Dec 31, 2013

21 Uses for Epsom Salt

We use epsom salt (affiliate) a lot at our house. It is a good source of magnesium (here’s why we love magnesium) and has dozens of household uses. 

Here are our favorites:
As a relaxing Magnesium Bath Soak – Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.
Splinter Removal- Soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
Magnesium Foot Scrub- Make a homemade magnesium scrub (recipe here) for a boost of magnesium and super soft skin.
Better Vegetables- Add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth.
Facial Wash- Add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner (or to your oil cleansing routine) for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
Tile/Grout Cleaner- Mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
Body Aches- Add 2 cups of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes to help relieve muscle sprains and for a transdermal magnesium boost.
Homemade Sea Salt Spray- Make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to hair- recipe here.
Water House Plants- Help house plants grow by adding a couple tablespoons of epsom salt to the water when you water them.
Volumizing Hair Mask- Combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair.
Foot Soak- For a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes.
Get rid of slugs- Have slugs in your garden or on your patio? Sprinkle epsom salt to deter them.
Making Magnesium Lotion- Using magnesium flakes is a better option, but in a pinch, you can use epsom salt to make homemade magnesium oil (recipe here).
Laxative- For occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help. Check with a doctor first.
Beautiful Roses- Add a tablespoon a week to the soil around rose bushes before watering for faster growth.
Soil Prep- Before planting, we add a few bags of epsom salt to the soil in the garden and water in to help replenish soil magnesium levels.
Headache relief- There is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
Smooth skin- Mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
Itchy Skin or Bug Bites- Dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
Minor Sunburn Relief- Use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.
Help Kids Sleep Better- Add a cup to kids’ bath water before bed to help them sleep peacefully..

Full Article: 21 Uses for Epsom Salt

16 Foods That’ll Re-Grow from Kitchen Scraps | Wake Up World

By Andy Whiteley
Co- Founder of Wake Up World

Looking for a healthy way to get more from your garden? Like to know your food is free of the pesticides and other nasties that are often sprayed on commercial crops? Re-growing food from your kitchen scraps is a good way to do it!

There’s nothing like eating your own home- grown vegies, and there are heaps of different foods that will re- grow from the scrap pieces that you’d normally throw out or put into your compost bin.

It’s fun. And very simple … if you know how to do it.

Just remember … the quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, I recommend buying local organic produce, so you know your re-grown plants are fresh, healthy and free of chemical and genetic meddling.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions and Fennel

You can either use the white root end of a vegetable that you have already cut, or buy a handful of new vegetables to use specifically for growing.

Simply place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position. I keep mine in the kitchen window. The green leafy part of the plant will continue to shoot. When it’s time to cook, just snip off what you need from the green growth and leave the white root end in water to keep growing. Freshen up the water each week or so, and you’ll never have to buy them again.

Lemongrass grows just like any other grass. To propagate it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.

Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear. Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.
Celery, Bok Choi, Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage

Similar to leeks, these vegetables will re-grow from the white root end. Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Place it in a sunny window position, occasionally spraying your cutting with water to keep the top moist.

After a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear. After a week or so, transplant it into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the soil. The plant will continue to grow, and within a few weeks it will sprout a whole new head.

Alternatively you can plant your cutting directly into soil (without starting the process in water) but you will need to keep the soil very moist for the first week until the new shoots start to appear.

Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.

Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.

Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.

Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it. Pick a potato that has robust eyes, and cut it into pieces around 2 inches square, ensuring each piece has at least one or two eyes. Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry and callous over. This prevents the potato piece from rotting after you plant it, ensuring that the new shoots get the maximum nutrition from each potato piece.

Potato plants enjoy a high-nutrient environment, so it is best to turn compost through your soil before you plant them. Plant your potato pieces around 8 inches deep with the eye facing upward, and cover it with around 4 inches of soil, leaving the other 4 inches empty. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil. If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth.

You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.

As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

Sweet Potatoes

When planted, sweet potato will produce eye-shoots much like a potato. Bury all or part of a sweet potato under a thin layer of soil in a moist sunny location. New shoots will start to appear through the soil in a week or so. Once the shoots reach around four inches in height, remove them and re-plant them, allowing about 12 inches space between each plant. It will take around 4 months for your sweet potatoes to be ready. In the meantime, keep an eye out for slugs… they love sweet potatoes.

To propagate sweet potatoes, it is essential to use an organic source since most commercial growers spray their sweet potatoes to prevent them from shooting.

Mushrooms can be propagated from cuttings, but they’re one of the more difficult vegies to re-grow. They enjoy warm humidity and nutrient-rich soil, but have to compete with other fungus for survival in that environment. Although it is not their preferred climate, cooler environments give mushrooms a better chance of winning the race against other fungi.

Prepare a mix of soil and compost in a pot (not in the ground) so your re-growth is portable and you can control the temperature of your mushroom. I have found most success with a warm filtered light during the day and a cool temperature at night. Just remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving just the top exposed. In the right conditions, the base will grow a whole new head. (In my experience, you’ll know fairly quickly if your mushroom has taken to the soil as it will either start to grow or start to rot in the first few days).

To re-grow pineapples, you need to remove the green leafy piece at the top and ensure that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife (otherwise it will rot after planting and may kill your plant). Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch base at the bottom of the stalk.

Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first, reducing to weekly watering once the plant is established. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take around 2-3 years before you are eating your own home-grown pineapples.
And one for the kids….. ‘Pet’ Carrot Tops!!

I call this a ‘pet’ because the plant that re-grows from planting a carrot top will NOT produce edible carrots, only a new carrot plant. The vegetable itself is a taproot which can’t re-grow once it has been removed from the plant. But it makes an attractive flowering plant for the kitchen, and they’re easy and lots of fun to grow…. for kids of all ages!

Cut the top off your carrot, leaving about an inch of vegetable at the root. Stick toothpicks into the sides of the carrot stump and balance it in a glass or jar. Fill the glass with water so that the level reaches the bottom of the cutting. Leave the glass in filtered, not direct, sunlight and ensure water is topped up to keep the bottom of your cutting wet. You’ll see roots sprout in a few days, and you can transplant your ‘pet’ carrot into soil after a week or so.

Your success re-growing lovely fresh vegies from scrap may vary, depending on your climate, the season, soil quality and sunlight available in your home or garden. And some vegies just propagate easier than others do. In my experience, a bit of trial and error is required, so don’t be afraid to do some experimenting. Get your hands dirty. It’s lots of fun! And there’s nothing like eating your own home-grown vegies.

Article Sources:

About the Author

Andy is co-founder of Wake Up World and an avid amateur gardener.

