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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Archive for July, 2010

Sad to say, if you ever eat food from the Gulf again, you’re insane.

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Scientists Find Evidence That Oil And Dispersant Mix Is Making Its Way Into The Foodchain

Scientists have found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico, the first clear indication that the unprecedented use of dispersants in the BP oil spill has broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the foodchain.

Marine biologists started finding orange blobs under the translucent shells of crab larvae in May, and have continued to find them “in almost all” of the larvae they collect, all the way from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Fla. — more than 300 miles of coastline — said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

And now, a team of researchers from Tulane University using infrared spectrometry to determine the chemical makeup of the blobs has detected the signature for Corexit, the dispersant BP used so widely in the Deepwater Horizon.

Thank you, BP, for poisoning our natural resources for profit.

Thank you, federal government, for aiding and abetting them in doing so with tax incentives, lax oversight, and Dick Cheney’s energy group authorizing the skimping on maintenance practices.

Thank you again federal government, for spending trillions of dollars killing little brown people who have the misfortune of living over oil, instead of investing in our future via alternative energy- or better yet, not spending the trillions at all and let us have it to perhaps develop such fuels ourselves.

Thank you fellow citizens who waste enough energy every day to power the planet again and again, who overbuilt this nation with now empty strip malls and office buildings because the money was cheap and you just had to have another fucking Blockbuster and Starbucks.

Thanks to the GOP, who masturbate into piles of lobbyist cash with hands slicked up by crude, dooming our future for a few more greasy dollars.

Really, thanks all of you, for gutting the economy of a yet another part of America for short term gain. I’d rather not eat Chinese shrimp, but I guess I don’t have much choice now. Thanks, thanks a bunch.

Reading the future via the web

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring

The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.

In some corners, the scrutiny of the company’s political ties have dovetailed with concerns about how Google collects and uses its enormous storehouse of search data, e-mail, maps and online documents. Google, as we all know, keeps a titanic amount of information about every aspect of our online lives. Customers largely have trusted the company so far, because of the quality of their products, and because of Google’s pledges not to misuse the information still ring true to many.

But unease has been growing. Thirty seven state Attorneys General are demanding answers from the company after Google hoovered up 600 gigabytes of data from open Wi-Fi networks as it snapped pictures for its Street View project. (The company swears the incident was an accident.)

Of course it wasn’t an accident. You don’t accidentally use a wireless sniffer to gather data and then save it to a database. Do you think the world is made up of complete f’n idiots?

Then again, Google knows what everyone does online, so they probably know the answer to that rather well.

RIP John Callahan

Friday, July 30th, 2010

John Callahan, Cartoonist, Dies at 59

John Callahan, a quadriplegic, alcoholic cartoonist whose work in newspapers and magazines made irreverent, impolitic sport of people with disabilities and diseases and those who would pity and condescend to them, died on Saturday in Portland, Ore. He was 59 and lived in Portland.

Looking askance at the culture of confession and self-help fostered by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Geraldo Rivera, he was not inclined in his work to be outwardly sympathetic to the afflicted or to respect the boundaries of racial and ethnic stereotyping. His cartoons were often polarizing: some found them outrageously funny, others outrageously offensive.

There was the drawing of a restaurant, the Anorexic Cafe, with a sign in the window saying, “Now Closed 24 Hours a Day.” There was one showing a group of confused-looking square dancers unable to respond to the caller’s instruction to “return to the girl that you just left,” with a headline reading, “The Alzheimer Hoedown.”

I read Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot years ago, and was astounded. With brutal humor, Callahan strips away the proper and correct and gets you to actually see the life of a disabled person. An amazing book from an amazing talent.

foot

Watching the watchers, BP edition

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Criminal probe of oil spill to focus on 3 firms and their ties to regulators


A team of federal investigators known as the “BP squad” is assembling in New Orleans to conduct a wide-ranging criminal probe that will focus on at least three companies and examine whether their cozy relations with federal regulators contributed to the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to law enforcement and other sources.

The squad at the FBI offices includes investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies, the sources said. In addition to BP, the firms at the center of the inquiry are Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon rig to BP, and engineering giant Halliburton, which had finished cementing the well only 20 hours before the rig exploded April 20, sources said.

