Evening Open Thread: A little toilet humor…

7ih4al4khe0o3sGood Evening

Ya, let’s have some laughs…a little infantile…but there is a reason for my madness.  Let me explain.

Earlier today, my mom and dad were farting around on the web, after my dad made some observations that the squirrels around our house are full of bite marks and scars from previous battles. He could not believe such happy little creatures could be so vicious.

Well, my mom set him straight…by showing him some YouTube videos of squirrels fighting each other, beating up birds and even snakes…and in doing so, she got sucked in to the black hole that is YouTube.

Soon she was looking and listening to all sorts of animal attacks and then strange animal sounds, coming upon a frog in Australia, that sounds just like a mountain lion.

And that is when YouTube began to “suggest” videos of news anchors farting on live TV…which she had to show me:

Hey, she sure as hell handled it great!!!!

And what is really perfect? This comment from a dude…Jim Boh  2 days ago

Doing what FOX does best, talking out of their ass

Oh…now that is funny.

In fact, when my mom read that comment out loud…she farted while laughing…and me? Well, I almost peed my pants.

Now, for something serious. World Toilet Day aims to make sanitary conditions available for all | Al Jazeera Americas

toilet day

Demonstrators carry signs to mark World Toilet Day in New Delhi, India on Nov. 19.Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday much of the underdeveloped world celebrates World Toilet Day, which is meant to bring focus to the diseases and social unrest that can occur when people don’t have sanitary places to relieve themselves. While the World Toilet Organization, the Singapore-based non-profit behind the celebratory day has been around since 2001, this is the first day the United Nations has supported the event.

“We must break the taboos and make sanitation for all a global development a priority,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Tuesday.

Ban stressed that having access to a toilet is an extremely serious issue. They help prevent the spread of diseases that have ravaged many poor areas around the world.

Each year, more than 800,000 children under five die from diarrhea, the U.N. said, many due to poor sanitation.

Lack of access to clean bathrooms in schools also deters many women and girls from pursuing their education after they reach puberty, says a report titled “We Can’t Wait” from WaterAid, a private agency working with the U.N. and Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company.

“Sanitation is central to human and environmental health,” said Ban as he launched a campaign to end open defecation by the 2025 and cut in half the number of people lacking decent sanitation. “It is essential for sustainable development, dignity and opportunity.”

By working together — and by having a frank and open discussion on the importance of toilets and sanitation — we can improve the health and well-being of one-third of the human family,” added Ban. “That is the goal of World Toilet Day.”

This is an open thread…


Sunday Reads: Billion Pixels of Red Dust and a Cast Iron Petticoat

1921Good Morning

And here we are, another Sunday morning…well, yesterday was the first time in weeks that I found myself suffering from a migraine.  As I write this post, I still feel the after effects; that groggy disoriented unattached feeling that comes with a sense of exhaustion and overwhelming emotional blah…with all that being said, the links this morning will be quick and to the point. I just can’t muster up the energy to do anything more than that.

I am going to start with this kick ass photo from NASA. It is a billion, let me say that again….a biiiiiilllllion pixel photo of the planet Mars, and it is interactive! Seriously, take a look, there is a rock that is called “Toilet Seat Rock” and when you zoom in you can see little Marvin the Martian dude from Looney Tunes sitting there making his very own an “Earth shattering kaboom”….Mars Exploration Program: Interactive: Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover

Original Caption Released with Image:
FireShot Screen Capture #479 - 'Mars Exploration Program_ Interactive_ Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover' - mars_nasa_gov_multimedia_interactives_billionpixel_index_cfm_image=PIA16919&view=pano
This image is a scaled-down version of a full-circle view which combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. The Full-Res TIFF and Full-Res JPEG provided in the top right legend are smaller resolution versions of the 1.3 billion pixel version for easier browser viewing and downloading. Viewers can explore the full-circle image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/.The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.This first NASA-produced gigapixel image from the surface of Mars is a mosaic using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames — mostly of the rover itself — from the Navigation Camera. It was produced by the Multiple-Mission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.This version of the panorama retains “raw” color, as seen by the camera on Mars under Mars lighting conditions. A white-balanced version is available at PIA16918. The view shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover’s 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity’s Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.
Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Image Addition Date:
2013-06-19

That is the description of the image shown above, to get a better view of the picture you can click on the link and check it out yourself. It is freaking cool! And I bet you will spend some time getting lost in the red dust on the Martian surface.

You may have seen the next few links during the past few days, but I will put them here in link dump fashion just in case.

Goodwill pays workers with disabilities as little as 22 cents an hour – Salon.com

In 2011, the multibillion-dollar nonprofit Goodwill Industries paid Pennsylvania workers with disabilities wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents an hour, according to Labor Department records obtained by NBC News. In 2010, an Applebee’s in a tony New York suburb hired hearing- and visually impaired employees through a placement program with the Helen Keller National Center and paid them between $3.97 per hour and $5.96, well below the state minimum wage of $7.25.

And it’s perfectly legal due to a Depression-era loophole in federal labor law, as NBC reports:

Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was passed in 1938, allows employers to obtain special minimum wage certificates from the Department of Labor. The certificates give employers the right to pay disabled workers according to their abilities, with no bottom limit to the wage…

The non-profit certificate holders can also place employees in outside, for-profit workplaces including restaurants, retail stores, hospitals and even Internal Revenue Service centers.

While employers like Goodwill defend the practice as providing jobs to people who need and want them, disability and labor rights advocates have called the loophole exploitative, saying it traps workers in a “two-tiered” system that says “Americans who have disabilities aren’t as valuable as other people,” as Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, told NBC. “That’s wrong. These folks have value. We should recognize that value,” he added.

When we lived in Tampa, my brother worked for Marriott at Tampa International Airport, they paid minimum wage and with the exception of the last manager who did not want to work with the Downs students at Denny’s school, the experience was very good for both Marriott and my brother. But…this crap about below minimum wage…that is ridiculous. There is a bill proposed which could repeal Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act…but it is facing opposition. Guess we will just have to wait and see.

This next link from Digby:

This really is Big Brother: the leak nobody’s noticed

by digby

This McClatchy piece (written by some of the same people who got the Iraq war run-up story so right while everyone else got it wrong) is as chilling to me as anything we’ve heard over the past few weeks about the NSA spying. In fact, it may be worse…

She links to this article: Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S. | McClatchy

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

I know that this was linked to in the comments yesterday, but I thought it deserved to be on the front page. Creepy is what Boston Boomer thought about it. Yup…it sure is.

