Saturday, January 31, 2009

About Time
The FDA has launched a criminal probe of the Peanut Corporation of America.

Federal health officials have begun a criminal investigation into the actions of the Peanut Corporation of America, which they said knowingly sold contaminated peanut butter and peanut products to major food makers.

The investigation is being conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and the Justice Department, according to Dr. Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the food center at the F.D.A.

The agency rarely discloses criminal investigations that are in progress, but did so in this case after several influential members of Congress demanded a criminal investigation in recent days.

I am not opposed to people making a profit. I am opposed to people who worship profit so much that they kill. I am opposed to people who worship profit so much they injure and kill their workers. I am opposed to people that worship profit so much they destroy the environment. I believe workers should be able to profit from their labor.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Monument To Bush

I remember in the beginning of Bush's illegal war in Iraq, the republican tools on the TV saying that there would be Bush statues in Iraq. Well there is a monument to the man who thew a shoe at him. It is a perfect symbol of republican rule.

Picture Is Worth
Jill at Feministe has two pictures of presidents signing womens rights bills. Go over and compare and contrast.
We Must Move Faster
It is time to increase spending on renewable energy.

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Clean energy investment needs to more than triple to $515 billion a year to stop planet-warming emissions reaching levels deemed unsustainable by scientists, the World Economic Forum said in a report on Thursday.

The hefty investments required in renewable energy sectors such as solar and wind energy need to be made between now and 2030, the report, which was co-written by research group New Energy Finance, said.

"Clean energy opportunities have the potential to generate significant economic returns," the World Economic Forum said in a statement accompanying the report.

Clean energy investments were $155 billion last year, up from $30 billion in 2004 but still far below the $515 billion the report's authors say is needed to combat climate change.

We need to convince the Democratic majority in congress that it is necessary to move now. Republicons are be lead by the drug addled delusions of Rush Limbaugh. Republicons are the problem. They should not be consulted for a solution.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mercury In High Fructose Corn Syrup
If high fructose corn syrup was not bad enough all ready, now it has mercury. But as we all know mercury is all natural. Jill at La Vida Locavore is on the case.

So how does this play out in a food like Coca-Cola? I checked Coca-Cola's nutrition info and found that 8 fl oz of Coke contains 27g of carbs - which I assume means 27g of HFCS. At its worst - with .570 micrograms per gram - those 8 oz of Coca-Cola could contain 15.39 micrograms of mercury.

However, the tests showed that the sample of Coca-Cola Classic tested "only" contained 62 ppt mercury - which I believe (if my math is right) means that an 8 oz serving contains 0.015 micrograms of mercury. But who drinks 8 oz. of Coca-Cola? McDonalds sells 42 oz of it at a time! With 62 ppt mercury, 42 oz of Coca Cola contain 0.08 micrograms of total mercury.

Of course, as the report points out, heavy users of fast food and processed food probably wouldn't stop with a Coke. The problem with HFCS is its ubiquity - salad dressings, ketchup, bread, soda, candy, yogurts, almost ANYTHING can have HFCS.

Death Penalty?
I am not a fan of the death penalty but sometimes I think it may be appropriate. Every executive at the Peanut Corporation of America who knew about the salmonella in their peanut butter should be sentenced to death. They knowingly sent out millions of pounds of contaminated peanut butter. And not just to anybody but the most vulnerable among us: children in schools and homes for the elderly. I would be willing to bet each of them is a morally bankrupt republican.
A report by the FDA released Wednesday revealed 12 instances between June 2007 and September 2008 where the plant’s testing discovered its products were contaminated by salmonella. However, the company still shipped the product.

Sad To Hear
Authorities in Tennessee have recovered the body of a hiker.
Hamilton County (WRCB) - The body of a hiker has been recovered on Suck Creek Mountain. A call came in to the Marion County Sheriff's Department around 5:00 pm that a body had been found. The next six or so hours proved challenging for recovery crews. "The rugged terrain and steep ridges they are having to climb," says Sgt. Dusty Stokes, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department.
Update: The hiker has been identified.
The victim is 23-year-old Jesse David Brude, and authorities say he's an experienced rock climber. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office says he fell to his death on Suck Creek Mountain. So, we dug deeper to try to find out exactly what went wrong.

They say his brother found him, after he'd been gone several days on a rock climbing trip by himself. Rescuers say he fell as much as 60 feet to the bottom of a cliff. Authorities say while they're not sure whether Brude slipped while hiking on top or fell while climbing, they did find rock climbing gear near the area.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Agua Caliente Park, Tucson Arizona

Agua Caliente Park, Tucson, originally uploaded by sjb4photos.

A hiker is missing near Agua Caliente Park in Arizona.

Crews from the Southern Arizona Rescue Association were expected to head out early Wednesday morning in search of a missing man.

Crew were meeting at 8am at Tanque Verde and Tanque Verde loop.

