Feb 16, 2013

MUST SEE FILM: White Water, Black Gold - WATCH & SHARE THE FILM FREE ONLINE THROUGH FEB 18


Most Americans know little about the source of oil for the proposed Keystone Pipeline—the tar sands of Northern Alberta. The tar sands are not a traditional oil field. The oil is extracted and processed from the sands at a significant and devastating environmental and health cost to the land and people, and the process itself is a major contributor to climate change.

White Water, Black Gold follows Canadian adventurer David Lavallee on his three-year journey across Western Canada in search of the truth about the impact of the world’s dirtiest and thirstiest oil industry. This is a journey of jarring contrasts, from the pristine mountain ice fields that are the source of the industry’s water, to the tar sands tailing ponds, where thousands of migrating birds have unwittingly landed and died.

In the course of his journey Lavallee, backed by university scientists, makes a number of discoveries that raise serious concerns for Canada and the U.S.

Native peoples living downstream are contracting unusual cancers; new science shows that water resources in an era of climate change will be increasingly scarce; the proposed expansion of the oilfields to meet Keystone Pipeline demand could endanger multiple river systems across Canada that makeup about half of its water supply; and planned oil pipelines across British Columbia and the U.S. bring fresh threats to rivers, salmon and the Pacific Ocean.

White Water, Black Gold is a powerful tool for waking up Americans to the potential impact of the Keystone Pipeline, and clearly shows that we will be paying the environmental, social and public health costs long after the oil has run dry.

WATCH & SHARE THE FILM FREE ONLINE THROUGH FEB 18
Video --> https://vimeo.com/32526916

Full Article: White Water, Black Gold – EcoWatch: Uniting the Voice of the Grassroots Environmental Movement

Ohio Fracking CEO Pleads Not Guilty in Federal Toxic Waste-Dumping Case

The Mahoning River.
The Mahoning River. (Photo: Jack Pearce / Flickr)

New video highlights biochar research at OSU — Climate Solutions

Posted by Suzanne Malakoff at Feb 13, 2013 | Permalink
Full Article:


Perry Morrow

By Perry Morrow
Graduate Student, Institute for Water & Watersheds, Oregon State University

Biochar is a promising new product for agriculture, stormwater remediation, and other applications, which can store carbon safely away for centuries to come. It is the solid byproduct of the decomposition of biomass (plant material) under high heat with little to no oxygen present.

I created this video to summarize some of the biochar research taking place at Oregon State University and help people understand a little more about biochar and its promising future. The video shows what biochar is and how it is made, its capacity to store carbon, and the biochar research occurring at Oregon State University on issues important to development of commercial markets:



Biochar has the ability to reduce the impacts of climate change by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. As the video highlights, the production of biochar transforms biomass through the pyrolysis process into a stabilized form of carbon (about 25%) which remains in a stabilized form for 500 to 1000 years. Carbon in the stabilized form is not as easily oxidized into carbon dioxide, therefore biomass that has gone through the pyrolysis process releases less carbon dioxide over time. By reducing the release of carbon dioxide from the biomass, sequestered originally from photosynthesis, biochar has the ability to reduce the impacts of climate change.

New video highlights biochar research at OSU — Climate Solutions

Feb 15, 2013

The Real “Farmer” Story: So God Made High-Fructose Corn Syrup / and God made a Factory Farmer!


Democracy needs facts and truth to work... great article ! Monte


Photo by Melanie Lukesh, 2012, Flickr creative commons
By Mark Engler - February 11, 2013
Full Article: 
http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/the-real-farmer-story-so-god-made-high-fructose-corn-syrup

Of the commercials that debuted at this year’s Super Bowl, one of the most talked about has been “Farmer,” a Dodge truck ad that pays tribute to the salt-of-the-earth middle Americans who work the land. (Check it out here if you haven’t seen it yet.)

As a Midwesterner who comes from a family just one generation removed from the farm (both of my parents grew up on family farms that have since been lost), some of the heartland pandering in the video worked on me. At the same time, the main feeling I had while watching was that the ad celebrated a type of farming that corporate agribusiness has all but obliterated in the past fifty years.

The satirists at Funny or Die apparently had the same idea. The other day, they released a sly parody video called “God Made a Factory Farmer”:

As others have noted, the content of the new Dodge ad does not reflect the current state of American farming at all. For one, the imagery is a whitewash; basically all the farmers shown in the commercial are white, while the majority of actual farm workers in the United States today are Latino.

