Feb 28, 2011

DOE to Expand Partnership with National Parks

Photo of a 1930s red and black bus driving on a road in Glacier National Park.The U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities initiative today announced the expansion of the ongoing collaboration with the National Parks Service's Climate Friendly Parks program. The goal of this new partnership is to reduce air pollution and preserve the environment and the National Parks' natural resources. Clean Cities has been working with the National Park Service since 1999 to support the use of renewable and alternative fuels, electric drive vehicles, and other energy-saving practices to help preserve air quality and promote the use of domestic energy resources in the parks. The expansion includes additional support and pilot projects at three national parks. The Department will provide technical assistance in developing project proposals which then can be submitted to the National Parks Service for potential funding.

Read full from EERE News 

How George Soros plans to profit off of the “green energy” boom,

George Soros is launching a new investment fund that plans to profit off of the "green energy" boom, which is entirely dependent on government subsidies supported by the groups Soros funds.

As the press release puts it, this fund will "leverage technology and business model innovation to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and emissions, harness renewable energy, and more efficiently use natural resources, among other applications." As Soros puts it in the same release: "Developing alternative sources of energy and achieving greater energy efficiency is both a significant global investment opportunity and an environmental imperative." Cadie Thompson at CNBC's NetNet flagged this.

So, yeah. The big-government policies advanced by the liberal outfits he funds — like Center for American Progress — will enrich the companies in which Soros is investing.

But this story gets better.

The press release casually mentions whom Soros is hiring to run this new fund: Cathy Zoi. As Cadie Thompson at CNBC's NetNet (edited by my brother John Carney), puts it, Zoi was Barack Obama's "Acting Under Secretary for Energy and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy."

An Al Gore acolyte, Zoi was Obama's point-woman on subsidizing green tech. Now she's going to work for George Soros to profit off of subsidized green tech. Rest here at WashingtonExaminer

Zoi, who joined the Obama Administration in 2009, became controversial during early 2010, after it was realized she had a financial interest in two companies that were poised to profit from government spending that promoted energy efficiency.

McCathy Newspapers reports:


Cathy Zoi, the assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy, owns between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of stock in Landis+Gyr, a Swiss-based manufacturer of special electric meters that are used to create an efficient "smart" grid of electricity use.

Her husband, Robin Roy, owns options on at least 120,000 shares of Serious Materials, a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient windows that's been singled out for praise by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. As an officer of the company, Roy receives options on an additional 2,500 shares every month and will continue to do so until October 2012.

Read more from CNBC

Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years

NationalGeographic- Even a regional nuclear war could spark "unprecedented" global cooling and reduce rainfall for years, according to U.S. government computer models. Widespread famine and disease would likely follow, experts speculate.

During the Cold War a nuclear exchange between superpowers—such as the one feared for years between the United States and the former Soviet Union—was predicted to cause a "nuclear winter.".... Today, with the United States the only standing superpower, nuclear winter is little more than a nightmare. But nuclear war remains a very real threat—for instance, between developing-world nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan.
The researchers predicted the resulting fires would kick up roughly five million metric tons of black carbon into the upper part of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere.

In NASA climate models, this carbon then absorbed solar heat and, like a hot-air balloon, quickly lofted even higher, where the soot would take much longer to clear from the sky.

Reversing Global Warming?

The global cooling caused by these high carbon clouds ...After ten years, average global temperatures would still be 0.9 degree F (0.5 degree C) lower than before the nuclear war, the models predict.  Read full at  NationalGeographic

File under OMG are you kidding me????

Feb 27, 2011

Beijing, China air pollution is hazardous, exceeding measurable levels

On Monday, dense smog blanketed the city of Beijing, China. It was so bad that the hazardous air pollution exceeded measurable levels, forcing Chinese officials to urge residents to stay indoors. Official measurements indicated that the smog was "beyond index," plunging below the worst rating on the city's pollution scale.
HTML clipboard Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China
In an interview with the AFP, an official at the Beijing Environmental Bureau who refused to release her identity stated, "Obviously elderly people and children should not go outside." Yikes.

The Beijing weather bureau reported that particulate pollution, rising temperatures and a lack of wind caused the thick smog to settle in, cutting visibility down to 200 meters. Air quality in Beijing is expected to remain poor until winds pick up today and blow the dense smog north of the city. Beijing's 4.8 million registered vehicles bear the brunt of the blame for the city's rising air pollution.

[Source: Yahoo News | Image: mckaysavage - C.C. License 2.0]

Porsche 1900 Semper Vivus full-hybrid

AutoBlogGreen Think the Toyota Prius was the first hybrid automobile ever made? Think again. Honda Insight? Keep guessing. In reality, the world's first hybrid was designed and built by none other than Ferdinand Porsche, founding father of the present-day Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart. 1900 Porsche Semper Vivus hybridThat's right, the same brain that brought us such HTML clipboard ingenious machinery as the Volkswagen Beetle and the glorious Auto Union racers built the world's first fully functional hybrid automobile.

