Sunday Reads: Mad about the Boy and Sunflowers…Radioactive Sunflowers

Good Morning.

Last night I saw one of the best movies ever made, Sunset Blvd…and I have to say, like Norma Desmond…I am mad about the boy. The “boy” being William Holden.

Funny what you remember isn’t it

There was a song that was popular when I was in high school, I never liked it much but it was recorded live in Tom’s Diner…the same diner that was used for the street shots of Monk’s coffee shop on Seinfeld. This song’s lyrics mention the death of William Holden…

I open
Up the paper
There’s a story
Of an actor

Who had died
While he was drinking
It was no one
I had heard of

Oh, you can be sure I knew who Suzanne Vega was talking about…Damn, he was one hell of a leading man!

Anyway, on with the news reads for this morning.

Lee is on his way up to Banjoland, but now the rain is falling in New Orleans.

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT13/refresh/AL1311W5_NL_sm2+gif/204714W5_NL_sm.gif

This is one slow-moving storm…New Orleans feeling lucky, wary as storm nears land | Reuters

Southern Louisiana was coping fairly well with heavy rains from Tropical Storm Lee on Saturday but New Orleans officials warned residents against rising winds and complacency amid the storm’s slow onslaught.

“This storm is moving painfully slow,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a briefing on Saturday afternoon. “Don’t go to sleep on this storm,” he added. “The message today is that we are not out of the woods.”

Hope all is well Dak!

I have some interesting links for you today, we will start over in Japan. Remember that Fukushima Nuclear Plant?

Nuclear legacy: photos tell tale of 2 ghost towns  | ajc.com

Twenty-five years after a reactor at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and melted down, its surroundings are well-explored territory, including the abandoned workers’ town of Pripyat, two kilometers (about a mile) from the plant. The guides who take visitors through the area know exactly where to go and, more important, what to avoid.

[…]

The people who fled Futaba, the town nearest to the Fukushima plant, need only look to Pripyat, some 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) away, for a hint of what it will probably turn into: a ghost town forever looking as though it expects its 7,000-plus people to return any minute.

In Futaba, unlike in Pripyat, you are in uncharted territory. There are no guides. The radioactive hot spots are uncharted, and behind every corner, danger may lurk that will not turn malignant for years, even decades. Radiation cannot be sensed like a hum or a smell. The sun shines and the wind blows, and only the beeping of your Geiger counter tells you something is wrong.

There are two images that I want to point out:

In this Thursday, April 21, 2011 photo, a dog walks across a street in the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

In this Sunday, April 2, 2006 photo, a dog walks in the deserted town of Pripyat, Ukraine, some 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

Well, those pictures say a hell of a lot…and so does this one:  Japan is open for business – The Washington Post

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES – Sunflowers are seen in the tsunami hit field in in Natori, in Miyagi prefecture, and were planted by local elementary school children on July 15, 2011. Japan has a campaign to grow sunflowers to help decontaminate radioactive soil.

Yes, Japan is planting sunflowers to help remove the cesium.  Sunflowers rise to battle Japan’s nuclear winter – Technology & science – Science – msnbc.com

About 80,000 people were forced to evacuate from a vast swath of land around the reactor as engineers battled radiation leaks, hydrogen explosions and overheating fuel rods. They have no idea when, if ever, they can return to homes that have been in their families for generations.

Worse still, radiation spread well outside the mandatory evacuation zone, nestling in “hot spots” and contaminating the ground in what remains a largely agricultural region.

Rice, still a significant staple, has not been planted in many areas. Others face stringent tests and potentially harmful shipping bans after radioactive caesium was found in rice straw.

Excessive radiation levels have also been found in beef, vegetables, milk, seafood and water. In hot spots more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the plant, the tea is radioactive.

Sunflower campaign
In an effort to lift the spirits of area residents as well as lighten the impact of the radiation, Abe began growing and distributing sunflowers and other plants.

“We plant sunflowers, field mustard, amaranthus and cockscomb, which are all believed to absorb radiation,” said the monk. “So far we have grown at least 200,000 flowers (at this temple) and distributed many more seeds. At least 8 million sunflowers blooming in Fukushima originated from here.”

Sunflowers were also used to clean up contaminated soil near Chernobyl.  Imagine, once the flowers grow they must be disposed of properly.  Yes, the big yellow flowers are radioactive… atomic… a sea of golden toxic waste!  Japanese Scientists Get Creative With Nuclear Contamination Clean-Up

Sunflowers near Chernobyl

After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, sunflowers and rape blossoms were used to decontaminate soil in Ukraine.