It is unknown how long exactly he has been missing. But crews say it has been a least a few days.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lucy And The Football
Lindsay Beyerstein has an article in the Washington Independent about Obama wanting to remove the birth control from the economic stimulus bill. He wants to make republicans happy.
If Democrats concede to Republicans on the issue, which appears likely according to the AP, many Democratic powerhouses, like Planned Parenthood — which endorsed Obama — will feel betrayed. Women’s advocates and health groups lobbied aggressively to convince the White House and Congress to include money for expanded birth control coverage in the stimulus bill. The groups had early success last week when the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a version of the stimulus bill that included such language.

It just goes to show how little republicans care about abortion. People who use birth control are less likely to get pregnant and have an abortion. They are less likely to have a child in poverty. But republicans believe sex should have consequences and not good ones.

Oh and republicans are still going to complain and not vote for the bill.
The Little Engine That Couldn't
The Christian Science Monitor has an op/ed on the shortsightedness of the stimulus bill.

Mass-transit supporters are tooting a warning over the Obama-backed stimulus bill. Here's an industry that's light on carbon, oil, and congestion, and all it may get is a $9 billion coach seat on the $825 billion train to economic recovery. Wasn't this recession-ending spending supposed to be a "down payment" on America's infrastructure and clean-energy needs?

There's a danger in expecting too much from a down payment. When it comes to transportation – mass transit, roads, rail, air, and freight – the country's requirements are so vast and interconnected they can't possibly be met in a bill meant for short-term job creation.

The transport sector, so vital to US competitiveness, should be gearing up for what comes after the stimulus. Its many players should be pressuring the new administration and Congress for nothing short of a new approach to moving people, goods, and ideas within and outside America's borders.

We need to build not one but two rail systems for the future. One for freight that is partly in place but needs to be made more efficient. And an all new high speed rail. We can not just build more roads. Especially in the northeastern part of the country. There is no room to make more roads. The sky is already full of planes. It will create a massive amount of construction jobs and many permanent railroad jobs. And if they were powered by electricity it would meet our national security needs. And if the electricity was made by wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal it would meet outr global warming needs.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pelicans Are Falling From The Sky

It seems on the west coast pelicans are falling from the sky.

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Pelicans suffering from a mysterious malady are crashing into cars and boats, wandering along roadways and turning up dead by the hundreds across the West Coast, from southern Oregon to Baja California, Mexico, bird-rescue workers say.

Weak, disoriented birds are huddling in people's yards or being struck by cars. More than 100 have been rescued along the California coast, according to the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro.

Hundreds of birds, disoriented or dead, have been observed across the West Coast.

The scientists are not really sure why.

Via Biomes.

Bad Faith
Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times about the republicans arguing in bad faith about the economic stimulus package. I just have to say republicans never argue in good faith. It is nice to see someone in the mainstream media say it.
As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.

Some of these arguments are obvious cheap shots. John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.”

But the obvious cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a plan through as arguments and assertions that are equally fraudulent but can seem superficially plausible to those who don’t know their way around economic concepts and numbers. So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major antistimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack.

Good News
Science is back! Obama is going to reverse a Bush decision to not grant a waiver to California and 13 other states suing to regulate tailpipe emissions.
WASHINGTON — President Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday.

The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and signifies a sharp reversal of Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.

Mr. Obama’s presidential memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the California application. While it stops short of flatly ordering the Bush decision reversed, the agency’s regulators are now widely expected to do so after completing a formal review process.
Auto makers complain that they will have to make two different types of cars. This is not true.
The car makers could do the right thing and make all the cars to the California standard.
Update: Here is a list of the fourteen states. CA(11.95%), NY(6.31%), PA(4.06%), NJ(2.84%), WA(2.52%), AZ(2.07%), MA(2.11%), MD(1.84%), OR(1.23%), CT(1.15%), NM(0.64%), ME(0.43%), RI(0.35%), VT(0.20%). They make up 37.7% of US population. If you add the six states that Kos diarist populista says are considering joining, you get 51.87% of US Population. Those states are FL(5.97%), NC(3.08%), MN(1.70%), CO(1.59%), IA(0.98%), UT(0.87%). The population percentages come from this wikipedia page.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Trees Are Dying
In the American West trees are dying faster than before due to global warming.
More trees are dying in the West's forests as the region warms, a trend that could ultimately spell widespread change for mountain landscapes from the Sierra Nevada to the Rockies.

Scientists who examined decades of tree mortality data from research plots around the West found the death rate had risen as average temperatures in the region increased by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit.
"Tree death rates have more than doubled over the last few decades in old-growth forests across the Western United States," said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Phillip van Mantgem, coauthor of a paper published in today's issue of the journal Science and released Thursday.

The researchers found rising death rates across a wide variety of forest types, at different elevations, in trees of all sizes and among major species, including pine, fir and hemlock.

"Wherever we looked, mortality rates are increasing," said Nathan Stephenson, a study coauthor and USGS research ecologist.

The faster the trees die the less carbon is stored and the trees die faster. It is going to be an interesting couple of decades.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It Is Time
To build wind farms.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Environmentalists claimed on Friday that a new era regarding coal-fired power plants had arrived with the Obama administration after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turned back South Dakota's approval of a big coal-fired power plant in that state because of pollution concerns.