Now that the modern-day Porsche brain-trust is once again showing interest in hybrid technology, the German company has decided to bring back the 1900 Semper Vivus, which literally means always alive. Although the technology behind hybrids has come a long way - Porsche's first hybrid used about 4,000 pounds of lead acid batteries and could barely climb any kind of grade - the basic principles are actually much the same.

Bill Clinton warns against ethanol food war he created

Many forget Bill Clinton Launched the largest growth of ethanolHTML clipboardhttp://www.lesjones.com/www/images/posts/1144406-L.jpg
The husband of the Secretary of State – who is currently dealing with the American response to
unrest in North Aftica and the Middle East – told the attendees that biofuels can affect the political arena by causing food prices to climb. Specifically, he said, "We have to become energy independent but we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots." He also said that the U.S. needs to "make intelligent decisions with three- to five-year time horizons based on the best evidence we have to maximize the availability of good food at affordable prices."

The direct connection between large-scale biofuel production and political turmoil didn't sit well with some in the audience. The Renewable Fuels Association's Matt Hartwig responded by saing, "The driver behind rising food prices has been and remains oil. President Clinton is right that ethanol is a key to American energy security and we would welcome his support in advocating for the continued advancement and evolution of this industry to include a wide variety of feedstocks and technologies."
[Source: Des Moines Register, Domestic Fuel, Growth Energy |AutoblogGreen]

HTML clipboard
Clinton and the history of the ethanol empire he helped subsidize  
HTML clipboard
The Gazette - Jul 17, 1994
Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton criticized Bush for making "the wrong choice" on ethanol. Clinton said he would "find a way" to meet environmentalists' concerns about increased use of the fuel.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 1, 1994
When farmers gaze across their next crop of corn, instead of feed for cattle they'll be seeing fuel - and dollar signs.

On Thursday, President Bill Clinton delivered an enormous boost to Midwestern farmers with an order that will increase markets around the country for corn-based ethanol fuel.

In a decision likely to be challenged in court, the Environmental Protection Agency prescribed formulas for blending fuel that will give ethanol a 15 percent share of the market

$4 Gasoline? Definitely in California, but Maybe Not for Everyone Else

As oil prices race toward $100 a barrel, the expectations that gasoline prices will make a leap are running high.

Some traders say $4 a gallon will be a reality in the not-too-distant future, and prices could shoot even higher....

"I don't think we're about to embark on a launch pad for another 2008. We went up to $4.11 by the summer. We went to nearly $5 for diesel," he said. He said the level where consumers start to feel real pain at the pump is about $3.80 to $4 per gallon.

"I'm definitely not in the group that's looking for the apocalypse right now. Let's watch California. California is the first state that will see prices go up to the point that will really impact consumers," he said. Read more at CNBC

Also on CNBC  IEA Chief: $100 Oil 'Very, Very Bad' for Economy

Saving Oil & Reducing Gas Emissions through U.S. Federal Transportation Policy

The United States consumes over 10 million barrels of oil per day moving people and goods on roads and rail throughout the country. Surface transportation generates over 23 percent of U.S. anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Transportation is the primary cause of U.S. oil dependence with its attendant risks to U.S. energy security. Contributions f HTML clipboardrom this sector will be necessary in any effort to maintain a sustainable and secure economy in the future. There are many opportunities to save oil and reduce GHG emissions under existing federal law and possibly in the next surface transportation reauthorization legislation in the U.S. Congress, while increasing the mobility of people and goods in the U.S. economy.

This paper identifies opportunities possible in transportation reauthorization legislation and using existing legislative authority that will save oil and reduce GHG emissions. The strategy focuses on five key elements: vehicles; fuels; vehicle miles traveled (VMT); system efficiency; and construction, maintenance, and other activities of transportation agency operations.
Read Study Here

Neuroscience: implications for education and lifelong learning

HTML clipboardhttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517Del6ObHL.jpgThis report highlights advances in neuroscience with potential implications for education and lifelong learning. The report authors, including neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists and education specialists, agree that if applied properly, the impacts of neuroscience could be highly beneficial in schools and beyond. 

report argues that our growing understanding of how we learn should play a much greater role in education policy and should also feature in teacher training. The reportalso discusses the challenges and limitations of applying neuroscience in the classroom and in learning environments throughout life. Read Full Report with Appendices

Cannabis Use & Earlier Onset of Psychosis

http://www.akademifantasia.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/hippie.jpgSurprised? Taking drugs makes you crazy...
Cannabis is the most widely used addictive substance after tobacco and alcohol. The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that more than 16 million Americans use cannabis on a regular basis, most of whom started using cannabis and other drugs during their teenage years.

There is little doubt about the existence of an association between substance use and psychotic illness.
HTML clipboard
National mental health surveys have repeatedly found more substance use, especially cannabis use, among people with a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.