The researchers believe growing sunflowers will remove the radioactive caesium in the ground. Radioactive caesium is similar to kalium, a commonly used fertilizer. If kalium is not present, sunflowers will absorb caesium instead.

Yamashita’s team plans to remove the harvested sunflowers through burning, so that the radioactive caesium could be dispersed in smoke instead of requiring storage.

Alternatively, the researchers are also considering using hyperthermophilic aerobic bacteria to decompose the plants. The decomposing process will reduce the sunflowers to about 1 percent of their previous volume, which will slash the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be disposed.

As for the radiation that is seaborne, and not in the soil…Modelling the dispersion of Fukushima-Daichii nuclear power plant release (H/T Susie Madrak)

Take a look at that link, there are moving computer images of the dispersion of the radioactive plume as it traveled the Pacific currents away from Japan.

So, lets move from toxic radioactive particles to toxic radioactive candidates…GOP candidates that is.

Republican Candidates Turn Attacks on One Another – NYTimes.com

The Republican field is entering a pivotal stage in the nominating contest as candidates increasingly move beyond criticizing President Obama and start to run against one another.

The outcome of three debates in the next three weeks — starting Wednesday night, the first time Mr. Perry, Mr. Romney and Mrs. Bachmann will face one another — will influence fund-raising, shape strategy and set perceptions as the candidates hurtle toward the start of voting early next year.

In both parties, there is now a sense that the president’s political frailty, underscored by the report on Friday that showed zero net job creation in August and new projections that unemployment will remain elevated through Election Day next year, is even greater than it appeared at the start of the summer, injecting additional energy and urgency into the Republican primary race.

While many Democrats once hoped that perceived deficiencies among the Republican contenders could provide a lifeline to Mr. Obama, the prospect of losing the presidency is no longer summarily dismissed by his advisers.

In other words, they are going to “eat” their own kind in the next few weeks…should be some great fodder for the late night political comedians.

Early this week, this article was published on Colorlines.  The Definitive Guide to Bigotry in the 2012 Republican Primaries (So Far) – COLORLINES

There is a reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital. Stretched out between the memories of two presidents, the water reminds us that politics are merely a reflection of American society, for better or worse. The best of our society was on display 48 years ago when hundreds of thousands of Americans stood in scenic unity along the reflecting pool in support of civil rights. Today, the 2012 presidential elections reflect a nation still plagued by bias and inequality. Troubled and ugly waters indeed.

The following is a guide to use when you consider casting a vote for one of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. You may be among the Americans who have lost faith in Obama or the Democratic Party and pondering a step to the right. Faulty as the Democrats may be, read this guide and remember that liberals still believe abolishing slavery was a good idea and that women should not be confined to the kitchen—which is not something you can say about all of the Republican contenders.

Check out this link, and read the entire article, because it breaks down the candidates and some of the questionable remarks that these 2012 GOP hopefuls have made. (Some will not come as a surprise to you, but Colorlines really does a great job of writing it down.)

From the bigoted remarks and beliefs to the religious fervor that most of the GOP 2012s are pimping left and right. This next article is from Time and discusses the Articles of Faith: What Journalists Should Be Asking Politicians About Religion | Swampland

A few weeks ago, I opened up my Twitter feed early in the morning and immediately wondered if I was being punk’d. Instead of the usual horse race speculation, my colleagues in the political press corps were discussing the writings of evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer and debating the definition of Dominionism. The same week, a conservative journalist had posed a question about submission theology in a GOP debate, and David Gregory had grilled Michele Bachmann about whether God would guide her decision-making if she became President.

The combination of religion and politics is a combustible one. And while I’m thrilled to see journalists taking on these topics, it seemed to me a few guidelines might be helpful in covering religion on the campaign trail:

Ask relevant questions.

It’s tempting to get into whether a Catholic candidate takes communion or if an evangelical politician actually thinks she speaks to God. But if a candidate brings up his faith on the campaign trail, there are two main questions journalists need to ask: 1) Would your religious beliefs have any bearing on the actions you would take in office? and 2) If so, how?

This is also a rather long article, and discusses the kinds of “faith” related questions the media needs to focus on.  From policy to Jeremiah Wright…so please read the entire article if you can.

