February 5, 2008 archive

Green Goodness…

Ok the first Docudharma green goodness diary…

India teaching the young about conservation

What’s the most effective way to teach people the value of water and other scarce resources in a world where they are becoming more and more precious? The solution: start young – or at least that’s what progressive, ecologically-minded institutions such as the Vagdevi Vilas at Munne Kolalu, near Bangalore, India, are trying to do. Other institutions such as the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, are also aiming to show the way toward a revolution in the way ecology and sustainability issues are addressed in education and local communities.

Begun three years ago, the school now has 2,300 students on an eight-acre property that performs as a laboratory for putting the school’s ecological education into action

Geek oil?

Yep, some boffins believe they can make what they call a bio-crude oil, using their secret Furafuel technology. Dr Steven Loffler of Forest Biosciences with Australia’s government science research body, CSIRO and his white coated mates at Monash University announced they can, via a chemical process, produce a highly stable oil. This can be readily refined to an equivalent of either petrol or diesel from waste paper, timber and crop wastes.

In fact pretty much anything that is endowed with plenty of lignocellulose. They reckon even forest thinnings, straw and household green garden waste will do the trick. An added benefit of their process is that the bio-crude oil is also PH neutral, so it can be held in storage for a while, before further processing.

You know it is bad when former oil execs are out there condemning gas guzzlers

The former chairman of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has called on the European Union to ban gas-guzzling cars, saying they are unnecessary, the BBC reported Monday. “Nobody needs a car that does 10-15 mpg (miles per gallon, 19-28 litres per 100 kilometres),” Mark Moody-Stuart was quoted as saying.

“We need very tough regulation saying that you can’t drive or build something less than a certain standard. You would be allowed to drive an Aston Martin — but only if it did 50-60 mpg.”

Got some old suitcases you hate? Turn them into furniture… Just a small article put the pics are cool.


In honor of World Wetlands Day, Mexico added 45 wetlands to an international registry that promotes conservation and sustainable development, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Ramsar, which now covers more than 1,699 wetlands totaling 375 million acres, was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 to coordinate international efforts to conserve wetlands.

Banks applying environmental standards to business loans.

Top U.S. investment banks are set to impose environmental standards that will make it harder for companies to acquire financing for coal-fired power plants, in preparation for government caps on greenhouse-gas emissions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The report said Citigroup Inc, JP Morgan Chase & Co, and Morgan Stanley, expect the U.S. government to cap power-plant emissions in the next few years, and will thus require utilities seeking financing for plants to prove that those facilities will be viable under new regulations.

Using nanotech to round up atmospheric gases.

Chemists unveil new process for capturing and storing gas; potential spin-offs include improvements to greenhouse gas  management and fuel cell development

A new process for catching gas from the environment and holding it indefinitely in molecular-sized containers has been developed by a team of University of Calgary researchers, who say it represents a novel method of gas storage that could yield benefits for capturing, storing and transporting gases more safely and efficiently.

And finally for now because this is just cool…Have a condo, you could have a fish farm. No really….

Check it out

Big fish are moving into the big city. Recent headlines about contaminants found in the sushi of New York restaurants gives us all the more reason to love Yonathan Zohar’s city fish farms. Perfect for the basements of large condos or parked near a big city market, Zohar’s commercial fish farms solve a number of problems.

“It is clear that the consumption of seafood and fish is on the rise, because of the great health benefits… but now we are over-harvesting,” warns Zohar, director of the Center of Marine Biotechnology at the University of Maryland. “We need to change that practice and become more efficient in a way that is compatible to the earth.”

Using advanced concepts of microbiology, Zohar has entrained special microbes to live in symbiosis with the fish in order to digest their waste, 21c reports. Aerated by plastic plugs that house the microbes, the fish pools are bio-secure and contaminant free.

Four at Four

  1. The AP reports CIA used waterboarding at least three times. For the first time, CIA Director Michael Hayden publicly confirmed the names of three people whom the United States tortured. “Hayden said that Khalid Sheik Mohammed – the purported mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States – and Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were subject to the harsh interrogations in 2002 and 2003. Waterboarding is an interrogation technique that critics call torture… ‘Waterboarding taken to its extreme, could be death, you could drown someone,’ McConnell acknowledged. He said waterboarding remains a technique in the CIA’s arsenal, but it would require the consent of the president and legal approval of the attorney general.” Which I think means Bush approved the use of torture.

    TPMmuckraker weighs in with some analysis: “Hayden’s testimony is part of a bid to beat back a bipartisan attempt by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and others to pass legislation that would force the CIA’s interrogation policy to conform with the Army Field Manual. And rather than continuing to refuse to publicly discuss these issues, the administration seems to have adopted a change in tactics. Waterboarding was used only under extraordinary circumstances, Hayden’s saying. And as Attorney General Michael Mukasey disclosed last week, it’s not part of the current array of interrogation techniques deemed lawful. So it’s not worth legislating to prevent its use.” TPMmuckraker also has a fuller transcript of Hayden’s response.

