The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 25, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread

Chernobyl Nuclear Plant

Has it been thirty years since Chernobyl? Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals, trees and other plants still show signs of radiation poisoning. The saga of nuclear accident: a poisoned earth refuses to heal.

It ain’t the fat. It appears that the presence of saturated fat in foods has very little influence on cholesterol levels, and other aspects of heart disease. Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats. 

Climate change – it’s not all bad news:   The long tailed tit likes warm dry springs.     


Open Thread – Discuss

67 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 25, 2014 Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread

  1. Where radiation is strongest, leaves decay slowest

    The results were telling. In the areas with no radiation, 70% to 90% of the leaves were gone after a year. But in places where more radiation was present, the leaves retained around 60% of their original weight.

    By comparing the mesh with the panty hose-lined bags, they found that insects play a significant role in getting rid of the leaves, but that the microbes and fungi played a much more important role.

    Because they had so many bags placed in so many different locations, they were able to statistically control for outside factors such as humidity, temperature and forest and soil type to make sure that there wasn’t anything besides radiation levels impacting the leaves’ decomposition.

    “The gist of our results was that the radiation inhibited microbial decomposition of the leaf litter on the top layer of the soil”, Mousseau says.

    Catastrophic fire would redistribute radiation…


    Despite the concerns, Zhang said the proportion of nuclear power in China is just too small. “Based on modern technologies and security lessons from the past, nuclear power can be safely utilized,” he said.

    • (failed to paste this from the China article)

      The country’s nuclear power development came to a halt after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan in March 2011. China also suspended approvals for new nuclear plants and carried out a nationwide safety review after the crisis. The approvals were cautiously resumed in October 2012.

        • Based on the apparent quality of China’s air of late, maybe the words ‘coal/oil/methane’ and ‘safe’ should share a similar fate. Seriously, humanity has a huge problem about to smack us all, on every corner of the globe. Energy. Interesting how each and every other life form also needs and uses energy to live, but we are the only species that makes a global mess of it, the only species with the means and the will (read: stupidity) to destroy the entire biosphere and every living thing residing, a process now well underway. I guess it all makes sense if man is, indeed, the ‘image’ of that mean-spirited and vindictive god described in the O.T.

          • There are two elements that govern the relative safety of nuclear power. One is technical and the other is human. Pressurized water/steam reactors are a stupid design. They don’t “fail safe” they “fail deadly”. There are reactor designs, most of them variations on a “molten salt” reactor, that are inherently more safe. They not only “fail safe”, they simply shut down and freeze is a pump fails for example, but the amount of waste produced is a small fraction of that produced by the fail deadly designs in commercial use. And that’s where the human factor comes in.

            Safer reactors are more expensive to build and even a minor glitch can destroy the reactor, though the radioactivity is confined, as opposed to current commercial reactors which can fail catastrophically but can recover from minor events. So, since there are politicians and lawyers and bean counters and investors in the decision loop, we aren’t even talking about safer reactors. They simply aren’t as profitable as the inherently unsafe reactors in commercial use today. As long as the profit motive is in play nuclear power is not worth the risk because someone will always elect to do the second best thing if it will make money.

          • A friend’s husband works as a union electrician at a local nuclear power plant. He has to wear a badge that has questions on the badge. One question is how much radiation does he consider safe for that day with a blank space after the question for him to fill in. I’m guessing he always put in a zero.

  2. yes…..this is what we’re going through here. we live 27 miles from WIPP, and i’m wondering about home values in the coming years. WIPP, to date, only accepts the lowest level waste such as exposed clothing, tools, gloves, rags, etc. used in weapons manufacturing from 22 US sites.

  3. Here’s an ACA goody-goody from a well-known Fox Wingnut pundit (aka stupid focher):

    Krauthammer: Obamacare Single Payer Would’ve Been ‘Logical, Simple’

    Speaking on Fox and Friends Monday morning, Krauthammer said “a single payer system would at least have been logical and simple.”

    He’s right on that one, obviously. But. But. Butt — how did he forget that it was congressional Wingnuttistanian “Krauthammerassholians” that have forever managed to DENY each and every possibility of universality in health care coverage for all Americans??

    What is the basis underlying their clear and obvious HATRED of nearly everyone alive today?

    • A “Krauthammer” is an ancient device used in early times and by present day fundies to tenderize sauerkraut thereby rendering it almost palatable by reducing the gag reflex.
      With the waning popularity of sauerkraut, the device is becoming more and more obsolete

    • “What is the basis underlying their clear and obvious HATRED of nearly everyone alive today?”

      Their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

  4. No surprise here – still trying to confirm the number…. last week’s Crimean ‘referendum’ – 34% turnout…. (1% of the Tartars voted, no word on the ethnic Ukrainian minority which is 25% of population)

    #Dzhemilev: real voting turnout at #Crimea's illegal referedum – 34,2%. Data for #Russia's Security Service, obtained by #Mejlis. ukrinform— Euromaidan PR (@EuromaidanPR) March 25, 2014

    • Not to worry:

      “BP will continue to work in full cooperation with the agencies to ensure the protection of personnel, the environment and surrounding communities.”