From the Minx Missing Link File:  There was a plane crash this past week just off the coast in Chile…some of you may have missed this news. The plane crashed when extremely bad weather hit the area. Chile says no survivors from Pacific Ocean air crash | Reuters

“One arrives at the conclusion that the impact was so strong that it must have killed those aboard instantly,” Defense Minister Andres Allamand said.

The CASA 212 military plane tried twice to land on Friday before it went missing as heavy winds and sporadic rains hit the area.

Among the passengers were five TVN national television staff members, including well-known presenter Felipe Camiroaga, who were planning to film a report about reconstruction on the islands after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The islands were badly hit by the tsunami.

21 people were aboard that plane, all are presumed dead.

Friday there was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that hit in Argentina and a 6.8 earthquake the struck off the Fox Islands, in the Aleutian chain of islands in Alaska. Mother nature has been on the rampage lately.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  This is one cool looking Woolly Rhino, isn’t it? BBC News – ‘Oldest’ woolly rhino discovered

Woolly rhino impression (Julie Naylor) The discovery team says it might have used its horn as a paddle to sweep snow from vegetation

As a fiber nut, the first thing I thought about when I saw that picture was…ooo, I bet that spins up like yak or maybe Icelandic fleece, one of the primitive sheep whose fleece has a dual coat. One layer is guard hair, straight and more “hairy” like, it makes a very strong and stable yarn…great for use as warps in weaving and the lower woolly fleece, that is soft and wavy, with lots of loft and crimp, that makes a great flexible yarn because it has more “give” for knitting and use as weft in weaving.

A woolly rhino fossil dug up on the Tibetan Plateau is believed to be the oldest specimen of its kind yet found.

The creature lived some 3.6 million years ago – long before similar beasts roamed northern Asia and Europe in the ice ages that gripped those regions.

The discovery team says the existence of this ancient rhino supports the idea that the frosty Tibetan foothills of the Himalayas were the evolutionary cradle for these later animals.

The report appears in Science journal.

“It is the oldest specimen discovered so far,” said Xiaoming Wang from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, US.

“It is at least a million years older, or more, than any other woolly rhinos we have known.
“It’s quite well preserved – just a little crushed, so not quite in the original shape; but the complete skull and lower jaw are preserved,” he told BBC News.

Well, that is all for me this morning. Enjoy your first Sunday in September, and I will catch you all later in the comments.


Sunday Reads: Monster Weeds, Taxing the Poor and Beware of Full Moons

Good Sunday Morning!

Yesterday was a very sad day in the music world.  Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home. She was 27 years old and as Dakinikat mentioned in the comments, there have been many other musicians in the past that upon reaching the age of 27,  also left this world too soon.  So here is a link to a series of images and stories… Dead At 27: Nine Artists Gone Too Soon | Billboard.com

An uncanny number of musicians have passed away at age 27, and with the passing of Amy Winehouse today (July 23), the club has unfortunately recieved a new member. Here we reflect on some of the 27 Club’s most notable members: Kurt, Janis, Jimi and Jim may be gone, but none of them are forgotten.

With her heartfelt songs about love and heartbreak powered by her alluring alto vocals, Amy Winehouse‘s prowess laid in her fearlessness to showcase her vulnerability. Unfortunately, the British soul singer’s potential and success were overshadowed by her addiction to alcohol and drugs. As Winehouse sold millions of albums and won numerous awards, Winehouse was personally tormented by substance addiction, eating disorders and destructive relationships, most notably with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil. In May 2011, at the advice of her father, Winehouse checked into rehab. On July 23, two months later, police found the singer dead at her London loft. At the time of the announcement, a cause of death was still undetermined.

Winehouse had an amazing voice, and like so many other musicians, led a tortured life…a self inflicted tortured life. I always thought her singing reminded me of Janis Joplin.  Of course no one had a set of pipes like Janis, but Amy Winehouse had a familiar emotion in her voice. A sadness and deep emotion that comes with a difficult life.  So sad indeed.

This week has been such a difficult one for me personally, and perhaps for many of you as well. I know there was no full moon, but it sure as hell felt like there was.  So maybe this is why the following story jumped out at me this week.  STUDY: After Full Moon, Lions Likely to Eat Humans – International Business Times

That midwives’ tale about crazy and strange “events” happening when a full moon is out isn’t merely a myth.  Now a study coming out of Africa is saying that lions are most likely to eat human beings following a full moon. Lions are predators that hunt most successfully in the dark, which surprises their prey.

