Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just following orders

It’s Earth Day! Obama and Limbaugh celebrate it differently

To commemorate Earth Day, President Obama will tour and meet with workers at Trinity Structural Towers , the former Maytag plant which now houses a green manufacturing facility that produces towers for wind energy production, in Newton . The White House says, this is a "perfect example of how a community can rebuild a local economy with investments in clean energy and efficiency."


By Jimmy Orr

Just in case you were wondering, President Obama and Rush Limbaugh will not be holding a joint Earth Day press conference today.

It would be quite newsworthy, but perhaps it was a scheduling problem or the stars just didn't line up this year. Maybe next.

But, don't worry, each will join — according to CNN — one billion people around the planet in celebrating the annual event.

Is this Heaven?

Obama heads out to Iowa (or Heaven as some have called it). But not Dyersville, the home of the "Field of Dreams". Instead the president commemorates the Earth in Newton, where he will visit a green manufacturing facility that produces towers for wind energy production.

Explains the White House press office:

"Iowa , a leader in wind energy, is a perfect example of how a community can rebuild a local economy with investments in clean energy and efficiency. Trinity employs dozens of former Maytag employees and is part of the revitalization of a town hard hit by the closing of the Maytag plant."

Following the tour of the facility, President Obama will discuss his energy plan. Says the White House, Obama will discuss "promoting clean energy innovation to help end our dependence on foreign oil, creating millions of new jobs, and preventing the worst consequences of climate change."

The president wants $15 billion annually for 10 years directed to the renewable-energy industry.

"Go back to this plant in 10 years and, once we get this comprehensive energy and climate legislation through, they will see a dramatic rise in the number of employees," said an Obama energy aide to the Des Moines Register. "We're not suggesting we would completely fill this hole, but we're making dramatic improvements and steps in the Obama administration to get there."


Meanwhile, the conservative talk show host is honoring the Earth by celebrating coal, the car, plastic bags, and light bulbs.

Last week, in preparation for the event, Limbaugh said, "Normally, those of us with sanity sit Earth Day out, while schools frighten kids with apocalyptic tales of the earth being destroyed, because we enjoy a high standard of living."

But Limbaugh came through this morning and singled out "pioneers who have contributed to the well-being of the planet".

In what he calls a "solemn tribute" he honors a man named Gordon Dancy. Who's he?

"He invented the first high-density plastic grocery bag, which can handle up to 40 pounds of stuff. That singular invention has benefited our daily life on earth in multitudinous ways," he explained.

But don't forget the coal industry. Something he says needs recognition.

The Birth of the Ecology Symbol

as it originally appeared in the Los Angeles Free Press - November, 1969

Transmission Lines versus Solar Power: Back to the Past or Leap to the Future?