Full Article: 16 Foods That’ll Re-Grow from Kitchen Scraps | Wake Up World

The Hydraulic Ram: Pumping Water Uphill

The hydraulic ram made pumping water easy and inexpensive.
By Sam Moore

Cattle drinking from a watering trough. Before stationary gas engines became widely available, the hydraulic ram pump offered an inexpensive, reliable source of water for livestock and irrigation.
Photo By Sam Moore

1. Water flows down the drive pipe (A) and escapes through the impulse valve (B). (This valve is variously called a waste valve, clack valve, escape valve, overflow valve or impulse valve.) As the water flows through the impulse valve, it builds enough pressure to suddenly close the valve.
Illustration By Sam Moore

2. The water that has been flowing through the impulse valve has built up a large amount of momentum that must be dissipated. This so-called “water hammer” effect causes a sudden surge in pressure inside the pump body, forcing open the one-way delivery valve (also called the discharge valve) at (C).
Illustration By Sam Moore

3. Moving water rushes through the delivery valve into the air chamber (D) and compresses the air that is trapped inside. When the water pressure in the pump body drops below that of the air chamber, the delivery valve (C) closes, trapping the water and compressed air inside the air chamber.
Illustration By Sam Moore

First, a riddle. What do a hydraulic ram and a hot air balloon have in common?

It all started in England in about 1772. In a 1775 letter to a Dr. Franklin (Ben?), a man named John Whitehurst wrote: “Dear Sir, Presuming the mode of raising water by its momentum may be new and useful to many individuals, induces me to send you the enclosed plan and description of a work, executed in the year 1772, in Oulton, in Cheshire, the feat of Philip Egerton, Esq., for the service of a brew house and other offices, and is found to answer effectually.”

The system wasn’t automatic, in that it required the opening of a tap to start the water flowing. However, the tap was located in a kitchen where “the consumption of water is very considerable (and) that water is frequently drawing from morning until night all the days of the year.”

On June 4, 1783, in an unrelated event in Paris, the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Jacques, sent up the world’s first hot air balloon. A few months later, the brothers demonstrated their balloon at a command performance for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette at the Palace of Versailles. On that trip, the balloon carried a sheep, a rooster and a duck. Shortly thereafter, a science teacher and an army officer became the first human balloonists when they flew a distance of 5.5 miles over Paris.
Pumping water uphill

In about 1796, Joseph Montgolfier applied his inventive talents to the problem of pumping water. The Frenchman added a water-operated valve in place of Whitehurst’s manual tap. That made the device self-acting, and, as long as the water supply remained steady, the hydraulic ram was virtually a perpetual motion machine. Today, Montgolfier is credited with being the father of both manned flight and the hydraulic ram.

The fame of the simple pump that could push water uphill using only the energy of falling water spread, and several were imported into the U.S. In 1809, New Yorkers Joseph Cerneau and Stephen Hallett patented the first American water ram, but it wasn’t until the 1840s that use of the device began to spread. Hydraulic rams were mostly used to supply water to individual farms and homes, but there were larger installations. One firm claimed, in an 1852 ad, that the “Birkinbine Patent Improved Hydraulic Ram” had pumped 20,000 gallons of water a day to the town of Naples, N.Y. The Rife hydraulic engine was said to be capable of pumping water as much as 200 feet vertically in quantities as high as 50,000 gallons per day. Rife Hydraulic Engine Mfg. Co. remains in business today, making hydraulic ram pumps in Nanticoke, Pa.

Even though water ram pumps are easy and inexpensive to install and require little maintenance, they’re inefficient. In an 1866 experiment, where the head (or height of fall) of the input water was 8.8 feet, a ram was able to lift water 63.4 feet. However, 27.7 pounds of water were used per minute, with only 1.7 pounds raised to the reservoir. With so much water wasted in the ram, the devices fell out of favor when engine-powered and, later, electric pumps became popular. Today, however, with the growing interest in environmental concerns and the rising cost of energy, the ability to pump water uphill using only the energy of that water is again generating interest.

While chances of finding a good drinking water supply today are somewhat unlikely, the hydraulic ram pump can be used to pump potable water from a good flowing spring that has been tested for purity. There are, however, many uses for water from rivers, streams and ponds, such as watering gardens and lawns, filling a swimming pool or supplying cooling water to a heat pump. Even a small flow of 1 or 2 gallons per minute adds up to a lot of water in 24 hours. If the flow is sufficient, water for irrigation and livestock can be provided inexpensively and reliably. The unpressurized output of a water ram’s delivery pipe is especially useful in the drip irrigation systems so popular today.
How the hydraulic ram works

OK, so how the heck does a hydraulic ram work?

A hydraulic ram uses the energy of a large amount of water flowing a short distance downhill to force a small amount of that water to a much greater height. This phenomenon is possible because of a few basic laws of physics. First, a moving object resists being stopped. Second, water cannot be compressed. Third, air can be compressed. And fourth, gravity forces water to run downhill. Therefore, water moving downhill under the force of gravity, and contained within a pipe, will try to keep moving if the flow is suddenly stopped. This force is much greater than the actual weight of the water, and creates a “water hammer” effect at the ram, which is sufficient to force some of that water up a smaller pipe.

Because some of the air inside the chamber is mixed with the water being pushed out the delivery pipe, it needs to be replenished. (See diagrams in the Image Gallery for more details.) Many rams used a small sniff (or snifter valve) in the pump body that opened on the vacuum of the water recoil and drew in a little air. That air then entered the chamber the next time the delivery valve opened. Modern rams use a captive air supply (such as that provided by a diaphragm, a basketball bladder or an inner tube from a small tire) inside the chamber, thus eliminating the need for a sniff valve.

So, now that you know how to pump water without a power source, go ahead, turn on the tap and get yourself a glass of water. FC

Sam Moore grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania. He now lives in Salem, Ohio, and collects antique tractors, implements and related items. Contact Sam by email at

Read full article at Farm Collector :

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Format: Downloadable PDF. ISBN: Pages: 12. This e-book details all of the hydraulic pump models produced by Rife Ram and Pump Works. Inside is a list of ...


Dec 30, 2013

Constructing A Planting Jig - The Modern Victory Garden

It’s a cool and wet weekend so the outside options are pretty limited, however it is a great time to do some shop projects. One of the tasks I had on my list for this weekend was to repot the Chinese cabbage and kale starts. They are a month old now and have totally outgrown their starter cell packs. I want to keep them under lights for another month before permanently planting them up in containers in the greenhouse. Saturday morning I popped them into sturdy 4 inch pots using organic potting soil I have on hand in the shop.

This morning (Sunday), I also planted up 2 six packs of Super Gourmet Salad Blend lettuce, 2 six packs of Ching-Chiang pac choi, 2 large flat packs of Walla Walla onions, and 2 large flat packs of Candy onions. These were then covered with a plastic dome and placed on the heat mat under the grow lights. As soon as the seedlings emerge, I will remove the plastic dome and lower the lights down to just a few inches above the plants.

The bigger project I had on my list for this weekend was to construct the first prototype of an idea I have had for a planting jig. As of this morning, I have completed the first one, which is a 2-inch spaced planting jig. I intend to make 3 more of these – one with 3-inch spacing, one with 4-inch spacing, and one with 6-inch spacing. These are the most common within row (in all directions) spacing needed to intensively plant garden beds. I made the jig a 2 foot by 2 foot size because I rarely plant single squares of any one item, but rather do multiple blocks of a crop and often work my way down a large section of bed. 

