Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The walkway has now gone many years without maintenance, and is in a highly deteriorated and dangerous state. It is one meter (3 ft) in width, and is over 700 feet (200 m) above the river. Nearly all of the path has no handrail. Some parts of the walkway have completely collapsed and have been replaced by a beam and a metallic wire on the wall. Many people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent years. After four people died in two accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed the entrances. However, adventurous tourists still find their way into the walkway.
A federal judge on Monday gave the Interior Department until May 15 to come to a decision on whether to give polar bears protection under the Endangered Species Act. The ruling, coming after nearly four months of departmental delays, rejected the government’s contention that the case was too complicated to decide before June 30.
“Defendants have been in violation of the law requiring them to publish” their decision on the bear’s status “for nearly 120 days,” Judge Claudia Wilken of Federal District Court in Oakland, Calif., wrote. In addition to setting a May 15 deadline, Judge Wilken ordered that the decision take effect immediately, setting aside the usual 30-day grace period.
In January 2007, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposal to list the polar bear as threatened because warming global temperatures were melting the sea ice the animals use as a platform to hunt seals, breed and make dens.
The retreating ice covers an area of Arctic seas that is also the latest frontier for offshore oil and gas development — an activity that could be curtailed if the federal government gives polar bears protection under the Endangered Species Act.
They still want to drill in ANWR. There is at best a years supply of oil in ANWR, Not that I believe the high end estimate done by the Bush administration. Also, the oil is ten years away from production.
Update: Here is a good analysis of the Bush plan to drill in ANWR.
At peak production, ANWR could have potentially added 780,000 barrels a day to U.S. crude oil output by 2020, according to the EIA.
The extra supplies would have cut dependence on foreign oil, but only slightly. With ANWR crude, imports would have met 60 percent of U.S. oil demand in 2020, down from 62 percent without the refuge's supplies.[...]
"I would say under the best of circumstances it would take approximately 10 years" for any ANWR oil to make it into the market, said Philip Budzik, an EIA analyst.
"Even if oil was flowing, it would be too small amount to reduce the price" of crude or gasoline, said Daniel Weiss, energy expert at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington.
"President Bush's claim ignores the primary causes behind record high oil prices: a cheap dollar, high demand from China and India, and speculators driving the price up. Drilling and sullying the Arctic would not address any of these causes of high oil prices," said Weiss.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
A hiker is missing on Mt Baker.
WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. -- The search is on for a missing hiker who told his friends he intended to summit Mount Baker on Saturday.
Co-workers reported Kevin Lafleur, 31, of Lynden missing on Monday after he failed to show up for work. Searchers found his car on Glacier Creek Road at the snowline, which led them to believe he had planned to climb the mountain using the standard route.
Searchers believe Lafleur is still on the mountain. They do not believe he had planned on spending the night outdoors.
On Tuesday Bellingham Mountain Rescue volunteers, along with snowmobile volunteers began searching for Lafleur in the lower Coleman Glacier area. The Skagit Mountain Rescue, meanwhile, was focusing on the east side of the mountain in case Lafleur had gone down to the Baker Lake area.
His friends are looking for him. Lets hope he makes it out well.
Update: May 1 Snow is slowing down searchers.
Friends and co-workers — past and present — described LaFleur as an avid hiker and climber who knew what he was doing when he ventured out.
“He’s very experienced. He’s climbed Mount Baker many times. He’s climbed Mount Rainier. He’s climbed a huge number of the peaks in the area,” said Harlan Kredit, a Lynden Christian High School science teacher and friend.
“He’s extremely knowledgeable about outdoor activities and the outdoors — period,” Kredit said. “He is not a novice in any way, shape or form and is physically very fit.”[...]
LaFleur works at REI in Bellingham. Ray Elliott, store manager, confirmed that LaFleur is an experienced mountaineer.
“We’ll just have to wait, along with everyone else, to see how the search efforts continue,” Elliott said. “We’re concerned about his safety and welfare.”[...]
Those who know LaFleur continue to hope.
“We’re just praying that he’s hunkered down some place, weathering out the conditions,” Kok said. “But who knows?”
Lets hope he is hunkered down and makes it out well.
A couple was attacked by a rabid bobcat in Arizona. Ouch! From Allie at the Sierra blogging post.
But it does happen. Rich Thompson and Katrina Mangin met the bobcat version last weekend in the Santa Rita mountains. The couple was attacked by a rabid bobcat while hiking near Tucson, AZ. Thompson was eventually able to kill it with a geologist’s hammer, but not before they both got pretty scratched up. From the AP article…
Thompson said he knew the cat was rabid the moment he saw it staring at him and Katrina Mangin in the Santa Rita Mountains. He said they tried to get away but the bobcat pursued them, lunging at Mangin, climbing up her legs and wrapping its body around her, clawing and biting.
The couple fought off the bobcat, but it continued attacking and jumped on Thompson’s back. “I hit it with the backpack over my shoulder,” he said. The cat fell to the dirt and lunged again. “It attacked me again, and I threw it down.”
Rabid animals become desperate, mentally deranged, and dangerously aggressive. Rabies drove this normally reclusive bobcat literally insane by destroying its brain.
Allie's article has some good info on rabid animals too.
Looking for a responsible, moral and effective response to the global food crisis?
Start by sending money to a group that is working to get food to starving people. I'm especially impressed with the savvy approaches of Friends of the World Food Program.
