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Have you helped terrorism today? Arianna often makes sense, despite the big hair and her mystifying choice of (ex-husband.  Status: http://salon.com/news/col/huff/2002/10/22/oil/index.html

<Do you support the oppression and murder of indigenous middle eastern peoples for cheap gas? Just a question. Bob>

Thoughts on HR 669 4/16/09
Dear Bob,
Have you been following H.R. 669: Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act? I'm interested to hear what people "in the know" have to say about how, if at all, its passage could impact the marine/reef trade. There is a lot of buzz about this legislation on the message boards and on-line vendors' sites.
Andy Bulgin
<Yes... have read the document in full... and formulated a stern, set opinion re. This is a huge attempt/grab at further removing our (the citizens of the United States) personal freedoms... This is NOT the simple
servants of America... There is nothing good to come of taking the current stance of having a limited "dirty" list of excluded organisms (both at the federal and State level), and making a "clean" list of what can be allowed in... What is the natural result of such legislation? More bureaucracy of ill-suited life-time perisited public employees/masters adding cost, ultimately (and in not too long a time frame) ruining the pet industry (and more)... through added restrictions, cost... Might I ask, what do you think going from sorting through some portion of a shipment to assess contraband will be, versus going through all, and if discovering an undocumented, disallowed organism, confiscating and/or destroying all will be? I say FIRE
the present gov't, and get on with effectively declaring the entire country at all levels of gov't bankrupt (which it is, financially as well as morally) and getting rid of lifetime civil servants; including the military, teachers... ALL citizens owe public service, NONE should be allowed to live off the life blood of the rest. So, what say you? BobF>

Re: Thoughts on HR 669 4/16/09
I see you are a huge fan of those in Washington who make careers out of "public service".
<Ah yes... take a look... arranging/creating such diversions as "conflicts" requires the hoodwinking of large numbers... Look to the hoodwinkers for the real source of trouble in our world>
I just learned of the resolution tonight and have not yet had a chance to read the text--I plan to do so tomorrow. I do think there is some merit in policing what creatures cross our borders.
<..."Who will police the policers?">
As you know from the Lionfish problem in the Caribbean, we can't always trust the public to do the right thing, and some actions can have truly devastating impacts on our environment--a concern/view you and the Crew openly share. Unfortunately, like most things in life, the bad decisions of a few often impact the rights of responsible people everywhere. Is this law intended primarily to raise money through permitting/licensing already legitimate/responsible businesses and the imposition of fines, and to further drain our economic resources by creating jobs in the wrong places?
<A bit of both... depending on who you want to be, believe in>
Who knows. I don't agree with several congressional actions that have been taken since January. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act is just one example of poorly written/ill-conceived legislation that, unfortunately, I believe will be followed by similarly ill-conceived law over the next few years.
<How can more thievery/borrowing solve the ills of the previous wrong actions? Umm, can't>
We all lie to/kid ourselves by telling ourselves that Congress is made up of geniuses whose primary motivation for serving the public is to protect and further our interests and that only those who make elected office a lifetime endeavor are worthy of service. But I digress.
<We're two... BobF>

Follow-Up to HR 669 04/22/09
Dear Bob,
You and I e-mailed last week about HR 669 and at that time I had not read the proposed law--I had read only the blurbs and calls to action that have been posted by various retailers, clubs, etc. I have since carefully read through the legislation with my "lawyer glasses" on, and I must say that I find the summaries and calls for action to be both misleading and "Chicken Little"-ish. I was very surprised to find that the legislation really does none of the things about which people are complaining. Rather, I believe the legislation is well thought out and provides significant protections for hobbyists and the industry by including a transparency requirement and a comprehensive scheme for determining those animals that should be included on the permitted list and on the prohibited list.
As one example--and I'm singling them out only out of convenience--the website of That Fish Place/That Pet Place begs customers to "Say NO to a world without pets" and states that passage of the legislation "would make it illegal to buy, sell and breed animals not native to the United States. This includes most species of tropical fish . . . corals and many others." These claims are grossly inaccurate, and, in my opinion, That Fish Place and anyone else who makes similar claims are acting irresponsibly.
<Ultimately... the direction of this legislation... I'm more inclined to take TFP's POV>
In actuality, the legislation would require the Secretary of the Interior to establish a process for assessing the risk associated with all nonnative wildlife proposed for importation into the US, and then adopt an "approved species list" and a "prohibited species list". I address each of these below.
1. Risk Assessment (Section 3). The Secretary is required to establish a process for assessing the risk of importing nonnative species. The risk assessment must be based upon several factors that are clearly articulated in the law (these are not elements of some test, but factors to be weighed), including, among others, (i) whether the species has established or spread or caused harm to the economy, environment or other animal species or human health, (ii) the likelihood that environmental conditions suitable for the establishment or spread of the species exists in the US, (iii) the likelihood of establishment of the species in the US, (iv) the likelihood that the species, if introduced, would harm US wildlife resources or US habitats or ecosystems, (v) the likelihood that the species, if introduced, would harm native species that are rare, threatened or endangered, and (vi) the likelihood that pathogenic species or parasitic species may accompany the species proposed for importation. The Secretary MUST ensure that the risk assessment process is based on sound science, must provide notice of the proposed assessment standards to the public, and must give the public an opportunity to comment.
2. The Approved Species List (Section 4). This Secretary must create a list of approved species that is based upon scientific AND commercial information, either provided pursuant to a proposal for inclusion or otherwise available to the Secretary, and the risk assessment process. The Secretary must give notice of the proposed list to the public and allow the public to comment thereon. Moreover, the Secretary must periodically review and revise the list to deal with new scientific and commercial information. The law would permit any interested person to submit a proposal to include a species on the approved species list, and the Secretary must act on that proposal by reviewing scientific AND commercial information, as well as the factors outlined above, and giving the public notice of, and the ability to comment on, the inclusion of that species.
The concept of an approved species list completely rebuts any assertion that the law contemplates "a world without pets" or would make it illegal to buy, sell or breed "most species of tropical fish . . . [and] corals[.]" That's just pure puffery intended to enrage hobbyists. I am not against the freedom to have an opinion, but I believe strongly that people who are in a position of power/influence have a duty to use the power truthfully and responsibly. The law clearly gives the industry and hobbyists the ability to "make a case" for a particular species at any time. Yes, the law would require that any proposal be accompanied by a fee, but this fee is strictly to cover the costs and expenses of conducting the study and research necessary to make an informed decision, which I imagine could be very expensive.
<In practical terms... what will likely follow is akin to the world of Psittacine birds in captivity here... a disastrous (to folks in the trade and to a lesser extent hobbyists) loss of species, great increase in costs... and narrowing of markets... But... not the end of the interest... instead, a hard swing to captive production of some species... though, due to cost, a bad shaking out of customers and the whole gamut of the trade. The question to me is "is this action really worthwhile?"... That is, do we (citizens, humans) "get" enough from this added expense to warrant the restriction, cost and more gov't?>
3. The Prohibited Species List (Section 5). The list would include species already prohibited by federal law (18 USC § 42) plus species that the Secretary determines, using the risk assessment addressed above and available scientific and commercial information, should not be approved for importation. The Secretary must provide notice of the proposed list and allow the public to comment. In addition, any person may petition the Secretary to include a species on the list, which would be subject to notice and comment. However, notwithstanding the existence of factors that would ordinarily weigh against importation, the Secretary may include on the Approved Species List any species that is already so widely spread in the US that it is clear that any import prohibitions or restrictions would have no practical utility. For example, if it is the case, or ever becomes the case, that Lionfish have become so prolific in the Atlantic/Caribbean that restrictions on importation would be useless, then Lionfish could be added to the approved species list notwithstanding the fact that they're here and are wreaking havoc.
<A good example...>
The provision for a prohibited species list does not in any way warrant a conclusion that we will "have a world without pets" or that it will be illegal to buy, sell or breed "most species of tropical fish . . . [and] corals[.]" Rather, it warrants only a conclusion that Congress wants someone to monitor what animals cross our borders and to prohibit those animals which are having, or are likely to have, a material and adverse impact on the environment, the economy and human health.
<The gist of all this already exists in law... the "intent", though hard to comprehend or elucidate here is a reverse-change from a "dirty list" (which the U.S. has currently at the fed. and State levels) to a "clean" one of what would be allowed in... and the rigmarole of determining what this is, who will check, how folks will be charged for all>
I keep hearing that everyone supports some type of nonnative species legislation, "just not this one", but no one seems to be offering a solution. Personally, I just don't see this as the horrible, industry/hobby destroying law that opponents are claiming. Sure, we may not be able to keep some of the animals that we currently are allowed to keep, but hopefully the prohibition(s) will be based on a rational, scientific risk assessment policy adopted after public notice and the ability of the industry, scientists, hobbyists, and environmentalists alike to comment. Certainly, all marine fish and invertebrates will not be precluded. US hobbyists have been keeping marine organisms for 50 years or more. I ask you because you would know better than most people--are there ornamental species other than the Lionfish which have been introduced into our oceans over the past 50 years that have established themselves and become a serious, real hazard/risk to native species?
<Mmm, yes... a few>
If so, how DO we keep these and others from proliferating?
<Good luck... where does one start to effectively legislate human behavior?>
Would any reasonable, rational person argue that every person who hangs out a pet store shingle should be able to import, buy and/or sell cobras?
<Not I... and these are indeed restricted>
There must be/will always be limits in life, and I think the issues/harm surrounding Lionfish, Zebra Mussels, etc. show that it's time to impose limits. Education, activism and trust simply won't work. Self-governance doesn't work, has never worked.
<Nor does overly-oppressive socialism... Ask the Soviet, Romans, Greek City States that tried and fell by with... Again, I am more "in the middle" with my opinions re these restrictive law advents... Some control is, believe me, to be advanced... However... one only has to see the farce that such enactments have become (see turtle sales in the U.S. and their restrictive legislation) to realize that "dirty" lists are the way to go presently. My opinion, BobF>

