May 28, 2011

Aquaponics HOW TO

Everything you need to know to build an aquaponic Fish farm in your back yard. Facebook: Web: The Urban Farming Guys are putting aquaponic technology into your hands. The freshest vegetables and fish to your plate on the planet

This Time Lapse Video of the Very Large Telescope At Work is the Coolest Thing You'll See Today | Before It's News

Your Universe (As Seen From the Home Planet) ESO/Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado

There’s very little we can write to preface the imagery below, so we’ll just set the scene and get out of the way. The video below was captured by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile’s Atacama Desert. And it might make you cry.

What makes this time lapse particularly amazing--because we’ve all seen plenty of time lapse videos of the night sky--is the four telescopes in the foreground. Watching these instruments work against a black background would be endlessly fascinating on its own. Unfortunately you won’t be able to pay them too much attention. Because damn, what a sky.

Time lapse of Very Large Telescope at work..........the setting of the Milky-Way, parallel to
the horizon.............Awesome! ... Monte

May 27, 2011

Illinois drops Michigan State to loser's bracket | The Detroit News

Matt Charboneau/ The Detroit News

Columbus, Ohio — Michigan State felt it deserved the No. 1 seed headed into the Big Ten tournament.

On Friday night, Illinois showed it has no intention of giving up that distinction.

After winning five straight games in their final at-bat, the Illini jumped on the Spartans early and cruised to a 4-1 victory in the semifinals at Huntington Park.

Michigan State (35-20) now heads to the loser's bracket where it will face Minnesota at 3:35 p.m. today. The winner advances to the championship game at 7 p.m. against Illinois where it will take two victories to bring home the conference title.

Illinois (27-25) got to Michigan State starter Tony Bucciferro early, scoring a run in the first and pushing the junior right-hander's pitch count high through the first four innings.

It paid off with two more runs in the fourth on a two-run double from Josh Parr. Illinois added a run in the sixth on a home run from Matt Dittman.

Michigan State got on the board in the eighth when Jeff Holm led off with a walk and then scored on a double from designated hitter Jared Hook. The Spartans had plenty of opportunities to score but stranded nine runners.

Bucciferro (8-3) struggled for Michigan State, going 6 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and walking two while striking out five.

Illinois got an outstanding effort from Anderson (7-6), who gave up six hits and walked four in 7 1/3 innings, but was able to strand eight Michigan State runners. From The Detroit News:



When U.S. regulators approved Monsanto's genetically modified "Bt" corn, they knew it would add a deadly poison into our food supply. That's what it was designed to do. The corn's DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces the Bt-toxin. It's a pesticide; it breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

But Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore up and down that it was only insects that would be hurt. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any impact on all of us trusting corn-eating consumers.

Oops. A study just proved them wrong.

Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn's Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women. (Specifically, the toxin was identified in 93% of 30 pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67% of 39 non-pregnant women.) The study has been accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology


According to the UK Daily Mail, this study, which "appears to blow a hole in" safety claims, "has triggered calls for a ban on imports and a total overhaul of the safety regime for genetically modified (GM) crops and food." Organizations from England to New Zealand are now calling for investigations and for GM crops to be halted due to the serious implications of this finding.

Links to allergies, auto-immune disease, and other disorders

There's already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. The fact that it flows through our blood supply, and that is passes through the placenta into fetuses, may help explain the rise in many disorders in the US since Bt crop varieties were first introduced in 1996.

In government-sponsored research in Italy, mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses. Their elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, for example, are typically associated with allergies and infections. The mice had an increase in cytokines, which are associated with "allergic and inflammatory responses." The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer (see chart).

Elevated interleukinsAssociations
IL-6Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, various types of cancer (multiple myeloma and prostate cancer)
IL-13Allergy, allergic rhinitis, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
MIP-1bAutoimmune disease and colitis.
IL-12p70Inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis

The young mice in the study also had elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases. The Bt corn that was fed to these mice, MON 810, produced the same Bt-toxin that was found in the blood of women and fetuses.

When rats were fed another of Monsanto's Bt corn varieties called MON 863, their immune systems were also activated, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of toxicity in the liver and kidneys.

Natural Bt is dangerous

Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for years. But they spray it on plants, where it washes off and biodegrades in sunlight. The GM version is built-in; every plant cell has its own spray bottle. The toxin doesn't wash off; it's consumed. Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray; is designed to be even more toxic; and has properties of known allergens—it actually fails the World Health Organization's allergen screening tests.

The biotech companies ignore the substantial difference between the GM toxin and the natural bacteria version, and boldly claim that since the natural spray has a history of safe use in agriculture, it's therefore OK to put the poison directly into our food. But even this claim of safe use of Bt spray ignores peer-reviewed studies showing just the opposite.

When natural Bt-toxin was fed to mice, they had tissue damage, immune responses as powerful as cholera toxin, and even started reacting to other foods that were formerly harmless. Farm workers exposed to Bt also showed immune responses. The EPA's own expert Scientific Advisory Panel said that these mouse and farm worker studies "suggest that Bt proteins could act as antigenic and allergenic sources."But the EPA ignored the warnings. They also overlooked studies showing that about 500 people in Washington state and Vancouver showed allergic and flu-like symptoms when they were exposed to the spray when it was used to kill gypsy moths.

Bt cotton linked to human allergies, animal deaths

Indian farm workers are suffering from rashes and itching and other symptoms after coming into contact with Bt cotton.