The research analyzed records of some 500 lion attacks on Tanzanian villagers between 1988 and 2009, and also the size of lions’ bellies.  The lions killed and ate humans in two-thirds of the attack, and the majority of the attacks  happened between dusk and 10p.m. when the moon is faint or below the horizon.

The findings also revealed 30 percent more attacks in the second half of the moon cycle, also when there was minimal moonlight.

[…]

The study suggests that other predators, such as the wolf that comes to mind in association with the moon, may be most dangerous following a full moon when the night is dark.

“The full moon is a reliable indicator of impending danger, perhaps helping to explain why the full moon has been the subject of so many myths and misconceptions,” say researchers.

If anyone lives in an area where lions and tigers and bears roam the streets, beware of those full moons.  So if lions eat more humans during a full moon,  I wonder if that also goes for politicians in Washington, DC?

On to a beast of another kind, monster super weeds are becoming a big problem in farm country.  It may not be radiation that turns these weeds into mutants…it’s genetic engineering.  Monsanto-Resistant Weeds Take Root, Raising Food Prices | Fast Company

weeds

For decades, farmers had it relatively easy when it came to weeds infesting their soil: apply herbicides, wait for the weeds to die and grow more crops. Those salad days, alas, are coming to an end.

A new series of studies released by Weed Science this month finds at least 21 weed species have become resistant to the popular herbicide glyphosate (sold as Monsanto’s Roundup), and a growing number survive multiple herbicides, so-called “super-weeds.” The same selection pressure creating bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics is leading to the rapid evolution of plants that survive modern herbicides. If the trend continues, yields could drop and food costs climb as weeds grow more difficult to uproot.

The herbicide resistance issue is becoming serious,” said journal editor, William K. Vencill, in a recent statement. “It is spreading out beyond where weed scientists have seen it before.” More than 11 million acres, up from just 2.4 million in 2007, are now infested with Roundup-resistant varieties. The herbicide, a relatively low-impact chemical since it biodegrades quickly, has ranked among the most popular for farmers since Monsanto introduced its genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops that are unaffected by the chemical, accounting for about 90 percent of the soybeans and 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown in the United States.

The article goes on to give an example of these super weeds. Pig weed, which can grow three inches a day and is tough enough to damage farm equipment has grown herbicide resistant…leading to stronger toxic chemical herbicides and extreme plowing, both of which will cause even more damage to the environment.

Personally, I would like to see one of these pig weeds go at it with some of these damn political assholes. Well, there is always the next full moon…it is pretty damn pathetic when the only hope you have for any good to come in these horrible economic times is a giant monster pig weed, going up to Obama and doing its best impression of Rick James.  There may be some of you who do not know what I am talking about…so I give you this.  After you see it, you will “get it.”

Oh, to tell Obama…what did the five fingers say to the face…but even then I don’t think it will “slap” any sense in him.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  So, this article from the Wall Street Journal was published this week, and it just highlights one of Bachmann’s ridiculous ideals:  Bachmann: Everybody Should Pay Taxes – Washington Wire – WSJ

Republican presidential candidates have been resolutely opposed to tax increases in the debate over the nation’s budget straits, but Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann this week suggested there’s one group that needs to be paying more: poor people who pay nothing now.

At a town-hall meeting Tuesday given by the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce in Columbia, a questioner noted that major U.S. corporations are paying “very few dollars of federal income taxes, if any.” He prefaced his point by saying the Bible advises us to render unto Caesar what Caesar is due.

Ms. Bachmann turned the conversation elsewhere: “Part of the problem is today, only 53% pay any federal income tax at all; 47% pay nothing,” the former federal tax attorney said. “We need to broaden the base so that everybody pays something, even if it’s a dollar.”

Why is it always the ones who have shit loads of dollars, who bring hell on the ones who have absolutely no dollars?

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  Here is an interesting look at the big news outlet magnate, Rupert Murdoch, by comparing him to the Orson Welles’s character Charles Foster Kane, who of course was based on William Randolph Hearst. There is a link to listen to this radio broadcast. Enjoy it…Milos Stehlik views Rupert Murdoch through ‘Citizen Kane’ | WBEZ

It is one of the most famous and enigmatic words uttered in film: as he dies, Charles Kane, wealthy newspaper baron, whispers his last word, “Rosebud.” The scene from the Orson Welles masterpiece Citizen Kane, references the name painted on a small sled that Kane had as a child, implying that this was the only happy time in his life.