Please respond Immediately. This is one more way for the Government to try and control our lifestyle in our own Home. We are becoming a communist country. You will no longer be able to buy your kids a tropical fish, a pet bird, a hamster or gerbil and most turtles, snakes and lizards will no longer be available. My question is will the President get rid of his kids new Dog??
VOTE NO!!!!!!!!!
<Thanks for this... Fight the good fight. BobF, citizen>

Re: Help Our pets are under attack again!!! 4/20/2009
unfortunately, it will likely pass, and it will impact pet stores, distributors of these animals, and importers.
The reason is, we have a serious problem with non native snakes being turned
loose by fools who wanted to be macho. Would you like Black Mambas in your yard?
This bill will not stop you from owning what you have, it will stop the importing.
<In time it will (like the Soviets) make all pet owners criminals... I've seen this scenario before... Study history... a common process...
Bureaucrats turning into aristocrats... what is not specifically allowed is verboten... the current thievery of "bailouts" (where does the money go ultimately? Bingo)... My more involved, interested question is what will you do as an individual? Civil disobedience? Lo dudo>
Birds are bringing viruses into the country we cannot control. Fish are being turned loose in lakes, rivers and flood control areas.
<All... are miniscule compared with human disruption... My real advice to Homo sapiens... cut your reproductive rate drastically>
In Florida, Pythons and Boas are inhabiting the everglades, killing native wildlife. There are thousands of them.
<Turn on your heel... what do you not see that is non-indigenous?>
HOWEVER!!!! The U.S. F&W imported Peacock Bass to kill the Oscars that outgrew aquariums, multiplied by the millions. Now there is a Peacock Bass issue.
No state government has the manpower to enforce door to door. These laws are aimed at commercial propagation. Will not impact your life as you think.
We have enough problems maintaining indigenous life without importing threats, disease, and unmanageable species.
If you have ever seen some of the Asian monsters that exist, you would support this bill. How long before they bring them here?
my 2 cents....
<I vote to get rid of the U.S. gov't, "declare bankruptcy"... re-do/set-up the system to get half the folks off the permanent dole... at the destruction of the system (pending), and ruin of the folks who actually are net payers into the "system"/GDP (of which I am one, are you?)... NONE of which work in the public sector... Get rid of the root of the ruination of the U.S., which is life-time civil servants, including ones with guns (the "military"), books (teachers),....
Bob Fenner> 