Now thousands of Indian farm laborers are suffering from the same allergic and flu-like symptoms as those in the Pacific Northwest simply from handling genetically engineered cotton plants that produce Bt-toxin. According to reports and records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies, as well as numerous investigative reports and case studies, workers are struggling with constant itching and rashes; some take antihistamines every day in order to go to work.

It gets worse.

All thirteen buffalo of a small Indian village died after grazing for a single day on Bt cotton plants.

When they allow livestock to graze on the Bt cotton plants after harvest, thousands of sheep, goats, and buffalo died. Numerous others got sick. I visited one village where for seven to eight years they allowed their buffalo to graze on natural cotton plants without incident. But on January 3rd, 2008, they allowed their 13 buffalo to graze on Bt cotton plants for the first time. After just one day's exposure, all died. The village also lost 26 goats and sheep.

One small study in Andhra Pradesh reported that all six sheep that grazed on Bt cotton plants died within a month, while the three controls fed natural cotton plants showed no adverse symptoms.

Living pesticide factories inside us?

Getting back to the Bt-toxin now circulating in the blood of North American adults and newborns—how did it get there? The study authors speculate that it was consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class. They even suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn—as most livestock are.

I'd like to speculate on another possible source. But I warn you, it's not pretty.

The only human feeding study every published on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was conducted on Roundup Ready soybeans. Here's their back story: Scientists found bacteria growing in a chemical waste dump near their factory, surviving the presence of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. The herbicide normally kills bacteria, but this organism had some special gene that allowed it to survive. So Monsanto scientists figured, "Let's put it into the food supply!"

By forcing that genes from that bacterium into soybean plants' DNA, the plants then survive an otherwise deadly dose of Roundup herbicide—hence the name Roundup Ready.

In the human study, some of the subjects were found to have Roundup Ready gut bacteria! This means that sometime in the past, from eating one or more meals of GM soybeans, the gene that had been discovered in the chemical waste dump and forced into the soy, had transferred into the DNA of bacteria living inside their intestines—and continued to function. That means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have dangerous GM proteins produced continuously inside of us.

When the results of the study emerged, the funding from the pro-GMO UK government mysteriously dried up, so they were not able to see if the same type of gene transfer happens with Bt genes from, say, corn chips. If it does, it means that eating Bt corn might turn our intestinal flora into living pesticide factories—continually manufacturing Bt-toxin from within our digestive systems.

I don't know of a test that can confirm that this is happening, but the Canada study may be showing the results—where Bt-toxins are found in the blood of a very high percentage of people.

If the "living pesticide factory" hypothesis is correct, we might speculate even further. Bt-toxin breaks open the stomach of insects. Could it similarly be damaging the integrity of our digestive tracts? The biotech companies insist that Bt-toxin doesn't bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals, and therefore humans. But here too they ignore peer-reviewed published evidence showing that Bt-toxin doesbind with mouse small intestines and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys. In the former study, they even found "changes in the electrophysiological properties" of the organ after the Bt-toxin came into contact.

If Bt-toxins were causing leaky gut syndrome in newborns, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the intestines could be devastating. Scientists speculate that it may lead to autoimmune diseases and food allergies. Furthermore, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain causing serious cognitive problems. Some healthcare practitioners and scientists are convinced that this is the apparent mechanism for autism.

Thus, if Bt genes were colonizing the bacteria living in the digestive tract of North Americans, we might see an increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders—since 1996 when Bt crops came on the market. Physicians have told me that they indeed are seeing such an increase.

The discovery of Bt-toxin in our blood does not confirm all this speculation, but it does provide food for thought. And hopefully, that food is non-GMO.

Our Institute for Responsible Technology joins other organizations worldwide calling for an immediate ban on GM food crops, and the commencement of rigorous independent scientific research on the safety of GMOs in general, and Bt-toxin in particular. Action Alert: While we work for a ban on GMOs, in the mean time click here to sign a petition

for President Obama to require labeling. Jeffrey M. Smith is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, author of the #1 international bestselling book on GMOs, Seeds of Deception, and of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. To avoid GMOs, which is the advice of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, visit For references to this blog, go to:

Buckeyes Shell-Shocked By Illinois Comeback

Buckeyes Shell-Shocked By Illinois Comeback
Jeff Svoboda
Ohio State was in great shape to stay unbeaten at the Big Ten baseball tournament on Thursday night, but Illinois had other plans, scoring four runs in the ninth to post a 5-4 walkoff victory. Brian DeLucia homered and Greg Solomon had ...

Big Ten baseball tourney: Four-run ninth stuns Buckeyes
Mark Znidar
Ohio State coaches and players have talked all season about their innate ability to rise from the ashes. That mettle will be put to the test today, a little more than 12 hours after one of their most crushing losses in many years. ...

Buckeyes Lose Heartbreaker 5-4 to #1 Seed Illinois in Big Ten Tournament
Tony Gerdeman
Illinois (26-25) scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth against Buckeye closer Josh Dezse to take the 5-4 win over Ohio State (26-26), sending the Buckeyes to the losers' bracket and a twelve-hour turnaround between games. ...


May 26, 2011

New rules offer big cash awards to whistleblowers - Yahoo! Finance

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Whistleblowers who report corporate fraud or other misconduct to the government could receive sizable cash awards under new rules adopted Wednesday by federal regulators.

Tipsters would be eligible if they give the Securities and Exchange Commission information that leads to an enforcement action resulting in more than $1 million in penalties. The SEC would pay up to 30 percent of the money it recovers from a company or person.

