Taking the Toxic Tour
Happy Equinox
Ritter Says US Attack on Iran Planned for June
Who Wants to Be Homeland Security Chief?
206,000 Missing Votes
A Commemorative Inaugural Poster

April 3, 2005

Click here to download 27Mb QuickTime movie **Takes about 3-4 minutes via DSL/Cable line.
Taking the Toxic Tour
Check Out Our New Movie!

The-Edge is pleased to announce that its first on-line movie is now available for viewing. The footage was shot during a six-hour guided tour through Richmond, California, where a largely minority community is forced to live downwind from some of the state's worst industrial polluters.

So grab some popcorn and kick back for a nine-minute video version of "Taking the Toxic Tour with Denny Larson" -- the documentary version of the print article that appeared in the January 28, 2005 edition of The-Edge.

Happy Equinox -- A Salute to a Special Global Moment
Berkeley resident Cynthia Mahabir joins Councilmember Kriss Worthington to ring in the Equinox on Berkeley's Peace Bell in 2004.
As the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported, San Francisco and Berkeley both issued proclamations inviting their respective residents to celebrate International Earth Day (IED) "with the ringing of bells and the planting of seeds." (Denver also chimed in as an official sponsor.)

In 2000, I helped revive the IED tradition when, on behalf of Earth Island Journal, I invited Angela Alioto and Earth Day Founder John McConnell to celebrate the event's 30th anniversary with a bell-ringing at the Shrine of St. Francis -- in the city where International Earth Day was born.

The unedited text of the 2005 Berkeley Proclamation appears below. The Berkeley statement, along with the San Francisco proclamation (the work of my colleague Ron Brinkley) were mailed to McConnell, who celebrated his 90th birthday on March 22.

I was subsequently invited to attend the City Council meeting where Mayor Tom Bates read the proclamation aloud and presented it to me. Here is the complete proclamation:

City of Berkeley Proclamation
Whereas, the original Earth Day was celebrated on the first day of spring on March 21, 1970; and

Whereas, plans for the first Earth Day were unveiled in the Bay Area during the November 1969 UNESCO Conference on the Environment; and

Whereas, the first Earth Day proclamation was issued by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto on March 21, 1970; and

Whereas, the Equinox is recognized as a unique moment of global equilibrium -- a special time of the year when day and night are exactly the same length all over the planet; and

Whereas, first day of spring is historically celebrated by people of every creed and culture on Earth as a symbol of renewal; and

Whereas, first day of spring is welcomed in the native tradtions as the arrival of the spirit of Seegwu, who causes the snows to melt, the warm rains to fall, and the flowers to bloom; and

Whereas, this year, in a rare conjunction, the Vernal Equinox coincides with Palm Sunday, another rich symbol of revival and rebirth; and

Whereas, the United Nations Peace Bell is sounded on the Equinox as part of a joyous worldwide ringing of bells for universal peace and understanding, environmental protection, and human community; and

Whereas, the City of Berkeley acknowledges the local arrival of spring on the morning of Sunday, March 20, 2005; now

Therefore be it resolved, that I, Tom Bates, Mayor of the City of Berkeley, in honor of nature's true "Earth Day," do hereby invite all Berkeleyans to join with me in celebrating this occasion of global communion with the ringing of bells and the planting of seeds, and I do hereby proclaim March 20, 2005 as:

International Earth Day in Berkeley!

Acceptance Speech before the Berkeley City Council March 15, 2005

Thank you, Mayor Bates and thank you, members of the City Council.

There's really nothing else like International Earth Day. In the Northern Hemisphere, the advent of Spring means this Sunday is the Earth's Re-birth Day.

Although we'll be ringing the City's Peace Bell at noon, the real global celebration occurs at 4:33 Sunday morning local time. You may not feel like crawling out of bed to go clang a cowbell on your front porch but try this, instead:

Set the bell on your alarm clock for 4:33 AM. And when that bell goes off in the wee hours, pause a moment to marvel that -- at that very instant -- around the world, millions of people in hundreds of nations -- from Britain to Bhutan, from Algeria to Argentina -- are gathering in churches, temples, streets and town plazas -- all ringing bells. And your bedside alarm clock is part of this chorus of global jubilation.

It's near-magic. A moment not chosen from a set of rectangles drawn on a paper calendar but a moment determined by the spinning dance of a small blue-green planet illuminated by the life-giving glow of a burning star. This is our moment of Common Ground on our own Earth Island.

Please join us at sunset on Sunday to celebrate the Equinox at the Cesar Chavez Solar Calendar overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Scooping Sy Hersch
It's not everyday you have a chance to scoop America's best investigative reporter, so, when I got this story from a colleague in Thailand, I hastened to post it on the website of Environmentalists Against War the same day. (Note: I co-founded EAW and I edit the web-page.)