Re: Help Our pets are under attack again!!! 4/20/2009
Hello All ,
<May I step in here?>
Well it really boils down to freedom .
<Really? Where in the US Constitution, or the European Convention on Human Rights, does it state we have the right to keep pets? There's a difference between personal freedom (liberty, if you will) and the freedom to do whatever you want (funds permitting!).>
If you are willing to give up your animals & the right of your children to keep them . You may say it will not effect what you have . But you would have none of them had a law like this been in effect .
<We've had a somewhat similar law to this one in the UK for a few years now.
Essentially it was drafted to list species that *could not* be kept or traded by individuals or businesses without an appropriate license. Scientists and others with a good reason to keep these fish could do the
paperwork and get the fish, but hobbyists couldn't. The list included a variety of coldwater species that have the potential to become established in UK waters. In honesty, the damage has largely been done: the UK native fish fauna includes lots of non-native species including Carp and Rainbow Trout. American crayfish have been a total disaster, essentially wiping out our native species, and the Chinese Mitten Crab seems likely to do some serious damage to estuaries. None of these came from aquarists, to be sure, but there are plenty of species that have been captured from UK waters that probably got their via pond-keepers or fishkeepers, including various North American Sunfish. Only a few days ago, someone found a dead Pleco on a UK river. People do dump unwanted fish in local waters, and in the US, you have a huge potential for problems because your climate (in the South and Southwest, at least) is equitable enough for various tropical and subtropical species. Unless you want to have an animal fauna like that of the UK -- basically a hodgepodge of species dumped here since the Iron Age -- then you should cherish what you have a bit more dearly. If that means writing lists of species people *shouldn't keep without good reason*, surely that's a no-brainer? The reality is that there are plenty of irresponsible people *who will* dump unwanted animals in the wild. Most of those animals die miserable deaths, but some survive and thrive.>
You will be on this earth but a brief moment .
<So leave it the way you found it, if not better.>
Those who come after you will say "why did they fight for freedom all over the world & give theirs up ".
<I suspect a lot of those who come after will be wondering why the heck we had so many babies, why we drove so many cars, why we ate so many cows, and why we bought so much stuff we didn't need.>
A chimp injures someone after living peacefully for 16 years & people are outraged . I guess because it is a rare occurrence . You see Jane Goodall lived with the wild chimps in Africa for years & was never injured by them . Diane Fauci lived with the orangutans for years without incident until she was killed by the local people . The fact remains that if a person comes in your house tonight & rapes your wife & kills you & your children it will be local news . Here in Alabama we will not hear of it because it happens everyday in every city . The chimp is one chromosome away from a human . So if you piss him off get out of his face . If you piss off a person you could end up dead .
<Chimps are more than one chromosome away from being humans. And in any case, it doesn't matter; they aren't humans, and their actions are irrelevant to what we do.>
The USDA brought us west Niles virus & lime disease . If you don't believe it Google plum island . Of course they have both killed countless animals & people.
<No, evolution brought us both of them, and easier international (air) travel made it possible for diseases to spread much further and more quickly. Black Death took decades to get from Turkey to England; in theory
at least, someone infected with the Ebola Virus could get from the banks of the Ebola River in the middle of the Congo to Times Square, NY, before they even showed symptoms.>
We have state sanctioned dolphin killing all along the gulf coast . They have a 18 inch size limit on red snapper 3 fish per person . So when you go fishing you need to pull from the bottom 20 undersize fish to keep 3 .
These dying fish floating on top feed the dolphins . The dolphins soon stop fishing & follow boats . Then they not only take the dying fish but they take them off the fishermen's lines when they are fishing .
<Who said the fish belong to the fishermen? Commercial fishermen are a throwback to our hunter-gatherer stage of evolution. They catch stuff.
Those fish don't belong to them, and they sure as heck aren't "looking after them". Quite the reverse; modern fishing industry can be summarised as being too many boats chasing too few fish, and each generation of boats getting better at catching every last fish in the school. In any case, those fish belong just as much to the dolphins and the fishermen.>
Now we have generations of dolphins that don't fish .
<No, we have a *local population* of dolphins that has learned how to gather prey easily. Dolphins do this all over the place, and once this fishery collapses (as they usually do) then the dolphins will switch back
to some other method.>
They are costing so many fishermen their livelihood that the fishermen must go out without clients & shoot the dolphins .
<Why do fishermen "deserve" a livelihood? If there are sufficient fish in a stock to support X fishermen taking Y fish per year, that would be fine.
The reality is that the fishing industry invariably grows once a fish stock is discovered, and then the fish stock collapses under overfishing pressure, and then the fishermen whine about it. Get over it. There are too
many fishermen on this planet chasing too few fish. No-one came to my door offering me a job when my post-doc finished; I started working for myself, doing something else.>
All could be easily solved by taking off a stupid size limit .
<No, it really couldn't.>
The same thing happens here on our local lakes with the osprey . The 9 inch crappie size limit causes hundreds of undersize fish who swallow the hook to be left dying on top . So the young osprey learn how to catch dying fish & when the fishing slows down in the fall the young osprey starve .
<Predatory animals can, will learn to take what's available. But there's also something called Optimal Foraging Strategy that, in this case, means that predators tend to take the biggest prey they can manage because that gives them the best energy returns on the energy spent hunting. But wait a moment, they can't catch those big fish *because we've caught them all*!!
So they're stuck taking the smaller fish. If your observation held any water, then all that excess fish the Ospreys were catching would mean they would grow and breed faster than otherwise. But they're not. Osprey populations globally aren't that great, in part because they can't find enough to eat. Or at least, they can't get enough big fish per hour spent hunting to raise a large family of chicks.>
Our public zoos have no programs for reintroducing endangered animals to the wild .
<Because this doesn't work. Name me one example where an endangered animal has bounced back after releases from zoos were used as the primary mechanism of recovery. Almost always, the success stories depend on two factors: (1) preserving the habitat generally; and (2) providing local people with a cash incentive to value that habitat or the animals concerned.>
I have dealt with them for years & they are a huge waste of Tax dollars .Many beautiful private zoos exist that make money . The animals are so secondary @ the public zoo that they let volunteers take care of them & their freezers are full of the dead animal results .( the man with the degree is @ the desk ) They keep endangered animals on birth control .
<Saving a species is more than just producing babies. A zoo can only maintain a certain number of, say, hippos, and all the zoos in the world some number above that. Unless there's habitat for them in the wild, why produce lots of baby hippos or whatever if said animals will have to be destroyed, will be stressed by overcrowding, or whatever.>
I saw a beautiful mandrill baboon off display stuck in a laboratory cage @ the Knoxville zoo with his fingers & toes frozen off . I guess he did not fit in . Unbelievable cruelty of an endangered animal .
<We've all seen cases of casual or deliberate animal mistreatment in zoos, labs, universities, schools, pet stores, farms and the rest. Human nature unfortunately. Thankfully, part of what Bob does here, and I've been able to help in a small way, is to educate people and businesses not to make elementary mistakes.>
I could go on all night. But I am blessed with 20 baby ravens & crows a couple baby vultures & several baby ibex on the bottle .
<Sounds fantastic!>
So I am a busy boy
God Bless you & your animals & the little freedom you have left .
Sincerely Brian
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help Our pets are under attack again!!!   4/21/09
Neale, Thanks for jumping in, and Thanks for what you guys do.
<Most welcome!>
I agree with Brian on the laws and government take overs, yet I also agree with you on the non native species and careless ownership of aquatics, as well as other animals. we do not need non native species in the hands of careless owners.
We do not need "native" species in the hands of careless owners.
I think we all agree something needs to be done.
<Ah, but what...>
Pythons and Boas should not be released in the state of florida. Caulerpa should not be taking over corals off the coast of the US. our waters should not be filled with lionfish with no local predators.
<Here in the UK, we have this idea of a Blacklist, upon which the Government can put animals that scientists deem to be a potential threat. I can't see why similar wouldn't be possible in the US, perhaps on a
state-by-state basis. There's no reason people in Alaska couldn't keep Caulerpa in the garden ponds if they wanted, or for that matter Nebraskans aren't a threat if armed with Lionfish!>
I think Permits are a great idea to get a hold on it. I would gladly pay for permits to own my animals, as much enjoyment as I get from them.
<Problem is that the people who do things legally aren't the ones who cause problems...>
I will allow any Gov. official to come and inspect my set up to insure safety to animal and public. I have one of Brian's (African Pied Crows) that rules my roost. I also had for 3 yrs. Seahorses purchased from Ocean Rider in Hawaii. I had a 120 Gallon tank of Scorpion fish for 2 yrs purchased from all over. I have 3 horses, 2 goats, and 3 Australian Cattle dogs.
These animals have a better life than most children.
<All sounds great.>
I have rescued dogs and rehomed them at my expense. No one is a bigger animal lover than myself, but to tell me... I may never take my child to the Aquarium again to see non native species (unless we leave the
<It's important to distinguish being an animal lover with doing what's necessary in terms of conservation. I'd argue that people such as (legal) hunters and anglers do more good for wild animals in a year than PETA does in a decade, even though PETA is all about loving animals, while hunters and anglers enjoy killing animals. Affection for animals is a good thing, but it isn't the same thing as conservation.>
To say Brian Blazer "Corvid Ranch" has no business raising birds responsibly? To say your people will not be able to write you in regards to anything but their carp ponds in the garden, and to tell me that Ocean
Rider can no longer sell seahorse species that they create themselves, some from non native species.
<I'm not sure the legislation has to do (or will do) any of these things.
It's very easy to write bad law, and this may well be law that needs amending. But it's also important that some sort of protection is devised to keep exotic species from become too established in the US. The damage is largely done here in the UK, and with the best will in the world, we can't undo the fact we have Grey squirrels, American crayfish, Asian carp, Chinese muntjac, American mink, Ruddy ducks, Chinese mitten crabs, Eurasian rabbits, Black rats, Fallow deer, and all the various other animals that make the British fauna about as "unnatural" as you'll see outside of a zoo.
But you still have time in North America to maintain a truly distinctive North American fauna.>
Have you even thought of the impact this will have on the economy if this law passes? Petco, Petsmart, as well as every Mom and Pop fish store, bird shop, and reptile breeder will go under.
<The argument about jobs being lost is a dead end. Banning whaling cost people jobs! Jobs are lost and created all the time. I've been in and out of both ends. In any case, the vast majority of animals kept as pets come from a handful of species: dogs, cats, various rodents, and about ten species of fish, tops. Even if you restricted tropical fish to the top 25 species of farmed fish, most retailers, and most ordinary people, wouldn't notice.>
I guess this would be an easy decision if you do not live in the USA, but for me and mine. I think tougher laws should pass for the safety of the business as well as the animals
<Why? You either have a free market or you don't. If you have a free market, and then you take the stand that potentially risky species shouldn't be imported into particular States of the Union where they might
be established, why do you then need to prop up a business that sees a drop in profits? I doubt many businesses actually will see such a thing, should such a law ever come into force, but still... We get back to the fact government shouldn't be propping up businesses that are either unethical or based on business models that don't work any more.>
I just don't see why we stop at making "NO IMPORTS OF NON NATIVE SPECIES".
Why not outlaw vehicles, Alcohol, having children, owning pets in general ( American pit bulls etc.) guns, and everything else people use carelessly.
<Ah, but we do. You are not allowed to drive a vehicle that would damage roads on public highways. You cannot sell liquor that is toxic or otherwise produced in an unregulated manner. You cannot own certain animals because they are too dangerous. And certainly here in the UK, regular citizens can't have handguns about the house. We do all of these things precisely because if those "freedoms" were allowed, the country as a whole would suffer. By extension, if owning a certain fish or reptile constitutes a palpable threat to the fauna of your State, then restricting the sale of that animal makes some sort of sense.>
This way all responsible owners, breeders & parents, can suffer right along with the idiots.
<This is the Tragedy of the Commons. Humans are incredibly selfish, and find it extremely difficult to see beyond themselves and their families. They find it almost impossible to make sacrifices for the good of the whole population *if* they don't see some immediate reward to themselves and their family.>
You see there has to be a better way.
<Yes; write your Congressman and ask for a Black List approach that bans the risky species (as we have in the UK) rather than a White List that lists the safe species. If the scientists can agree on which species pose a real danger within each State or the Union as a whole, then who are we, as pet owners, to override them and say we want them anyway? But the flip side is that if the scientists accept a given species is unlikely to cause harm to the natural fauna, then by all means, we should have the freedom to keep that animal.>
To the whole crew, Thanks for being there, you have in the years of being online. Help educate many hobbyist into being responsible Aquarist. I guess if this law passes; however, you can then retire.
<Nah... The vast majority of fish I get via the Freshwater side of things are the same-old, same-old things: Bettas, Neons, Angels, etc. All tank-bred and extremely unlikely to be banned.>
I am also curious, What will happen to your personal tanks.
<Since I'm in the UK, mine are fine. I have both tropicals and coldwater fish, and since none are on the restricted list, I'm fine.>
Bob and Eric B. may be able to find the necessities from out of country to sustain what they have. Most of the rest will lose all ability (when there is no longer a place to buy supplies and equipment to keep up the hobby) to keep any type of tropical fish alive. I know... rather than watch them starve to death slowly, lets release them into public waters and wish them luck:( SARCASM) Good luck to all, and a big kiss my butt to the careless animal and fish owners who got us here.
<I think I'd suggest a kick up their butts would be rather better...>
This could be excused, if there were no (Corvid Ranch, WetWebMedia, OceanRider or millions of other responsible informative places online) to educate yourself ahead of making a snap decision for a family pet.
Infuriated and responsible Pet owner being penalized by new law, Cynne
<Cheers, Neale.> <<Interesting times we live in eh Miles? RMF>>

