Archive | News

Native Seed Search. Preserving endangered Southwest native seeds

native-seed-search-beans

Native Seed Search in Tucson has preserved and saved multitudes of heirloom seeds including beans, squash, pepper, corn, eggplant, herbs, and a multitude of other vegetables. They were once given a medicine man’s pouch which contained sunflower seeds they’d never seen before. This previously unknown variety of sunflowers proved resistant to sunflower rust and was soon cross-bred with commercial species.

Native Seeds/SEARCH is a nonprofit seed conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Our story began in 1983 following a profound realization. While working on a Meals for Millions project to assist the Tohono O’odham Nation with establishing gardens, NS/S co-founders Gary Nabhan and Mahina Drees presented tribal elders with broccoli and radish seeds. “What we are really looking for,” the elders replied, “are the seeds for the foods our grandparents used to grow.” This revelatory remark inspired the formation of Native Seeds/SEARCH as a collector and preserver of these endangered traditional seeds.

They are worth supporting.

nss-peppers

Posted in News0 Comments

It’s moving day. Vegas here we come!

Vegas Hilton men's room

Vegas Hilton men’s room

I like a city that has personality, that often changes seemingly overnight, and gives the people what they want. San Jose is nice. However the cost of housing is ridiculously high.  We look forward to living in a house again and to having zillions of house guests. Hello Vegas.

Posted in News0 Comments

Steppenwolf. Monster. As true now as it was in the 1960′s.

“Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of kingdom and pope
Like good Christians, some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken
Westward in saddle and wagon it went
And ’til the railroad linked ocean to ocean
Many the lives which had come to an end
While we bullied, stole and bought our homeland
We began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

The blue and gray they stomped it
They kicked it just like a dog
And when the war was over
They stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has it’s share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But it’s protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it’s a monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice
And it’s keepers seem friendly and kind
It’s leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won’t pay it no mind

‘Cause the people got fat and grew lazy
Now their vote is like a meaningless joke
You know they talk about law, about order
But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told

‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there watchin’

Our cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin’ the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can’t understand

We don’t know how to mind our own business
‘Cause the whole worlds got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who’s the winner, we can’t pay the cost

‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watching

America where are you now?
Don’t you care about your sons and daughters?
Don’t you know we need you now
We can’t fight alone against the monster.”

Posted in News0 Comments

Obama manages to be willfully ignorant, condescending to Iraq

Facepalm

This is why the US can’t have coherent foreign policy. It has little grasp of or interest in realities on the ground, believes exceptional force can solve everything, and other countries simply cannot carry on without US intervening into their affairs to make them safe for democracy.

Witness this vapid, arrogant statement from Obama about Iraq:

“The nature of this problem is not one that the U.S. military can solve. Our military obviously can play an extraordinarily important role in bolstering efforts of an Iraqi partner as they make the right steps to keep their country together. But we can’t do it for them.”

Obama’s statement is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. The US has mostly destroyed Iraq, invaded based on lies, destabilized the entire region, funded the current enemy ISIS to fight Assad and are now gobsmacked ISIS is in Iraq. Further, Iraq as we know it is dead. It inevitably will split into parts. Instead of acknowledging the obvious, Obama pretends Iraq will somehow be as it was, before the US invaded and that Iraq simply needs to man up and git ‘er done. I’m guessing most Iraqis feel rather differently about the US “helping” them.

Saddam was a thug. However Iraq did have a functioning economy and Saddam slapped down Islamists hard and fast, something the US never does until far too late, generally because we’ve armed those very same Islamists to fight someone else. Lest we forget, when Bill Clinton ordered a Bin Laden base in Afghanistan blown up, it couldn’t be done. Why? Because it was built to CIA specs when Bin Laden was their asset and was impervious to direct missile strikes. This kind of deranged idiocy is what characterizes CIA / NSA / black ops. Those in charge of such operations are not patriots. Rather, they are war criminals and quite probably war profiteers. No other explanation makes sense. Our self-destructive wars continue because a few at the top make a lot of money and gain much power because of war. This includes Obama, who like Bill Clinton, will surprisingly become quite wealthy shortly after leaving office.