A divided SEC voted 3-2 to adopt the whistleblower program. The two Republican commissioners objected.

The new rules will take effect in about 60 days. Whistleblowers who provided information starting in July 2010, when the overhaul law was enacted, also would be eligible to receive awards.

The whistleblower program was mandated by the financial overhaul law enacted last year. It was contested by big U.S. companies, like AT&T Inc., Best Buy Co., FedEx Corp., Google Inc., Target Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., in addition to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

They argued that whistleblowers should first have to tell their companies of misconduct and give them a chance to correct problems before informing the SEC. Otherwise, the corporations contend, it will take longer to address wrongdoing.

On the other side, advocates and lawyers for whistleblowers say they would be discouraged from reporting wrongdoing if required to inform company officials first.

The new rules would seek to discourage employees from bypassing their companies' compliance programs. Once employees report potential wrongdoing to their company, the SEC would officially designate them as whistleblowers, potentially eligible for awards -- provided they give the SEC the same information within 120 days.

In addition, the SEC will credit whistleblowers whose companies pass their information to the agency, even if the whistleblowers themselves do not. That way, whistleblowers could receive awards by reporting wrongdoing internally to their companies.

The new rules represent the first time that whistleblowers will be given a financial incentive to report misconduct to company authorities, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said before the vote.

Companies' internal compliance programs play "an extremely valuable role" in preventing fraud, Schapiro said. She said the new rules strike a balance between encouraging whistleblowers to pursue internal compliance when appropriate and giving them the option to go directly to the SEC.

"It is the whistleblower who is in the best position to know which route is best to pursue," she said.

Advocates of the new program say whistleblowers can be an effective line of defense against corporate wrongdoing. The SEC was embarrassed by its failure to halt Bernard Madoff's multibillion-dollar fraud over nearly two decades, despite red flags raised by whistleblowers.

The SEC has made few awards to whistleblowers under its bounty program. Until now, it's been limited to insider trading cases. And its system for processing tips from whistleblowers was criticized as chaotic.

Under the new program, if an insider at Goldman Sachs had given the SEC information leading to its $550 million civil fraud settlement with Goldman over its marketing of mortgage securities, that person could have collected up to $165 million.

"The SEC has chosen to put trial-lawyer profits ahead of effective compliance and corporate governance," the Chamber of Commerce said after the vote. "This rule will make it harder and slower to detect and stop corporate fraud, by undermining (internal) compliance systems."

Warmer Ocean Fueling Tornadoes

Tornado. NOAA/Wikimedia

The stats on tornadoes so far this year are horrifying. A record-breaking 482 people (and ABC News reports 1,500 are unaccounted for in Joplin, Missouri) have been confirmed killed as of 24 May.

We know that spring's a bad season for tornadoes. We know that La NiƱa years fuel stormy Aprils. But 2011 is redefining even those parameters.

Preliminary map of April 2011 tornado tracks. National Weather Service
Here's what NOAA has to say about last month alone:
April 2011 set anew record with a total of 875 tornadoes.
The previous April record was set in 1974 with 267 tornadoes.
The average number of tornadoes for the month of April during the past decade was 161.
The previous record number of tornadoes duringany month was 542 tornadoes set in May 2003.
NWS [National Weather Service] records indicate 321 people were killed during the April 25-28 tornado outbreak.
NWS records indicate 361 people were killed during the entire month of April 2011.
April 14, 2011 tornado over Tushka, Oklahoma.: Credit: Gabe Garfield and Marc Austin, NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons.
April 14, 2011 tornado over Tushka, Oklahoma. Gabe Garfield and Marc Austin / NOAA
Leading up to April's extreme tornadoes were some extreme temperatures, noted Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist at the Weather Channel:

The temperature in Laredo reached 111 degrees the day prior to the peak [April] outbreak, the hottest on record at that location for so early in the season. Precipitation extremes have been extreme even by extreme precipitation standards, with April rainfall upwards of 20" in Arkansas and record levels on some rivers in the central US, juxtaposed with an exceptionally large amount of Texas being classified in extreme or exceptional drought.
May 22 storm moments before the Joplin tornado formed. : NOAA
May 22 storm moments before the Joplin tornado formed. NOAA
Now May is racing to catch up to and maybe even pass April. Here's what NOAA finds so far:

The National Weather Service's preliminary estimate is more than 100 tornadoes have occurred during the month of May 2011.
The record number of tornadoes during the month of May was 542 tornadoes set in May 2003.
The average number of tornadoes for the month of May during the past decade is 298.
May is historically the most active month for tornadoes.

As I write, reports are rolling in about a new round of tornadoes—and deaths—in Oklahoma.
The 1965 Elkhart, Indiana double tornado.: Credit: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons.
The 1965 Elkhart, Indiana double tornado. NOAASunday's horrific twister at Joplin, Missouri, was likely a multiple vortex tornado, says Thomas Schwein, deputy director of the National Weather Service’s Central Region, reports the Kansas City Star.

Jeff Masters' WunderBlog describes the Joplin tornado's nine-minute path thus:

A violent high-end EF-4* [Enhanced Fujita Scale] tornado [initial assessment] with winds of 190-198 mph carved a 7-mile long, 3/4 to one mile-wide path of near-total destruction through Joplin beginning at 5:41pm CDT Sunday evening.

*UPDATE: After surveying the Joplin tornado track, the NWS announced that its winds exceeded 200 miles per hour. This makes it the fourth EF-5 tornado this year, according toWonderBlog—and the most costly ever. Initial estimates: $1-3 billion.
You can get a sense of what that monster was like from this video—which due to darkness is mostly only audio. It's honestly one of the scariest things I've ever listened to.