Then support the work of smart groups such as the National Family Farm Coalition to change failed U.S. policies that harm farmers and consumers in the U.S. and around the world.
The National Family Farm Coalition has for years been warning that a global trading system designed to enrich agribusiness conglomerates while undermining the interests of working farmers in the U.S. and abroad would lead to precisely the disaster that is now unfolding.
And they've proposed the right response: a food a fair food system that ensures health, justice, and dignity for all by assuring the basic right of communities to choose where and how their food is produced and what food they consume. The international campaign for this new approach is known as the Food Sovereignty Movement, and the NFFC has worked hard to build support in the U.S. for it as an urgently necessary step to avoid catastrophe.
We need to change the farm bill to help Americans achieve food security.
In the U.S., the misguided policies of the Bill Clinton administration and the Republican Congresses of the 1990s -- as exemplified by the 1996 "Freedom to Farm Act" -- eliminated historic food-security provisions and handed over control of grain stocks to corporate agribusiness giants and commodities speculators.
This is a modest proposal, but it's a wise one -- and in some senses a radical one. The World Trade Organization, the World Bank and other champions of the corporate globalization have for many years discouraged nations from taking steps to assure that adequate food stocks will be available for their people. The Food Sovereignty Movement says that feeding the hungry is more important than removing barriers to agribusiness profiteering.
Establishing a Strategic Grain Reserve is a small step toward food sovereignty. But it is a step that the U.S. can take, and in doing so it can send an important signal to other countries. This is the right time to act: negotiators in Washington are putting the finishing touches on a new Farm Bill. And so it should come as no surprise that responsible farm, consumer, environmental and religious groups have signed on to the call.
Farmers are not receiving the high commodities prices due to rising cost of production(gas and fertilizer) and commodities speculators.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Renewed killing of gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains prompted an environmental lawsuit on Monday, two months after the U.S. government declared these animals no longer needed protection.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Missoula, Montana, asks for reinstated protection for gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. government announced on February 21 it was ending protection for this group of gray wolves, and that decision became effective on March 28.
Since then, conservation groups said in the suit, dozens of gray wolves have been killed in the three states.
"Wolves have not yet recovered," said Louisa Willcox of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which was among those groups seeking renewed federal protection for the species.
"Biologically, you need several thousand wolves in connected populations between Yellowstone (national park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho) and Canada to achieve what scientists and geneticists believe is true recovery," Willcox said by telephone. "This plan calls recovery good at 300 animals."
Monday, April 28, 2008
Joel Stein, the Angelino columnist said just last fall. “Agribusiness feeds us. Farmers are obsolete. They are one step above fire starters and cave painters”.
Now with food prices rising, food riots in 35 countries as of this writing and the concerns about peak oil, peak food, peak phosphorus, peak fertilizer finally crashing into mainstream consciousness it is surprising to me that no one connects the current crisis with a peak that was passed long ago.
But that peak should not be a surprise to anyone.
For the last 100 years there has been a world-wide effort to get rid of farmers…
Some were eliminated for political reasons the way that Stalin starved the Ukrainians to death and shipped the kulaks off to Siberia.
(Excerpt from: www.conagrafoods.com)
Hector Boiardi was born in Italy in 1898 and took up cooking at a young age. In 1917, he immigrated to New York and began working in the kitchens of hotels. He later moved to Cleveland, where he opened his own restaurant. Il Giardino d'Italia became quite popular and patrons began requesting portions to take home. He packaged up uncooked pasta, cheese, and his popular sauce, poured into milk bottles. He marketed the pasta as Chef Boy-ar-dee, spelled phonetically for Americans.
"The real important point from an economic perspective is the gap between the economy’s potential growth and its actual growth. And without a doubt, there’s a big gap. I think we’re probably in a recession. The real concern is how long, how deep. This is one of the worst—clearly going to be the worst ... downturns since the Great Depression.”
For 10 years now, hundreds and hundreds of people have been gathering at Lake Morena on the last weekend of April for something known in the Pacific Crest Trail fraternity as ADZPCTKO – the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off.
Some are those who have hiked the famous Mexico-to-Canada trail many times before and are there to give advice and support. Quite a few have never done it before and are beginning a journey they hope they will remember fondly the rest of their lives.
Most began the hike Friday. That first day, they called themselves “the herd” as they all took off about the same time early in the day and hiked 20 miles to a point where buses brought them back to Lake Morena. Today they will return to where they left off and really start the hike. The temperature, by the way, is supposed to creep toward 100 degrees in the desert today.
“This is a gathering of ultra-light, ultra-passionate, ultra-long-distance hikers,” said Greg Hummel, or Strider as he is called in the community because when he made the hike in 1977 his long legs allowed him to travel fast.
The gathering has many purposes. “It provides some education and some inspiration to kill some of those butterflies for those who are aspiring to hike this long trail,” said Hummel, the head coordinator of ADZPCTKO.
“When sliding down snowbanks, never, never do it while wearing crampons. If you're unlucky you'll break your leg then go cartwheeling down the mountain.”
As the crow flies, the distance from Mexico to Canada is a bit more than 1,000 miles, but the trail is 2½ times that long. It goes through deserts and mountains and through some of the most stunning areas of the country.
A gathering of hiker trash from all over the nation. Man, do I wish I was there.
As the designated political heir of a deeply unpopular president — according to Gallup, President Bush has the highest disapproval rating recorded in 70 years of polling — John McCain should have little hope of winning in November. In fact, however, current polls show him roughly tied with either Democrat.