Well, in the finance news: SEC Wants Banks To Admit Wrongdoing – Business Insider

For decades, the SEC has let companies and individuals settle charges without actually admitting guilt, letting bigwigs more or less off the hook with only tacit — but not legal — acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

No longer. The Commission will begin to push for more accountability on a “case-by-case” basis, the Wall Street Journal reports:

From the Journal:

The new policy, which came out of a review [SEC Chairman] Ms. White began when she joined the agency in the spring, will be applied in “cases where…it’s very important to have that public acknowledgment [of wrongdoing] and accountability,” she told reporters at a Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington, D.C.

Decisions will be made on a “case-by-case” basis, Ms. White said. But she added the agency intends to target cases of egregious intentional conduct or widespread harm to investors.

Most cases still will be allowed to settle using the standard “neither admit nor deny” formula, Ms. White said.

Washington legislators like Elizabeth Warren have recently urged the SEC to take big banks to task for wrongdoing, the Journal reports.

I can’t even think straight to make sense of anything dealing with finance, numbers, math, numbers, but I will say that I sure liked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s signature when it was all loopy-loops. Treasury chief’s loopy signature evolves into something almost legible – U.S. News

The official signature of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on a $5 bill, top, and Lew’s signature on a 2011 memo.

The top finance official in the federal government was given the humiliating nickname Loopty Lew. Worse still, the treasury chief is one of two people whose signatures grace United States currency. President Barack Obama joked that he might devalue the dollar.

This next item is something that worries me, hopefully it does not give us a preview of what we are going to see here.  Google Makes Google News In Germany Opt-In Only To Avoid Paying Fees Under New Copyright Law | TechCrunch

Google News in Germany will soon change. Starting August 1, it will only index sources that have decided to explicitly opt-in to being shown on the search giant’s news-aggregation service. Google News remains an opt-out service in the other 60 countries and languages it currently operates in, but since Germany passed a new copyright law earlier this year that takes effect on August 1, the company is in danger of having to pay newspapers, blogs and other publishers for the right to show even short snippets of news.

Publishers will have to go into Google’s News tools page to agree to be indexed by Google News. Publishers who don’t do this will simply be removed from the index come August 1.

Many of Germany’s publishers had hoped to force Google to pay a licensing fee for their content, but today’s announcement does not even mention this. Instead, Google notes that it is saddened by the fact that it has to make this change. On its German blog, Google argues that Google News currently gets 6 billion visits per month and that, if anything, it’s providing a free service for publishers that brings them more traffic.

One of the main issues with the “Leistungsschutzrecht” (how’s that for a good German word?) — the ancillary copyright law that the German government passed after large protests earlier this year — is that it’s not clear when a “snippet” becomes a snippet. The law doesn’t feature a clear definition of how long a snippet actually is (140 characters? 160? 250?).

Google always argued that the new law was neither necessary nor useful and that it wouldn’t pay for links and snippets. A number of major German publishers have already said that they will opt-in to being featured in Google News, but there is a good chance that quite a few will decide that they don’t need the traffic.

It then makes you wonder what will eventually happen here in the US, with more and more newspapers going to paywall subscription services…and what that means for bloggers and news-aggregate or RSS services.

Deep in the heart of Texas via Policy Mic: Texas Passed Abortion Laws In a Special Session, Because Trampling On Women’s Rights Can’t Wait

Late Tuesday night, the Texas Senate advanced anti-abortion legislation known as SB5, raising serious concerns for the future of abortion clinics in Texas. Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to discuss redistricting issues which arose from the 2011 court rulings that deemed Texas’ redistricting as discriminatory. SB5 passed 20-10 in the Texas Senate, leading way to a vote in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives in Texas.

The bill includes many provisions to limit women’s access to health care resources in Texas. The bill would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy with one or two exceptions. In addition, the bill also would require abortions to be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges. These surgical centers have to be within a 30-mile radius of a hospital near the clinic. Furthermore, the bill would ban telemedicine, which would require doctors to only give abortion-pill prescriptions in person and not via telecommunications such as Skype or other means.

This provision would endanger all but five clinics in Texas, severely limiting women’s access to healthcare options and limting their right to choose. This is in line with what Governor Perry and some other Republican state sentors have said about reshaping a “Culture of Life” in Texas. Such provisions have been said to “reshape the landscape” in the state, as fewer clinics and longer distances to reach them will make it far more difficult for women in many parts of Texas to obtain abortion if they choose to.

And the latest on the Paula Deen mess:

[VIDEO] Paula Deen Apologizes but Food Network does not renew her contract.

They are lining up to stuff their mouths and support Deen In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen From Critics – NYTimes.com

This video explains the situation down in Brazil, give it a look see if you have some time.

The next few links revolve around one photo I saw yesterday on Reuters. Photos of the week | Reuters.com

FireShot Screen Capture #476 - 'Photos of the week I Reuters_com' - www_reuters_com_news_pictures_slideshow_articleId=USRTX10WII#a=3

The caption reads:

A submerged statue of the Hindu Lord Shiva stands amid the flooded waters of river Ganges at Rishikesh in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India, June 17, 2013.
REUTERS/Stringer

When I saw this image, it immediately made me think of an image from an old movie…from 1939. I will show you the image shortly. The film was called The Rains Came, according to TCM:

The Rains Came (1939) A lavish and expensive prestige picture, budgeted at $2.5 million, and based on a critically acclaimed novel, The Rains Came (1939) stars Tyrone Power as an Indian doctor in the mythical city of Ranchipur, India. He begins an affair with a married British noblewoman (Myrna Loy) until a massive flood, earthquake and plague disrupt everyone’s lives. To complement its huge star Tyrone Power, Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Myrna Loy and director Clarence Brown from MGM, and George Brent from Warner Brothers. Rounding out the cast is a splendid roster of supporting players including Maria Ouspenskaya, Henry Travers, Jane Darwell, H.B. Warner and Nigel Bruce (cast against type).

It’s Power’s show all the way, however, as he is costumed stunningly in outfits ranging from turbans and satins to military uniforms and hospital whites. Power’s most significant co-star here is probably the special effects, which won the first-ever Oscar® in that category. The picture was also nominated for five further Academy Awards: Art Direction, Black-and-White Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound, and Musical Score.

You can see the first scene in the film here at this link, in it you will see the statue that mimics the image in the Reuters photograph above.