Kane was loosely based on real-life newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, whose own “Xanadu” is the famous Hearst Castle at San Simeon, California.

In real life Hearst, urged on by his top gossip columnist, Louella Parsons, tried to stop Citizen Kane from reaching the screen. His efforts to condemn the film to oblivion nearly succeeded. Today, it commands mythic status.

Have a fabulous Sunday, and be sure to post some links to things you are reading today.


Sunday Reads: Did you ever see an elephant fly?

Morning everyone, my computer is in its final death throes.  It is amazing how much of our lives are on those things. I have some links for you, but since the computer is kaput, I am writing these reads earlier than I usually do. So you may have seen some of these already…I apologize for that. And since my computer has crashed, taking everything with it, I am using a different computer and on borrowed time…Therefore, I don’t have time to write as much as I would like.

In Japan, it seems there is another leak at Fukushima.  How this thing is going to end?  One thing is for certain,  it will not be for a long time.

Japan nuclear commission fails to send experts to Fukushima – The Mainichi Daily News

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has failed to send designated experts to Fukushima Prefecture to look into the crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant even though a national disaster-preparedness plan requires it to do so, many of the experts said Saturday.

A commission spokesperson said problems following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami such as blackouts had discouraged it from sending any experts to Fukushima Prefecture, but many of the specialists and government officials questioned the claim.

NHK WORLD English

Wastewater level at Fukushima reactor rising

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the level of highly radioactive water in an underground tunnel for one of the reactors is rising.

Contaminated water in the plant’s facilities is hampering efforts to restore the reactor’s cooling systems. Leakages of contaminated water into the ocean and the ground are also raising concerns.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says as of 6 PM Friday, the level of contaminated water in the tunnel had risen 4.5 centimeters even after part of the water was moved to a condenser in a turbine building on Wednesday.

TEPCO says work earlier this month to fix the leakage of highly radioactive water into the ocean may have caused water from the reactor to accumulate in the tunnel.

TEPCO hopes to begin transferring highly radioactive water to a waste-processing facility by the end of next week so that work to fully restore the cooling systems can resume.

Highly radioactive water may also be leaking underground. TEPCO says it will monitor underground water 3 times a week, instead of only once a week.

A survey conducted by TEPCO on Wednesday showed radiation levels in underground water in storage facilities for the Number 1 and 2 reactors were up 38 times the levels observed a week earlier.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 23:54 +0900 (JST)

NHK WORLD English

Radiactivity rises again in sea near No.2 reactor

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says levels of radioactive substances in seawater have risen again near the water intake of its No.2 reactor.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as TEPCO, says it detected 260 becquerels of iodine-131 per cubic centimeter in samples taken on Friday. That is 6,500 times the legal limit.

In the same area, levels of iodine-131 had been declining since April 2nd when 7.5 million times the limit was detected. On Thursday, the level was 1,100 times the safety limit.

TEPCO says the level of radioactive cesium-137 was also up in the same area. It detected 130 becquerels per cubic centimeter, 1,400 times the legal limit.
The firm says radioactive densities are leveling off or falling in most other areas.

TEPCO has installed underwater barriers and metal boards near the intake to prevent contaminated water from leaking into the sea.

The power company says the rise in the levels of radioactivity may have been caused by the installation work, but no new sources of leakage have been found.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 23:55 +0900 (JST)

Possible new leak at nuclear plant in Japan – MarketWatch

Radiation levels have spiked again in seawater near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan in an indication of possible new leaks at the complex, the government said Saturday, According to reports.

NHK WORLD English

TEPCO to step up discharged water monitoring

The operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant says it will step up monitoring to assess the environmental impact of radioactive water discharged into the ocean from the plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will measure radiation levels in seawater in 4 locations 3 kilometers off the coast, and 2 locations 8 kilometers off the coast.

This is in addition to the existing monitoring locations along the shore and 15 kilometers offshore.

The increased monitoring is in response to an instruction by the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The result of the investigation will be reported to the agency by May 2nd.

Here is some news from Bahrain and Gaza:

Bahrain ‘arrests rights lawyer and doctors’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Bahrain has detained a human rights lawyer and at least two doctors as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in the Gulf Arab kingdom, campaigners have said.