Meanwhile, countries fall into chaos because of their actions.

Posted in News0 Comments

It’s time to bring back skilled trades as respected work

shopcraft-soulcraft

High schools today are way too oriented towards putting people to work in offices. Many students don’t want office jobs and will be far happier and more productive in skilled trades. High schools used to have shop classes. Sadly, such classes have almost entirely disappeared. This is self-defeating for our society at large. A skilled auto mechanic, machinist, etc. can make a good living and provide important services. A union carpenter in NYC can make $95 an hour. Top carpenters are every bit as skilled in their profession as seasoned computer programmers are in theirs. That carpenters don’t sit behind a desk means nothing about their skill sets and experience. (I am a computer programmer and have always viewed it as a skilled trade.)

Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe has a foundation that awards scholarships to deserving students wanting to learn skilled trades.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation promotes hard work and supports the skilled trades in a variety of areas. We award scholarships to men and women who have demonstrated an interest in and an aptitude for mastering a specific trade. The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Foundation has given more than $2.5 million in scholarships to schools around the country, including Midwest Technical Institute, Tulsa Welding School, The Refrigeration School and Universal Technical Institute.

Matthew Chapman got the most votes for the 2014 scholarships. He has cerebral palsy, works construction, grew up on farms, and has restored two vintage tractors.

Southwire Co. in Georgia was concerned about getting skilled young workers given high numbers of local high school dropouts. They start a unique program where at-risk high school students work 4 hours a day at the plant making $9 an hour then spend 8 hours in company classrooms learning skills appropriate to their jobs.

Southwire worked with the local school district to recruit students and to design an academic curriculum that complements what they learn on the factory floor. The idea is to bring abstract concepts to life to make them easier to understand.

Physics and chemistry classes, for example, include lessons on electricity and the properties of electric cables. Students learn to perform quality-control tests on cables at an on-site laboratory

So far, it’s been working. More students are graduating locally. Some go on to college. Others go to work for Southwire.

From the Amazon review of Shop Craft as Soulcraft

The person who works with his or her hands submits to standards inherent in the work itself: the lights either turn on or they don’t, the toilet flushes or it doesn’t, the motorcycle roars or sputters. With wit and humor, the author deftly mixes the details of his own experience as a tradesman and then proprietor of a motorcycle repair shop with more philosophical considerations.

This is exactly like computer programming. Either it works right or it doesn’t. Skilled trades are mostly ignored by schools now. It’s time to change that.

Posted in News0 Comments

More Cool Justice from old school muckraker Andy Thibault

more-cool-justice-cover

Journalist Andy Thibault played a big role in freeing Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, who was unjustly convicted of murder. He has exposed corruption in Connecticut politics multiple times. Once he gets hold of a story, he doesn’t let go regardless of who he pisses off. We need more journalists like him. He has a new book coming out soon. You can read excerpts and preorder at morecooljustice.com

“Andy Thibault, aka @cooljustice, is as close as we have to a modern-day revolutionary muckraker. Andy takes up the impossible and makes it possible through dogged determination and by seeing no boundaries when it comes to upholding the justice we all deserve” – Ondi Timoner

“More than ever, the public needs bare-knuckle advocates – and not the glad-handers, greedy careerists, and clueless complainers who often dominate our civic life. One such fighter is Andy Thibault, author of the superb more COOL JUSTICE. His fifth book exposes injustice much in the style of his Law and Justice in Everyday Life, which he authored in 2002 to much acclaim.” – Andrew Kreig

“Thibault is] a friend to poets and writers, a champion of civil liberties, an investigative journalist who relishes rolling up his sleeves and wading in the muck to unearth that memo that the cops wanted to see buried …” Ravi Shankar (chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust)

Posted in News0 Comments

El Nino for California now probably a non-event. The drought will continue

El-Nino

El Nino conditions in the Pacific are weakening. This means California, which desperately needs rain, will get a weak El Nino if it gets one at all. Thus, there will almost certainly be no deluges of rain.