Rainscame1

“The Cast Iron Petticoat”

Rains Came, The (1939) — (Movie Clip) Cast Iron Petticoat

From the opening scene, Brit artist Ransome (George Brent) and local doctor Major Safti (Tyrone Power) discuss the former’s inertia and the state of contemporary India, a missionary mother and daughter (Marjorie Rambeau, Brenda Joyce) visiting, in The Rains Came, 1939, co-starring Myrna Loy.

FireShot Screen Capture #472 - 'Пришли дожди _ The Rains Came _1939_ — Видео@Mail_Ru' - video_mail_ru_mail_armog68_RETRO__FILMS2_24949_html

This statue of Queen Victoria later becomes one of the iconic images in a film that was loaded with advance special effects and cinematography…from the TCM link above:

Cinematographer Arthur Miller had plenty of fascinating recollections about The Rains Came, too. He was asked to replace Bert Glennon early in production because Glennon was not lighting the sets the way Brown wanted. For a grand dinner-party scene, for instance, Brown wanted the furniture and dcor to shine, “and Glennon had made it shadowy and soft.” Miller got the brilliant, shiny look Brown was after by spraying the tables and other furniture with oil, and having the silverware polished over and over until everything glistened. “When the old Maharajah died and the veil over the bed blew a little in the wind, I made the whole scene glow as vividly as possible, to suggest a spiritual, transcendent quality.”

Miller had photographed Myrna Loy once before, on The Truth About Youth (1930), and he knew some of her tics. He described one exchange which says much about how stars of the time tried to control the technical aspects of their on-screen appearance: “She asked me before we did the test to have a matchbox light with a red gelatin on it shine in her eyes with fifteen candle power. I thought, ‘What the hell was the use of that when I already had hundreds of watts shining on her anyway?’ And I asked her what she wanted it for. And she said, ‘It makes my eyes dark.’ Crazy, of course, but I jiggled it around for her and whether she had the light and the gelatin on it or not didn’t make any difference! It was all hokum; stars get that way. Luckily, she accepted my point that the light she wanted had no sense, and from then on we got along O.K.

“But oddly enough, I did use the red gelatin once. It’s when she takes a drink in the hospital and you know she’s become infected with a disease and her face fills with shadows. I just wanted a special kind of look in her face, as though death is coming over her and she doesn’t know it. And the gelatin was wonderful for that.”

Miller continued: “I became obsessed with rain on that picture; I was always amazed when I left the studio that it wasn’t raining. I hate movie rain that falls straight down, and I know that rain never does; it always falls at an angle. I made the prop department adjust the spouts accordingly. I even shot the raindrops so they seemed much larger. You never saw such water in your life! Brent and the others took a hell of a beating on the picture. There was one scene when Nigel Bruce and his manservant were on the landing of their house and the water rushed in and ‘drowned’ them in one shot, without a cut. And in fact the actors actually took the full force of that, and even had bits of the set flying on to them! They risked their lives, even though the material was balsawood; if it had hit them the wrong way it would have killed them instantly…

“One trouble with the way they handle rain today…is that they don’t backlight it. You have to backlight rain or you don’t see it; it’s just a blur. And all the way in my picture the rain shines; it was the theme of the film.”

Beautiful, that is what the film is.

There is another post, from the blogMatte Shot that looks at how the film makers actually shot some of the sequences in this movie: Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Era special fx: December 2010 Fred Sersen burns Chicago and floods Ranchipur – the effects shots from IN OLD CHICAGO and THE RAINS CAME  I will give you a quote from the section that deals with The Rains Came:

An invisible matte shot that features early on in the proceedings.  Truly a testament to the skills of the matte painter.

And here is that same matte being painted by Hector Serbaroli.  I’d like to compliment the effects cameraman for this shot too as the composite is flawless and at no time would one suspect a trick is being played on us the viewer. *Photo from the collection of Joseph Serbaroli

You need to go to the blog Matte Shot and read that post to fully understand the work behind these “old school” special effects, which I think looks way better than some of the CG shit coming out today.

Anyway, I want to show you the two photos side by side, so you can see why I thought of that specific shot from this old 1939 movie…

Photos of the week I Reuters_com' - www_reuters_com_news_pictures_slideshow_articleId=USRTX10WII#a=3

FireShot Screen Capture #473 - 'Пришли дожди _ The Rains Came _1939_ — Видео@Mail_Ru' - video_mail_ru_mail_armog68_RETRO__FILMS2_24949_html

Anyway, here are the rest of the links….after the jump and yes, I am sticking with the movies for a little longer.

Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Reads: Two Years Gone and where has all the Sealife Gone?

Good Morning!

This Morning Reads will have a theme.  Two years ago the Gulf was oozing nasty, icky, oil.  Like Hurricane Katrina, it’s an event that’s changed our lives down here in ways that are hard to explain and share.  We’ve not fully recovered from either of these events.  That’s not exactly what the Oil, the seafood, or the tourist industry wants any one to tell you.  It’s not what state, local, and federal governments and agencies want you to know either.

But there it is.  There is still devastation. There are huge problems. The folks that created the problems are not being held to account.

The stories I will share are human, animal, vegetable, and mineral.  The BP Spill turned an entire ecosystem and way of living inside out.  It’s being covered up by smiling people inviting you to our Gulf Coast Cities and Beaches in ads.  It’s being hidden behind pictures of big heaping plates of staged seafood buffets.  What’s hidden behind the ads and the promos is disturbing science, economics, medicine, and social upheaval.  Here’s somethings you may want to know from our local news stations, scientists, and doctors.

From wusf News: Two Years after the BP Oil Spill: The Oil You Cannot See

On some Florida Panhandle beaches, swimmers can come off the beach with oil from the BP oil spill still on their skin — two years after that environmental disaster.

And, even after showering, the oil can still be on their skin. Only an ultraviolent light can show it.

Tampa Bay Times environmental reporter Craig Pittman says that’s because leaked oil, mixed with chemical dispersant sprayed on the spill two years ago to break it up, is pooling in some shallow waters of Panhandle beaches.

And the mixture actually accelerates absorption by human skin.  Seen under the ultraviolet light, it’s kind of creepy.

From The Nation: Investigation: Two Years After the BP Spill, A Hidden Health Crisis Festers

n August 2011 the Government Accountability Project (GAP) began its investigation of the public health threats associated with the oil spill cleanup, the results of which will be released this summer. “Over twenty-five whistleblowers in our investigation have reported the worst public health tragedies of any investigation in GAP’s thirty-five-year history,” Shanna Devine, GAP legislative campaign coordinator, told me.

