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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Matrix" on Windows

I use Windows XT. I am a cybergeek. I understand the meaning of such words as "crash" "error message" and "freeze." I can leap tall buildings at a single bound (in my dreams). Watch this!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Even this old cynic, wept with emotion! A truly memorable day in the history of the United States of America and of the world. He is the right man with the right message at the right time. I watched President-Elect Obama's acceptance speech on CNN. What really got to me was the seeing all those young people weeping with the excitement and emotion of the moment. The faces of hope. Mr. Barrack will have his work cut out for him. His first year in office will be extremely difficult. He has inherited a world in crisis. He'll need the help and support of not only every American, but everyone on the planet in one form or another. I'm sure he'll have it. I have renewed hope for the future. Now we must all work together to save this sorry planet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Old TV and New Ideas

Check out this video!
See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Up Close and Spineless

No, this is not an interview with George W. Bush. This is a PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBIT. And for all photography buffs as well as those of us fascinated by the world of living things, this is a must see.

Weird and wonderful world of creepy-crawlies
These invertebrate photographs were submitted to the Up Close and Spineless competition, and are on display at the Australian Museum from 18 October 2008. They include photographs of a huntsman spider catching a lift on a cow horn, a bright green scarab beetle, and a cute grasshopper...

Grasshopper by Greg West

Friday, October 17, 2008

Science Group: Biotech Regs Could Allow Drugs In Food

Science Group: Biotech Regs Could Allow Drugs In Food

Published: Monday, October 13, 2008 3:08 PM CDT
WASHINGTON — The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently denounced newly proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules governing genetically engineered crops, including food crops engineered to produce pharmaceutical and industrial products. The proposed rules, UCS charged, would not protect the U.S. food supply from potential contamination by drugs from "pharma" crops and could allow drugs that it deems "safe" to enter the food supply. This contamination could occur through cross-pollination or seed mixing between pharma food crops and crops intended for consumption.

The USDA ignored recommendations for a ban on the outdoor production of pharma food crops from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, major food companies, UCS, and more than 100 environmental, agricultural, health, and consumer organizations.

Below is a statement by Jane Rissler, UCS's Food and Environment Program deputy director:

"Under the proposed rules, USDA's new motto is 'Only safe levels of drugs in U.S. food.‚ If these proposals are enacted into law, American consumers must accept the possibility of drugs in their breakfast cereal or other common foods. Moreover, these rules likely will lead to contamination scares, which will hurt the food industry.

"The USDA proposal, unlike the ban we recommended, offers no incentives to drug companies to pursue already existing, safer methods for producing drugs.

"In its rush to enact the proposed rules into law before the end of the Bush administration, the USDA has given short shrift to public participation. The department is allowing only 45 days for the public to analyze and comment on this major proposal, which will determine the government's approach to regulating genetically engineered organisms for years to come.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Making Sense

From: Congressman Dennis Kucinich

Subject: Protecting the public interest in any economic "bailout"

Date: September 23, 2008 11:14:43 AM CDT

Dear Friend,

The U.S. government has been turned into an engine that accelerates the wealth upwards into the hands of a few. The Wall Street bailout, the Iraq War, military spending, tax cuts to the rich, and a for-profit health care system are all about the acceleration of wealth upwards. And now, the American people are about to pay the price of the collapse of the $513 trillion Ponzi scheme of derivatives. Yes, that’s half a quadrillion dollars. Our first trillion dollar compression bandage will hardly stem the hemorrhaging of an unsustainable Ponzi scheme built on debt "de-leverages." Does anyone seriously think that our public and private debts of some $45 trillion will be paid? That the administration's growth of the federal debt from $5.6 trillion to $9.8 trillion while borrowing another trillion dollars from Social Security has nothing to do with this? Does anyone not see that when we spend nearly $16,000 for every family of four in our society for the military each year that we are heading over the cliff? This is a debt crisis, not a credit crisis. Just as FDR had to save capitalism after Wall Street excesses, we have to re-invigorate our economy with real - not imaginary - growth. It does not address the never-ending war on the middle class. The same corporate interests that profited from the closing of U.S. factories, the movement of millions of jobs out of America, the off-shoring of profits, the out-sourcing of workers, the crushing of pension funds, the knocking down of wages, the cancellation of health care benefits, the sub-prime lending are now rushing to Washington to get money to protect themselves. The double standard is stunning: their profits are their profits, but their losses are our losses. This bailout will not bring real jobs back to America. It will not bring back jobs that make things. It does not rebuild our schools, streets, neighborhoods, parks or bridges. The major product of this financial economy is now debt. Industrial capitalism has been destroyed. In the next few days I will push for a plan that includes equity for every American in any taxpayer investment in this so-called bail-out plan. Since the bailout will cost each and every American about $2,300, I have proposed the creation of a United States Mutual Trust Fund, which will take control of $700 billion in stock assets, convert those assets to shares, and distribute $2,300 worth of shares to new individual savings accounts in the name of each and every American. I will also insist that all of the following issues be considered in whatever Congress passes: Reinstatement of the provisions of Glass-Steagall, which forbade speculation Re-regulation of the finance, insurance, and real estate industries Accountability on the part of those who took the companies down: a) resignations of management b) givebacks of executive compensation packages c) limitations on executive compensation d) admission by CEO's of what went wrong and how, prior to any government bailout Demands for transparencey a) with respect to analyzing the transactions which took the companies down b) with respect to Treasury's dealings with the companies pre and post-bailout An equity position for the taxpayers a) some form of ownership of assets Some credible formula for evaluating the price of the assets that the government is buying. A sunset clause on the legislation Full public disclosure by members of Congress of assets held, with possible conflicts put in blind trust. A ban on political campaign contributions from officers of corporations receiving bailouts A requirement that 2008 cycle candidates return political contributions to officers and representatives of corporations receiving bailouts And, most importantly, some mechanism for direct assistance to homeowners saddled with unreasonable or unmanageable mortgages, as well as protection for renters who have lived up to their obligation but fall victim to financial tragedy when the property they live in undergoes foreclosure. These are just some thoughts on the run. You will hear more from me tomorrow. Dennis J Kucinich www.Kucinich.us 216-252-9000 877-933-6647

