...there are plenty of behavioral changes that can be made to reduce your family's water footprint.And yes, just because we've had some glorious rain in California does NOT mean we're out of the drought season. In fact, I doubt in the foreseeable future we will ever return to extravagant water usage. Drought mentality is here to stay.
* Turn off the water when you're washing dishes by hand, brushing your teeth or shaving.
* Only run the clothes washer or the dishwasher when you've got a full load.
* Avoid baths and take shorter showers.
* Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants in your yard, and put down mulch wherever you can to help water from evaporating too quickly.
* If you must water your lawn, be sure to place your sprinklers in such a way that no water will fall on sidewalks or driveways, and only water in the early morning or evening, when the weather is cooler.
* Use a broom, and not a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalks.
* Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
* Use the garbage disposal less and the garbage more (or better yet compost!) and you could save 50 to 150 gallons a month.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
(update for the credits):
Himachal Pradesh, India: A crowd watching a wrestling match at a local fair.
Portfolio - Homeland category winner, by Poras Chaudhary, India.
Isn't it beautiful?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
BERKELEY — Women with higher blood levels of PBDEs, a type of flame retardant commonly found in household consumer products, took longer to become pregnant compared with women who have lower levels of PBDEs, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.Sign the petition:
The study, to be published Jan. 26 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that each 10-fold increase in the blood concentration of four PBDE chemicals was linked to a 30 percent decrease in the odds of becoming pregnant each month.
Dear FDA Administrator Jackson,
A UC Berkeley study recently revealed that women with high levels of Polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants in their blood were 30-50 percent less likely to become pregnant than those women with lower levels.
This is a troubling and dangerous statistic. I am aware that the current PBDE that is being used will not be phased out until 2013, and I believe that is too far away. However, I am more concerned that the chemicals that are replacing PBDEs are just as unknown to us, as are their affects on the human body. If these chemicals are going to be replacing PBDEs in order to meet fire safety standards, then it is critical that these chemicals undergo rigorous testing as to their affects on human health.
It is incredibly disconcerting to find out that products are extremely dangerous many years after having those products in my home. Please ensure that any chemicals released for public use are properly tested.
Thank you for your time.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Joseph Stiglitz: Why we have to change capitalism:
While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.
The public interest? Forget about it.
With the power elite consumed with its incessant, discordant fiddling over health care, the economic plight of ordinary Americans, from the middle class to the very poor, got pathetically short shrift. And there is no evidence, even now, that leaders of either party fully grasp the depth of the crisis, which began long before the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007.
Even now, many deny the magnitude of the problems facing our market economy. Once we are over our current travails – and every recession does come to an end – they look forward to a resumption of robust growth. But a closer look at the US economy suggests that there are some deeper problems: a society where even those in the middle have seen incomes stagnate for a decade, a society marked by increasing inequality; a country where, though there are dramatic exceptions, the statistical chances of a poor American making it to the top are lower than in "Old Europe".Dennis Kucinich:
It is said that a near-death experience forces one to re-evaluate priorities and values. The global economy has just had a near-death experience. The crisis exposed not only flaws in the prevailing economic model but also flaws in our society. Too many people had taken advantage of others. Almost every day has brought stories of bad behaviour by those in the financial sector – Ponzi schemes, insider trading, predatory lending, and a host of credit card schemes to extract as much from the hapless user as possible.
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Wednesday said the Massachusetts election was a "wake up call" for Democrats and that his party had better change course or it could suffer devastating losses come November.Can we do it?
"People elected Democrats in 2008 to change the country's direction," he told Raw Story in a nearly hour-long interview.
"And the same entrenched interests that George Bush could not shake, this current White House is having great difficulty in shaking. One could suggest they might be more entrenched than ever."
Kucinich staunchly defended liberalism but alleged that Democrats are not behaving like liberals.
Kucinich lamented Democrats' growing camaraderie with big moneyed interests, claiming it's hurting the party.
"You ask the banks to reform banking?" he said. "Put the insurance companies to reform insurance. Call in nuclear to reform energy policies? Are you kidding me?"
"These problems, lest we forget, did not start with Barack Obama," Kucinich said. "It was George Bush drove the economy over the cliff with a trillion dollar tax cut and a war based on lies, and an expanding trade deficit."
"And we can't do that by playing patty-cake with Wall Street, by caving into the demands of big banks, by playing footsie with insurance companies and by jumping in bed with the pharmaceutical industry.
"Americans are really skittish about the economy, and they have every right to be," he said. "This isn't a left-right argument; this isn't a liberal-conservative argument. This is about down or up."
"We have a really deep recession, and the only way to bring it back up is to have a massive jobs program," he said. "I don't see any evidence" that Obama's economic team is standing behind that.
Update: Steven Colbert has the final word: Colbert on filibuster rules: ‘Democrats are pussies’
ON THE day after Tuesday’s electoral loss, the Obama administration brought an unfamiliar face to the White House - Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law professor noted for her staunch advocacy on behalf the middle class and fierce criticism of the bank bailouts. Perhaps the administration will take a more aggressive approach to Wall Street, along the lines of what Warren wants. But for Democrats to truly take ownership of the economic crisis, Warren will need to play a more prominent role. Not just her ideas, but the force of her personality is needed.John Stewart thinks so:
As chairwoman of the TARP Oversight Committee, she’s been responsible for examining the bank bailouts and the regulatory response. Warren has vocalized the concerns of many Americans - but not many politicians - who are outraged by the rampant greed that led to the crisis, and the refusal of Wall Street to take responsibility. “I think the problem has been all the way throughout this crisis, that the banks have been treated gently and everyone else has been treated really pretty tough,’’ said an exasperated Warren last fall, echoing what so many others - in both parties - have come to believe.