Re: Help Our pets are under attack again!!!   4/22/09
I am sorry for any confusion .
We are licensed by the USDA as exotic animal exhibitors license no 64- C - 0109 . We are licensed by the state of Alabama to keep native wildlife . We are licensed by the United States department of the interior to keep native migratory birds for education license no MB803369 . We are licensed by the state of Georgia to exhibit native & exotic wildlife license no 12734 .We have never had any problem with our state or federal inspectors We have been licensed @ this location for 20 years as of this year . Did you think we were not regulated ?
<No; and if you are involved in rehabilitation programmes or whatever, you'd be precisely the sort of person who *would* be able to get licenses to keep restricted animals.>
If you have laws like the one proposed in the UK then you have no animals @ your location so your opinion is mute .
<I have lots of animals, and no one gets to declare my *opinion* mute. In this country, we have a tradition called "Freedom of Speech". I may say dumb things you don't agree with, quite possibly for good reason, but I'm free to articulate those ideas.>
Or you could be working in a public zoo or aquarium & are a sponge on the taxpayer .
So then your opinion is much less than mute .
<My opinion isn't mute. Since I'm not a US citizen, my opinion is certainly irrelevant, and it's up to you to articulate your ideas to your congressional representatives, since the law being talked about here is an American one. But what I'm trying to do here is twofold: to show what happens if you don't regulate exotic animals (you end up with a fauna like that of the UK, which is a totally artificial menagerie); and how you can define laws that work to the benefit of pet owners, by creating a blacklist of hazardous species that clearly identifies and regulates those species likely to escape or cause harm.>
The USDA brought lime disease to the US from Africa & it got away from them
<No, this isn't what happened. We're getting into Tin Foil Hat country here. Lyme Disease (note the spelling) has been around for some 300 years, at least, and was first observed in Europe. It wasn't *called* Lyme Disease until the 1970s, that's true, and it was named after an area of New England. But the syndrome of symptoms had been known long before then. How Lyme Disease got to the US is unknown to me, but it would seem logical to assume European settlers or their livestock brought the disease with them.>
Lime Connecticut is 8 miles from plum island . I have lost friends to this disease .
<This, as you know, is extremely rare. It's interesting that we've had Lyme Disease in Europe for hundreds of years, and no-one really worries about it. Are we genetically more resistant? Dumb? Or do we simply worry about other stuff, like fox hunting or whether a certain princess has lost weight?>
Others I know are dying a slow horrible death from it .
<There is much contention about whether or not "Chronic Lyme Disease" actually exists, which isn't to say that people suffering chronic fatigue symptoms aren't ill, but rather whether the Spirochete involved in Lyme Disease is actually to blame.>
They also brought the west Niles virus here for the same intention . Germ warfare .
<OK, we're way off base here. West Nile Virus has been spreading around the world throughout the 20th Century. Various animals can carry the infection, including birds. Migratory birds in particular are widely suspected to play a key role. The birds carry the virus, the mosquitoes bite the birds, infecting more birds, and then at some point another mosquito species bites a human after biting a bird. Since West Nile Virus is adapted to bird hosts, it doesn't really do much damage in mammals, including humans, and deaths are exceedingly rare. In the big scheme of things, you should be worried much more about diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, etc! If the Government really wanted to kill us off, they'd simply make us fat, lethargic smokers and drinkers. Cheaper and much more effective.>
Here is the link
YouTube - VVH-TV News Special Report on PLUM ISLAND
<Tin Foil Hat. One of the good things about governments is their staggering incompetence. They cannot keep secrets. Low-level aides leak stories about the financial interests and sexual peccadilloes of their masters all the time. Do you really think they could have kept quiet about plans to wipe us all out using Killer Mosquitoes? Seriously, it's comforting to know governments are dumb and indiscreet. There are no aliens in Area 57, and Fort Knox does not contain the wreckage of a flying saucer. Given the option between stupidity and a top secret plan, I'd always believe my government is stupid, because I see evidence of it every single day.>
Please put your full name address & phone no with your replies .
Otherwise you are just a coward .
Stand up & be counted .
<Actually, sitting down at my laptop.>
God bless you & your animals ,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help Our pets are under attack again!!!  04/23/09
Hi Neale,
Thanks for the passionate argument you and Brian @ corvidranch have produced on the Hr669 bill. I still agree that something must be done to conserve our native habitat. This bill isn't the answer. You claim most of the questions you receive are in regards to Betta's, (native to Thailand or Cambodia) Neons, (native to Brazil) Angels, (native to South not North America) and that because these freshwater guys are tank bred they will be safe from the new law. The new law states that non-native species cannot be bred in the US, and can not be imported into the US.
<It doesn't state this. If all else fails, read the text of the bill. What HR 669 says is that non-native species are restricted if, and only if, they pose a threat as determined by scientists, not hobbyists. For example, factors that there is a "likelihood of establishment of the species in the United States" and that it "would harm wildlife resources" or introduce "pathogenic species or parasitic species".>
What will become of these simple but harmless species now?
<Nothing. If you read the text, as opposed to the hype, you'll see that species that are "not harmful to the United States economy, the environment, or other animal species or human health" can continue to be traded just as before. If the species is genuinely harmless, then there's no issue.>
The new law also affects me personally in the following ways: I have a goldfish pond in my backyard Garden (Native to china and Japan.) I do not have the exact gender of the 2 dozen fish kept here ( I would be breaking the law if they multiply.)
<No you wouldn't. Read the text of the bill!>
I also just passed my 200 Gallon Salt water predator tank to my Brother, Who will no longer be able to find supplies to maintain such a hobby.
<No, he won't be affected either.>
I have invested thousands of Dollars into our latest family member ( A Crow species from Africa) The only Avian Veterinary Specialist qualified to treat her is over the state lines) I will no longer be able to take her to the Doctor without driving 3+ hrs away.
<Unless this Crow is some sort of danger to the US environment or its citizens, you won't be in trouble here either.>
Hope We never have an Emergency. So you see its not just protecting the environment, it has not been perfected, discussed, or thought through by legislators to the point of us allowing this thing to go thru comfortably. No one is arguing with change, providing it is done right. Things may be different in the UK, but this isn't the first time congress has made a rush, yet detrimental mistake on our behalf here in the US.
<Read the text.>
Wish us luck!
<Perhaps not a perfect bill, but not nearly as draconian as some are suggesting. While Michele Bachmann may well envisage Soviet-era Pet Police storming into your house to take away your budgerigars, the reality is not quite like that. Cheers, Neale.>

