Jun 9, 2011

Senator Bernie Sanders Belongs on the Sunday Shows

“With a $1.6 trillion deficit,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told Jon Stewart recently, “it is insane to think that the only way you’re going to move toward a balanced budget is by slashing college Pell grants, by cutting Medicaid, by converting Medicare into a voucher program, by cutting programs that working class and middle class people desperately need.”

The Senator on social security: “Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus. It could pay out every benefit owed for the next 26 years. It is not going bankrupt. It’s not going broke.”

On income inequality: “You have so few who have so much and so many that have so little. Those are themes not usually discussed here in Washington, for kind of obvious reasons.”

Senator Sanders is a bold voice, and one that’s missing every Sunday. He’s a passionate advocate for the middle class and yet his last morning show appearance came late last year.

Compare that to Sen. John McCain, who leads everyone with 10 appearances this year alone. His friends and ideological allies, Sens. Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman, round out the top seven interviewees this year, with six and five appearances each.

The Sunday shows often set the tone for the upcoming political week. As the same voices drone on, the Senator’s absence means the political and media elites are overlooking the forces squeezing working and middle class Americans.

Will you call or write the network producers and tell them to Bring Senator Sanders On? (Their contact information is at bottom.)2011-06-02-bilde.jpeg
Senator Sanders waves during a Memorial Day parade. (Photo by sanders.senate.gov)

You’ve probably heard the Senator’s zingers and social philosophy picked up despite the shows’ pattern of interviewing the same half-dozen politicos each week. It’s not rocket science. It’s because what the Senator says is popular and widespread that it shines through the media muzzle.

“Medicare for all” is something the Senator’s pushed for years. More fundamentally, Senator Sanders is one of the few leaders who understands that political debates exist in terms of individuals and lives.

“I would not support Medicaid cuts when you have 50 million Americans who have no health insurance today at all,” the Senator said.

As GOPers coalesce around the plan to end Medicare, the Senator speaks for millions of Americans when he reminds us about the 45 million Americans who will die this year because they don’t have health insurance.

“It is morally obscene to cut programs for the most vulnerable people in this country,” he says. Why is Senator Sanders being kept off the Sunday shows? It must be ideological discrimination because nothing else explains how the same tired trope of alleged newsmakers is trotted out each week.

Like McCain, Graham and Lieberman, the Tea Party is overrepresented on the shows too. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee all have far more appearances on Sunday shows than Senator Sanders. It doesn’t take much when the Senator has never been interviewed in 2011.

These conventional wisdom weather vanes are, as you’d expect, all the same. They are for spending cuts of different sizes, for interventions of different scopes and favor radical changes like dismantling the Federal Reserve or Education Department for different reasons. Many Democrats aren’t so different either, but Senator Sanders is one of a kind.

The Senate’s only self-styled socialist, Senator Sanders is passionate, outspoken, and offers a unique worldview among the elected American political spectrum and news media elite.

He has a wide following across the country and around the world, which is partly due to his uniqueness in contemporary American politics. He has an incredibly engaged Facebook community of 66,300 individuals, a Twitter following of more than 38,000 and an email list that reaches thousands upon thousands more.

The Senator can make the mundane policy differences engaging and catch fire. In a committee hearing about access to health care, Sen. Rand Paul equated “a right to health care” to enslaving medical professionals. Senator Sanders was able to transform Paul’s talking point into inspiration for his supporters and common sense reasonableness to his critics.

“My profound question to the [doctor] is, do you, as an employee at a federally qualified health center, consider yourself a slave?”

Even Paul had to laugh off his absurd question.

With Bernie absent from the Sunday shows, and their trend toward booking the same politicians each week, there exists an echo chamber within an echo chamber. With a lack of diversity each week, the Sunday shows move further away from their historical origins in American broadcasting.

They were conceived as a way to justify using public airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission licenses networks the right to use public radio waves because it’s a public service. That’s been precedent since the very beginning of American broadcasting.

Ideological discrimination is bad for ratings and worse for our democracy. As the Sunday shows move away from their historical moorings, our democracy suffers from a dearth of journalistic public service.