These people need someone of Warren’s stature. The timing is perfect: her term at TARP Oversight will come to an end in the spring of 2011, just as a Senate candidate would have to be ramping up. She’d have a base of support on the Internet as soon as she announces. Sure, a Warren campaign would provoke guffaws from the right: What does a Harvard professor really know about an economic crisis? Yet underneath the polished pedigree is a teenage bride from Oklahoma. She’s as much an everyday person as Scott Brown; she just happens to be a brilliant scholar as well. When she’s championing the middle class, she’s not doing so because it’s politically expedient, but because she feels connected to it in a way few politicians are. And she has the intellectual chops to convert that connection into dramatic policy change. Sadly, few politicians can say that, either.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Can we please now admit that abstinence only education doesn't work and be done with it?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. teen pregnancy rate rose in 2006 for the first time in more than a decade, reversing a long slide, a U.S. think tank reported on Tuesday.
The overall teen pregnancy rate was up 3 percent in 2006, with a 4 percent rise in the rate of births and a 1 percent rise in the rate of abortions, according to the report by the.
"It's interesting to note that this flattening out of the rate and the increase in the rate is happening at the same time that we've seen substantial increases in funding for abstinence-only programs," Finer said.
"We do know that when we saw the big decline in the '90s, that a lot of that decline was due to improved contraceptive use among teens."
The abstinence-only programs, backed by many social conservatives who oppose the teaching ofThe Obama administration's 2010 budget eliminated spending for abstinence-only, shifting funds to pregnancy prevention education that include abstinence along with "medically accurate and age-appropriate" information. to teenagers in U.S. schools, received about $1.3 billion in since the late 1990s.
After six highly successful years of exploring the red sands of Mars, NASA's rover Spirit will rove no more.
With its six wheels stuck in powdery sand and two wheels no longer working, the resilient little explorer will become a fixed, immobile scientific observatory -- if it can survive the harsh temperatures of the upcoming winter.
"Its driving days are likely over," Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said in a telephone news conference Tuesday. "Its contributions will continue" if it can be re-awakened after what could be a six-month hibernation during the Martian winter.
If Spirit can be resuscitated, researchers will use it to attempt to answer one of their most pressing questions: whether the planet has a solid iron core or a liquid one.
New Law Requires Women To Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion
Monday, January 25, 2010
Rescued eight years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time and barely two months old.There's a lesson here, but I just can't put my paw on it...
They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons.
Delivered to the Noah's Ark animal rescue centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters together.
"We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together," said Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah's Ark zoo.
"To our knowledge, this is the only place where you'll find this combination of animals together, they are our BLT, (bear, lion and tiger).
Living with the zoo's founders for the past eight years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose built habitat were the US public can now witness first hand their touching relationship.
Update: More Interspecies interaction
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Go to Free Speech is for People and take back control of our elections and our country.
The amendment as it stands (and the site is welcoming ideas):
What will the Free Speech for People Amendment say and what will it do?
* Solution Q&A
The Free Speech for People Amendment will overrule the Citizens United v. FEC case and return the First Amendment to its longstanding purpose as a guarantee of the fullest rights of a free people and the press. The Free Speech for People Amendment will overrule the fabrication by activist judges of a “corporate rights doctrine” to defeat democratically enacted laws, and will restore the First Amendment to its meaning and intent for two centuries. The Amendment will ensure that all people have the most robust freedom of conscience, speech and debate and that a vibrant, diverse press remains free and unfettered, thus strengthening, rather than weakening, democracy.
The Free Speech for People Amendment Campaign will work with others to develop specific language for the Free Speech for People Amendment. Here is one example of language for the Free Speech for People Amendment:
Section 1 The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, no corporation, limited liability entity, or other corporate entity created by state or federal law or the law of another nation shall enjoy the rights of free speech and expression protected for the people by the First Amendment.
Section 2 Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity in public election activity.
Section 3. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
h/t to Dusty Crickets in comments and Southern Beale.
Update: Greg Palast gives examples of what the Supreme Court has allowed to happen:
In today's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court ruled that corporations should be treated the same as "natural persons", i.e. humans. Well, in that case, expect the Supreme Court to next rule that Wal-Mart can run for President.
The ruling, which junks federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers, will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that's already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and "bundling" of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.
The Court's decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
In response to news that the Supreme Court will hold a special public session on Thursday, which some expect could bring a highly-anticipated campaign finance decision, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) is circulating an online petition opposing the decision, which is expected to undo limits on corporate spending in federal campaigns.h/t to Dusty Crickets in comments.
Grayson said he would personally deliver the signatures to the court in the morning.
"We're trying something new -- usually the only petitions the Supreme Court sees are petitions for writ of certiorari," Grayson told HuffPost. Asked where he got the idea, he said, "It's in the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Progressive good-government groups worry that the Supreme Court seems poised to unleash a flood of corporate money into federal campaigns. The case stems from the Federal Election Commission's decision not to allow a conservative group called Citizens United to air ads for an anti-Hillary Clinton movie during the 2008 election season. The ads, the FEC reasoned, constituted unlawful corporate electioneering. The Supreme Court is questioning the constitutionality of the FEC's decision.