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The "Free" Press

As a result of having been glued to the major television news channels and newspaper reports, I've come to believe the public is being ILL SERVED as regards good news reporting and true investigative journalism. Therefore, I am adding to my links a number of Internet news sites that DO the investigative reporting Americans (and the world) need to know in order to make informed decisions about their own futures. These new links include the following:


And this is just a small sample of great resources that can give you more than the pap the big news media feed us. There are also some great blogs and special interest sites. Don't allow BIG MEDIA to bury your head in the sand for you. Get information from many different alternative sources, check out resources that have views contrary to your own so that you can expose your mind to a greater world view. Prevent hardening of the categories! You may not change your mind about anything, but you will be making up your mind on the basis of a wider spectrum of opinion and information. In other words, alternative news can help you become a more rounded individual and a better citizen. Good luck. Let me know what you think of these links.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Perseid meteor shower set to dazzle

  • David Shiga
A Perseid meteor streaks through auroras above Colorado in 2000 (Image: Jimmy Westlake)
A Perseid meteor streaks through auroras above Colorado in 2000 (Image: Jimmy Westlake)
The Perseids appear to originate from the constellation Perseus (Illustration: NASA)
The Perseids appear to originate from the constellation Perseus (Illustration: NASA)

Tuesday morning will provide one of the year's best opportunities to see some "shooting stars", with the peak of the annual Perseid meteor display.

Meteors are bits of dust or rock that plunge into Earth's atmosphere at high speed, producing a glowing trail when they excite gas particles. On any clear night, a handful of meteors can be seen per hour, but that rises to dozens per hour during a meteor shower.

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the best annual displays and is best seen from the northern hemisphere.

From a dark site, far from city lights, viewers should be able to catch around 60 meteors per hour at the peak. For observers at most locations, the peak will arrive in the early morning hours on Tuesday, local time, before dawn breaks.

Smaller numbers of meteors will be visible on Monday evening, since light from a nearly full Moon will wash out fainter meteors. The number of meteors visible will increase when the Moon sets at around 0130 local time on Tuesday for observers at mid-northern latitudes.

The meteors will appear all over the sky, so the best strategy is to lie down and stare at as large a patch of sky as possible – away from the Moon, if it is still up. Tracing the paths of the meteors backwards will lead to a point in the constellation Perseus, which gives the yearly display its name (scroll down for image).

Perseid meteors are bits of debris shed by comet Swift-Tuttle, which takes 133 years to orbit the Sun and last passed through the inner solar system in 1992.

Its fragments hit the atmosphere at an average speed of 59 kilometres per second, causing most to disintegrate far above Earth, at altitudes of 80 to 120 kilometres – around the edge of space at 100 km.

A typical meteor barrelling through the thin atmosphere at this height is just the size of a grain of sand or a small pebble. But it creates a column of glowing gas tens of kilometres long and hundreds of metres wide.

Earth accumulates an estimated 1000 to 10,000 tonnes of material from meteorites each day.

Comets and Asteroids – Learn more in our special report.


More Monsanto Tidbits

Refer back to this post . Read that and then compare the information to these two news summaries from Yahoo! It's enough to make a poor humble consumer smile.

Monsanto looking to sell bovine hormone business
The Ithaca Journal Fri, 08 Aug 2008 2:27 AM PDT
Fifteen years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved recombinant bovine growth hormone for use in dairy production, Monsanto has decided it may not be such a cash cow.

Monsanto puts bovine growth hormone out to pasture [60-Second Science Blog]
Scientific American Thu, 07 Aug 2008 12:53 PM PDT
After years of legal wrangling over the proper labeling of milk from cows treated with its artificial hormone, Monsanto wants to sell its milk business--specifically, POSILAC, the bovine growth hormone given to cows to boost their production of milk. [More]

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Monsanto the Monster Being Monitored

Check out this informative site to find out what our least favorite corporation is up to and how it is destroying the world's food production for corporate profit.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Received in an Email

The following is a letter I received in my inbox (email) yesterday:


If you have gift cards, hurry up and use them!!

Just passing this along - FYI

Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide A company spokeswoman said the company hasn't revealed which stores will be shuttered.. It will let the stores that will close this fiscal year know over the next month

Eddie Bauer to close more stores
Eddie Bauer has already closed 27 shops in the first quarter and plans to close up to two more outlet stores by the end of the year.

Cache closing stores
Women's retailer Cache announced that it is closing 20 to 23 stores this year.

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherine's closing 150 stores nationwide The owner of retailers Lane Bryant , Fashion Bug , Catherine's Plus Sizes will close about 150 underperforming stores this year.
The company hasn't provided a list of specific store closures and can't say when it will offer that info, spokeswoman Brooke Perry said today.

Talbots, J. Jill closing stores
About a month ago, Talbots announced that it will be shuttering all 78 of its kids and men's stores. Now the company says it will close another 22 underperforming stores.. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots women's and J. Jill , another chain it owns. The closures will occur this fiscal year, according to a company press release.

Gap Inc. closing 85 stores
In addition to its namesake chain, Gap also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic . The company said the closures - all planned for fiscal 2008 - will be weighted toward the Gap brand

Foot Locker to close 140 stores
In the company press release and during its conference call with analysts today, it did not specify where the future store closures - all plan need in fiscal 2008 - will be. The company could not be immediately reached for comment

Wickes is going out of business
Wickes Furniture is going out of business and closing all of its stores, Wickes, a 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

Goodbye Levitz / BOMBAY - closed already
The furniture retailer, which is going out of business. Levitz first announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910 when Richard Levitz opened his first furniture store in Lebanon, PA. In the 1960s, the warehouse/showroom concept brought Levitz to the forefront of the furniture industry. The local Levitz closures will follow the shutdown of Bombay.

Zales, Piercing Pagoda closing stores
The owner of Zales and Piercing Pagoda previously said it plans to close 82 st ores by July 31. Today, it announced that it is closing another 23 underperforming stores. The company said it's n ot pro viding a list of specific store closures. Of the 105 locations planned for closure, 50 are kiosks and 55 are stores.

Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores The Walt Disney Company announced it acquired about 220 Disney Stores from subsidiaries of The Children's Place Retail Stores. The exact number of stores acquired will depend on negotiations with landlords. Those subsidiaries of Children's Place filed for bankruptcy protection in late March. Walt Disney in the news release said it has also obtained the right to close about 98 Disney Stores in the U.S. The press release didn't list those stores.