The narration, too, is the product of a bygone age. The speech featured in the ad was given by radio personality Paul Harvey to a convention of the Future Farmers of America in 1978. Even then, Harvey did not claim authorship; the original “So God Made a Farmer” text dates back to at least the 1940s.

In an article at the Atlantic, Garance Franke-Ruta pointed to Harvey’s long-standing conservative politics, as described in his New York Times obituary:

In his heyday, which lasted from the 1950s through the 1990s, Mr. Harvey’s twice-daily soapbox-on-the-air was one of the most popular programs on radio. Audiences of as many as 22 million people tuned in on 1,300 stations to a voice that had been an American institution for as long as most of them could remember.

Like Walter Winchell and Gabriel Heatter before him, he personalized the radio news with his right-wing opinions, but laced them with his own trademarks: a hypnotic timbre, extended pauses for effect, heart-warming tales of average Americans and folksy observations that evoked the heartland, family values and the old-fashioned plain talk one heard around the dinner table on Sunday….

He railed against welfare cheats and defended the death penalty. He worried about the national debt, big government, bureaucrats who lacked common sense, permissive parents, leftist radicals and America succumbing to moral decay.

Of course, in the end, it was not godless California hippies who undermined the family farm and gave us a diet of high-fructose corn syrup. And if you’re looking to condemn welfare scams and big-government boondoggles, you need search no further than the subsidy regime that undergirds the profits of modern corporate agribusiness. Sadly, like members of my own extended family, many people who grew up on the farm, fed on the gospel of hard work and rugged individualism, experienced misery in trying to carry on the family tradition. As sustainable farming advocate Tim Wightman writes in his critique of the Dodge ad:

I fell for the hype of serving a corporate food system with duty, honor and 100 hour weeks and very nearly ruined my health in doing so. I am now reminded of all the John Henrys I have known over the years, desperately trying to stay ahead of the system. I am reminded of the migrant workers who’s names we will never know still working the 100 hour standard. I am reminded of all the farm sons and daughters who are not on the land. God may have made a farmer, but Big Ag broke his back[.]

Could the type of land stewardship celebrated in “So God Made a Farmer” be revived, protected, and made sustainable? Perhaps. But to do so would challenge some of the most cherished values of the market. As the great farmer-poet Wendell Berry explained in a Dissentinterview with Sarah Leonard:

To have good farming or good land use of any kind, you have got to have limits. Capitalism doesn’t acknowledge limits. That is why we have supposedly limitless economic growth in a finite world. Good agriculture is formal. You can have limits without form, but you can’t have form without limits. If you look around the country and find small farmers who have prospered in hard times, you’ll probably find that they’ve prospered because they’ve accepted their limits….

There’s a fundamental incompatibility between industrial capitalism and both the ecological and the social principles of good agriculture. The aim of industrialization has always been to replace people with machines or other technology, to make the cost of production as low as possible, to sell the product as high as possible, and to move the wealth into fewer and fewer hands….

In the middle of the last century, Aldo Leopold was writing and publishing on the “land community” and ecological land husbandry. Sir Albert Howard and J. Russell Smith had written of natural principles as the necessary basis of agriculture. This was work that was scientifically reputable. At the end of the Second World War, ignoring that work, the politicians, the agricultural bureaucracies, the colleges of agriculture, and the agri-business corporations went all-out to industrialize agriculture and to get first the people and then the animals off the land and into the factories. This was a mistake, involving colossal offenses against both land and people. The costs have not been fully reckoned, let alone fully paid.

I’d say that’s a story that deserves the widest possible audience. Unfortunately, something tells me it won’t be featured in a Super Bowl ad anytime soon.

The Real “Farmer” Story: So God Made High-Fructose Corn Syrup | Dissent Magazine

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Democracy requires facts and truth to work... Monte

Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science


How Donors Trust distributed millions to anti-climate groups


Climate sceptic groups are mobilising against Obama’s efforts to act on climate change in his second term. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives.

The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and theDonors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more.

Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust told the Guardian that her organisation assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes.
The funding stream far outstripped the support from more visible opponents of climate action such as the oil industry or the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise," she said in an interview.

By definition that means none of the money is going to end up with groups like Greenpeace, she said. "It won't be going to liberals."

