Hopi Indians oppose recycled wastewater for Arizona skiers

A ski area in the US state of Arizona hopes to become the latest in a small number of resorts using “recycled” sewer water to make snow. But the Hopi Indian tribe aims to stop what they describe as the desecration of their sacred mountain.

The San Francisco Peaks tower over the baking Arizona desert. Stands of white barked aspens, spruce and ponderosa pines dot the high tundra landscape, and the mountain is the highest in the state.

The writer must never have been there. This is near Flagstaff and one of the greenest parts of the state.

The US Forest Service, which manages the land, recommends it for hikers seeking solitude in the wilderness. The mountain is a holy entity for the Hopi and other Indian tribes who lived in the area centuries before Europeans arrived.

On the mountain’s western face lies the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, a narrow 777-acre block of land poking 10,000ft (3,048m) into the wilderness area, which surrounds it on three sides.

People have been skiing there since 1938. But Arizona is one of the driest states in the US, and a recent run of dry winters has left the operators scrambling to find water to make artificial snow to keep skiers – and their dollars – on the slopes.

The resort’s owners, who manage the resort under an agreement with the US government, are embroiled in a row with the Hopi Indian tribe, which has filed a lawsuit to stop Snowbowl’s plan to pump highly treated wastewater from the nearby city of Flagstaff up the ski runs to make artificial snow.

The Hopi say spraying treated wastewater on the mountain – even just within the boundaries of the ski resort – would irreparably sully it and threaten their ability to carry out their religious rites among the peaks. And they say it would defile the pristine wilderness for all those who want to enjoy it without skis on.

I’m not going to waste space on the myths of religious beliefs which wholly ignore science and scientific testing. Recycling wastewater is a successful process worldwide. It’s such a standard in the world of recycling that the topic is boring.

What do you think astronauts drink?

The Santa Fe River running through the bosque behind our back meadow is downstream from and fed by a wastewater recycling process at the outlet end of Santa Fe’s waste treatment system. It’s been providing water safe enough for farming for years. Our wells are checked periodically and they are safe and fine. Farms downstream in La Bajada produce vegetables that are tested safe, indistinguishable from vegetables from any other part of the state in terms of contaminants. We might worry a little about uranium; but – that’s a different question.

Solve the Hopi worries the same way they have always been solved. Give them a percentage of the business. That may be cold; but, it’s pretty much acceptable to all the Native American nations in the region. Usually the only question is which tribe gets the fees.

Our favorite Christian says the world is ending, Friday. Again.

“I switched back to Windows, this time!”

When the California Christian group known as Family Radio predicted the beginning of the end of the world as we know it back in the spring (not for the first time), Harold Camping and his followers splashed dire warnings on billboards around the globe.

But then nothing happened on May 21. There was no rapture and true believers weren’t swept to heaven while everyone else was left waiting to be consumed in the total destruction of Earth by Oct. 21.

Despite that setback, the California-based group is still looking on Friday as a day of reckoning, even if its predictions have been toned down.

There aren’t any billboards this time, and the 90-year-old Camping has shifted from definitive language to adding the word “probably” to his vocabulary.

So, if history repeats itself, the world will be just fine on Saturday. In fact, one observer expects Family Radio, which describes itself as a “non-profit, non-commercial Christian radio network,” will keep sending out its signals, too.

I doubt that Camping’s followers will experience sufficient frustration over his latest klutzup to stop sending in their hard-earned money. One thing that’s consistent about True Believers is that repeated failure does not constitute contradiction.

Like most nutball evangelicals, Harold will continue to roll in the cabbage.

Thanks, Cinaedh

Will the GOP vote to kill jobs as further proof they hate Obama more than they love America? – UPDATED

Obama speaking at fire station in Virginia
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Maybe as early as Thursday night, the Senate will take its first vote on one bite-size piece of President Obama’s jobs bill, a $35 billion measure to fund the hiring of 400,000 teachers and a smaller number of cops and firefighters. It will fail. As usual not a single Republican will vote for it, and since a majority in the Senate is now not 51 but 60 because the Republicans filibuster nearly everything, it will fall well short of passage…

The basic facts are these. The public supports this bill. Senate Democratic sources say that of all the individual pieces of the larger jobs bill, this one polled the best by far. Better than payroll tax cuts. That’s why they decided to go with it first. The funding mechanism is also highly popular. It is a 0.5 percent (don’t miss that decimal point!) surtax on dollars earned above $1 million—so, for example, a person whose salary is $1.2 million would pay the extra 0.5 percent only on those dollars above $1 million, for a whopping tax increase of $1,000. I have not seen polling on this specific amount of tax, but surveys constantly show that the generic “millionaire’s tax” wins broad support. Just yesterday, National Journal put it at 68 percent, including 90 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents…

In an earlier time, in normal times, when legislators used to behave the way legislators are supposed to behave, the minority’s leaders would have brought the price tag down, made the majority and the White House agree to something they wanted—peeling back one of those EPA regulations the Republicans hate—and we’d have had a deal…the minority would have actually paid a bit of attention to those polls showing the American people backed this.