Update: Shoulda checked the news first :
By a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday rolled back restrictions on corporate spending on federal campaigns. The decision could unleash a torrent of corporate-funded attack ads in upcoming campaigns.
"Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy -- it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people -- political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.
In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens accused the majority of judicial activism and attacked the use of corporate personhood in the case: "The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court's disposition of this case."
Republicans offered measured praise for the decision, but progressive good-government groups and Democrats responded angrily and vowed to fight back with legislation.
Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down decades-old restrictions on corporate campaign spending, reversing two of its precedents and freeing companies to conduct advertising campaigns that explicitly try to sway voters.
The 5-4 majority, invoking the Constitution’s free-speech clause, said the government lacks a legitimate basis to restrict independent campaign expenditures by companies. The ruling went well beyond the circumstances in the case before the justices, a dispute over a documentary film attacking then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. “This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”
Companies, which had been barred since 1947 from using general-treasury dollars in support of or in opposition to a candidate, now can spend millions of dollars on their own campaign ads, potentially punishing or rewarding lawmakers for their votes on legislation. Labor unions, though they weren’t directly at issue in the case, have been subject to the same restrictions and may also now expand their political spending.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
- The Cave of Crystals: Naica Cave. Some of the largest natural crystals ever found, up to 10m long.
- Don't we find ourselves feeling the slightest bit sorry for Bill O'Reilly?
O’REILLY: So 48 years ago — 48 years ago in this country we could make fun of Arabs. … We could make fun of people in a general way, and certainly, Ahab was the Arab was a general parody. But now, we can’t. What has changed in America?
- Gosh darnit, why can't we make the two wars we started under Bush and Cheney into holy wars? They said we could!!1
- Dancing Dave proves how Obama will NEVER win over the bigots and other Republicans and it's time to cut the losses and do what he can with what he's got.
- Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors slaps some sense into us.
- The reason God made the Tree of Knowledge.
- Photoshopping disasters make you want to stop buying clothes.
Another Puget Sound-area doctor is headed for Haiti - and expecting unimaginably horrendous conditions. Another local doctor already there says, "I will never be able to comprehend the full scale of this disaster."
Thank you, sir.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A lie is just a lie ... except from Karl Rove it's a great staggeringly big baldfaced fucking ultimate lie.
David Axlerod for the Washington Post: (my bold)
Of all the claims Rove made, one in particular caught my eye for its sheer audacity and shamelessness -- that congressional Democrats "will run up more debt by October than Bush did in eight years."Don't let them rewrite history. Remember this.
So, let's review a little history:The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus -- with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion. When the Bush administration left office, it handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit -- and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade. During eight years in office, the Bush administration passed two major tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest Americans, enacted a costly Medicare prescription-drug benefit and waged two wars, without paying for any of it.
To put the breathtaking scope of this irresponsibility in perspective, the Bush administration's swing from surpluses to deficits added more debt in its eight years than all the previous administrations in the history of our republic combined. And its spending spree is the unwelcome gift that keeps on giving: Going forward, these unpaid-for policies will continue to add trillions to our deficit.
h/t to Echidne of the Snakes for the link.
Monday, January 18, 2010
We have become so desensitized to defective products originating in China that this week's announcement from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission about finding dangerous levels of cadmium in children's toys seemed oddly expected and has thus far ruffled few feathers.I mentioned this back in December but it's worth keeping track of their efforts. I believe this is a classic example of putting lipstick on a pig: don't make vigorous efforts to change the mindset of the Chinese producers, just take out ads to hide the problems.
Yet, while this particular issue may not be significant enough to upend the trade relationship between the US and China, or of such severity that it is likely to be the cause of a whole new set of import restrictions, it does add more weight to an increasing wariness and frustration with Chinese-made products on the part of American consumers.
The cumulative effect of these quality problems has the potential not only to impact the export-sensitive economy of China, but to create a systemic problem for what it means to have products of any variety sourced in China, an issue that could cause problems for an untold number of American and European consumer-product companies, as well as the retailers they serve.
In a series of television ads that started late last year with limited runs on CNN Asia, and now spreading to various media outlets around the world, Beijing seems to have acknowledged these fears, with a new ad program defending what it means to be "Made in China". The new ads go by the tag line "Made in China, Made with the World".
How about fixing your product safety first? How about actually removing toxins and pollution from your food? How about realizing if you are going to return capitalism to the pre-FDA days of The Jungle, customers will justifiably shun your products.More from the article on cadmium in children's jewelry:
Educate the Chinese people that meeting quota does not mean going cheap, being indifferent to consequences. It does mean respecting consumers, human life.
Buying a bunch of ads won't do anything to change this list I've been keeping:The Chinese are insulted we do not want to buy their chickens for our markets? Ignoring the whole thing about Avian (bird) flu, can we just look back for a moment and ponder just why we have cold feet about their food....Add to this list as of 12/26/2009 flammable Christmas lights and extension cords.
