
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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Radio archives are here! Use the controls on our radio archive page to listen to past shows of note (archived shows are available for a limited time only). True North airs daily between 11:00 am - 12:00 noon on Radio Vermont's WDEV, AM 550 & FM 96.1, and on WTWK, 1070 AM (Burlington).

Featured Articles

Our Nanny in Chief Targets Obesity
By John McClaughry

The state of Vermont faces a $112 million General Fund shortfall next year - and even more if the promised Challenge for Change savings fizzle out. The state also faces a total unfunded retirement benefits liability of $1.932 billion. The state's taxpayers endure the 5th highest state and local tax burden of the 50 states. Families in every community are out of work and insecure.

One concerned office holder, Attorney General William Sorrell, has decided that it's time for a bold new initiative: to raise $30 million in new taxes to enable state government to wage war against. The Menace of Obesity.

What Did Pope Benedict XVI Really Say about Condoms, AIDS, and Male Prostitutes?
By Kelly Bartlett

Are some people more interested in fighting the Church and its leader, than fighting HIV?  The interviewer himself, Peter Seewald pointed out how crucial Catholics have been in treating HIV patients:  "Twenty-five percent of all AIDs victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent."

The "Student" Who Dares Not Speak His Name
By Martin Harris

Martin Harris photoIt was one Robert Weissberg, NYC native turned Midwestern college professor, now turned retiree and author. His 2010 book, "Bad Students, not Bad Schools", has attracted all the usual recriminations from all the usual suspects: dis-respect for education and racism are just two. The book makes the basic argument that there are, in public schools, some "students" who don’t want to be there, and they respond with passive or active resistance.  In an earlier column I called them "Students-Who_Won’t_Learn, or SWWL’s. The official edu-crat non-solution is to pretend that no SWWL problem exists. "Retention is embraced even if this impedes learning among their classmates", he writes in the first page of the Preface. He answers the "why?" question as well: on p. 18 he writes "hundreds of interests have financial interest in educational policy, and many hire well-paid professional advocates to conduct self-serving research". He doesn’t write about the single most expensive policy of all, class size reduction, and the many studies—Hanushek, Vedder, Hoxby, et al.— illustrating that lower student numbers don’t produce higher grades, but the policy does, as Hanushek specifically says, expand staffing and raise per-pupil costs substantially. Weissberg does write about the student-conduct traits which, even if practiced by only a few, trigger both parent-initiated real-student flight (both white and black) and, in his words, "motivated-teacher flight" to schools where teaching and learning are actually accomplished, students and teachers are physically safer, and costs are lower, as negatively illustrated by the District of Columbia schools, with their highest-in-the-nation per-pupil costs and lowest-in-the nation per-pupil achievement.

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This Week’s Mail Bag

The Banana Menace

Watch for this headline: "Anti-Nuclear Activists Picket Supermarket! Radioactive Food Discovered In Produce Section."  And it wouldn't be a joke.

Food contains radioactivity.  Bananas contain radioactive potassium-40.  Drinking 2 liters of tritiated water a day for a year at the drinking water limit of .00000002 curies (20,000 picocuries) would give you a dose of 4 millirems for the year.  You’d get the same 4 millirems by eating 19 bananas during the year.  It is only a matter of time before the anti-nuclear activists, figuring this out, will demand stopping the sale of bananas.

Normal background radiation in this country gives the average American 350 millirems a year.  Most of this comes from cosmic ray bombardment and radon from bedrock.  The radiation released by America's 104 nuclear plants adds one more millirem.  One bitewing dental X-ray or a one plane flight from Boston to California and partway back produces 4 millirems.

 The EPA deliberately allows only the amount of radiation in water whose effect will be indistinguishable from background radiation or minor lifestyle choices, such as a trip to the dentist.

Reactor plant design assumes earthquakes, leaks, and personnel error.  Hardware, control systems, training, administration, security, and management are all designed to identify problems and mistakes, and get them fixed.

The regulations on emitted radioactivity protect the public with a huge margin of safety.

Of course, this information won't change minds impervious to science.  However, intelligent citizens will understand it.

Howard Shaffer III
Howard Shaffer III is a retired nuclear engineer who lives in Enfield NH. He is a senior advisor to the Ethan Allen Institute’s Energy Education Project.

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VT Poverty Level

Could it be that Vermont's poverty level is related to the number of folks arriving here from out of state for the sole purpose of receiving assistance?  I know for sure in many cases it is.  With the support of our Representatives and government assistance, Vermont built several hundred housing units suitable for low income and seniors who are welcome here from all over the country.