Ball won't divulge names, but she said the stable of donors represents a wide range of opinion on the American right. Increasingly over the years, those conservative donors have been pushing funds towards organisations working to discredit climate science or block climate action.

Donors exhibit sharp differences of opinion on many issues, Ball said. They run the spectrum of conservative opinion, from social conservatives to libertarians. But in opposing mandatory cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, they found common ground.

"Are there both sides of an environmental issue? Probably not," she went on. "Here is the thing. If you look at libertarians, you tend to have a lot of differences on things like defence, immigration, drugs, the war, things like that compared to conservatives. When it comes to issues like the environment, if there are differences, they are not nearly as pronounced."

By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.

The money flowed to Washington thinktanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore.

The ready stream of cash set off a conservative backlash against Barack Obama's environmental agenda that wrecked any chance of Congress taking action on climate change.


Graphic: climate denial funding

Those same groups are now mobilising against Obama's efforts to act on climate change in his second term. A top recipient of the secret funds on Wednesday put out a point-by-point critique of the climate content in the president's state of the union address.

And it was all done with a guarantee of complete anonymity for the donors who wished to remain hidden.

"The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records.

"These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them," Davies said.

The trusts were established for the express purpose of managing donations to a host of conservative causes.

Such vehicles, called donor-advised funds, are not uncommon in America. They offer a number of advantages to wealthy donors. They are convenient, cheaper to run than a private foundation, offer tax breaks and are lawful.

That opposition hardened over the years, especially from the mid-2000s where the Greenpeace record shows a sharp spike in funds to the anti-climate cause.

In effect, the Donors Trust was bankrolling a movement, said Robert Brulle, a Drexel University sociologist who has extensively researched the networks of ultra-conservative donors.

"This is what I call the counter-movement, a large-scale effort that is an organised effort and that is part and parcel of the conservative movement in the United States " Brulle said. "We don't know where a lot of the money is coming from, but we do know that Donors Trust is just one example of the dark money flowing into this effort."

In his view, Brulle said: "Donors Trust is just the tip of a very big iceberg."

The rise of that movement is evident in the funding stream. In 2002, the two trusts raised less than $900,000 for the anti-climate cause. That was a fraction of what Exxon Mobil or the conservative oil billionaire Koch brothers donated to climate sceptic groups that year.

By 2010, the two Donor Trusts between them were channelling just under $30m to a host of conservative organisations opposing climate action or science. That accounted to 46% of all their grants to conservative causes, according to the Greenpeace analysis.

The funding stream far outstripped the support from more visible opponents of climate action such as the oil industry or the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, the records show. When it came to blocking action on the climate crisis, the obscure charity in the suburbs was outspending the Koch brothers by a factor of six to one.

"There is plenty of money coming from elsewhere," said John Mashey, a retired computer executive who has researched funding for climate contrarians. "Focusing on the Kochs gets things confused. You can not ignore the Kochs. They have their fingers in too many things, but they are not the only ones."

It is also possible the Kochs continued to fund their favourite projects using the anonymity offered by Donor Trust.

But the records suggest many other wealthy conservatives opened up their wallets to the anti-climate cause – an impression Ball wishes to stick.

She argued the media had overblown the Kochs support for conservative causes like climate contrarianism over the years. "It's so funny that on the right we think George Soros funds everything, and on the left you guys think it is the evil Koch brothers who are behind everything. It's just not true. If the Koch brothers didn't exist we would still have a very healthy organisation," Ball said.

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks | Environment | guardian.co.uk

WOOD Shop Tour


WOOD Shop Tour

Wow, we have a ways to go yet ....! (-: Monte

70 best free Android apps 2013 | News | TechRadar


70 best free Android apps 2013 | News | TechRadar

The Best Android Tablet Apps

by Casey ChanFull Article: http://gizmodo.com/5926394/the-best-android-tablet-apps

With the Nexus 7 now available, Android tablets are no longer poor iPad copycats. They're real, banging for your buck affordable and most importantly, really good. But to make it even better, you'll need to get some apps. Here are the best Android tablet apps.

Social

Plume: Sadly, the official Twitter app isn't exactly tablet friendly. Luckily, Plume, a highly customizable Twitter app, works well enough on Android tablets so you won't miss Twitter on your Android tablet.