This is the list of materials that I used for this project:
One sheet of pegboard - 2-foot by 4-foot dimension (you will use half of this for one jig)
One sheet of good quality plywood – 2-foot by 2-foot dimension
Two packages of Fluted Dowel Pins – ¼ inch diameter, 1 ¼ inch length – 72 count per package (need 144 for a 2'x2' board with 2 inch spacing)
Package of #8 X ¾ inch wood screws – (get self tapping, I did not and regretted it)
Carpenters wood glue
Two 5 ¾ inch door pulls (comes with short screws)

Here is the list of tools I used for this project:
A power jigsaw (you could use a table saw as well) to rip the 2’X4’ sheet of pegboard in half to make two 2’X2’ pegboard sections
A power drill with a screwdriver bit attachment
A rubber headed or plastic headed hammer (you could gently use a regular hammer instead)
Measuring tape
Straight edge Carpenters Square
2 pieces of scrap wood to use as blocking

Here’s a picture of the plywood and several of the materials and tools used (not all). You can purchase 2-foot by 2-foot squares of plywood (and 2-foot by 4-foot panels of pegboard) at places like Home Depot or Lowes.

Step One - cut the sheet of 2’X4’ pegboard in half to make two sheets of 2’X2’ pegboard. I held the wood while my husband cut this using a jigsaw.

Step Two – place some carpenters wood glue over the surface of the 2’X2’ section of plywood. 

Step Three – place the 2’X2’ section of pegboard on to the glued surface of the 2’X2’ section of plywood. The idea is to provide a backing to the pegboard to make it stronger and to put a floor at the base of each pegboard hole opening. 

Step Four – turn the pegboard and plywood panel over and screw together at each corner using the #8-3/4 inch screws. This is not the best picture, but it is a close up of one of the screws. Once completed turn the panel back over so that the pegboard is facing up.

Step Five – using the spacing you desire for the planting jig, place a big dollop of carpenters wood glue in each pegboard hole and place a ¼ inch fluted dowel pegs, tapping it firmly in using a plastic headed hammer. I am making a 2-inch spacing planting jig so the pegs are spaced every other hole from one another. The pegboard holes are spaced 1 inch apart which makes setting up the grid very easy to do. Once they are all in place, let this sit over night to let the glue set up and dry completely.

Step Six – the next day, carefully turn the peg board section over and place it on some lengths of scrap lumber (thin enough to fit between the rows of protruding pegs) such that the board is supported without putting pressure directly on the glued in pegs. The next two pictures show this – including the last picture which shows the clearance maintained between the pegs and the surface of the work table.

Step Seven – measure five inches in from each side and make a mark with a pencil. Do this twice on each side to establish two points from which a straight line can then be drawn. Similarly, measure nine inches from the top of the panel and make a mark with a pencil – doing it twice to facilitate drawing a straight line from point to point.

Step Eight – use a carpenter’s straight edge square and line it up with the pencil marks and then draw a straight line using your pencil. Do this for a vertical line on each side (spaced 5 inches in from the edges), and one horizontal line spaced 9 inches from the top.

Step Nine (last one!) – center the door pulls over the vertical lines and abutting the top edge against the horizontal lines and screw them into place. 

That’s all there is to it for the construction. Here’s how it works. Holding it using the door handles, lower it over a section of prepared garden bed soil and lay it flat on the surface of the soil so that the pegs are facing the soil. For shallow holes, just set it in place and do not press down – the weight of the board is sufficient for a shallow hole. For a deeper hole, press down on the board with your hands.

Works nicely! Too early to actually plant anything to really try it out, but I think this will make closely spaced planting much quicker and easier to do. Having a 3 inch, 4 inch, and 6 inch jig as well will give me good options for the coming planting season. I have all the materials I need to complete the remaining three jigs with the exception that I need to purchase more dowels. This is a really fast little project to put together so I should be able to finish them all up very quickly - once I purchase the rest of the dowels that I need.
Constructing A Planting Jig - The Modern Victory Garden

Dec 29, 2013

INEXPENSIVELY Brand Your Woodworking - 123 - YouTube

Published on Dec 23, 2013
Cheap and easy way to brand your work.


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INEXPENSIVELY Brand Your Woodworking - 123 - YouTube

DIY Bar Clamps - YouTube

Published on Oct 4, 2013

Who couldn't use more bar clamps? Make your own and save money. Get the plans here:

Plans for sale:

Buy GarageWoodworks Stuff:


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'Pilot Error'
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DIY Bar Clamps - YouTube

Woodworking 101 - Common Woodworking Joinery - YouTube

Published on May 19, 2013

I ask a couple of my woodworking friends to help me talk to you about some common woodworking joinery. Woodworking joinery is the method of joining two pieces of wood together to create a more complex item. Woodworking Joinery is the one thing we as woodworkers need to know and this video talks about 4 common woodworking joints that you are most likely to use in your projects.

In this video you will learn about the following joints

Half Lap Joints - Presented by Jay Bates
Jay's YouTube Channel -
Making a Kerf Maker Jig -

Mortis and Tenon Joints - Presented by Brian Grella
Brians YouTube Channel -
Tenon Jig for the Table Saw -

Miter Joints - Presented by Steve Ramsey Woodworking For Mere Mortals
Steve's YouTube Channel -
Build a Miter Jig -

Box Joints - Presented by Laney Shaughnessy
Making the Box Joint Jig - Part 1 Part 2

Check out the links below to my social networks

Music Provided by
Julie Neumark - Website - The United Federation of Woodworkers Member Site - follow me on Keek (video blog) - Follow me on Twitter - Like Me on Facebook - A Simple Design of Ocala "Gear" Store

Woodworking 101 - Common Woodworking Joinery - YouTube

Dec 24, 2013

The Human Microchipping Agenda

People are living very busy lives these days, working extra hard to keep the roofs over their heads, the food on their tables. Those are the lucky ones, or so are led to believe. Life in this particular dog-eat-dog system can be stressful. We've been trained by behavioral experts to live our lives as expendable cause, upholding a cruel and vindictive machine, all for the benefit of a dominant minority of ruthless, elitist criminals, at or near the top of the pyramid.

There are powerful psychopaths who can engineer world wars or bring down entire economies whenever their global business plan requires it... and they do. This anti-human system we collectively chose to maintain focuses on the perpetual need for money, so as to avoid becoming homeless and destitute, rather than working for humanity and focusing on the ability of human beings stored together for the benefit of all, great or small. And also tolerates George Orwell's "doublethink", where by liars and criminals the governments can hide the public opinion and keep secrets for the sake of "national security"... apparently.

