Intensify the nationalism, quick!

If it wasn’t enough to thoroughly trash our country, now they expect us to fix it…by working til we die!

Is retiring early unpatriotic?

If boomers all turn in their keys at age 55, 62 or 65 and head for the Tuscan hills, that great sucking sound you’ll hear is untold amounts of taxpayer dollars being leached from the economy. That is money heirs will have to replace or do without.

It’s an act Yarrow calls “profoundly selfish and unpatriotic.”

You can’t make this shit up! Who would have thought it, its us who are being selfish. They suggest in the article working until you are 75- for your country. 

I also would like to call out a shout to just plain lying to the people. From this statement, emphasis mine.

The debt currently stands at $9.3 trillion and is largely driven by rising Medicare and Social Security costs.

Huh? And I thought is was the war and all the supplemental spending for the war. I guess I am just ignorant.

Here is another gem from this article.

Today, the average life expectancy is 78, and if you make it through your 50s, you’re likely to live into your 80s or beyond.

Cool, I might have 5 years to relax before I die! Won’t be able to do much on my walker, but hey, what does that matter?

So pleas Critters and others, please let me know I am not the only one that thinks this is WAY over the top and ridiculous! There is even more crap if you can stomach the article in it’s entirety.

Isn’t summer grand!

This is Dwid, our frog. We raised him from a tadpole last summer. For some reason he decided he liked our pond and found a place to hibernate last winter, so he is with us again this summer. We decided to give him a some companionship besides our cats who like to stalk him in the grasses around the pond, so we have 3 more tadpoles coming of age. One of the best things is to look out our front window and see him sitting on the giant lily pads. It is the little things in life that keep us all sane and happy, eh? Dwid is one of ours.

Congo’s Other Dirty Little Secret

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Most people know the term “conflict diamond“. Made popular by the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond highlights the diamond trade in central Africa and the implications the trade has on the local populous. (I also recommend the movie) What many people don’t know about is a substance used in many of our everyday items such as cell phones, DVD players and laptops. Coltan. Made from the minerals columbite and tantalite, hence coltan. 80% of the world’s supply is found in the DRC.

Continue reading

Plastics, China, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Oh My!

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I heard recently that more jobs are being sent overseas. This time, our garbage is what China is after. More and more, the plastics in our garbage our going to China to be recycled. With low environmental standards, wages and a high tolerance for child labor, the US and Britain find themselves passing off their recyclables to China.

No detailed studies have been done of the environmental costs of shipping vast quantities of waste from Britain to China, but environment groups and MPs were yesterday shocked at the scale of the trade. “Exporting lightweight packaging waste to China makes little sense environmentally,” said Liberal Democrat MP Sue Doughty. “It is a failure of the UK recycling market which allows the UK to export plastic for recycling. We have no control over environmental standards in China. Instead of solving the problem we are exporting it.

Another great article, if you have time to read, details the many aspects of this growing problem very nicely.

“Right now, a lot of our material is indeed baled and shipped off-shore,” said Calvin Young, market development specialist with the state Integrated Waste Management Board. “We all hear the horror stories, but there’s not a lot of verified information” about working conditions in China or elsewhere, he said. A spokeswoman for the waste board, which manages California’s solid waste stream, said the state’s hands are tied. “Once you release the material and another person buys it, you can’t tell them what to do with it,” said Roni Java.

Low conversion rate

What is clear is that plastic recycling presents myriad problems. In addition to safety and environmental questions, technological and economic hurdles have complicated plastics recycling efforts in the United States. The result: Plastic containers get turned into new products at a much lower rate than glass bottles or aluminum cans. The can you recycle today, for instance, will make its way back to the supermarket shelf in just six weeks. Because of health concerns, a plastic bottle will never become another plastic bottle. Recyclers often have a hard time making ends meet because the demand from manufacturers for recycled plastic — and, consequently, the money paid for it — is considerably less than for virgin material.

Another growing problem, literally, is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a patch of garbage floating around the Pacific Ocean that is about twice the size of the state of Texas (or about half a million square miles).

This is a very informative article from Best of Life online with pictures that aren’t for the faint-hearted.

photo of deformed sea turtle
At the same time, all over the globe, there are signs that plastic pollution is doing more than blighting the scenery; it is also making its way into the food chain. Some of the most obvious victims are the dead seabirds that have been washing ashore in startling numbers, their bodies packed with plastic: things like bottle caps, cigarette lighters, tampon applicators, and colored scraps that, to a foraging bird, resemble baitfish. (One animal dissected by Dutch researchers contained 1,603 pieces of plastic.) And the birds aren’t alone. All sea creatures are threatened by floating plastic, from whales down to zooplankton. There’s a basic moral horror in seeing the pictures: a sea turtle with a plastic band strangling its shell into an hourglass shape; a humpback towing plastic nets that cut into its flesh and make it impossible for the animal to hunt. More than a million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, and countless fish die in the North Pacific each year, either from mistakenly eating this junk or from being ensnared in it and drowning.

