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Feingold won’t rule out Bush impeachment

BURLINGTON — If Pres. George Bush broke laws when ordering wiretaps and secret spying on U.S. citizens, a key Senate Democrat said he would not rule out calling for his impeachment.

“I think there is an orderly and dignified way to find out what happened,” said Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. “And, if there was a legal violation there needs to be accountability … you can’t put the cart before the horse, but I would not rule out any form of accountability.”

That would include impeachment, Feingold told reporters.

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Feingold, who is eyeing a run for president in 2008, was in Vermont Saturday to stump for Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Jim Jeffords.

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Mining for kids: Children can’t “opt out” of Pentagon recruitment database

Parents cannot remove their children’s names from a Pentagon database that includes highly personal information used to attract military recruits, the Vermont Guardian has learned.

The Pentagon has spent more than $70.5 million on market research, national advertising, website development, and management of the Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) database — a storehouse of questionable legality that includes the names and personal details of more than 30 million U.S. children and young people between the ages of 16 and 23.

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The database is separate from information collected from schools that receive federal education money. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to report the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary school students to recruiters, but the law also specifies that parents or guardians may write a letter to the school asking that their children’s names not be released.

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Vermont: 36 towns call for impeachment probe of president

Updated at 8:35 AM, March 7 with more towns reporting on both resolutions, and additional comments.

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Voters in three dozen Vermont towns want Congress to begin an impeachment probe of Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney.

Two towns, Clarendon and Dover, voted the measure down. Nearly a half dozen towns agreed to not take up, or table, the resolution.

There are 251 towns in Vermont, but not all hold town meetings.

More than a dozen towns passed measures calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and to care for them when they were back on U.S. soil. Dover also rejected the troop measure. About 20 towns had one of the items warned on their town meeting ballot, while many others took up the issue during “other business” at the end of the meeting.

The votes come after a whirlwind, four-day tour of Vermont with antiwar icon Cindy Sheehan and three Vermont Iraq War veterans, along with organizers of the resolutions. Sheehan testified before a state Senate committee on Friday, along with war supporters.

“I’m happy with it. I think we’ve got a very good number of towns that have reported so far and passing it, and it’s pretty overwhelming that didn’t pass. And, just one that voted it down,” said Jimmy Leas, a South Burlington lawyer who crafted the troop withdrawal resolution.

Newfane Selectman Dan DeWalt is the major organizer of the impeachment resolutions. His effort has drawn global media attention and scorn. Last year, six towns passed impeachment resolutions.

Vermont town call

The impeachment resolutions have passed so far in Bristol, Burke, Calais, Craftsbury, Dummerston, East Montpelier, Greensboro, Guilford, Grafton, Hartland, Jamaica, Jericho, Johnson, Marlboro, Middlebury, Montgomery, Morristown, Newbury, Newfane, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, Richmond, Rochester, Roxbury, St. Johnsbury, Springfield, Stannard, Sunderland, Townshend, Tunbridge, Vershire, Warren, Westminster, Wilmington, and Woodbury, according to organizers. Organizers based their information on reports from people in each town.

DeWalt said organizers will use these votes to urge state lawmakers to take up a measure in the House calling for Bush’s impeachment. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

“This is clearly not a cry of protest, but the start of action — an impeachment insurrection that will lead to the reclamation of our Constitution,” said DeWalt. “Vermonters are angry and energized. We are taking the power that is sovereign in us and will use it to restore the Constitution. We will show the world that America has not sunk to the depths of violent madness that is the Bush administration.”

Several towns voted to not take up the measure: Bakersfield, Londonderry, Dorset, Stamford, and Walden.

Additionally, 20 towns approved a measure calling for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq: Bristol, Calais, Cornwall, Greensboro, Guilford, Hardwick, Jamaica, Jericho, Johnson, Marshfield, Middlebury, Newfane, Peru, Plymouth, Rockingham, Roxbury, St. Johnsbury, Townshend, Waldon, and Woodbury.