My post from November 2008:Chinese melamine and other toxins have been in our food for yearsA few months later I posted this, December 2008:The rampant use of chemical additives in animal feed can be traced to 1999. According to Gao Yinxiang, the research and development of high-protein feed additives was a hot field among scientists about 10 years ago due to shortage of animal fodder in the country at the time.It's not just animal feed. Earlier quote in the article: (my bold)
From that time, it's hard to define the exact role that scientists played in the evolution of the melamine scandal. Yet scientists certainly contributed to it by developing unsafe protein alternatives. Many Chinese are now calling on scientists to examine their conscience before making profits at the expense of public safety.
The CAS may not have invented melamine additives. However, it still owes the public an explanation as to why it developed - and continues to develop - feed supplements that food experts say are dangerous for human health.
The melamine saga and the reactions from relevant parties, including scientists, the government and the related companies, shows a system that continues to shirk responsibility rather than taking efforts to avoid similar incidents happening again.
Without effective supervision and sound accountability, China's food scares are far from over.But scientists say warnings signs were apparent as early as last year when melamine in Chinese-made pet food killed house pets across the United States.So what does long exposure to melamine do to humans? Kidney stones? Autism? Alzheimer's? What exactly have the Chinese been putting in its products, making our farm animals eat, making us eat?
"You can't separate the food supplies of animals, pets and people," Marion Nestle, a public health professor at New York University and author of the recent book Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, told the Washington Post. "That's an enormous warning sign that if something wasn't done immediately to clean up the food safety problem, this would leak into the human food supply."
China has used the Kjeldahl Nitrogen Determination Method to measure protein level in food, meaning the content of protein is determined by the level of nitrogen. It is an open secret in China that melamine is added to milk and animal feed to artificially boost nitrogen levels. It was not until recently, after the exposure of the tainted-milk scandal, that China make it compulsory to test the content of melamine in foodstuffs.
And why should we trust anything the Chinese government promises us? They get caught repeatedly after vowing not to contaminate their products.
Just a reminder:
China saying no to inspections and destroying evidence.
Wheat, corn, and rice gluten.
Pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella. Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.
Excessive antibiotic and pesticide use.
What melamine is.
Poisoned farm fish.
The toothpaste with diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants.
Highly toxic puffer fish sold as monk fish.
Fake blood protein.
Lead in toys: Thomas the Tank Engine, baby bibs, cub scout badges, wooden blocks.
Waste water forced into pigs going to market.
Poisoned medicinal syrup.
750,000 people in China are dying prematurely every year due to high levels of air pollution and poor water quality.
Formaldehyde in candy, in baby clothing
Wild mice used for meat.
Use of illegal drift nets.
Coma-inducing date rape drug in toys.
Asbestos in toys.
Fake kosher food.
More than 40 percent of drinking water in rural China is unfit for drinking.
Babies being poisoned by milk and milk powder.
Tom Legg of Daai Tou Laam:But don't expect the Chinese government to really get serious about product safety. How many product safety scares have there been in the last few years? From fake baby formula to tainted fish to fake soy sauce to tainted bean curd sheet to a bridge that collapsed because there was no steel reinforcing-bar used.Trader Joe's is taking some of the Chinese food products off its shelves.
If the CCP wants to product their people from eating hormone-laden pork, then that is their prerogative. If they instead want to ban products from the US as a tit-for-tat over negative press coverage of Chinese product safety issues, it shows the Chinese government is childish and easily manipulated by foreign powers. Like a recalled Chinese toy, press the right buttons and watch the CCP leaders dance. Watch the CCP spokesperson trotted out to blame it all on the US media. (This of course is the same lap dog US media that willingly served up the story on Mattel as model Chinese operator days before the first toy recall.)
Did you really expect the CCP to clean up their own house? The folks who trashed Premier Wen's Green GDP? The folks whose tactics to combat corruption hearken back to the Ming Dynasty with the substitution of video games for the study of Confucian classics? We aren't talking about leaders with a great ability to look in the mirror and see the problems staring back at themselves.
But to really clean house would come at too steep a price for many cadres and their cronies. So the CCP's option is to keep letting Chinese die at home and face negative press abroad and hope that enough exports keep getting out to keep the currency flow positive and enough skim from IPOs and LCs to keep investment bankers like former Goldman Sachs man US Treasury Secretary Paulson happy, so that their grip on power in Beijing is kept firm.
And finally... after how many years of complaints, and poisonings and deaths, the FDA acts:
Federal health officials on Thursday ordered dozens of imported foods from China held at the border as possible health risks. Most are ethnic treats, including snacks, drinks and chocolates.
It's unusual for the Food and Drug Administration to put such a broad hold on goods from an entire country, not just a few rogue manufacturers. The order, which covers products made with milk, is a precaution to keep out foods contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause serious kidney problems.
crossposted at American StreetNope. Chinese businesses haven't learned yet.You'd think the government would take massive steps to fix this problem immediately, right? Right?
Will they stop when we stop buying their products?Hong Kong food safety authorities said late Tuesday that for the fourth time in less than two months they had found a batch of Chinese eggs contaminated with illegal levels of melamine, the industrial chemical that has sickened hundreds of thousands of children. The agency said the tainted eggs were imported from a company based in Jilin Province in northern China and were being sold to bakeries in Hong Kong.