You can hear the tornado rolling in about 01:20 into the video (perhaps the first of the multiple vortices?), then really winding up at 01:59. But that's nothing. At 03:00 all hell breaks lose.
An F5 tornado. Credit: Justin Hobson (Justin1569 at en.wikipedia), via Wikimedia Commons.: An F5 tornado. Credit: Justin Hobson (Justin1569 at en.wikipedia), via Wikimedia Commons.
An F5 tornado. Justin Hobson/Wikimedia.

So what's fueling this year's record-breaking tornado season? There are the usual suspects, which the Cliff Mass Weather Blog lists as:
Strong Instability
Large Vertical Wind Shear
Low Level Moisture

His blog does a great job of explaining those in detail.
Sea surface temperature contours in the Gulf of Mexico between May 20 and May 22, 2011.: NOAA
Sea surface temperature contours in the Gulf of Mexico between May 20 and May 22, 2011. NOAAAnd then there are sea surface temperatures.
Unusually warm surface waters in the Gulf of Mexico—about 2 degrees Fahrenheit/3.6 degrees Celsius warmer than normal—may be a factor in this season's tornado frequency and strength, according to National Weather Service director Jack Hayes. Add that to an uncommonly southward jet stream track, reports Scientific American, and you've got a recipe for the kinds of disasters we've been seeing so far this year.
Hurricane Isabel.: NASA
Hurricane Isabel. NASA/WikimediaWarmer sea surface temperatures are also one of three reasons NOAA is forecasting a 65 percent chance of an above normal season—characterized as 13 or more named storms, 7 or more hurricanes, and 3 or more major hurricanes—in the Atlantic this year.

May 25, 2011

10 Banks own 77% of US banking assets

Well worth the time to view! ... Monte

The 'Christian' Dogma Pushed by Religious Schools That Are Supported by Your Tax Dollars | Tea Party and the Right

If you live in a state with a voucher or corporate tax credit program funding "school choice," your state's tax dollars are funding the teaching of religious supremacism.

