The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 5, Issue 8

Week of March 9, 1998

Our Tax Dollars at Work

The World, Live -- Just A Click Away

Based on a moment of midnight inspiration, Vice President Gore today will announce his plan to make a live video image of the full, sunlit Earth -- spinning on its axis against the blackness of space -- continuously available to the world, via television and the Internet.

The vice president's idea and, perhaps more important, his sense of urgency have triggered a scramble at NASA to make it happen inexpensively -- and fast.

Gore plans to unveil the project today at MIT, in a speech to be delivered at a technology conference. He conceived the project a month ago, officials say, and he hopes to see it launched by 2000.

The "all-Earth, all-the-time" images, to be transmitted from a small spacecraft stationed between Earth and the sun, would resemble the historic portrait of the fragile and isolated blue planet snapped by Apollo 17 astronauts -- the last men on the moon -- on Dec. 7, 1972, a picture that has become an icon. But the new version, capturing surface features as small as five miles square, would depict the motions of changing clouds, the advance of hurricanes, large-scale fires in oil fields or forests and other phenomena as they actually exist virtually at that same moment.

NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin said he hopes to keep the project's cost close to $20 million and definitely below $50 million, and will solicit commercial participation -- by a cable TV company, for example -- to lower the costs even further.

One earth scientist, upon hearing a description of the previously undisclosed project, said some experts may question the scientific value of the project, which has never been proposed through routine channels.

But Gore, who has a blow-up of the Apollo 17 image mounted on the wall of his office in the West Wing of the White House, said he is convinced the project will have scientific, educational and spiritual benefits.

"I believe there is tremendous scientific value in having constant live television pictures of the Earth. . . . With the entire hemisphere in view, fully lit by the sun, scientists will be able to analyze weather systems and cloud patterns in ways they cannot today," he said in an interview yesterday. "With global warming a growing concern, and with problems like El Nino causing growing concern, this will be of tremendous value."

Asrar R. Ghassem, NASA's chief of earth science, and others noted that no such full-Earth images are currently available, though much of the globe can be pieced together in a mosaic from existing satellite images, and the Galileo probe took some snapshots as it rounded Earth on its way to Jupiter.

The live Earth picture would be transmitted from a 330-pound spacecraft -- about five feet in diameter -- stationed 1 million miles out, orbiting the sun in tandem with Earth at the point where the sun's gravity exactly counterbalances that of Earth. Positioning the craft at that point will enable it to remain constantly aimed at the hemisphere of Earth that is in full sunlight and will minimize the need for engine firings to maintain its post.

Gore said he has suggested that the spacecraft be named Triana, after Rodrigo de Triana, the lookout on Columbus's ship who first sighted the New World. The ground station network, he said, could be called Earth-Span, "with apologies to C-SPAN."

The spacecraft is to be equipped with an eight-inch telescope and a three-color camera capable of twice the sharpness of high-definition TV, with the image to be "refreshed" every few minutes, Goldin said. Ground stations for the satellite are to be operated by university students, in keeping with the Clinton administration's push to increase interest in science and math.

Some of those familiar with the project acknowledged that there are many "unknowns" connected with the mission and that there might be some skepticism about its value. But they pointed out that, before the first geostationary satellites were placed high above Earth, no one predicted all the uses that would be made of them.

Gore, who has made protection of the global environment one of the core commitments of his political career, said he believes the Apollo program's "blue marble" images of Earth helped trigger the environmental movement. Of the new project, he said, "I believe it will have an inspirational value that's hard to describe."

Goldin said he first learned of the planned announcement only last Friday, when Gore phoned him just as the NASA administrator was finishing a speech in Houston. And that was just weeks after Gore first presented the idea to Goldin, in mid-February. "My head is still spinning," Goldin said.

After Friday, NASA added two more people to the four full-time employees working on the plan, he said. "They are on fire," he said. The team is trying to move quickly, he added, in keeping with Gore's wishes, but also hoping to avoid a "ready, shoot, aim" problem in racing the concept to implementation. Goldin emphasized that he hopes to bring the Republican-led Congress into the planning as soon as possible, within a few weeks.