Yet again in December of 2008:How many babies need to die or become ill before China finally stops Putting melamine into our food?And in January of 2009:And it's not just China who seems to be indifferent to causing death:
Brussels, Belgium (AHN) - Soy-based imports from China intended for babies and young children will no longer be allowed throughout the 27-member European Union. The European Commission banned on Wednesday the entry of all foods that are soy-based after the discovery of melamine in a soybean meal in China.
Aside from the prohibition, the EC also required laboratory testing for all soy-related foods and shipments or baking powder. The tested food must contain less than 2.5 milligrams of melamine per kilogram to be allowed entry into the EU. The ban is expected to be in force by the end of this week.At least 34 babies have died in Nigeria after being administered with a locally made teething mixture.
Six more child deaths were recorded on Wednesday, on top of 28 reported last month in three locations after being given "My Pikin", a teething syrup contaminated with diethylene glycol, which is blamed for causing kidney failure.That certain piquant flavor...Is in everything:Are they thinking we will ignore this and eat chickens raised or processed in China? Are they kidding? There is utterly NO LEARNING CURVE illustrated here AT ALL.Now that we have an administration that hears us, sign the petition.
Melamine-contaminated pet food killed thousands of dogs and cats in the United States two years ago. Melamine-contaminated infant formula recently killed six babies in China, and made hundreds of thousands of children there ill.
Now melamine has been found in some chocolate, cookies and infant formula in the U.S.!
Yet our own Food and Drug Administration says it’s OK to have a certain amount of the chemical in infant formula, even though the agency previously said it couldn’t determine a safe level for melamine. What are we supposed to believe?
Tell Congress you’re fed up with the FDA’s lax regulation of our food and drug supply. Strong leadership, more safety testing, better inspection of imports, and tough enforcement are needed to make sure no American families suffer the tragic consequences of eating contaminated food.
Besides, I'm sure I've had my quota of melamine for life, thanks.
Update: Don't forget about the toxic drywall.
Update January 12th, 2010: cadmium in children's jewelry.
U.S. goes after cadmium in children's jewelryUpdating: 2/6/10 Check out the bolded print and realize how widespread this is:
-- Federal and state watchdogs opened a new front Monday in the campaign to keep poisons out of Chinese imports, warning Asian manufacturers not to substitute other toxins for lead in children's jewelry and beginning an inquiry into cadmium found in products around the United States.
Congress clamped down on lead in those products in 2008, but cadmium is even more harmful.
Cadmium, which is known to cause cancer, is a soft metal that occurs naturally in soil. It's used as half of rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, but also in pigments, electroplating and plastic.
Cadmium is attractive to Chinese manufacturers because it is cheap and easy to work with. But, like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young, recent research shows.
A Chinese man was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a U.S. prison this week for trafficking in counterfeit Cisco Systems gear.It's not that this man is doing anything different than lots of other Chinese companies ... it's that he got caught. 400 HUNDRED seizures? The Chinese government has to really work hard to be that blind ....
Li was arrested by FBI agents on Jan. 9, 2009, in Las Vegas -- while the annual Consumer Electronics Show was taking place there. He was sentenced on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, after pleading guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods last September.
The FBI has been cracking down on fake Cisco routers since 2005. Two years ago, it claimed to have seized more than US$78 million worth of counterfeit equipment in more than 400 seizures. Counterfeit gear often contains lower-performing components that do not work as advertised. In recent years, some security experts have begun to see counterfeiting as a growing threat to the nation's network infrastructure.
Chinese doctors routinely hand out multiple doses of antibiotics for simple maladies like the sore throats and the country's farmers excessive dependence on the drugs has tainted the food chain. Studies in China show a "frightening" increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus bacteria, also know as MRSA . There are warnings that new strains of antibiotic-resistant bugs will spread quickly through international air travel and internation food sourcing.
Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly:
But what was especially interesting was the knee-jerk partisanship of former Bush aide Karen Hughes, who responded to Halperin by saying, twice, that Obama "misread the country" by trying to enact the agenda he ran on, thereby "exacerbating" the public's "anxiety." She added:This feels like when the local bully and his cohorts push you down and steal your wallet... then pick you back up, dust you off, and demand to know why you can't take a joke and nothing happened, did it?
"I have to disagree with you, Mark, about rescuing the economy, I think that happened before President Bush left office when they took the action that they did on TARP, and the banks have now repaid much of that money, but that's what stabilized the economy and prevented the collapse of the financial system."
Be on the lookout for this one -- as the economy improves and the Bush Recession ends, Republicans will try to convince people that Bush, not Obama, deserves credit for rescuing the economy. While the evidence is overwhelming that it was the stimulus that created economic growth and pulled the economy bank from the brink, Karen Hughes -- and soon, her cohorts -- would us believe that the economy had already been rescued before Obama took office.
They're truly shameless, but I can only assume this will be a major talking point fairly soon.
They are trying to sell the fact Bush's terms were not an unmitigated disaster, but somehow thoughtfully run. All the horrible things that happened were because of Clinton or because of Obama.
