Political Correctness Bastion of Anti-Science Republicans

❝ Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead.

❝ A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change.

❝ A missive from Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, lists terms that should be avoided by staff and those that should replace them. “Climate change” is in the “avoid” category, to be replaced by “weather extremes”. Instead of “climate change adaption”, staff are asked to use “resilience to weather extremes”.

RTFA for details of sophistry required by Trumpkins appointed to implement corporate obedience.

Back when conservatives and other self-righteous hacks introduced political correctness to US Government, neither party had a problem with stationing our military in 150 foreign countries managed by the shiny new “Department of Defense” instead of the War Department that actually was premised upon defending the continental United States.

Let’s hope for more backbone in a changing generation of Democrats.

Secrets of a New York City Banana

❝ On a hot day in June, the Hermann Hesse slipped into New York Harbor and headed for the Red Hook Container Terminal in Brooklyn. The 550-foot container ship, flying the Liberian flag, had come some 3,000 miles from Ecuador. It had gone through the Panama Canal, picked up cargo in the Caribbean and weathered a few squalls.

Its arrival in Brooklyn was only the beginning for the bananas on board.

❝ Every week, a ship like this one brings 40 container loads of bananas — or about four million — to the Red Hook terminal, a fifth of the 20 million bananas distributed around New York City each week.

❝ When bananas arrive in New York, they begin a second journey, traveling in a large loop around the city. They may be handled by customs officials in Brooklyn, blasted with a ripening gas in New Jersey, haggled over at an enormous produce market in the Bronx and finally taken in an unmarked truck, at night, to a fruit stand near you…

❝ In most of the country, the unseen, nocturnal business of ripening and distributing bananas is performed by grocery chains like Safeway. In New York, though things may be headed in that direction, much of the work still falls to local banana purveyors. They can trace their roots back to Antonio Cuneo, an Italian immigrant who cornered the market in the late 19th century and became known as the Banana King.

Fascinating article for all the reasons good journalism can be, should be. Not that there isn’t a place for imaginary tales. Even outside political lies, self-agrandizement. But, a straightforward piece of reporting like this – one that wanders off here and there to explain the nooks and crannies that adhere to all the economic and cultural processes of a topic essential to daily life – is a boon. A credit to the historical roots of journalism.

A worthwhile read.

Thanks, Justin

Solving the Mystery of the White Box That Fell From the Sky

❝ Fifty-five years ago, in the woods outside Moncton, New Brunswick, around 160 miles east of the Maine border, David McPherson Sr. found a very large white box adorned with some very large lenses. It was attached to a parachute, so McPherson thought it might be an American spy camera, possibly launched by the Central Intelligence Agency. The fact that Canadian military tried to take the box from him — before McPherson and his family voluntarily relinquished it in exchange for answers that never came — only added to his suspicions.

McPherson died 18 months ago, never having gotten to the bottom of the mystery. But this week his son, David McPherson Jr., said that his father had been right all along. Declassified CIA documents reveal that the white box was part of a CIA program to send cameras into the sky with balloons to spy on the Soviets. The McPhersons’ box likely hit some wind and went astray…

❝ The CBC helped the McPhersons crack the mystery after running a story Monday about the “thing in the woods.” A rush of tips soon came in, leading the family to some declassified documents on the CIA website, in addition to the Military Communications and Electronics Museum in Kingston, Ontario, both of which had photos of apparatuses that looked like the one they had found. Documents also reveal that the box was likely part of Project Genetrix, a program started under President Dwight D. Eisenhower that used balloons to conduct surveillance over Russia and China, according to the CBC.

It’s unclear where the box is now — maybe in a government warehouse somewhere — but the McPhersons still have some two-dozen photos from its discovery. They also now have closure.

Of course it would have been beyond stupid to think this thing was a weather balloon. Anymore than the replacement – shot down over the Society Union, the U2 spy plane – was doing weather research. The sad bit is that our government simply never feels there is an appropriate time to tell the truth to taxpayers picking up the tab.

Wonder what’s on the shelf labeled ROSWELL?

Country roads, West Jamaica

❝ For the first time in years, I’ve taken to wearing a headset, listening to music, on part of my morning walks.

❝ The first set is usually the Amazon Music All Jazz playlist – tailored by my thumbs up-and-down. Folks like Miles and Monk and Mingus back from the era when I could hop the train down to NYC for the weekend and cruise jazz clubs, sleep in Washington Square Park without either being arrested or mugged.

The second playlist I named Groundation after my favorite contemporary Reggae group – though much of what I listen to is as old as my jazz favorites. This morning’s second set of walking our fenceline ended with Toots and the Maytals – and the best thing that ever happened to West Virginia.

Donald Trump’s early-onset dementia inspires memes, e.g., #localmilkpeople

❝ Of all the strange things in a very unusual conversation between Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull, the internet has crowned just one to be the day’s meme-in-chief.

A newly published transcript of the phone call between the US president and the Australian prime minister shows the pair discussing a deal made under the Obama administration to resettle to the US more than 1,000 refugees currently held in Australia’s offshore detention centres.

It’s a deal that Trump is not happy with and he made it clear during what was an awkward and combative phone conversation back in January. Trump said the refugees – who are mostly from Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan – would go on to be the next Boston bombers, which Turnbull pointed out was unlikely since the Boston bombers came from Russia. No matter, Trump was still very displeased.

❝ “I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.”

Lots more examples in this GUARDIAN article.