Security forces arrested lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer on Saturday, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and Wefaq, the biggest opposition party, said.

In Gaza this week:

Why Did Jihadists Kill My Friend? | Mother Jones

The jihadist militants in Gaza who kidnapped and murdered Italian journalist and human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni could not have killed a more steadfast champion of freedom and justice for Palestinians.

I met Vittorio, known to his friends as Vik, during my first week of freelance reporting in Gaza last year for publications including The Nation, GlobalPost, and Jerusalem Post Magazine. Vik graciously offered to show me around. The first time we met, he recounted the Israeli army assaults that he’d witnessed, and advised me on humanitarian stories that I might cover in Gaza. He brought along his laptop, and offered to let me use his pictures and videos. He took deep puffs from his pipe as he told me about the things he’d seen, including the time he saw a friend of his killed in an Israeli airstrike. I remember feeling awed by his determination to perservere despite his grief.

Candlelight vigil held for Italian activist – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

There has been an outrage over the cold-blooded killing of the Italian peace activist [Reuters]

Hundreds of mourners have rallied and many have held a candlelight vigil in the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave of Gaza for Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist who was killed on Friday.

And in the West Bank, which is run by Fatah, Hamas’s rival, around 100 people, most of them foreigners, marched on Saturday through Ramallah to a house of mourning in El Bireh, an AFP correspondent said.

Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, who was working with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was found dead by the security forces in a house in northern Gaza early on Friday.

He had been hanged, Hamas security officials said.

Hamas officials said two people had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping and said they were hunting further accomplices.

Ihab al-Ghussein, a Hamas spokesman, called it a “heinous crime which has nothing to do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions”.

“The other members of the group will be hunted down,” he said.

There has been an outrage over the cold-blooded killing of the Italian.

“I was about to cry when I heard the news. That man quit his family for us, for Gaza, and now Gazans killed him. That was so bad,” Abu Ahmed, a supermarket owner, said.

This week marked the anniversary of the BP spill. Warning the pictures are a bit alarming…I had posted in the comments sometime this week about the release of BP emails discussing ways to manipulate the scientist research. These articles touch on that as well.

BP anniversary: Toxicity, suffering and death – Features – Al Jazeera English

Medical and toxicology experts have told Al Jazeera that the oil spill has triggered environmental and human health disasters that will likely span decades [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]

April 20, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of BP’s catastrophic oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. On this day in 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing oil to gush from 5,000 feet below the surface into the ninth largest body of water on the planet.

At least 4.9 million barrels of BP’s oil would eventually be released into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was capped 87 days later.

It is, to date, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. BP has used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants to sink the oil, in an effort the oil giant claimed was aimed at keeping the oil from reaching shore.

Critics believe the chemical dispersants were used simply to hide the oil and minimise BP’s responsibility for environmental fines.

Earlier this month Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, gave its top executives bonuses for achieving what it described as the “best year in safety performance in our company’s history”. Transocean CEO Steve Newman’s bonus was $374,062.

BP has plans to restart deepwater drilling on 10 wells in the Gulf of Mexico this summer after being granted permission by US regulators.

Meanwhile, marine and wildlife biologists, toxicologists, and medical doctors have described the impact of the disaster upon the environment and human health as “catastrophic,” and have told Al Jazeera that this is only the beginning of that what they expect to be an environmental and human health crisis that will likely span decades.

Guest Post: No, The Gulf Oil Spill Is NOT Old News « naked capitalism

While the Japanese nuclear crisis might upstage the Gulf crisis, it hasn’t gone away.

As the Wall Street Journal notes today:

Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency… compared the contamination of seawater by the Fukushima complex with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by BP PLC last year, and said, “The BP oil spill has caused far more serious impact on the environment than the Fukushima accident” ….

Gulf residents are still getting sick, the number of dolphins and whales killed by the spill appears to be many times higher than officials previously believed. Dead turtles are washing up in Mississippi. And see these photos from my favorite photographer, Julie Dermansky:

A few updates on Monsanto and Mortgage Fraud:

The United States of Monsanto | Emptywheel

WikiLeaks had revealed that our diplomats had proposed a “military-style trade war” to force Europeans to adopt Monsanto’s controversial products.