Gore almost literally dreamed up the idea in his sleep about a month ago, waking at 3 a.m. one night, according to a White House official. Later that morning, Gore did about 20 minutes' worth of research on the Internet, called Goldin, and by that afternoon had a NASA team assembled at the White House to discuss the idea and begin working out engineering concepts.


by ROBERT LAYTON (via Cindy Reishus)
Condensed From Ensign (a Navy magazine)

I WAS HOLDING A NOTICE FROM my 13-year-old son's school announcing a meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it would be given to the students.

When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents there. As we waited for the presentation, I thumbed through page after page of instructions in the prevention of pregnancy or disease.

I found abstinence mentioned only in passing. When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any questions. I asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in the material.

What happened next was shocking.

There was a great deal of laughter, and someone suggested that if I thought abstinence had any merit, I should go back to burying my head in the sand.

The teacher and the nurse said nothing as I drowned in a sea of embarrassment. My mind had gone blank, and I could think of nothing to say. The teacher explained to me that the job of the school was to teach "facts," and the home was responsible for moral training.

I sat in silence for the next 20 minutes as the course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their unqualified support to the materials.

"Donuts, at the back," announced the teacher during the break. "I'd like you to put on the name tags we have prepared-they're right by the donuts-and mingle with the other parents."

Everyone moved to the back of the room.

As I watched them affixing their name tags and shaking hands, I sat deep in thought. I was ashamed that I had not been able to convince them to include a serious discussion of abstinence in the materials. I uttered a silent prayer for guidance.

My thoughts were interrupted by the teacher's hand on my shoulder.

"Won't you join the others, Mr. Layton?" The nurse smiled sweetly at me. "The donuts are good."

"Thank you, no," I replied.

"Well, then, how about a name tag? I'm sure the others would like to meet you."

"Somehow I doubt that," I replied.

"Won't you please join them?" she coaxed.

Then I heard a still, small voice whisper, "Don't go." The instruction was unmistakable. "Don't go!"

"I'll just wait here," I said.

When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the long table and thanked everyone for putting on name tags. She ignored me.

Then she said, "Now we're going to give you the same lesson we'll be giving your children. Everyone please peel off your name tags." I watched insilence as the tags came off.

"Now, then, on the back of one of the tags, I drew a tiny flower. Who has it, please?"

The gentleman across from me held it up.

"Here it is!" "All right," she said.

"The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you shook hands?"

He pointed to a couple of people. "Very good," she replied.

"The handshake in this case represents intimacy. So the two people you had contact with now have the disease."

There was laughter and joking among the parents.

The teacher continued, "And whom did the two of You shake hands with?"

The point was well taken, and she explained how this lesson would show students how quickly disease is spread.

"Since we all shook hands, we all have the disease."

It was then that I heard the still, small voice again.

"Speak now," it said, "but be humble."

I noted wryly the latter admonition, then rose from my chair.

I apologized for any upset I might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying I had only one small point I wished to make.

"Not all of us were infected," I said. "One of us ... abstained."

Assisted Suicide

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon health panel voted to require taxpayers to help pay for doctor-assisted suicides of terminally ill poor people.

The state Health Services Commission voted 10-1 Thursday for a proposal that said delivering lethal doses of prescription drugs should be covered as a ``medical service'' for the 270,000 low-income residents covered under the state's health plan.

Although the state hasn't set a dollar amount for the new policy, a health official said he doubted that many low-income people would avail themselves of the suicide law, was passed in 1994 and affirmed last year. Even if they did, it wouldn't be that expensive, he said.

``These are cheap prescriptions, and health care provider time will not be significant,'' said Hersh Crawford, head of the Oregon Office of Medical Assistance Programs.

Oregon is the only state where doctor-assisted suicide is legal.

The new policy is scheduled to take effect in about two months, but it still must withstand federal scrutiny because Medicaid receives federal matching funds. Congress passed a law in April that forbids federal money from being used to cover doctor-assisted suicide.

But that doesn't necessarily preclude coverage under the Oregon Health Plan. Abortions can't be funded with federal dollars, but Oregon covers the service by using only state money.

Advocates of public funding of suicides said it was a matter of fairness and that anyone who qualifies should at least have the option to obtain life-ending drugs - regardless of their income level.

``The most discriminatory thing would be not to give this choice to the poor,'' commission member Ellen Lowe said.

Oregon's Death with Dignity Act allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs at the request of terminally ill patients who have less than six months to live.

The law's most outspoken opponent was the Oregon Catholic Conference, which contended making taxpayers pay for assisted suicide forces many people to abandon the values of their faith.