"EPA is signaling that it is back to enforcing long-standing legal requirements fairly and consistently nationwide," said Bruce Nilles, head of the Sierra Club's effort to stop coal power plants.

The EPA on Friday said the timing of the objection letter to South Dakota officials -- sent on Thursday in the third day of Barack Obama's administration -- was not related to the new president.

North Dakota is a prime site for windmills. Some DC power lines so you do not loose the energy in transition. and were in business.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Got Peanut Butter?
It amazes me that so much peanut butter is made in one place.

Investigators linked the plant to the outbreak after tracing the salmonella found in two tainted samples, one an open container of peanut butter from a Minnesota nursing home and the other from an unopened container at a Connecticut school.

Both were labeled King Nut, an institutional brand produced by the Georgia company. Both samples genetically match Salmonella typhimurium, the strain of salmonella associated with the outbreak, food agency officials said.

The plant, which is closed, packed peanut butter in bulk ranging from 5 to 1,700 pounds, much of which was shipped to institutions. Many school districts have pulled peanut butter from menus, with some substituting more commonly recognized supermarket brands. New York City school officials said they had not bought any peanut butter or products with ingredients that originated at the Georgia plant.

The plant also produced peanut paste, a more concentrated product used in candy, crackers and many other kinds of foods. Tracking how the paste travels through the food supply can be challenging, because several companies can be involved in making the final food. For example, one manufacturer might coat the paste in chocolate and make a peanut butter cup, which is then sold to another company that mixes it into ice cream that may or may not also contain peanut butter. A grocery chain might buy that ice cream and sell it under a private label.

The FDA thinks that peanut butter is low risk for food poisoning so they inspect the factories every decade or so. Who is going to pay for the food that consumers bought? I know the consumers paid for them but are the companies going to reimburse the consumer?

A long list of tainted products is here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

For A Cause
Three guys from California are going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to help combat veterans. And a gut from Wisconsin is going to hike the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness for safe water in the developing world.

Just once I would like to see someone hike a trail to raise money for the trail. I am not saying either of these causes are unworthy. Just that the trails need money too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


CANBERRA (Reuters) – Two Myanmar fishermen have survived for almost a month in shark-infested waters by floating in a large ice box after their boat sank, rescue officials said.

The men, both aged in their 20s, were on a 12-meter Thai fishing boat with 18 others when it sank in heavy seas off Australia's north coast on December 23, said Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Tracy Jiggins.

"They had no safety equipment, no beacons, no means of communication and they'd been drifting for 25 days," Jiggins told Reuters Tuesday, describing the ice box as "desk sized."

"For them to have even been spotted in a huge body of water is amazing," she said.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just In Case
You have been living in a cave, we have a new President. His name is Barack Obama and Ben and Jerry's named an ice cream after him.
"YES PECAN!" An Inspirational Blend! Amber Waves of Buttery Ice Cream With Roasted Non-Partisan Pecans.

Going Going....
A large ice shelf in the Antarctic is about to break off.

WILKINS ICE SHELF, Antarctica (Reuters) - A huge Antarctic ice shelf is on the brink of collapse with just a sliver of ice holding it in place, the latest victim of global warming that is altering maps of the frozen continent.

"We've come to the Wilkins Ice Shelf to see its final death throes," David Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), told Reuters after the first -- and probably last -- plane landed near the narrowest part of the ice.

The flat-topped shelf has an area of thousands of square kilometers, jutting 20 meters (65 ft) out of the sea off the Antarctic Peninsula.

But it is held together only by an ever-thinning 40-km (25-mile) strip of ice that has eroded to an hour-glass shape just 500 meters wide at its narrowest.

In 1950, the strip was almost 100 km wide.

There are not many glaciers behind the ice shelf which would flow faster. However it will leave a large black spot to warm up the continent. Antarctica is warming faster than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On a Mission
A German woman missing for 12 years was found living In a Swiss forest with only a tarp and umbrella for shelter.

The discovery in Switzerland of the 52-year-old German woman, whose name has not been released, was revealed by Bern police overnight .

She was spotted by a hiker in the forest near Bolligen after years of dodging rangers and walkers.

The woman was reported missing in 1997 in a village near Potsdam, outside Berlin.

Bolligen's Mayor Rudolf Burger said the woman "answered our questions and told us she didn't want any contact with her family."

She conversed normally, but she also spoke of a mission that she had to fulfill, Burger added, while declining to elaborate.

Backpackers Ted Alvarez adds some good snark.
If her mission was to test her long-term, ultralight stealth-camping abilities, I'd say, 'mission accomplished, lady.'

Be Subversive

Tao Rodriguez, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen sing This Land Is Made For You And Me. HBO has made YouTube take down copies of their version.
Wall Street Voodoo
Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman on the Wall Street bailout.
Old-fashioned voodoo economics — the belief in tax-cut magic — has been banished from civilized discourse. The supply-side cult has shrunk to the point that it contains only cranks, charlatans, and Republicans.
But recent news reports suggest that many influential people, including Federal Reserve officials, bank regulators, and, possibly, members of the incoming Obama administration, have become devotees of a new kind of voodoo: the belief that by performing elaborate financial rituals we can keep dead banks walking.[...]