There is a high prevalence of substance use among individuals treated in mental health settings, and patients with schizophrenia are more likely to use substances than members of the wider community. Prospective birth cohort and population studies suggest that the association between cannabis use and later psychosis might be causal, a conclusion supported by studies showing that cannabis use is associated with an earlier age at onset of psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia.
Read More>>

Oil Prices hit 'Danger Zone'

The HTML clipboard continuing unrest across the Middle East have pushed oil prices into a "danger zone" that could threaten global economic recovery, the International Energy Agency has warned.

Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, said high prices could put pressure on central banks to raise interest rates, especially in more developed countries such as the UK. "Oil prices are a serious risk for the global economic recovery," he said. "The global economic recovery is very fragile – especially in OECD countries." He said oil prices had entered a "danger zone" for the recovery at over $90 a barrel.

Brent crude prices fell back slightly from Monday's two-and-a-half-year high of $108.70 a barrel, but US oil prices at one stage rose by more than $8 a barrel to hit $94.49, the highest level since October 2008. That increase was partly a catch-up after the US markets were closed on Monday, but prices are also being driven by fears that unrest could spread to Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter.

Read more at the The Guardian

Iran To 'Remove Fuel' From Bushehr Nuclear Plant

SlashDot - "IraHTML clipboard http://gdb.rferl.org/8390C994-0522-43C1-861D-032A038F2E8C_mw800_mh600_s.jpgn said on Saturday it is removing the fuel from the reactor of a Russian-built nuclear power plant, a move seen as a big blow to its controversial nuclear program. The plant was first launched by the shah using contractors from Siemens. It was shelved after the Islamic revolution and it lay unfinished through the 1980s. In the early 1990s, Iran sought help for the project after being turned away by Siemens over nuclear proliferation concerns. In 1994, Russia agreed to complete the plant and provide the fuel, with the supply deal committing Iran to returning the spent fuel. The plant has faced hiccups even after its physical launch, with officials blaming the delays in generating electricity on a range of factors, including Bushehr's 'severe weather.' But they deny it was hit by the malicious Stuxnet computer worm which struck industrial computers in Iran, although they acknowledge that the personal computers of some personnel at Bushehr were infected with it."

Feb 26, 2011

Truth of crash, the wealth never trickles down...

HTML clipboardhttp://www.politicsplus.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/23wealth.jpgOnly the richest 5 percent of Americans are back in the stores because their stock portfolios have soared. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has doubled from its crisis low. Wall Street pay is up to record levels. Total compensation and benefits at the 25 major Wall St firms had been $130 billion in 2007, before the crash; now it's close to $140 billion.

But a strong recovery can't be built on the purchases of the richest 5 percent. HTML clipboard
The truth is if the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes, government wouldn't be broke. If states hadn't handed out tax breaks to corporations and the well-off, and if Washington hadn't extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, eviscerated the estate tax, and created loopholes for private-equity and hedge-fund managers, the federal budget wouldn't look nearly as bad.
And if America had higher marginal tax rates and more tax brackets at the top - for those raking in $1 million, $5 million, $15 million a year - the budget would look even better. We wouldn't be firing teachers or slashing Medicaid or hurting the most vulnerable members of our society. We wouldn't be in a tizzy over Social Security. We'd slow the rise in healthcare costs but we wouldn't cut Medicare. We'd cut defense spending and lop off subsidies to giant agribusinesses but we wouldn't view the government as our national nemesis.
HTML clipboard
https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEiNzodMEmzhboCSlLXhGqyrhJV2EkhGzmDZjunJerioArBbrDzghr2DXwwxS9dajN0Lhujv7st8yvh-bF_LIBnOFAhHibnbiGDoKiE1zoAa7RTNjGHfg3S42Ewiew4WdTANF2G_/s1600/reaganomics.jpgThe final truth is as income and wealth have risen to the top, so has political power. The reason all of this is proving so difficult to get across is the super-rich, such as the Koch brothers, have been using their billions to corrupt politics, hoodwink the public, and enlarge and entrench their outsized fortunes.

Read full from TPM

FACT - President Obama's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Would Make Permanent 81 Percent of the Bush Tax Cuts
The budget outline released by President Obama this week, just like last year’s proposal, includes about $3.5 trillion in tax cuts over ten years. Most of that cost comes from his $3.1 trillion proposal to make permanent most of the Bush tax cuts, which would cost 81 percent as much as extending all the Bush tax cuts.
The President’s budget outline does include several laudable provisions to raise revenue, but not nearly enough to offset the costs of the proposed tax cuts. The net effect of the tax proposals in the budget plan would be to reduce federal revenue by $2.8 trillion over ten years, compared to what would happen if the Bush tax cuts simply expired (as they will under current law if Congress does nothing). Read More

The World Has No Choice But To Buy More, More Fertilizer

One part of the equation is that demand for food is growing. But there's another aspect: The clear trend in major regions is for less and less arable land per capita.
Thus the only way to get more food is to get more yield from diminishing acres. And that means: more fertilizer!