Remember Bush's legacy for what it actually was. A miserable failure.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Will Rogers once said, "The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office." But as Democrats face what many believe will be a tough mid-term election, historian Thomas Frank argues that it might just be the other way around for incumbent Democrats. The Republican Party, which lost Congress and the White House in the last four years, may be poised for a comeback. A comeback Frank believes is only possible because Americans have forgotten what their country looked like under conservative rule, "That's the disease of our time...that sort of instant forgetting."Watch the video. And do not let yourself forget this last decade.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Plastic Plastic Everywhere: The 5 Gyres Project posted by Dave Chameides
....you’ve most certainly heard about the plastic mass that is floating out in the North Pacific Gyre. The gyre, one of several in the world, is a vortex of currents swirling inwards that lies between California and Japan. Like a toilet bowl that never flushes, it’s filled with plastic debris from man made items. So much so that from the first time it was studied until now, it has grown from the size of the state of Texas to twice the size of the continental United States!I've been fascinated by the gyres ever since I heard about them a few years ago. That and the growing Dead Zones that occur in the Gulf of Mexico and around major coastal cities.
How do I know this? Simple, my friends, Dr. Marcus Erikson and Anna Cummins, along with a bevy of other scientists, have traversed it, not once, but several times, in order to study what is actually happening out there. And what they found is truly disturbing. While the plastic soup is not concentrated, meaning you wouldn’t be able to see it from the air, once you get in the water, it can’t be missed. Thousands of tiny confetti-like pieces of plastic, filling otherwise pristine waters, waiting to be ingested.
Is Plastic Making Us Fat?
Hormone-mimicking chemicals that already have a bad rap for their role as endocrine disruptors in the body (including the notorious bisphenol A (BPA)), are now thought to also screw with the body’s metabolism and, depending on the amount and timing of exposure, predispose individuals to obesity.Just one word... Plastics!
We’re surrounded by these chemicals: BPA and pthalates are everywhere, from water bottles to dryer sheets to the PVC pipes that deliver your shower water, and they’re taking their toll. Call them obesogens–a term coined by Bruce Blumberg, a leading researcher on the issue. A recent Newsweek story illustrates the increasing body of evidence that links these chemicals to the body’s metabolism.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Info at YouTube:
Sophie is seen 15 seconds prior to the start of the earthquake, looking sharply at the floor and dismissing it. About 15 seconds later she again looks sharply at the floor and bolts to the other end of the room when the rumble starts, trying to locate her owner -- who is not the first person out the door, but the third person out,Jessica. Sophie can be seen directly behind Jessica as her back and tail graze the lower right-hand corner of the screen in the first segment. In the second segment Sophie spotted Jessica coming from the sink where she was washing her hands and ran to catch up. She then escorts Jessica safely down the stairs and out of the building.What a good doggie.
h/t to JJ of Unrepentant Old Hippie
Thursday, January 14, 2010
As a massive human tragedy unfolds in Haiti, relief organizations are soliciting credit-card donations through their hotlines and websites. About 97 percent of these donations will actually make it to the designated organizations -- but the other 3 percent will be skimmed off by banks and credit card companies to cover their "transaction costs."Huffington Post updated to say American Express will rebate the money back to the charities.
Thanks to this hidden fee, American banks and credit card companies are making huge profits -- somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million a year -- off of people's charitable donations, according to a Huffington Post analysis.
But Jesus Christ, what are they thinking? What has happened to their humanity? Is it all greed, or a massive amount of stupidity?
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Following his logic, if something bad happens to Robertson, the devil made a secret pact with him?
(CNN) -- Pat Robertson, the evangelical Christian who once suggested God was punishing Americans with Hurricane Katrina, says a "pact to the devil" brought on the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
Officials fear more than 100,000 people have died as a result of Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti.
Robertson, the host of the "700 Club," blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it."
The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "
Why on earth would anyone want to do anything with Robertson's 'God'?
Update: Apparently God can't protect his churches from pacts with the devil? Just who is the stronger in Robertson's weird little religion?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
RCA Airnergy Charger Harvests Electricity From WiFi SignalsI think I'll buy 3000 of these...
The Airnergy Charger is amazing.
This little box has, inside it, some kind of circuitry that harvests WiFi energy out of the air and converts it into electricity. This has been done before, but the Airnergy is able to harvest electricity with a high enough efficiency to make it practically useful: on the CES floor, they were able to charge a BlackBerry from 30% to full in about 90 minutes, using nothing but ambient WiFi signals as a power source.
The Airnergy has a battery inside it, so you can just carry it around and as long as you’re near some WiFi, it charges itself. Unlike a solar charger, it works at night and you can keep it in your pocket. Of course, proximity to the WiFi source and the number of WiFi sources is important, but at the rate it charges, if you have a home wireless network you could probably just leave anywhere in your house overnight and it would be pretty close to full in the morning.
Torture Advocate John Yoo Justifies Need For Radical Legal Paradigm By Citing Death Toll Of Terrorist AttacksListening to him justify horrific inhumane torture in that calm smarmy voice just set my teeth on edge.
*Update* TPM has all three sections of his conversation with John Stewart.
Do people really want him to educate their college students? Really?
Balance what Yoo claims were just treatments of Gitmo prisoners to this ex-Gitmo guard (my bold):
The journey of reconciliation began almost a year ago in Huntsville, Texas. Mr Neely, 29, had left the US military in 2005 to become a police officer and was still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo.Watch the two videos and read the full story to get an inkling of what the 'legalized' use of torture has done to us as a nation. Thanks to the work of John Yoo.
He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular.
Highly controversial since it opened in 2002, Guantanamo prison was set up by President George Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to house suspected "terrorists". But it has been heavily divisive and President Barack Obama has said it has "damaged [America's] national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda".