Or making outrages claims about openness and honesty and padding themselves on the back for the wonderful service they're doing to humanity by exporting democracy to the Middle East. And we haven't seen anything yet. The new world order that we see unfolding used to be merely handed out by the various strategically positioned front men and women. Nowadays it is discussed semi-openly by today's front people and can no longer be ignored by the human beings who happen to be alive today.

Those new front people utilize new technology as it been made available to the general public. They have us all numbered and they want us to believe that it's for our own good. That way we can all be monitored more easily and believe that it's for our own safety.

The Human Microchipping Agenda

America's Great Indian Nations - Full Documentary - YouTube

Published on Jun 24, 2013

This documentary profiles six of the major Native American tribes that were defeated and subdued as part of the settling of the United States. With reenactments, clarifying maps, artwork, and landscape scenery, this program features the Iroquois, a confederacy comprised of several Indian tribes: the Seminoles in Florida, who welcomed escaped slaves and fought three major wars with the United States before meeting their ultimate defeat; the Shawnee, fierce Ohio Algonquians who allied with the French against the British; the Navajo, a farming people who today are the largest remaining Native American tribe; the Cheyenne, a nomadic Plains Indian tribe that depended on the American bison for sustenance; and the Lakota Sioux, the dominant Sioux tribe comprised of the bands called Oglala, Brule, Hunkpapa, and Minneconjou.

America's Great Indian Nations - Full Documentary - YouTube

Robert Greenwald's "Koch Brothers Exposed" (Full) - YouTube

Koch Brothers Exposed is a hard-hitting investigation of the 1% at its very worst. This full-length documentary film on Charles and David Koch—two of the world's richest and most powerful men—is the latest from acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed, Rethink Afghanistan). The billionaire brothers bankroll a vast network of organizations that work to undermine the interests of the 99% on issues ranging from Social Security to the environment to civil rights. This film uncovers the Kochs' corruption—and points the way to how Americans can reclaim their democracy.

What can you do to fight back? Get the film. Host a screening. Tell your friends. Get the Koch brothers out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

10 Shocking Facts on the Kochs

1. Koch Industries, which the brothers own, is one of the top ten polluters in the United States -- which perhaps explains why the Kochs have given $60 million to climate denial groups between 1997 and 2010.

2. The Kochs are the oil and gas industry's biggest donors to the congressional committee with oversight of the hazardous Keystone XL oil pipeline. They and their employees gave more than $300,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010 alone.

3. From 1998-2008, Koch-controlled foundations gave more than $196 million to organizations that favor polices that would financially enrich the two brothers. In addition, Koch Industries spent $50 million on lobbying and some $8 million in PAC contributions.

4. The Koch fortune has its origins in engineering contracts with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.

5. The Kochs are suing to take over the Cato Institute, which has accused the Kochs of attempting to destroy the group's identity as an independent, libertarian think and align it more closely with a partisan agenda.

6. A Huffington Post source who was at a three-day retreat of conservative billionaires said the Koch brothers pledged to donate $60 million to defeat President Obama in 2012 and produce pledges of $40 million more from others at the retreat.

7. Since 2000, the Kochs have collected almost $100 million in government contracts, mostly from the Department of Defense.

8. Koch Industries has an annual production capacity of 2.2 billion pounds of the carcinogen formaldehyde. The company has worked to keep it from being classified as a carcinogen even though David Koch is a prostate cancer survivor.

9. The Koch brothers' combined fortune of roughly $50 billion is exceeded only by that of Bill Gates in the United States.

10. The Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs accused Koch Oil of scheming to steal $31 million of crude oil from Native Americans. Although the company claimed it was accidental, a former executive in this operation said Charles Koch had known about it and had responded to the overages by saying, "I want my fair share, and that's all of it."
Robert Greenwald's "Koch Brothers Exposed" (Full) - YouTube

2013′s climate grinches: Stealing Christmas warmth and putting it into the atmosphere | Grist

By Ari Phillips

Cross-posted from Think Progress
Nathan Rupert

Climate change is the most pressing challenge of our time, yet meaningful action to address this global threat seems increasingly elusive. What’s standing in the way? There are numerous individuals, organizations, and corporations that actively work to obstruct attempts to cut our carbon emissions, advance clean energy, and prepare communities for the devastating impacts of climate change. Here is a list of just a few of these thwarters who stood out in 2013.

Tony Abbott
U.S. Embassy Kabul Afghanistan

Shortly after being elected Australia’s prime minister in September, Tony Abbott started making good on campaign pledges to dismantle the country’s ambitious climate change framework. This includes abandoning the country’s emissions target, taking steps toward repealing Australia’s hard-won carbon emissions trading scheme, and axing the country’s climate commission, an independent panel of experts that provided information on how climate change is affecting the country.

When a heavy spate of bushfires erupted around Sydney early in the bushfire season, Abbott denied any links to climate change, going as far as to get in a public debate with U.N. Climate Chief Christiana Figueres and Nobel laureate Al Gore. Causing a further international row, he shunned the November U.N. climate talks in Warsaw by opting not to send a senior elected member of his government — a purely political move with little regard for the dire need for international cooperation in confronting climate change.

Stephen Harper
Number 10

Canada has a reputation for being an environmentally friendly country, not a petro-state, but Prime Minster Stephen Harper is changing the face of his country. With the Alberta tar-sands project he is literally turning a landscape of boreal forest into oily muck inhospitable for life. But he is also changing Canada’s global reputation for the worse by steering energy and environmental policies in favor of fossil fuel companies. The Harper administration has even gone so far as censoring artists whose work doesn’t align with their pro-fossil fuel agenda.

The rise in emissions that accompanies developing the tar sands means that Canada won’t be able to meet its 2020 targets for overall greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Rupert Murdoch
World Economic Forum

Murdoch may not be an outright climate denier, but much of his personal media empire is. Murdoch-owned News Corporation, which owns major media shares in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., are known for perpetuating climate denier views and myths. Fox Business Network, which is owned by Murdoch, has even gone as far as capitalizing on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy to promote anti-climate change narratives. Murdoch also asked Al Gore, in a tweet, to explain the record Arctic ice this year. Since Arctic sea ice is still well below average, Murdoch must have meant Antarctic sea ice. Antarctic land ice continues to melt but it is true that sea ice has increased, but because of changing wind patterns and ocean circulation, not because the planet is cooling. This question is completely explainable posed to someone who isn’t a climate scientist. But people like Murdoch don’t necessarily value climate scientists’ opinions above others.

Rex Tillerson
REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

This year Rex Tillerson, chair and CEO of ExxonMobil, asked, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” to a meeting of shareholders in Dallas regarding the topic of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, preventing a lot of suffering caused by the climate change-induced heat waves, extreme flooding, sea-level rise, food insecurity, catastrophic storm events and the like, would also be good for humanity. Last year, Tillerson called climate change, “an engineering problem with an engineering solution.” This sounds like the kind of solution ExxonMobil’s climate change denying shareholders and political mouthpieces can support without suffering much for the rest of humanity.