Witnesses reported a host of ailments, including eye, nose and throat irritation; respiratory problems; blood in urine, vomit and rectal bleeding; seizures; nausea and violent vomiting episodes that last for hours; skin irritation, burning and lesions; short-term memory loss and confusion; liver and kidney damage; central nervous system effects and nervous system damage; hypertension; and miscarriages.

Cleanup workers reported being threatened with termination when they requested respirators, because it would “look bad in media coverage,” or they were told that respirators were not necessary because the chemical dispersant Corexit was “as safe as Dawn dishwashing soap.” Cleanup workers and residents reported being directly sprayed with Corexit, resulting in skin lesions and blurred eyesight. Many noted that when they left the Gulf, their symptoms subsided, only to recur when they returned.

According to the health departments of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, from June to September 2010, when they stopped keeping track, more than 700 people sought health services with complaints “believed to be related to exposure to pollutants from the oil spill.” But this is likely an extreme undercount, as most people did not know to report their symptoms as related to the oil spill, nor did their physicians ask. Like virtually everyone I have interviewed on the Gulf Coast over the past two years—including dozens for this article—Nicole Maurer’s doctors did not even inquire about her children’s exposure to oil or Corexit.

It will take years to determine the actual number of affected people. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), with financial support from BP, is conducting several multiyear health impact studies, which are only just getting under way. I spoke with all but one of the studies’ national and Gulf Coast directors. “People were getting misdiagnosed for sure,” says Dr. Edward Trapido, director of two NIEHS studies on women’s and children’s health and associate dean for research at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health. “Most doctors simply didn’t know what questions to ask or what to look for.” There are only two board-certified occupational physicians in Louisiana, according to Trapido, and only one also board-certified as a toxicologist: Dr. James Diaz, director of the Environmental and Occupa-tional Health Sciences Program at Louisiana State University.

Diaz calls the BP spill a toxic “gumbo of chemicals” to which the people, places and wildlife of the Gulf continue to be exposed.

From a George Washington Blog Post Crossposted at Naked Capitalism: The Gulf Ecosystem Is Being Decimated.  This is a huge list of sources covering the many problems.

 New York Times: “Gulf Dolphins Exposed to Oil Are Seriously Ill, Agency Says

MSNBC: Gulf shrimp scarce this season (and see the Herald Tribune‘s report)

Mother Jones: Eyeless shrimp are being found all over the Gulf

NYT: Oil Spill Affected Gulf Fish’s Cell Function, Study Finds

CBS:Expert: BP spill likely cause of sick Gulf fish (and see the Press Register’s report)

  Study confirms oil from Deepwater spill entered food chain

Pensacola News Journal: “Sick fish” archive

Agence France Presse: Mystery illnesses plague Louisiana oil spill crews

MSNBC: Sea turtle deaths up along Gulf, joining dolphin trend

MSNBC:Exclusive: Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico

AP: BP oil spill the culprit for slow death of deep-sea coral, scientists say (and see the Guardian and AFP‘s write ups)

A recent report also notes that there are flesh-eating bacteria in tar balls of BP oil washing up on Gulf beaches

And all of that lovely Corexit dispersant sprayed on water, land and air? It inhibits the ability of microbes to break down oil, and allows oil and other chemicals to be speed past the normal barriers of human skin.

Just google up the Legacy of the BP Oil Spill and feast your eyes on the eyeless shrimp,  lesions on fish, and all the dead sea mammals washing up on Gulf Cost beaches.  This is from AJ.

“The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp – and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

This AJ article explains that “Nearly two years after BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen and scientists say things are getting worse.”

Fishermen, in particular, are seeing their way of life threatened with extinction – both from lack of an adequate legal settlement and collapsing fisheries.

One of these people, Greg Perez, an oyster fisherman in the village of Yscloskey, Louisiana, has seen a 75 per cent decrease in the amount of oysters he has been able to catch.

“Since the spill, business has been bad,” he said. “Sales and productivity are down, our state oyster grounds are gone, and we are investing personal money to rebuild oyster reefs, but so far it’s not working.”

Perez, like so many Gulf Coast commercial fisherman, has been fishing all his life. He said those who fish for crab and shrimp are “in trouble too”, and he is suing BP for property damage for destroying his oyster reefs, as well as for his business’ loss of income.

People like Perez make it possible for Louisiana to provide 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US.

But Louisiana’s seafood industry, valued at about $2.3bn, is now fighting for its life.

We actually see all this reported in the local media.  We see the pictures. We live the effects.  I completely admit to having scaled back my consumption of seafood since the spill.  It’s just not the same and I don’t trust it.  But, if you watch the ads that BP runs on TV stations around our neighboring states and listen to the deafening response by governments, you think it all just disappeared.  They keep saying everything is safe and it’s all back to normal. Well, it isn’t.  If you ask me, I think it’s just going to get worse.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Back in black…and other dark sordid tales

Good Morning!

It is a Big Fat Monday morning, the kind that makes you want to crawl back into bed and wait till Tuesday morning…

A special thanks to Dakinikat who switched with me on Sunday. (Thank you Kat! oxox)

I have a lot of news items to bring you, this first one is from Cannonfire, and it is spectacular… in a creep you out sort of way. (Especially if it is not an April Fool’s joke.)  Is the Romney campaign using subliminals in their ads?

Folks, this is genuinely weird. I received a message from a reader informing me that certain teevee ads for Mitt Romney contain monod-bizarro “extras” that pass by at hummingbird speed. Be warned: This investigation gets into some very unsettling areas.

You need to read the entire thing so go to that link…now.

After I read that amazing post late last night, I felt so violated, and I would guess this is pretty common among all political party campaigns. Joseph, that was one hell of a post!

Alright, next up we have some quick links to things you should watch out for…you will see what I mean in a minute.

Major Security Breach At Atlanta Credit Card Processor; Experts Warn Consumers To Check Transactions –  Susie Madrak brought this to my attention via C&L:

You should pay close attention to your accounts, but as one quoted expert says, you need to be especially vigilant right now:

Visa and MasterCard acknowledged Friday that they’ve been alerting banks about a major breach at Global Payments, an Atlanta-based payment card processing firm.