By Jackie Devereaux
Yucca Valley, CA  -  At least two giant public utility companies said environmentalists "need not worry" about plans to build a "mega grid" of transmission power lines through Southern California because they are scaling back, considering other routes or carefully moving forward despite growing concerns.
The Green Path North proposal by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP),  plans to construct 85 miles of new high-voltage transmission power lines through sensitive lands in the Hi-Desert and the Coachella Valley.  The Sunrise Powerlink proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric calls for 600 towers through 150 miles of Imperial and San Diego counties. 
Both plans met staunch grassroots opposition that has successfully stalled or steered those projects into other directions.  Two giant utilities claim they need more transmission lines to meet a state mandated "green power" goal by 2010.  Critics claim the companies do not want "green power" but instead want to control and manipulate the price of electric power.
LADWP has been hatching plans for two years to build Green Path North and applied for a "Right of Way" with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in December 2006.  The utility giant initially wanted Green Path North to begin at a new Palm Springs substation, then travel north along state route 62 through the hi-desert to join another electrical substation near Victorville. 
Utility companies claim they need these "mega grids" in order to meet a state mandated goal of 20 percent energy coming from green power sources, such as solar, wind and renewables by 2010, and with 33 percent green power by 2020.
Green Path North - Environmentalists' side of the story
Opponents say this is a lie.  Jim Harvey, executive director of Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy (AREP), a non-profit organization in the Hi-Desert opposing any new transmission lines said LADWP's plans also involve the taking of private properties through eminent domain. 
"There's a huge effort underway to obtain federal wilderness designation that for many years now was threatened by big solar and big wind industries and their transmission corridors," Harvey said. 
"Those of us opposed to Green Path North now have a genuine opportunity to make a difference," he noted the LADWP's route threatens a portion of the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.  "Designating this and other areas as federal 'wilderness' will make it much more difficult to get approval for these devastating big energy projects," he said.
"The Green Path North project is not green at all," Harvey added, "In fact, it's the least likely way to bring green energy to California. If LADWP really wanted to increase green energy production they could do it in the four following ways:"
First, repeal the failed federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 that only benefits big energy companies.  Secondly, offer tax credits, rebates and low interest loans (from AB 811) to home an business owners for installing photo voltaic (solar panels) and micro wind turbines.  Thirdly, pass "feed-in tariff" laws requiring utility companies to  purchase surplus renewable energy from home and business owners at market rates.  Fourthly, remove the restrictions current California CSI law, that limit sizes of a renewable energy system in the home or business - this discourages renewable energy production surplus.
"Germany has been working towards achieving 2,000 megawatts of electrical capacity every year from rooftop solar panels.  Europe collects more solar power and has less sunny days than California.  By 2011, they will have added 10,000 megawatts - that's huge.  Green Path North only expects to bring in 800 megawatts of power, so there is no comparison," Harvey said.
"If LADWP's real agenda was to build a 20 percent renewables by 2010, then they'd be doing it this way," he added.  "And as far as looking into alternate routes, they are a smokescreen for their real motives - to control the supply and price of electricity," he said.
A Feb. 2, 2009 article by Carol A. Overland, a utility regulatory attorney and electrical consultant based in Minnesota, said not to believe big utility propaganda about why they need new transmission lines.  Overland said, "Planning for peak loads," is a transmission lie.  "We'll have blackouts" or "freeze in the dark" are transmission lies.  Utility company "forecasts" are a lie.  "It's for renewable energy" is a lie. "Long distance transmission" is a lie. "Utilities frame of need for public purposes" is a lie.

Tom Robbins’ "B is for Beer"

Northwest author Tom Robbins, who wrote "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and other novels, has a new book out today. "B is for Beer" is Robbins' ninth novel and is a "children's book for grown-ups" or a "grown-ups book for children." Sounds pretty amusing already. You can read the first 25 pages of his book for free on his Web site. Robbins, who currently resides in La Conner, will be on tour to promote his new book. You can catch him in Seattle on May 21st when he makes his final stop at Elliott Bay Bookstore in Pioneer Square. Here's a little promotion about the book by publisher HarperCollins:

Once upon a time (right about now) there was a planet (how about this one?) whose inhabitants consumed thirty-six billion gallons of beer each year (it's a fact, you can Google it). Among those affected, each in his or her own way, by all the bubbles, burps, and foam, was a smart, wide-eyed, adventurous kindergartner named Gracie; her distracted mommy; her insensitive dad; her non-conformist uncle; and a magical, butt-kicking intruder from a world within our world.
Populated by the aforementioned characters--and as charming as it may be subversive--B Is for Beer involves readers, young and old, in a surprising, far-reaching investigation into the limits of reality, the transformative powers of children, and, of course, the ultimate meaning of a tall, cold brewski.

Earth Day Rap

The Sickening Arrogance and Condescension of Empire

by arthur4801

President Barack Obama said that the United States is in a position to place more responsibility in the hands of the Iraqis following provincial elections and a reduction in violence there.

"In conversations that I've had with the joint chiefs, with people, the commanders on the ground, I think that we have a sense now that the Iraqis just had a very significant election, with no significant violence there, that we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis," Obama told NBC television.
At the time of the initial invasion, Iraq posed no threat of any significance whatsoever to the United States. This blindingly obvious conclusion was clear to millions of people throughout the world -- "ordinary" people who examined the publicly available evidence, and who did not rely on "secret" knowledge, which goes by the viciously misnamed designation "intelligence," which "intelligence" is almost always wrong and which is never the basis for major policy decisions in any event.

The U.S. ruling class also knew that Iraq represented no threat of any consequence. They didn't care. They had entirely different objectives and concerns: the expansion and consolidation of American global hegemony. The world is the U.S. ruling class's oyster, and they will devour it. And you, and over a million innocent Iraqis, and whoever else proves troublesome. As a general rule, it is advisable not to place yourself in the path of a dangerously delusional homicidal maniac.