Friendcaster: Friendcaster for Facebook is a much better tablet app than the official Facebook app, as it gives you real time Facebook notifications and includes all your most-used Facebook features like status updates, photos, messages, events, groups, checkins and more.


IM+: Optimized for tablets, IM+ is an IM app that lets you chat with your friends on AIM, Google Talk, Skype, MSN, Yahoo, Facebook chat and others. Free.

Entertainment

Netflix: All the joys of Netflix in your pocket, all the time-including the power to battle that always growing Watch Instantly queue. Streaming's silky smooth over Wi-Fi, less so over 3G, but the app itself is indispensable. Free.


MXPlayer: MXPlayer is quite possibly the best video player for Android tablets because it packs a ton of features and can play a bunch of different video file formats (avi, mkv, divx, etc.) under the sun.


IMDb: Who's that guy? Where's he from? Should I even watch this movie? Solve all your movie questions with Android's official IMDB app. It's basically IMDB's website optimized for your phone—which in this case, is a good thing. Free.


Movies: Pretty simple: you like knowing the movies that are playing in theaters around you, right? Flixster's got local listings and showtimes, along with trailers and reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. Plus, you can manage your Netflix queue! Free.


Kindle: Just because you don't own a Kindle doesn't mean you shouldn't be buying Kindle ebooks—especially when Amazon has an Android app that's dead simple to use. The e-book wars aren't quite over, but no one will judge you for siding with Amazon. Free.


Sketchbook Pro: For Android tablets, it's a canvas for you to draw and paint on, with virtual tools and brush styles that can be really used to create art. You can save up to six layers per file and export files to photoshop for further working. Great for professionals who want to use their tablets for ideas and amateurs like me who can only hope to draw a straight line. $5


Crackle: Sony has released Crackle, an app that streams full-feature movies and popular TV shows to Android for free. For free. For free! We're talking popular TV shows like Seinfeld or big times movies like The Da Vinci Code and all completely free! The app is the same ad-supported streaming service as the Crackle.com website (and iOS apps) and has a decent catalog from Columbia Pictures, Tri-Star, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classics and other studios.


Camera Launcher: Camera Launcher lets you access the camera in the Nexus 7 and flip it into a dedicated camera app so you can take self portraits and/or tickle yourself silly with funny faces. It records video too.


Stitcher Radio: Stitcher Radio plays over 10,000 radio stations, shows and podcasts from the best of NPR, CNN, Fox, BBC, Freakonomics, Adam Carolla and more.

Games

Nesoid: I can't think of anything better than playing old NES games on your brand new tablet with the NesEmu emulator. Who needs fancy graphics! Give me my childhood favorites. $4.


Samurai II: Vengeance: Absolutely stunning anime/comicbook-style graphics plus controls that actually make sense plus a ton of ways to slice dudes in half plus samurais plus swords equals a ridiculously engaging Android game.


Tiny Tower: IA free 8-bit style game that lets you channel your inner landlord. You build floors on a tower to attract "bitizens" to live in it and then control their lives (manage, hire, give a job, evict). It's like SimCity but actually fun.

Productivity

Pulse News: A news aggregator that beautifies the way you stay up to date. You'll see the latest updates from different news sources and enjoy swiping away on the big ol tablet screen of yours.


Feedly: Feedly is sort of like the much ballyhooed Flipboard in that it integrates with Google Reader, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pocket and Instapaper to cull together articles from new sources that you're interested in. Social news, I guess. Free


Evernote: If you need more features in a "note taker", Evernote is simply a powerhouse of a note taking app. Not only can you jot down notes but you can take pictures, record voice notes and upload files to remember all on their cloud. Free.


Pocket: Formerly known as Read It Later, Pocket is a similar service to Instapaper, which means it's an offline news caching reader. Save articles you want to read later on your browsers and read them offline on your tablet. Like a DVR for online articles. Looks great while reading too. Free


Astrid Task/To Do List: No other app gives as much detail to to do lists as Astrid. Its "advanced" options lets you set priority levels, integrate with Google Calendar, sync with Google tasks, and set up tags, alerts and periodic reminders. Astrid keeps it easy, for the most part, but also offers deeper settings if you're the obsessive, customize-everything exactly-how-you-want-it type. Free.

Lifestyle

CNN: You get to watch live video, receive breaking news notifications, tune into CNN radio, use a customizable widget and more. The Android tablet app is really well designed too. Free.