Of course, Republicans can’t say that they’ll oppose Obama on everything, but they don’t have to. People get it. It seeps out of them, like oil from a polluted stream.

It’s difficult to attempt politeness describing what passes for Republican ideology, nowadays. I frequently discuss politics [and economics, technology, education] with one of my kinfolk who is a former Republican. That is, a former member of the Republican Party. After 50 years of commitment to traditional American conservatism – the whole range from environmental conservation to fiscal soundness with a healthy taste of what Bush and Cheney would have characterized as isolationism – he left that party. He doesn’t ask me to be polite – as long as I recognize the difference between conservatism and populist hypocrites. That’s good enough for me.

Watching the effete prancing in the worst political minuet played to patriot tunes since George Wallace tried to lead the White Citizens Councils into Congress and the White House – how could anyone who hasn’t lost his mind defend these deliberate attempts to sabotage the American economy, the American people?

UPDATE: Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas voted against the administration proposal last night, as did independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. No Republican supported the measure.

Three especially worthless politicians + the predictable in-your-pants vote for the wealthiest 1% of America.

Gaddafi dead of wounds suffered during capture

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi died of wounds suffered on Thursday as fighters battling to complete an eight-month-old uprising against his rule overran his hometown Sirte, Libya’s interim rulers said.

His killing, which came swiftly after his capture near Sirte, is the most dramatic single development in the Arab Spring revolts that have unseated rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and threatened the grip on power of the leaders of Syria and Yemen.

“He (Gaddafi) was also hit in his head,” National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”

Mlegta told Reuters earlier that Gaddafi, who was in his late 60s, was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked. He said he had been taken away by an ambulance…

His capture followed within minutes of the fall of Sirte, a development that extinguished the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the deposed leader.

The capture of Sirte and the death of Gaddafi means Libya’s ruling NTC should now begin the task of forging a new democratic system which it had said it would get under way after the city, built as a showpiece for Gaddafi’s rule, had fallen.



Rovio reveals Angry Birds played for 300 million minutes per day

Angry Birds, the hugely popular mobile phone game, is played by 30 million people every day for a total of 300 million minutes, its creators have revealed.

The simple game, which is made by Rovio, a Finnish company, is played by around 130 million people every month.

The figures were announced by Andrew Stalbow, Rovio’s American chief at the annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco…

Stalbow said that company was now focusing building a “next generation digital entertainment company” and growing the game into a “big entertainment franchise”. Rovio’s new ventures are set to include an Angry Birds cookbook of egg recipes. In Angry Birds, the birds are angry because their eggs have been stolen by the pigs.

Stalbow also confirmed to The Telegraph that the Angry Birds movie is slated for release in 2014, after a series of cartoons have been released…

The company’s second largest market after the US is now China, where both the game and merchandise such as toys and jumpers are hugely popular.

Obviously, with this number of people enjoying the game instead of their job or studies – it must be the work of the AntiChrist. Or at least someone who doesn’t vote Republican/Tory/Conservative.

Check out four startups that could change the world

Bill Joy, founder of Sun Microsystems and partner at the venerable venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, is talking up a handful of companies he’s invested in that make use of abundant materials — in some cases materials that get thrown away or burned up — to make valuable commodities and reduce carbon emissions and replace petroleum. He described the new companies today at the Emtech Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Solidia: The company, based on technology developed at Rutgers, is using carbon dioxide to make building materials that have the strength of concrete, but that rather than emitting one ton of carbon dioxide per ton of concrete, Joy says, it actually uses carbon dioxide as a building material.

Siluria: Natural gas is extremely abundant, but it’s not useful for much other than burning it to generate electricity. Unlike oil, it isn’t a good building block for drugs and plastics. And unlike oil, it’s difficult to ship. To this day, some oil fields burn off the natural gas that comes up the well because there’s no economic way to get it to market. Siluria is using directed evolution techniques developed at MIT to quickly sort through large numbers of potential catalysts for breaking down methane and forming building blocks that can be used to make ethylene, an important feedstock material, and eventually a range of chemicals and liquid fuels. The company says it’s catalysts work well enough now to make liquid fuels at about $50 a barrel.

Renmatix: Cellulosic materials like wood chips are abundant, but turning them into sugar, which can be used to make ethanol and diesel—is expensive. Renmatix uses water at high temperatures and pressures to break cellulose down. The company says it will be cheaper because it doesn’t require the enzymes or expensive catalysts used in current methods.

Aquion: The company is building cheap batteries to store power from wind turbines and solar panels, which could be key to making up for the variability of these electricity sources. The battery uses abundant materials—manganese, salt, water, and carbon—rather than potentially expensive metals like nickel.

My favorite is the last-named, Aquion. Some portion of many resource and environment-saving processes is electricity. No matter how it is generated – hopefully from natural forces or a renewable resource – inexpensive storage is a necessity.

I’d love an affordable opportunity to stop subsidizing the lifestyle of our power utility executives.