For Neale 4/24/09
Dear Neale,
<Hello Andy,>
I was reading the dailies and was really happy to see your response to "Re: Help Our pets are under attack again!!! 04/23/09" about HR 669. I really appreciate that you are asking people to read the text of the resolution, rather than rely on the junk/bunk that their LFS owner/employees are telling them.
<Quite so. It's a complex issue with good arguments to be made from all sides. But it's important we're all arguing about the reality, rather than our fears, and that means reading the text of the law itself. If you're going to lobby your congressman, you'd better know what you're talking about!>
I've posted my views on WWM regarding this resolution--that's not the point here. My point in thanking you is to note that people need to get off their butts and do their own research, whether it's on this or any other law, or using Epsom salt, or mixing shrimps with triggers.
<Ah, you saw the message about the clean-up crew, then? I don't often do marine questions, but sometimes there's the odd issue so clear cut that even I can answer it!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Need help from Bob Fenner specifically, NZ oppressive, unrealistic law... Like upcoming U.S. 4/16/09
Hi there
I have been working closely with New Zealand's largest importer of ornamental marine fish and invertebrates.
Currently, the New Zealand Government agency responsible for overseeing the importation of all organisms (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry [MAF]) is changing the Import Health Standard for Ornamental Fish and Marine Invertebrates (IHS).
<A huge job... likely impossible>
Background to the NZ Tropical Fish Industry:
Freshwater fish must go through a rigorous 6 week quarantine period and marine fish and invertebrates require a rigorous 3 week quarantine period in order to identify pathogens and non-approved species in a controlled environment.
Previously, all species imported must have been from an approved genus.
For example, all species of Zebrasoma sp. were permitted for entry as the genus was 'approved'. The same applied to freshwater species as well.
<Am aware... there are movements afoot here in the U.S. in the way of proposed Federal legislation to make similar laws as NZ, Australia...>
However, the new IHS released in March 2007 (still active) required the approved list to be compiled at species level, not genus. Importers had to provide proof that certain species had been imported to be considered for the new list. Since the release of the 2007 IHS, we have seen a dramatic decrease in approved species. A copy of this list can be seen at the bottom of this link:
<I see this>
The problem with this, is that many species are left off with really no justification apart from the colour of the fishes skin.
<Typical of such regulations...>
For example, only six of the seven species of Zebrasoma sp. are permitted.
I am writing to you for your help. We need some recognised sources for assistance and I am sure you will be able to help. MAF are currently reviewing the IHS and a new "approved" list will be published. While fish and corals are not too much of a concern for us, it is the availability of invertebrates which is troubling. The reason why fish and corals are not of much concern is that we already import most of the "bread and butter" fish species available in the hobby.
However, even now the invertebrates, particularly shrimps available to us are limited. For example, we can only import two Lysmata sp. (L. debelius and L. amboinensis), Stenopus hispidus and Periclimenes brevicarpalis.
<As I saw>
The importer I am working with has attempted to add the following shrimp
Lysmata grabhami
L. wurdemanni
Rhynchocinetes uritai
Saron sp.
Enoplometoplus occidentalis
<Actually a lobster>
Stenopus cyanoseclis
These were originally added to the new draft IHS approved species list.
However, today we had found out that they had been removed as they were a "high-risk" to the New Zealand aquatic environment. This was because these species were "susceptible to White Spot Syndrome Virus" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spot_syndrome).
Myself and the importer would like to humbly request your assistance to try and combat MAF's argument by being able to provide some expert written statements from either yourself or other academics who specialise in this field. After-all, wouldn't L. amboinensis also be susceptible to this  virus?
<I don't know. Most involved are cultured Penaeids>
Wouldn't it be possible for this virus to arrive in our oceans naturally as well.
Please consider this request as it would be most helpful to the New Zealand marine aquarium hobby.
MAF stated
Kind Regards,
Michael Tan
International House 2009
University of Auckland Business School 2009
<Michael... I will gladly aid your efforts in what ways I can... But at this point I strongly suggest you, others enlist the help of Marshall Meyers of PIJAC (www.pijac.org), to just stop this government nonsense
period. Such restriction is NOT good science, nor public policy. Your bureaucrats (and ours as well) have gone "wild"... Stop them before the morass sets in, civil disobedience becomes the call of the day, or you are all made to be criminals. Bob Fenner>