While it was known that investigators are examining potential violations of environmental laws, it is now clear that they are also looking into whether company officials made false statements to regulators, obstructed justice or falsified test results for devices such as the rig’s failed blowout preventer. It is unclear whether any such evidence has surfaced.

Everyone raise their hand if they think this will have any teeth to it at all. BP is a criminal enterprise that operated in lock step with lax regulators to rape the environment for profit. Anybody think yet another government agency is actually going to find anything, or hold anyone responsible? Ha.

Find the pond scum who signed off on the non-existent inspections, faked documents and shoddy maintenance practices, and put them in jail for at least manslaughter in the deaths of the eleven dead workers. That will get some folks attention. Of course, I’m in dreamland (and they ain’t serving bbq this time…) that anyone will be held accountable for this. Not in this country, not in these times.

I do know this: I’ve probably had my last plate of Gulf seafood…and that is a tragedy.

Wind farm for 600,000 homes starts up in SoCal

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Wind farm ‘mega-project’ underway in Mojave Desert

It’s being called the largest wind power project in the country, with plans for thousands of acres of towering turbines in the Mojave Desert foothills generating electricity for 600,000 homes in Southern California.

And now it’s finally kicking into gear.

The multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center has had a tortured history, stretching across nearly a decade of ownership changes, opposition from local residents and transmission infrastructure delays.

But on Tuesday, the project is officially breaking ground in the Tehachapi Pass, a burgeoning hot spot for wind energy about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. When completed, Alta could produce three times as much energy as the country’s largest existing wind farm, analysts said. It’s slated to be done in the next decade.

The project will probably be a wind power bellwether, affecting the way renewable energy deals are financed, the development of new electricity storage systems and how governments regulate the industry, said Billy Gamboa, a renewable energy analyst with the California Center for Sustainable Energy.

STEP sounds good

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Wonder if it really works?

Solar-powered process could decrease carbon dioxide to pre-industrial levels in 10 years

In the Solar Thermal Electrochemical Photo (STEP) carbon capture process, the sun’s visible light and heat are used to capture large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to solid carbon for storage or carbon monoxide for fuel generation. Image copyright: Stuart Licht, et al. ©2010 American Chemical Society.

(PhysOrg.com) — By using the sun’s visible light and heat to power an electrolysis cell that captures and converts carbon dioxide from the air, a new technique could impressively clean the atmosphere and produce fuel feedstock at the same time. The key advantage of the new solar carbon capture process is that it simultaneously uses the solar visible and solar thermal components, whereas the latter is usually regarded as detrimental due to the degradation that heat causes to photovoltaic materials. However, the new method uses the sun’s heat to convert more solar energy into carbon than either photovoltaic or solar thermal processes alone.

“The significance of the study is twofold,” Stuart Licht, a chemistry professor at George Washington University, told PhysOrg.com. “Carbon dioxide, a non-reactive and normally difficult-to-remove compound, can be easily captured with solar energy using our new low-energy, lithium carbonate electrolysis STEP process, and with scale-up, sufficient resources exist for STEP to decrease carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels within 10 years.”

Do we need to evacuate the Gulf?

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Experts: Health Hazards in Gulf Warrant Evacuations

When Louisiana residents ask marine toxicologist and community activist Riki Ott what she would do if she lived in the Gulf with children, she tells them she would leave immediately. “It’s that bad. We need to start talking about who’s going to pay for evacuations.”

In 1989, Ott, who lives in Cordova, Alaska, experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdex oil disaster. For the past two months, she’s been traveling back and forth between Louisiana and Florida to gather information about what’s really happening and share the lessons she learned about long-term illnesses and deaths of cleanup workers and residents. In late May, she began meeting people in the Gulf with symptoms like headaches, dizziness, sore throats, burning eyes, rashes and blisters that are so deep, they’re leaving scars. People are asking, “What’s happening to me?”

She says the culprit is almost two million gallons of Corexit, the dispersant BP is using to break up and hide the oil below the ocean’s surface. “It’s an industrial solvent. It’s a degreaser. It’s chewing up boat engines off-shore. It’s chewing up dive gear on-shore. Of course it’s chewing up people’s skin. The doctors are saying the solvents are making the oil worse.”