Vermont has also become devoid of jobs, jobs, jobs.  Candidates running for office promise to create jobs.  But few materialize.  The so called "environmentalists" have all but shut down opportunity for business to prosper in Vermont.  The recent election result promises to shut down Vt. Yankee.  Business requires affordable energy.  When our state and country makes it more feasible for business to prosper elsewhere, what is left for jobs in Vermont other than medical, state and federal government jobs.

Education is another subject that I heard much about when on the campaign trail during the recent election.  Apparently parents are concerned about the need for more money to correct the ills of their school districts.  So they support and vote for so called "Progressive Candidates".  The very candidates who look to government to do for them what they ought to be doing for themselves.  In the process their schools become infested with the ills of a socialistic system and they cry, government needs to do more.

I recently was introduced to the film, Agenda: Grinding Down America.  It begins with a quote, "America is like a healthy body, and its resistance is threefold; its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life.  If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within."  I ask, do you know who the author is?  It also spoke of the term spoken by Lenin, "useful idiots". I ask, who is he referring to?  How do I fit into and contribute to the "Grinding Down of America"?

Often when outside of Vermont, I hear my homeland state being referred to as the "welfare state."  I ask, what is the definition of a "welfare state?"

You may be asking it too.

Ah yes, we want that no one go hungry.  Might we ask how does our vote contribute to hunger?

Ellie Martin
Ellie Martin is a Member of the Green Mountain Patriots

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"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."

-- George Washington in his First Inaugural Address

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

The Repo Man Cometh
By Chris Campion, Vermont Tiger, November 25 2010

Answering the question "What happens when BT can't pay its bills?", CitiCapital has decided to repossess BT's telecom equipment, equipment BT leased through its financing deal.  Stunningly, the Mayor of Burlington thinks it won't be a problem to replace those technical assets required to provide the services BT sells to its customers.  This is like assuming you can still make pizzas in your pizza shop if your financing company repossesses the ovens due to lack of payment - it is not very likely that another lender is going to run into your now-empty pizza joint with a bagful of cash.

40 More Vermont Soldiers Are Home
From Fox 44, November 22 2010

Forty Vermont brigade soldiers have been waiting for this moment, for what some say, felt like forever.

"As soon as you see the date in the calendar when you are going home, it just drags on," said Sergeant Kregg Kittell.

"You just walk through the door and then I see these guys waving, it's just, I can't really describe it," added Kittell as he held his son.

The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was in Gardez, Afghanistan.  Colonel John Boyd says part of the mission was to improve the local government and livelihood.

Welfare State
From Vermont Tiger, November 23 2010

The new congress in Washington may abandon the practice of "earmarks."  It won't necessarily save any money in the aggregate – though it might – but it will mean an end to the spectacle of senators and representatives returning home in triumph because they have secured this or that bauble in the appropriations melee.

"Don't you love me?  I got you millions for a new, downtown parking garage?"

Somehow, the millions are made to seem like free money, though every dollar that comes from Washington had to go there first and run the obstacle course of K Street lobbying, Congressional horsetrading, and the rest.  Then, what's left of the dollar is sent back home to pay for a paving project and buy votes.

The Vermont delegation is in favor of keeping the system. Why trifle with a creation so sublime, right?

More Vermonters seek food aid
By Lisa Rathke, Bennington Banner, November 28, 2010

When the Enosburg Food Shelf opened three years ago in this farm country town, organizers expected to serve 60 families a month, at most. Now, an average of 160 take advantage of it.

Food shelf treasurer Suzanne Hull-Parent says the resources of lower middle-class familes are drying up as the economy continues to wobble.

A new federal report on hunger issued Nov. 15 found that Vermont and Alabama have had the highest increase in "food insecurity" during the last 10 years.

Between 2008 and 2009, the share of households in Vermont that at times don't have enough nutritious food rose from 12.1 percent to 13.6 percent. In Alabama, the rate rose from 13.8 percent to 15 percent in the same period. The Department of Agriculture, which also takes into account population size and other factors, says the states are tied in having had the biggest increase in the last decade. "The choices that families have to make when it comes to meeting their basic needs are heartbreaking. Choosing between heat and food or housing and food are decisions that people just shouldn't have to make," said Marissa Parisi, executive director of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.