A Slap on the Wrist for Mortgage Fraud

On Wednesday, three federal regulators — the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — released an enforcement order against 14 of the nation’s largest banks and two third-party service providers for persistent irregularities and outright fraud in the way they process mortgages. These regulators are, respectively, the gang that missed the housing bubble, American International Group’s overseer (whose colossal lapses caused it to be disbanded in last year’s financial-regulatory law), and an entity most recently headed by a former bank lobbyist. The product of their deliberations, then, is no surprise: a toothless federal consent decree that essentially lets the offending banks off the hook and puts them in charge of their own prosecution.

Some updates on illegal actions of state governments and an interesting article about WWED….What Would Einstein Do?

Michigan’s Governor Exercises “Emergency Powers” to Break Union Contracts | Crooks and Liars

Benton, Michigan’s city government was shut down yesterday by the state Emergency Financial Manager. Elected officials in that city are now limited to calling a meeting, adjourning a meeting, and approving minutes of a meeting. Beyond that, they can do nothing.

Eclectablog:

This is a complete disenfranchisement of an entire community, an entire large city in my state. The voters are now denied the ability to be governed by the people they elected in a democratic election.

This is nothing short of an abridgment of democracy in raw form.

ThinkProgress » TN State Rep. Argues Einstein Would Teach Creationism

Armed with fantasy and lies, Tennessee legislators are attempting to dismantle science education in their state’s public schools. Last week, the Tennessee House voted by an overwhelming 70-23 margin in favor of a radical bill to teach the “controversy” about scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” During the debate on HB 368, introduced by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), anti-science conservative Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains) argued that the “critical thinker” Albert Einstein would have wanted public schools to teach creationism alongside the science of biological evolution:

I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Einstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

All I can say to that Einstein link, is ugh….

Mink’s Missing Link File:   This next one is a whopper that I think you all would really find maddening. I expect the comments will be full of venom from this link from Historiann…be sure to click the link so that you can read the full story.

Seminal developments: entitled sexist a$holes divide surgeons’ group : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

This would actually be a pretty funny story for The Onion, if it weren’t in fact true (h/t to my horrified physician friend KV):

A Valentine’s Day editorial in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons has set off a firestorm of controversy that has divided the largest professional organization of surgeons in the country and raised questions about the current leadership and its attitudes toward women and gay and lesbian members.

The editorial, written by Dr. Lazar J. Greenfield, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, extols the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women. It begins with a reference to the mating behaviors of fruit flies, then goes on to discuss studies on the menstrual cycles of heterosexual and lesbian women who live together. Citing the research of evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York, it describes how female college students who had been exposed to semen were less depressed than their peers who had not, concluding: “So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

The organization has more than 75,000 members (I am one). Roughly 10 percent are women. There are five women on the organization’s 22-member governing board; this month, they issued a letter requesting that Dr. Greenfield step down as president-elect. The entire board is set to vote on the issue on Sunday.

Seriously.  Re-read those paragraphs again.  Especially the part about how this was published in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons.And click on the link, too, to be informed by the headline “Sexism charges divide surgeons’ group.”  That’s right:  sexism charges are dividing the group, not the disgusting sexist behavior itself.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  Okay, no artsy fartsy link this week. Here is one to get you talking as well, I wonder…the President has a similar problem that this little girl did. Ears that stick out a bit more than “normal.”  I just think it is ironic that Obama pushed that anti-bully campaign, this little girl is a victim of bullying, and they both have protruding ears…

Bullying Pushes 7-year Old To Opt For Plastic Surgery On Her Ears

A 7-year old South Dakota girl, who has been a victim of bullying because her ears stick out, underwent an otoplasty – plastic surgery to reshape and pin back the outer ear. Samantha Roselle’s mother told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the surgical procedure was chosen as a preventative measure, to stop the bullying.

Cami Roselles, Samantha’s mom, said “Kids are mean. That’s just how they are.”

The operation, which lasted two-and-a-half hours, was successful, according to Dr. Steven Pearlman, the surgeon who performed the operation. He told ABC “Her ears look great!”

The link above has a medical description of the procedure. Here is the ABC link: Cosmetic Surgery to Stop School Bullying: Plastic Surgery for Children Increases 30 Percent in a Decade – ABC News

Samantha Shaw will soon be able to enjoy putting her hair up and wearing earrings, two things she never wanted to do a week ago.

Samantha just had otoplasty, commonly known as “pinning back” the ears. Before her surgery, her protruding ears made her the target of lots of hurtful questions by both children and adults.