Religious schools across the nation are receiving public funds through voucher and corporate tax credit programs. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of these schools use Protestant fundamentalist textbooks that teach not only creationism, but also a religious supremacist worldview. They offer a shocking spin on politics, history and human rights.Are your state’s tax dollars funding the teaching of religious supremacism and bigotry? What about creationism? The answer is undoubtedly yes, if you live in a state with a voucher or corporate tax credit program funding “school choice."
In 12 states and the District of Columbia, almost 200,000 students attend private schools with at least part of their tuition paid with public funds. The money is taken from public school budgets to fund vouchers or by diverting state tax revenues to tuition grants through corporate tax credit programs. An interconnected group of non-profits and political action committees, led by the wealthy right-wing school privatization advocate Betsy DeVos and heavily funded by a few mega-donors, is working to expand these programs across the nation. The DeVos-led American Federation for Children hosted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Michelle Rhee at a national policy summit earlier in May.
Take a look at what growing numbers of students are being taught with taxpayer funding. The textbook quotes are followed by a description of the Florida tax credit program, the largest of its kind in the country.
The Textbooks
In 2003, Dr. Frances Paterson, a specialist in education law, published Democracy and Intolerance: Christian School Curricula, School Choice, and Public Policy, summarizing her extensive study of the curricula of the three most widely used Protestant fundamentalist textbook publishers in the nation: A Beka Book, Pensacola, Florida; Bob Jones University Publishing, Greenville South Carolina; and Accelerated Christian Education, Lewisville, Texas.
Her research included surveys in Florida, including one of private schools receiving public funding in the Orlando area. Of those that responded, 52 percent used A Beka textbooks, 24 percent used Bob Jones and 15 percent used ACE. A Beka publishers reported that about 9,000 schools nationwide purchase its textbooks.
In 2003, the Palm Beach Post conducted its own survey of Florida’s voucher schools, and of the religious schools that responded, 43 percent used either A Beka or Bob Jones curriculum. The percentages may be higher in Florida than some other states; however, these three curricula series are used by thousands of private schools across the country.
Unsurprisingly, the textbooks are fiercely anti-abortion and virulently anti-gay, similar to the ideology of Religious Right organizations (heavily funded by Betsy DeVos and family) that have been labeled hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A Bob Jones current events text argues against legal protection for gays, stating, “These people have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists.” The text uses an often-repeated phrase that homosexuals and abortion-rights supporters are “simply calling evil good.”
They also teach a radical laissez-faire capitalism. Government safety nets, regulation, minimum wage and progressive taxes are described as contrary to the Bible. Many of these textbooks were first published in the 1980s, evidence that the merging of Religious Right ideology with extreme free-market economics predates the Tea Party movement by many years.
The textbooks exhibit hostility toward other religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and traditional African and Native American religions, and other Christians are also targeted, including non-evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics.
All three series include biblical creationism in their science curriculum.
The following textbook quotes about social issues, science, history, government, economics, and religion, are taken from Dr. Paterson’s documentation or directly from my own collection of textbooks from the three publishers.
Social Issues
The term liberal is associated throughout all three series with moral decline. For example, under the subtitle “A Liberal Supreme Court,” an A Beka eighth-grade text reads, “The Supreme Court made several liberal decisions in the 1970s, indicating the moral decline of the nation as a whole.” Another A Beka text states, “Modern liberalism has had many tragic consequences -- war, tyranny, and despair -- for mankind.”
An A Beka government text describes Roe v. Wade, “Ignoring 3,500 years of Judeo-Christian civilization, religion, morality, and law, the Burger Court held that an unborn child was not a living person but rather the 'property' of the mother (much like slaves were considered property in the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford).”
Both Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education are described as social activism by the Supreme Court. The Bob Jones high school civic texts states, “While the end was a noble one -- ending discrimination in schools -- the means were troublesome.” The text continues, “liberals were not willing to wait for a political solution.”
History and Government
These texts are less militantly Christian nationalists than some other homeschooling and private school textbooks, such as the popular America’s Providential History. Nevertheless they present a view of the nation’s history and government that closely hews to that of the Religious Right.
The A Beka civics text states, “God’s original purpose for government was to punish the evil and reward the good.” The same text describes the ideal form of government. “All governments are ordained by God, but none compare to government by God, theocracy.”
Predating today’s “tenther” movement, the texts consistently accuse the federal government of exceeding its constitutional authority as described in the 10th Amendment and taking powers that belong to the states. The 14th Amendment, passed during Reconstruction to give citizenship to African Americans, is criticized as taking away state’s rights.
Concerning slavery in America, a Bob Jones high school text states, “To help them endure the difficulties of slavery, God gave Christian slaves the ability to combine the African heritage of song with the dignity of Christian praise. Through the Negro spiritual, the slaves developed the patience to wait on the Lord and discovered that the truest freedom is from the bondage of sin.”
In an A Beka high school history text, American education is described in glowing terms until the 1920s, when damaging influences of liberalism began to sweep the nation. Under the heading “Liberalism in American Life” these influences are described as the social gospel, socialism, secular psychology, progressive education, and secular humanism. The “most destructive idea to sweep the nation in the 20th century was Charles Darwin’s doctrine of evolution,” according to the text.
Under the subtitle “Socialist Propaganda” the Great Depression is described as having been exaggerated so that Franklin Delano Roosevelt could pass New Deal legislation. The text states, “Perhaps the best known work of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. [...] Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage foreclosures, mass evictions, and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America.”
Ironically, the same A Beka text claims the New Deal prolonged the Depression. The purpose of the Taft-Hartley Act, which began to unravel New Deal legislation, is described as “to remove certain labor abuses and to curb the growing power of labor unions over individuals and employers.”
Commentary on the Vietnam War states that it divided the country into the “hawks who supported the fight against Communism, and doves, who were soft on Communism.”
Throughout these texts the tone of despair changes as President Ronald Reagan’s presidency is celebrated. A fourth-grade A Beka text announces the administration of Ronald Reagan under the heading “A Return to Patriotism and Family Values.”
Even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the textbooks continue to promote fears of communism invading American life. An A Beka text states, “It is no wonder that Satan hates the family and has hurled his venom against it in the form of Communism.” The same text claims “history shows socialism gradually opens the door to Communism.” The terms socialist and socialism are used repeatedly in references to Democratic presidents.
The A Beka high school text describes President Bill Clinton’s administration. “The First Lady announced that she would personally lead the effort to implement a plan for socialized medicine in the United States. Bill Clinton’s running mate, Al Gore, a senator from Tennessee known for his radical environmentalism, became the new Vice President.”
These textbooks provide a window into a worldview that has recently impacted the political scene -- the merger of social conservatism with radical free market ideology.
Global warming is presented as a theory that is “simply not supported by scientific evidence,” and is supposedly promoted by environmentalists for destructive reasons, according to the A Beka economics text. ““Global environmentalists have said and written enough to leave no doubt that their goal is to destroy the prosperous economies of the world’s richest nations.”
In the same text a graphic of Bruegel’s famous painting of the biblical Tower of Babel is followed by a presentation of globalism in conspiratorial “one-world government” terms. This chapter on globalism describes the forces behind a one-world government as the United Nations, European Union, trade agreements (because they take away sovereignty), peace organizations and environmentalists.
A sidebar in the chapter on globalism explains that many Christians believe that that this “drive toward a one-world government fits in with prophecies” about the Antichrist and the end times. “But instead of this world unification ushering in an age of prosperity and peace, as most globalists believe it will, it will be a time of unimaginable human suffering as recorded in God’s Word. The Anti-christ will tightly regulate who may buy and sell.”
The authorship of this text is credited to the late Russell Kirk, an economist awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan. The edition from which I took the above quotes was published after Kirk’s death, but still lists him as author.
The text includes lessons in the form of fictional accounts of companies. For example, the fictitious Gray Iron Fabricating is described as failing due to the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and lawsuits: one brought by the widow of a man electrocuted on the job (he failed to follow safety instructions), and a second by a female junior executive who was passed over for a promotion in favor of a man. This section of the text is followed by a cartoon and the story of “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs” -- implying that government and greedy workers are destroying businesses.
Sweden and Canada are portrayed as “unwittingly snared in the command policies of socialism.” Based on the text, a reader might conclude that these nations are failed states.
The A Beka Web site advertises its fifth-grade text, Observing God’s World, as, “This teachable, readable, and memorable book presents the universe as the direct creation of God and refutes the idea of man-made evolution.” A section on the origin of the universe retells the Genesis story of creation and states, “Throughout history there have been people, even scientists, who have thought up their own stories of how things came to be.”