Ritter Says US Attack on Iran Planned for June
Mark Jensen / United for Peace of Pierce County

PUGET SOUND, WA. (February 19, 2005) -- Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia's Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the US manipulated the results of the recent January 30 elections in Iraq.

Olympians like to call the Capitol Theater "historic," but it's doubtful whether the eighty-year-old edifice has ever been the scene of more portentous revelations. The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans' duty to protect the US Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements.

Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say US officials "cooked" the results of the January 30 elections in Iraq.

On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran's alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

The former Marine also said that the January elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all.

Ritter said that US authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.

Asked by UFPPC's Ted Nation about this shocker, Ritter said an official involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh.

On January 17, the New Yorker posted an article by Hersh entitled The Coming Wars (New Yorker, January 24-31, 2005). In it, the well-known investigative journalist claimed that for the Bush administration, "The next strategic target [is] Iran." Hersh also reported that "The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer."

According to Hersh, "Defense Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran.... Strategists at the headquarters of the US Central Command, in Tampa, Florida, have been asked to revise the military's war plan, providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran.... The hawks in the Administration believe that it will soon become clear that the Europeans' negotiated approach [to Iran] cannot succeed, and that at that time the Administration will act."

Scott Ritter said that although the peace movement failed to stop the war in Iraq, it had a chance to stop the expansion of the war to other nations like Iran and Syria. He held up the specter of a day when the Iraq war might be remembered as a relatively minor event that preceded an even greater conflagration.

Scott Ritter's talk was the culmination of a long evening devoted to discussion of Iraq and US foreign policy. Before Ritter spoke, Dahr Jamail narrated a slideshow on Iraq focusing on Fallujah. He showed more than a hundred vivid photographs taken in Iraq, mostly by himself. Many of them showed the horrific slaughter of civilians.

Dahr Jamail argued that US mainstream media sources are complicit in the war and help sustain support for it by deliberately downplaying the truth about the devastation and death it is causing. Jamail was, until recently, one of the few unembedded journalists in Iraq and one of the only independent ones. His reports have gained a substantial following and are available online at dahrjamailiraq.com.

Friday evening's event in Olympia was sponsored by South Puget Sound Community College's Student Activities Board, Veterans for Peace, 100 Thousand and Counting, Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace, and United for Peace of Pierce County.

Mark Jensen is a member of United for Peace of Pierce County.

'Who Wants to Be Homeland Security Chief?'
It should have been clear from the nomination of Bernard "9/11-Love-Nest" Kerick that George W. Bush favored cronyism over competence in his search for a new Homeland Security chief. The nomination of Michael "Patriot Act" Chertoff offers little comfort to civil libertarians and Constitution-huggers.

Perhaps it's time to apply the same standards to the selection of cabinet officials as the GOP seeks to apply to the hiring of schoolteachers -- i.e., appointments should be based not on political tenure but on merit.

It has been more than three years since a bio-terror attack on the East Coast killed seven Americans. Why not make the selection of our next Homeland Security honcho a competitive process, with the job going to the first contestant to nail the Anthrax Killer.

The winning candidate shouldn't need to work too hard since most of the spadework has already been done. We know the Anthrax Killer wasn't a member of al Qaeda. We know the deadly powder was made in the USA. We know the weapons-grade snuff came from a Pentagon weapons lab. We know who had access to the goods.

You catch Anthrax Andy, you got my vote.

206,000 Missing Votes
There's another lingering puzzle from the scandal-tinged November 2004 elections. After all the voting booths closed and the ballots were counted, the media reported that Senator Barbara Boxer garnered the third-largest number of votes nationwide -- vastly out-polling Ralph Nader or any other third-party presidential candidate.

Here's what mystifies me. According to the figures, Senator Boxer pulled in more than 206,000 votes MORE than John Kerry received in California.

Ordinarily, you would think that a Democrat who voted for Barbara Boxer would have voted for John Kerry. But the vote tally suggests otherwise.

Even if every Democratic voter who voted for Boxer voted for every other third party candidate, that still would not account for all of the nearly fifth-of-a-million missing votes.

The only other options seem to be that tens of thousands of Democrats --
during the "most important election of our lives" -- chose NOT to vote for any presidential candidate or voted Republican. Am I missing something here? Whassup?

A Commemorative Inaugural Poster
After hearing George W. Bush's Inaugural Address about spreading "freedom" and "liberty" around the world, I was inspired to commemorate these lofty sentiments by creating the following commemorative poster.

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