Why go through these contortions? The answer seems to be that Washington remains deathly afraid of the N-word — nationalization. The truth is that Gothamgroup and its sister institutions are already wards of the state, utterly dependent on taxpayer support; but nobody wants to recognize that fact and implement the obvious solution: an explicit, though temporary, government takeover. Hence the popularity of the new voodoo, which claims, as I said, that elaborate financial rituals can reanimate dead banks.

Unfortunately, the price of this retreat into superstition may be high. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect that taxpayers are about to get another raw deal — and that we’re about to get another financial rescue plan that fails to do the job.

What Krugman does not explicitly say is the banks are insolvent and should be taken over by the government. Or as Atrios says "All along there's been a general unwillingness to acknowledge that the banks lost a lot of money. It isn't a problem of liquidity, or a problem of temporarily mispriced assets. The problem is that they lost a lot of fucking money."

Edgar Allen Poe's Grave January 19, 2008

Every year on Poe's Birthday a mysterious man places a half drunken bottle of cognac and three roses on Poe's grave. Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. He died in Baltimore August 7, 1849.

From the Concord Monitor.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, master of the macabre and father of the detective story. Even two centuries later, Poe could have been describing one of his young readers, book in hand, when he wrote, "The beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst," in "The Telltale Heart." His stories are among those most frequently read aloud in living rooms and around campfires. They fascinate, thrill and trouble sleep, most of all because Poe's narrators, the voices that listeners identify with, are not the victims but the often mad murderers.

Baltimore's local paper could not be bothered to have a reporter write something for today. Yes they had articles over the weekend. But today a lame AP article.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunrise, Tibetan Plateau

Sunrise - Tibetan Plateau, originally uploaded by meckleychina.

Most of these glaciers will be gone in a few decades.

Tibetan Plateau, Everest

Temperatures are rising fast at the top of the world.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly 2 billion people in Asia, from coastal city dwellers to yak-herding nomads, will begin suffering water shortages in coming decades as global warming shrinks glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau, experts said.

The plateau has more than 45,000 glaciers that build up during the snowy season and then drain to the major rivers in Asia, including the Yangtze, Yellow, Brahmanputra and Mekong.

Temperatures in the plateau, which some scientists call the "Third Pole" for its massive glacial ice sheets, are rising twice as fast as other parts of the world, said Lonnie Thompson, a glaciologist at Ohio State University, who has collected ice cores from glaciers around the world for decades.

As glaciers melt at faster rates from the higher temperatures, a false sense of security about water supplies has developed across Asia, Thompson said on Friday.

It is going to be an interesting couple of decades. Picture of plateaus glaciers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How High Is The Water?
Well it is rising. Not as fast as the Johny Cash song but on the east coast it is rising faster than elsewhere.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sea levels on the United States' mid-Atlantic coast are rising faster than the global average because of global warming, threatening the future of coastal communities, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday.

Coastal waters from New York to North Carolina have crept up by an average of 2.4 to 4.4 millimeters (0.09 to 0.17 inches) a year, compared with an average global increase of 1.7 millimeters (0.07 inches) a year, the EPA said in a report.

As a result, sea levels along the East Coast rose about a foot over the past century, the EPA's report, commissioned by the Climate Change Science Program, said.

The EPA focused on the mid-Atlantic region because it "will likely see the greatest impacts due to rising waters, coastal storms, and a high concentration of population along the coastline," the agency said.

No governments are really talking about what should be done. California has a commission to study sea level rise but it has not made a report yet.

Scientists have said the rate sea levels are rising has accelerated. By the end of the century, global sea levels could be seven to 23 inches higher, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted.

Federal, state and local governments should step in now to prepare for the rising seas, said the EPA along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey, who contributed to the report.

Governments should protect residents through policies that preserve public beaches and coastal ecosystems and encourage retrofits of buildings to make them higher, the agencies said.

Engineering rules for coastal areas used today are based on current sea levels and will not suffice in the future, the report said.

Flood insurance rates also could be tweaked to accommodate risk from rising sea levels, the report said.

We need to stop insuring the risky developments near the shore.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Food Glorious Food!
Guess what is for dinner.

That is, as soon as the meat is thawed. Then brined. Soaked overnight. Parboiled for two hours. Slow-roasted or smoked or barbecued to perfection.[...]
This right here," she says, holding up a couple of brown packages tied with burlap string, “this is a great value. And really good eatin’. Best-kept secret around.”[...]
And when people eat wild meat, Beringer says, "it reminds the modernized society — people who usually eat food from a plastic wrapper — where food comes from.”[...]
"They leave the paw on to prove it's not a cat or a dog," Washington says.[...]

“See that? Tender as a mother’s love,” he says with a grin. “Good eatin’.”

And the taste?