A quiz in the teacher’s guide for the A Beka eighth-grade text Matter and Motionasks, “Why did superstition take the place of science during the Middle Ages?” The answer key tells us, “People did not have the Bible to guide them in their beliefs. Many looked back to the false ideas of Aristotle.” The next question is, “Why did modern science begin so suddenly in the 1500s?” The answer given is, “As people returned to the authority of the Scriptures during the Protestant Reformation (1517), they started learning the truth about God and His creation.”
A three-page section in this A Beka text leads with a headline “Two Faiths: Creation and Evolution” and states, “Creation, not evolution, is based on a reasonable faith.” A Bob Jones science text includes a chapter titled “Biblical Creationism,” claiming that evolution cannot be a part of science, since it can not be observed and must be accepted by faith.
The same Bob Jones text explains, “From a Christian standpoint, there are only two worldviews from which to choose -- a Christian worldview or a non-Christian worldview. The most important beliefs in a Christian worldview are the beliefs that the Bible is the Word of God and the only completely reliable thing in this world.”
The text suggests that sedimentary fossils were formed in Noah’s flood. One and a half pages are dedicated to the possibility that the Bible refers to dinosaurs and closes with the warning, “Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years.”
Religion and Ethnicity
Paterson described the texts as “having an arrogance and hostility toward non-Western religions that is truly breathtaking.”
An A Beka grammar school text states that traditional African religions are “false religious beliefs” from the Egyptian descendants of the biblical figure Ham. A fifth-grade text tells a narrative of a great chief who was a Christian convert, although his subjects were “ruled by witchcraft,” and drank corn beer that made them “lazy and wicked.” The claims of witchcraft are ironic given the fact that many of the schools using these textbooks are associated with churches that have joined the current wave of obsession with witchcraft and expelling demons.
All three publishers stress the need for missionary work and reject religious pluralism. Non-Christians are described as living in “spiritual darkness,” which is credited as the source of poverty and societal ills.
The teacher’s edition of a A Beka geography text describes “Modern Africa’s Needs” as follows. “Africa is a continent with many needs. It is still in need of the gospel. Many people have gone there as missionaries but the continent is so vast, and spirit worship and the Muslim religion so strong, that only a small percentage of Africans claim to be Christians. [...] Only about ten percent of Africans can read and write. In some areas the mission schools have been shut down by Communists who have taken over the government....”
These statements are not factual and were not in 2004, when this text was published.
One of the more shameful episodes in American history, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, is apparently mitigated by the fact that “God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ,” according to an A Beka text.
Paterson points out that several textbooks claim that Chinese ideographs indicate that the Chinese people once had access to “biblical truth” but later embraced false religions including Confucianism. I’ve seen this curious and factually flawed argument in a number of other sources that claim, for example, that the Chinese character for boat indicates that ancient Chinese knew of the Noah story.
Islam is also portrayed as a false religion and Hinduism is described as “devastating to India’s history.” Followers of Shintoism are described as being “very similar to the Jewish Pharisees whom Jesus condemned for putting outward cleanliness above inward purity.”
Although the texts repeatedly use the term “Judeo-Christian,” Jews are also considered to be in need of conversion. An ACE text states, “Not realizing that he is already come, Orthodox Jews continue to look for their Messiah. As the end time prophesied in the Bible draws near, many Jews are now turning to Jesus Christ and accepting him as Messiah.”
Non-evangelical and non-fundamentalist Protestant denominations are described as liberal, a dirty word in these texts. Paterson dedicates an entire chapter of her book to examples of anti-Roman Catholic bias, which is taught to students beginning around the fifth grade. Catholicism is described with terms such as "distorted," "false," and "error." A Bob Jones high school text states, “The seed of error that took root during the fourth and fifth centuries blossomed into the Roman Catholic Church -- a perversion of biblical Christianity.”
An A Beka text reads, "The doctrines and practices of the Roman church had digressed so far from Scripture that the church was compelled to keep its members from reading the Bible and discovering the truth." The A Beka text also repeatedly uses the term Romanism, which has pejorative connotations and has been used as a slur against Catholics for generations. It is still used by apocalyptic televangelists, like John Hagee, claiming that “Romanism” is the biblical “Whore of Babylon” in his descriptions of the destruction of Rome and the Catholic Church in the end times.
In a perverse irony, the pro-voucher proponents working to remove the clauses in state constitutions that prevent public funding of religious schools, claim that this must be done because these “no aid” clauses, also known as Blaine Amendments, are a vestige of historic anti-Catholicism.
The worldview of these textbook publishers impact areas you might not suspect, including choosing phonics over whole language reading instruction and rejecting the teaching of set theory in mathematics, both on religious grounds. The A Beka publishers advertise the math curriculum as, “A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory.”
Florida’s Corporate Tax Credit Program: Do They Know What They're Funding?
Florida has the largest “school choice” program in the country, followed by Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Over 54,000 tuition recipients are enrolled in private schools in Florida, with the majority of these students in a corporate tax credit program that allows businesses to divert their taxes, dollar for dollar, up to 75 percent of taxes owed to the state.
Florida currently has a voucher program limited to special-needs students, since the state’s Supreme Court struck down a more expansive program in 2006. The Florida House and Senate have approved a ballot initiative for the 2012 election to try to remove the “no aid” clause in the state’s constitution that would open the door to Gov. Rick Scott’s vouchers-for-all scheme.
Florida’s corporate tax credit program disbursed the full amount allowed last year -- $140 million dollars for tuition to students in 1,092 schools and has a cap of $175 million for 2011. These funds are handed over to private non-profits for distribution, with the vast majority since 2002 disbursed through Step Up for Students, also a recipient of funding from the DeVos family foundations.
This is one of several names used by the Florida School Choice Fund, Inc. a 501(c)(3) headed by John Kirtley, a venture capitalist who is also vice chairman of the Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children and a director of the James Madison Institute, one of many right-wing think tanks that promote privatization of public education. (The institute’s founding vice chairman, J. Stanley Marshall, has signed a proclamation calling for the end of public education.)
As of February 2011, 83.8 percent of the students in the Florida tax credit program were attending religious schools, approximately the same rate as Milwaukee’s voucher program. However, unlike Milwaukee, hundreds of the Florida schools fall into the category of right-wing evangelical or fundamentalist, with many using A Beka, Bob Jones, or ACE curriculum.
The Step Up For Students reports describe the typical student in the tax credit program as a minority from a one-parent home. Currently 35.6 percent are African American and 27.5 percent are Hispanic. The organization's glossy reports tout the improved opportunities of the students provided with tuition grants to private schools.
The Florida tax credit program is voluntarily supported by corporations including AT &T, Burger King, CVS, Lowe’s, Marriott, Sysco Food Services, and others, described in the Step Up For Students annual reports as “receiving a high rate of return on their investments.” Do these corporation know what they are supporting? The Step Up For Students reports and other pro-privatization propaganda openly report the participating private school’s use of the curricula series quoted in this article, without revealing what that means.
The Step Up For Students reports also fail to include the fact that some American universities refuse to accept high school credit for courses taught from several textbooks quoted in this article. University of California specifically cited several A Beka and Bob Jones textbooks and, although challenged in court, won the case.
Some of the glowing testimonies in the Step Up for Students annual report include this 2008 description (PDF) of Bible Truth Ministries Academy. “Students are divided into multi-grade learning groups and taught with the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, which is self-paced and has allowed some of the students to advance well beyond their grade level.”
The 2007 annual report (PDF) features Esprit De Corps Center for Learning in Jacksonville. Next to a photo of smiling African American children, smartly attired in uniforms and berets, the curriculum is touted. “Using an A Beka curriculum designed to challenge students to reach their full potential, the school offers outstanding academic programs that provide its students with the skills and knowledge to become active, productive members of society. [...] EDC has partnered with Step Up For Students since its inception.”
When the Palm Beach Post conducted its survey in 2003, the Potter’s House Christian Academy was one of the major recipients of voucher funding and reported using both the A Beka and Bob Jones curriculum series. The school is affiliated with the politically influential Jacksonville mega-church, the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship, led by Bishop Vaughan McLaughlin.
In February 2005, an estimated 2200 people attended a rally at the church in support of Step Up For Students, led by Governor Jeb Bush and the state’s attorney general at that time, Charlie Crist. This June, the Potter’s House will be a host of the Global Day of Prayer, led by an international Charismatic network, which includes Apostle Ed Silvoso, Bishop McLaughin’s spiritual mentor. This network teaches that Christians must take control or “dominion” over government and society. (Silvoso is the brother-in-law of evangelist Luis Palau, whose ministry has received at least $3.5 million from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.)
This tax credit program money could have been used to improve Florida’s urban public schools, but that would not serve the purpose of indoctrinating the largely minority recipients of the tuition grants with the right-wing religious worldview found in these textbooks. As Frances Paterson states in her research, Americans absolutely have the right to send their children to schools that use these fundamentalist curricula. But she adds, “The public policy makers can and should ask whether the alternative system of Christian education for which they seek public approval and support is ideologically driven in ways that run contrary to the best interests of a diverse, democratic society.”