Global Payments issued a statement late Friday saying it discovered the breach in March and reported it to industry officials and the FBI. The company scheduled a press conference for Monday morning.

Gartner banking security analyst Avivah Litan says unverified reports point to a New York City street gang with Central American ties taking control of “an administrative account that was not protected sufficiently.”

“I’ve spoken with folks in the card business who are seeing signs of this breach mushroom,” says Litan.

When the words “breach” and “mushroom” are used together to describe a credit card hacking scheme, it isn’t very encouraging.

Chemical Exposure Is Suspect in Early Female Puberty–  Take a quick look at this, from TruthDig:

Marcia Herman-Giddens first observed the age of puberty dropping for American girls in the late 1980s. Today, she and other researchers agree that the average age of onset has fallen significantly since the 1970s, and some point toward chemicals like bisphenol A—a ubiquitous hormone-like substance that the FDA recently refused to ban—as a possible cause.

There is a link to a New York Times article about the study, I would guess that all the hormones in foods like chicken would also bring about early puberty. I have seen it first hand with my daughter…and many of her girlfriends at school. The boobies start to pop out earlier than they did in my day.

You may have seen this next link over the weekend, but I have an update for you: Financers and Sex Trafficking

THE biggest forum for sex trafficking of under-age girls in the United States appears to be a Web site called Backpage.com.

This emporium for girls and women — some under age or forced into prostitution — is in turn owned by an opaque private company called Village Voice Media. Until now it has been unclear who the ultimate owners are.

That mystery is solved. The owners turn out to include private equity financiers, including Goldman Sachs with a 16 percent stake.

Here is the latest on this sick disgusting story…Goldman Sachs Sex Trafficking Controversy: Company Sells Stake In Village Voice Media For Promoting Under-Age Sex Trade

A private equity fund run by Goldman Sachs Group Inc, under fire over its business ethics, has agreed to sell back its stake in a media company that critics say facilitates sex trafficking.

GS Capital Partners III on Friday signed a deal to sell its 16 percent stake in Village Voice Media, which owns the website Backpage.com, back to management, a Goldman spokeswoman said Sunday.

Doesn’t it seem strange that Goldman was not aware of the kind of ads associated with Backpage? You’d think Goldman would have done some due diligence before they invested in it. (I mean, everyone know what that Backpage of the Village Voice is like, I would not doubt that some of those dudes at Goldman Sachs have utilized the “want ads” themselves.)

Crazy innit? (That little link there is my own kind of subliminal message…so is this one.)

More news round-ups after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »


There Will Be Blood

If you listen to the GOP, you’d be convinced that the WH, Democrats in general and crazed environmentalists specifically had nixed the Keystone Pipeline out of sheer orneriness or a deep-seated hatred of good ‘ole American Capitalism.  Rick Santorum and his Prince of Darkness tour would no doubt smell brimstone in the midst of any pipeline dissent.

Well, surprise, surprise.  The push back is not limited to protestors in the United States.  Our northern neighbors in Canada have as many if not more objections to the Petro State ripping through their country, poisoning watersheds, destroying wildlife and property, causing disease and health problems among citizens, all in the name of King Oil and the desire to wring every last drop out of the planet.

The Hell with Consequences!

First Nation, the indigenous population of Canada, has already predicted:

There will be blood!

Why the outcry?  Enbridge, Inc. and the conservative government in Canada is pressing forward with their own pipeline project, Northern Gateway, which would carry 500,000+ barrels a day 731 miles from a town near Edmonton, westward through the Rocky Mountains to a port on the British Columbia [BC] coast.  Over 60 indigenous organizations have expressed their opposition, refusing to be moved by the promise of revenue, jobs and an increase in their quality of life because their lives are deeply attached to the natural resources of BC, most importantly the integrity of the salmon trade that depends on the streams and tributaries of the Fraser and Skeena Rivers.   In addition, the proposed port on the coast, which would host over 200 oil tankers a year, could expose the Great Bear rainforest to irreparable damage.

Think Valdez!

Interestingly enough, First Nation opposition is the most serious threat to the Harper government’s enthusiastic endorsement of the pipeline.  Unlike other indigenous groups, First Nation never signed treaties with the Canadian government and consequently never relinquished their lands to the Federal government.  On the other hand, the government and oil companies have nearly unlimited funds to fight this battle in court.

According to the LA Times report Tribal Chief Jackie Thomas has said:

“It’s going to be a war. The only question is, who’s going to draw the first blood.”

And here’s a chilling factoid: Enbridge is the same company responsible for the leak of 800,000+ gallons [the EPA now reports over 1 million gallons] of tar sand oil into the Kalamazoo River, Michigan.  Presumably, the oil company has spent $700 million in reclamation procedures.  The area is still a gigantic mess.

Kalamazoo River Spill

Added to the environmental risks [the cost of which is usually ignored] the Northern Pipeline is likely to boost the price of oil for Canadian consumers because like the Keystone proposal, the oil would be exported, not available domestically. The video below is instructive in a grim way.

Why are we having these bitter disputes?

Because we desperately need new energy sources. And there’s tons of money on the line.  More importantly, we need an Energy Policy/Strategy, where the pros and cons of transitional sources are seriously considered–the trade-offs, the costs, what we as a culture are willing to put up with or risk until renewable, clean sources are developed and brought online.  That’s a plan that would look at what we need today, five years down the road, 10, 20, 30 years.  You set benchmarks.  You invest in, encourage and unleash innovation, while focusing on increased efficiency from power plants–the traditional US coal power plant is only 35% efficient, meaning we’re wasting most of the energy we’re producing–to autos to buildings to everything else.

Where is that policy?  Nada.

The Department of Defense’s push towards alternative energy is not a sign of the US military becoming rabid tree huggers.  As the world’s largest institutional energy consumer, the DOD knows the score: the days of cheap fossil fuel are over and our dependence on foreign and unfriendly suppliers is a serious security issue.  The Department’s commitment to this reality can be seen in proposed budget expenditures: $3 billion by 2015; $10 billion by 2030.

As GreenTech Media reported, this sort of shift has historical parallels:

Military spending in support of energy is not new. Winston Churchill’s decision in 1911 to move the British Navy, then the world’s then most dominant military force, from coal to oil changed the world’s energy marketplace. The emerging trend in DoD spending on renewables is an equally historic marker.