All the while, the “crooks on Wall Street [who] caused the recession” and politicians “who go after the middle-class, working families, low-income people” – in Bernie’s words – will be wearing television makeup and living comfortably in the networks’ green rooms this Sunday.

Will you call or write producers for Face the Nation, This Week, Meet the Press and State of the Union and respectfully ask them to bring Bernie on?

Face the Nation: Carin Pratt, (202) 457-4481, ftn@cbsnews.com

Meet the Press: Iliana Drimmer, (202) 885-4598, ilana.drimmer@nbcuni.com

This Week: (212) 456-7777 (push 5 and address your message to Rick Kaplan, executive producer of This Week)

State of the Union: Michelle Jaconi, (404) 827-1500, michelle.jaconi@turner.com

One smart Senator that fights for working class people courageously and has not sold out to special interests.  Too bad we don't have 99 more that were like him...!  He has my total respect...  Monte

Food Sovereignty Responds to Corporate Takeover of Food Production | Truthout

by: Yve le Grand


Although the credit crunch has pushed the issue of the global food crisis to the background, it is still going on today. In fact, the number of chronically hungry people worldwide has risen and is estimated to amount to 967 million people according to the new Declaration of Human Rights, launched by the Cordoba process[1] at the end of 2008, on the occasion of the Declaration's 60th anniversary.

In 1948, the of the United Nations declared "... everyone has a right to be free from hunger and to adequate food including drinking water, as set out in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."[2]

The world famine in the 1970s led the Declaration to introduce the concept of food security: "... the availability at all times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices."[3]

This definition of food security, which is basically a technical matter of providing adequate human nutrition, led to the assumption that more food production would solve the problem of mass starvation. The Green Revolution led to a spectacular increase in the amount of food produced, but the numbers of the chronically hunger did not diminish accordingly.[4]

In his landmark book on poverty and famines,[5] Amartya Sen, concluded that enough food was being produced (i.e. enough calories per capita), but that the access to food, the entitlement to it, was the core of the problem. The poor simply lacked the financial and political means to claim their share of world food production. Sen made it clear that the world food problem was, thus, not so much a matter of food production, as it was one of social inequality and injustice. To see how a perfect storm has been in the making since the first Declaration of Human Rights, it is necessary to go back to the root of all food: seeds.

The Seed Situation

In and of themselves, "Seeds are the very beginning of the food chain. He, who controls the seeds, controls the food supply and thus controls the people."[6] To understand why this is important for current developments in the agrarian industrial complex, it is necessary to have an understanding of how "normal" agricultural practices and techniques have evolved over time, in contrast to contemporary corporate practice in the last few decades.

When people first settled down and started to grow crops for food, through a lot of hard work and through trial and error, indigenous plant breeds were improved upon over time by cross pollination. Thus, plants developed that were suited best for local circumstances and climate conditions (e.g. drought, wind, flooding, soil). Through the techniques of crop rotation, mixed crop planting and by using natural fertilizers (manure, compost), the soil was not too depleted to recover and be (re)used.

Two of the most important agricultural practices are brown bagging and seed exchange. Brown bagging is the farmer's custom to save part of the seeds from the current harvest, to sow them in the following year. Seed exchange makes for the dissemination of new strands of DNA that have been obtained through crossbreeding plants. In this way, the various genetic materials guarantee biodiversity, which is of the utmost importance in order to withstand insect attacks or other pests that threaten a growing crop.

After the Second World War, chemical companies that had already diversified into seed fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, began to invest heavily in the research and development (R & D) of so-called "hybrid" seeds, while buying up seed companies. Hybrid seeds grow with the input of petroleum-based fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides; e.g. "Roundup Ready" seeds developed by Monsanto would only be able to grow through the exclusive use of their Roundup chemicals. A short while later, R & D would focus on genetically modified (GM) seeds, for which use companies could charge money on the basis of intellectual property rights (IPR).