Cutting the Cable; Taking Down the Dish
By Tom Evslin, Vermont Tiger, November 22 2010

People are dropping their pay TV subscriptions. According to an article in The New York Times, cable, satellite and telecommunications subscriptions for entertainment during the third quarter of 2010 declined by 119,000; it was the second consecutive quarterly decline. Although the economic situation indubitably has something to do with the decline, the third quarter of 2009 – when times were even worse – saw a gain of 346,000 subscribers.

Ian Olgeirson, a senior analyst at SNL Kagan, is quoted in the NYTimes story as saying that it is "becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the impact of over-the-top substitution on video subscriber performance." In other words, people are increasingly obtaining their entertainment ala carte over their Internet connections. Most of the online content is free; some is ad-supported; and some requires a subscription or pay-per-view. Some of it is user-created as in YouTube; but some is very professional including first-run TV shows and Major League baseball (

Vermont Data Mining Law Is Ruled Unconstitutional
By Ed Silverman,, November 1 2010

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Vermont law restricting data mining - specifically, the sale of prescription drug info that identifies prescribers and patients for commercial marketing purposes - is unconstitutional. The law was challenged by three healthcare research firms - IMS Health, SDI, Wolters Kluwer health - and the PhRMA trade group, which argued the legislation would hurt public access to healthcare info and violated commercial speech.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
By Ed Barnes, Fox News, November 26 2010

In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.

The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.

But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe.

Related Articles: 

Update: Conflict on the Korean Peninsula
From Strategic Forecasters, November 23 2010

North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery fire near their disputed border in the Yellow Sea/West Sea on Nov. 23. The incident raises several questions, not the least of which is whether Pyongyang is attempting to move the real "red line" for conventional weapons engagements, just as it has managed to move the limit of "acceptable" behavior regarding its nuclear program.

Related Articles: 

Aviation Security Threats and Realities
By Scott Stewart, Strategic Forecasters, November 23 2010

Over the past few weeks, aviation security — specifically, enhanced passenger-screening procedures — has become a big issue in the media. The discussion of the topic has become even more fervent as we enter Thanksgiving weekend, which is historically one of the busiest travel periods of the year. As this discussion has progressed, we have been asked repeatedly by readers and members of the press for our opinion on the matter.

We have answered such requests from readers, and we have done a number of media interviews, but we’ve resisted writing a fresh analysis on aviation security because, as an organization, our objective is to lead the media rather than follow the media regarding a particular topic. We want our readers to be aware of things before they become pressing public issues, and when it comes to aviation-security threats and the issues involved with passenger screening, we believe we have accomplished this. Many of the things now being discussed in the media are things we’ve written about for years.

Sharia Law: Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You
An Oklahoma judge rules against the public interest.
By Hans A. Von Spakovsky, National Review, November 22 2010

If you thought only U.S. laws ruled the land, you thought wrong — at least according to a crazy decision recently handed down by a federal judge in Oklahoma.

On November 2, Sooner State voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum that directs courts to "rely on federal and state law when deciding cases" and forbids "courts from considering or using international law" or "Sharia law." Muneer Awad responded by filing suit, and Judge Micki Miles-LaGrange, a Clinton appointee, promptly issued a temporary restraining order, putting the people’s voice on hold.

The plaintiff asserted that his First Amendment rights would be violated if Oklahoma’s constitution was amended to implement this ban against consideration of Sharia law. The amendment, he claimed, would constitute official "disapproval" of his religion. Moreover, it would invalidate his last will and testament, which incorporates various teachings of Mohammed.

Only Russia Can Save Europe from Islamisation, Zhirinovsky Believes
From Interfax, November 24 2010

The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky believes Russia can help Western countries to meet the challenge of Islamisation.

"If the threat of Africa, Asia and Islamisation aggravates, only Russia will be able to save those countries, and this is going to be still another "Suvorov's march" crossing the Alps, but not by the soldiers and the army, but by some joint projects aimed at restraining Europe's conquest by the Asians and the Africans," he said in a TV show Main Subject (3rd Channel).

According to Zhirinovsky, Arabs will soon account for the majority of Paris population. He also emphasized the challenges of assimilating Turks in Germany and Albanians and Kurds in Europe. 

A well-known writer Yelena Chudinova, speaking of tolerance, said "virtue without reason is a sin" and "tolerance has long been a sin."

"All our tolerance has been a one-way street. If the situation were different, there would be a dialog. As any reasonable person, I would prefer a dialog, but our tolerance has been viewed as our weakness, and this is where the two mentalities clash," she said.