Definitely not chicken.

Via Clustrflock
Not Ready To Play Nice
Paul Krugman thinks we should prosecute the Bush Administration's crimes.

In fact, we’ve already seen this movie. During the Reagan years, the Iran-contra conspirators violated the Constitution in the name of national security. But the first President Bush pardoned the major malefactors, and when the White House finally changed hands the political and media establishment gave Bill Clinton the same advice it’s giving Mr. Obama: let sleeping scandals lie. Sure enough, the second Bush administration picked up right where the Iran-contra conspirators left off — which isn’t too surprising when you bear in mind that Mr. Bush actually hired some of those conspirators.

Now, it’s true that a serious investigation of Bush-era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, both for those who abused power and those who acted as their enablers or apologists. And these people have a lot of friends. But the price of protecting their comfort would be high: If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we’ll guarantee that they will happen again.

Remember that some of these republicans go back as far as Watergate. Cheney was Ford's chief of staff. If they have not been punished for breaking the law, why would they stop?

Also the media is complicit in many of the acts of criminality. They do not want to bring this up. For many years the media cheered on Bush's lawlessness.
Rain Is Speeding Things Up
And there is more rain in Antarctica.
HELDON GLACIER, Antarctica (Reuters) - More rain on the Antarctic Peninsula is speeding a melt of glaciers such as the Sheldon, which has retreated 2 km (1.2 miles) in 20 years and is nudging up world sea levels, a leading expert said.

"Rain is very corrosive to glaciers and at least in part the reason this glacier is retreating," David Vaughan, a British Antarctic Survey glaciologist, said on an inflatable speedboat in a bay that had been blanketed by ice for thousands of years.

"The glacier has retreated since 1989 and left this open water. That's the same pattern for 87 percent of 400 glaciers along the Antarctic Peninsula," he told Reuters.[...]

Average temperatures on the peninsula have risen by up to 3 Celsius (5.4 F) in the past 50 years against a world average of 0.7 Celsius in the past century.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

US Airways Plane Ditched In Hudson River

US Airways ditched in Hudson River, originally uploaded by DitB.

Still amazed.

Amazing All Around

It is awesome that everyone on the plane lived. The folks on flight 1549 were lucky to have a great pilot. He knew what to do.

Update: People are calling it a miracle. It really is not a miracle so much as a testament to the skills of good union workers. As Emptywheel says in her post every one involved was a good union worker. Pilot, Flight Attendants, Ferry boat captains and crew, police and fire fighters. All skilled union workers.
Oh My!

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru's top court has ruled that workers cannot be fired for being drunk on the job, a decision that was criticized by the government on Wednesday for setting a dangerous precedent.

The Constitutional Tribunal ordered that Pablo Cayo be given his job back as a janitor for the municipality of Chorrillos, which fired him for being intoxicated at work.

The firing was excessive because even though Cayo was drunk, he did not offend or hurt anybody, Fernando Calle, one of the justices, said on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hiking Stimulus
Chuck Flink of North Carolina's News&Observer writes we should build trails like we did during the great depression.

DURHAM -- Projects undertaken through the New Deal's economic stimulus programs during the Great Depression have become some of our nation's most enduring, treasured places.

Many are park and trail projects that enable people to get outdoors and enjoy the natural world. One of the most visionary projects was the Appalachian Trail, now world-famous and hiked by more than 3 million people each year. As Congress considers a new stimulus package, park and trail projects should again be one of the highest priorities.

Many trail and greenway projects in North Carolina could be developed quickly, and would provide jobs in construction and in the manufacturing of materials such as concrete, asphalt, bridges, boardwalks, signs, hand tools and heavy equipment.

The trails in North Carolina he wants to build are

  1. Mountains to Sea Trail map
  2. East Coast Greenway map
  3. The Carolina Thread Trail map
  4. Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail no map
This is the kind of stimulus I can get behind.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Only One
Car maker sold more cars in 2008 than 2009.
Subaru's customers are, the company admits, a little oddball. How else do you explain the fact that Subaru of America was the only car company to increase unit sales last year? Subaru buyers tend to be overeducated; they buy less car than they can afford and hang on to it forever. "They pay cash, and then you never see them again," says Tim Mahoney, Subaru of America's chief marketing officer. At least not for an average 7.3 years, when they return like migrating carbirds to buy another one. Recession or not.

They sold 491 more cars and their market share went from 1.2% to 1.9%. The hippies know!
Insurance Companies Are Not Health Care Providers
United Health Group agrees to settle for 50 million dollars. If they are agreeing to 50 million, you know it is worse than that. Again ans again insurance companies deny care for profits.
One of the nation’s largest health insurers has agreed to pay $50 million dollars in a settlement announced today after being accused of overcharging millions of Americans for health care.