According to a Guardian reader, in Pomfret the impeachment resolution was moved under “other business,” but a voter countered with an amendment not to vote on the resolution because many of the town’s residents had already left the meeting. Voters agreed and voted to table the resolution was 43 to 28. In this context, the troop resolution was not moved. Supporters of the measure, however, will raise the issue again.

In Middlebury, where Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, is the town moderator voters approved both the impeachment and troop withdrawal measures. Douglas, ironically, was the chairman of Bush’s 2000 election committee and 2004 reelection committee in Vermont.

Ellen McKay, a backer of the impeachment measure, said some members of the Middlebury select board and Douglas tried to limit debate to one minute per person. Douglas also questioned whether something that was not warned should warrant a vote.

“But, there were a lot of people in Middlebury who understood what other business was going to mean and this huge issue for our community,” said McKay, who says the Iraq War, proportionally, has cost Middlebury $8 million to fund the war.

In Dover, the impeachment topic sparked a heated debate.

“I do not want my senators or representatives for the next two years trying to bring down this president. I want them to focus on bringing the best possible outcome to the chaos that is now in Iraq,” said Laura Sibilia, a school board member, and sister of four brothers currently in the armed forces. Sabilia trembled as she spoke, and at times had tears running down her face. “I do not believe that demanding that our troops come home now will help and I will not debate this with anyone.”

A supporter countered that the impeachment resolution wasn’t about the war, but the Constitution.

“We have to stand up and respect the constitution that our [founding fathers] stand for. Our troops will not come home during their time in office, and as far as impeachment goes, it only means they are investigated and whatever happens off it will happen,” said Sue Rand. “It’s not about removing Bush and Cheney but investigating.”

Gloria Levine, the person who brought up the resolutions up at town meeting, was dumbfounded by the rejection.

“I’m not disappointed, I’m just absolutely dumbfounded at how the things said today came in light of the facts that nine more military personnel were killed in Iraq,” said Levine.

In Jericho, home of Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington, who is not supportive of the impeachment measure, voters approved the impeachment resolution 88-67, as well as the troop withdrawal measure.

Leas and other backers hope the impeachment and troop withdrawal measures will help to focus Vermont’s congressional delegation on ending the war, and investigating Bush and Cheney for what h they believe were deliberate lies to get the nation into the war.

“This war is going to continue for another year or two years if this funding request is approved, and we don’t have confidence that they will vote to end the war,” said Leas. “It’s time for the people to get involved and the people have to push what may not be on their agenda — that’s our leadership.”

The Vermont Legislature recently approved measures in both the House and Senate calling for an immediate and orderly withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

In Stamford, voters tabled both articles. Helen Fields, a co-organizer of the Stamford effort to get the resolutions on the warning, was disappointed but hopes to bring the issue up again in the near future.

“We have parents in our town with [sons in Baghdad] that are at risk, so our town has a lot of people that very much want this war to be over and don’t quite understand why their children’s lives are at stake,” said Fields. “It’s hard for me to say that this vote was a vote for or against the articles. I think this vote was for or against discussion on a very debatable topic. People have very strong feelings whether or not the president should be impeached and we have very strong feelings about pulling out of a war that many soldiers and soldiers’ families have made the ultimate sacrifices for.”

Here is the text of each of the two resolutions:

IMPEACHMENT RESOLUTION

Whereas George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have:

1. deliberately misled the nation about the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war,
2. condoned the torture of prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention and US law,
3. approved illegal electronic surveillance of American citizens without a warrant, and,

Whereas these actions have undermined our Constitutional system of government, damaged the reputation of America, and threatened our national security,

Therefore, the voters of the town of _____________________ call upon the U.S. House of Representatives to investigate these charges, and if the investigation supports the charges, vote to impeach George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney as provided in the Constitution of the United States of America. This resolution shall be signed by the Town Clerk and forwarded to both the Speaker and the Clerk of the US House of Representatives, and Representative John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee.

SOLDIERS HOME NOW RESOLUTION

“Shall the voters of the town of ____________________ advise the President, Congress and Vermont’s state and federal officeholders that _____________________ and its citizens strongly support the men and women serving in all branches of the United States Armed Forces in Iraq and believe that the best way to support them is to bring each and every one of them home now and take good care of them when they get home.”