Mr Neely recalls only the good publicity in the US media.
"The news would always try to make Guantanamo into this great place," he says, "like 'they [prisoners] were treated so great'. No it wasn't. You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages."
Can you imagine getting death threats over such a cartoon? JJ of Unrepentant Old Hippie has the fascinating story.
Update: Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly discusses the fissures in the various Teabaggery groups.
Monday, January 11, 2010
What critter litters on your lawn?
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
What totes its nuts at dusk and dawn?
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
What lands on roofs, and creeps 'neath eaves,
And pilfers, filches, nabs and thieves
Until a patient person grieves?
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
What scurries over power lines?
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
What skips the bill when out she dines?
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
What munches seeds you left for birds,
Has manners far too rude for words,
And once he's done, leaves lots of t^>ds?
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
What object, when you've had enough
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
Will end this nonsense, stuff this stuff?
(A squirrel can. A squirrel can.)
What sort of trap, 'neath Moon or Sun
Will hold a squirrel, stop its run
While you depart to get your gun?
(A SQUIRREL CAN! A SQUIRREL CAN!)
- SB the YSS
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I always KNEW they were trashy rodents!
- Phila of Bouphonia's Friday Hope Blog.
- Great Britain in winter!
- Sunk Australia WWII hospital ship Centaur: first images
- You say El Nino, I say La Nina, let's call the whole thing off ... El Nino, La Nina
Big telecoms would like to inspect and filter the Internet content you access, block Web sites and applications they don't like, and overcharge you for using the Web. But the net neutrality rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission would prevent them from doing that.
The public comment period for these rules ends on Thursday, and the phone and cable companies and their phony front groups have already flooded the FCC with comments objecting to net neutrality.
We need you to speak up because there has been an all-out lobbying effort by the telecommunications industry to kill net neutrality. Even before the FCC proposed their rules, 18 Senators (all Republicans) sent a letter to the FCC opposing net neutrality. One Republican senator even announced an effort to prevent the FCC from spending funds to enforce the new rules once they go into effect. Separately, 72 House Democrats sent their own letter to the FCC opposing net neutrality rules.
This type of pressure from Congress hasn't go unnoticed at the FCC, but personal comments from members of the public can provide a strong counterbalance to the efforts of the telecom industry. Now's the time for citizens like you to speak out and fight back.
Without strong net neutrality rules, we might have to rely upon the good will of large telecoms to protect our access to the diversity of political perspectives. We might have to trust companies like Comcast, which actively and secretly interfered with users' ability to access popular video, photo and music sharing applications; AT&T, which censored anti-Bush comments made by Pearl Jam's lead singer during a concert; and Verizon Wireless, which interfered with NARAL Pro-Choice America's ability to send text messages to its members.
We can't let the corporate lobbyists win. What good is free speech if powerful corporations have the power to stifle communications they find objectionable?
Net neutrality means no discrimination: It prevents Internet service providers from speeding up, slowing down or blocking Web content based on its source, ownership or destination. It's time to make net neutrality the law once and for all.
With your help, we can make it happen!
Friday, January 08, 2010
Gulf Stream shifts to Greenland... London freezes.
And no, cold weather in winter does not mean rapid climate change is not happening: Experts: Cold snap doesn't disprove global warming
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Azzaman , January 4, 2010The war Bush and Cheney started still has people becoming displaced, being jailed, being killed.
Iraqi security forces have launched a wide campaign in Sunni Muslim-dominated neighborhoods of Baghdad and towns and cities to the north and west of the capital.
The campaign is said to be the widest by the government in years and has led to an exodus of people to the Kurdish north.
The campaign comes as the country gears for national elections in March.
The summary arrests have fuelled anger in these areas and raised fears of popular unrest at a time the government finds it extremely hard to reinstate law and order.
In Baghdad most of the arrests have taken place in the restive township of Abu Ghraib, home to the notorious Iraqi prison bearing the same name.
Parents and relatives said they have no idea where the security forces are keeping their beloved ones. They said officials told them all those arrested will remain behind bars until after the elections.
Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said hundreds of young people have been taken away from Tikrit, Anbar and Mosul.
They said popular discontent was apparent in the restive city of Mosul where rebels fighting U.S. and government troops are quite active.
Meanwhile, there has been a separate sweep against members of the so-called Awakening Council, Sunni militiamen who had joined U.S. troops in fighting al-Qaeda.
Those who are sure Climate Change is FALSE!
6 Life Saving Techniques From the Movies (That Can Kill You)
People who don't like electric cars.
And adding insult to injury...AFTER you are dead.
Look beyond the nationalist cant used to justify war. Look beyond the seduction of the weapons and the pornography of violence. Look beyond Barack Obama’s ridiculous rhetoric about finishing the job or fighting terror. Focus on the evil of war. War begins by calling for the annihilation of the others but ends ultimately in self-annihilation. It corrupts souls and mutilates bodies. It destroys homes and villages and murders children on their way to school. It grinds into the dirt all that is tender and beautiful and sacred. It empowers human deformities—warlords, Shiite death squads, Sunni insurgents, the Taliban, al-Qaida and our own killers—who can speak only in the despicable language of force. War is a scourge. It is a plague. It is industrial murder. And before you support war, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, look into the hollow eyes of the men, women and children who know it.The picture they used for this article is just heartbreaking.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
The 33-year old law that was supposed to ensure that Americans know what chemicals are in use around them, and what health and safety hazards they might pose, has produced a regulatory black hole, a place where information goes in – but much never comes out.