The New York attorney general’s office launched an investigation after receiving hundreds of complaints about Oxford Insurance and its parent company, UnitedHealth Group, which claims to rely on “independent research from across the health care industry” to determine reimbursement rates. In actuality though, it relies on Ingenix, a research firm owned by UnitedHealth Group.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says Ingenix has been manipulating the numbers so insurance companies pay less. In a just-released report, he contends that Americans have been “under-reimbursed to the tune of at least hundreds of millions of dollars.” Although UnitedHealth Group and Oxford Insurance were the only entities investigated, other major insurers use Ingenix, including Aetna, CIGNA and WellPoint/Empire BlueCross BlueShield.

Remember this is only one company. Thats why Americans pay so much for insurance.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Save The Bay
The old bumper sticker slogan used to be everywhere in Maryland. We seem to have forgotten to do it. It made some progress in the late 80's and early 90's. The states beloved rockfish came back but since then the population of people and chickens overwhelmed it.

Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has helped restore many of America's waters, allowing fish and humans to swim safely in them. But the largest estuary in the US, the Chesapeake Bay, remains in trouble and little changed. The problem? More than two decades of efforts have fallen foul to complexity, size, and lack of political will.

Americans deserve a pat on the back for gradually understanding that water knows no political boundaries and that cleanup efforts must include an entire watershed (or planet, in the case of global warming). But all the players must do their part, and the save-the-bay project in this mid-Atlantic estuary shows just how tough that is to accomplish.[...]

Waste from farms and sewage plants, airborne pollutants, and runoff from developed areas collect in the bay's 64,000-square-mile watershed. They contribute to algae blooms that deplete oxygen, creating areas where creatures such as crabs and oysters can't breathe.

Since 1983, the bay's crab harvest is down 60 percent while the oyster harvest is off by 96 percent, though some of this is due to overharvesting. In about that same time frame, the human population in the watershed is up by 34 percent.

It is time to stop harvesting oysters. There is no real fishery left. I am no biologist however the clam fishing industry must cause incredible destruction to the bay grasses that are so important to young life in the bay. Clams live over a foot deep in the sand and silf the bay floor and a depth of two to three feet bays of the floor is disturbed in the process of extracting the clams. The silt then floats in the currents and tide over grass beds and young oysters killing them. It must stop.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nothing To See
Of course there probably is nothing to see, but Yellowstone is still having earthquakes.

When you have 400 earthquakes on top of one of the largest supervolcanoes on Earth, people pay attention.

And since the day after Christmas, that's what has happened at Yellowstone National Park. Scientists are seeing what they call a "swarm" of low intensity earthquakes - the largest since the 1980s. The biggest quake had a magnitude of 3.9, below the level that can cause damage.

But the earthquakes have made worldwide news because the park lies on a giant caldera, the crater of a volcano that scientists say could one day explode and destroy most of North America and freeze the rest of the world under a shroud of ash for up to two years.

Still, the latest earthquakes are nothing to fear, said park geologist Hank Heasler.

Some scientists say that Yellowstone is 40,000 year over due for an eruption. There is no reason to worry, There is nothing we can do!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Half Dome, Full Moon!

Full Moon! This shot was taken by Jeff Sullivan. His blog is here and photography site here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Supporting The Troops
Chef Loves Beer style. Troops in Iraq will get to drink beer during the Super Bowl this year! There is a ban on drinking alcohol in combat zones.

Odierno's memo didn't say what kind of beer the military will bring in; virtually all goods made available to U.S. troops are imported. Iraq is largely dry, but beer is available on the local market.

The soberly written memo didn't leave much wiggle room on a paramount issue for beer lovers: quantity. "Consumption of alcoholic beverages pursuant to this waiver is limited to two 12-ounce beers per individual," it said.

It wont get them drunk but will allow them a little normalcy.

Mark Bittman On Food

Mark Bittman gives a speech on the history of food and the direction foodies need to go. It is really worth watching the whole thing.
Bacon and Butter
Did I mention the bacon was deep fried? Three men set the record for fastest treck to the south pole.
The men suffered altitude sickness, vertigo and massive, painful blisters. They kept themselves fueled with a 7,000-calorie-a-day diet of deep-fried bacon, cheese and huge chunks of butter.

"I am dying for pizza," Zahab said with a sigh Friday. "All I've been thinking about is pizza."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What Is In Your Pantry?
Mark Bittman In the New York Times.

But if your goal is to cook and cook quickly, to get a satisfying and enjoyable variety of real food on the table as often as possible, a well-stocked pantry and fridge can sustain you. Replenished weekly or even less frequently, with an occasional stop for fresh vegetables, meat, fish and dairy, they are the core supply houses for the home cook.

While you’re stocking up, you might clear out a bit of the detritus that’s cluttering your shelves. Some of these things take up more space than they’re worth, while others are so much better in their real forms that the difference is laughable. Sadly, some remain in common usage even among good cooks. My point here is not to criminalize their use, but to point out how easily and successfully we can substitute for them, in every case with better results.

Sounds good to me.
Peak Coal?
Or are we already past peak? Joseph Romm at gristmill takes a look.