California needs to get a clue about water. It is the only western state that does not regulate groundwater pumping. Phoenix and Tucson have made great progress in using less water. Las Vegas recycles and reuses all indoor water, including what it flushed down toilets. By contrast, Bakersfield currently has no water rationing and much of the rest of California is lackadasical at best about cutting back on water usage.

If the drought drags into a fourth year, dozens of cities across California will see strict water cutbacks, including rationing, said Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis. The state, he said, also is more likely to put in place rules regulating groundwater pumping and other long-delayed water efficiency reforms.

California recently imposed feeble $500 fines for overwatering lawns and hosing down driveways yet still is doing nothing about agricultural water use. Lawns do indeed use huge amounts of water. Perhaps a better solution is to ban grass lawns in arid and semi-arid areas. Some cities have already done this.

Posted in News0 Comments

Robot waiters, chefs, cashiers now in restaurants

serving-robot

Millions more people will be saying goodbye to their fast food restaurant jobs. Robots will increasingly replace people. A Chinese restaurant now has robots cooking and serving food. They cost $6,500 each, far cheaper tha a human. A McDonalds has replaced cashiers with a machine. This trend towards replacing pesky humans who want work breaks and pay raises with robots is irreversible. It’s about to happen in trucking too.

The standard drivel from noeoliberals is automation will create zillions of new jobs in the cities just like last time when people moved from farms to cities to work in factories. Except many of them already live in cities and there are no new frontiers. Automation is about to put many folks out of work permanently.

McDonalds-automated-cashier

Posted in News0 Comments

Europe gobsmacked by Russia imposing retaliatory sanctions

gobsmacked

Who could have ever predicted Russia would impose sanctions against Europe after US-cheerled sanctions by Europe against Russia? Russia just announced a one year ban on food imports from Europe, something which will badly hurt the EU. Further, Russian billionaires who have been laundering money by buying London real estate will be moving on, leaving London real estate in a precarious state indeed. Who will London sycophants sell their over-priced baubles to now?

The EU comically sniffed that these Russian sanctions were “politically motivated.” Well, duh. So are EU sanctions against Russia. I guess the EU missed that part. Are they just idiots or simply lackeys of the US?

Surely, Putin is waiting for the European Commission to also issue a #hashtag before he starts shaking in his boots.

As usual, US blundering is poisoning its own well. Our idea of a long-term strategic view is about two weeks.

U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia threaten to hasten a move away from the dollar that’s been stirring since the global financial crisis.

Posted in News0 Comments

More radiation exposure won’t hurt you, says U.S. EPA

radioactive

Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations” means what?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States is a full blown oxymoron when it comes to protecting U.S. residents from the danger of increased exposure to ionizing radiation. That’s the kind of radiation that comes from natural sources like Uranium and the sun, as well as unnatural sources like Uranium mines, nuclear weapons, and nuclear power plants (even when they haven’t melted down like Fukushima). The EPA is presently considering allowing everyone in the U.S. to be exposed to higher levels of ionizing radiation.

In 1977, the EPA established levels of radiation exposure “considered safe” for people by federal rule (in bureaucratese, “the regulation at 40 CFR part 190”). In the language of the rule, the 1977 safety standards were: “The standards [that] specify the levels below which normal operations of the uranium fuel cycle are determined to be environmentally acceptable.” In common parlance, this became the level “considered safe,” even though that’s very different from “environmentally acceptable.” “Acceptable by whom? The environment has no vote.

The phrase “considered safe” is key to the issue, since there is no “actually safe” level of radiation exposure. The planet was once naturally radioactive and lifeless. Life emerged only after Earth’s radiation levels decayed to the point where life became possible, in spite of a continuing level of natural “background radiation.” The reality is that there is no “safe” level of radiation exposure.

In January 2014, the EPA issued a very long proposal (in bureaucratese, an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking”) to consider raising the “safe” radiation levels established in 1977. According to the EPA, the proposal “does not propose revisions to the current regulation, but is being issued only to collect information to support EPA’s review.” The public comment period on the EPA proposal ­– titled “Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations” – has been extended to August 4, 2014.