Neither American or Canadian energy needs should come down to an either/or contest: shut off the electricity or rip the environment apart, robbing people, wildlife, the very planet of their health, sustainability and future.  We cannot poison our watersheds, jeopardize our aquifers or damage fertile farmlands for the sake of profits or our unwillingness to conserve and efficiently utilize what we have.  King Oil has ruled long enough. The damage they’re willing to exact is unacceptable, even obscene.

Alberta Tar Oil Sands, Aerial Satellite Shot

First Nation peoples of British Columbia know this and are willing to fight tooth and nail to preserve what’s left of their way of life and cultural traditions. To save the irreplaceable.

Great Bear Rainforest

There may very well be blood.  It’s a worthy fight.


Wednesday Reads: Of Birth Control and Self-Cloning Sea Grass

Good Morning

The results are in…If you didn’t follow the three primaries yesterday, or didn’t know there were three primaries yesterday, or knew there were three primaries, but did not give a rat’s ass…here are links to several articles discussing  Santorum’s victories in Colorado,  Missouri and Minnesota.

Rick Santorum wins Colorado Republican caucuses – The Denver Post

Santorum revives campaign with wins in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota – The Washington Post

The High Stakes in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri – NYTimes.com

Twin victories revive Santorum’s White House hopes | Reuters

Jubilant Santorum wins Minnesota, leads in Colo. – Boston.com

Two Santorum Victories Redirect G.O.P. Spotlight – NYTimes.com

Live: Santorum blasts Obama, Romney in victory speech

We have a lot of news to get to this morning, lets start with What’s Next for Proposition 8?

gaymarriageruling-body.jpg

Reuters

Anyone surprised by the tenor and base of Tuesday’s same-sex marriage ruling hasn’t been paying much attention to the years-long legal battle over California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative which sought by popular vote to end the Golden State’s brief, court-sanctioned recognition of gay marriage. The 2010 trial resulted in a rout of Prop 8′s forces. So, naturally, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the left-coast bastion that conservatives love to hate, was going to follow suit and continue to block the enforcement of Prop 8.

The only serious question, in the 552 days between the trial court’s ruling and today, was how far the 9th Circuit would travel, doctrinally, in declaring Prop 8 to be an unconstitutional violation of the due process and equal protection rights of same-sex couples. Would it follow the logic and reasoning of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, the Republican appointee who presided over the trial in this case and then had to defend himself against allegations that he was biased because he is gay? Or, would the 9th Circuit strike out on its own?

The Volokh Conspiracy » Why Same-Sex Marriage Bans Qualify as Sex Discrimination

Today’s Ninth Circuit decision striking down California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage is unpersuasive because it claims that the law fails to meet even minimal “rational basis” scrutiny. Eugene Volokh does a good job of explaining why. But there is an alternative constitutional rationale for striking down same-sex marriage bans that avoids this problem. Proposition 8 is an example of sex discrimination, and must be evaluated under the higher standards of scrutiny applied to gender discrimination by the Supreme Court.

Although the sex discrimination argument has been advanced by several academic advocates of gay marriage, nonacademics tend to be skeptical because the same-sex marriage bans seem to be targeted against gays, not men or women. Hostility towards gays is certainly part of the motivation for bans on same-sex marriage. But that does not prevent these laws from qualifying as sex discrimination. In terms of the way the law is actually structured, a same-sex marriage ban in fact discriminates on the basis of gender rather than orientation. And one can discriminate on the basis of sex even if the motivation for doing so is something other than sexism.

Ilya Somin had another article published yesterday which you may also find interesting, it also moves us towards the next topic I want to focus on this morning. The Volokh Conspiracy » Issues on which People are Most Resistant to Persuasion

This semester, I am once again teaching Constitutional Law II: The Fourteenth Amendment. I often tell my students in this class that there are three issues on which most people are particularly resistant to rational persuasion: abortion, the death penalty, and affirmative action. And it so happens that the course covers all three.

Lately there has been a backlash from the Catholic Church regarding the Obama Healthcare policy on contraception. It makes me mad to think of just how bad the war on women is getting in the country.

Excuse me, but all this crap about birth control has nothing to do with religious devotion or religious consciences.  It has more to do with the GOP’s grand plan to control every aspect of a woman’s life. I can guarantee that men are getting Viagra and other limp dick drugs and treatment, where is the backlash on that? So the double standard is a woman can’t get birth control coverage, because of the religious freedom and rights owed the crazy right-wing, mostly male PLUBs.  What about her right to privacy and liberty from male oppression? (And if that is too strong a phrase for some of you, how about liberty from male interference? Or, male domination? Or, male control?)

It is discrimination, plain and simple…

And make no mistake: health plans that exclude services used only by women constitute a form of discrimination. That’s why in 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that employers that cover prescription drugs but do not cover contraception are in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Such employers have “circumscribed the treatment options available to women, but not to men,” it said. The EEOC’s ruling made no exemptions for religiously affiliated organizations. Indeed, in 2009, responding to a lawsuit, the EEOC ruled that the Catholic college Belmont Abbey discriminated against women when it refused to cover birth control.

Because that is what it all comes down to.

Because if it really had to do with religious righteousness and living a good Christian life, these same concerned Catholics, Mormons and Christian GOP nitwits would be putting all this energy into real good things. Like protecting children from pedophiles and going after the obvious cover ups and sick acceptance of child abuse within the Catholic Church. Retired Cardinal Edward Egan Faces Criticism For Taking Back Abuse Apology

Retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan is facing criticism from representatives of clergy sexual abuse victims for a recent interview in which he said he regretted apologizing for the priest abuse scandal in 2002 when he was bishop of Bridgeport.

In the interview with Connecticut Magazine, Egan said “I don’t think we did anything wrong” in handling abuse cases. He said he was not obligated to report abuse claims and maintained he inherited the cases from his predecessor and did not have any cases on his watch, according to the magazine.

Clergy in Connecticut have been required to report abuse claims to authorities since the early 1970s, according to attorneys who represented numerous abuse victims.

“Egan never did so and his failure to do so constitutes a violation of the law…”

This latest statement from a Representative of the Church is exactly what I am talking about. Where is the massive protest from those who claim to be “good Christians.” (And those are sarcastic quotes mind you…)

In the recent interview, Egan was asked about a letter he wrote to parishioners in 2002 saying “if in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”

“First of all I should never have said that,” Egan responded, according to the magazine. “I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

Egan said in the interview that he sent accused priests to treatment.

“And as a result, not one of them did a thing out of line. Those whom I could prove, I got rid of; those whom I couldn’t prove, I didn’t. But I had them under control.”