The chart from Dundee Securities tells the story:
chart of the day, arable land

Read full from Business Insider Chart of the Day

Wisconsin States & Federal Payroll - How bad is it?

As a nation we are talking about cutting the most fundamental state programs that server and protect our families and communities? But before we do, maybe someone should be looking into the "federal and not state" compensation to control deficit.

Since the world is using Wisconsin as a model.... so will I:
Wisconsin is fairly typical regarding the percentage of its citizens who work for the State or local government.
According to the US Dept of Commerce, Wisconsin had 214,506  "full time equivalent" state and local government employees in 2009. In July 2009, the estimated population of Wisconsin was 5,654,774. This is 3.79% of the population.

That means Wisconsin private workers pay for one out of every 30, and closer to one out of 20.
My numbers here do not include Wisconsin residents who work for the Federal Government or who work as contractors for any government. (Certainly there must be a few) It also does not include retired State workers who are now being supported by taxpayers.

And it is 1% or 55,371 of Wisconsin's federal employees and retirees that are the "pain in payrole"...

Salary impact on state budgetsHTML clipboard

State and local governments employ some 20 million people nationwide. Employee compensation costs represent the largest set of expenditures in every state budget.
Total state expenditures exceeded $2.2 trillion last year, of which wages and benefits amounted to $1.1 trillion.[11] Consequently, budgeting decisions related to at least 50 percent of all state budgets are driven by the wage provisions of civil service contracts and funding obligations for state workers' health care and pension plans.
States' recent investment losses, which exceeded $800 billion in 2008, have worsened the budgetary pressures of pension obligations. For example, the state of Illinois was forced to borrow $3.5 billion to meet its pension obligations, thereby incurring tens of millions of dollars in additional debt service costs. Estimates peg the total unfunded liabilities of state and local pension plans between $1 trillion and $3 trillion.[12]

How Does Federal Compensation Compare? 

During the "great recession, private sector job growth has seen a steep drop, while public sector jobs continue to increase. http://sunshinereview.org/images/e/ec/Image002.pngGovernment employment has increased by 590,000 while the private sector has lost nearly 8 million jobs since the beginning of the recession. After the passage of the Recovery Act, these trends have continued: the private sector has lost an additional 2.7 million jobs, or 2.5% of total private employment, while state and federal governments have continued to grow, adding an additional 400,000 jobs.[3]
State and local government have reduced their workforce, mostly by not filling vacancies, by 1.3 percent in 2009. This amounted to 258,000 jobs.[4] However, in that same time, federal jobs have increased by 3.4 percent, or 2.2 million jobs. 
HTML clipboard
Haase - These are discussions no one wants to have, I describe this as "the war within" during great recessions. http://greatstatemeltdown.sovereignsociety.com/files/2010/06/bankrupt_states2.jpgWhere we create conflict with the people we love and respect that are fundamental to serving and protecting our families and communities. But we are all in this together. The discussion has to be open and clearly defined in relaying message that little sacrifices have to be made for the few to avoid biblical hardship for us all. 

And lets not kid ourselves... It is The Unfunded Liabilities Problem (Or Lack Thereof In Wisconsin) that is the concerning me and my colleagues in gov roles the most.

Three years of property, job and corporate tax revenue drops are killing state and federal programs. The fiscal Tsunami is coming...

Wanna watch more of Wisconsin's budget?
The Journal Sentinel has made public employee salary information available.
There is also the WI Statistical Information Center - School Staff and Salary Data.

Wisconsin's 16.896 Plan: No-Bid Energy Assets Firesales

Have you heard about Wisconsin's 16.896?HTML clipboard
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

The bill would allow for the selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants without bids and without concern for the legally-defined public interest. Read full at PeakEnergy

Activists Seek Repeal of Ban On Incandescent Bulbs

"Daniel Sayani reports in New American that Senator Mike Enzi plans to introduce legislation to reverse the ban on incandescent light bulbs which is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2014. 'CFLs are more expensive, many contain mercury which can be harmful even in the smallest amounts, and most are manufactured overseas in places like China,' says Enzi. 'If left alone, the best bulb will win its rightful standing in the marketplace. Government doesn't need to be in the business of telling people what light bulb they have to use.' Faced with a phaseout, some consumers are stockpiling incandescent bulbs, although a poll by USA Today indicates most Americans support the US law that begins phasing out traditional light bulbs next year. Despite some consumer grumbling, they're satisfied with more efficient alternatives. 71% of US adults say theyHTML clipboard have replaced standard light bulbs in their home over the past few years with compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs and 84% say they are 'very satisfied' or 'satisfied' with CFLs and LEDs." - Via Slash.