The Koch brothers

Charles G. and David H. Koch are the billionaire inheritors of a coal, oil and chemical conglomerate that is kept lucrative by fossil fuels. The brothers have spent more than $67 million funding groups that deny climate science. Along with funding clean energy attack group the American Legislative Exchange Council (see below), the Koch brothers are putting their fossil-fueled force, and dollars, behind fighting a wind tax credit that helps finance clean energy projects, ignoring of course that the fossil fuel industry has benefited from federal tax breaks for just about the last 100 years.

The Koch brothers have also been pushing a “No Climate Tax Pledge” on politicians since 2008 through their front group, Americans for Prosperity. While unabashedly devised to promote their own self interests over those of the public or the environment, the Koch brothers wield so much money and power that over 400 politicians had signed the pledge as of July.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Seventeen out of 22 Republican members of the committee, or 77 percent, are climate deniers. As a point of comparison, 97 percent of scientists agree global warming is happening and is human-made. This inverse relationship can have unusual outcomes, such as members of the committee preferring to talk about the possibility of life in other planets rather than the imminent danger our own planet is facing. A recent committee hearing ended up covering topics such as “whether the planet has experienced ice ages,” “will the EPA be regulating cow farts” and “whether EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed up for Obamacare.” Members of the committee are happy to steer clear of more challenging and serious topics that might upset the fossil fuel industry, which has donated $3,418,079 in career contributions to the Republican members of the committee.

American Legislative Exchange Council

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is a highly influential right-wing lobbying group composed of Republican politicians and big businesses. Undoing state-level clean energy standards was a major agenda item on ALEC’s 2013 to-do list. Fortunately, ALEC utterly failed at these efforts, losing all 13 of its anti-clean energy legislative fights at the state level this year.

Rather than admit defeat, and give in to common sense, ALEC appears to be doubling down on anti-clean energy efforts in 2014. One way the group plans to do this is target net metering policies, which allow solar owners to get credit for the energy they feed back into the grid (which angers large utility companies and their increasingly antiquated business model). In 2014, ALEC will also be pushing legislation that opposes President Obama’s nationwide Climate Action Plan, especially when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Joseph Bast, president and co-founder of the Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is known for things like hosting a climate denier conference and comparing climate science believers and reporters to mass murderers and madmen, such as the Unabomber.

Earlier this fall, after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its major study on climate science, (spoiler: global warming is unequivocal and it’s our fault), Bast said, “The IPCC — and all the mainstream media and environmental extremists who cite it uncritically — really have become a joke in the scientific community.”

Considering 97 percent of scientists believe the planet is warming and humans are causing it, one would think the scientific community would think similarly of Bast.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the nation’s most powerful business lobbying group. Recently the group has been formally lobbying against the Obama administration’s use of a “social cost of carbon” in legislation. According to the EPA, the social cost of carbon is an estimate of monetary damages from changes in agricultural productivity, human health, rising sea levels and flood risks, and other effects of climate change.

Thomas Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently told a meeting of business executives that attempts to put regulations on hydraulic fracturing are “undermining freedom” and hurting the economy.

Bjorn Lomborg
TED Conference

Bjorn Lomborg is not your typical climate grinch. Lomborg, a Danish political scientist, directs the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which compares global problems in an effort to determine how to best allocate available resources. However, some of Lomberg’s arguments relating to climate change are way off base, like criticizing green energy subsidies or promoting continued reliance on fossil fuels as the best way to lift people out of poverty.

Recently Lomborg wrote an editorial in the U.K. Times that asserts that, “global warming has mostly been a net benefit so far” and will be for decades. So while Lomborg does not deny that climate change is happening, he might be considered a confusionist, as Climate Progress’ Joe Romm recently labeled him. With Lomborg holding such a high perch from which to espouse his confusing — and even confounding — views, the potential negative impact he could have on combating climate change stands to be tall.

Ari Phillips is a reporter for ClimateProgress. Follow him on Twitter@re_ari.
2013′s climate grinches: Stealing Christmas warmth and putting it into the atmosphere | Grist

China doesn’t want our genetically modified corn | Grist

By John Upton

Genetically modified strains of corn not authorized for sale in China have been showing up in cargoes exported from the U.S., prompting China to reject them.

And we’re not talking about trifling amounts here. In November and December, the country rejected more than 500,000 tons of American corn that had been genetically modified by Syngenta to repel caterpillar pests.

It’s hard to conceptualize that much corn, but it works out to more than a dozen shipments, or nearly a third of the corn shipped from the U.S. to China this year. Another way to think about it: The rejected shipments weighed more than 100,000 elephants.

Here’s the latest from the BBC:

An unapproved strain called MIR162 was found in 12 batches of corn, China’s product safety agency said. …

The agency called on US authorities to tighten controls to ensure unapproved strains are not sent to China. …

China has already approved 15 varieties of genetically-modified corn for imports and MIR162 is awaiting approval.

“The safety evaluation process [for MIR162] has not been completed and no imports are allowed at the moment before the safety certificate is issued,” said China’s vice agricultural minister, Niu Dun.

The rejections follow similar problems for wheat and alfalfa growers and exporters earlier this year, when supposedly GMO-free fields were found to contain strains that had been developed by Monsanto.


China rejects US corn on fears over genetic modification, BBC
China rejects 30 pct of corn shipped in from U.S. this year, Reuters

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:
China doesn’t want our genetically modified corn | Grist

Earth Wind Map

Website an animated map of global wind conditions:
Source code:

Dec 20, 2013

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work - YouTube We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work - YouTube

Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.

Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness

Biochar, The Future: Lauren Hale at TEDxUCR Beneath The Surface - YouTube

Lauren Hale graduated with a Bachelors of Science from North Carolina State University in 2007. During her time there she studied the use of bacteria to degrade pollutants such as gasoline additives and chlorinated solvents. In 2009 she began a Ph.D. program at the University of California, Riverside where she currently researches the suitability of biochar to deliver plant growth-promoting bacteria into agricultural soils. When she completes her Ph.D. she hopes to continue to work with biochar and beneficial microorganisms and microbial generated enzymes of environmental significance.

Biochar, The Future: Lauren Hale at TEDxUCR Beneath The Surface - YouTube

Published on Dec 15, 2013
Lauren Hale graduated with a Bachelors of Science from North Carolina State University in 2007. During her time there she studied the use of bacteria to degrade pollutants such as gasoline additives and chlorinated solvents. 

In 2009 she began a Ph.D. program at theUniversity of California, Riverside where she currently researches the suitability of biochar to deliver plant growth-promoting bacteria into agricultural soils. When she completes her Ph.D. she hopes to continue to work with biochar and beneficial microorganisms and microbial generated enzymes of environmental significance. 

Techniques for Making a Candlestand Table - YouTube

Published on Dec 20, 2013

Ernie Conover expands on his project from the January/February 2014 issue of Woodworker's Journal Magazine, showing off some techniques for creating a stunning, turned table.