I read an article in Popular Science about 1-2 years ago about a new form of recycling using plasma technology. It is fascinating! It would seem we have a very viable win-win situation for some of our garbage problems. However, like the oil industry, kicking out the old and not good for us to make room for the new, innovative and better is not as easy as it should be. The same problems that stymie the energy industry stymie the garbage industry; kicking out the fat cats that make money off of problems.

Here is my idea for a plan to help stop and fix the GPGP. Have a group of environmentally conscious countries set up a coalition to fund one of these plasma recyclers to be on a ship or a platform like they use for oil drilling. Start “dredging” the misc. garbage out there in the gyre’s. Let the countries that fund the project get the by-product Hydrogen fuel and solid recycled waste to be used for industry by percent contributed. They may or may not financially come ahead, but the alternatives to leaving it to grow will be a far greater debt we will pay later.

UPDATED on April 26, 2009.

While we were sleeping…

Or too busy with the Democratic National Prizefight, a new contender has entered the Presidential Race.  From a NYT article:

Mr. Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia who on Monday announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Party nomination, certainly hopes so. It is a prospect that could give Senator John McCain’s campaign fits, threatening to siphon critical Republican votes away from him in important battleground states.

The situation is purely speculative. But Mr. Barr is keeping close to the script that has had Mr. Paul, a Texas congressman, drawing votes long after Mr. McCain became the presumed Republican presidential nomine

U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia\'s 7th District 1995-2003

More from the AP:

Barr, who has hired Ross Perot’s former campaign manager, acknowledged that some Republicans have tried to discourage him from running. But he said he’s getting in the race to win, not to play spoiler or to make a point.

“I’ve heard from Americans from all walks of life … they want a choice,” he said at a news conference in Washington. “They believe that America has more and better to offer than what the current political situation is serving up to us.”

Barr first must win the Libertarian nomination at the party’s national convention that begins May 22. Party officials consider him a front-runner thanks to the national profile he developed as a Georgia congressman from 1995 to 2003.

If he wins the White House, he said he would immediately freeze discretionary spending in Washington. He also would begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and consider slashing spending at federal agencies such as the departments of education and commerce — as well as at overseas military bases.

The former U.S. attorney also said he would strictly enforce immigration laws.

“This notion that government owes something to people just because they’re here does not resonate with me,” he said. “This is not a charity.”

So who the heck is Bob Barr? Here is some info straight from the horse’s mouth; his campaign site.

Mr. Barr said he believed the support was out there. But several political analysts said much depended on the blogosphere, which has yet to weigh in.

So weigh in! What do you think this will do?

Crimes? What crimes?

Here is some pretty depressing news to all of us hoping and praying that if justice will not be served here in the United States, the Hague will take care of it. Via Human Rights Watch. Although this was news back in 2002, I doubt too many people know of it or how it is affecting countries trying to support the ICC today.

(New York, August 3, 2002) A new law supposedly protecting U.S. servicemembers from the International Criminal Court shows that the Bush administration will stop at nothing in its campaign against the court, Human Rights Watch warned today.

“The states that have ratified this treaty are trying to strengthen the rule of law. The Bush administration is trying to punish them for that.”Richard Dicker
International Justice Program
Human Rights Watch

U.S. President George Bush today signed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, which is intended to intimidate countries that ratify the treaty for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The new law authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the court, which is located in The Hague. This provision, dubbed the “Hague invasion clause,” has caused a strong reaction from U.S. allies around the world, particularly in the Netherlands.In addition, the law provides for the withdrawal of U.S. military assistance from countries ratifying the ICC treaty, and restricts U.S. participation in United Nations peacekeeping unless the United States obtains immunity from prosecution. At the same time, these provisions can be waived by the president on “national interest” grounds.

“The states that have ratified this treaty are trying to strengthen the rule of law,” said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration is trying to punish them for that.”

Dicker pointed out that many of the ICC’s biggest supporters are fragile democracies and countries emerging from human rights crises, such as Sierra Leone, Argentina and Fiji.

The law is part of a multi-pronged U.S. effort against the International Criminal Court. On May 6, in an unprecedented move, the Bush administration announced it was “renouncing” U.S. signature on the treaty. In June, the administration vetoed continuation of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Bosnia in an effort to obtain permanent immunity for U.N. peacekeepers. In July, U.S. officials launched a campaign around the world to obtain bilateral agreements that would grant immunity for Americans from the court’s authority. Yesterday, Washington announced that it obtained such an agreement from Romania.

Read the rest of the article here.

For more on the Hague Invasion Act look here. Here is an excerpt.