More than 4,400 dams rated unfsafe

HTML clipboard NY Times - More than 4,400 of the nation's 85,000 dams are susceptible to failure, says the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. However, "repairing all those dams would cost billions of dollars, and it is far from clear who would provide all the money in a recessionary era," Henry Fountain of The New York Times reports. In Lake Isabella, Calif., the Army Corps of Engineers learned several years ago the man-made dam has a trio of serious issues: "It was in danger of eroding internally, water could flow over its top in the most extreme flood season, and a fault underneath it was not inactive after all but could produce a strong earthquake," Fountain writes.HTML clipboard

"The potential is for a 21st-century version of the Johnstown Flood, a calamitous dam failure that killed more than 2,200 people in western Pennsylvania in 1889," Fountain writes. "But corps and local government officials say that the odds of such a disaster are extremely small, and that they have taken interim steps to reduce the risk, like preparing evacuation plans and limiting how much water can be stored behind the dam to less than two-thirds of the maximum."

"It's not just the loss of life, potentially," said David C. Serafini, lead technical expert for the corps on the project. "It's the economic damages and the environmental damage, too." (Read more from NY Times)

Also see ERDC Dam Decommissioning Information Site
  • FEMA estimates 58,000 large dams will exceed their design life span by 2020.
  • ASCE reported 61 dam failures and 520 incidents, 2100 structures classified as unsafe.
  • There is a desire to restore threatened and endangered or economically and ecologically significant species affected by dams.

Feb 24, 2011

Grand Opening of Solar Manufacturing Milwaukee Plant Monday - Join Us!

Wisconsin, Milwaukee and every major metro community screams we want jobs, manufacturing and renewable energy!
Well, we have it right here in Wisconsin. 

Show your support by joining in at the grand opening of this cutting edge solar manufacturing plant in down town Milwaukee on Monday February 28th. Hope to see you there!

Helios Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Helios USA is open for business and building solar panels right here in Milwaukee Wisconsin and you're invited to their Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 3:30 PM.

Please send us an email to administrator@helios-usa.com and tell us your name and how many people you are planning to bring so we can make sure to save you a seat and gather enough refreshments.

BPA quote of the week

http://www.ewg.org/files/bpa_chart4.jpg"Quite frankly, the science that I'm looking at says there is no [problem]," LePage said. "There hasn't been any science that identifies that there is a problem."

LePage then added: "The only thing that I've heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards." - Gov. Paul LePage's

LePage said he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems. LePage said until scientists can prove BPA is harmful, the state should not rush to restrict its use.

"BPA is one of the most well-studied chemicals, and it is just ludicrous to ignore the science," said Susan Shaw, a toxicologist at the Maine Environmental Research Institute who has been studying the effects of toxics on humans and animals for more than three decades. "There is a large body of evidence about the hazards of BPA that is irrefutable."

Feb 23, 2011

Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945

GMO Crop "new organism"can reproduce and has ability to cause disease in both plants and animals.

http://laudyms.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/gmo-alfalfa.jpgHere's another reason the recent approval of GMO alfalfa and sugar beets was a bad idea: researchers claim that Roundup Ready GE crops contain an organism, completely unknown until now, that has been shown to cause miscarriages in farm animals.

The new organism was detected only after researchers observed it using a 36,000X microscope. It is about the size of a virus.

The scary part: it can reproduce, and possesses the rare ability to cause disease in both plants and animals.

The research was performed by Professor Don M. Huber of Purdue University. Huber is also a coordinator for the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System. He penned an open letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlining the dangers of this organism, how it was discovered, and his recommendation that a moratorium on the sale and planting of Roundup Ready crops be put in place immediately.

http://howisearth.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/comic-gm-funny-cartoon-genetically-modified-food.jpgHe states: "In summary, because of the high titer of this new animal pathogen in Roundup Ready crops, and its association with plant and animal diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions, we request USDA's participation in a multi-agency investigation, and an immediate moratorium on the deregulation of RR crops until the causal/predisposing relationship with glyphosate and/or RR plants can be ruled out as a threat to crop and animal production and human health.

It is urgent to examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases..."

A new organism, able to reproduce and cause disease in both plants and animals. If it's able to cause infertility and miscarriage in the farm animals that are in contact with it, one can only wonder: what is it doing to us?

Filed under yikes... from a hugger

Feb 22, 2011

Bringing Home 150 Troops from Afghanistan Would Fix Wisconsin’s Budget “Crisis”

FACT -  the U.S. would only have to bring home 151 troops from Afghanistan to save from Wisconsin's Budget "Crisis". Better yet, ending the Afghanistan War altogether would save taxpayers in Wisconsin $1.7 billion this year alone, more than ten times the amount "saved" ...
Every troop deployed in Afghanistan costs the U.S. $1 million per year, so simply bringing home 151 troops would save more money than his plan. And, with fiscal 2011 Afghanistan War spending alone to top $1.7 billion for Wisconsin taxpayers, an end to the war would free up more than ten times his plan's cash, which the president could use for state fiscal aid.

We are sweating the small stuff in Wisconsin...

State politicians in Wisconsin and beyond are going to have to face a moment of truth when federal stimulus aid runs out at the end of this year... and things get much worse for state. 