Home Depot store closings (E. Brunswick, Rt 18 just put up their closing sign)
ATLANTA - Nearly 7+ months after its chief executive said there were no plans to cut the number of its c ore retail stores, The Home Depot Inc. announced Thursday that it is shuttering 15 of them amid a slumping US. economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store for performance reasons. Its shares rose almost 5 percent. The Atlanta-based company said the underperforming U.S.stores being closed represent less than 1 percent of its existing sto res. They will be shuttered within the next two months.

CompUSA (CLOSED) clarifies details on store closings Any extended warranties purchased for products through CompUSA will be honored by a third-party provider, Assurant Solutions. Gift cards, rain checks, and rebates purchased prior to December 12 can be redeemed at any time during the final sale. For those who have a gadget currently in for service with CompUSA,

Macy's - 9 stores

Movie Gallery - 160 stores as part of reorganization plan to exit bankruptcyThe video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental chain closed last fall.

Pacific Sunwear - 153 Demo stores

Pep Boys - 33 stores

Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations New Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse appears to have inherited a company bleeding subsc ribers by the thousands, and will now officially be dropping the ax on
4,000 employees and 125 retail locations. Amid the loss of 639,000 postpaid customers in the fourth quarter, Sprint will be cutting a total of 6.7% of its work force (following the 5,000 layoffs last year) and 8% of company-owned brick-and-mortar stores, while remaining mute on other rumors that it will consolidate its headquarters in Kansas . Sprint Nextel shares are down $2.89, or nearly 25%, at the time of this writing.

J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot are scaling back

Ethan Allen Interiors: The company announced plans to close 12 of 300+ stores in an effort to cut costs.

Wilsons the Leather Experts - 158 stores

Pacific Sunwear will close its 154 Demo stores after a review of strategic alternatives for the urban-apparel brand Seventy-four underperforming Demo stores closed last May.

Sharper Image: The company recently filed for bankruptcy protection and an nounced that 90 of its 184 stores are closing. The retailer will still operate 94 stores to pay off debts, but 90 of these stores have performed poorly and also may close.

Bombay Company: (Freehold Mall store closed) The company unveiled plans to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores. The company's online storefront has discontinued operations.

KB Toys posted a list of 356 stores that it is closing around the United States as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. To see the list of store closings, go to the KB Toys Information web site, and click on Press Information

Dillard's to Close More Stores
Dillard's Inc. said it will continue to focus on closing underperforming stores, reducing expenses and improving its merchandise in 2008. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO William Dillard II said the company will close another six underperforming stores this year.


Well . . . this seems to say something about the old "butter or guns" theory. Things are looking very bad economically for folks in the USA. How will all of this affect the rest of the world? The petroleum sector is making huge profits. Maybe they'll buy up all these bankrupt companies and put people back to work? Nah! Why should they? Any comments? Post below:

Saturday, August 02, 2008

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHI: Anthrax Lies and Press/Government Complicity

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHI: Anthrax Lies and Press/Government Complicity

Anthrax Lies and Press/Government Complicity

The FBI's lead suspect in the September, 2001 anthrax attacks -- Bruce E. Ivins -- died Tuesday night, apparently by suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to charge him with responsibility for the attacks. For the last 18 years, Ivins was a top anthrax researcher at the U.S. Government's biological weapons research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, where he was one of the most elite government anthrax scientists on the research team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID).The 2001 anthrax attacks remain one of the great mysteries of the post-9/11 era. After 9/11 itself, the anthrax attacks were probably the most consequential event of the Bush presidency. One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential
For full article and commentary, please go to this URL: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/01/anthrax/index.html My own comments on the article: Very intriguing article. There was a report on television's CNN that the government was postulating that Ivins may have released anthrax in order to test his own vaccine development against anthrax. The whole story is so bizarre that it takes on a kind of "conspiracy theory" mythic "smell." It is certainly time for public disclosure of ALL FACTS related to this story by all parties involved - including McCain! If I were part of the Democratic campaign, I'd start digging for the dirt now and spill everything found to be factual. Is Ivins another possible scapegoat as was said of Lee Harvey Oswald after the Kennedy assassination? Was he a lose canon? Was he merely a guy doing what he was told to do by his supervisors? We do know that many media outlets have (and still do) accepted government press releases as fact without doing any investigative journalism during the last eight years. We know there are members of the Bush "team" even now accused of lying to Congress and the press. We have ample reason to be suspicious. If Americans are ever going to regain faith in their government, the truth must come out ASAP. What can you do? Write to every newspaper you normally read, write to your senators and repesentatives, let others know about this article. Use the power of the Internet to get the word out that America must be protected from its own government excesses!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Capitol Crimes


Wave of 'Capitol Crimes' Continues

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
July 31, 2008

Like the largesse he spread so bountifully to members of Congress and the White House staff -- countless fancy meals, skybox tickets to basketball games and U2 concerts, golfing sprees in Scotland -- Jack Abramoff is the gift that keeps on giving.

The notorious lobbyist and his cohorts (including conservatives Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed) shook down Native American tribal councils and other clients for tens of millions of dollars, buying influence via a coalition of equally corrupt government officials and cronies dedicated to dismantling government by selling it off, making massive profits as they tore the principles of a representative democracy to shreds.

A report earlier this summer from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform builds on an earlier committee investigation that detailed some 485 contacts between Abramoff and the Bush administration.

According to the new report, "Senior White House officials told the Committee that White House officials held Mr. Abramoff and members of his lobbying team in high regard and solicited recommendations from Mr. Abramoff and his colleagues on policy matters."

Now Abramoff's doing time in Maryland, at a minimum security Federal prison.

He's serving five years and ten months for unrelated, fraudulent business practices involving a fake wire transfer he and a partner fabricated to secure a loan to buy SunCruz Casinos, a line of Florida cruise ships that ferried high and low rollers into international waters to gamble (its original owner, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, was gunned down, Mafia-style, in February 2001).

But come September, Abramoff will be sentenced for his larger-than-life role in one of the biggest scandals in American history, a collection of outrages that has already sent one member of Congress to jail, others into retirement and dozens of accomplices running for cover.