Let's start with the U.S. Geological Survey's stunning 131-page analysis from December, "Assessment of Coal Geology, Resources, and Reserves in the Gillette Coalfield, Powder River Basin, Wyoming" [big PDF]:

The Gillette coalfield, within the Powder River Basin in east-central Wyoming, is the most prolific coalfield in the United States. In 2006, production from the coalfield totaled over 431 million short tons of coal, which represented over 37 percent of the Nation's total yearly production.

The "total original coal resource in the Gillette coalfield" without applying any restrictions, "was calculated to be 201 billion short tons." Then USGS subtracts out the inaccessible coal, and then mining and processing losses, which leaves 77 billion tons, and finally:

Coal reserves are the portion of the recoverable coal that can be mined, processed, and marketed at a profit at the time of the economic evaluation. With a discounted cash flow at 8 percent rate of return, the coal reserves estimate for the Gillette coalfield is 10.1 billion short tons of coal (6 percent of the original resource total) for the 6 coal beds evaluated.

Ouch! And this analysis was done at a time of soaring coal prices.

We have been told that coal is cheap and abundant. Just as we have bee told the market takes care of itself. Is it just another of the republican delusion?

Bush Punts
Bush is going to let the Obama administration set new auto standards.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration will not finalize new auto fuel efficiency standards, as it had planned, due to historic uncertainty gripping U.S. manufacturers, officials said on Wednesday.

The Transportation Department had intended to complete the regulation laying out annual mileage targets from 2011-15 by year's end, but will now hand the matter over to the incoming Obama administration.

"The recent financial difficulties of the automobile industry will require the next administration to conduct a thorough review of matters affecting the industry," the agency said in a statement.

The rule must be finalized by April 1 to allow automakers time to incorporate tougher mileage standards in their design plans, but uncertainty about industry prospects and other factors could alter the timetable.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


A Palestinian girl confronts Israeli soldiers shooting at kids.

Someone please explain what the Israelis hope too accomplish with this?

Via Susie
Global Warming Is A National Security Threat
Not that the republicans believe it. Just like they did not believe in the terrorist threat before September 11, 2001. Nor did they protect us from the anthrax killers. Why any body takes them seriously on national security, I do not know.

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Climate change and rising sea levels pose one of the biggest threats to security in the Pacific and may also spark a global conflict over energy reserves under melting Arctic ice, according to Australia's military.

A confidential security review by Australia's Defense Force, completed in 2007 but obtained in summary by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, said environmental stress had increased the risk of conflicts in the Pacific over resources and food.

But the biggest threat of global conflict currently lay beneath the Arctic as melting icecaps gave rise to an international race for undersea oil and gas deposits, it said.

Its going to be a couple of interesting decades.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Piestewa Peak

Piestewa Peak, originally uploaded by leaky_tiki.

Sad to hear a hiker died while climbing Piestewa Peak today.

An 83-year-old man died Tuesday while hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix, according to Phoenix fire officials.

The man, who had a pre-existing medical condition, was about 300 yards into the main pathway up the mountain when he had what authorities called a "significant event," possibly a heart attack or stroke.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Controversy At World Championship

WSOBP 3, originally uploaded by EDubya.

Of beer pong! Will sport in America ever recover? This could damage the American psyche more than the Black Sox Scandal of 1929.

In a very Vegas moment this Sunday afternoon at the Flamingo, somebody made an unfortunate misrepresentation. Two somebodies, actually. As the competition filtered down to the final teams from a starting crop of 414, a pair from Baltimore, Md. made an “unfortunate misrepresentation” when reporting the results from their previous game: They said they won.

It was most likely unintentional. Authorities believe alcohol was a factor. Certainly no Baltimoron(said with pride) would lie for personal gain. In order to maintain the integrity of the game Tournament authorities.....

However, tempers ran more hotly when the discrepancy was first discovered. Gaines and his co-founder, Duncan Carroll, addressed the pong players Sunday, announcing that the team had been banned for life from competitive beer pong and the WSOBP, and the players were escorted out of the ballroom by security guards.

This could be a turning point for the game can the pro league survive?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Green Tea Is Good For Me
Eric Leech at Tree Hugger
While there is no guarantees, the most recent research suggests that the antioxidant properties in green tea may give some folks a fighting chance at staving off Alzheimer's. Studies at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles suggests that the tea has the effect of reducing plaque in the brain of genetically engineered mice by up to 90 percent, which is truly amazing. This research is currently being taken to human subjects with hopes that the tea will have the same effect on them.

Green tea is a rather inexpensive herb which can be purchased and easily digested daily in the form of various drinks or foods. It has also been shown that green tea may help fight against certain forms of cancer and sun damage from UV rays. The amount of green tea recommended for maximum benefit is generally thought to be four to five cups, however some researchers recommend as much as 10, or as little as two.

I drink four or five cups a day.


News reports say that Democrats hope to pass an economic plan with broad bipartisan support. Good luck with that.

In reality, the political posturing has already started, with Republican leaders setting up roadblocks to stimulus legislation while posing as the champions of careful Congressional deliberation — which is pretty rich considering their party’s behavior over the past eight years.

