Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Join with me in the PoeticSOS Campaign to Save Our Schools

Please join with me in the PoeticSOS campaign to help our schools. The PoeticSOS campaign was created by Sherry Williams to help our California schools. If you or anyone you know is concerned about the quality of education in our state; please read this information, write letters, and then pass this information along to others. Working together, we can make a difference. Thank you – Deb.

Power Of E-mail To Inspire Californians - Save Our Schools (Poetic S.O.S.)

Dear parents, teachers, child and education advocates, and others concerned about children and quality education in California:

Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing that California eliminate the Proposition 98 minimum funding provision for education, passed by voters in 1988 - for more information about this, click here: ASCA School Funding Q & A. Of further concern, the governor is proposing that education be subjected to statewide "across the board" cuts as often as twice a year, if state expenditures exceed revenues. After already struggling from four consecutive years of budget cuts, these further cuts would be devastating to our schools and districts.

California’s schools are among the lowest funded in the nation. Our average class size is the second largest in the nation. At the same time, we have the most rigorous academic standards and one of the most stringent accountability systems in the nation. These high standards point the way to academic success for our students and future workers, but schools need adequate funding in order to fulfill that promise.

I feel that it is now a critical for all individuals concerned about school funding in California to speak up and be heard. California schools have already been cut back to the bare bones for years. Please help by becoming involved, writing to your elected officials, and letting your voices be heard.

Please learn all that you can and don't get tricked into signing one of the petitions currently being passed around to change Proposition 98!!


Sherry Williams, One Mom from Concord
Now Teamed with Parents and Many Others Throughout California including Poway Unified Education Advocates


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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Article: Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon

Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon

* 19:00 02 March 2005
* Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition
* David Hambling

The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be used for torture.

"I am deeply concerned about the ethical aspects of this research," says Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, UK. "Even if the use of temporary severe pain can be justified as a restraining measure, which I do not believe it can, the long-term physical and psychological effects are unknown."

The research came to light in documents unearthed by the Sunshine Project, an organisation based in Texas and in Hamburg, Germany, that exposes biological weapons research. The papers were released under the US's Freedom of Information Act.

One document, a research contract between the Office of Naval Research and the University of Florida in Gainsville, US, is entitled "Sensory consequences of electromagnetic pulses emitted by laser induced plasmas".

It concerns so-called Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs), which fire a laser pulse that generates a burst of expanding plasma when it hits something solid, like a person (New Scientist print edition, 12 October 2002). The weapon, destined for use in 2007, could literally knock rioters off their feet.

Pain trigger

According to a 2003 review of non-lethal weapons by the US Naval Studies Board, which advises the navy and marine corps, PEPs produced "pain and temporary paralysis" in tests on animals. This appears to be the result of an electromagnetic pulse produced by the expanding plasma which triggers impulses in nerve cells.

The new study, which runs until July and will be carried out with researchers at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, aims to optimise this effect. The idea is to work out how to generate a pulse which triggers pain neurons without damaging tissue.

The contract, heavily censored before release, asks researchers to look for "optimal pulse parameters to evoke peak nociceptor activation" - in other words, cause the maximum pain possible. Studies on cells grown in the lab will identify how much pain can be inflicted on someone before causing injury or death.

Long-term risk

New Scientist contacted two researchers working on the project. Martin Richardson, a laser expert at the University of Central Florida, US, refused to comment. Brian Cooper, an expert in dental pain at the University of Florida, distanced himself from the work, saying "I don't have anything interesting to convey. I was just providing some background for the group." His name appears on a public list of the university's research projects next to the $500,000-plus grant.

John Wood of University College London, UK, an expert in how the brain perceives pain, says the researchers involved in the project should face censure. "It could be used for torture," he says, "the [researchers] must be aware of this."

Amanda Williams, a clinical psychologist at University College London, fears that victims risk long-term harm. "Persistent pain can result from a range of supposedly non-destructive stimuli which nevertheless change the functioning of the nervous system," she says. She is concerned that studies of cultured cells will fall short of demonstrating a safe level for a plasma burst. "They cannot tell us about the pain and psychological consequences of such a painful experience."

Related Articles

Top US biologists oppose biodefence boom (01 March 2005)

Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons (15 January 2005)

Sweeping stun guns to target crowds (16 June 2004)


Sunshine Project

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London>

Office of Naval Research

Neuroscience, University of Florida

Department of Physiology, University College London