Over the last couple of years he has been singing to the authorities, which is why he has been kept in a detention facility close to DC and the reason his sentencing for tax evasion, the defrauding of Indians and the bribing of Washington officials has been delayed -- the FBI is thought to be using Abramoff's testimony to build an ever-expanding case that may continue to shake those who live within the Beltway bubble for months and years to come.

Bill Moyers Journal is airing an updated edition of "Capitol Crimes," a special that was first produced for public television two years ago, relating the entire sordid story of the Abramoff scandals.

Produced by Sherry Jones, the rebroadcast comes at a moment of renewed interest, with not only Abramoff's sentencing imminent, but the most important national elections in decades little more than three months away and continuing, seemingly daily revelations of further, profligate abuses of power.

Politicizing Justice

Monday saw the publication of a 140-page report from the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, confirming that, as the Washington Post recounted, "For nearly two years, a young political aide sought to cultivate a 'farm system' for Republicans at the Justice Department, hiring scores of prosecutors and immigration judges who espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices.

"That aide, Monica M. Goodling, exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department's second-in-command... [The report] concluded yesterday that Goodling and others had broken civil service laws, run afoul of department policy and engaged in 'misconduct,' a finding that could expose them to further scrutiny and sanctions."

With the next day's sunrise came the indictment of Alaskan Republican Ted Stevens, the first sitting U.S. Senator to face criminal charges in 15 years.

Apparently, the senator was playing the home version of "The Price Is Right," for among the gifts a grand jury says were illegally rewarded him by the oil company VECO were a Viking gas grill, tool cabinet and a wraparound deck for his mountainside house in Anchorage.

In fact, VECO allegedly gave the place an entire new first floor, with two bedrooms and a bath. How neighborly.

(By the way, just to round the circle, Senator Stevens received $1,000 in campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff directly, which subsequently he donated to the Alaskan chapter of the Red Cross, and $16,500 from Native American tribes and others represented by Abramoff, which Stevens gave to other charities.)

Coincidentally, this week also marks the publication of a new book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, written by Thomas Frank, the author of What's the Matter with Kansas? In an essay in the August issue of Harper's magazine, adapted from the book, Frank adroitly weaves the actions of Abramoff and his pals into a vastly larger ideological framework.

"Fantastic misgovernment is not an accident," he writes, "nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society.

"This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, what follows from that: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we've come to expect from Washington. …

"The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary school. Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers.

"They have made a cult of outsourcing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job.

"Repairing it will require years of political action."

Have we the stamina, commitment -- or even the attention span -- to take such action?

Abramoff may be cooling his heels in minimum security but his pals DeLay, Norquist and Reed appear on television and radio whose hosts treat them as political savants with nary a nod to their past nefarious association with Abramoff.

Few in the audience seem to notice or care.

Former House majority leader DeLay's awaiting trial on money laundering charges, and the incorrigible Ralph Reed, who played Christian pastors in Texas for suckers in enlisting their unwitting help for Abramoff's gambling clients, even has a political potboiler of a novel out -- Dark Horse, the story of a failed Democratic presidential candidate who finds God, then runs as an independent, funded, presumably, by the supreme being's political action committee.

"Do we Americans really want good government?" That's a question asked, not by Thomas Frank, but the muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens, writing more than a century ago in his book, The Shame of the Cities.

Steffens wrote, "We are a free and sovereign people, we govern ourselves and the government is ours. But that is the point. We are responsible, not our leaders, since we follow them. We let them divert our loyalty from the United States to some 'party;' we let them boss the party and turn our municipal democracies into autocracies and our republican nation into a plutocracy.

"We cheat our government and we let our leaders loot it, and we let them wheedle and bribe our sovereignty from us."

From more than a hundred years' distance, Steffens would recognize Abramoff & company for what they are. And we for who we are; a nation too easily distracted and looking the other way as everything rightfully ours is taken.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers.

To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. (To make a blog comment about this or other stories, you can use your normal e-mail address and password. Ignore the prompt for a Google account.) To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.



Friday, July 04, 2008


Yahoo! News
Back to Story - Help
Extinction risks vastly underestimated: study

Wed Jul 2, 1:41 PM ET

Some endangered species may face an extinction risk that is up to a hundred times greater than previously thought, according to a study released Wednesday.

By overlooking random differences between individuals in a given population, researchers may have badly underestimated the perils confronting threatened wildlife, it said.

"Many larger populations previously considered relatively safe would actually be at risk," Brett Melbourne, a professor at the University of Colorado and the study's lead author, told AFP.

There are more than 16,000 species worldwide threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

One in four mammals, one in eight birds and one in three amphibians are on the IUCN's endangered species "Red List".

In a study released on Wednesday by the journal Nature, Melbourne said the current models used draw up such lists typically look only at two risk factors.

One is the individual deaths within a small population, such as Indian tigers or rare whales.

When a species dwindles beyond a certain point, even the loss of a handful of individuals can have devastating long-term consequences, Melbourne explained.

There are less than 400 specimens of several species of whale, for example, and probably no more than 4,000 tigers roaming in the wild.

The second commonly-used factor is environmental conditions that can influence birth and death rates, such as habitat destruction, or fluctuations in temperature or rainfall, both of which can be linked to climate change.

Melbourne and co-author Alan Hastings from the University of California at Davis argue that these factors must be widened in order to give a fuller picture of extinction risk.

They say that two other determinants must be taken into account: male-to-female ratios in a species, and a wider definition of randomness in individual births and deaths.

These complex variables can determine whether a fragile population can overcome a sudden decline in numbers, such as through habitat loss, or whether it will be wiped out.

"This seems subtle and technical, but it turns out to be important," Melbourne said in an email. "Population sizes might need to be much larger for species to be relatively safe from extinction."

The new mathematical tool will be most useful for biologists who want to assess the survival prospects of species such as marine fish whose numbers can suddenly fluctuate and for which data is limited, the authors say.

Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AFP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Agence France Presse.
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Free Will?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal tells us about brain research suggesting that we make decisions below the level of consciousness. We actually aren't aware of the decision already made by the brain for 10 seconds. This raises many interesting questions about what it means to be human.
Read the article HERE and then comment on it in the comments section below.

