Saturday, July 12, 2008

One Million, Two Hundred Twelve Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Two Pounds of Yellow Cake

WASHINGTON (AFP) — At Iraq's request, the US military this year transferred hundreds of metric tons of yellowcake uranium from Iraq to Canada in a secret, weeks-long operation, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.
The 550 metric tons of uranium, which was sold to a Canadian company, was moved by truck convoy to Baghdad's "Green Zone," then flown by military aircraft to a third country where it was put on a ship for Canada, said Bryan Whitman, the spokesman.
"The operation was completed over the weekend, on Saturday," Whitman said.
The yellow cake was discovered by US troops after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Facility south of Baghdad, and was placed under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Yellow cake is a form of processed uranium ore that can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors, or if further enriched as fuel for nuclear weapons.

One million, two hundred twelve thousand, five hundred and forty two pounds of yellow cake was transferred “from Iraq to Canada.”
One million, two hundred twelve thousand, five hundred and forty two pounds of Saddam Hussein’s yellow cake “was discovered by US troops after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.”
One million, two hundred twelve thousand, five hundred and forty two pounds of yellow cake that can be “further enriched as fuel for nuclear weapons.”
One million, two hundred twelve thousand, five hundred and forty two pounds of yellow cake has been ignored by the mainstream media.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nationalized Legal Representation

There is a silent crisis stalking the cities and countryside of 21st century America. An emergency more immediate than some distant future climactic apocalypse. A cataclysm more far reaching than 40 million medically uninsured. A tragedy more personal even than the right to marry or bear arms. An injustice so dire, so clandestine that we have dared not speak its name.
Until now.
-In 2001 legal fees constituted 2.04% of the U.S. GDP. Which means “that the average American family of four paid a “litigation tax” of nearly $2,900 in increased prices for products and services.
-In 1997, more than 15 million lawsuits were filed in state courts—one every two seconds.
-The average person is more likely to end up in court than in the hospital, and yet most people have hospitalization plans, but not a plan for legal services.
-In the case against tobacco alone “in Mississippi, 12 law firms were awarded $1.4 billion in fees and expenses” and “$775 million in legal fees” went “to five Massachusetts firms”. In fact, “Lawyers fees allowed so far in 12 states total $8.95 billion”.
-Sixty U.S. senators have law degrees.
-At the beginning of the 102nd Congress in January, 1991, 244 of the 535 members of both houses (46%) claimed attorney as their profession.
These numbers are simply astounding. And some are over 10 years old. Could anyone honestly argue that these numbers have declined in the intervening years?
There is a crisis in America today. It is not the price of gas, nor Global Warming, nor gay marriage.
The crisis we as Americans face is Big Law.
Big Law with its windfall profits, often at the expense of the little guy. Big Law with its unacceptably massive, growth zapping drain on our national economy. Big Law with its “litigation tax” on nearly all our products and services. Big Law with its stranglehold on both Houses of Congress.
Truly though, is it really wise to allow our Constitutional “right to counsel” to be entrusted to something as unpredictable as the Capitalist system? The 6th Amendment touches on the “right to counsel” by giving every American the right to "counsel for his defense” in criminal prosecutions. Does one really believe that our founding fathers did not wish this right to hold sway in the civil sector as well? And moreover, should not all rights be protected from the corrupting power of money?
In today’s legal climate, a single lawsuit is often enough to send a individual or small business to the brink of bankruptcy. And not only the losers, but the winners, as well. Legal fees for either litigant often reach into the five or six figures.
Divorcing mothers are frequently impoverished due to enormous lawyer fees. Left, as single mothers, to fend for themselves in a patriarchal uncaring society.
Many of our elderly, poor and destitute, cannot afford the services of an attorney. Their remaining lives and even the instances and preferences of their deaths are then left to the whims of faceless elderly-care providers.
Americans, without the assets to procure an attorney or the wherewithal to do it for themselves, often go through life without such essentials as prenuptial agreements, leases, and other simple contracts.
The rich can easily absorb these costs, but woefully most Americans are suffering.
So what can be done?
Lack of health insurance affects 40 million Americans, lack of legal insurance affects us all. The “right to counsel” is promised by the 6th Amendment to every American. Should not every American enjoy that rightSurely, free of charge?
Surely, it is time we nationalized legal representation. In order to make it affordable for all. In order to bring it into alignment with Progressive priciples. In order to assure its quality.
Tom Daschle, a leading Democrat of the past once stated, “You don’t professionalize until you federalize.” Every American deserves the superior representation that such a socialized legal representation system would promise.
It should be of no surprise to anyone that none in our Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches have proffered such an idea. They are nearly all lawyers. They stand to lose billions. Obviously, we cannot expect much help from the politicians. That said, the nationalization of legal representation will need to be a grass roots effort.
Still, there are groups who are willing to help. Groups such as Justice in Justice, a non-partisan, carbon neutral organization as certified by Green International( Their efforts in community organizing and policy analysis have earned them high esteem in the activist community. Known for their unending battles for fairness and equality, they are bringing their expertise to the realm of justice. They can be reached at
But the real heroes here, if there are to be heroes to be had, will be individual Americans. Those Americans who are tired of the status quo. Tired of politicians pandering to Big Law. Tired of the inequality of legal representation. Tired of the unfairness inherent in a system of cheap hack lawyers and high legal fees.
We as individuals can talk of the unfairness to our family and friends, coworkers, and business contacts. We can mass e-mail our contact lists with essays on inequality of representation and access. We can blog on the lack of quality in a Capitalist run system. And we can contact the media and write letters to the editor pointing out the promise of the 6th Amendment and how it has been usurped by lawyer politicians.
Americans are suffering. It is time we worked to end their misery. Nationalized Legal Representation is a great way to start.