Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Bush Policies Dominant Cause Of National Debt
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has updated and refined a widely cited chart, laying out the origins of the country's current fiscal trajectory. And as before, the lion's share of the problem comes from ongoing George W. Bush-era policies -- particularly deficit-financed tax cuts, which eliminated Clinton-era surpluses and left the Treasury poised for a huge hit when the financial crisis and economic downturn further eroded federal revenues.
By the end of the decade, CBPP projects that, on the current trajectory, the Bush tax cuts, exacerbated by the economic downturn, combined with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for the significant majority of public debt as a share of GDP.
Without those factors, and without the need for stimulus measures under President Obama, CBPP projects that the debt-to-GDP ratio would have dropped under both Presidents Bush and Obama.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Storm suspends work at Japan Fukushima nuclear plantI am impressed by this:
The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear plant has suspended some of its outdoor work due to a tropical storm, just days after it admitted it was not prepared for harsh weather.
Heavy rain and strong winds are hitting north-east Japan, which was devastated in the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.
There are fears that more radioactive material from the Fukushima plant could drain into the land and sea.
Japan's Meteorological Agency has warned of mudslides and floods.
Typhoon Songda weakened to a tropical storm over south-west Japan late on Sunday, but strong winds and rain have continued to pound the north-east of the country.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which runs the nuclear plant, said it was on alert to ensure that contaminated water in reactor buildings did not flow out.
Switzerland Plans To Abandon Nuclear PowerAnd this:
The Swiss government announced last week a proposal to phase out nuclear power as an energy source for electricity generation and to look more towards energy efficiency and renewables.
Under the proposal, existing nuclear power stations will be decommissioned at the end of their operational lifespan and will not be replaced by new reactors. This would see Switzerland being nuclear free by 2034.
Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022Because loss of life and land is a reality and mistakes and disasters are inevitable, these are intelligent actions by these countries. How many of them do we need to learn it takes only one mistake to forever devastate a region and destroy communities?
Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.
The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.
Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen made the announcement following late-night talks.
Chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan.
There have been mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany in the wake of March's Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Seismologists Tried for Manslaughter for Not Predicting EarthquakeEarthquake prediction can be a grave, and faulty science, and in the case of Italian seismologists who are being tried for the manslaughter of the people who died in the 2009 L'Aquila quake, it can have legal consequences.The group of seven, including six seismologists and a government official, reportedly didn't alert the public ahead of time of the risk of the L'Aquila earthquake, which occurred on April 6 of that year, killing around 300 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.But most scientists would agree it's not their fault they couldn't predict the wrath of Mother Nature."We're not able to predict earthquakes very well at all," John Vidale, a Washington State seismologist and professor at the University of Washington, told LiveScience.Even though advances have been made, the day scientists are able to forecast earthquakes is still "far away," Dimitar Ouzounov, a professor of earth sciences at Chapman University in California, said this month regarding the prediction of the March 11 earthquake in Japan.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Because science is hard and scary and denies faith and God and stuff: Nobel laureate: freedom of information laws in UK used to harass scientists
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
When it comes to grading, Republican and Democratic professors at one unnamed elite university put their ideologies into practice, a new study finds: Republicans welcomed inequality, handing out more very high and very low grades, and Democrats’ grades grouped more tightly around the average.Republicans also gave black students lower grades than their colleagues. In both cases, the researchers stressed, there was no way to know which approach better reflected students’ performance.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
US President Barack Obama has sought to cool tensions with Israel over comments that the border of a future Palestinian state should follow pre-1967 lines.Speaking to the US pro-Israel lobby Aipac, Mr Obama said the shape of the border should be subject to discussions between Israel and the Palestinians.He reiterated his view it must be based on the boundary which existed before the 1967 war but involve land swaps.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Unfortunately, barring some miraculous turn of events in the courts that shut this all down, we can probably expect to see more of this on the state and local level in conservative areas. A switch has been flipped in the conservative movement, and it’s not enough anymore to simply oppose abortion rights anymore, but to move even more radically in a direction of denying women any right to control their bodies whatsoever.As I have said repeatedly, it all comes down to sex. And the control or total denial of it for women, those hussies! Unless it's for husbands and their insured Viagra....
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
...this is the right's idea of a jobs program --- building prisons for illegal immigrants and charging the taxpayers for it. And the Feds are ruining it by shipping their "product" back to Mexico.Boehner has gone nuts:
After having been sensible for quite a while, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has adopted a remarkably dangerous position on the debt ceiling. His approach remains a hostage strategy — he’ll hold a gun to the American economy, until Democrats give him a series of spending cuts.
The Speaker’s position has been criticized by the White House, Wall Street, American business leaders, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and independent economists, all of whom want the debt limit issue resolved quickly and efficiently. For his part, Boehner told “Face the Nation” this morning that he doesn’t necessarily want to wait until early August.Japan widens evacuation zone around Fukushima nuclear plant
BEIJING – Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of "land mines."... and the sentence at the end:
About 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres (45 hectares) of melon, China Central Television said in an investigative report.
Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said.
Chinese regulations don't forbid the drug, and it is allowed in the U.S. on kiwi fruit and grapes. But the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers.
Many of farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit and feeding it to fish and pigs, the report said.So, watermelons overloaded with forchlorfenuron explode so the farmers feed the ruined fruit to fish and pigs. So don't buy fish or pork from China, either.
BEIJING – China has warned dairy producers that inspectors are on alert for fresh milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine and another toxic substance extracted from leather scraps.