  2. The Los Angeles Times reports Federal judge overrules Bush’s Navy sonar exemption. “A federal district judge in Los Angeles on Monday rejected the Bush administration’s attempt to exempt Navy sonar training from key environmental laws, ruling that there’s no real emergency to justify overruling court-ordered protections for whales and dolphins. U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper also suggested that President Bush’s effort to maneuver around an earlier federal court order was ‘constitutionally suspect,’ although she made no ruling on that issue… After reviewing the law and regulations, Cooper concluded that the Navy had no real emergency on its hands. The move to invoke these alternative arrangements, she wrote, appeared to be an attempt to get around the law after more than 10 months of litigation and losing several court battles.”

  3. The Guardian reports Scientists isolate areas most at risk of climate change. “A team of climate experts has ranked the most fragile and vulnerable regions on the planet, and warned they are in danger of sudden and catastrophic collapse before the end of the century. In a comprehensive study published today, the scientists identify the nine areas that are in gravest danger of passing critical thresholds or ‘tipping points’, beyond which they will not recover.” The Independent has a succinct list of the Irreversible changes:

    • Arctic sea ice: some scientists believe that the tipping point for the total loss of summer sea ice is imminent.

    • Greenland ice sheet: total melting could take 300 years or more but the tipping point that could see irreversible change might occur within 50 years.

    • West Antarctic ice sheet: scientists believe it could unexpectedly collapse if it slips into the sea at its warming edges.

    • Gulf Stream: few scientists believe it could be switched off completely this century but its collapse is a possibility.

    • El Niño: the southern Pacific current may be affected by warmer seas, resulting in far-reaching climate change.

    • Indian monsoon: relies on temperature difference between land and sea, which could be tipped off-balance by pollutants that cause localised cooling.

    • West African monsoon: in the past it has changed, causing the greening of the Sahara, but in the future it could cause droughts.

    • Amazon rainforest: a warmer world and further deforestation may cause a collapse of the rain supporting this ecosystem.

    • Boreal forests: cold-adapted trees of Siberia and Canada are dying as temperatures rise.

Below the fold, yet another story about a steam locomotive in peril and a bonus story about satellite spotters.

Father(AG) and Son(Verizon atty) Agree on FISA. Isn’t that nice.

We’re talking here about that sunny bright goodness, the very nobility of corporations, that dear, quaint eagerness which just might fade if they were to act legally, and for pay.  Aspects of the AG’s “New Justice”–Lawbreaking Without Consequences–meaning no disrespect or disapprobation, I promise! –will be parsed. (I’ve been watching too much Jane Austen or can’t you tell? – Heh.)

In this corner:

We have the dad, Michael Mukasey, a powerful

figure in charge of JUSTICE in this country,

defending the telecoms, going to bat for the

corporations, for their retroactive immunity

for spying illegally on us.

In the other corner:

We have the son, Marc Mukasey, a young warrior,

defending the telecoms, seeking immunity for

corporations that illegally spy us, turning

over our calls and emails to the government

without warrants.

I’m wondering if it bothers you.

Crossposted on the orange board.

This Is Me.

This is me. It is where I come from, and it is what I think about often. I posted this essay last October. It was the first essay I posted on DD. Probably not many saw it, so I thought I’d repost it today… since Super Tuesday I think adds a bit of context to it.

Inspired by buhdydharma’s The Big Picture Vol. 2

The End Of The Beginning?

In the nineteen sixties and seventies the western world was in the throes of a cultural and psychological revolution of awareness that at times threatened to bring down the governments and destroy the societies of some of the most powerful countries on earth, and terrified many who were unable to step outside of the structure and limitations of the worldviews they had constructed for themselves in the course of their lives.

Deadheads for Obama

(crossposted from Green Mountain Daily)

Well everybody’s dancin’ in a ring around the sun

Nobody’s finished, we ain’t even begun.

So take off your shoes, child, and take off your hat.

Try on your wings and find out where it’s at.

Hey hey, hey, come right away

Come and join the party every day.

Impeachment: Conyers Ulysses

This is the second in a series of diaries on impeachment

There was a time when House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers was a fierce warrior for impeachment. As a fourth-term congressman in 1972, Conyers was one of the first to introduce a House resolution calling for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon, even before the Watergate burglary had occurred. In 1974, just after President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, Conyers wrote an essay entitled, Why Nixon Should Have Been Impeached, in which he laid out his case for an article of impeachment condemning Nixon’s illegal bombing and invasion of Cambodia, as well as the constitutional threat posed to America by the choice not to pursue impeachment.

But since taking over chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee in January 2007 – the same Judiciary Committee on which Conyers served in 1974 when its members drafted the three articles of impeachment against Nixon that were about to be voted on by the House when Nixon abruptly resigned – Conyers’ passion for impeachment has cooled considerably. Why, is anyone’s guess. One possibility might simply be Conyers’ age – he is now 78 years old, not the 42 he was when he introduced his first impeachment resolution. Another, more disturbing, possibility might be that Conyers has been pressured by the Democratic leadership in Congress to forgo talk of impeachment, for what reasons one can only imagine.