Do we really have Free Will? What is consciousness? How does consciously thinking about a problem affect the outcome? Is the experiment described in the article a valid one?

Congress Considering Impeaching Bush

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bomb Iran? What's to Stop Us?

Unlike the attack on Iraq five years ago, to deal with Iran there need be no massing of troops. And, with the propaganda buildup already well under way, there need be little, if any, forewarning before shock and awe and pox – in the form of air and missile attacks – begin.

This time it will be largely the Air Force’s show, punctuated by missile and air strikes by the Navy. Israeli-American agreement has now been reached at the highest level; the armed forces planners, plotters and pilots are working out the details.

Emerging from a 90-minute White House meeting with President George W. Bush on June 4, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the two leaders were of one mind:

“We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions, and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before the end of his term in the White House.”

Does that sound like a man concerned that Bush is just bluff and bluster?

A member of Olmert’s delegation noted that same day that the two countries had agreed to cooperate in case of an attack by Iran, and that “the meetings focused on ‘operational matters’ pertaining to the Iranian threat.” So bring ‘em on!

A show of hands please. How many believe Iran is about to attack the U.S. or Israel?

You say you missed Olmert’s account of what Bush has undertaken to do? So did I. We are indebted to intrepid journalist Chris Hedges for including the quote in his article of June 8, “The Iran Trap.”

We can perhaps be excused for missing Olmert’s confident words about “Israel’s best friend” that week. Your attention – like mine – may have been riveted on the June 5 release of the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding administration misrepresentations of pre-Iraq-war intelligence – the so-called “Phase II” investigation (also known, irreverently, as the “Waiting-for-Godot Study”).

Better late than never, I suppose.


Yet I found myself thinking: It took them five years, and that is what passes for oversight? Yes, the president and vice president and their courtiers lied us into war. And now a bipartisan report could assert that fact formally; and committee chair Jay Rockefeller could sum it up succinctly:

“In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”

But as I listened to Senator Rockefeller, I had this sinking feeling that in five or six years time, those of us still around will be listening to a very similar post mortem looking back on an even more disastrous attack on Iran.

My colleagues and I in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) issued repeated warnings, before the invasion of Iraq, about the warping of intelligence. And our memoranda met considerable resonance in foreign media.

We could get no ink or airtime, however, in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) in the U.S. Nor can we now.

In a same-day critique of Colin Powell’s unfortunate speech to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003, we warned the president to widen his circle of advisers “beyond those clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

It was a no-brainer for anyone who knew anything about intelligence, the Middle East, and the brown noses leading intelligence analysis at the CIA.

Former U.N. senior weapons inspector and former Marine major, Scott Ritter, and many others were saying the same thing. But none of us could get past the president’s praetorian guard to drop a memo into his in-box, so to speak. Nor can we now.

The “Iranian Threat”

However much the same warnings are called for now with respect to Iran, there is even less prospect that any contrarians could puncture and break through what former White House spokesman Scott McClellan calls the president’s “bubble.”

By all indications, Vice President Dick Cheney and his huge staff continue to control the flow of information to the president.

But, you say, the president cannot be unaware of the far-reaching disaster an attack on Iran would bring?

Well, this is a president who admits he does not read newspapers, but rather depends on his staff to keep him informed. And the memos Cheney does brief to Bush pooh-pooh the dangers.

This time no one is saying we will be welcomed as liberators, since the planning does not include – officially, at least – any U.S. boots on the ground.

Besides, even on important issues like the price of gasoline, the performance of the president’s staff has been spotty.

Think back on the White House press conference of Feb. 28, when Bush was asked what advice he would give to Americans facing the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline.

“Wait, what did you just say?” the president interrupted. “You’re predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?…That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.”

A poll in January showed that nearly three-quarters of Americans were expecting $4-a-gallon gas. That forecast was widely reported in late February, and discussed by the White House press secretary at the media briefing the day before the president’s press conference.

Here’s the alarming thing: Unlike Iraq, which was prostrate after the Gulf War and a dozen years of sanctions, Iran can retaliate in a number of dangerous ways, launching a war for which our forces are ill-prepared.

The lethality, intensity and breadth of ensuing hostilities will make the violence in Iraq look, in comparison, like a volleyball game between St. Helena’s High School and Mount St. Ursula.

Cheney’s Brainchild

Attacking Iran is Vice President Dick Cheney’s brainchild, if that is the correct word.

Cheney proposed launching air strikes last summer on Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases, but was thwarted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff who insisted that would be unwise, according to J. Scott Carpenter, a senior State Department official at the time.

Chastened by the unending debacle in Iraq, this time around Pentagon officials reportedly are insisting on a “policy decision” regarding “what would happen after the Iranians would go after our folks,” according to Carpenter.

Serious concerns include the vulnerability of the critical U.S. supply line from Kuwait to Baghdad, our inability to reinforce and the eventual possibility that the U.S. might be forced into a choice between ignominious retreat and using, or threatening to use, “mini-nukes.”

Pentagon opposition was confirmed in a July 2007 commentary by former Bush adviser Michael Gerson, who noted the “fear of the military leadership” that Iran would have “escalation dominance” in any conflict with the U.S.

Writing in the Washington Post last July, Gerson indicated that “escalation dominance” means, “in a broadened conflict, the Iranians could complicate our lives in Iraq and the region more than we complicate theirs.”

The Joint Chiefs also have opposed the option of attacking Iran’s nuclear sites, according to former Iran specialist at the National Security Council, Hillary Mann, who has close ties with senior Pentagon officials.

Mann confirmed that Adm. William Fallon joined the Joint Chiefs in strongly opposing such an attack, adding that he made his opposition known to the White House, as well.

The outspoken Fallon was forced to resign in March, and will be replaced as CENTCOM commander by Gen. David Petraeus – apparently in September. Petraeus has already demonstrated his penchant to circumvent the chain of command in order to do Cheney’s bidding (by making false claims about Iranian weaponry in Iraq, for example).

In sum, a perfect storm seems to be gathering in late summer or early fall.

Controlled Media

The experience of those of us whose job it was to analyze the controlled media of the Soviet Union and China for insights into Russian and Chinese intentions have been able to put that experience to good use in monitoring our own controlled media as they parrot the party line.