Grand Ma & Grand Pa Are Taking America For A Ride! Congressman Edward Markey

Good 5 minute summary of of Medicare debate...Grand Ma & Grand Pa Are Taking America For A Ride! YEAH WE ARE... BS!!!... Monte

Taibbi: 'U.S. politics - reality show sponsored by Wall Street'

As usual, Matt is telling it like it is... Monte

May 23, 2011

Top lit updraft (TLUD) wood cook stove

Ken Miller, tin-can-ologist, shows off his top lit updraft stove. Made from a one gallon paint can and a couple of tin cans, he used a tiny amount of wood to boil some water. You light the fire on top of the fuel and then put your heat riser on top. Smokeless. Better than a rocket stove in that it is easier to save your fuel. And you don't have to keep feeding in the wood. I'd like to see somebody use this to deep fry a turkey. music by Jimmy Pardo


Highlights | Dittman Postgame Interview | Coach Hartleb Postgame Interview

2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Get Acrobat Reader

Teammates mob Matt Dittman after his walk-off home run gave the Illini a share of the Big Ten title.
Teammates mob Matt Dittman after his walk-off home run gave the Illini a share of the Big Ten

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Casey McMurray drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth and Matt Dittman crushed a two-run, opposite-field walk-off home run to complete a three-game sweep of Indiana with a 7-5 victory on Saturday, giving Illinois a share of the Big Ten championship, its first Big Ten title since 2005. The Illini finish the Big Ten season 15-9 and share the title with Michigan State after the Spartans dropped a 6-5 decision to Northwestern on Sunday, but Illinois will be the No. 1 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament because of its series victory over MSU earlier in the season.

"That guy got me the other night, but for some reason, I had a good feeling going into the at bat," Dittman said of his home run. "I've been struggling for most of the season, but I'm glad that I was able to come up and contribute. It's been a goal of ours since we've been here (to win a Big Ten title). We said it at the beginning of the year and things didn't look too good, but halfway through the year we kind of figured it out and now we're here."