Stay tuned for more updates from Vermont Guardian

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Sanders to push global warming legislation in Senate

BURLINGTON —Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, said Monday he was making good on at least one of a handful of campaign promises — introducing a bill designed to cut U.S. contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade.

The bill is identical to one introduced last year by Sen. James Jeffords, I-VT, but that went nowhere in the Republican-led Congress. Joining Sanders will be Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, among others.

“I am pleased that Sen. Sanders has lost no time in placing comprehensive global warming legislation before the U.S. Senate and proud that the work I did last year will not be lost,” said Jeffords in a statement. “Bernie clearly understands that global warming is the most serious environmental problem confronting the United States and the world, and that federal action is long past due.”

The United States has the technology to respond to the threat of global warming, and the development of new cars and other energy sources could help fuel millions of well-paying jobs, noted Sanders, who is the only member of the Senate majority to have a seat on both the energy and environment committees.

global warming legislation vermontguardian

Pres. George W. Bush is expected to focus on global warming in his upcoming State of the Union speech, but it’s not clear what proposals he may advance.

“Talk is cheap; actions are what matter. But, this may be a sign there will be some consideration of post-Kyoto accord,” said Sanders, noting that the president, and Republicans, would risk political peril if they ignored the concerns of millions of people around the country in terms of global warming.

In fact, 18 months ago his office sent out a flyer with a questionnaire in it. Respondents put sustainable energy as their top issue of concern, over health care and Social Security, he said.

However, grassroots pressure and Congressional action may not be enough, as evident in the Bush administration’s “new way forward” in Iraq. The policy, which calls for an increase in troop levels, is in stark contrast to what many people in the United States, and in Congress, believe should happen in the war. Namely, a majority of people believe the country should begin withdrawing troops.

Sanders believes that with both global warming policy and the Iraq War, Bush will not be able to avoid following the lead of the majority, because Republicans are joining Democrats in their call for policy shifts.

“I think you’re also seeing this in the war in Iraq,” said Sanders. “A number of Republicans are saying that we’re leaving the ranch here and not going to go down the road with you on that disastrous policy in Iraq.”

Joining Sanders at the press conference was Steve Wright, of the Vermont chapter of the National Wildlife Federation, and a former commissioner of the state Fish & Wildlife Department.

He said polling has shown that the hunting and fishing community, which Wright described as politically conservative, “gets it.”

“They understand there are significant, monumental changes occurring in the natural systems,” he said. “They understand the notions of canaries in a coal mine that are playing out right before us.”

Along with Wright, Sanders was joined in his Burlington office by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, who first wrote about global warming in his seminal book The End of Nature, nearly 20 years ago, and Paul Burns, the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

McKibben, who helped organize a three-day march on Labor Day weekend that culminated in a rally of more than 1,000 people in Burlington’s Battery Park, said it’s not yet clear if it’s too late to slow global warming.

“We don’t know for sure, but most scientists believe that we have a little bit of time left before the window closes,” he said.

A top climatologist at NASA said last year the United States had about 10 years to “reverse the flow of carbon into the atmosphere.” So, the clock is ticking.

Sanders said confronting global warming will also help people rethink the role of consumer consumption, both in how people interact with each other, and how the environment is treated.

Personally, Sanders said he is still driving his fuel-efficient Saturn, which gets 37 miles per gallon, and has changed about half of his home’s light bulbs to more energy efficient compact fluorescents.

He also said that he does not see nuclear power as a reasonable replacement for fossil-fuel burning power plants.

“I know lately there has been a discussion about nuclear power being an answer, but frankly, I’m not a fan of nuclear power,” said Sanders. “Decades and decades after the development of nuclear power we still haven’t answered the basic question: What do you do with the waste?”

Sanders added that construction of new power plants is “extraordinarily expensive” and he would prefer to see federal funding support used to expand the development of sustainable energy, as well as biofuels.

Burns noted that Vermont can provide leadership, through Sanders and the Vermont Legislature, to combat global warming.

He also noted that while there is concern about the role that developing countries like India and China have on global greenhouse gas emission, the United States, in both per capita and gross percentages, is the largest contributor of such pollution into the atmosphere in the world.