Suffice it to say that the FCM is already well embarked, a la Iraq, on its accustomed mission to provide stenographic services for the White House to indoctrinate Americans on the “threat” from Iran and prepare them for the planned air and missile attacks.

At least this time we are spared the “mushroom cloud” bugaboo. Neither Bush nor Cheney wish to call attention, even indirectly, to the fact that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last November that Iran had stopped nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 and had not resumed it as of last year.

In a pre-FCM age, it would have been looked on as inopportune, at the least, to manufacture intelligence to justify another war hard on the heels of a congressional report that on Iraq the administration made significant claims not supported by the intelligence.

But (surprise, surprise!) the very damning Senate Intelligence Committee report got meager exposure in the media.

So far it has been a handful of senior military officers that have kept us from war with Iran. It hardly suffices to give them vocal encouragement, or to warn them that the post WW-II Nuremberg Tribunal ruled explicitly that “just-following-orders” is no defense when war crimes are involved.

And still less when the “supreme international crime” – a war of aggression is involved.

Senior officers trying to slow the juggernaut lumbering along toward an attack on Iran have been scandalized watching what can only be described as unconscionable dereliction of duty in the House of Representatives, which the Constitution charges with the duty of impeaching a president, vice president or other senior official charged with high crimes and misdemeanors.

Where Are You, Conyers?

In 2005, before John Conyers became chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary, he introduced a bill to explore impeaching the president and was asked by Lewis Lapham of Harpers why he was for impeachment then. He replied:

“To take away the excuse that we didn’t know. So that two, or four, or ten years from now, if somebody should ask, ‘Where were you, Conyers, and where was the U.S. Congress?’ when the Bush administration declared the Constitution inoperative…none of the company here present can plead ignorance or temporary insanity [or] say that ‘somehow it escaped our notice.’”

In the three years since then, the train of abuses and usurpations has gotten longer and Conyers has become chair of the committee. Yet he has dawdled and dawdled, and has shown no appetite for impeachment.

On July 23, 2007, Conyers told Cindy Sheehan, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, and me that he would need 218 votes in the House and they were not there.

A week ago, 251 members of the House voted to refer to Conyers’ committee the 35 Articles of Impeachment proposed by Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who sat on Judiciary with Conyers when it voted out three articles of impeachment on President Richard Nixon, spoke out immediately: “The House should commence an impeachment inquiry forthwith.”

Much of the work has been done. As Holtzman noted, Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment, together with the Senate report that on Iraq we were led to war based on false pretenses – arguably the most serious charge – go a long way toward jump-starting any additional investigative work Congress needs to do.

And seldom mentioned is the voluminous book published by Conyers himself, “Constitution in Crisis,” containing a wealth of relevant detail on the crimes of the current executive.

Conyers’ complaint that there is not enough time is a dog that won’t hunt, as Lyndon Johnson would say.

How can Conyers say this one day, and on the next say that if Bush attacks Iran, well then, the House may move toward impeachment.

Afraid of the media?

During the meeting last July with Cindy Sheehan, Rev. Yearwood and me, and during an interview in December on “Democracy Now,” Conyers was surprisingly candid in expressing his fear of Fox News and how it could paint Democrats as divisive if they pursued impeachment.

Ironically, this time it is Fox and the rest of the FCM that is afraid – witness their virtual silence on Kucinich’s very damning 35 Articles of Impeachment.

The only way to encourage constructive media attention would be for Conyers to act. The FCM could be expected to fulminate against that, but they could not afford to ignore impeachment, as they are able to ignore other unpleasant things – like preparations for another “war of choice.”

I would argue that perhaps the most effective way to prevent air and missile attacks on Iran and a wider Middle East war is to proceed as Elizabeth Holtzman urges – with impeachment “forthwith.”

Does Conyers not owe at least that much encouragement to those courageous officers who have stood up to Cheney in trying to prevent wider war and catastrophe in the Middle East?

Scott McClellan has been quite clear in reminding us that once the president decided to invade Iraq, he was not going to let anything stop him. There is ample evidence that Bush has taken a similar decision with respect to Iran – with Olmert as his chief counsel, no less.

It is getting late, but this is due largely to Conyers’ own dithering. Now, to his credit, Dennis Kucinich has forced the issue with 35 well-drafted Articles of Impeachment.

What the country needs is the young John Conyers back. Not the one now surrounded by fancy lawyers and held in check by the House leaders.

In October 1974, after he and the even younger Elizabeth Holtzman faced up to their duty on House Judiciary and voted out three Articles of Impeachment on President Richard Nixon, Conyers wrote this:

“This inquiry was forced on us by an accumulation of disclosures which, finally and after unnecessary delays, could no longer be ignored…Impeachment is difficult and it is painful, but the courage to do what must be done is the price of remaining free.”

Someone needs to ask John Conyers if he still believes that; and, if he does, he must summon the courage to “do what must be done.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was Army intelligence/infantry officer and a CIA analyst for 27 years, and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Oye! Veh!

Check out this article from New Scientist at this address and below:

Could nuclear warheads go off 'like popcorn'?

  • 26 June 2008

Web Links
YOU might think nuclear weapons have been carefully designed not to go off by accident. Yet more than 1700 of them have design flaws that could conceivably cause multiple warheads to explode one after another - an effect known as "popcorning" - according to a UK Ministry of Defence safety manual.

A typical Trident nuclear missile contains from three to six warheads, and a US submarine might carry up to 24 missiles. Weapons builders aim to prevent accidental explosions of warheads by designing them to be "single-point safe". This means that a sudden knock at a single point - say if it were dropped from a crane while being unloaded from a submarine - should not detonate the plutonium core.

However, a nuclear-weapons safety manual drawn up by the MoD's internal nuclear-weapons regulator argues that this standard single-point design might not be enough to prevent popcorning. The document was declassified last month.

The manual says that warheads should be capable of resisting multiple simultaneous impacts. This "would contribute to the prevention of popcorning and should be a design objective".

It also recommends replacing the highly sensitive explosive that surrounds the warheads' plutonium cores. A single knock may not detonate the core, but could set off this explosive. Less-sensitive explosives are available, but they are heavier and bulkier than those currently in use, so the warheads would have to be redesigned.