Al-Qaeda's Inspire Magazine - Special Edition
By Steve Emerson, Family Security Matters, November 24 2010

It took just $4,200 for al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] to launch its latest attempted attack, "Operation Hemorrhage," the bombing of Western targets and cargo planes with mail bombs, according to a special edition of the group's English language Inspire magazine released over the weekend.

Although many analysts have cited the magazine's depth of detail surrounding the attempt, a number of surprising omissions also provide information about the evolving plots of al-Qaida. Notably, the special edition's articles go into great depth about strategic and technical aspects of the effort, and how this is the beginning of an era of small, low investment attacks.

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From Elsewhere

Save The Dollar, Not The Fed
Remove all the Federal Reserve's discretion, not just half of it.
By Lawrence A. Hunter, Forbes Magazine, November 24 2010

The problem with government is that when it isn't benefiting politicians, bureaucrats and special interests at the expense of everyone else, its handy work is aimed at the symptoms of problems rather than at the problems themselves. This misdirection not only masks the true cause of problems it also exacerbates them, which, as Ronald Reagan said, makes government part of the problem, not the solution. The more problems government attempts to solve, the more new problems it creates for itself to solve, a sort of bureaucratic perpetual motion machine.

The Federal Reserve Board is a case in point. Ostensibly created to maintain price stability, the Fed has actually feathered the nest of the banking cartel it created and produced a century of monetary instability and ancillary economic problems.

Will ObamaCare Collapse?
By Tait Trussell,Front Page Magazine, November 24 2010

Large employers who spend $80 billion a year to insure millions of employees and their families say ObamaCare is headed for "collapse." Human resource executives see the law as pushing employers to drop health coverage. A 28-page analysis by the Association of Chief Human Resource Officers (ACHRO) finds a majority believe the law must be repealed or overhauled.

ObamaCare requires employers to offer health insurance to their employees. If they don’t, they would have to pay a penalty beginning in 2014. But when McDonald’s and some other employers warned it would be too expensive to ensure their large ranks of employees, the Secretary of Health and Human Services  (HHS) issued waivers, taking dozens of companies off the hook, The New York Times and other publications reported. Preferential treatment for some companies is sure to cause resentment.

Related: Americans Want, and Expect, Repeal

Gingrich: Ave Maria to Help Catholic-Based Legal System Replace Left, Secular Judicial Branch
By Kelly Farrell,, November 16 2010

This school matters, he said, by replacing the "neutral technology for the redistribution of wealth" with a morally-based legal system.

"There is no such thing as a Supreme Court… Between the Executive and Legislative branches, the Judicial Branch is the weakest of the three branches," Gingrich said. He described the Supreme Court, current Judicial Branch and U.S. legal system as an "arrogant, secular and elitist force."

Republican Governors Target Public Employee Unions
Several leaders at a San Diego conference frame unions as the enemy, and call for trimming pay and benefits for teachers and others.
From The Los Angeles Times, November 19 2010

The main opponent mentioned at the Republican Governors Assn. conference here — described in terms ranging from misguided to downright evil — is the other party, the Democrats.

But running a close second are the public employee unions, particularly the teachers unions.

"Frankly," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, "the public employee unions would stick a shiv in all of us if they could."

DOJ and the New Black Panther Party Litigation
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Report

Non-partisan 144-page report indicates ongoing DOJ cover-up in Black Panther voter intimidation case with possible direct participation from Obama White House.

The No-Grope List: Look Who Gets a Junk-Touching Exemption
By Michelle Malkin, November 23 2010

You’ve heard of the "no-fly" list.

Now get a load of the no-grope list — a roster of the privileged federal officials and politicians who don’t have to be subjected to TSA’s grabby hands.

Lucky them, huh?

Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

The heightened new security procedures by the Transportation Security Administration, which involve either a scan by a full-body detector or an intimate personal pat-down, have spurred passenger outrage in the lead-up to the Thanksgiving holiday airport crush.

But while passengers have no choice but to submit to either the detector or what some complain is an intrusive pat-down, senior government officials can opt out if they fly accompanied by government security guards approved by the TSA.

Times Preens Over Publishing Stolen Cables, But Was Snooty Over Swiped Climate-Gate Email
By Clay Waters, Media Research Center, November 29, 2010

While the Times managed to overcome whatever qualms it had against running pieces of the diplomatic correspondence, bloggers like Scott Hinderaker at Powerline remembered the paper’s quite different reaction to another trove of sensitive and damning emails -- the controversy that came to be known as Climategate.

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