Re: Need help from Bob Fenner specifically  4/20/09
Hi Bob
Thanks for that. I have contacted Marshall Meyers and am just waiting for a response. We would also be truly grateful if you could write a letter with your views which we could submit to MAF along with our other research.
<I will need reference to the document... and any other links you can provide to others input. Can/will you send along?>
Again, we are very thankful for you taking the time to help us.
Kind Regards,
<Bob Fenner> 

Re: Need help from Bob Fenner specifically  4/20/09
Hi Bob
I have reattached the document as it was created on a Mac.
<Ahh! Yes, this one opens... Again, I would take a different tack here... and resist the entire measure rather than looking/asking for further exemptions... additions to their "clean list"... This approach (allowing only certain species "in") will never work for the country, the ornamental industry. Bob Fenner>

Re: Need help from Bob Fenner specifically 4/21/09
Hi Bob,
The draft documents should be open for public review in one or two weeks and I will send them along to you then. MAF have been very reluctant to release these documents prematurely and the information we have received from them is very conflicting.
<... Trouble>
Unfortunately I don't think trying to remove the species requirement will ever come to fruition. However, the importer and I working to try and bring around yearly additions. i.e. Throughout the year importers can submit new species to MAF and then at a cut-off point, MAF will review all submissions and any new approvals will be added immediately to the list. The response from MAF about this has been positive so far.
Again, we are very grateful for your help.
<Thank you Michael. BobF>

ALL pet owners/lovers, protect our rights   4/16/09
<Oh! Timely. Thank you Alan. Bob Fenner>
YouTube <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FPfL212CB8&feature=channel_page> -
Pets in Peril (politicians gone wild) HR669
Join PIJAC in opposing HR 669
Anyone with pet fish, birds, reptiles, or small mammals will be affected by this bill. Any company selling product or services for pet fish, birds, reptiles or small mammals will be affected by this bill. Would you be impacted by The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act?
Virtually all fish in an aquarium are not native to the United States
Most pet birds are species not native to the US
Most reptiles kept as pets are not native to the US
Hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and ferrets are not native to the US

This bill would ban nonnative species not specifically approved by US Fish & Wildlife Service. AND, it does NOT only ban their importation, it also bans sales, transportation and breeding of these animals
If you own a bird or reptile, and your specialized veterinarian is located across the state line from your home, you would be prohibited from taking your pet to its veterinarian
If you own two fish and they have babies, you would be in violation of this law and your pets could be confiscated and destroyed
Dont plan on moving to another state with your pet. Crossing state lines with your hamster, fish, bird, snake or other nonnative animal will be illegal

ANY animal except dogs, cats and goldfish will need to go through a costly, extensive study to prove they will not cause harm AND be approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service before they can be pets. The proposed congressional ban on nonnative species will affect hundreds of millions of animals currently kept as pets.
PIJAC supports managing invasive species, but this bill is not the answer . Simply enhancing and improving existing laws and regulations would meet the goal of preventing/minimizing the introduction of potentially invasive species.
Under HR669, ANY animal not native to the U.S. would have to be placed on an Approved list created by the Fish and Wildlife Service, which does not have the manpower or financial resources to do it . Nonnative species includes virtually every bird, reptile, fish, and small mammal commonly kept as pets. Until an animal is placed on the Approved list, you would be banned from adopting, purchasing, selling, transporting across state lines, or breeding these animals.
Pet owners and the pet industry needs to be heard NOW
Contact members of the subcommittee both in Washington, DC AND in their district offices. Let them know you dont want them to ban your pets
Attend your representatives Town Hall meeting during the Congressional Spring Break (April 6-17) and ask them WHY THEY WANT TO TAKE AWAY YOUR PETS
Alert everyone you know and ask them to stand up and be counted.
Become a member of PIJAC and help us defeat this bill (www.pijac.org)

1220 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, www.pijac.orgHouse Committee on Natural Resources
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Issue with information on WWM page 5/6/08 While I was researching Lunar Wrasse I came across this link below and it has some information that just shouldnt be there. The statement is, <The world's primary troubles are due to overly bloated large civil servant bases (including militaries... civil servants with guns)... The way out of this particular predicament is to do away with career, lifetime, free retirements...> <Is my opinion, actually more of the plain truth... is my website... this, the U.S. still has some individual liberties (remember the Constitution, Bill of Rights?). Move to your own planet, tax yourself 100% and pay yourself what you will. Bob Fenner>

Non-paid political announcements... Excepting the thievery of taxation, devaluation of all's property... Stipendium peccati mors est 3/18/08 "Moolah for co-editing and your cichlid piece! Convert it to Euros > > quick... before the dollar tanks completely". Hi Bob, Thanks for this. Consider this including the Malawi AND the Tanganyikan piece, since they've both been used (in part) elsewhere, so come under our "two for one" agreement on this. <Mmm, someone should take you to task for being overly generous... but then again... as E.O. Wilson might be mis-paraphrased: "Likely our writing is at least partly self-serving..." Think of the time we stand to save (working for free nonetheless...) by being able to refer those too-lazy queriors to our more fully-explained positions!> As for the mighty dollar... I'm hoping the citizens of the Great  Republic will manage to elect someone who can add up and do long division next time. <... the choices again... are exceedingly poor. I would NOT vote for McCain for anything... he's multi-faced flim flam... another bag boy for the real rulers dntn. Hillary and Obama? Too little likely to be able to effect change... THEY are PART of the problem... Need to put in foxes that aren't so entirely entrenched in the proverbial hen house> Having a well-trained monkey in the White House was fun, but play time is over and America needs to lead the free world rather than mess it up. <... too late for the U.S. to do anything but revert, or try, to basic commerce... As of last August, the real controllers of "our" destiny/debt pulled their investing of more than a billion dollars a day (that we pissed away, along with another figure more than that in money we don't have either), and became net sellers... the end of U.S. hegemony and more is nigh/here... Like the so-called impending recession. What idiots the citizenry has been... Now I see the "Fed" has lowered the commercial banking rate another 3/4 pt. today... D'oh! The same agency pays more interest on the public debt!!! Heeeeeeee! What imbeciles... but what else to do but hang on for the ride? BobF, a real citizen, who is voting, yes, for Ron Paul... the only honest and competent candidate thus far.>  Cheers, Neale