HBO Go: If you're smart enough to order HBO with your cable, HBO Go will let you watch every episode of every season of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Rome, and any other awesome show HBO has ever made. Oh, and you can stream movies too. Free.


WatchESPN: If you have the right cable provider, you can stream ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU straight to your tablet. Works over 3G or Wi-Fi and lets you watch all the biggest sports moments on the go. A must have for any sports fan. Free.


File Manager HD: If you like to dig a little deep into whats going on in the innards of your Android tablet, File Manager reveals the file structure of the OS so you can find files, transfer stuff around and all that good stuff.


MLB at Bat 2012: It's still hands down, the best sports application on any device. With MLB At Bat, you'll be able to keep up with your favorite team in a snazzy new customizable homescreen and stream live games (if you have a MLB.tv package). For any self respecting baseball fan, it's an absolute must have. $10


Chrome: How are you going to say no to having the best desktop browser on your tablet? It's fast, light and if you use Chrome on the desktop, syncs your o



The Best Android Tablet Apps

Video: Wolves Hunting Buffalo | Watch Nature Online | PBS Video


Larger Image


Larger Image

Video: Wolves Hunting Buffalo | Watch Nature Online | PBS Video

Program: Nature
Episode: Wolves Hunting Buffalo

Breathtaking footage of a wolf pack going after a herd of bison in Canada's Wood Buffalo National Park. "Cold Warriors: Wolves and Buffalo" premieres February 13, 2013 at 8/7c (check local listings).

Feb 14, 2013

Ice Age Death Trap PBS

AW Extra 2/14/13 - Tips for Finishing Walnut - Woodworking Shop - American Woodworker


Tips for Finishing Walnut
by Jeff Gorton

There's no denying that most walnut looks great with nothing more than a few coats of oil. Here we’ll show you some tricks to make your walnut projects look even better.

Power Hour: Crop Prices to Fall as Drought Eases

By Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg

Corn and soybean crops devastated by the worst drought since the 1930s should recover this year, lowering prices, said Joe Glauber, chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With a return to normal yields, "a rebuilding of stocks and lower commodity prices would be expected in the fall," Glauber said today at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing. Wheat- and hay-producing areas remain in the grip of drought, while conditions have improved in much of the Corn Belt states further east, he said.

"Major questions related to persistent drought conditions remain," he said. "It’s still very, very early" in the year for predictions.

Almost 56 percent of the contiguous 48 states were in drought as of the week ended Feb. 12, up from 38 percent a year earlier, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Dryness in the nation’s main crop-growing regions sent corn yields to their lowest since 1995 while ranchers slaughtered animals to cut costs, shrinking the cattle herd to its smallest since 1952.

Farmers will plant 96 million acres of corn in 2013, a 0.9 percent decline from last year, and 76 million acres of soybeans, a 1.6 percent drop, the USDA said in a 10-year forecast this week. Plantings of wheat, which requires less rainfall, may increase 3.2 percent to 57.5 million acres.


Cattle Areas

Livestock producers, who thinned herds to avoid rising feed costs, continue to experience hardships, Glauber said. About 69 percent of cattle-producing areas and 59 percent of hay acreage remain in drought conditions, with rain needed to allow ranchers to rebuild their operations.

"Cattle on the southern Plains are in a dry situation," Glauber told reporters after his testimony. "We are very concerned."

Domestic beef output will drop to an eight-year low in 2013, and per-capita supplies will be the smallest since at least 1970, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Cattle futures in Chicago may rally to a record $1.3925 a pound this year, up 7.6 percent from yesterday’s close, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of five analysts.

More than a fifth of all U.S. counties have already been declared agricultural disaster areas because of drought, according to the USDA. With claims still to be processed, government-subsidized crop-insurance payments from companies including Ace Ltd. and Wells Fargo & Co. for 2012 crop losses have already surpassed $14.2 billion, exceeding the 2011 record of $10.84 billion, the USDA said today.

Indemnities may reach $16 billion, then drop to $10.1 billion for this year’s crops, according to a congressional estimate.
Full Article: Power Hour: Crop Prices to Fall as Drought Eases

Google Now: The future of big data and Android's game-changer | TechRepublic


Great article...great App... May be game changer for Google ...  Monte

Full Article: Google Now: The future of big data and Android's game-changer

Also read:
Google Now for Android updated: Now it “gets” me (from @jkendrick)
Bad News, Windows Phone Fans: Google Now is the Real Deal (from @thurrott)
How to get started with Google Now (from @sharonvak)

Swales in Landscape - Life Flourishes !


