2019 “Dead Zone” in Gulf of Mexico may be the second largest on record

❝ A recent forecast of the size of the “Dead Zone” in the northern Gulf of Mexico for late July 2019 is that it will cover 8,717-square-miles of the bottom of the continental shelf off Louisiana and Texas. The unusually high Mississippi River discharge in May controls the size of this zone, which will likely be the second largest zone since systematic measurements began in 1985. The water mass with oxygen concentrations less than 2 parts per million forms in bottom waters each year primarily as a result of nitrogen and phosphorus loading from the Mississippi River watershed, which fertilizes the Gulf of Mexico’s surface waters to create excessive amounts of algal biomass. The decomposition of this plant material in the bottom layer leads to oxygen loss…

❝ The low oxygen conditions in the gulf’s most productive waters stresses organisms and may even cause their death, threatening living resources, including fish, shrimp and crabs caught there. Low oxygen conditions started to appear 50 years ago when agricultural practices intensified in the Midwest. No reductions in the nitrate loading from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico have occurred in the last few decades.

Cows and soybeans continue to be more important than shrimp or fish.

Or clean water.

Jimmy Page’s Dragon Guitar Reborn

Here’s what Page’s axe looked and sounded like in 1968

❝ Fender instruments on Wednesday gave the public its first look at its recreation of a Telecaster guitar that Page once painted with a dragon, a long-lost piece of six-string history that marked the guitar hero’s last days in the Yardbirds and first days in Led Zeppelin.

❝ The instrument with the psychedelic green-and-red serpent on its body represents “a pivotal moment for the guitar and music,” said Paul Waller, the master builder who worked side-by-side with Page to make him a spot-on match of the guitar before making 50 more by hand to sell to the public.

❝ The reboot was hatched when Page was looking through photographs for a book celebrating last year’s 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin. The dragon guitar, which he says was once his “Excalibur,” kept popping up in them, and he started to think it was time to get past his bitterness about its fate…

❝ The 1959 Telecaster, pre-paint, had been a cherished gift from his fellow former Yardbird bandmate Jeff Beck…

Page first decorated it with mirrors, then pulled out poster paints and used his art-school skills to summon the dragon.

He would use the guitar to write and record songs like “Dazed and Confused” for the first Led Zeppelin album, work as significant as any in the history of the electric guitar.

But a clueless house-sitter, not thinking much of Page’s painting, put his own mosaic artwork over the dragon and presented it to Page as a gift. Page said it was all he could do not to hit the guy over the head with it. Instead, he stripped it bare and angrily threw it into storage, where it sat for 50 years.

RTFA for the tale of rebirth courtesy of the guitar builders at Fender.

The Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church – 50 years ago


Click on photo to reach a slide show of photos from the bombing

Sarah Jean Collins, 12, lies in a hospital bed after being blinded by dynamite set off in basement of the church. The explosion killed her sister and three other girls just as her Sunday school class was ending.

On September 15, 1963, two and a half weeks after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a dynamite bomb set by members of the Ku Klux Klan erupted, just as twenty six children walked into the basement assembly room of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, were killed, and 22 others were injured. Photographs of the bombing’s aftermath–including the iconic image of blinded Sarah Jean Collins in her hospital bed–shocked the nation and helped give an emotional push for the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

I was co-chairman of a local civil rights organization in my home town back in southern New England, then. We mobilized to demonstrate against the violence of the racists who committed crimes like this one. More to the point, we had already planned a jobs campaign we started the next week which opened up jobs for Blacks and Puerto Ricans in previously White-only companies. Some locally-owned. Some were part of national chains.

Every crisis is an opportunity.Don’t mourn – Organize!

Algeria’s ruling coalition wins legislative polls


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Algeria’s National Liberation Front and a sister party have won legislative elections, defeating an Islamist alliance.

Dahou Ould Kablia, interior minister, said on Friday the National Liberation Front took 220 seats and its sister party in government, the National Democratic Rally, took 68 seats. The two parties now form a majority in the 462-seat parliament.

The Islamist Green Alliance came in a distant third in Thursday’s elections with just 48 seats…The new parliament will be entrusted with helping a new constitution as well as set the stage for the all-important 2014 presidential elections…

Turnout for the vote widely viewed as a test of the ruling elite’s legitimacy was 42.9 per cent, said the government. The figure, announced on Thursday evening by Kablia, marked an improvement on turnout at the last elections in 2007 and was claimed by some an endorsement for recent political reforms introduced in the wake of the Arab Spring…

…Calls for boycotts appeared not to have achieved the massive abstention some were predicting. Still, the fact that more than half of eligible voters did not go to the polls was no surprise in a climate of mistrust and cynicism against the parliamentary system, which many Algerians view as nothing more than a veneer for the military government…

The government appears to have made the right move at the right time – for a change. The initiative for boycotts has its roots almost exclusively in the most conservative Islamist communities. Though the generals often portrayed themselves as saving the people from theocracy – the tendency to fall back on undemocratic means as a quick and easy solution endeared them to no one.

A blot on the brave history of Algerians and their fight against colonial France.