“This Congressional action is part of a multi-pronged effort of the US government to undermine international justice, international law and international peacekeeping,” stated William R. Pace, Convenor of the global Coalition for the International Criminal Court. Pace added, “As an American, I am ashamed of the lies and hypocrisy of the US government towards the ICC, and the disastrous reversal of US leadership on international law and justice during the new Bush Administration.”

If there are no international crimes being committed, why go to all the trouble of passing this? Does this mean the end of our dreams for justice? Sound in on it. What do you think?

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Will YOU be on the “Let Die” List?

From a Fox News headline “Government Report Answers Who Lives, Who Dies in Flu Pandemic

That’s exactly who I trust to make sure I live…… /sarc

Now, an influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn’t be treated. They include the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with severe dementia.

The suggested list was compiled by a task force whose members come from prestigious universities, medical groups, the military and government agencies. They include the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Wow, this is pretty extreme. Doctors do this all the time. It is called triage. The government has no need to “step in” and make guidelines on what doctors do every day. Be wary when the gov’t wants to regulate their way what is already being done.

This same article seems to be passed around all the news circles because I couldn’t find much more than the same article posted all over the web. However, I did find a Canadian news outlet that had a similar article that affects them in the same way. Interesting.

Who dies, who doesn’t: docs decide flu pandemic treatment guidelines

In this article it goes a little further:

The authors suggest hospitals would need a triage officer who would be the ultimate authority. Those people would have to be educated well in advance and would need legal protection to shelter them from the possibility aggrieved relatives might take punitive legal action later, Wax said.

Whether this is not a part of the US guidelines, or is just an omission on the US news agency’s part, I can only speculate. The implications could be horrifying, however. Letting the government pick someone other than a doctor to make these calls in times of disasters. What do you think?

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Look at the Signs. Imperialism or Protection?

What does a conflict between “western” minded Georgia and Russia, troop build up in the Caribbean, and a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf all have in common? Let’s look at the pieces.

In Latin America:

The U.S. Navy has been planning to build up its forces in the region. AdmiralJames Stavridis, who oversees military affairs for Latin America, told Congress on March 6 that he backs plans to designate a new fleet, led by a nuclear aircraft carrier, to patrol the waters of the Caribbean and Latin America in support of counter-terrorism operations.

The move comes as South American nations, including Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador, boost military spending to counter tensions and protect oil reserves.

Rear Admiral James Stevenson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, said the re-establishment of the Fourth Fleet will send a message to the entire region, not just Venezuela. The focus will probably be on security, he said.

Emphasis is mine.

In Georgia and Russia:

With support from President Bush for Georgia and the Ukraine’s bid for NATO inclusion, is perhaps Russia is feeling the heat? Does the possibility of NATO troops and possible pro-western influence so close to the motherland put pressure on Putin’s defenses? This along with last year’s missile defense system proposal in Putin’s back yard, doesn’t seem as friendly as Bush believes. From a WaPo article:

The president said in the Thursday interviews that part of the reason for his trip was “to allay people’s fears” about the system. “He thinks it’s aimed at him. It’s not,” Bush said of Putin.

Instead, he said, the system is meant to protect NATO allies against hostile regimes. “Russia is not hostile. Russia is a friend.”

Then of course is the latest second carrier in the gulf that is being used as “a reminder to Iran”.

So what does putting pressure on Venezuela and Latin America, Russia, and Iran all have in common? Or should the question be what country poses threats to all of these countries and why are these threats being made?

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US Energy Update

According to Mother Jones in their May-June 2008 issue, our fight for energy “independence” is a losing proposition. Here are some great stats pulled from the article “The seven Myths of Energy Independence” by Paul Roberts.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the article, but I do agree that I don’t think the US will ever see energy “independence” in my lifetime. Some of these tables and charts show some interesting figures.

Check out another informative table here.

Federal Funding for Renewable-Energy R&D
$ millions, in 2005 dollars

Renewable-Energy R&D

Seeing Green
Where the clean-energy money is—and isn’t

Dept. of Energy solar budget, 2008: $168 million

Venture capital investment in solar, 2006: $264 million

Dept. of Energy renewable-energy budget, 2008:$1.7 billion

Venture capital investment in renewable energy, 2006: $2.4 billion

Federal ethanol subsidies, 2006: $6 billion

Federal coal subsidies, 2006: $8 billion

Federal oil and gas subsidies, 2006: $39 billion

Worldwide investment in renewable energy, 2007:$71 billion

How in the heck can we expect energy change when our federal oil and gas subsidies out spend the worldwide investment in renewable energy???

Your Government at Work

According to the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 as amended under sections 454(6)(b) of the Social Security Act, codified at 42 United States code 654 (6)(b) and your states administrative Rule, all people who are recieving at least $500 in child support money per year will be charged $25 dollars to offset the federal deficit.

Yes, child support money is no longer for the children folks, it is to pay off the federal deficit. Who is the welfare recipient now?

Or here