      Read: until we’re fined, then “See you in court to have it go away.”

  5. From the 21st century MASTER of US diplomacy and foreign affairs:

    Rumsfeld: If Obama Was A ‘Trained Ape,’ U.S. Diplomacy Would Be Better

    Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Monday blasted President Barack Obama’s diplomacy, saying a “trained ape” could do a better job.

    In an interview with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, Rumsfeld complained that relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai had gone “downhill like a toboggan” under the current president, even though the Bush administration’s ties with the Afghan leader had been “first rate.”

    “Take for example that we have status of forces agreements probably with 100, 125 countries in the world,” the former secretary of defense ranted angrily. “This administration, the White House and the State Department, have failed to get a status of forces agreement.”

    “A trained ape could get a status of forces agreement,” he added. “It does not take a genius.”

    • His ignorant remarks are predicated on a few falsehoods:

      1) That it is true that Karzai and Bush had a “first rate” relationship. It was not one built on mutual trust, and I’m sure the only reason Karzai talked to Bush was for the promise of US dollars and troops to fight the insurgency;

      2) That a Status of Forces agreement is something “a trained ape” could get. Not true, and not even something we would necessarily want to have with Afghanistan. Did Rumsfeld really think there was nothing to the old saying about Afghanistan being a place where empires go to die?;

      3) That no one will assume the “trained ape” remark was in the least bit offensive. Really, Donny? You couldn’t have come up with something else?

      The bottom line is that Rumsfeld and the other neo-con war hawks are pissed off because we’re not striving for war without end, which was pretty much the stated policy of the Bush Administration.

  6. This Republican Bill Would Require People To Get Court Approval To Date Or Have Sex

    In 2013, Massachusetts State Senator Richard Ross introduced S787 in the House. The bill forbids divorcing couples who have children from engaging in sexual activities with other people unless they get court approval first. In fact, they can’t even go on dates with other people without an OK from a judge.

    “In divorce, separation, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts.”

    Ross claims he doesn’t actually support the bill, but filed it anyway on behalf of a constituent. Even so, one would think that such a bill would be killed instantly. After all, it’s not like the GOP is exactly in charge in the blue state. But on Thursday, the bill somehow received a three month extension for consideration and could move forward anytime between now and June 30th.

    S787 is slippery slope that could be a model for legislation in red states in their war on women.
    The bill is bad enough as it is. It legislates the private lives of consenting adults, both men and women, and forces them to ask a court if they can have sex with someone or date them. It’s a clear violation of personal liberty and privacy. But it’s also a slippery slope that could give Republicans a new idea to push in their war on women.

    Republicans already want to make it harder for women to obtain a divorce. And the GOP isn’t a fan of women having sex outside of marriage. The right-wing has been totally obsessed with restricting the sex lives of women. And now they have a brand new tactic they can use to make women’s lives even more hellish.

      • Where a Republican is the sponsor, that would be mal-legislation. And usually male-legislation too.

        We had too much of that passed under Bush. The status quo is too cozy for the party of the have mores, and the have-it-alls.

    • This just begs for satire.

      Imagine a person, man or woman, going to court to get an f-ing court order, only to have the judge deny the f-ing motion; he or she makes an f-ing appeal and the f-ing motion goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

      The Supremes, relying on Lawrence v. Texas, write an f-ing opinion, overturn the lower court’s ruling on the f-ing motion, and order the judge to issue an f-ing order.

  7. There are some stories that near drive me to drink and this is one of them. An 8 year old girl was kicked out of a Christian school because she, according to them, looks like a Tomboy. I would like to think her guardians will tell her she has to change schools because the people who run the old school are stupid, crazy, and mean but I have a sinking feeling that they will make excuses and strive against the secular education she receives from a public school.

    • Another young girl runs afoul of a charter school over her look.

      Colorado girl shaves head for pal with cancer, gets temporarily suspended

      A Colorado girl who shaved her head to support a friend who went bald because of cancer treatment has been told she violated her school’s dress code.

      Kamryn Renfro, 9, of Grand Junction shaved her head to help Delaney Clements get through chemotherapy. Kamryn at first wasn’t allowed to return to classes at Caprock Academy, the charter school she attends. The academy later said she could return, but the school’s board of directors is expected to discuss her situation at a meeting Tuesday evening.

    • That whole monetary riipoff scenario including charter and religious schools as a substitute for public education is fast becoming the thorn in America’s education inner tube, with the ultimate goal in mind of completely deflating the public option in favor of complete and total privatization. When that happens, education will no longer be education, it’ll become, to coin a word, propagandation, and the US will quickly slip into third world status (If we’re not there already).

      • Education has long been propagandation.

        I have gone from being an opponent of vouchers, to seeing that, if properly done, vouchers may yet provide an opportunity for teacher to teach and children to learn, free of the educational heirarchy that places the politics of appeasment above education.

