Obamas plant an organic kitchen garden

Michelle Obama, White House chefs and school kids break ground
Daylife/Getty Images

Want to know where the presidential produce comes from? Take a walk past the White House. The answer may be planted right in front of you.

First lady Michelle Obama helped break ground on a new White House organic “kitchen garden” Friday. It will be the first working garden at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a so-called “victory garden” at the height of World War II…

We’re just hoping that a lot of families look at us and say this is something that they can do and talk to their own kids about and think a little bit critically about the food choices that they make,” presidential mother-in-law Marian Robinson said…

The idea of a presidential kitchen garden, used year-round with different seasonal crops, has been strongly promoted by advocates for organic and locally grown food. They argue that the White House garden may help set a positive example for families short on time and money, who are often tempted by cheaper, highly processed food.

The presidential garden will be used, among other things, for growing such staples as butterhead and red leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli, onions, carrots and peas.

It will also include a range of herbs, including sage, oregano and rosemary.

I hope they haven’t the range of rodents from squirrels to gophers we battle for dibs on our garden.

Carbonated Oceans aren’t fizzy – or funny

CO2 sensors deployed south of Point Conception

The loading of carbon dioxide into oceans is a consequence of fossil fuel use that has only begun to be widely recognized as problematic in the past decade. Its subsequent effects on seawater chemistry have the potential to spread ecological disaster to a variety of industries dependent on the seas.

To understand what the world might expect, several Scripps research teams are drawing on the institution’s expertise in long-term climate data collection and on new technologies that will help them understand when, where, and how ocean chemistry changes when the seas are overwhelmed by increasing infusions of carbon dioxide. They are joining a growing number of international scientists who are turning their attention to the issue. Their collective hope is to understand whether the oceans are approaching a tipping point of widespread damage and to see what can be done to prevent it…

As humans burn oil and coal, carbon dioxide is released and accumulates in the atmosphere. A little less than half of it stays in the sky and about a third enters the oceans, dissolving into seawater at the ocean surface.

When ocean water absorbs CO2, the two react to form carbonic acid. The acid reacts with carbonate ions, making the ions less available in ocean waters to shell-forming organisms. Robbed of sufficient quantities of a main ingredient for their shells, these organisms may become less hardy and less able to replenish their numbers.

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Violence sparks return to the question of decriminalizing drugs

Daylife/AP Photo

While Congress is considering major spending requests for security along the Mexican border to help curb drug violence, others are proposing a less-expensive but, some say, dangerous solution: decriminalizing drugs.

“It’s the least worst option to ending the cartel violence,” El Paso, Texas, city Councilman Robert O’Rourke told CNN in a phone conversation last week. “I thought our drug laws were silly, but you don’t realize how big of a problem you’re facing until it really gets brought home for you in your community.”

O’Rourke knows what it’s like to live in a border town gripped by drug violence. El Paso and its Mexican sister city Juarez share a street grid system, among other things.

“We feel the violence every day,” O’Rourke said. “The cartels control [Juarez], and that spills over onto the U.S. side. Decriminalizing drugs would take away a lot of the financial incentive for the cartels to kill. The violence would go down.”

The rising violence has prompted people like O’Rourke, and now Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, to examine all options.

“We are not winning the battle,” Goddard said at a congressional hearing this week in Washington. “Sixty percent of the battle is marijuana.”

He said he has called for “at least a rational discussion” on ways to take the profit out of marijuana and look at drug treatment.

“Frankly, we would have a profound impact on demand,” he said.

To O’Rourke, a rational discussion translates into an honest conversation about possible solutions to the drug war, even if that means decriminalizing drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to conclude the “War on Drugs” has been an abysmal failure, a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

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The State of Birds in the United States – doesn’t fly


Nearly a third of 800 U.S. bird species are imperiled or in significant decline because of habitat loss, climate change, invasive species and other threats, according to a comprehensive new federal report.

The “State of the Birds” report shows sobering declines for rare birds on the Hawaiian islands and in ocean habitats, grasslands and arid lands. But it shows waterfowl and wetland birds rebounding, an improvement that conservation groups touted as evidence of the success of habitat-protection programs.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the report a “clarion call” for more investment in the Fish and Wildlife Service, in conservation programs and in large-scale legislative efforts. “This report should be a call to action, but it is action within our reach,” Salazar said at a news conference. “If we move forward with a new ethic of conservation, we will be able to restore bird populations.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, state wildlife agencies and nonprofits worked on the report, which analyzes 40 years of data from various bird censuses.

The report shows that populations of half of all migrating shorebirds have declined and populations of birds in arid lands have declined 30 percent in the past 40 years. The report links shorebird declines to stress from development, disturbance and dwindling food supplies along the coasts. Urban development sprawling into arid lands is threatening birds there.

RTFA. Better yet, read the report.

US navy vessels thump each other in Strait of Hormuz

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Two US navy vessels have collided in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran, lightly injuring 15 sailors, the US navy said. A nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Hartford, and amphibious transporter the USS New Orleans collided early on Friday, the US Navy Fifth Fleet said.

The incident is being investigated and damage to both ships is being evaluated, a navy statement said.

The New Orleans’ fuel tank was ruptured in the crash, causing a spill of 25,000 gallons of diesel.