Even Defense Secretary admits Afghan war is stupid
NY Times - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here. 

Feb 21, 2011

Finally, someone will use low hanging island energy fruit?

Maybe Hawaii will get a clue ;-)HTML clipboardhttp://www.punageothermalventure.com/images/16.gif
"Scientists in Iceland have been studying and utilizing the power of geothermal wells for years. In 2009 one such study hit a standstill when a group ran into magma halfway into their dig. The roadblock has become a blessing in disguise, as recent research has shown that the magma can act as a potent new source of geothermal energy powerful enough to heat 25,000 to 30,000 homes." - Inhabitat

Earth to Island Dwellers, You live on a "geothermal gold mine" folks!
Source - "science 101"

Outfall of a Helium-3 Crisis

Discovery - "The United States is curreHTML clipboard http://somefacts.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/hindenburg1.jpgntly recovering from a helium isotope crisis that last year sent low-temperature physicists scrambling, sky-rocketed the cost of hospital MRI's, and threw national security staff out on a search mission for alternate ways to detect dirty bombs. Now the panic is subsiding, what is being done to conserve, or replace, helium-3?" - SlashDot

So short in fact, that last year when the looming crisis, which reporters had been covering for years, became official, the price of helium-3 went from $150 per liter to $5,000 per liter. "We think the correct price should be $1500," Bentz said.

Older posts on this:

Solar Storms Could Create $2 Trillion ‘Global Katrina’

The Guardian - The threat of solar storms that could wreak havoc on the world's electronic systems must be taken more seriously, the UK government's chief scientist has warned. A severe solar storm could damage satellites and power grids around the world, he said, leading to a "global Katrina" costing the world's economies as much as $2tn (£1.2tn).

"It's reasonable to expect there will be more [solar storm] events," said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The watchwords are predict and prepare."

The sun's activity goes up and down on a roughly 11-year cycle, and the next period of maximum activity is expected in 2013.

Feb 20, 2011

2012 Budget Debt Reduction - Fact or FAIL?

Takes only 20 Seconds to explain 2012 Budget never, ever reduces debt... ever.

This budget never, ever, ever reduces the debt, is that right?Classic

Feb 19, 2011

Unions riot about benefits & pensions... while silent about trillions lost at War

Haase - "With all the tools available in America to communicate peacefully and decisively, I am against protesting, but if your going to get angry and stand up for something make it count."

After two years of sending millions from homes to shelters, unemployed to streets and hungry to poverty.
Finally,  tens of thousands line the streets of Wisconsin and across the nation to protest... wages and benefits? - WTF

Sure I "get it" being upset about increased health costs, salary caps and dwindling benefits but nearly everyone in the private, non-union sector already sacrificed these areas of their job,
if their lucky to have one the last few years.

But where were these protesters 10 years and a trillion dollars ago?

Or does it only matter when they see their pay checks.

Instead of Americans starting a "war within" fighting over the last few good jobs and wages why do we not understand and stop the source of our economic problems?

Really? Are we choosing to:

  • Cut cops & firefighters?
  • Cut food programs?
  • Cut home heating aid?
  • Increase unemployed?
  • Water protection?
  • Health services
  • Close schools?
  • End unions?

Yep, and for what?
Ohh yeah, war...
HTML clipboard

  • The 10 year War in Afghanistan is the longest war in our history.
  • Cost of Wars Since 2001...$1,154,263,213,866
  • Over 1,400 American service members lost their lives in Afghanistan;over 8,800 have been wounded in action.
  • Tens of thousands have suffered - Veterans with disability over 700,000  
  • The total cost to our economy could be over 4 Trillion, in health, oil, resource and disabilities
NOTE: I am no hippy and completely understand there is a "cost for freedom" that I can not repay to the individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom, but they did not sign up for and endless war. Freedom looks different.

Vice President Biden said in Afghanistan last month that

"we are not leaving if you don't want us to leave." (AKA - Dan Quayle?) HTML clipboard

Combined with the war in Iraq, they account for 23% of our deficits since 2003.

Washington Post
- Where is the outcry from the Tea Partyers and the deficit hawks?
Fiscal conservatives should be howling that this war is being financed with borrowed money.
Those who support the war should be willing to pay for it.

And where is the liberal outrage? Those of us who are tired of being told that we can't afford green jobs, unemployment or health care should be screaming over our Treasury being used as an ATM when it comes to supporting the Karzai government.

To be fair, there are a handful of prominent critics on the left, center and right.
But most Americans are silent about the enormous sacrifice our country has made in blood and treasure.
They should be calling, writing or otherwise speaking out.
What are we giving up to maintain the status quo? HTML clipboard
Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz told the House Veterans Affairs Committee in September that the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, including interest payments on the money borrowed for these wars and care for our wounded soldiers and veterans, is likely to total $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

Simply put, we believe the human and financial costs of the war are unacceptable and unsustainable.
It is bankrupting us.  
The United States should devise an exit plan to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan, not a plan to stay there four more years and "then we'll see." This doesn't mean that we abandon the Afghan people - rather, we should abandon this war strategy. It is a failure that has not brought stability to Afghanistan and has not enhanced our own security. As the retired career Army officer Andrew J. Bacevich has written, to die for a mystique is the wrong policy.
HTML clipboard
It is easier for politicians to "go along" rather than make waves. But we were elected to do the right thing, not what is politically expedient. The discussion of Afghanistan shouldn't be about politics, which we acknowledge are difficult, but what is right for our country. And the right thing is to end this war.