Can Sherrod sue?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Greenwald says…

Glenn, do you think she has grounds to sue those who released the edited video?\

Possibly. If someone purposely distorts a video to cast false aspersions on you, that’s a form of defamation and other tortious conduct that’s probably actionable. As a practical matter, it’s probably difficult to prove damages (if she is offered her job back). Beyond that, Breitbart is claiming it wasn’t him but his “source” who did the editing, and you’d probably have to have a fight over whether he can conceal the source’s identity under some sort of shield law. But there’s little question that she was defamed and injured through wrongful and likely actionable conduct.

I think there could be claims against Breitbart either way because, as I said, I think it was clear even from the video in edited form that she was making the opposite point of the one he claimed she was making. That’s a form of recklessness that could be actionable even if he wasn’t the one who did the editing.

Finally, I think it’d be worth it to sue him just to uncover his “source” who did the editing. “Journalists” are supposed to expose their “sources” if they use the journalist to perpetrate a fraud.
—GlennGreenwald

Beyond suing that creep Breitbart- which of course should be done, bankrupt the jackass- this is a great time for the White House to strip Fox of their “media” status, because they aren’t one, not in the sense that the rest of the organizations who fill the press room are. Fox is an advocacy group for the military-industrial complex (if we can steal a phrase from DDE), the top 1% of Americans, and their corrupt enablers in Washington. To allow them the access granted to legitimate news organizations- who are, make no mistake, worthless in terms serving the public interest, is an insult to even the meager standards of journalistic integrity.

Stripping news organization status from Fox would do them no harm, in fact, they would champion it 24/7, since experience shows that pampered, rich white people like nothing better than wrapping themselves in the cloak of victim hood. But it would send a clear signal to the reality-based among us that no, Fox “News” is not legitimate, and there is no reason to allow them to masquerade as such while refusing to believe in the concept of journalistic ethics is absurd.

Fox News has, as we all do, the freedom of speech assured us in our Constitution. No one is saying that Fox News should be outlawed, or banned, or prevented in any way from broadcasting pretty much whatever they want to say.

But we the people are under no obligation to merit them, or their racist, slanderous propaganda any sort of legitimacy. They have the right to exist, just as we have the right to not take them seriously. But we can no longer afford to allow them to be treated as something they are not.

11 year old feeds the homeless- by the ton

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

From Seedlings to Servings: 11-Year-Old Grows Tons of Veggies for the Homeless

When Katie Stagliano was in third grade, she planted a cabbage in her family’s small garden. When it grew to an astounding 40 pounds, she donated it to a soup kitchen, where it was made into meals for 275 people (with the help of ham and rice). “I thought, ‘Wow, with that one cabbage I helped feed that many people?'” says Katie, now entering sixth grade. “I could do much more than that.”

So Katie started planting vegetable gardens as part of her nonprofit Katie’s Krops. She has six right now — including one the length of a football field at her school in her hometown of Summerville, S.C. Classmates, her family and other people in the community help plant and water, and Bonnie Plants donates seedlings. This past year, Katie took her commitment to a new level, giving soup kitchens over 2,000 pounds of lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables. Katie and her helpers are now harvesting the spring planting, and another 1,200 pounds will be donated by October.

Amazing. Kudos to Katie!

Guess Google are greedy $cum after all

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

While back I posted a “kudos” to google for apparently challenging China on their internet censorship. Guess I was wearing my rose colored anti-reality glasses that day:

Beijing: Google Agrees to Obey Censorship Law

China renewed Google’s Internet license after it pledged to obey censorship laws and stop automatically switching mainland users to its unfiltered Hong Kong site, an official said Tuesday in Beijing’s first public comment on its decision.

Google Inc. said Chinese regulators warned it might lose its license if it continued automatically rerouting users to Hong Kong, a Chinese territory with Western-style civil liberties. Google complied and said July 9 its license had been renewed. The company closed its China search engine March 22 amid a public clash over Internet censorship and started rerouting users to Hong Kong. It still offers music and other services in China.

Standards? Cha ching. Values? For sale. Backbone? Non-existent.

Fuck you Google.