Techniques for Making a Candlestand Table - YouTube

Designing a Food Forest with Goats

Published on Dec 20, 2013


Dr. Tom Goreau on Rock Dust and Biochar as a Strategy for Carbon Sequestration at SER2011 - YouTube


President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance
and Coordinator of the UN Commission (SIDSPINST).

Has published around 200 papers
on global climate change, the global carbon cycle,
stabilization of atmospheric CO2, tropical
deforestation and reforestation, microbiology,
soil science, atmospheric chemistry, mathematical
modeling of climate records and other fields.

Was educated at MIT, Caltech, Yale,
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Harvard.
Dr. Tom Goreau on Rock Dust and Biochar as a Strategy for Carbon Sequestration at SER2011 - YouTube


Video - Published on Dec 13, 2013

Biochar at the Harvard Community Garden

Featuring Logan Balliett, Tom Goreau, and Cool Planet Biochar


Filmed and edited by Werner Grundl and Julie O'Neil

for further information see:


Knight2013.pdf (1973 kB) Erich Knight - 2013 Umass Biochar presentation
Thomas J. Goreau - Wikipedia
Dr. Tom Goreau on Rock Dust and Biochar as a Strategy for Carbon Sequestration -

Stuffocation: Why We've Had Enough of Stuff

Streamed live on Dec 12, 2013

James Wallman, journalist and trend forecaster, visits the RSA to explain why more and more of us are suffering from "stuffocation" -- where, instead of feeling enriched by the things we own, we are stifled and overwhelmed by them. In our busy, cluttered lives, "more" is no longer "better".
Why We've Had Enough of Stuff - YouTube

Wisdom 101 by Wendell Berry (at Stone Barns) for National Young Farmers Conference

Wisdom 101: Wendell Berry at Stone Barns
published December 11, 2013

Joy was palpable in the air at the 6th National Young Farmers Conference, as Wendell Berry came to Stone Barns Center the first week in December to address the annual gathering of beginning farmers. Called at times the “prophet of rural America” and the “modern-day Thoreau,” Berry—poet, farmer, author and activist—has been writing about farming and our relationship to the land for more than four decades. In the process, he has influenced two generations of Americans to care for the land and take up farming, and many of them were present. To witness the meeting and mutual admiration between 20-something-year-old beginning farmers and 79-year-old esteemed teacher was nothing short of remarkable, and very moving. “Magical” and “life-affirming” were just some of the words farmers used to describe Berry’s presence among them.

The stone Hay Loft at Stone Barns was packed floorboard to rafter on Thursday night for Berry’s keynote conversation with his daughter, Mary Berry. In his introduction, Stone Barns President Fred Kirschenmann noted that ever since he first met Wendell Berry in the early ‘80s, Berry has been “a personal mentor.” More than anyone else, he said, “Wendell helped me understand what good farming is about.”

“Your company in this effort has been invaluable,” replied Berry, noting that when he met Kirschenmann, at a time when he said he had few allies, “Fred showed me what’s possible.” For the past 40 years, Berry and Kirschenmann have been working to reform our relationship to land, farming and food. In 2009, together with their colleague Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute, they proposed a 50-year farm bill to the Obama administration, a proposal that would lead to systemic change in American agriculture. For the assembled farmers, it was remarkable to see these two important leaders of a movement together in the same room.

“A bunch of young farmers have never been placed in the way you are,” said Berry, a 7th-generation farmer from Henry County, Kentucky. “Things are in a bad way,” he said, noting slumping public interest in the long-term care of the earth and an industry that has been “let loose on the land. . . our country invaded by corn and beans.” Farmers, he said, have been “burdened with a pit of land use”—problems such as fracking, oil and gas pipelines, mountaintop removal mining and other forms of destruction. “It’s a terrific responsibility, for you will need to find solutions and set patterns for what comes after.”

Berry’s advice was spare and direct.

Know the land’s limits, what the nature of the place offers you and allows. “Your familiarity with your place is money in the bank,” he said. “It’s wonderful to have nature work for you, and she works for minimum wage.”

Build community. Work with your neighbors. “The neighborly exchange of work in communities is an intangible. . . .Good farmers draw on intangibles.” It’s another form of capital, he said.

Practice thrift. Hunt and gather as a pleasure. “Be satisfied with things you’ve already got. . . .You may live all your lives on the edges of a bad economy.”

Fielding questions from farmers, Berry was asked if it’s possible to form a deep connection to land and place if you weren’t born there; if you didn’t grow up on a farm, such as is the case with many of today’s beginning farmers. Yes, he said, it is possible. But you must “practice patience as a virtue. Accept your own ignorance and mistakes as a curriculum.” It all depends on “character, strength, ability to suffer.” And, he added a bit playfully, yet seriously, “It doesn’t hurt to have a job in town,” as an insurance policy of sorts. Farming is difficult, a theme that Fred Kirschenmann echoed in his closing remarks the next day.

Mary Berry said that it’s important in farming to enjoy yourself and your family as much as you can, for when you’re under economic stress, you can suffer. “Don’t be zealots: Eat salt, sugar, fry something once in a while”—an admonishment that sparked laughter. “Maybe those not raised on farms can avoid some of the mistakes that we made growing up on farms.” A farmer herself, Mary recently founded The Berry Center to archive and preserve her father’s and family’s writings. It also works to foster sound land use, farm policy, farmer education, urban education about farming and local food infrastructure.

“You won’t become familiar with a place by being frantic all the time,” said Wendell Berry. “Learn by looking at it, watching it. Going somewhere and sitting down is a country pleasure.” Both he and Mary talked about the loss of simple country pleasures in today’s world—pleasures like fishing and swimming in a river, resting on Sunday and stopping to observe animals in the woods, which, as Mary said, are “free to us in the places we’re lucky enough to get to know.”

After having the opportunity to talk to Wendell Berry in conversation with some Stone Barns staff, Zach Wolf, a 31-year-old farmer, said, “That was the best hour of my life.” He told Berry that he got into farming in large part because of Berry’s writings. Craig Haney, the 48-year-old Livestock Director at Stone Barns, was also present and said the same thing. Berry’s influence runs deep in this crowd.

In the introduction to Berry’s 2009 book, Bringing It to the Table, the journalist Michael Pollan wrote: “This indispensable voice is still out there addressing us in our time of need, and remains as bracing as ever.” And so it was at the National Young Farmers Conference.

We remain in a time of need—and we need Wendell Berry’s guiding words and example more than ever.

Stone Barns Center - Wisdom 101: Wendell Berry at Stone Barns

Dec 18, 2013

The 5 Biggest Meat Stories of 2013 | Mother Jones

By Tom Philpott
Wed Dec. 18, 2013
Eugene Sergeev/Shutterstock

The food-politics beat took a carnivorous turn in 2013. It's not that all the year's biggest stories involved the meat industry, but most seemed to. Here they are, in no particular order.