Read more from By James P. McGovern and Walter B. Jones at the Washington Post

Understanding "Debt for dummies" recession 2.0

Now the worlds second largest economy, China continues to sell off US treasury's, leaving Japan as largest U.S. debt holder.

While total Fed Credit shot up by an incredible $31 billion dollars last week, which (in the history of new Fed Credit) and that the Fed created the money to buy $28.3 billion in US government securities!
HTML clipboard
All of this in One Freaking Week (OFW)!
"I assume that Doug Noland was commenting about this whole nasty Federal Reserve thing, too, when he writes, "First, it was the Federal Reserve. After working studiously to create one, the Fed tossed its vaunted 'exit strategy' right into the scrapheap. They were to have moved to reduce holdings and liquidity operations that had ballooned during the 2008 financial crisis. Our central bank abruptly reversed course and instead chose to significantly expand stimulus – even in a non-crisis environment," so that now "Fed Credit has inflated $189bn in the past 14 weeks, with market perceptions of 'too big to fail' and moral hazard being further emboldened."
HTML clipboard
And the reason is simplicity itself: if you borrow $1 and promise to pay back $1.05, it is one thing, but if everyone borrows $1 and promises to pay back $1.05, then it is quite another!

Obviously, a lot of people are going to have to borrow $1.10 to pay back the $1.05, and then they have to borrow $1.16, then $1.22, then $1.28, all the time getting worse and worse and worse.

And now that government (local, state and federal) spending comprises HALF of all spending in the USA, the system has hideously mutated into a giant corrupt cesspool that is totally dependent on borrowing to support government spending.
Quote of the week by The Mogambo Guru

Animal obesity: canary in the coal mine?

HTML clipboardThere are a number of factors, both behavioural and environmental, which are thought to play important roles in the current epidemic of obesity These range from things like increased soft-drink consumption and decreased physical activity, which are at least nominally under our personal control, to more external factors like viruses, light pollution, and environmental contaminants, over which we have little or no control. 

HTML clipboardHow much of a role do these external factors play in the obesity epidemic?  No one knows.  But if these external factors are playing a role in the human obesity epidemic, then we would also expect to see similar increases in body weight and obesity rates among animals who live with or near humans, since they would be exposed to many of these same factors.  To this end, a fascinating new paper by Yann Klimentidis and colleagues examines the body weight and risk of obesity in 8 different species, and the results suggest that external factors may be playing a larger role in obesity rates that previously thought.
From the paper:

From 24 distinct populations (12 subdivided into separate male and female populations), representing eight species, over 20000 animals were studied. Time trends for mean per cent weight change and the odds of obesity were tested for the samples from each population at an age period that corresponded roughly to early-middle adulthood (35 years) in human development.

So, what did they find?  Out of 24 different animal populations ranging from rodents (both feral and domestic) to several monkey species, every single population showed trends for increasing body weight, a result which is exceedingly unlikely to be due to chance (e.g. p=0.00000012). In general most animal populations, whether they live in the lab or roam our streets, have seen their average body weight increase by 5-10% per decade, although lab animals did tend to gain more than their free-living peers.  The clear losers of this survey are chimpanzees, which have seen more than 30% increase in body weight per decade, which is pretty astonishing.HTML clipboard

As the authors point out in their discussion, these animal populations have all gained significant amounts of body weight in recent decades, despite little change to their diet or physical activity levels (for those in lab-controlled conditions, at least).  There are some arguments that feral animals may be under selective pressure to increase in size, and that both feral and domestic animals may have more food available due increasing amounts of food waste in our cities.  But when the authors looked at weight gain in non-lab (feral or domestic) vs lab animals, the non-lab animals actually gained less weight, not more.  In other words, animals populations living in the most strictly controlled conditions were the same ones who saw the greatest increase in body weight in recent years The authors also note that there may have been improvements in the housing conditions of lab animals in recent decades, but again it is interesting that the body weight of every single animal population in this study increased over time, despite wildly different living conditions, with no one factor able to explain the increases in these disparate groups.