How has the jump from seed saving and exchange to IPR on seeds been legally possible? In 1980, in Diamond v. Chakrabarty,[7] 447 US 303, the US Supreme Court ruled that a patent covering a living organism from now on was extended to cover "a live human-made micro-organism. "

In other words, whereas prior to this process, plants and animals themselves were subject to property rights and ownership, their genetics were not. After the process, the genetics of plants and animals could be owned and, thus, subject to intellectual property rights.

As a consequence, farmers could neither freely and legally plant nor save seeds for replanting of any plant variety registered under the plant variety provisions of the new patent law. This development marked a shift from public agrarian practice in which seeds could be exchanged and saved freely, to privately owned seed DNA, subject to IPR.

Source: International Seed Federation.[8] Since 1985, the trade in commercial seed has been soaring.

IPR deprives farmers from what they and many others worldwide claim as their inherent right to save and replant seeds. Seed varieties, which have been developed over centuries, have adapted to their particular environments, while their gene pool has to survive unforeseen factors such as pests and diseases - or climate change. Thus, farmers are losing their independence and become "extensions" in the field for the biotech corporations the world over,[9] as IPR clauses in the contracts between them and the farmer forbid the farmer to save and replant their seeds. Though farmers buy the GM seeds, they do not own them. In fact, farmers are renting the GM seeds from the biotech corporation on an annual basis.

Another consequence of the court ruling is the explosion of tactical cooperations, strategic mergers and takeovers among agro-chemical-biotech companies and the ensuing consolidation of power in the hands of a few transnational corporations (TNCs).

Based on a report published by the ETC Group, the action group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration:[10]
From thousands of seed companies and public breeding institutions three decades ago, 10 companies now control more than two-thirds of global proprietary seed sales.
From dozens of pesticide companies three decades ago, 10 now control almost 90 percent of agrochemical sales worldwide.
From almost 1,000 biotech start-ups 15 years ago, 10 companies now account for three-quarters of industry revenues.

The concentration of power makes for strong industry lobbies in governmental organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Bank, in favor of governmental deregulation and the promotion of free trade, including agriculture. This directly affects the lives of people, in particular in the global South.

Free Trade and Agriculture

The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) came into being at the same time as the WTO - until then GATT[11] - on January 1, 1995. The AoA, effectively considering agricultural crops as commodities, was based on three pillars for trade regulation: domestic support, market access and export subsidies.[12]

The first pillar, domestic support, is a set of rules that regulate under which circumstances local producers can be subsidized. The second pillar, market access, is aimed at reducing the tariff on imported goods, in an attempt to "create order, fair competition and a less distorted agricultural sector."[13] Non-tariff barriers on imports - such as import quotas or import restrictions - have to be "tarifficated" in order to become part of the global market process. Once bonded to a tariff, the rate will subsequently be reduced over time. The third pillar obliges developed countries to reduce the export subsidies given to local producers, in order to reduce false competition.

Only developed countries are rich enough to sponsor their agricultural producers one way or the other.[14] These subsidized crops flood the global market at below-cost prices. This both undercuts and lowers the farm gate prices for the local producers in developing countries, while these countries cannot afford to support their domestic producers or pay them export subsidies. In practice, this leads to what has become known as export dumping.

Due to the asymmetric power relations between developed and developing countries, it seems that the trade regulations have had a virtually opposite effect from that ostensibly intended: the reduction of tariff protections has negatively affected small-scale farmers - who make up 70 percent of the population in developing countries - who see the key source of their income slip away, driving them off the land and into the cities, in search of a new way to make a living.[15]

Subsistence farmers are effectively threatened by the conditions put forward once their state government takes out a loan from the World Bank or signs a WTO Trade agreement, as these come with structural adjustment programs (SAPs). SAPs are in effect prescribed economic "reform" policies, such as the reduction of government budgets and social spending; the cutting of programs and subsidies for basic goods; the elimination of restrictions on foreign ownership; the increase in interest rates; the promotion of a switch from subsistence farming to export economies, while eliminating import tariffs.[16]

Government deregulation thus favors TNCs over smallholders[17] in a bid to compete with export crops in a global market that, in fact, is seriously distorted by the agricultural subsidy policies of the developed countries.