We're emerging as the globe's factory farm.
First, Virginia-headquartered pork giant Smithfield Foods announced it was phasing outractopamine, a growth-enhancing, stress-inducing drug banned in China, the European Union, and Russia. Then it shocked the world by announcing it had been bought out by Shuanghui International, a Chinese conglomerate. And then several huge beef processors announcedthey were dropping Zilmax, a ractopamine-like growth enhancer for cows, also banned in big foreign markets. Meanwhile, China's expanding industrial footprint is rapidly degrading its farmland even as its appetite for meat continues to grow. What do all these data points have in common? They signal a US meat industry increasingly looking to foreign markets for growth as America's meat appetite wanes. And that means that even as we eat less meat, American communities will have to deal with the consequences of ever-intensifying meat production:water pollution, hollowed-out local economies, "egregious" food safety violations, deplorable working conditions, and an ongoing explosive manure foam problem.

The USDA really, really wants to speed up poultry slaughterhouse kill lines while reducing its inspection responsibilities.
Shaking off fierce opposition from food safety and worker advocates and a scathing report from the Government Accountability Office, the Obama administration tenaciously clung to long-brewing plans to cut inspectors on poultry kill lines while simultaneously allowing those lines to speed up, a move that would save the poultry industry a cool quarter billion dollars per year. The gory details are here and here. Meanwhile, the Obama administration isn't alone in its eagerness for the change—this week, a bipartisan group of 13 US senators, mostly from chicken-heavy states like Arkansas, Missouri, and North Carolina, signed a letter to the USDA urging finalization of the speedup.

The FDA took tentative but important steps to curtail antibiotic abuse on meat farms. Finally. Sort of.
Way back in 1977, the Food and Drug Administration acknowledged the obvious: When you stuff animals together by the thousands and give them low daily doses of antibiotics, their bacteria will evolve to resist those drugs. Thirty-six years later—just this month—the administration finally did something about it. Kind of. True, most of the new rules curtailing antibiotics are voluntary. But as I noted, it rolled out a new proposal that would force meat producers to get a veterinarian's approval before treating animals with antibiotics that are commonly used to treat human infections—a potentially (depending on how it's enforced) significant reform.

Fast-food workers push back against low wages.
One major way Americans access the meat industry's product is through fast-food chains, those $200 billion a year emporia of burgers, chicken nuggets, and the like. The industry profit model hinges on selling high volumes of cheap food while clamping down on costs, including labor. The nation's 2.9 million fast-food workers make a median wage of $8.69 an hour, a level that has risen by (literally) just a dime in real terms since 1999. Contrary to the industry's reputation as a benign source of mad money for moonlighting high schoolers, 70 percent of fast-food workers are 20 and older, and more than a third are 25 and older. Adults can't support themselves, much less their families, on such stingy wages, so taxpayer-funded safety nets pick up the industry's slack—to the tune of $7 billion per year, according to a2013 University of California-Berkeley study. And 2013 marked year two of a high profile pushback, coordinated by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and punctuated by a series of one-day walkouts. Maybe slaughterhouse workers—who make a median hourly wage of $12.03 in one of the nation's most hazardous jobs—will be next?

Europe says "no" to bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides.
What do pesticides have to do with meat? Well, US livestock farms rely heavily on abundant corn and soy crops for feed, and those crops in turn are largely grown from seeds treated with a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. A growing weight of science links widespread neonicotinoid use with the declining health of honeybees and other pollinators—and birds, too. In response, the European Union issued a two-year moratorium on the use of the chemicals,enraging their makers, European agrichemical giants Bayer and Syngenta. The US Environmental Protection Agency, for its part, has no plans of changing its laissez-faire position on neonics.

The 5 Biggest Meat Stories of 2013 | Mother Jones

Dec 16, 2013

Cool Planet's Cool Terra Biochar Receives International Biochar Initiative's 1st Certification, California Organic Certification, and Support from United Nations Enviro - BWWGeeksWorld

December 16, 2013

Cool Planet Energy Systems, a developer of small-scale bio refineries for the conversion of non-food biomass into biofuels and soil enhancing biochar, announced today that their biochar soil amendment product "Cool Terra" is being recognized both in the United States and internationally with certifications and endorsements. These announcements show the leadership role Cool Planet has taken in the broad field of Agricultural soil amendments. The recent certifications complete the requirements needed to begin commercial biochar shipments in 2014.

"It has been a great year for Cool Planet, and the Cool Planet biochar research team. After announcing successful field trial results for Cool Terra at the 2013 US Biochar conference, we now have the ability to produce and ship commercial volumes in 2014," said Rick Wilson, Vice President of the Cool Planet Biochar Group.

Cool Planet biochar has recently received certification from the California Department of Food and Agriculture to be classified as a commercial Organic Product. This validates Cool Terra for use in organic farming, in addition to its role as a high-performance biochar soil amendment.

Cool Planet is also the 1st company with a product to be certified by the International Biochar Initiative (IBI) ( for having met the criteria established in their most recent standards. This includes a standardized product definition, testing guideline, and how the product will be used in the soil.

In addition, Cool Planet has been recognized by The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), stating "[We are] pleased to support the biochar applications in commercial agriculture being conducted by Cool Planet Energy Systems."

A recent UNEP publication1 has concluded that, "Storing carbon in soil for centuries while making nutrient-poor soils fertile, reduce the need for polluting fertilizers, conserve water and prevent desertification, this ancient technique may prove to be part of the solution to 21st century problems."

The company plans to continue expanding application opportunities with selected partners in the agricultural community with its commercial product release in 2014. With the necessary certifications received and extremely successful field trials, the company plans to ship thousands of tons of commercial product in 2014.

Cool Planet CEO Howard Janzen stated, "Our investors have always seen us as both a biofuels and biochar company. With U.N. recognition and organic certification from California, Cool Terra will see significant sales in 2014 and rapid growth in future years to serve multiple segments of the global Ag market."

Cool Planet's commercial trials with California and Florida farmers have shown accelerated growth rates, and yield improvements consistently averaging 60%, with input fertilizer and water reductions of 40%, enabling cost-effective farming in regions that are currently restricted due to structured drought issues.

About Cool Planet

Cool Planet is deploying disruptive technology through capital efficient, small scale biorefineries, to economically convert non-food biomass into high-octane, drop-in biofuels. The process also generates value through biochar production, which can be returned to the soil, with the "Cool Terra" product enabling fertilizer and water retention for increased crop productivity, and more robust plant health. The process is capable of being carbon negative, removing over 100 percent of the carbon footprint for every gallon used, reversing the consequences of fossil fuels. Cool Planet's technology has a broad portfolio of pending and granted patents. Global investors include BP, Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures (GE, ConocoPhillips, NRG Energy), and the Constellation division of Exelon.

Connect with Cool Planet on Facebook at, on Twitter at and at

Read more about Cool Planet's Cool Terra Biochar Receives International Biochar Initiative's 1st Certification, California Organic Certification, and Support from United Nations Enviro Page 2- BWWGeeksWorld by www.broadwayworld.comCool Planet's Cool Terra Biochar Receives International Biochar Initiative's 1st Certification, California Organic Certification, and Support from United Nations Enviro - BWWGeeksWorld

Hines Farm - Homemade Log Bench

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Finished making another log bench...