In part this may reflect the Democrats’ problems. For the most part, however, it probably reflects the perception, eagerly propagated by Mr. McCain’s many admirers in the news media, that he’s very different from Mr. Bush — a responsible guy, a straight talker.
But is this perception at all true? During the 2000 campaign people said much the same thing about Mr. Bush; those of us who looked hard at his policy proposals, especially on taxes, saw the shape of things to come.
And a look at what Mr. McCain says about taxes shows the same combination of irresponsibility and double-talk that, back in 2000, foreshadowed the character of the Bush administration.[...]
So what are Mr. McCain’s real intentions?
If truth be told, the McCain tax plan doesn’t seem to embody any coherent policy agenda. Instead, it looks like a giant exercise in pandering — an attempt to mollify the G.O.P.’s right wing, and never mind if it makes any sense.
The impression that Mr. McCain’s tax talk is all about pandering is reinforced by his proposal for a summer gas tax holiday — a measure that would, in fact, do little to help consumers, although it would boost oil industry profits.
More and more, Mr. McCain sounds like a man who will say anything to become president.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I eat three larger meals and lots of snacks through out the day. Breakfast and lunch are essentially the same. A bagel with salami, cheese and a mayonnaise package if I can find them in town. Of course, the salami may be summer sausage or pepperoni. In hot months cheese can melt, buy the hardest cheese you can find to cut down on melting.
I like the ritual of cooking a dinner. My dinners are usually pretty simple. A Lipton's noodles and sauce with a ramen and tuna package. A Idahoan mashed potatoes with a ramen and tuna package. I always pour good extra virgin olive oil on the meal after it has been cooked. The oil looses a lot of its nutritional value if cooked. I add dried tomatoes, mushrooms, vegetables or whatever I can find in town to bump up the nutritional value. Parmesan cheese is a good thing to sprinkle on for extra flavor. The first day out of town you can have anything you want within reason of course.
Every two hours or so I have a snack. Snickers bar, Gorp(I have many versions), Frito's scoops,
Gummy bears, Sour Patch candy(high in Vitamin C), beef jerky, are some of my favorites. In most towns Clif bars are just too expensive two to three dollars. A snickers bar sixty five cents.
On the Pacific Crest Trail in 04, I hiked with K-too. He saw a nutritionist before his hike. According to his nutritionist, I do not eat food. I know, I eat a lot of junk food, but I make up for it in town by drinking copious amounts of beer.
Cod caught off Norway is shipped to China to be turned into filets, then shipped back to Norway for sale. Argentine lemons fill supermarket shelves on the Citrus Coast of Spain, as local lemons rot on the ground. Half of Europe’s peas are grown and packaged in Kenya.
Do you really want your cod processed in China. A country with no real regulations? Who knows what will end up in those filets?
But the movable feast comes at a cost: pollution — especially carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas — from transporting the food.
Under longstanding trade agreements, fuel for international freight carried by sea and air is not taxed. Now, many economists, environmental advocates and politicians say it is time to make shippers and shoppers pay for the pollution, through taxes or other measures.
He noted that Britain, for example, imports — and exports — 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia. More important, Mr. Watkiss said, “we are not paying the environmental cost of all that travel.”
McCain’s special It’s Time for Action Tour was in the impoverished Kentucky town of Inez on Wednesday, so he was unable to make it to Washington to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This is the bill that would restore workers’ ability to go to court in cases of pay discrimination.
But McCain was not ducking the issue. After all, this is a man who told the folks in Youngstown, Ohio — where most of the working single mothers cannot make it above the poverty line — that the answer to their problems is larger tax deductions. He is fearless when it comes to delivering unpleasant news to people who are probably not going to vote for him anyway.
So McCain made it clear that if he had been in Washington, he would have voted no because the bill “opens us up for lawsuits, for all kinds of problems and difficulties.”
How much straighter can talk get? True, this is pretty much like saying that you’re voting against the federal budget because it involves spending. Still, there is no denying that a bill making it possible for people who have been discriminated against to go to court for redress would open somebody up to the possibility of a lawsuit.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
These obstacles are challenging enough even for the average hiker who has the benefit of all five senses, but imagine trying to accomplish the feat without the gift of sight.
Such is the reality for "Zero/Zero" - his trail name, which is a spoof on 20/20 vision.
He and four fellow Appalachian Trail thru-hikers on their way to Maine sat down to talk with The Press April 18 during a pit stop in Franklin to pick up supplies and grab a respite at the Franklin Motel.
Zero/Zero (real name Trevor Thomas), who hails from Charlotte, started his odyssey in Georgia on April 6. He was supposed to meet a seeing guide who never showed, so he asked a thru-hiker (trail name "Noah John") if he could follow him for a while, and the person agreed.
He met up with his current band of trail mates a week later. They are "Bundy" (real name Jason Sepielli), of Augusta, Ga.; "Big D" (Joni Waetti), of Madison, Wis.; "Caboose" (Lindsey Hentz), of Bel Air, Md.; and "Van Sherpa" (trail name) of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Listening to their playful banter and loose conversation, you would think they were lifelong friends.
Interestingly enough, all five began the journey solo between April 6-8, then met on the trail. They now say they will stay together for the duration of the approximately 2,175-mile trip north to Maine.
He apparently listens to where his friends put their feet and follows along. He will be the second blind hiker to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. Bill Irwin managed the feat in 1990 with his guide dog Orient.