``There would be no more tragic discrimination against the poor than to allow them to be killed,'' conference spokesman Bob Castagna said. ``That is the ultimate discrimination.''

An Open Letter to My American Neighbors

by Susan
** Editor's Note: This piece was found in Volume One, Issue Two of CGX (August 1994).

Like you, I woke up today, got dressed and settled down to a steaming brew and the morning newspaper before heading out to work. Unlike you, I read that dozens of my fellow citizens were arrested for carrying copies of the Buffalo News. The newspaper contained information about a trial here that the powers-that-be did not want us to read. It is that simple.

It is now 11:15 p.m. Minutes ago, I turned on the Buffalo television station, hoping to see on my TV what could not reach us through the newspapers. I am now looking at a blank screen. We received about 10 seconds of the trial controversy, and suddenly my screen went blank. A message appeared on the screen explaining that because of the contravention of a ban, the station was prohibiting broadcast of the news. Along with the sign was a high-pitched whistle that sounded like the air-raid sirens the British used during World War II.

As I sit here alone, I realize that my blood is running cold at the sound of that whistle.

This could never happen here.

Not in Canada.

You must wonder about a country that would deny its own citizens the freedom to read. As a Canadian, I have done a lot of har thinking about it.

I guess the powers have their reasons for the ban. Censorship always has its reasons, but, believe me, when you are on the receiving end of government censorship, no reason amounts to a hill of beans - and that is why I am writing to you.

It is my hope that you will read this Canadian story and "wake up and smell the coffee" - while you still have [something] to read along with it.

I have always loved the United States of America, and I know that you are now making critical decisions about the role of government in your lives.

Many years ago, we in Canada were at a crossroads in our decision-making that is similar to the one you are at now. I wish our decisions back then had been very different. Then maybe I wouldn't be sitting here looking at a blank screen.

Some two decades ago, Canadians were concerned with how government could best help its citizens. We looked around at countries with a comprehensive social welfare system and envied them their cushions of comfort for everything from universal medical care to national day care.

We were a country that held individual freedom in high esteem. Surely, we thought, it was possible to take the best aspects of socialism and weave them into the fabric of a free society. After all, this was democratic Canada and not the Soviet Union.

Over the next 20 years, we developed an extensive social support network at both the federal and provincial levels of government. The government spent money on every conceivable program. We spent and spent. Still, no one was ever really satisfied.

When you adopt an extensive government agenda, you soon discover that all the entrenched programs and layers of bureaucracy become impossible to budge. Much of the population works for the government; about one of every four Canadians now draws a government paycheck.

People learn to depend on government, and all governments, even those whose leaders warn against this dependency, learn to love the power that flows from it.

As for the threat to individual liberty, newspaper censorship is, frankly, the tip of the iceberg. Government intervenes in our lives constantly, and individual liberties are abrogated in new and ever more imaginative ways each day.

Canadians who dare to get a haircut or a car tune-up across the border are being photographed and prosecuted upon their return to Canada. Why? Because they have secured these services without having to incur the 7 percent goods and services tax slapped onto our ever-burgeoning provincial taxes.

Even insurance plans are now taxed.

A black market has sprung up, mainly in liquor and cigarettes, which carry the heaviest taxes. Don't think that the taxes will end there, though.

You will find that after a time, your state and federal governments - even those of a different political stripe - will join forces to make their task of tax collection easier.

Our entire education system, up to university level, is governed by a centralized bureaucracy called the Ministry of Education, which dictates what can and cannot be taught in the schools and how it is to be taught Universities are mainly government-funded.

I realize that the issue of government-run programs is particularly important to you now because of the state of your health-care system. I sympathize with you completely. I cannot imagine a world where one could be left bankrupt because of illness.

I suggest that you look upon it as you do your police protection: a guard in place for the physical and mental well- being of your citizens. The real danger in socialized medicine is the attitude of entitlement it engenders.

The stories you have heard about us are largely true. It is not uncommon to pick up a newspaper and read about "The frightening wait for cancer therapy" here in Ontario, and the situation is no better in the other provinces. There is a shortage of the most advanced diagnostic technology. Thousands of the health cards that ensure access to medical care have been issued erroneously.