Comments from the public may be submitted online at regulations.gov, by email via a-and-r-docket@epa.gov, as well as by hand, fax, or U.S. mail, all listed on site.

Is the EPA actually immersed in a protection racket?

The studied ambiguity of the proposal’s title – “Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations” – goes to the heart of the issue: who or what is really being protected, nuclear power operations?

Quite aware that it is perceived by some as placing the desires of the nuclear power industry above the safety needs of the population, the EPA begins its proposal for changing radiation limits with this defensive and apparently contradictory passage:

This Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is being published to inform stakeholders, including federal and state entities, the nuclear industry, the public and any interested groups, that the Agency is reviewing the existing standards to determine how the regulation at 40 CFR part 190 should be updated and soliciting input on changes (if any) that should be made.

This action is not meant to be construed as an advocacy position either for or against nuclear power.

EPA wants to ensure that environmental protection standards are adequate for the foreseeable future for nuclear fuel cycle facilities.

[emphasis added]

As far as the EPA is concerned, the uranium fuel cycle does not include Uranium mining, despite the serious environmental danger that process entails. Once the environmental and human degradation from Uranium mining has been done, the EPA begins regulating environmental protection from nuclear fuel cycle facilities, beginning with milling and ending with storage or reprocessing facilities for nuclear waste.

According to the agency itself, “EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. EPA sets limits on the amount of radiation that can be released into the environment.”

Radiation exposure is chronic, cumulative, and unhealthy

Given the pre-existing radiation load on the environment from natural sources, it’s not clear that there is any amount of radiation that can be released into the environment with safety. The EPA pretty much evades that question, since the straight forward answer for human health is: no amount. Besides, the semi-captured protection agency is just as much engaged in protecting economic health for certain industries as it is in protecting human health. This leads it to making formulations that manage to acknowledge human reality without actually supporting it:

The Agency establishes certain generally applicable environmental standards to protect human health and the environment from radioactive materials.

These radioactive materials emit ionizing radiation, which can damage living tissue and cause cancer.

The EPA’s 1977 rules were promulgated in an era of optimism about the expansion of nuclear power in the U.S.  Even the EPA was predicting 300 operating reactors within 20 years. In 1973, President Nixon had predicted 1,000 reactors by 2000.

In 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident happened, when the reactor core partially melted down. The number of operating nuclear power plants has never risen much above 100 since then. The nuclear industry wants a relaxation of limits on radiation releases to stimulate new plant construction.

Lower radiation levels provide more environmental protection

Environmental organizations like the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) are urging the EPA to lower radiation release standards, to “protect more, not less.”  According to NIRS, regulation of nuclear power has a sorry history:

Nuclear power operations that release radioactivity have been given an enormous “free pass” to expose communities (and the biosphere) to levels of radiation that are too high. When converted to RISK of cancer, the current regulation allows harm 2000 times higher than the EPA’s stated goal of allowing only 1 cancer in a million from licensed activities. Even using EPA’s more lax allowable risk level of 1 in 10,000 current EPA radiation regulations allow 20 times higher than that.

Nuclear proponents have long argued that there are “safe” levels of radiation, or even that some radiation exposure is good for you. What “safe” actually means in this context is that there are low levels of radiation that will take a long time to cause harm (cancer, genetic damage) and that in the meantime the odds are close to 100% that you will die from some other cause.

In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences addressed “safe” levels of radiation and concluded that there are none in any scientifically meaningful sense.

Humans are exposed to a basic, damaging level of ionizing radiation from multiple sources from gestation till death. This natural background radiation is at a relatively low level, but the risk from radiation is cumulative. Every additional exposure above background radiation adds to the risk. Some of these risks, like radiation treatment to ward off cancer, are widely accepted as reasonable trade-offs. The reasonableness of greater exposure from the nuclear fuel cycle and the uncontrolled growth of nuclear waste is not such an obviously beneficial trade-off.

 

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

Posted in News0 Comments

Contact

Bob Morris bob@polizeros.com

310.600.5237

Morris Consulting

  • Legacy PC database migration to Windows
  • WordPress design and support
  • Data conversion

Contact Morris Consulting at bomoco.com.

Categories

Archives