2 Homemade Wood/Charcoal Chimney Starters Per YouTube Video Instructions

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I constructed 2 Homemade Wood/Charcoal Chimney Starter Per YouTube Video Instructions Below
I used #9 Wire and 1-1/2" Dowels for Handles....

THANKS! doityourselfstan

Start your charcoal for cooking quickly -- even in the dead of winter -- with this charcoal chimney starter. By far the best and most detailed charcoal chimney how-to video on the web! A No. 10 can, a couple of coat hangers, a pop can opener (church key), and a few standard tools and bolts are all you need! For more home projects, maintenance and repair how-tos,home improvement help, technology tips, holiday ideas, garden hints, recipes, and more, visit

How to Make a Charcoal Chimney Starter - YouTube

Tackling the Epidemic of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds with Sustainable Solutions - The Equation

Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist, Food and Environment

Weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate herbicide used with Monsanto’s engineered herbicide resistance trait have reached epidemic proportions. A recent survey puts the area infested by these weeds at 61 million acres, and increasing rapidly.

Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed, infests a soybean field. Photo: United Soybean Board/Flickr.

Glyphosate resistant weeds have resulted in greatly increased levels of herbicide use, and an estimated 404 million pounds more pesticide (when insecticide savings from Bt GMO crops are counted) than may have been the case without these crops. They make it harder to grow crops, adding substantial expense and reducing yields, and are leading to increased tillage, which reduces soil fertility and leads to soil loss from erosion.

A new briefing paper by UCS, “The Rise of Superweeds — and What to do About It” concisely lays out how these crops are causing big environmental problems, how the seed and pesticide industry’s proposed solution will only make things worse, and how we can resolve this problem sustainably while achieving multiple benefits.

The paper shows that resistant weeds are mainly a symptom of a broken industrial agriculture system, which needs fundamental reform to address not only resistant pests, but also a host of other problems. Proposed solutions that do not recognize these underlying issues will only make matters worse.

In fact, the seed and pesticide industry is set to exacerbate the problem, because waiting in the wings are a new generation of engineered crops resistant to old herbicides like 2,4-D, developed in the 1940s. 2,4-D is a possible carcinogen, and threat to natural vegetation and fruit and vegetable crops due to its high toxicity to those plants and its propensity to drift beyond the soybeans, corn, and cotton it is intended for.
Not Just Your Parent’s Resistance Problem

The science community recognizes that glyphosate resistant weeds are not just another pest resistance problem (which are bad enough), as a few uncritically pro-GMO scientists have suggested. The National Academy of Sciences charged the Weeds Science Society of America with the task of holding a “weed summit,” convened in the spring of 2012, to address the problem, recognizing its severity. Another summit is being planned.

Almost two years later, though, nothing has changed to reduce the epidemic. In a recent meeting hosted by the USDA Economic Research Service on November 8, long-time leading USDA weed scientist Harold Coble said that we are heading for a train wreck, and that technological solutions will result in the same problems as in the past. Other weed scientists concur with this assessment.

Most importantly, it does not have to be this way, because, as the briefing paper shows, cost effective, highly productive alternatives are available. And these alternatives—such as cover crops and crop rotations—combined with minimal tillage and, in non-organic systems, minimal herbicide use, also provide big environmental payoffs.

Cover crops, besides suppressing weeds, can provide nutrients to crops, greatly reduce soil erosion, and increase soil fertility. Crop rotations reduce pest damage and improve yields. So moving to these systems is a win-win solution.
Different from Other Weed Resistance

Some commentators, including some scientists, have tried to downplay the crisis facing farmers. They have noted, correctly, that resistance has been a problem for many years for all chemicals, and even for genetic traits.

But despite the similarities to previous weed resistance, glyphosate resistant crops have exacerbated the problem substantially. And for the same reasons, the new generation of these crops in the pipeline, resistant to other herbicides, will only throw fuel on the fire.

Crops designed to allow an herbicide to be applied without harming the crop initially made weed control easier and more convenient for farmers, giving them more flexibility for when they could spray their crops.

But this advantage led to overuse of glyphosate, greatly increasing the selection of rare resistant plants, and giving them a huge competitive advantage over their susceptible siblings. It’s a case of Darwinian selection on steroids. Without regulations, or other means, to make sure this technology was used wisely, it has instead has become a liability. Without herbicide resistant GMOs, this perfect storm of selection for resistance would not have happened.

It is not a coincidence that this has come about. The industry has lobbied hard against better regulation. USDA has not developed better regulations under the 2000 Plant Protection Act, and has instead been greasing the skids to allow more “deregulated” engineered herbicide resistant crops under older, inadequate, rules. And industry has prioritized research development of these crops because, through patents and contracts and high cost, they have allowed increased control over the seed supply, increased seed costs, and increased herbicide sales. As noted in the new briefing paper, 13 of 20 GMOs in the regulatory pipeline at the time of writing were for new herbicide resistant GMOs.

It is also unlikely that glyphosate-resistant crops would have been made without genetic engineering. Some crops resistant to other herbicides have been developed without engineering, but they have not been nearly as successful as glyphosate resistant crops. And for various reasons, alternatives to engineering, such as mutagenesis, did not work for developing glyphosate resistant crops.

Therefore, in several ways, GMO technology has contributed greatly to the resistant weed problem.

As also analyzed in the briefing paper, the next generation of resistant crops will inevitably lead to weeds with resistance to multiple herbicides. Some weeds resistant to glyphosate already are resistant to other herbicides, and some populations of these weeds are already resistant to 2,4-D or dicamba.

It is only a matter of time before several serious weeds become resistant to all or most of the herbicides available, leaving no good herbicide choices. And, as several weed scientists have noted, there are no new herbicides in the development pipeline. This is the coming train wreck that Coble was referring to.
When in a Hole, First Stop Digging

Meanwhile much of the mainstream weed science community seems unable or unwilling to take effective action, perhaps because of the heavy involvement of the pesticide industry. For example, at the weed summit in 2012, there was essentially no mention of the herbicide resistant crops, poised to be approved, and little evidence since that they will tackle this 800 pound gorilla. If these crops are approved without big restrictions on their use—and given USDA’s record, that seems probable—history is likely to repeat itself with a vengeance.

The resistant weed problem should be a good teachable moment. Much better solutions are available, but also could be improved and made more farmer friendly with the right research agenda at USDA, and the right policies. There is also a need to adapt these practices to local conditions in various regions. This agenda has long been neglected, and this needs to change.

But as long as we are led by the nose by those with a vested interest in the current failing status quo, we will only see things get worse for everyone but the companies that stand to sell more of their products.

About the author: Doug Gurian-Sherman is a widely-cited expert on biotechnology and sustainable agriculture. He holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology. See Doug's full bio.
Tackling the Epidemic of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds with Sustainable Solutions - The Equation