We do wait two hours for an appointment booked weeks in advance. Despite our world-class doctors, many patients can't get treatment in time because of overcrowding. When you are faced with a life-and-death medical situation, you don't mind paying whatever it costs. Under the government-dominated medical system, however, you can't even buy your way in - unless, of course, you go to the United States.

I am employed in administration at a prominent Ontario university that has historically enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. Last summer, my president wrote a letter to the staff explaining that the government had expressed an intention to take a more active role in the management of university affairs. He described this as an enormous threat to our autonomy as a free-thinking institution, and in the end the government retreated - for now.

As I sit here tonight, it is simply beyond my comprehension that such a well-intentioned and beloved country as my own could go so far astray so quickly. And it is all the more remarkable that it has taken place without grand conspiracies or intricate plots.

Indeed, most Canadians are as offended by the images of totalitarian government as you are. We shared your joy at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the crumbling of the Soviet bloc; we value freedom. And yet we have fallen into a trap where we are not free.

As with that other well-known road, we traveled this one with the best of intentions.

To those who would dismiss me as an alarmist, I issue this invitation: Read our newspapers, watch our news broadcasts (what is left of them) and see for yourselves. Prove me wrong. I wish you could.

When you make critical decisions about the role of government in your life, please think about me, about this letter and about Canada.

Really think about what it could mean when you hear about a government initiative that sounds too good to be true. Thank God for a free press, even when you find yourself criticizing the media for broadcasting stories that you would rather not hear about. The recent publication ban is not the first one. There are others, and their number is growing.

Listen and learn, America. Cup your ear to the wind and hear the blood-chilling wail of the siren whistle as it drifts down across your border.

If just one of you reads this letter and pauses, even for a moment, to think about what unchecked government can do, then it has been worth the writing.

I have faith in you, America. Your road is tough and not perfect. Nothing is. Your road will keep leading you to freedom - the freedom to read and think and be exactly who and what you are - if you only let it. Treasure that freedom, love it and resolve never, ever to let it go.

This was harvested off the Conservative Generation X website:

[Ed. Note: I would appreciate it if anyone could find confirmation of this story such as from friends in Canada.]


In December, the Clinton administration ignored warnings that signing the Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change would impose massive costs in exchange for very little benefit. Now the White House is doing its best to minimize what it has gotten the country into.

Don't worry, be happy, says the White House Council of Economic Advisers. This whole global warming thing can be fixed for mere pennies on the dollar, with the average American's energy bill increasing only $70 to $110 per year. You'll scarcely notice. Honest. Well, the folks in the White House seem to be the only economists who think that way. Even economists not unfriendly to the administration's thinking, such as Harvard's Robert Stavins, concede that the numbers put out last Tuesday represent an absolute best-case scenario. "It's true that the impact can be relatively small - if this is done in the smartest possible way," he said. "But if we don't do it that way, it will cost 10 times what the administration is saying."

That may even be optimistic. Buried in the administration's analysis are some very big ifs that the White House admits cause "enormous uncertainties." For example, its rosy scenario depends on Third World countries agreeing to trade pollution rights so that industries can find the cheapest way of cutting greenhouse emissions. But that approach was flatly rejected by China, India and Brazil during the final round of talks in December.

Every serious analysis of the Kyoto Treaty shows that its goals cannot be met by turning the air conditioner thermostat up to 72 degrees instead of 70 or using 60-watt electric bulbs instead of 75-watters. As the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute has pointed out, "Global warming policies would not simply change our lifestyle - they would drastically change our standard of living."

Restrictions on energy use will significantly lower living standards because direct consumer use of energy - oil, natural gas, heating oil, gasoline - accounts for 25 percent of all U.S. energy consumption. Production of crops by farmers is heavily energy-intensive, as is the transportation of the crops to market.

Amazingly, the White House now admits that all this is being done merely as an "insurance policy" against a threat of global warming - and we're not alone in failing to be convinced of the threat.

We would have a lot more respect for Vice President Al Gore and the other members of the Gashouse Gang in this administration if they were at least a bit more honest about the cost of their agenda. But then, if they were forthright about the billions of dollars and the thousands of destroyed jobs required to reorder American society along enviro lines, the American people might conclude they were full of hot air, wouldn't they?

If you would like to submit an editorial, commentary, or news story from your perspective on something you have been keeping an eye on, please e-mail it to xxx and it will be evaluated for entrance. Thanks.

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