Rob Avis, of Canada-based Verge Permaculture, explains how swales at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia work to re-hydrate the landscape and re-charge aquifers.

Rocket Mass Heater Workshop


Published on Dec 6, 2012

For more information on the rocket check out our blog at, http://vergepermaculture.ca/blog/2013...

Related Link:
http://permaculturenews.org/2013/02/15/heating-the-greenhouse-rocket-style/

Agriculture case to affect patents | mndaily.com - The Minnesota Daily

In a Supreme Court biotech case, colleges support Monsanto.
By Rebecca Harrington
February 13, 2013

Full Article: http://www.mndaily.com/2013/02/13/agriculture-case-affect-patents

A U.S. Supreme Court decision on agricultural patents could have sweeping effects on copyright law.

The case, Vernon Bowman v. Monsanto Co., will begin oral arguments next Tuesday. The Court will decide whether Monsanto can continue to collect royalties after its patented seeds are sold.

Bowman’s argument is that Monsanto’s patents were “exhausted” after selling the seeds, and the company can’t control their use anymore.

But Monsanto argues allowing the alleged violation of its patents and licenses could send shockwaves through intellectual property in any field.

Dozens of organizations have filed supporting briefs backing either side, including a number of universities in favor of the agricultural company.

But the University of Minnesota is not among the institutions taking sides.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said the school rarely signs on to amicus briefs at any court level, unless its interests are “directly at stake.”

“But no one should draw any conclusions or inferences from that,” he said.

Background

Developing new crop varieties takes years. In order to recuperate the millions of dollars spent during development, seed companies file strict patents protecting inventions.

Monsanto patented Roundup Ready soybeans in 1994. The seeds are genetically modified to be resistant to pesticides so farmers can spray their fields to kill weeds without harming crops.

Unlike other crops, soybeans self-pollinate, yielding the same genetically modified strain from year to year.

In order to recuperate the money it spent developing Roundup Ready soybeans, Monsanto put a stipulation in its patent requiring farmers to buy new seed every year.

To plant the seed, farmers sign a technology agreement with Monsanto prohibiting them from selling the Roundup Ready seeds to be planted again.

Bowman, 74, owns a farm in southwestern Indiana. He first bought Roundup Ready soybeans in 1999 and signed the technology agreement with Pioneer, Monsanto’s distribution partner.

For his second crop of every year, Bowman bought and planted mixed soybean seeds from a grain elevator. When he planted them, they showed pesticide resistance like the Roundup Ready seeds.

Bowman continued this cycle for the next seven years, until Monsanto found out about it.

Monsanto argues that these seeds were second-generation Roundup Ready seeds.

The company sued Bowman in October 2007 for violating the technology agreement and its patents.

Monsanto alleged Bowman had been saving his seeds, but Bowman argued buying unknown seeds from a grain elevator wasn’t banned in the technology agreement.

The district court ruled in Monsanto’s favor, as did the federal circuit court, ordering Bowman to pay $84,000 in damages to the company for patent infringement.

Bowman appealed to the Supreme Court, and his petition was granted in October 2012.

Protecting patents

Universities develop new technologies in their research. The University filed for 115 new patents in 2012.

More than a dozen universities and higher education organizations filed an amicus brief in support of Monsanto, including Iowa State University.

The school’s Counsel, Paul Tanaka, said it wasn’t about taking Monsanto’s side but about protecting their patents.

“The idea that [after] the first sale of seeds, everything after that could be free of royalty payments has huge implications for how these materials are licensed,” Tanaka said. “That would disrupt the way the market works.”

Monsanto’s patent on the Roundup Ready soybeans in this case expires in 2014. They will then become a generic variety that won’t be subject to the technology agreement and strict licensing rules.

But the company has other patents and licenses that aren’t expiring, as do other companies and universities.

“Affirming Monsanto’s ability to enforce its patent rights in the case is critical to promoting continued research in biotechnology and other key fields,” the company said in a statement, “as companies, universities, and research institutions rely on patent law to recoup their [research and development] costs and protect against unauthorized copying of their inventions.”

If the Supreme Court rules against Monsanto, Tanaka said, companies could choose to fund less university biotechnology research because they wouldn’t be able to recuperate the costs with licenses.