Bill Doyle, CEO Potash Corp, the world's largest fertilizer company, which has seen its share price rise 600 percent in the past two years[...]
"If you had any major upset where you didn't have a crop in a major growing agricultural region this year, I believe you'd see famine ... We keep going to the cupboard without replacing and so there is enormous pressure on agriculture to have a record crop every year. We need to have a record crop in 2008 just to stay even with this very low inventory situation."
Friday, April 25, 2008
If people thousands of years ago could create these massive agricultural projects, I think we will manage to get through our food problems. It will probably be small scale farming And low tech too. Large corporations are out to make money. Do not believe that they are looking out for your best interest. From wikipedia
The Banaue Rice Terraces (Tagalog: Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banaue) are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the Batad indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces.
The Banaue terraces are part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, ancient sprawling man-made structures from 2,000 to 6,000 years old. They are found in the provinces of Apayao, Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Locals to this day still tend to the rice and vegetables on the terraces, although more and more younger Ifugaos do not find farming appealing, often opting for the more lucrative hospitality industry generated by the Rice Terraces. The result is the gradual erosion of the characteristic "steps", which need constant reconstruction and care.
Sustainable agriculture produces more food per acre than mono culture factory farms. They do not however produce large profits like the mono culture farms.
The airline industry has been very forthright about their problems. They are saying, "We were neither tooled nor organized for $120-a-barrel oil." Most of us get this, because we associate transport technology with fossil hydrocarbons. We drive cars; and we buy the gas to put in those cars. Planes run on No. 1 Jet Fuel and if oil prices go up, so does the cost of jet fuel. Most of us are less likely to associate is oil prices with food prices.
We buy food at the supermarket; so we don't generally experience -- directly -- the association between fuel and food. The connection, however, is every bit as central in the current food production regime as the link between aircraft engines and their fuel. Industrial monocropping for global distribution is "neither tooled nor organized for oil at $120-a-barrel." It is not just the far-flung food transport network (much of it refrigerated and fuel-hungry) that creates the intimate dependency on oil; it is the whole scheme called industrial (or corporate, or "modern") agriculture.
This oil/food link -- during the onset of what some call the Peak Oil event -- has resulted almost overnight in steep food-price inflation, hitting peripheral economies like a tsunami.
Many well-substantiated studies show that intensive biotic polyculture -- that is, the cultivation of many species of food plants in a small footprint, using biotic soil amendments and nutrient recycling -- produces far more food per hectare than factory farming; uses far less water; and builds, rather than destroying, topsoil.
Although more human ingenuity, care, and attention are required, the adoption of permaculture principles and techniques reduces the drudgery of food production considerably; the permaculturist is assisting food to grow rather than forcing it to grow (or more hubristically, "growing" it), which is much less work all round than our cartoon cultural memory of dawn-to-dusk backbreaking peasant labor (which became backbreaking to pay "tribute" and debts to people with weapons and ledgers, not survive).
What intensive biotic polyculture does not do is maximise money profits, minimise labour inputs, or facilitate large-scale extractive cash-cropping.
For these reasons -- not for any failure to produce food for eating -- it is derided by industrial agribiz "experts" as impractical, inefficient, inadequate, etc. In fact, poly/permaculture's abundant success in producing food for eating is one of the things that makes it a frightening prospect for those who control people by controlling people's access to food.
What they don't want us to know is that it works. Eisenia hortensis -- the European nightcrawler (earthworm) -- under ideal worm-farming (vermiculture) conditions double their volume through reproduction every 90 days. Each individual worm can eat approximately half its body weight each day. A pound of E. hortensis, then, can consume a half-pound of non-oily, vegetable kitchen scraps each day. The majority of that mass is excreted as an extremely high quality compost, with a bit of fluid (worm tea) left over (considered by many to be the organic uber-fertilizer). So, potentially, one pound of worms can convert around 180 pounds of kitchen scraps each year into the highest quality organic soil additive. Every five pounds of worm-castings can convert one-square surface-foot of soil into a super-producer for a four months. So one pound of worms can sustain 12 square surface-feet of garden throughout the year for the highest levels of productivity.
That the news is familiar makes it no less alarming: 1.1 billion people, about one-sixth of the world's population, lack access to safe drinking water. Aquifers under Beijing, Delhi, Bangkok, and dozens of other rapidly growing urban areas are drying up. The rivers Ganges, Jordan, Nile, and Yangtze — all dwindle to a trickle for much of the year. In the former Soviet Union, the Aral Sea has shrunk to a quarter of its former size, leaving behind a salt-crusted waste.
Water has been a serious issue in the developing world for so long that dire reports of shortages in Cairo or Karachi barely register. But the scarcity of freshwater is no longer a problem restricted to poor countries. Shortages are reaching crisis proportions in even the most highly developed regions, and they're quickly becoming commonplace in our own backyard, from the bleached-white bathtub ring around the Southwest's half-empty Lake Mead to the parched state of Georgia, where the governor prays for rain. Crops are collapsing, groundwater is disappearing, rivers are failing to reach the sea. Call it peak water, the point at which the renewable supply is forever outstripped by unquenchable demand.