Question for RMF... In ref. to Geo. Bush and co.'s poor mgmt. of the U.S.?   2/15/08 Good day Crew. Bob, why am I an idiot? <Mmm, don't know...> A dolt perhaps. Why don't you climb down from that high seahorse that you ride and join me in reality. It is murderers not murderer. The radical islamic terrorists that killed innocent people all over the U.S. that day, I refer to. <Uhh, they're dead. Might I ask re the third million or so, mainly children "we" killed in Iraq twixt invasions? Or the fact that most of the so-called trouble of "9/11" being perpetrated by Saudi's, why we didn't invade their country?> Not your misguided hate for the Commander and Chief. <Not hate, nor misguided> You came across as a real newbie on this one. So next time you must expel waste, please research first. I know who the hypocrite is RMF. A mere thank you for the protection I provide <Are you a civil servant with a gun? Please, stop stealing> would suffice next time you are exercising your freedoms in some far away country. <Mmm, am a vet... my father was a lifer in the Nav...> Hate for the right reasons Bob not because of political affiliations. <Mmm... don't know what you're referring to here either... But am willing to listen> Life to you my friend, Mike. <Life to all Mike... not just the privileged folks and their minions in the West... Might I ask: "Do you support the oppression and murder of indigenous Middle-Eastern peoples for cheap gas?" I don't. Bob Fenner>

Re: Turtle FAQs work on WWM, call for articles, U.S. pres. choices, choosing   1/16/08 Hi Bob, <Neale> Since that article isn't all that long, and the one on turtle eyes likely won't be either, happy to do a 2-for-1 sort of thing here. Seem fair? But honestly, you know the market better than me, so happy to be paid whatever seems right to you. <Real good... will send along via PP presently> Trying to follow your presidential election system from here. Boy, it seems crazy to me... <Is... more folks who don't "believe" in things like "evolution"... Nor other "theories" no doubt, e.g. gravity... and Barack now has a simple servant bail out plan... Won't vote for him either... Am casting/tossing my vote for Ron Paul... about the only honest choice that has a platform I agree with... so it goes> the Dems didn't bother running in Michigan at all, so registered Dems ending up helping to choose for the Repubs? <Mmm, no, not really... just the first bout... real election/Electoral comes later... We'll see> Cheers, Neale <And you, BobF>

My take on how News agencies cover important issues   1/14/08 A true reflection of today's topics and "Network News" covering important issues that affect our lives. Americans can base their decisions intelligently using our" Media" as a source of information on the most definitive and relevant coverage. It seems more and more difficult to access spin free News. These are prime examples of what we have come to expect from our "Networks". I know we have come to enjoy our "Fluffed" media and that is all fine for entertainment value with the left and the right taking pot shots at each other, it is great for a laugh but where does it end? And where can we get unspun truthful reporting on topics that determine our future? The time is past due for government and corporations to give ownership of the news back to the people. The recommended page is: Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters and http://www.theonion.com/content/video/report_nation_s_wealthy_cruelly?utm_source=videomrss_71036 <John... too late... folks have been sucked in, the nation sold. Get out (with me/us) while you can, or become more satisfied to live amongst a bunch of crowd-driven brain-washed ovines. B>

The Tipping Point?   America... you been sold 12/27/07My brother in law, MikeM sent these links along about the economy and recent troubling economic events around the world. What do you think of all of this? Mike <Are more evidential pieces re the switch/shift from demagogic civil service rule (no chance of voting them out...) to the new aristocracy... Let's see how much of going out "not with a bang but a whimper" the "news"-manipulated public will take/suffer with this new decentralized communism... My bet is still on the idiots in America just bending over... What say you re these patterns, consequences? B> Note: forwarded message attached. The Tipping Point? Singapore may invest $5 Billion into Merrill Lynchhttp://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20071222/news_1b22merrill.html(I thought Singapore was one of those really poor countries?)Consumers Spending Soars in Novemberhttp://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20071222/news_1b22economy.html(Negative savings rate does not stop US consumers from spending more borrowed Asian money!)U.S. Subprime Mess Spurs U.K. Bank Runhttp://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/17/business/realestate/main3267575.shtml?source=RSS&attr=_3267575(Coming soon to a US bank near you!)Largest Swiss Bank gets bailed out from Singapore and Middle East Investors because of U.S. Subprime Messhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071210/ts_afp/switzerlandsingaporebankingmarketsfinance_071210120811(Wow...Swiss banks are not even safe to keep you money)Morgan Stanley gets cash infusion from China & Middle East due to Subprime Messhttp://www.forbes.com/2007/12/19/morgan-stanley-subprime-markets-equity-cx_er_1219markets09_print.html(At least it not those poor pesky Singapore folks again...)Economic power of China has been bolstered after rescuing banking giants like Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/21/2125549.htm(Bear Stearns reports first loss in 76 year history.....probably not it's last.)Citigroup lined up a $7.5-billion cash infusion from Abu Dhabi's state investment fund due to Subprime Messhttp://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-petruno22dec22,0,2780149.column?coll=la-home-center(American housing and mortgage-market mess of 2007 may well be remembered as the tipping point of a monumental global power shift.) It goes on and on and on. Are we headed for just another normal down cycle in the economy or something much more? I don't know the answer, but it sure seems like we need to get back to the basics of saving, producing and living within your means before the house of cards begins to collapse.70% of the economy is based on Consumption Incredible amounts of National and Consumer dept We (not all of us..) consume with money that we borrow from Asia The government grossly manipulates the Inflation rate numbers (CPI & CPI) Real inflation is more then double what is reported. We all know that when we buy food and gas....our real "CORE" purchases The US Dollar is losing value and Gold is raising rapidly The Dot Com bubble followed by the Real Estate Bubble...what will the 3rd act be?//MM-- Re: Why we must invade Iraq <Because Geo. Dumbya Play-It-Again Bush, is a doltish sham of a front for military and death industry interests, and doesn't have a clue... but is direly interested in not being found out to be the patsy idiot he is... and have to join his friends in prison for being a crook. Yeah, that about sums it up. Bob F> Why we must invade Iraq Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 14:32:29 EDT It all becomes clear once you view this site. > <A HREF="http://www.markfiore.com/animation/corrections.swf">http://www.markfiore.com/animation/corrections.swf</A> > Untested administration hawks clamor for war By James Bamford Beware of war hawks who never served in the military. That, in essence, was the message of retired four-star Marine Corps general Anthony Zinni, a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War and the White House point man on the Middle East crisis. Zinni is one of a growing number of uniformed officers, in and out of the Pentagon, urging caution on the issue of a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. In an address recently in Florida, he warned his audience to watch out for the administration's civilian superhawks, most of whom avoided military service as best they could. ''If you ask me my opinion,'' said Zinni, referring to Iraq, ''Gen. (Brent) Scowcroft, Gen. (Colin) Powell, Gen. (Norman) Schwarzkopf and Gen. Zinni maybe all see this the same way. It might be interesting to wonder why all of the generals see it the same way, and all those (who) never fired a shot in anger (and) are really hellbent to go to war see it a different way. ''That's usually the way it is in history,'' he said. Another veteran, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who served in combat in Vietnam and now sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, was even more blunt. ''It is interesting to me that many of those who want to rush this country into war and think it would be so quick and easy don't know anything about war,'' he said. ''They come at it from an intellectual perspective vs. having sat in jungles or foxholes and watched their friends get their heads blown off.'' The problem is not new. More than 100 years ago, another battle-scarred soldier, Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, observed: ''It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation.'' Last month, Vice President Cheney emerged briefly to give several two-gun talks before veterans groups in which he spoke of ''regime change'' and a ''liberated Iraq.'' ''We must take the battle to the enemy,'' he said of the war on terrorism. Cheney went on to praise the virtue of military service. ''The single most important asset we have,'' he said, ''is the man or woman who steps forward and puts on the uniform of this great nation.'' But during the bloodiest years of the Vietnam War, Cheney decided against wearing that uniform. Instead, he used multiple deferments to avoid military service altogether. ''I had other priorities in the '60s than military service,'' he once said. Cheney is far from alone. For instance, neither Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy Defense secretary, nor Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, has served in uniform, yet they are now two of the most bellicose champions of launching a bloody war in the Middle East. What frightens many is the arrogance, naïveté and cavalier attitude toward war. ''The Army guys don't know anything,'' Perle told The Nation's David Corn earlier this year. With ''40,000 troops,'' he said, the United States could easily take over Iraq. ''We don't need anyone else.'' But by most other estimates, a minimum of 200,000 to 250,000 troops would be needed, plus the support of many allies. Even among Republicans, the warfare between the veterans and non-vets can be intense. ''Maybe Mr. Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad,'' Hagel, who came home from Vietnam with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, told The New York Times. Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Vietnam combat veteran and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has often expressed anger about the class gap between those who fought in Vietnam and those who did not. ''I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units,'' he wrote in his 1995 autobiography, My American Journey. ''Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country.'' Non-combatants, however, litter the top ranks of the Republican hierarchy. President Bush served peacefully in the Texas National Guard. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spent his time in a Princeton classroom as others in his age group were fighting and dying on Korean battlefields (he later joined the peacetime Navy). Another major player in the administration's war strategy, Douglas Feith, the Defense undersecretary for policy, has no experience in the military. Nor does Cheney's influential chief of staff, Lewis Libby. The top congressional Republican leaders -- Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Dick Armey and House Majority Whip Tom Delay -- never saw military service, either; only one, Armey, has shown hesitation about invading Iraq. In contrast, House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., a World War II combat veteran, has expressed skepticism about hasty U.S. action, as have some prominent Democrats -- House Minority Whip David Bonior, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former vice president Al Gore -- who were in the military during the Vietnam War. No administration's senior ranks, of course, have to be packed with military veterans in order to make good military decisions. But what is remarkable about this administration is that so many of those who are now shouting the loudest and pushing the hardest for this generation's war are the same people who avoided combat, or often even a uniform, in Vietnam, their generation's war. Military veterans from any era tend to have more appreciation for the greater difficulty of getting out of a military action than getting in -- a topic administration war hawks haven't said much about when it comes to Iraq. Indeed, the Bush administration's non-veteran hawks should review the origins of the Vietnam quagmire. Along the way, they might come across a quote from still another general, this one William Westmoreland, who once directed the war in Vietnam. ''The military don't start wars,'' he said ruefully. ''Politicians start wars.'' James Bamford is author of Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency and a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors. <I am always leery of folks who advocate something which they haven't done, wouldn't do personally... Once you've seen the wasteful destruction that passes for "modern war", the lives left destroyed as well... you will not take up arms. Bob F>