Egan also said he was not surprised that “the scandal was going to be fun in the news, not fun but the easiest thing to write about.”

As for reporting claims to authorities, he said, “I don’t think even now you’re obligated to report them in Connecticut.”

“I sound very defensive and I don’t want to because I’m very proud of how this thing was handled,” Egan said.

At another point, Egan said, “I believe the sex abuse thing was incredibly good.” Asked if he meant because it resulted in positive changes, he responded, “Good that … the record, I think, is an excellent record.”

Egan’s statements describing the scandal as “fun” for the news or “incredibly good” shows he’s out of touch, the attorneys said.

“For the cardinal to `take back’ his apology is just another slap in the face of every victim who has endured the physical and emotional upheaval and betrayal of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest,” the attorneys said.

Oops, I have wandered a bit…Here is the link I was talking about. The GOP Candidates weigh in on Birth Control and Religious Freedom. Contraception issue heats up as Santorum makes headway – Political Hotsheet – CBS News

You can read it at the link, I don’t even what to bother with quoting these assholes.

One thing however, all this talk of child rapists flows into the next link I have for you today…h/t Boston Boomer: Prosecutors Press For Tougher Bail Conditions After Sandusky Is Seen Watching Children In Schoolyard | Fox News

 Prosecutors asked Tuesday to have Jerry Sandusky kept indoors as part of his bail conditions, citing complaints that the former Penn State football assistant was seen outside and watching children in a schoolyard from the back porch of his home, where he remains under house arrest while awaiting trial on child molestation charges.

The state attorney general’s office argued in a court filing that Sandusky’s bail conditions should be revised so that he is not allowed outside except to seek medical treatment. Prosecutors said they opposed Sandusky’s request to be allowed contact with his grandchildren as he awaits trial on 52 child sex-abuse charges.

“Several individuals from the adjacent elementary school have expressed concerns for the safety of children at their school and the adjacent neighborhood,” prosecutors wrote. “Such concerns will only mushroom if defendant is permitted to roam at will outside his house.”

The allegation he was watching children was outlined in an exhibit attached to the filing, a memo from a state investigator to a county probation officer that said a teacher and intern had reported concern for the children’s safety.

“They advised the neighbor that yesterday they had the children outside for recess as it was a warmer day, and that they both witnessed Mr. Sandusky on his rear house deck watching the children play,” wrote investigator Anthony Sassano on Jan. 26.

Sandusky should be behind bars…it is disgusting. The man is obviously unable to control his behavior when it comes to young boys, I wonder what kind of behavior he would encounter in the general population at the local jail.

Moving on to other US news: GOP’s War on Voting, Minnesota Edition: The Twelve Ways of ALEC’s Kiffmeyer to Disenfranchise Us | MyFDL

Phoenix Woman has some interesting points here…

As Minnesota holds its 2012 election caucuses tonight, I thought this might be apposite.

I was planning to wait until this weekend to discuss the State Rep from ALEC’s Mary Kiffmeyer and her strange war on Native Americans and their defenders, but I decided to take advantage of what Jon Walker had to say about the Virginia front in the GOP’s War on Voting, and of a document that’s circulating through the local online media, and which I received through the e-mail transom.

This document summarizes twelve specific actions taken by Mary Kiffmeyer during her time as Minnesota’s Secretary of State (1998 to 2006) that put the integrity of voting in Minnesota at risk during that time. Here they are, in order:

Go to the link to read about all the twelve ways of voter disfranchisement.

With all the Komen, Planned Parenthood, Catholic Birth Control news going on lately, you may have missed this news out of Indiana. The Maddow Blog – Actual voter fraud

Republican policymakers, at the federal and state level, are often desperate to find real-world, high-profile examples of voter fraud. The good news for the GOP is that a legitimate example has come to public light. The bad news is, the example is from their side of the aisle.

The top elections official in Indiana was convicted of multiple charges in a voter fraud case on Saturday, bringing uncertainty to one of the state’s most powerful offices.

A Hamilton County jury found Charlie White, the Indiana secretary of state, guilty of six of seven felony charges: two counts of perjury and one each of false registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot and theft. He was acquitted of one fraud charge. [...]

It was not immediately clear what would happen in the state office. Mr. White has resisted calls to resign by Democrats and fellow Republicans, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, but state law bars anyone convicted of a felony from remaining in office.

That whole Political Affective Disorder thing is really hitting me bad tonight.

So I will just speed this post up and link to some other kinds of stories.

The Very Last World War I Veteran Has Died – Global – The Atlantic Wire

Reuters

A British woman who served with the Royal Air Force for the last two months of World War I was the last known veteran of the war when she died in her sleep Saturday night. Florence Green joined the RAF at the age of 17 and died just before her 111th birthday, which would have been Feb. 19. She had been a mess steward with the air force, the BBC reported, serving in two U.K. air bases after she joined up on Sept. 13 1918. The Allies signed the armistice with Germany on Nov. 11, 1918. Green follows Claude Choules, a Royal Navy sailor who was the last WWI combatant before he died in May 2011, and Frank Buckles, the last American veteran of the war, who died in February 2011. All were 110 years old.

The Atlantic also has a series of articles which may interest you: Civil War – The Atlantic

Marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, The Atlantic’s special commemorative edition, featuring an introduction by President Barack Obama, showcases some of the most compelling stories from the magazine’s archives. Contributors include such celebrated American writers as Mark Twain, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.

Through reporting, essays, fiction, and poetry, The Atlantic chronicled the conflict firsthand—from the country’s deepening divisions in the years leading up to the conflict, to the horrors of the battlefield, to the reshaping of society after the war’s conclusion. Now this 148-page edition captures all of that. With contemporary essays by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jeffrey Goldberg, along with memorable images from the National Portrait Gallery, this rich collection is perfect for anyone interested in the dramatic story of America’s most transformative moment.

For a link to the essays, look on this page here: Table of Contents – Magazine – The Atlantic

An Australian man is planning on Parachuting from space

It is the ultimate parachute jump.

From the edge of space, Felix Baumgartner will leap from a balloon and plummet 36,500 metres.

After 35 seconds he will break the sound barrier, and finally, at 1520 metres, he will deploy a parachute and – hopefully – land safely.

The jump will take 10 minutes…I don’t know about you, but have you ever had those nightmares where you feel like you are falling? Then you wake up disoriented for a few seconds? That is what I imagine this free fall must feel like. Ten minutes of that is one hell of a nightmare to me.