Assuming that the issues discussed above are unlikely to account for all of the increase in body weight in these animal populations, what options are we left with? All sorts of things!  Everything from the AD36 virus, to endocrine distrupting chemicals, to light pollution and climate change.  Seriously.  There is an excellent paper on all of these putative "non-traditional" causes of the obesity epidemic which I hope to discuss on the blog soon, and which is available to all here.
HTML clipboard
Now I'm not yet ready to believe that diet and physical activity play no role in the development of obesity, as there is plenty of evidence that they do.  This paper also used some pretty intense statistical procedures that are above my pay-scale (not surprisingly, this paper was written by the same group as the Obesity Paradox paper that I discussed last week).  But there is enough evidence to suggest that these environmental factors play a role of some kind, and are definitely worth further study.  One other interesting point noted by the authors of the present study is that, assuming all of our lab animals are growing heavier over time, there might be unintended consequences for studies using animal models.

Read full at
Animal obesity: canary in the coal mine? | Obesity Panacea

With oil and food costs rising, looks 2011 is starting like 2008

History repeats itself: food riots are breaking out across the poorer nations, the Middle East is in turmoil and Brent crude has passed the $100 mark – 2011 is opening just like 2008 did.

It was a significant year in terms of the global economy: social unrest around the world over a spike in the cost of staple foods, and the runaway price of oil that eventually triggered the worst global economic crash since the Great Depression. While there were undoubtedly other factors behind the downturn, 2008 stands as a benchmark in terms of oil and economics – a shorthand for high oil prices and economic turmoil. We don't want another 2008, especially with the faltering recovery that has yet to turn substantive cash injections into jobs.

Now, it may be just coincidence, but it looks suspiciously like the issues that shaped the first half of 2008 are back: oil demand is surging, its price is rising, and people in the poorer nations are consequently finding the cost of staple foods out of reach. There is a direct link between the cost of oil and food – which I'll return to in a subsequent post – and so the first to suffer from a rise in oil prices are people in developing countries living on a couple of dollars a day who cannot absorb rising costs.

If the cost of oil goes on rising – and all indicators suggest it will – then we will see a growing humanitarian disaster around the globe. Neither are our industrial economies immune: based on the assumption that $150-per-barrel oil breaks the machine, how much space do we have before we see oil prices triggering another global recession?http://c1.gas2.org/files/2010/12/high-gas-prices.jpg

First, a flashback to 2008 is in order. The year opened with food riots which gathered momentum in the first half of the year. There were riots in India, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal, Mauritania, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Haiti, Senegal and Somalia. Varying levels of unrest were also reported in Mexico, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa.HTML clipboard

The International Energy Agency (IEA) website archives monthly oil market reports, so we can see that oil began the year on a high, crossing the psychological $100 barrier, and projected global demand for oil rising: HTML clipboard

NYMEX light sweet crude futures breached $100/bbl in early January and remain near record highs, lifted by falling stocks, cold weather and tight fundamentals. Tensions in Nigeria and the Middle East and fund positioning remain important supportive factors.

2007 world oil demand is revised up by 150 kb/d to 85.8 mb/d on stronger-than-expected deliveries in Asia and the Middle East and cold OECD weather.

You can follow the surging prices through the first half of 2008, each month setting a new record: $105 per barrel by early March, $110 in April, $126 in May, around $140 in June ("following comments by an Israeli official that an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities was 'inevitable' and. . . against a tight supply background with no clear sign of the usual second-quarter crude oil stockbuild") to an early July peak just above $145 per barrel. Then came the recessionary fall from $147 a barrel in July to $32 in December. (It was back up to $85 within five months, despite the global economic collapse.)

Now, jump forward to 2011. The year opened with the UN announcing that food prices"surged to a new historic peak in January, for the seventh consecutive month," and further price increases could trigger upheaval and riots in developing countries. We have already seen protests over food prices in Niger, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Tunisia and Yemen this year. Protests linked to prices of staple foods are currently sweeping across the Middle East: Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Egypt are aflame. 

Now, oil: the IEA's Oil Market Report for January 2011, published February 10, shows Brent crude reaching the psychological $100 barrier and demand increasing:

Crude prices were propelled higher at end-January by political unrest in Egypt, with Brent crude reaching $100/bbl on fears that the turmoil might disrupt Suez canal and SUMED pipeline flows or spread in the region. Although prices have since eased, Brent futures remain around $100.50/bbl and WTI [West Texas Intermediate] at $87.20/bbl at writing.

Global oil product demand for 2010 and 2011 is revised up by 120 kb/d on average on higher-than-expected submissions in non OECD Asia and improved economic prospects for OECD North America. At 87.8 mb/d in 2010, global oil demand rose by 2.8 mb/d year-on-year, and should reach 89.3 mb/d in 2011 (+1.5 mb/d year on-year).

World oil supply rose 0.5 mb/d in January, to 88.5 mb/d, on higher OPEC crude and NGL output.

(Canadian oilsands output is already flooding parts of the US market, driving down West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices, while Brent is now more of a bellwether for international price trends.)

So, according to the IEA, global demand for oil is set to reach 89.3 million barrels per day in 2011; supply is stated at 88.5 million barrels per day, with Opec effective spare capacity – its ability to open the spigots and produce more at a moment's notice – offering an additional 4.7 million barrels per day.