This is not to say the world is running out of water. The same amount exists on Earth today as millions of years ago — roughly 360 quintillion gallons. It evaporates, coalesces in clouds, falls as rain, seeps into the earth, and emerges in springs to feed rivers and lakes, an endless hydrologic cycle ordained by immutable laws of chemistry. But 97 percent of it is in the oceans, where it's useless unless the salt can be removed — a process that consumes enormous quantities of energy. Water fit for drinking, irrigation, husbandry, and other human uses can't always be found where people need it, and it's heavy and expensive to transport. Like oil, water is not equitably distributed or respectful of political boundaries; about 50 percent of the world's freshwater lies in a half-dozen lucky countries.
Freshwater is the ultimate renewable resource, but humanity is extracting and polluting it faster than it can be replenished. Rampant economic growth — more homes, more businesses, more water-intensive products and processes, a rising standard of living — has simply outstripped the ready supply, especially in historically dry regions. Compounding the problem, the hydrologic cycle is growing less predictable as climate change alters established temperature patterns around the globe.
One barrier to better management of water resources is simply lack of data — where the water is, where it's going, how much is being used and for what purposes, how much might be saved by doing things differently. In this way, the water problem is largely an information problem. The information we can assemble has a huge bearing on how we cope with a world at peak water.
That data already shows the era of easy water is ending. Even economically advanced regions face unavoidable pressures — on their industrial output, the quality of life in their cities, their food supply. Wired visited three such areas: the American Southwest, southeastern England, and southeastern Australia. The difficulties these places face today are harbingers of the dawning era of peak water, and their struggles to find solutions offer a glimpse of the challenge ahead.
Read it all. It is a problem that most Americans have never thought about.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Whoa, something big and many-limbed just splashed through that river. I am not alone here, nor am I about to go investigate the strange sound. I saw monkey footprints today, tiny ones but I’m ok here guarding my stuff.
I have a strong opinion on this subject (gee, could you have guessed?). I think -- and yes, all the real farmers yell at me, and I don't entirely blame them -- that "farmer" should be the umbrella term for remunerative food production. That is, I think you are a farmer if you grow food for sale, for barter, or as a large portion of your own personal economy -- that is, I think we call them "subsistence farmers" for a reason. If farming either provides a significant part of your income or your diet, I think we should use the words "farm" and "farmer."[...]
Ninety-five percent of all farms in many parts of the former Soviet Union are under 1 hectare, and they provide the majority of all agricultural production, a total of 52 percent of all food eaten in the region. The U.S., as of the last ag census, contained over 66,000 small farms under 2 hectares. Which just goes to support Kiashu's well-taken point here that about half of the world's food already comes from small farms. Add to that Helena Norberg-Hodge's observation that 2 billion people live almost entirely on subsistence agriculture that is low-input and largely organic (because they can't afford the alternative), and we can see that agricultural norms are simply different than what we North Americans think of.[...]
Interestingly, it seems that in both South Asia and the former Soviet Union, the trend that economic development generally creates toward larger farms does not seem to be the case -- that is, the Handbook of Agricultural Economics cited above notes that as of 2004, neither Russia nor South Asia seems to be following the pattern of getting bigger as they get richer.
In Russia, the authors speculate, it may be because of the powerful impact of the 1990 collapse of the Soviet Union, where consumers now associate small farms with food security.[...]
First, that small farms are normal, and that the majority of the world's farmers are small farmers of less than 5 acres. That is, it is hard to claim that someone farming a comparatively small piece of land is not a farmer if they constitute a majority -- in fact, perhaps it would be more accurate to call many large scale farmers (as some prefer) agribusinessmen and -women, and leave the term farmer to the majority.[...]
A farmer is not someone who never does any work off the farm, then. She is not someone who owns a lot of land, or necessarily sells much or any food in the market place. (And by the way, it is a "she" -- the majority of the world's farmers are women, and many poor nations have long traditions of agriculture and land ownership in women's hands.) So what distinguishes farmers from gardeners? Not much.
I really enjoyed the article. I hope you do to.
The two biggest U.S. warehouse retail chains are limiting how much rice customers can buy because of what Sam's Club, a division of ., called on Wednesday "recent supply and demand trends."
The broader chain ofhas no plans to limit food purchases, however.
The move comes as U.S. rice futures hit a record high amid global food inflation, although one rice expert said the warehouse chains may be reacting less to any shortages than to stockpiling by restaurants and small stores.
Sam's Club followed-based ., which put limits in at least some stores on bulk rice purchases.
Sam's Club declined to say if this is first time it has restricted sales of bulk foods. The limits affect 20-pound bags, not retail-sized portions.could not immediately be reached for comment on its limits or whether they are the first ever.
Sam's Club said it will limit customers to four bags at a time of imported jasmine, basmati and long grain white rice.[...]
People continue to buy rice, but the supply is OK at this point.
"We have enough for now, but I'm not sure about the future," Pongsopon said.
Japan is having a butter shortage.
Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.
If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.
On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the narrator intoned.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
RIVERSIDE COUNTY – The remains of a missing Encinitas hiker have been discovered in a remote wilderness area near Hemet in Riverside County, authorities confirmed Wednesday.
Deborah Huglin, 54, of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea neighborhood, had been missing since March 17, when she was last seen near her pickup in a parking lot in the community of Mountain Center.
Search teams combed the surrounding wilderness for four days with no sign of her, finding only a few articles of her clothing, said the Riverside Sheriff's Office.
On Sunday, weeks after the search was called off, a group of hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail stumbled upon her remains at the base of Ansel Rock. The Riverside County Coroner's Bureau confirmed on Wednesday that the remains belonged to Huglin.