About the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act

The bill would require, between 2010 and 2020, that the U.S. reduce its emissions to 1990 levels. By 2030, the U.S. must reduce its emissions by one-third of 80 percent below 1990 levels; by 2040, emissions must be reduced by two-thirds of 80 percent below 1990 levels; and by 2050, emissions must be reduced to a level that is 80 percent below 1990 levels.

To achieve this goal, the bill includes a combination of economy-wide reduction targets, mandatory measures, and incentives for the development and diffusion of cleaner technologies to achieve these goals.

In the event that global atmospheric concentrations exceed 450 parts per million or that average global temperatures increase above 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial average, the bill would allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require additional reductions.

THE TOWERS FELL vermontguardian.com

Why the towers fell: Two theories

Having worked on structural steel buildings as a civil engineer in the era when the Twin Towers were designed and constructed, I found some disturbing discrepancies and omissions concerning their collapse on 9/11.

I was particularly interested in the two PBS documentaries that explained the prevailing theories as determined by two government agencies, FEMA and NIST (National Institute of Science and Technology). The first (2002) PBS documentary, Why the Towers Fell, discussed how the floor truss connectors failed and caused a “progressive pancake collapse.”

The subsequent 2006 repackaged documentary Building on Ground Zero explained that the connectors held, but that the columns failed, which is also unlikely. Without mentioning the word “concrete,” the latter documentary compared the three-second collapse of the concrete Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building with that of the Twin Towers that were of structural steel. The collapse of a concrete-framed building cannot be compared with that of a structural steel-framed building.

Since neither documentary addressed many of the pertinent facts, I took the time to review available material, combine it with scientific and historical facts, and submit the following two theories for consideration.  Best Proxy site

The prevailing theory

The prevailing theory for the collapse of the 110-story, award-winning Twin Towers is that when jetliners flew into the 95th and 80th floors of the North and South Towers respectively, they severed several of each building’s columns and weakened other columns with the burning of jet fuel/kerosene (and office combustibles).

However, unlike concrete buildings, structural steel buildings redistribute the stress when several columns are removed and the undamaged structural framework acts as a truss network to bridge over the missing columns.

THE TOWERS FELL vermontguardian.com

After the 1993 car bomb explosion destroyed columns in the North Tower, John Skilling, the head structural engineer for the Twin Towers, was asked about an airplane strike. He explained that the Twin Towers were originally designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707 (similar in size to the Boeing 767). He went on to say that there would be a horrendous fire from the jet fuel, but “the building structure would still be there.”

The 10,000 gallons of jet fuel (half capacity) in each jetliner did cause horrendous fires over several floors, but it would not cause the steel members to melt or even lose sufficient strength to cause a collapse. This is because the short-duration jet fuel fires and office combustible fires cannot create (or transmit to the steel) temperatures hot enough. If a structural steel building could collapse because of fire, it would do so slowly as the various steel members gradually relinquished their structural strength. However, in the 100-year history of structural-steel framed buildings, there is no evidence of any structural steel framed building having collapsed because of fire.

Let’s assume the unlikelihood that these fires could weaken all of the columns to the same degree of heat intensity and thus remove their structural strength equally over the entire floor, or floors, in order to cause the top 30-floor building segment (South Tower WTC #2) to drop vertically and evenly onto the supporting 79th floor. The 30 floors from above would then combine with the 79th floor and fall onto the next level down (78th floor) crushing its columns evenly and so on down into the seven levels below the street level.

The interesting fact is that each of these 110-story Twin Towers fell upon itself in about ten seconds at nearly free-fall speed. This violates Newton’s Law of Conservation of Momentum that would require that as the stationary inertia of each floor is overcome by being hit, the mass (weight) increases and the free-fall speed decreases.

Even if Newton’s Law is ignored, the prevailing theory would have us believe that each of the Twin Towers inexplicably collapsed upon itself crushing all 287 massive columns on each floor while maintaining a free-fall speed as if the 100,000, or more, tons of supporting structural-steel framework underneath didn’t exist.