The effects of a popcorning accident would be dire.

Friday, June 20, 2008


FDA sued for failure to act on risky painkiller

Thu Jun 19, 4:03 PM ET

A prescription painkiller sold under such names as Darvon and Darvocet is too risky to stay on the market, a consumer advocacy group argued Thursday in suing the Food and Drug Administration.

Public Citizen petitioned the FDA two years ago seeking a ban on the drug, calling it no more effective than safer painkillers and citing the accidental deaths of more than 2,000 people since 1981.

Thursday, Public Citizen filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington arguing that FDA has violated the law by not ruling on its petition within the required six months.

At issue is a narcotic known chemically as propoxyphene, sold by numerous generic manufacturers as well as under the brand names Darvon and Darvocet.

It is considered a relatively weak painkiller. Public Citizen's Dr. Sidney Wolfe cited a recent review of research studies that found ibuprofen worked better for most kinds of pain.

Yet propoxyphene is addictive, and even when used properly it can cause slowed heartbeat and other serious cardiac side effects, the lawsuit says. In addition, Wolfe said it has been deemed inappropriate for the elderly because of other side effects, include sedation and confusion, that increase risk of falls and fractures.

British health authorities ordered the drug phased out there in 2005, saying at the time that it was associated with a few hundred accidental deaths and suicides a year.

In the U.S., propoxyphene remains one of the most widely prescribed generic drugs, with 22 million prescriptions filled last year.

Neither FDA nor one of the drug's main manufacturers immediately responded to requests for comment.



Mind Games

I'm adding a new link for those of us who love mental stimulation!


In Your Guts You Know He's Nuts

The following article appears on the on-line version of The New York Times. Nuclear Energy is one of the most wasteful and dangerous forms of energy production on the planet. We saw how many nuclear power plants had to be "contained" following China's earthquake this year and how many others are affected in other countries as well. We see that the USA government has actually sent fissionable nuclear materials via ordinary truck and rail carriers through some of the most populous regions of the country. We know about Chernobyl and Three-Mile-Island. We know that producing electricity via nuclear fission is like trying to shoot a mosquito with an elephant gun. We also know that metal fatigue from exposure to radiation is much greater than originally anticipated and that the dangers are far greater than the governments and utilities industries want us to know. Add to that the costs (government subsidies to outweigh the high cost of production) and the problem STILL UNSOLVED of what to do with all that radioactive waste!

McCain Sets Goal of 45 New Nuclear Reactors by 2030


Published: June 19, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Senator John McCain said Wednesday that he wanted 45 new nuclear reactors built in the United States by 2030, a course he called "as difficult as it is necessary."

In his third straight day of campaign speechmaking about energy and $4-a-gallon gasoline, Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, told the crowd at a town-hall-style meeting at Missouri State University that he saw nuclear power as a clean, safe alternative to traditional sources of energy that emit greenhouse gases. He said his ultimate goal was 100 new nuclear plants.

Mr. McCain has long promoted nuclear reactors, but Wednesday was the first time that he specified the number of plants he envisioned.

Currently there are 104 reactors in the country supplying some 20 percent of electricity consumed. No new nuclear power plant has been built in the United States since the 1970s.

"China, Russia and India are all planning to build more than a hundred new power plants among them in the coming decades," Mr. McCain said in this pocket of Missouri that is reliably Republican. "Across Europe there are 197 reactors in operation, and nations including France and Belgium derive more than half their electricity from nuclear power. And if all of these nations can find a way to carry out great goals in energy policy, then I assure you that the United States is more than equal to the challenge."

Although there has been a shift of opinion in the industry and among some environmentalists toward more nuclear power — it is clean and far safer than at the time of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 — most environmentalists are skeptical of the latest claims by its advocates. They also say that no utility will put its own financing into building a plant unless the federal government lavishly subsidizes it.

"Wall Street won't invest in these plants because they are too expensive and unreliable, so Senator McCain wants to shower the nuclear industry with billions of dollars of taxpayer handouts," said Daniel J. Weiss, who heads the global warming program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal research group.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Mr. McCain's chief domestic policy adviser, said Mr. McCain had arrived at the goal of 45 as consistent with his desire to expand nuclear power, "but not so large as to be infeasible given permitting and construction times."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Doodles Deluxe

Learning to use this new art tool is half the fun! Trial and error makes pretty designs.

Try it here.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Bats Eat Dirt to Stay Healthy

Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.comWed Jun 4, 9:10 AM ET

The strange act of eating dirt - known as "geophagy" - is actually common in the animal kingdom. Not only do our closest living relatives the chimpanzees do it - in order to help fight malaria - but so occasionally do humans all over the world.

Researchers suspect geophagy could help animals get key minerals they need for nutrition, much as they might from a salt lick. But hitting the dirt might also help them fight off poisons.

Chemical combat

When eating, people cut the green off potatoes because it is bad for you. Many fruits, leaves and things animals munch on naturally contain molecules that are toxic or could trigger cancer or birth defects. The minerals in the dirt animals eat could bind to electrically charged portions of the poisonous compounds and neutralize them.

Each night, tropical fruit-eating bats devour large amounts of such poisonous chemicals with their food. These molecules could prove especially dangerous to young bats, both those as yet unborn and ones still nursing from their mothers.

To see why bats might eat dirt, a team of researchers spent a month lurking around six mineral licks in the Amazonian rainforest at night.

"It is quite astonishing to see all the paths that lead to the mineral licks that were created by generations of tapirs and wild pigs," said researcher Christian Voigt, a behavioral ecologist at the Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany. "Indians hunted at these sites as well. Mineral licks are hot spots of mammalian activity."

The scientists captured bats with nets, briefly took some tissue samples, and released the creatures. They also sampled the clay they ate and the mineral-rich water they drank.

"At first glance it seemed that bats visit these sites for the same purpose as other animals such as large tapirs or birds - that is, to meet their daily mineral requirements," Voigt said.


But the researchers found the bats that stopped most often at mineral licks were fruit-eaters, not insect-eaters. And fruits are rich in minerals already.

Instead, Voigt and his colleagues suspect the bats eat dirt to detoxify themselves. The bats that stop at mineral licks are often pregnant or nursing mothers, so this geophagy may help them protect their young.