Democrats are not being realistic. Republicans will happily run the country into the greatest depression ever, in the hopes of partisan political gain. They hate the American worker and their families.
Worst President Ever

I have my disagreements with Harry Reid but I agree with this. GW Bush is the worst President ever. He states again the worst President ever after republican tool David Gregory asks if he wants to take the statement back.

Via Think Progress

Sunday, January 04, 2009

So Sad
Suicide deaths are up in our National Parks.

Although the National Park Service doesn’t consistently track the number of suicides on park properties, at least 33 people are known to have ended their lives in a national park in 2008.

Park Service search-and-rescue reports list 26 suicides (or probably suicides) in 2007, 18 in both 2005 and 2006, and 16 in 2004.

Attempted suicides are much higher.

Twenty-six people attempted suicide at Colorado's National Monument in just the past year. Two were successful.

Patrick Suddath, branch chief of Ranger Operations at Glacier National Park, told the Associated Press that, “It's some place where, toward the end of someone's life, when they're feeling a total sense of despondency, they want to return to a place of natural beauty ... for their final moments.”

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Toyota Solar Cars

pv_prius, originally uploaded by bredlo.

It seems Toyota is spreading rumors that they have been working on a solar powered car.

Toyota Motor Corp is secretly developing a solar powered green car, the Nikkei reports.The electric vehicle is expected to get some of its power from solar cells on the vehicle and can be recharged with electricity generated from solar panels on home roofs. Eventually, the automaker hopes to develop a model totally powered by solar cells.

Despite the skepticism at Wired, I think they are going to build a solar car. I do not think it will run only on it's own solar panels. Like the Prius pictured above it will have solar panels that will add to its electric range. It will charge in the sun, even when not plugged in. At least someone is pushing the envelope. The big three are still denying global warming and are dragging their feet when it comes to fuel efficiency.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Hiking Can Be Deadly
In 2008, I counted seventy seven hikers that died in hiking accidents. I did not count the troubled souls who went into the wilderness to commit suicide in my number. I did count the murder of Meredith Emerson and the shooting of Pam Amli by a young hunter. I may have missed some. It was depressing to go through the list of hikers that died last year. Hikers died at a rate of one and a half a week, in every month of the year. Most by falling, others by avalanche, heat stroke, natural causes, exposure, falling rocks, train, falling in a mine shaft, flash floods and unknown causes. The youngest was 11 a Boy Scout that died of heat stroke. The oldest was listed as in his eighties. I miss them all and hope they are at peace.

My condolences to their friends and family.
Are Higher Temperatures Making Ticks More Aggressive?
A study on dog ticks has lead researchers to believe that warming temperatures make the ticks more likely to bite humans.

Dec. 30, 2008 -- The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) rarely bites people, far preferring the taste of dog. But global warming could be changing that, exposing people to dangerous diseases as a result.

In the spring of 2007, three men in France became seriously ill after sustaining bites from disease-infected dog ticks. The bites occurred after the hottest April since 1950, said Didier Raoult, a professor at the University of Marseille School of Medicine in France.

The incident reminded Raoult of two other recent cases. A 2004 outbreak of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Arizona was also associated with dog ticks. And during the exceptionally hot summer of 2003, a man died after 20 brown dog ticks bit him at once.

I wonder if this is true of other ticks. In 2001, I hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and no one I know of got lyme disease. (Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks.) In 2006 and 2007, there were several people with lyme disease. 2001 was a cool summer on the AT.

The Party of Racists
Paul Krugman does not actually say the republicans are racist. But it is hard for me to believe otherwise.
The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision.

Also, they do not value competence. Here is not how to govern.
“make appointments based on loyalty first and expertise second.”

I seem to remember the republican cold warriors saying the USSR would collapse because they valued party loyalty over competence. I guess they figured IOKIYAR.

Backpacking Makes You Smarter
From Backpacker Magazine's Ted Alvarez.

Memory and attention improve after time spent in nature

At last, science yet again confirms something we've always intuitively known: Spending time outside and in nature can help boost your mental acuity. Plenty of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can attest to this from personal experience, but a few late-to-the-game eggheads from the University of Michigan decided test and quantify it.

Read it all.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Snoquera Falls

Snoquera Falls, originally uploaded by Liembo.

Winter at Snoquera Falls.

Crystal Mountain

crystal mountain, originally uploaded by ИΞUSKOOĿ.

A couple was caught in an ice slide on Washington's Crystal Mountain.

BUCKLEY, Wash. -- A 24-year-old woman hiker has been killed, hit by an ice slide near Crystal Mountain.

Pierce County sheriff's Deputy Dan Hudson says the woman and a 26-year-old male friend had just completed a climb Wednesday near frozen Snoquera Falls when an ice slide hit. Hudson says the man was knocked unconscious and awoke to find the woman had been struck by large chunks of ice and was not breathing. He tried CPR but was unable to revive her.

My condolences to her friends and family.

Update: The hiker has been identified.

The victim has been identified as Megan Kinsella.The young couple had just completed a climb near the frozen Snoquera Falls when an ice slide hit.