“It could destroy the incentives for seed companies to provide support to university research programs,” he said.

Against ‘Big Ag’

In the debate over patents on genetically modified technologies, groups against genetically modified foods have also been vocal.

The Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds filed an amicus brief supporting Bowman.

It outlines how large agricultural companies like Monsanto have control over research at universities.

Its main example is when the company Syngenta prevented researchers from publishing its findings showing Syngenta’s product could be harmful.

One of those researchers was University entomology professor Ken Ostlie. He was one of 26 specialists who filed a statement with the Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 that said biotechnology companies had too much control over their research.

Ostlie said companies varied in response to the situation, but it prevented public scientists’ ability to compare technologies and tell farmers which ones were better for them.

“When seed companies sort of said, ‘No, you can’t do research’ on seed that was commercially available,” he said, “that directly flew in the face of everything that public science has been able to do.”

University Board of Regents policy states companies can’t prevent researchers from publishing their findings because it would violate the “open teaching and research environment.”

After the EPA statement received heavy public attention, the American Seed Trade Association reached an agreement with seed companies, which outlined that universities could do this comparative research. Ostlie said he thinks the issue has been resolved because of this agreement.

This brief supporting Bowman said companies have too much control over university research when scientists have to sign agreements in order to study the technologies.

But Ostlie said it’s the only way to research the technologies while they’re still protected by licenses.

“If I waited until a product was registered and I could use the seeds without any company approval,” he said, “that would mean for the first couple years I wouldn’t be able to teach growers about these new products.”

Gray area

James Orf, University agronomy and plant genetics professor, just wants the Supreme Court to make a decision on the case.

It takes six to 10 years to develop a new soybean variety, and Orf said he doesn’t want to begin new research until he knows what could become of it after the Bowman case.

Laura Dorle, environmental sciences, policy and management junior, said she doesn’t like genetically modified crops when they are used for “corporate greed,” but the fact that science can make them is “amazing.”

“I think that the lines are less black and white than people make it appear,” she said.

Orf said no matter the decision, researchers should pay attention to it because it could potentially have a large impact in the future.

“It’s not that one is good and the other one is totally bad,” he said. “But it does let us know ... how we need to operate.”

======================

Great article... shows how Monsanto buys university support by subtle threats...subtle BLACKMAIL             Monte

Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail | Politics News | Rolling Stone


Illustration by Victor Juhasz
By Matt Taibbi
February 14, 2013

The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks' profit – but they didn't extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.

People may have outrage fatigue about Wall Street, and more stories about billionaire greedheads getting away with more stealing often cease to amaze. But the HSBC case went miles beyond the usual paper-pushing, keypad-punching­ sort-of crime, committed by geeks in ties, normally associated with Wall Street. In this case, the bank literally got away with murder – well, aiding and abetting it, anyway.

Great article by Matt   Monte

Bill McKibben: Stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline for Good


Published on Feb 13, 2013

"I'm expecting that Sunday will be the biggest rally about climate change that there's ever been in this country," Bill McKibben says about this Sunday's #ForwardOnClimate rally in Washington, DC. What will it take to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, according to the 350.org founder? "We're not going to outspend the fossil fuel industry," he explains. "We have to find other currencies to work in, and those are the currencies of movements."

Read more at http://thenat.in/12hq3FK

NOVA | Earth From Space


Watch Earth from Space on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Review:
  • Earth from Space takes you on an epic quest to discover the invisible forces and processes that sustain life on our planet and, for the first time, see them in action in their natural environment in vivid detail. These truly unique images will explore the deepest mysteries of its existence, raising profound questions and challenging the old assumptions of how Earth's system works. Written by Darlow Smithson Productions
  • Great 2 hour program!  Monte
  • Wow! --> Best 1 hour and 53 minutes I have spent learning about our plant! Highly recommend, if you are interested it understanding how our environment works in detail. I do not think you will regret spending the time... You will be surprised and know much more than a lot of politicians that are representing us...

Program Description

"Earth From Space" is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth.

Viewers witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast submarine "waterfall" off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world; and how the Sun's heating up of the southern Atlantic gives birth to a colossally powerful hurricane. From the microscopic world of water molecules vaporizing over the ocean to the magnetic field that is bigger than Earth itself, the show reveals the astonishing beauty and complexity of our dynamic planet.

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