Recently, the dash for agrofuels, diverting food crops to produce energy, has put yet more strain on the competition for land and other resources such as water.[18] The social and environmental consequences of business as usual has driven many farmers off their land toward cities, putting additional pressure on the land, as agricultural land is urbanized. Nowhere can these non-trade concerns[19] be witnessed better than in the growing number of slums around cities in the developing world.

The dispossessed are fighting back, however. They have organized themselves in all sorts of organizations, the aim of which is to resist further global appropriation of their lands and local economies. They campaign for agricultural reform and the human right to food; they demand food sovereignty for all.

Food Sovereignty

"People facing hunger and malnutrition are, to a large extent, smallholders, landless workers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, often situated in marginal and vulnerable ecological environments. Neglected by (inter)national policies, they cannot compete with increasingly subsidized industrialized agriculture, both nationally and in the world market. Many farmers tried to catch the Green Revolution train, but became stuck in the debt trap of increasing input costs and decreasing product prices. Concentration in the food market chain is another worrying trend causing increasing dependence of both consumers and producers on a declining number of seed, inputs and food products conglomerates."[20]

Food sovereignty is a term originally coined in 1996 by the members of La Via Campesina as an alternative policy framework, countering the narrow view of food security as access to global food imports by food-deficient countries as a political goal.

Emerging in 1993, Via Campesina is "an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers that fight for the right of people to determine their own local policy to food security through agrarian reform and rural development."[21]

Via Campesina's Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty[22]

1. Food: A Basic Human Right

Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.

2. Agrarian Reform

A genuine agrarian reform is necessary, which gives landless and farming people - especially women - ownership and control of the land they work, and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it.

3. Protecting Natural Resources

Food sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agro-chemicals.

4. Reorganizing Food Trade

Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must neither displace local production nor depress prices.

5. Ending the Globalization of Hunger

Food sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced code of conduct for TNCs is therefore needed.

6. Social Peace

Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness. The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, repression and increasing incidence of racism of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.

7. Democratic control

Smallholder farmers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision-making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular, must be granted direct and active decision-making on food and rural issues.

The acceptance of this framework[23] in the context of the Declaration of Human Rights, is extremely important, not only for the small, food-producing people involved, but also for the end consumer in the developed world: the true right to food and the true right to produce food, mean that all people have an unalienable right to safe, nutritious and culturally-appropriate food as well as to food-producing resources, while they have the ability to sustain themselves and their societies in the process.

If the no consensus on a G8-driven global partnership against hunger is the surprise outcome of the High Level Meeting on Food Security held in Madrid in January of this year, it may well be an indication that the food sovereignty movement is conquering terrain. In the final declaration of the farmers' and civil society organizations, they state that:

"We see the proposed Global Partnership as just another move to give the big corporations and their foundations a formal place at the table, despite all the rhetoric about the 'inclusiveness' of this initiative. Furthermore it legitimates the participation of WTO, World Bank and IMF and other neoliberalism-promoting institutions in the solution of the very problems they have caused. This undermines any possibility for civil society or governments from the Global South to play any significant role. We do not need this Global Partnership or any other structure outside the UN system."[24]

After all, until a few decades ago, it was primarily the small farmers of this world who sustained us all with their hard work in the field.


[1] "The Cordoba process was started at an international seminar on the right to food at CEHAP [Chair of Studies on Hunger and Poverty], Cordoba October 2007, further pursued at the Right to Food Forum organised by the FAO Right to Food Unit in October 2008 and completed in its present version following a second meeting convened in Cordoba by CEHAP on November 28-29, 2008. It will be subject of further consultations and possible revisions during 2009." Source.

[2] Source.

[3] FAO 1974

[4] See here.

[5] Sen, Amartya (1981): "Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlements and Deprivation," Claredon Press, Oxford.

[6] Dominique Guillet, Association Kokopelli.

[7] Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 US 303 (1980)

[8] See here.

[9] For a brief history of the seed industry, see here and here.