Both additives — melamine and hydrolyzed leather protein — would make dairy products made with watered-down milk appear to have normal amounts of protein. Infant formula tainted with melamine killed six children in China in 2008 and sickened more than 300,000.
BEIJING (AFP) – Up to 10 percent of rice grown in China is contaminated with harmful heavy metals but little has been done to highlight the possible public health risks, a report said.
This week's edition of the New Century magazine cited studies showing that large amounts of Chinese rice have been tainted with heavy metals like cadmium due to years of pollution stemming from the nation's rapid economic growth.
China’s poor treated to fake rice made from plastic:Various reports in Singapore media have said that Chinese companies are mass producing fake rice made, in part, out of plastic, according to one online publication Very Vietnam.The "rice" is made by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic. The potatoes are first formed into the shape of rice grains. Industrial synthetic resins are then added to the mix. The rice reportedly stays hard even after being cooked.The Korean-language Weekly Hong Kong reported that the fake rice is being sold in the Chinese town of Taiyuan, in Shaanxi province."A Chinese Restaurant Association official said that eating three bowls of this fake rice would be like eating one plastic bag. Due to the seriousness of the matter, he added that there would be an investigation of factories alleged to be producing the rice," Very Vietnam noted.Putting poisons and toxic chemicals into food.(Reuters) - Pulverized lime, an inedible ingredient, has been added to bleaching agents widely used in flour production in China, Chinese media said.I'll update this list:
China has been in the spotlight in recent years over food-safety scandals, including melamine-tainted milk that sickened thousands of babies in 2008, which have damaged the reputation of the country's food exports.
Bleaching agents, usually made from cornstarch, are added to flour to shorten the time needed for whitening. Substituting cheaper and heavier lime for cornstarch cuts the cost of producing the bleaching agent, which is sold by weight.
Consumption of Pulverized lime can lead to gradual damage to the lungs and eventually the entire respiratory system.Benjamin A Shobert writes for Asia Times:And now 4/10: Pulverized lime to bleach flour.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.
Just a reminder:
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.
The toothpaste with diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants.
750,000 people in China are dying prematurely every year due to high levels of air pollution and poor water quality.
More than 40 percent of drinking water in rural China is unfit for drinking.
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.
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.Update 2/8/10: Misuse of antibiotics threaten food chain and world health: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.
How nice. And how totally ... predictable.
Monday, May 16, 2011
MoveOn wouldn't be possible without the open Internet. But according to our own Eli Pariser, the Internet itself is changing. His book on the topic, The Filter Bubble, comes out this week (you can check it out here).
In March, the TED conference invited him to preview the argument. When I talked to Eli beforehand, he was really nervous—in the audience were top executives from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and a number of other companies he critiques. But his call for an open, ethical Internet—he actually called out the Google founders and Bill Gates in the audience by name—got a standing ovation. And it's been burning up the TED website ever since.
We're sharing it today because we think it's a really important point. Increasingly, the Internet is hiding things from us, and we don't even know it. Take a moment to watch Eli's TED talk today:
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
This Northern Fur Seal was released back into the wild after being rehabilitated at the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre in British Columbia (located on Salt Spring Island). The seal, which was rehabilitated after washing ashore, was rehydrated and released on a beach near Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The young seal looks almost surprised to be let go. At first he seems to be afraid to leave, but takes off full speed for the ocean as soon as he's confident.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Watchdog criticizes feds for pulling back on radiation monitoring
An environmental watchdog group is criticizing the federal government for scaling back its radiation monitoring, while simultaneously planning to raise allowable levels of radiation releases in food, water and soil after a nuclear incident.
The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, issued a press release yesterday condemning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decisions.
The EPA and the Food and Drug Administration increased their radiation monitoring efforts after a massive earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan set off the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
But on May 3, the EPA announced [PDF] in a press release that it was falling back to a business-as-usual schedule of radiation monitoring, citing “consistently decreasing radiation levels.”
The EPA will begin analyzing milk and drinking water on a quarterly basis, with monthly testing of rainwater.
According to the federal agency, detectable levels "are well below any level of public health concern, and continue to decrease."
But the environmental group isn't buying it.
“With the Japanese nuclear situation still out of control and expected to continue that way for months and with elevated radioactivity continuing to show up in the U.S., it is inexplicable that EPA would shut down its Fukushima radiation monitoring effort,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the watchdog group, in a statement.
He said the agency found high levels of radiation in drinking water, and now was not the time to be pulling their efforts back.
He also said the EPA’s monitoring program, RadNet, is unreliable and fails to cover large swaths of the West Coast.
A spokesman for the EPA denied Ruch’s allegations.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Scientists are alarmed by the discovery of unusual numbers of fish in the Gulf of Mexico and inland waterways with skin lesions, fin rot, spots, liver blood clots and other health problems.Yes, get the scientists out in force to look at the Gulf. But this means when the scientists come back with the data, YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE FACTS.
"It's a huge red flag," said Richard Snyder, director of the University of West Florida Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation. "It seems abnormal, and anything we see out of the ordinary we'll try to investigate."
Are the illnesses related to the BP oil spill, the cold winter or something else?
That's the big question Snyder's colleague, UWF biologist William Patterson III, and other scientists along the Gulf Coast are trying to answer. If the illnesses are related to the oil spill, it could be a warning sign of worse things to come.
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Friday, May 06, 2011
Thursday, May 05, 2011
I'll give him credit... for ignoring Bin Laden
and starting an unnecessary war of choice in Iraq.