50 yards off the trail.
My condolences to her family and friends.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is offering a million-dollar prize for the “first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012.” “In vitro” and “test-tube grown” are not ideas one usually associates with meat. The meat-substitute niche is currently occupied largely by soy in all its miraculous if slightly disappointing forms.
The announcement has apparently caused strife in PETA’s offices, where workers are debating whether they might ever eat animal tissue that has never been part of an autonomous animal. They’ll have some time to decide. So far, only a small amount of meat tissue has been grown in petri dishes — and it remains to be seen whether consumers will ever like the idea.
No one will buy it. It is worse than any of the franken foods proposed by big agra. Someone explain how this is different from commercially raised veal except peta petri protein has no brain.
PETA is good at getting their name in the paper but I think most people just laugh at them.
Update: Via Atrios. There could be food shortages in the US soon.
Rye flour stocks have been depleted in the United States, and by June or July there will be no more U.S. rye flour to purchase, said Lee Sanders, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Bakers Association.Heck, it may be an interesting summer.
"Those that are purchasing it now are having to purchase it from Germany and the Netherlands, and that's very concerning," Sanders said.
She attributed the shortage to high demand for rye flour, which is used to make rye bread, and less acreage devoted to rye grain than in the past.
Grain prices have been soaring worldwide while stocks have been dwindling, causing riots in some poor countries.
In the United States concern is also growing over food costs. The chief executive of Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O: Quote, Profile, Research), James Sinegal, told Reuters that the company is seeing some unusual buying with consumers stocking up as they fret shortages.
For bakers, rye grain is not the only supply stock that is declining. In the past the market has typically had a three-month surplus of wheat stocks to serve as a cushion against supply interruptions, but now the surplus is down to less than 27 days worth of wheat, Sanders said.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
As Yglesias put it, “[I]f you’re looking for an elitist in the presidential race you might want to look at the super-rich guy who made his fortune by marrying an heiress…. And of course the couple still won’t release the part of their tax returns that has all the money on it.”
True, true. I’d just add that the ad does something else, too: it subtly tries to define McCain as John Kerry.
I think Jonathan Martin’s take was right.
I don’t usually pay much attention web videos, but the below Robin Leach-inspired spot from ProgressiveMedia USA, the new David Brock outfit hoping to become the major third-party player on the left, is worth posting because it presages what will be on of the central lines of attack against McCain.
In effect, they hope to paint him as the right did John Kerry in ‘04 — as a rich guy who married his money and lives a life the likes of which you and I can’t relate.
Making this sell will be significantly more important should Obama get the nomination in light of the already-active effort to paint him as an elitist.
So, in effect, it will be McCain’s “nine properties” (they count multiple places on the same land in Sedona) and AmEx “Black Card” versus Obama’s “arugula” and bowling acumen.
The efforts to “define” McCain are obviously taking shape — he’s the old, angry, rich Bush-clone who frequently gets confused about policy details. Kind of like Grandpa Simpson with Mr. Burns’ bank account.
I just want to add that anyone who says Obama is out of touch for his arugula comments is an elitist snob. Of course the people in Iowa know what arugula is. I bet the arugula farmers he was talking to had great knowledge of arugula.
One step at a time, Jordan Price and Carlie Roberts are helping to keep America beautiful.
As part of an environmental awareness effort, the Georgia couple are hiking the entire 2,174 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Mount Katahdin, Maine.
Price, 24, and girlfriend Roberts, 25, temporarily left their jobs and began their trek on March 17 in an attempt to literally “go green.”
Roberts worked at a Gold’s Gym in Georgia and found support from the company when she decided to take six months to hike. Her job is waiting for her when she returns.
Price also “always has a home” with Vivid Marketing after the trek.
On a stop in Erwin last week, the couple have been on the road for more than a month and have logged just over 300 miles. Price and Roberts have been trail named Bearfoot and Gucci, respectively, by fellow hikers. While Bearfoot charts their progress on trail maps and hiking books, Gucci reads “Glamour” magazine.
“She appreciates the finer things in life,” Price said.
Monday, April 21, 2008
To the winners of the 2008 world beer cup! From the Epi-Log we have a partial list of winners. I chalenge you to read the pdf they link to.
Small Brewpub: Tonya Cornett, Bend Brewing Company, Oregon
Large Brewpub: Darron R.S. Welch, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Oregon
Small Brewing Company: Tomme Arthur, Port Brewing Company and the Lost Abbey, California
Mid-Sized Brewing Company: Peter Bucher, Privatebrauerei Hoepfner GmbH, Germany
Large Brewing Company: Warren Quilliam, Blue Moon Brewing Company, Colorado
You can find more winners on this PDF. I can't list them all here because there were 91 categories.
Happy drinking to all!
A great many things happen when you plant a vegetable garden, some of them directly related to climate change, others indirect but related nevertheless. Growing food, we forget, comprises the original solar technology: calories produced by means of photosynthesis. Years ago the cheap-energy mind discovered that more food could be produced with less effort by replacing sunlight with fossil-fuel fertilizers and pesticides, with a result that the typical calorie of food energy in your diet now requires about 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce. It’s estimated that the way we feed ourselves (or rather, allow ourselves to be fed) accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas for which each of us is responsible.