Ancient Rome  In 1919, Joseph Schumpteter described ancient Rome in a way that sounds eerily like the United States in 2002: "There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest -- why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, it was manifestly Rome's duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs." <I frequently refer to the recent "powers that be" as the "New Centurions"... their arrogance amazes and disgusts me. I wish we could ignore them and that that would make them go away. Did you see Sixty Minutes last night? The seventy million "new age" so-called Christians that are rooting for the Jews that call themselves Israelis... urging them on to give the boot, murder the Palestinians in "Israel"? Such perfidy... such a waste of life. Bob>

Check out ajc.com | Opinion | Bush's real goal in Iraq  <A HREF="http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/opinion/0902/29bookman.html">Click here: ajc.com | Opinion | Bush's real goal in Iraq </A> <I consider the major point here valid. It really strikes me as odd (to fantastic) that the vast majority of Americans don't stand up, recognize this "pax americana" world-grab for what it is, realize it won't work to their advantage (for long or well), and complain loudly (as in toss out Rummy and Dumbya). I still have my bumper sticker on my truck (self-made): "Do you support the oppression and murder of indigenous Middle Eastern peoples for cheap gas?". Get the U.S. out of Germany, Japan (57 years!) ridiculous, and "our" military out of the dozens of other countries it is occupying. NOW! Bob F

Onion's Bush Prophecy The Onion already knew, January before last... http://www.theonion.com/onion3701/bush_nightmare.html <Great... sad Bob>

Do You Do REITS'?!? Affording the marine hobby... Dear Robert,  I know that this isn't any of my business, however, I'd like to know if you invest in REITS' (Real Estate Investment Trusts) and if you do, can you recommend any. Better yet, I would like to know your opinion regarding these. <Have not invested in these vehicles. Do buy, hold real estate... just Single Family residence types... on the sound advice of my father, "Never buy anything you wouldn't want to live in... because (among other things), you may end up doing so (I have). Do know of REITs, but don't know specifics well-enough to recommend them for you.> My investments, i.e. growth fund, growth and income fund, and other mutual funds as well as individual stocks are quite dismal. Why, even my supposed liquid safe haven (money market funds) have recently just returned 2.85% in dividends - the same amount as savings accounts. Talk about ludicrous. I use to have 10% returns, then it went down to 6% (just for the liquid safe havens), now it is down 2%!!! In your opinion, what smart moves if any should I take?!? My investments are separate from John's. There is very litle investments, if any in both our names. I'd like some of your insights as to what you think might have helped you.  <I'm sure you've heard this enough... but "just hold on"... the cyclicity of diversified stock investment is such that all will/does "turn around"... Assuredly, the U.S. government is/will continue to overspend, borrow, in essence devalue the dollar... with a strong position in leveraged or fixed assets you'll do fine. I am fully vested (even margined) in the U.S. (and foreign) exchanges...> The reason I am inquiring about REITS' is because of an article from the Kiplinger's Financial Magazine recommending this as a safe haven with higher yields. <Mmm, define "safe"... I am aware of a few of these trusts that have folded flat, leaving their "owners" with zip...> Or am I being naive about this?!? I no longer know what CD's yield. What do you think?!? <Contact your brokerages, read on E-Trade, Ameritrade on the Net, call your bank... they'll tell you about what current yields are... they're more than 2%...> You are my link to the world since I am not getting that much exposure to the world and I am not as well travelled like you nor like my family (siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, in-laws). <You're in Southern California... intelligent... you read... have computer skills, access...> I am letting you know that before I got into the Marine Fish Keeping, I made sure that I had enough money to indulge in this expensive hobby. I am not working and obviously neither is John. However, John is not paying for my hobby, I am. And I rely on my investments to keep up with my hobby!!!  <I understand> I shall ask other questions by sending you a different e-mail regarding the upcoming Christmas Party. For now, this Q&A shall suffice. Hope to hear from you, my dear sir!!! <Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Thanks a million (wish my portfolio were worth that much)!!!  Aleida Ann Graichen

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