It has been an incredible sprint to the finish for Illinois, which has won 13 of its last 17 games, including 11 of its last 14 Big Ten games. The Illini stood at 12-21 overall, 4-6 in the Big Ten, after losing the first game of the series against MSU on April 23, but rallied to their current 25-25 overall mark.

"Wes Braun did a great job the last two innings and I really wanted to score that last inning because we were getting into the meat of their order," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "I just thought that if we could win it in that situation, it would be perfect. Casey McMurray had a very, very good at bat to draw the walk and then Matt Dittman gets a pitch up and just smoked it. I'm as proud as I could be of these guys. It's a great finish to a home season and a way to roll into a Big Ten Tournament."

The Illini won all three games against the Hoosiers in their last at bat, with a walk-off home run by McMurray on Thursday and a walk-off blast by Dittman on Saturday. Illinois scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth on Friday to take a 13-12 victory and the Illini out-scored Indiana by only four runs in the series, but came up with clutch hit after clutch hit in the three-game set.

The victory gives Illinois its fifth-straight series win and sixth series victory in 2011, both school records. The win also extends the Illini's winning streak to five, tying their longest this season with a five-game streak from March 19-April 1.

Illinois grabbed a lead in the second inning when McMurray led off with a double to right-center and Dittman lashed a single to right. Center fielder Willie Argo grounded to shortstop and Dittman was put out, but he beat the double-play relay thrown and McMurray scored to give the Illini a 1-0 lead.

Indiana DH Alex Dickerson blasted a solo home run to right-center in the top of the fourth, breaking a string of nine consecutive hitters retired by Illini starter Corey Kimes and tying the IU career home run record, to bring the Hoosiers and Illini into a 1-1 tie.

In the fourth, Dittman drew a two-out walk and Argo was ruled safe on a bang-bang play at first when he hit a slow grounder up the middle that second baseman Micah Johnson gloved and threw to first. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson then ripped a single through the right side, scoring Dittman to push the Illini ahead 2-1.

Hoosier center fielder Justin Cureton knotted up the score in the fifth with a solo homer to left-center with two outs but Kimes settled down to retire Dustin DeMuth for the third out as Indiana tied the game, 2-2.

Second baseman Pete Cappetta led off with a base hit to left-center and DH Justin Parr singled to right. Cappetta was put out at third on a close play on catcher Adam Davis' grounder to shortstop and third baseman Brandon Hohl walked. McMurray lifted a sacrifice fly to center that drove in Parr and gave Illinois a 3-2 lead.

Indiana tied it in the sixth after Kimes walked two hitters around a double to load the bases. Will Strack relieved him and walked the first hitter he faced on four pitches, forcing in a run, before striking out the next hitter. He then induced a pop-up to Parr at shortstop for the second out and Parr made a diving play to his right and threw to second for the final out of the inning, keeping the game tied, 3-3.

Illinois threatened in the sixth when Argo drew a leadoff walk but he was caught stealing. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson struck out but Parr walked and Indiana brought in closer Ryan Halstead. He stole second and then Cappetta walked, but Justin Parr flew out to deep left for the final out of the inning.

But Indiana grabbed its first lead of the day in the seventh when Strack gave up a walk and a base hit to the first two hitters he faced. He got the first out on a sacrifice bunt and loaded the bases with another walk. Luke Joyce relieved Strack and got Dickerson to hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field but Hoosier first baseman Jerrud Sabourin singled to center to drive in another run. Joyce coaxed another fly-out to center to escape the inning as IU took a 5-3 lead.

Davis hammered the first pitch he saw from Halstead in the seventh off the scoreboard in left for a solo homer, bringing the Illini within 5-4. Indiana changed pitchers, bringing in third-string catcher Dylan Swift. Hohl ripped the first pitch he saw, but Cureton corralled it on the warning track for the first out. But McMurray hammered a 3-2 pitch over the scoreboard in left field for his second home run of the weekend, tying the game at 5.

Wes Braun came on to pitch the eighth inning and retired the Hoosiers in order on a liner to Hendrickson, a strikeout and a groundout to Hohl. But the Illini went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth as the game went to the ninth, tied 5-5.

Braun required only nine pitches to retire the Hoosiers in the top of the ninth on a deep fly-out to Argo, a groundout to Parr and a groundout to Cappetta. Davis grounded out to second on a 3-2 count to start the bottom half and Hohl lifted another deep fly ball to the left of center field, but Cureton was there to record the second out. McMurray drew a five-pitch walk, though, and Dittman fouled off the first pitch before crushing an 0-1 fastball for his second home run of the series, this one a two-run walk-off job that gave the Illini a share of the Big Ten title.

Dittman led the offense, going 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs. McMurray was 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs and three runs, and Argo went 1-for-2 with an RBI, two walks and a steal. Davis also went 2-for-5 with a solo homer, giving Illinois six home runs for the series.

Joyce tossed 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief and Braun was masterful in his two-inning stint, striking out one while retiring all six hitters he faced.

In the series, Dittman hit .600 (6-for-10) with a double, two home runs, five RBIs and six runs for a 1.300 slugging percentage and .692 on-base percentage. Argo hit .444 with an RBI, two runs and two steals, and Josh Parr hit .375 (3-for-8) with a triple, two RBIs, three runs and a steal while making a number of incredible plays in the field.

The Illini receive a first-round by in the Big Ten Tournament and will take on the winner of Wednesday's game between No. 4 seed Ohio State and No. 5 seed Minnesota at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.ICS