Yet the sun still shines down on your yard, and photosynthesis still works so abundantly that in a thoughtfully organized vegetable garden (one planted from seed, nourished by compost from the kitchen and involving not too many drives to the garden center), you can grow the proverbial free lunch — CO2-free and dollar-free. This is the most-local food you can possibly eat (not to mention the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious), with a carbon footprint so faint that even the New Zealand lamb council dares not challenge it. And while we’re counting carbon, consider too your compost pile, which shrinks the heap of garbage your household needs trucked away even as it feeds your vegetables and sequesters carbon in your soil. What else? Well, you will probably notice that you’re getting a pretty good workout there in your garden, burning calories without having to get into the car to drive to the gym. (It is one of the absurdities of the modern division of labor that, having replaced physical labor with fossil fuel, we now have to burn even more fossil fuel to keep our unemployed bodies in shape.) Also, by engaging both body and mind, time spent in the garden is time (and energy) subtracted from electronic forms of entertainment.
You begin to see that growing even a little of your own food is, as Wendell Berry pointed out 30 years ago, one of those solutions that, instead of begetting a new set of problems — the way “solutions” like ethanol or nuclear power inevitably do — actually beget other solutions, and not only of the kind that save carbon. Still more valuable are the habits of mind that growing a little of your own food can yield. You quickly learn that you need not be dependent on specialists to provide for yourself — that your body is still good for something and may actually be enlisted in its own support. If the experts are right, if both oil and time are running out, these are skills and habits of mind we’re all very soon going to need. We may also need the food. Could gardens provide it? Well, during World War II, victory gardens supplied as much as 40 percent of the produce Americans ate.
But there are sweeter reasons to plant that garden, to bother. At least in this one corner of your yard and life, you will have begun to heal the split between what you think and what you do, to commingle your identities as consumer and producer and citizen. Chances are, your garden will re-engage you with your neighbors, for you will have produce to give away and the need to borrow their tools. You will have reduced the power of the cheap-energy mind by personally overcoming its most debilitating weakness: its helplessness and the fact that it can’t do much of anything that doesn’t involve division or subtraction. The garden’s season-long transit from seed to ripe fruit — will you get a load of that zucchini?! — suggests that the operations of addition and multiplication still obtain, that the abundance of nature is not exhausted. The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.
Via the Ethicurean: Chew the right thing.
The first is that it’s mainly speculation — that investors, looking for high returns at a time of low interest rates, have piled into commodity futures, driving up prices. On this view, someday soon the bubble will burst and high resource prices will go the way of Pets.com.
The second view is that soaring resource prices do, in fact, have a basis in fundamentals — especially rapidly growing demand from newly meat-eating, car-driving Chinese — but that given time we’ll drill more wells, plant more acres, and increased supply will push prices right back down again.
The third view is that the era of cheap resources is over for good — that we’re running out of oil, running out of land to expand food production and generally running out of planet to exploit.
I find myself somewhere between the second and third views.[...]
Suppose that we really are running up against global limits. What does it mean?
Even if it turns out that we’re really at or near peak world oil production, that doesn’t mean that one day we’ll say, “Oh my God! We just ran out of oil!” and watch civilization collapse into “Mad Max” anarchy.
But rich countries will face steady pressure on their economies from rising resource prices, making it harder to raise their standard of living. And some poor countries will find themselves living dangerously close to the edge — or over it.
Don’t look now, but the good times may have just stopped rolling.
We needed to start conserving thirty years ago. Carter had a great plan but Reagan scrapped it. Now we start over because the republicans put corporate profits above Americans interests.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Her shot and a beer gambit apparently didn't pay off, however; self-identified beer drinkers split 44-44 percent between the two. Coker said one reason could be that beer drinkers include more African-Americans — Obama supporters — than the bowlers, gun owners or hunters.
Via TPM media.
A couple of months ago, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, one of John McCain’s conservative Republican colleagues and a man who’s worked with McCain for years, raised serious doubts about McCain’s temperament. “The thought of him being president sends a cold chill down my spine,” Cochran said. “He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”
Cochran’s hardly alone. A wide variety of Republicans have expressed concerns about McCain’s temperament for years, and worries about his temper have even led some military officials to express their concerns about his disposition publicly.
And yet, this has been an issue that’s gone largely unreported over the course of the campaign. I was delighted, therefore, to see the Washington Post’s front-page story on McCain’s “volcanic temper” today. Many of the anecdotes are familiar, but a few are new to me. For example, I hadn’t heard about how he treated state GOP officials the night he was elected to the Senate.[..]
On top of all of this, he nearly came to blows with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa and Sen. Richard Shelby (R) of Alabama; he tried to intimidate former Sen. Bob Smith (R) of New Hampshire; and he’s screamed obscenities at everyone from Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas to Sen. Pete Domenici (R) of New Mexico. He even explodes in international settings.
Is this really the character trait the U.S. needs in a leader during a war? In the event of a crisis, do we want a leader known for his rage-induced tirades and unstable temperament?
If he were a democrat the media would probably say "Panama Jack sure has a hot Latin temper." John McCain was born in Panama. They could get digs in for the price of one.
Now that home foreclosures and job losses are piling up, and people are tightening their belts across country, it's easy to imagine hordes of shoppers running from organics to supposedly cheaper "regular" food. (You've gotta love a world where the food that's been sprayed with toxic chemicals is normal and the other stuff gets its own tiny section of the supermarket.)
The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.
To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.
Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.
Read it all.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the union that represents 6,000 federal food inspectors told a congressional committee Thursday that the Agriculture Department tried to intimidate him and other employees who reported violations of regulations, an allegation denied by the agency.