Thus, the United States government and almost all members of the ruling class -- with only two or three honorable exceptions -- embarked on a lengthy series of brutal, horrifying, profoundly immoral war crimes, and on a world historical genocide. Thus, all those members of the ruling class who have voted to continue and fund these crimes are war criminals. Barack Obama is a war criminal. Don't bother to argue with me: argue with the Nuremberg Principles.

How, then, in the name of all that is decent, humane and minimally civilized, does the President of the United States dare to say that "we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis"? "We" -- that is to say, the U.S. government and the ruling class -- are "in a position" to beg for forgiveness, which no decent human being should ever grant. There is nothing these criminals can ever do to earn it. "We are in a position" to make all those reparations possible, in whatever forms and whenever they can be offered. From an essay written two and a half years ago:
Given the immense, incalculable destruction we have caused, we are obligated to provide significant financial aid to Iraq for the foreseeable future. In light of the damage this catastrophe has already caused to our economy, that is a formidable prospect -- but it is markedly superior to continuing to pour billions of dollars down the drain of this murderous occupation. And we must be responsible for our actions, and especially for our gravely mistaken and immoral ones. To the extent amends are possible, we must offer them. No amount of money will ever make up for the lives that have been lost and those that have been irrevocably damaged, but we must do whatever is possible. That will still not merit forgiveness for our actions, but at least we will have acted with a minimal sense of honor.
Beyond this, "we" should do nothing but get out.

Get out. Every single goddamned American. Out, within months. To hell with the disgusting lie about "combat troops." All Americans, out.

Period, the fucking hell. Everyone out.

American Violet: documentary about racism and the drug-war

John Gilmore sez,

I just saw a pre-screening of "American Violet", which opens across the US starting tomorrow. "American Violet", is based on true stories of rampant rural-Texas racism fed and empowered by Federal drug war money -- the kind that Obama just gave two BILLION more dollars to as part of his stimulus. The more convictions your "anti-drug task force" gets, the more money you get. Busting random poor people and offering them lose-lose plea bargains (90+% of drug cases are resolved with a plea bargain) is the fast route to local power and federal riches. Before we try to fix it, come see up close how it works, and what the victims face if they ever step up to fight it. The movie opens April 17 across the US. It's a horror movie that's a little too close to home to leave you unaffected.

I know the real-life ACLU lawyer who's portrayed, I've talked with him and read the book about the first Texas town they cleaned up (Tulia); this movie is about the second (Hearne), though all the names are changed to protect the guilty. My donations funded some of ACLU's Texas work.

American Violet exposes the racism of the drug war

America makes great cars

Human Brains Make Their Own 'Marijuana'

U.S. and Brazilian scientists have discovered that the brain manufactures proteins that act like marijuana at specific receptors in the brain itself. This discovery may lead to new marijuana-like drugs for managing pain, stimulating appetite, and preventing marijuana abuse.

"Ideally, this development will lead to drugs that bind to and activate the THC receptor, but are devoid of the side effects that limit the usefulness of marijuana," said Lakshmi A. Devi of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and one of the senior researchers involved in the study. "It would be helpful to have a drug that activated or blocked the THC receptor, and our findings raise the possibility that this will lead to effective drugs with fewer side effects."

Scientists made their discovery by first extracting several small proteins, called peptides, from the brains of mice and determining their amino acid sequence. The extracted proteins were then compared with another peptide previously known to bind to, but not activate, the receptor (THC) affected by marijuana. Out of the extracted proteins, several not only bound to the brain's THC receptors, but activated them as well.

UN rights chief shocked by U.S. boycott of anti-racism conference

   GENEVA, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations' top human rights official said on Sunday she deeply regretted the decision by the United States to boycott a major UN anti-racism conference to be convened in Geneva on Monday.

    "I am shocked and deeply disappointed by the United States decision not to attend a conference that aims to combat racism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance worldwide," said Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights.

    The five-day Durban Review Conference aims to evaluate progress toward the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa in 2001.

    But the United States and several other Western countries have announced their decision to boycott the conference out of so-called "concerns" that it could be used as a forum for anti-Semitism and result in limiting free speech.