Regardless of the reason, Conyers for some time has not carried the torch he once bore. The impeachment flame burns dim in him, if it burns at all.

And yet – perhaps because I am a romantic at heart – I continue to hope. Conyers’ descent into complacency reminded me of one of my favorite poems, a poem that tells the story of a once-proud warrior who finally chafes at his now-banal existence, and resolves to undertake one last campaign, a campaign to achieve “some work of noble note” before the end. Perhaps Congressman Conyers will feel the same desire to leave a meaningful legacy:

History For Candidates …(w/apologies to the Moonbat!)

 . . .  Photobucket

I know, I know….they are a little busy today and might not make it by for their daily fix of Blue Goodness here at the Dharmafarm…but just in case….

When Saad Tawfiq watched Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations on February 5 2003 he shed bitter tears as he realised he had risked his life and those of his loved ones for nothing.

As one of Saddam Hussein’s most gifted engineers, Tawfiq knew that the Iraqi dictator had shut down his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes in 1995 — and he had told his handlers in US intelligence just that.

And yet here was the then US secretary of state — Tawfiq’s television was able to received international news through a link pirated from Saddam’s spies next door — waving a vial of white powder and telling the UN Security Council a story about Iraqi germ labs.

“When I saw Colin Powell I started crying. Immediately. I knew I had tried and lost,” Tawfiq told AFP five years later in the Jordanian capital. Amman

Bootleg Pony: Piped In

In the spirit of a popular front against the forces of anti-poniness, the Anarcho-Syndicalist Pony Liberation Front (ASPLF) has allied with more mainstream pro-pony forces to bring you an officially sanctioned Bootleg Pony.

As for your author ? Well, the subject of my Scots roots has come up lately, and ranged from nicknames to the inevitable kilt questions (“Well ?”) to a sporran-and-kilt reunion of sorts with our own outstanding climatologist stormchaser. One thing that comes to my mind is the love-hate relationship Scots themselves have with aspects of their own culture. For example, do you choose to say someone’s “strangling the cat,” (no, not that …) or playing the pipes ? Myself, I love the bagpipes. Never learned how to play but given their skill with wind instruments I have some hopes for my kids (actually I think the youngest will skirl, the middle one’s more of a Highland dancer.) But pipes, hmmm, different things come to mind.

Harsh Forms Of Criticism (Updated)

cross posted from The Dream Antilles


Sayed Pervez Kambaksh

A young man has been sentenced to death in Afghanistan for downloading a report from the Internet and distributing it.

The Independent reports:

A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country’s rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after “liberation” and under the democratic rule of the West’s ally Hamid Karzai.

The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.

Mr Kambaksh, 23, distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. But a complaint was made against him and he was arrested, tried by religious judges without – say his friends and family – being allowed legal representation and sentenced to death.

So much for debate and freedom of speech.

The UN, human rights groups, journalists’ organizations and Western diplomats have urged the Karzai government to intervene and free Kambaksh. But the Afghan Senate passed a motion on January 30 confirming the death sentence.  Welcome to the US puppet government and its barbarianism.  

Want to respond to this?

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh’s imminent execution is an affront to civilised values. It is not, however, a foregone conclusion. If enough international pressure is brought to bear on President Karzai’s government, his sentence may yet be overturned. Add your weight to the campaign by urging the Foreign Office to demand that his life be spared. Sign the Independent’s e-petition here

More across the border.

Gold Star Mom Speaks Out

Today I am The Decider

Posted by GSMSO at 3:09 AM

(Cross posted from Gold Star Mom Speaks Out)

Today is Super Tuesday. 15 primaries and 5 caucuses will take place in 24 states to determine how more than 2700 delegates will be designated in the presidential campaign.

Today I’ve earned the privilege to make my vote count, to decide who I want to be my president.

Today I am not voting for gender or race.

Today I am not voting because some celebrity told me how to vote.

Today I am the decider.

Today I am voting with hopes that my candidate will end the occupation in Iraq.

Today I am voting to honor those who can no longer vote.

This was posted on OOIBC this morning.

IMO, she says all that needs to be said about the primaries….

Yell. Loud.

Pony Party, Self-Indulgent Reminiscing

My grandmother has been forward in my mind here lately for a few reasons.  Firstly, she died 20 years ago in January.  Then there’s the fact that she was born and raised in Brooklyn, and had a super soft spot for NY teams (of which she always considered the Dodgers one), and would have been tickled to see the Giants win Sunday.

And lastly, because she was a first-generation American, and took democracy seriously.  She worked for the Democratic party in what is now PA-08, and had me at the polls with her from the time I could stand.  We used to stand outside the polls and hand out buttons and stickers (those were the days).  In ’72, when my brother was born, I BEGGED my parents to name him George McGovern.  They didnt.  

Early Mardi Gras Super Tuesday Morning

I’m putting the creole and the red beans on to heat,

I’m diggin out my beads

I’m heading to the polls

and then I’m going to the Mardi Gras!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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