Dr. Steven Pearlman, Samantha’s New York City-based plastic surgeon, said the two-and-a-half hour surgery went very well.

There are some residual black and blue marks near the incisions, but that’s to be expected, Pearlman said. For the next few months, Samantha will have to wear a headband to protect her ears.

“Her ears look great,” said Pearlman. “Throughout the checkup after surgery and when she got the bandages off, there wasn’t a peep or a tear out of her.”

Her mother, Cami Roselles, said it was a nerve-racking experience, since Samantha had never had surgery before. The anesthesia, she said, made her daughter sick.

But all that was forgotten as the bandages came off and Samantha got a glimpse of her new ears for the first time.

She was asked how they looked. “Good,” she said.

Samantha is just one of an increasing number of children having cosmetic surgery. That number, in fact, has gone up nearly 30 percent over the past decade, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

I don’t know how I feel about this…maybe you can help me work it out in the comments?

So what are you reading about today, share your links!


More GM Fun, Now with Bees!

I recently commented that I thought GM crops had more to do with colony collapse disorder in the European Honey Bee than is normally suspected. I want to expand on that comment. But first, we need to go over colony collapse disorder.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) first appeared in North America in 2005/2006. It has also been reported from Europe and from Taiwan in 2007. It is characterized by the disappearance of the worker bees in a typical honey bee colony, leaving the baby bees to die a slow death. Once the workers are gone, the colony collapses. This could be a good lesson for conservatives, come to think of it.

A Bee on Borage

A Bee on Borage in my Garden

The causes are unknown at this point. It seems that colonies collapse from a variety of reasons; diseases, pesticides, viruses, pathogens and parasites and cell phones have all been implicated.

The reason CCD is important is that honey bees pollinate a lot of our crops. Now, European honey bees are not native to North America, and there are native pollinators that do well here. But they don’t pollinate with the vigor and fecundity of the honey bee. Modern agricultural honey bees are managed something like livestock, and their colonies are moved around the agricultural areas of the country to provide pollination during the specific times that crops need their services. Almonds, for example, are entirely pollinated by bees. Oranges, peaches, cotton, blueberries, corn and other crops are also partly or almost completely pollinated by the sturdy little workers. The movement of the bee hives, of course, stresses the colony but normally the colonies survive such stress. The advent of CCD has changed this.
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Follow-up: GM Alfalfa

I wrote about GM Alfalfa several days ago, and wanted to post a short followup.

First, do we really need GM Alfalfa? Probably not. It’s not like Alfalfa is riddled with a weed problem in this country. Michael Pollan points out that 93% of the alfalfa in this country is raised without any herbicides at all. This makes sense, alfalfa as fodder can benefit from the addition of other plants (although not poisonous ones, obviously). My goats thrive on weedy alfalfa. Anyway, GM Alfalfa says Pollan, ‘is a bad solution to a problem that doesn’t exist’.

The Center for Food Safety is going to continue bringing Monsanto to court over GM Alfalfa. ‘by tackling a new angle, Page Tomaselli, staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety, explained Friday at the Eco-Farm Conference. Their strategy will hinge on the “gene flow” risk accepted by the Supreme Court last June as harmful and illegal under current environment protections.’ The Public Patent Foundation is also going to sue Monsanto (or continue suing Monsanto. The foundation has been fighting Monsanto’s patents for a while now). If the foundation succeeds (and it just won a court battle to declare patents concerning human genes invalid), most of Monsanto’s patents concerning living things will be rendered irrelevant. Yes!

The Center for Food Safety has issued a press release pointing out that Vilsack’s decision leaves many problems. Who’s liable if a farmer’s crop is destroyed by GM pollen? Who pays damages? WHo is going to monitor and control herbicide useage on a crop that doesn’t need it, unless it’s ‘Round-Up Ready’? Who is liable for the super-weeds that will result?

From the Department of ‘Of Course, We Should have Known!’ (via Kat) comes this news. Media reports suggest that the reason Vilsack disregarded the comments of 200,000+, the recommendations of Aphis and so on has to do with pressure from the White House. So I wonder, is Obama actually fake? I mean, is he, like, made by Monsanto and the others? Just a gas-bag filled with whatever, maybe Round-Up, and tuned to say certain things that get frat boys excited? I wonder what Michelle, organic gardening proponent that she is, thinks about this? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Just more proof everyone up ‘high’ is bought and paid for by the time they are weaned.