1969 vs. 2009

420: Thoughts on Pot vs. Alcohol from a Former Police Chief


Norm StamperAs 5:00 p.m. rolls around my interior clock starts chiming. I'll have an ice-cold, bone-dry martini, thank you. Jalapeno olives and a twist. If the occasion calls for it (temperatures in the twenties, a hot political debate on the tube) I may substitute two fingers of Kentucky sour mash. Four-twenty? Doesn't resonate. But with April 20 approaching and Waldos of the world gearing up to celebrate their favorite day of the year, it's not a bad time to consider, yet again, the pluses and minuses of alcohol vs. cannabis.

First, a disclaimer: I am a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, but I don't officially represent the organization in this forum. That said, I can't very well check my affiliation, or beliefs, at the keyboard when I sit down to blog for HuffPost. We at LEAP are current and former cops and other criminal justice practitioners who have witnessed firsthand the futility and manifold injustices of the drug war. Our professional experiences have led us to conclude that the more dangerous an illicit substance--from crack to krank--the greater the justification for its legalization, regulation, and control. It is the prohibition of drugs that leads inexorably to high rates of death, disease, crime, and addiction.

Back to booze vs. pot. How do the effects of these two drugs stack up against specific health and public safety factors?

Alcohol-related traffic accidents claim approximately 14,000 lives each year, down significantly from 20 or 30 years ago (attributed to improved education and enforcement). Figures for THC-related traffic fatalities are elusive, especially since alcohol is almost always present in the blood as well, and since the numbers of "marijuana-only" traffic fatalities are so small. But evidence from studies, including laboratory simulations, feeds the stereotype that those under the influence of canniboids tend to (1) be more aware of their impaired psychomotor skills, and (2) drive well below the speed limit. Those under the influence of alcohol are much more likely to be clueless or defiant about their condition, and to speed up and drive recklessly.

Hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths occur annually. There has never been a single recorded marijuana OD fatality.

According to the American Public Health Association, excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of death in this country. APHA pegs the negative economic impact of extreme drinking at $150 billion a year.

There have been no documented cases of lung cancer in a marijuana-only smoker, nor has pot been scientifically linked to any type of cancer. (Don't trust an advocate's take on this? Try the fair and balanced coverage over at Fox.) Alcohol abuse contributes to a multitude of long-term negative health consequences, notably cirrhosis of the liver and a variety of cancers.

While a small quantity, taken daily, is being touted for its salutary health effects, alcohol is one of the worst drugs one can take for pain management, marijuana one of the best.

Alcohol contributes to acts of violence; marijuana reduces aggression. In approximately three million cases of reported violent crimes last year, the offender had been drinking. This is particularly true in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and date rape. Marijuana use, in and of itself, is absent from both crime reports and the scientific literature. There is simply no link to be made.

Over the past four years I've asked police officers throughout the U.S. (and in Canada) two questions. When's the last time you had to fight someone under the influence of marijuana? (I'm talking marijuana only, not pot plus a six-pack or a fifth of tequila.) My colleagues pause, they reflect. Their eyes widen as they realize that in their five or fifteen or thirty years on the job they have never had to fight a marijuana user. I then ask: When's the last time you had to fight a drunk? They look at their watches.

Report: ‘Greenwashing’ Runs Rampant

greenwashing-sins2Green products are proliferating so quickly, and adding so many new consumer claims, that TerraChoice has increased its listing of greenwashing sins from six to seven.

The latest, "worship of false labels," describes product marketing that mimics third-party environmental certifications. The other sins of greenwashing are: lack of proof, vagueness, irrelevance, lesser of two evils, hidden trade-off and outright lying.

When TerraChoice put together its newest report, "The Seven Sins of Greenwashing: Environmental Claims in Consumer Markets" (PDF), it found that the number of big box store products making green claims grew 79 percent since its last report, in 2007..

In the United States and Canada, TerraChoice found 2,219 products making 4,996 green claims. TerraChoice then tested claims against best practices from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Canadian Competition Bureau, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, and the standard for environmental labeling set by the International Organization for Standardization.

TerraChoice reports that 98 percent of the products committed at least one of its sins of greenwashing. Only 25 products tested in the U.S. and Canada were found to be "sin-free."

What TerraChoice calls legitimate eco-labeling has doubled in frequency. Legitimate eco-labeling now appears on 23.4 percent of "green" products in the report, as opposed to 13.7 percent last year.

The report finds that green claims are most common in kids toys, baby products, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Lego waterboarding