Two science/environment links will end today’s post.

The Frog of War | Mother Jones

When biologist Tyrone Hayes discovered that a top-selling herbicide messes with sex hormones, its manufacturer went into battle mode. Thus began one of the weirdest feuds in the history of science.

Darnell lives deep in the basement of a life sciences building at the University of California-Berkeley, in a plastic tub on a row of stainless steel shelves. He is an African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, sometimes called the lab rat of amphibians. Like most of his species, he’s hardy and long-lived, an adept swimmer, a poor crawler, and a voracious eater. He’s a good breeder, too, having produced both children and grandchildren. There is, however, one unusual thing about Darnell.

He’s female.

Genetically, Darnell is male. But after being raised in water contaminated with the herbicide atrazine at a level of 2.5 parts per billion—slightly less than what’s allowed in our drinking water—he developed a female body, inside and out. He is also the mother of his children, having successfully mated with other males and spawned clutches of eggs.

Yes, you need to read that article in MoJo, it is a long one…but man it is disturbing.

So from confused sex hormones and herbicide atrazine, to asexual grass…ah, lets call that asexual old-ass grass…Self-Cloning Seagrass May Be World’s Oldest Living Thing | Environment | English

Australian and European scientists say they believe ancient seagrass growing on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea may be the oldest living organism on the planet.

The researchers say their findings indicate the vast beds of submerged vegetation are most likely at least 100,000 years old.  That is nearly 60,000 years older than a Tasmanian plant that currently holds the title of world’s oldest living thing.

Hmmm, I wonder if we should get a patch of this Posidonia oceania and plant it over in the Creation Museum…and make sure that there are little English saddles on each blade of grass. Should go nice with the saddles on Dinosaurs.

(These religious nuts are destroying our world! Mayan End of World Prophecy? Has to be the cause of the destructive actions of religious extremist all over the world.)

What do you think? See you in the comments later on…


Zombies and Vultures and Pipelines, Oh My

The zombies seem to be winning the war against the living.  We have zombie banks, zombie politicians [think Rick Perry], zombie policy—free market fundamentalism preached as an untried economic theory.

And now zombie pipelines.

Just when you thought the Keystone XL controversy had been put to rest [at least temporarily], its zombie presence lunges forward, reanimated for all to see.  Although I suspect supporters of this very bad idea are hoping the American public is not watching or if they are watching they will buy the swill on the non-existent benefits of a 1700-mile tar sands pipeline.

What am I talking about?

I found a disturbing inquiry [hattip to OEN] by Representative Henry Waxman to a Deborah Hohlt, who received $50,500 from the Great State of Indiana [that would be paid in state taxpayer monies] to lobby in DC on behalf of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.  Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels provided the rebuttal to the President’s SOTU address, in which he referred to the Administration’s decision to ‘postpone’ the pipeline’s construction as an ‘extremist’ policy.

As you might remember the Republican chorus on this subject has been jobs, jobs, jobs.  House Speaker Boehner has quoted 100,000 jobs at stake.  TransCanada has been all over the map with job estimates, the last, most creative quote coming in at 250,000 jobs.  Unfortunately, the numbers are at odds with the single independent analysis from Cornell Global Labor Institute, estimating the number at between 4000-6000 temporary jobs.  The steel for the pipeline?  Would be coming from India.  The cry that the pipeline would reduce our reliance on foreign oil?  The refined tar sands oil is contracted for export [80%] to South America and Europe.

The upsides are slim to none, considering the toxic, corrosive nature of tar sand oil, the sludge-like quality that requires pressure and heat to make a pipeline flow possible.  That also increases the risk of a leak and an environmental disaster.  Anyone who may question the heightened risk should check out the total mess in Michigan when over 800,000 gallons of tar sand oil spilled and contaminated 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River and surrounding properties.

And the reclamation?  These corporations should hang their heads in utter shame. If you want to be thoroughly disgusted check out the You Tube clip I provided in an earlier post.

But here’s the really curious thing.  The pipeline won’t be running through Indiana.  The pipeline will not be running close to Indiana’s borders. No Indiana facilitities will have access to the pipeline. In fact, it appears that Indiana does not stand to be impacted in anyway by the Keystone pipeline and yet Governor Daniels felt compelled to call President Obama an extremist for postponing the pipeline’s construction.  He was also willing to pay a $50,000+ [in state taxpayer money] to lobby for the Great State of Indiana in defense of the pipeline.

More curious still?  TransCanada has stated that the pipeline will ‘increase’ oil prices for Indiana and other Midwestern residents because the area is ‘oversupplied.’  Keystone’s successful construction [this is stated in TransCanada’s application] will ensure higher prices for Canadian crude.  By independent analysis costs will increase $6.55 per barrel in the Midwest and $3 per barrel everywhere else.   The Indiana Petroleum Council thinks this is a swell idea.

Which begs the question: Who does Governor Daniels work for?  His constituents or the oil companies?

So, it should not be any great surprise that a Senate group–laughably-called bi-partisan because it includes 1 Democrat, Joe Manchin from W. Va.–is reintroducing the Keystone proposal, pushing for immediate construction with or without the Administration’s approval.  The Senate committee is invoking the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which says Congress should have the power:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.

I love it when the Republicans start waving the Constitution. It’s a clear signal they’re up to no good. Did I mention that Koch Industries stands to make a killing on this project?

While reading Representative Waxman’s letter, I recalled something I’d read in Greg Palast’s book Vultures’ Picnic and found an accompanying and equally disturbing text online here and here.  To quote Palast:

Reserves are the measure of oil recoverable at a certain price. Raise the price, raise the reserve. Cut the price and the amount of oil in the ground drops. In other words, it’s a fool’s errand to measure the “amount of oil we have left.” It depends on the price.

Specifically, oil companies and oil-related financiers are not interested in expanding oil supplies to the world, particularly cheap oil supplies [because the days of cheap oil are over]. They’re interested in feeding the hunger for oil and controlling the price around the world with an iron fist.  The higher, the better.  The environment—air, water, soil–is not the concern.  Our health or that of our children is not the concern.  The bottom line—profit and power—is all that matters.  If nations collapse?  The Vultures are waiting to feast on the bones.

Sound harsh?  It shouldn’t.  Zombies and vultures are kissing cousins.  They’re coming ‘round for a friendly visit.  Again.