"Bats are doing the same as humans, especially Indian tribes in the Amazon," Voigt explained. Some tribes are known to eat dirt while pregnant or nursing. "Somehow the bats have found the same solution for the problem of toxic compounds in fruits."

The scientists now hope to investigate how specifically the minerals work, research that could lead to novel therapies.

"It is astonishing that eating mud is so widespread in mammals," Voigt told LiveScience. "Possibly, we should reconsider our assumptions regarding clay consumption. Maybe it is good stuff."

Voigt and his colleagues detailed their findings online on April 23 in the journal PLoS ONE.

Video: How Bats Fly Video: Smoking Out Secrets of Bat Flight Bat's Wrinkly Face Improves Sonar Original Story: Bats Eat Dirt to Stay Healthy

Visit LiveScience.com for more daily news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view. LiveScience reports amazing, real world breakthroughs, made simple and stimulating for people on the go. Check out our collection of Science, Animal and Dinosaur Pictures, Science Videos, Hot Topics, Trivia, Top 10s, Voting, Amazing Images, Reader Favorites, and more. Get cool gadgets at the new LiveScience Store, sign up for our free daily email newsletter and check out our RSS feeds today!

Note: My grandmother used to say a baby needed to eat a peck of dirt to start life well. I guess she knew much more than I knew! She was from Poland and had visions which were later coaberated. A wise woman. Cockroaches and earthworms eat dirt, too. There are many micro-nutients in soil.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Bush seeks $770M in food help during crisis

Kareem Elgazzar

Issue date: 6/2/08 Section: News

As part of a broader $70 billion Iraq war funding measure for 2009, the Bush administration has added an aid package encouraging the use of genetically modified crops for the world's disadvantaged populations.

The Bush administration is seeking congressional approval of a $770 million food package in an effort to ease the world food crisis. If approved, the U.S. Agency for International Development would spend $150 million on development farming, which would include the use of genetically modified crops.

Genetically modified crops are produced from crops whose genetic makeup have been altered through a process called recombinant DNA, or gene splicing, to give the plant a desirable trait, according to a 2003 report in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's FDA Consumer.

Using the tools of genetic engineering allows the transfer of useful genes from one organism to a totally unrelated organism. Plants can be used, for example, to produce human proteins, such as insulin and antibodies, according to "Plants and Society," a textbook co-authored by Estelle Levetin and Karen McMahon.

"The building blocks for DNA and proteins are largely universal across organisms," said Susan Dunford, associate professor of biological sciences and instructor of a plants and people course. "As with any technology, the potential benefits, which are considerable, need to be weighed against the potential risks."

As the value or detriment of genetically modified, or bioengineered, food is ambiguous to researchers in the U.S. and Europe, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has done little research or development into the issue.

© 2008 The News Record

Poor farmers world wide can't take advantage of genetically modified crops since the modifications are meant to save time and man-power ONLY in large agri-businesses. In addition, the seeds produced by GM crops are engineered to prevent normal reproduction of the plant. That means that today's poor farmer using GM crops will have to BUY seed for next year's crops instead of simply harvesting seed as is done normally. Including GM crops in any package of food aid is like sending in a Trojan Horse filled with future hunger and/or dependence on the supplier of the GM seed (most likely, Monsanto) to those markets not currently under the control of the GM crop patent holder. Instead of helping people, the addition of a GM crops provision will actually harm them! It's time for Congress to take a long hard look at future damages that could result from this sneaky maneuver.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Runaway Global Warming 635 Million Years Ago

LiveScience Staff

Wed May 28, 4:16 PM ET

A sudden and extreme case of runaway global warming 635 million years ago was caused by an abrupt release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, scientists said today.

The methane seeped from ice sheets that covered much of the planet toward the end of a frigid era called Snowball Earth. The gas escaped gradually at first and then very quickly from clathrates, or methane ice that forms and stabilizes beneath water ice sheets. As the water ice melted, pressure was relieved on the clathrates and they began to de-gas.

The transition represents one of the earliest known cases of what scientists now call a climatic tipping-point.

The big question scientists are now pondering: Could it happen again?

"Our findings document an abrupt and catastrophic global warming that led from a very cold, seemingly stable climate state to a very warm, also stable, climate state - with no pause in between," said geologist Martin Kennedy of the University of California at Riverside, who led the research team.

"What we now need to know is the sensitivity of the trigger," Kennedy said. "How much forcing does it take to move from one stable state to the other - and are we approaching something like that today with current carbon dioxide warming?"

Also called marsh gas, methane is a colorless, odorless gas. As a greenhouse gas, it is about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Methane clathrates still exist in Arctic permafrost and beneath the oceans at continental margins. Kennedy said it's possible that very little warming could unleash this trapped methane, potentially warming the planet by tens of degrees.

Kennedy and colleagues collected hundreds of marine sediment samples in South Australia for stable isotope analysis, an important tool used in climate reconstruction. They found the broadest range of oxygen isotopic variation ever reported from marine sediments, which they attribute to melting waters in ice sheets as well as destabilization of clathrates by glacial meltwater.

"Today we're conducting a global-scale experiment with Earth's climate system," Kennedy said, "and witnessing an unprecedented rate of warming, all with little or no knowledge of what instabilities lurk in the climate system and how they can influence life on Earth."

He said Nature did a similar experiment 635 million years ago, "and the outcome is preserved in the geologic record. We see that strong forcing on the climate, not unlike the current carbon dioxide forcing, results in the activation of latent controls in the climate system that, once initiated, change climate to a completely different state."

The research, detailed in the May 29 issue of the journal Nature, was supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA's Exobiology Program.

Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth Global Melt: Sea Ice Seen From Orbit How Lowly Bacteria Froze Earth Solid Original Story: Runaway Global Warming 635 Million Years Ago

Visit LiveScience.com for more daily news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view. LiveScience reports amazing, real world breakthroughs, made simple and stimulating for people on the go. Check out our collection of Science, Animal and Dinosaur Pictures, Science Videos, Hot Topics, Trivia, Top 10s, Voting, Amazing Images, Reader Favorites, and more. Get cool gadgets at the new LiveScience Store, sign up for our free daily email newsletter and check out our RSS feeds today!

About Me

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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