The reason is that under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the chemical industry has been allowed to stamp a “trade secret” claim on the identity of two-thirds of all chemicals introduced to the market in the last 27 years, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of data obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These include substances used in numerous consumer and children’s products.EWG’s analysis also showed that:
* The public has no access to any information about approximately 17,000 of the more than 83,000 chemicals on the master inventory compiled by the EPA.
* Industry has placed “confidential business information” (CBI) claims on the identity of 13,596 new chemicals produced since 1976 – nearly two-thirds of the 20,403 chemicals added to the list in the past 33 years.
* Secrecy claims directly threaten human health. Under section 8(e) of TSCA, companies must turn over all data showing that a chemical presents “a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.” By definition compounds with 8(e) filings are the chemicals of the greatest health concern. In the first eight months of 2009 industry concealed the identity of the chemicals in more than half the studies submitted under 8(e).
* From 1990 to 2005, the number of confidential chemicals more than quadrupled – from 261 to 1,105 -- on the sub-inventory of substances produced or imported in significant amounts (more than 25,000 pounds a year in at least one facility). In July 2009 the EPA released the identity of 530 of these chemicals, lowering the number of these moderate- and highproduction volume secret chemicals to 575.
* At least 10 of the 151 high volume confidential chemicals produced or imported in amounts greater than 300,000 pounds a year are used in products specifically intended for use by children age 14 or younger.
Americans have no way to learn crucial information about more than 65 percent of new chemicals approved by the U.S. government since 1977, including the substances’ makeup and what health and safety hazards they might pose. Those “details” are being kept secret under federal policies that allow industry to claim that the chemicals’ very existence is a trade secret, the Environmental Working Group has learned.And the Washington Post:
This cloak of secrecy applies even to chemicals that industry identifies as presenting “a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.” Under the law, companies must tell EPA anytime they find such a risk. EWG has learned, however, that in the first quarter of this year, industry used confidentiality claims to conceal the identity of more than half the chemicals it reported to Environmental Protection Agency under this requirement.
Since the EPA began keeping an inventory of known chemicals under the weak Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the number of agents declared to be “confidential” has ballooned to nearly 17,000, according to the information the agency provided.
Of the 84,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States -- from flame retardants in furniture to household cleaners -- nearly 20 percent are secret, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, their names and physical properties guarded from consumers and virtually all public officials under a little-known federal provision.h/t to Lisa Frack of the Enviroblog.
The policy was designed 33 years ago to protect trade secrets in a highly competitive industry. But critics -- including the Obama administration -- say the secrecy has grown out of control, making it impossible for regulators to control potential dangers or for consumers to know which toxic substances they might be exposed to.
At a time of increasing public demand for more information about chemical exposure, pressure is building on lawmakers to make it more difficult for manufacturers to cloak their products in secrecy. Congress is set to rewrite chemical regulations this year for the first time in a generation.
Under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, manufacturers must report to the federal government new chemicals they intend to market. But the law exempts from public disclosure any information that could harm their bottom line.
Government officials, scientists and environmental groups say that manufacturers have exploited weaknesses in the law to claim secrecy for an ever-increasing number of chemicals. In the past several years, 95 percent of the notices for new chemicals sent to the government requested some secrecy, according to the Government Accountability Office. About 700 chemicals are introduced annually.
Some companies have successfully argued that the federal government should not only keep the names of their chemicals secret but also hide from public view the identities and addresses of the manufacturers.
(Note: I can't label specifics until I get my tags under 5000.... very frustrating and time consuming. So I can't label the TSCA, the EWG, and others... yet.)
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
On Christmas Eve, the Senate capitulated to the likes of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson and passed a deeply problematic health care bill. Now, as the House and Senate bills are being merged, it's up to the progressive members of the House to keep fighting for real health care reform.Sign the Petition!
Negotiations about the final, merged bill have already begun behind closed doors. There is a lot of pressure for members of the House to accept the Senate bill with all of its flaws. But rank-and-file members of Congress need to speak out now and keep fighting to make the bill better.
Can you tell members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to keep fighting to: 1) hold insurance companies accountable, 2) make sure insurance is affordable and 3) protect reproductive choice?
Whatever final bill that goes to President Obama's desk should:
- Hold insurance companies accountable. We need to revoke their anti-trust exemption and force them to compete with a real public option.
- Make sure insurance is affordable. We cannot wait until 2013 to start insurance market reforms and subsidies and we must ensure nobody will be forced to buy insurance with premiums, co-pays or deductibles they can't afford.
- Protect reproductive choice.We must not impose new restrictions on whether or how insurance companies can cover reproductive services.
There is clearly a multitude of views among progressives about the best strategy to pursue, but it's clear that we won't get a better bill unless we fight for a better bill. You can bet that the insurance industry, Big Pharma, and other corporate stakeholders in the health care fight are not sitting on their hands. We shouldn't either.
So tell House progressives: Keep fighting. Any health care bill that goes to President Obama's desk should 1) hold insurance companies accountable, 2) make sure insurance is affordable and 3) protect reproductive choice.