The US Forest Service should change its name to the US Fire Service


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Vehicles stopped on Highway 101 in California

This year’s wildfire season has just started, and it’s already bad. The west is still charred from last season’s burns, and hotter weather has been drying out the landscape’s surviving trees. Meanwhile, climate change is making fire season longer. The end result is a monstrous bed of fuel and weather conditions perfect for an apocalyptic season.

And starved of reasonable funding, the agencies charged with staving off the burn are already running into questions of how to pay for fighting the inferno. The problem is simple: Firefighting costs are rising, but funding can’t keep up…

One possible fix? Get really big fires reclassified as natural disasters — which would let the agency dip into bigger pool for the nastiest infernos.

“If you look at all the fires in a year, 1 percent — the big ones — account for 30 percent of suppression costs,” says Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. “These expenditures can be treated as natural disasters.” At a June 23 meeting, agency leaders kicked that idea through the latest draft of the Wildfire Budgeting, Response, and Forest Management Act. They’ve been trying this for years, but keep getting stymied by a combative Congress.

Instead, the agency has to borrow money from other forest health programs to help keep fires at bay. Normally, that money would be used to fight invasive insects, clear buildups of undergrowth, and monitor disease outbreaks — things that keep the forest from becoming even more of a tinderbox. But as wildfire conditions worsen, the agency keeps on borrowing more from itself. Two decades ago, firefighting burned through about 16 percent of the agency’s budget. Today, that percentage is around half. “Eventually, the US Forest Service will become the US Fire Service,” says Bonnie.

In the meantime, the vicious fire-borrowing cycle is having a disastrous impact on America’s national forest health. Fungal outbreaks, beetle infestations, and other catastrophes weaken the trees. When those trees die, they become fuel.

Like in California. Last week the USFS announced that the southern Sierra Nevada is cluttered with at least 66 million dead trees, which is bad news for the region’s drought-stressed forests. Dead trees create ladders for fire to climb up and spread through the crown. That’s how the 7,500-acre Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara threatened to take a chunk out of coastal Los Padres National Forest—before fire season even officially got going…

So, forests are dealing with a new millennium’s fire hazards. But the suppression funding structure is still stuck in the ’90s. According to Bonnie, the current wildfire act will need some serious changes before it stands to reverse wildfire trends…He is hopeful that a revised act will have no trouble getting bipartisan support, but he says Congress would have to act quickly to make anything happen by September. And if they don’t start calling catastrophic burns what they are — natural disasters — the only thing left for the Forest Service to manage will be some dry, bare, charred mountains.

Poisonally, I think Robert Bonnie is stuck in a time warp. One where the threat of civilian death and destruction forces bipartisan action in Congress. He’s talking about getting a bill through that combo of Do-Nothing/Know-Nothing political hacks before the election in November.

Congress – especially the House – just proved they’re not capable of bipartisan legislation against the Zika virus. They only offered a Bill with requirements to defund Planned Parenthood, cut Medicare and Obamacare. A zero-sum definition of Public Health.

Trump promised millions to charity — remove half of those zeros!

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold is investigating how much Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has given to charity in recent years. Here’s what he found…

In May, under pressure from the news media, Donald Trump made good on a pledge he made four months earlier: He gave $1 million to a nonprofit group helping veterans’ families.

Before that, however, when was the last time that Trump had given any of his own money to a charity?

If Trump stands by his promises, such donations should be occurring all the time. In the 15 years prior to the veterans donation, Trump promised to donate earnings from a wide variety of his moneymaking enterprises: “The Apprentice.” Trump Vodka. Trump University. A book. Another book. If he had honored all those pledges, Trump’s gifts to charity would have topped $8.5 million.

But in the 15 years prior to the veterans’ gift, public records show that Trump donated about $2.8 million through a foundation set up to give his money away — less than a third of the pledged amount — and nothing since 2009. Records show Trump has given nothing to his foundation since 2008…

In recent weeks, The Post tried to answer the question by digging up records going back to the late 1980s and canvassing a wide swath of nonprofits with some connection to Trump.

That research showed that Trump has a long-standing habit of promising to give to charity. But Trump’s follow-through on those promises was middling — even at the beginning, in his early days as a national celebrity.

In the 1980s, Trump pledged to give away royalties from his first book to fight AIDS and multiple sclerosis. But he gave less to those causes than he did to his older daughter’s ballet school.

In recent years, Trump’s ­follow-through on his promises has been seemingly nonexistent.

The Post contacted 188 charities searching for evidence of personal gifts from Trump in the period between 2008 and this May. The Post sought out charities that had some link to Trump, either because he had given them his foundation’s money, appeared at their charity galas or praised them publicly.

The search turned up just one donation in that period — a 2009 gift of between $5,000 and $9,999 to the Police Athletic League of New York City.

There are a number of credible claims that Trump is a pathological liar. It’s compulsive and he makes no attempt to control his obsession with making himself sound larger than his miserly life really is.

Maybe it’s true after all.

The fools content with voting for him don’t care. About Trump’s lies – or the truth.

Cannabis compound removes Alzheimer’s plaque from brain cells

Alzheimer’s disease may now be added to a list of diseases with promising treatment from cannabis compounds, a new study from the Salk Institute says.

While there has been research and trials to use compounds to treat chronic pain, cancers, epilepsy, and other diseases and illnesses, this laboratory study is the first of its kind to test tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a main component in marijuana, against the plaque buildup of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease…

What they found was that not only did the THC cause a breakdown of the protein buildup, but a reduction in inflammation in the cells. ​Inflammation is bad because it makes it harder for your neurons to communicate with one another correctly…

This study is also novel because the research also provides a stronger link between protein buildup and the inflammation of the neurons. Some past hypotheses had thought that other immune-like cells had been inflamed, and not the neurons themselves…

Much more study must be conducted before a causal link can be suggested between THC and beta amyloid, the researchers say, including human clinical trials. These exploratory laboratory models are just the beginning.

Plus, there will be the usual crap researchers have to go through just to be able to perform this kind of research. Uncle Sugar is still motoring along with laws decades out of date. Never justified by anything other than religious hysteria, cannabis compounds are still listed as dangerous as heroin and numbnuts in Congress are afraid to challenge such silliness.

Motion capture dance – beauty, dance and digital effects

 
Method Design was tapped by production company RSA to concept and create this year’s AICP Sponsor Reel. The AICP awards celebrate global creativity within commercial production. Method Design wanted to create an entertaining piece of design that encapsulates the innovative and prolific nature of this industry. Our aim was to showcase the AICP sponsors as various dancing avatars, which playfully reference the visual effects used throughout production. Motion capture, procedural animation and dynamic simulations combine to create a milieu of iconic pop dance moves that become an explosion of colorful fur, feathers, particles and more.

Thanks, Ursarodinia