        • IF vouchers can be freed from politics and religion, and IF fact (historical, artistic, humanitarian) plus Science plus Mathematics can be taught as they stand, then I’m OK with vouchers as well. But so long as educational standards are abandoned in favor of politics or religious belief, then absolutely NO.

          • Vouchers will, regretably perhaps, open up the whole spectrum of fraud – religion taught as fact – BUT, it will also open up the opportunity to really teach kids…

            I managed to take a class of 8th graders that started the year reading at the 5.4 grade level and get them up to the 7.9 grade level by the end of the year. Shortly after that, the educational beaurocracy changed the dictates by which I had to teach, precluding doing what I did that worked.

    • The scary thing is that I don’t think education is biblical either, other than study of the sacred texts in the temple for some. So their whole freaking school is not biblical, unless the curriculum consists of guarding sheep and drawing water.

  8. Mitch McConnell’s New Ad Features Duke Basketball Instead Of Kentucky, Mockery Ensues

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) presumably meant to feature a clip of the University of Kentucky’s basketball team in a new campaign spot released Tuesday, but the ad’s release was instead ridiculed on Twitter for a brief shot of the Duke Blue Devils celebrating their 2010 NCAA Championship victory.

    The ad, titled “Rebuild,” comes as McConnell faces a primary challenge from tea party-backed businessman Matt Bevin.

    “If I’m given the opportunity to lead the U.S. Senate next year, I won’t let you down,” McConnell says, as the ad pans across the senator giving speeches and talking with supporters.

    The shot of Duke players Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas jumping in celebration comes at 1:09 of the video.

    Oops…Duke got bounced in the first round this year, by underdog Mercer. McConnell’s first round is against an underdog, too.

  9. Apropos on the 80th birthday of Gloria Steinem (who I met back in 1975 and she said to me, “Well aren’t you adorable.” I’m not sure I knew at the time why she was famous, but I was flattered.):

    Nicki Daniels, wrote a piece about how hipsters are ruining beards by making it harder for her to find a truly manly man. Here’s the apology she wrote to her countless detractors, an anti-p.c. blog classic:

    “Since I wrote this post, I have been introduced to an amazing group of people called “feminists”. They told me that we are living in something called a “patriarchal society” and apparently it’s guys like you that have been keeping us women down for centuries. My mind is blown! Apparently, by me wishing for a more old fashioned guy, I am encouraging the perpetuation of this nefarious system. I have gotten a library card and plan to read more about this. As a side note, I also learned that no means no.

    These awesome feminists also told me that by calling a man a “pussy”, I am equating female genitalia with weakness. I’m still on the fence about that one. Honestly, I just thought it sounds funny. Plus I am always bragging about my own freakishly strong vagina, so by that logic if I call a guy a pussy I am actually calling him “amazing”. Hmmm. Food for thought, friends …”

    More at:

  10. COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Danish zoo that faced protests for killing a healthy giraffe to prevent inbreeding says it has put down four lions, including two cubs, to make room for a new male lion.

    Citing the “pride’s natural structure and behavior,” the Copenhagen Zoo said Tuesday that two old lions had been euthanized as part of a generational shift. It said the cubs were also put down because they were not old enough to fend for themselves and “anyway would have been killed by the new male lion.”

    Zoo officials hope the new male and two females born in 2012 will form the nucleus of a new pride.

    Last month the zoo triggered a wave of protests by killing a 2-year-old giraffe, and feeding its remains to the lions as visitors watched.

  11. Some stuff really pisses me off, some stuff makes me sick. Some stuff does both.

    National Review: Black children have ‘weak impulse control’ compared to white children

    A new report from the Department of Education shows that even from preschool, black students in America tend to receive disproportionately severe disciplinary actions. To most people this was taken as signal that something might be severely amiss in our classrooms; to the National Review, it is evidence that black children are inherently predisposed to disruptive behavior and crime.

  12. sicko fucks…

    Toddler Cut as Razor Blades Found Glued to Illinois Playground
    By M. Alex Johnson

    A 2-year-old boy was recovering from cuts on his hand and parents were on edge as police Tuesday tried to figure out who glued about a dozen razor blades to playground equipment in a park in western Illinois.

    The razor blades were found attached with white putty to monkey bars and other equipment Monday afternoon after the boy, who wasn’t identified, and his father took officers to Millennium Park in East Moline, police said. The boy’s cuts weren’t serious, and he was treated at home.

    Police said there have been other incidents of vandalism at city parks and asked residents to be on the lookout for suspicious activities.

    • Police departments need to re-trained so the ‘trigger happy’ isn’t the first action they take.
      Recently cops have ‘feared for their lives’ while facing a person holding a knife! Killing them quicker than attempting to assess.
      Yes, a knife will kill you – quick evasive action gives a Cop more time to ‘dodge’
      and shoot the hand holding the knife!

    • (selfish)

      Interesting – she had cancer in 2004 and apparently went into remission – it was during that time she voted against assisting others.
      Notw with metastatic ca. she has a ‘revelation’ that others need assistance.

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