Union chief Stan Painter said that following a mad cow disease scare in 2003, he told superiors that new food safety regulations for slaughtered cattle were not being uniformly enforced. Painter said he was told to drop the matter, and when he didn't, was grilled by department officials and then placed on disciplinary investigative status.
Painter said he was eventually exonerated, but the incident "has caused a chilling effect on others within my bargaining unit to come forward and stand up when agency management is wrong." He said that supervisors tell workers to "let the system work" rather than cite slaughterhouses for violations.
Painter made the allegations at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform domestic policy subcommittee, which was looking into slaughterhouse practices following humane violations at Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino, Calif., which led to the largest beef recall in U.S. history.
Those violations, caught on undercover video by an investigator of the Humane Society of the United States, showed workers dragging cows with chains, shocking them with electric prods and shooting streams of water in their faces. The cows were "downers" — those too sick or injured to stand — and the USDA shut down the plant, saying the company hadn't prevented downer cattle, which pose a greater risk of illnesses such as mad cow disease, from entering the food supply.
The body of a hiker is being recovered by Boulder police Friday afternoon.
The hiker has been identified as Michael P. Mulligan, 47, of Broomfield.
Authorities are saying that the body appears to have been there for at least 2 days. It appears that the victim was involved in an accident. Foul play is not suspected.
My condolences to his friends and family.
Update: A little more information here and here.
Next month, Pickens' company, Mesa Power, will begin buying land and ordering 2,700 wind turbines that will eventually generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity - the equivalent of building two commercial scale - enough power for about 1 million homes.[...]
But Pickens is not out to save the planet. He intends to make money.
Though Pickens admits that wind power won't be as lucrative as oil deals, he still expects the Texas project to turn at least a 25 percent return.
"When I go into these markets, I expect to make money on them," Pickens said. "I don't expect to lose."
America is facing a looming power crunch, with electricity demand expected to grow 15 percent in a decade. And while many states have rejected big coal-fired power projects on environmental concerns, they are offering a bounty of incentives to build renewable sources.
Once the rich white men have a dog in the race, things will start to move forward.
Friday, April 18, 2008
The following is from a recent National Defense University [big PDF, download at bottom of post] paper and it is an overview of the strategic quandry that the United States is in;
Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the
status of a major war and a major debacle. As of fall 2007, this
conflict has cost the United States over 3,800 dead and over
28,000 wounded. Allied casualties accounted for another 300 dead. Iraqi
civilian deaths—mostly at the hands of other Iraqis—may number as high
as 82,000. Over 7,500 Iraqi soldiers and police officers have also been
killed. Fifteen percent of the Iraqi population has become refugees or
displaced persons. The Congressional Research Service estimates that the
United States now spends over $10 billion per month on the war, and that
the total, direct U.S. costs from March 2003 to July 2007 have exceeded
$450 billion, all of which has been covered by deficit spending.1 No one
as yet has calculated the costs of long-term veterans’ benefits or the total
impact on Service personnel and materiel.
The war’s political impact also has been great. Globally, U.S. standing
among friends and allies has fallen.2 Our status as a moral leader has been
damaged by the war, the subsequent occupation of a Muslim nation, and
various issues concerning the treatment of detainees. At the same time,
operations in Iraq have had a negative impact on all other efforts in the war
on terror, which must bow to the priority of Iraq when it comes to manpower,
materiel, and the attention of decisionmakers. Our Armed Forces—
especially the Army and Marine Corps—have been severely strained by
the war in Iraq. Compounding all of these problems, our efforts there
were designed to enhance U.S. national security, but they have become, at
least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to
expand its influence throughout the Middle East. [emphasis mine]
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Eighteen pork plant workers in Minnesota, at least five in Indiana and one in Nebraska have come down with a mysterious neurological condition they appear to have contracted while removing brains from slaughtered pigs, U.S. researchers and health officials said on Wednesday.
They said the illness is a new disorder that causes a range of symptoms, from inflammation of the spinal cord to mild weakness, fatigue, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.
"As far as we are aware it is a brand new disorder," said Dr. Daniel Lachance of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who presented his findings at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Chicago.
Lachance has been following the 18 Minnesota patients, all of whom have evidence of nerve involvement, typically affecting the legs.
He said tests showed patients had damage to the nerves at the root level near the spinal cord, and at the far reaches of their motor nerves, where the nerves connect with muscle.
The first cases of the condition were reported in November of last year at Quality Pork Processors Inc in Austin, Minnesota, where workers had been using compressed air to blow pork brains out of the skull cavity.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Do you think if Barack Obama had left his seriously ill wife after having had multiple affairs, had been a member of the "Keating Five," had had a relationship with a much younger lobbyist that his staff felt the need to try and block, had intervened on behalf of the client of said young lobbyist with a federal agency, had denounced then embraced Jerry Falwell, had denounced then embraced the Bush tax cuts, had confused Shiite with Sunni, had confused Al Qaeda in Iraq with the Mahdi Army, had actively sought the endorsement and appeared on stage with a man who denounced the Catholic Church as a whore, and stated that he knew next to nothing about economics -- do you think it's possible that Obama would have been treated differently by the media than John McCain has been? Possible?
And -- this is fun to contemplate -- if Michelle Obama had been an adulteress, drug addict thief with a penchant for plagiarism -- do you think that she would be subject to slightly different treatment from the media than Cindypills McCain has been? Anyone?