No injuries were reported aboard the New Orleans, according to the statement from the Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain.

The atomic propulsion system of the submarine was not damaged by the incident, the statement said.

The US Fifth Fleet…patrols an area of about 7.5 million square miles of sea in the Middle East and eastern Africa. You’d think with that much room they could keep from running into each other.

Of course, by the time the weekend talk shows roll around, Rush and the RNC will have figured out some way to blame Iran, China and Obama – not necessarily in that order.

Anti-war member of British Parliament is refused entry to Canada

George Galloway in Gaza
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Anti-war MP George Galloway has been banned from Canada, it emerged today. A Canadian spokesman confirmed that the Respect MP had been deemed inadmissible on national security grounds and would not be allowed into the country.

Galloway today branded the ban “idiotic” and vowed to fight the ruling with “all means” at his disposal. He is due to give a speech in Toronto on 30 March.

The Sun said border security officials had declared Galloway, 54, “inadmissible” because of his views on Afghanistan and the presence of Canadian troops there and would be turned away if he attempted to enter the country…

The MP said…”This has further vindicated the anti-war movement’s contention that unjust wars abroad will end up consuming the very liberties that make us who we are.

“This may be a rather desperate election ploy by a conservative government reaching the end of line, or by a minister who has not cottoned on to the fact that the George Bush era is over.

“All right-thinking Canadians, whether they agree with me over the wisdom of sending troops to Afghanistan or not, will oppose this outrageous decision.

Of course, Harper thinks he is George W. Bush. What I have to wonder is whether or not the land I live in – south of the Great White North – will still allow Galloway to enter.

If so, he could stand on our side of the border and use a P.A. system to address Canadians.

Online game gets license to be a bank – WTF?

Online game Entropia Universe has been granted a licence to be a bank. Issued by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, the licence means the game can be more closely tied to the real world finances of players.

Mindark, the developers of the game, said it aimed to launch a fully-functioning in-game bank within the next 12 months.

At current exchange rates, 10 PED (Project Entropia Dollars) are worth one US dollar.

Players pay real money to get at in-game items, such as guns, armour and other gear, and the micro-payment system pays for Entropia’s running costs.

We will be in a position to offer real bank services to the inhabitants of our virtual universe,” said Jan Welter Timkrans, boss of Mindark. It plans to offer players interest-bearing accounts, let them deposit their salaries and pay bills or lend cash via the in-game bank.

When will they start offering mortgage-based derivatives?

Saturn says – “We’re not your father’s Oldmobile”

Of course, that didn’t do a whole boatload of good for Oldsmobile either. Did it?

For the first time since the financial difficulties of General Motors began threatening the company’s existence, a G. M. division will run advertising that addresses the effects of the precarious situation.

A campaign for the Saturn division of the General Motors Corporation, which is now under way, features dealers — known in Saturn-speak as retailers — talking frankly to consumers. The dealers urge potential car buyers not to be deterred from considering Saturn by the problems confronting G. M., the American automotive industry or the economy in general…

Saturn is among four marques, along with Hummer, Saab and Pontiac, that G. M. identifies as not part of its long-range plans for full brand lines. G. M. said last month that Saturn would be phased out by 2012, although the company would consider a plan from dealers or investors for a spinoff of the division.

We know what’s going on in the market,” said Kim McGill, director for advertising and promotions at Saturn in Detroit. “We’re not hiding behind it…we still need to communicate” that Saturn continues to sell a “full portfolio of products…”

IMHO, Saturn represents pretty much everything that’s ever been wrong with GM style and design. They grabbed the lowest common denominator in design spec and matched it to the homeliest designs since the Chrysler Airstream.

Toxic Emissions Fell in 2007, E.P.A. Says

The “boss” over at the Big Blog does this kind of post a couple times a month. Coming from a background in journalism, he’s incensed when news sources offer diametrically-opposed headlines about exactly the same story. Here’s todays example of what I’m talking about:

From the New York TIMES, a pretty straight up headline. That’s it up top:

Daylife/Getty Images

The volume of toxic chemicals that were released into the environment or sent for disposal in 2007 dropped 5 percent compared with 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday. But concealed within the overall numbers was good and bad news.

For example, the volume of released or disposed “persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals,” substances like lead, dioxin, mercury and PCBs, was up slightly, the agency said. Most of those releases were not to air or water, the agency said, meaning that the material was mostly buried in landfills, injected into deep wells or held in impoundments.

The number given for PCBs was up by 40 percent, but “it’s good news,” said Michael P. Flynn, acting deputy assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Information.

The E.P.A. banned production of PCBs 30 years ago, so pounds counted now, Mr. Flynn said, represent electrical transformers or other equipment being taken out of service and PCBs disposed of in qualified facilities…

Mr. Flynn said that over the last few years, “the overall direction is a decreasing amount of releases.” Pollution prevention, reductions in chemical use, and some industrial companies’ going out of business all contributed, he said.

Now, the dorks at AP headline: EPA reports uptick in some toxic chemicals in 2007

San Jose Mercury News says: Toxic chemical pollution up 2.1% in NV from 06-07

You get the idea. My background is in insurgent politics – so, I expect these clowns to lie and cheat on behalf of the political interests of their publishers every chance they get. They’re owned by reactionary dragons. what do you expect?