[10] The ETC Group, an international advocacy organization based in Canada, has been monitoring corporate power in the industrial life sciences for the past 30 years, revealed this in a report in November 2008 that can be downloaded here.

[11] General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 1947. A tariff is a tax on goods upon importation.

[12] See here.

[13] See here.

[14] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2005, p.129 vv.

[15] UNDP Human Development Report 2005, chapter 4.

[16] See here.

[17] Raj Patel in "Stuffed and Starved" (2007), London Portobello Books, describes this process in detail.

[18] GRAIN, "Stop the Agrofuel Craze."

[19] Fourth Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture (2000).

[20] Jonas Vanruesel, 2008. "Food as a human right: a struggle for human dignity and food sovereignty" in Omertaa Volume 2008/2.

[21] See here.

[22] A concise summary of the principles of food sovereignty can be found on the site of the organization for the defense of family farms in the USA.

[23] See here and here.

[24] Final declaration of farmers and civil society organizations.


After living all over the world, media artist Yve le Grand settled down in Lisbon, Portugal. Doing research for a project on the politics of cooking, she got interested in the political economy of the global food system. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology on the conflicting worldviews in the genetically modified food debate at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon.

GREAT ARTICLE... Mono-culture farming is destroying our soils by destroying all life in the soil... History teaches us that every culture that destroyed it soils ended up as a failed state... Wake up America... Don't let the Corporate monopolies destroy our country...!!!  Monte

Jun 8, 2011

Lay of the Land Between Old River and the Mississippi

Lay of the Land Between Old River and the Mississippi
Lay of the Land Between Old River and the Mississippi

download large image (5 MB, JPEG)

The Mississippi River is highly “engineered,” as major rivers go. The battle between human civilization and the river is perhaps best exemplified by the Old River Control structures in central Louisiana. Completed in the 1960s, the system of levees, locks, floodgates, and canals has so far successfully kept the Mississippi River from meandering westward, as it has done several times over the centuries.

If left to natural processes, the Mississippi might migrate to the west and merge with the Atchafalaya River, taking a more southerly route toward the Gulf of Mexico. The process is known to geologists and hydrologists as “avulsion.” The accumulation of sediments in a channel reduces its slope, slows the flow, and leads the river to look for a steeper downward slope and faster flow. 
Human “control” of the river continues in spite of land topography that is working in nature's favor. The maps above, assembled from the National Elevation Dataset (NED), show the relative height of key structures of the Old River Control, as well as the elevation of the nearby land and waterways. Elevation ranges from 8 to 28 meters (26 to 92 feet) above sea level, with deep olive green representing the lowest areas and brighter areas representing the highest. (The Tunica Hills are higher than 28 meters).
In the top image, note how the Mississippi is bounded in by hills to the east, while standing several meters higher than the Atchafalaya River, the Red River, and the flood plains south and west of the bright white levees. The Old River is actually a former channel of the Mississippi from one of its past meanders, and ships still pass through the Old River Lock to pass between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya.

In the lower, close-up image, you can see the stark difference in water elevation on either side of the Low Sill, the Auxiliary Structure, the Overbank Structure, and the Sidney Muncy Hydropower Plant.

The Mississippi River is often called “The Big Muddy” because of its heavy sediment load, and that mud and sediment has been piling up and shifting the river from one channel to another for thousands of years. But with Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and other heavily populated areas situated along the current banks of the Mississippi—and with billions of dollars of transportation infrastructure and international commerce dependent on that river path—the U.S. government long ago decided that the Mississippi needed taming.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: “The Old River Control structures are operated to maintain the distribution of flow between the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya River, and also prevent the Atchafalaya River from capturing the flow of the Mississippi River.”

Time will tell if nature will win the war over the river's direction, but the Army Corps has been winning battle after battle for several decades. The effort is not without its costs in dollars, environmental changes, and occasional property losses downstream.

Further Reading
America's Wetland Resource Center (n.d.) Louisiana River Control.Accessed June 3, 2011.
NASA Earth Observatory (2006, August 31) Mississippi Meanders. Accessed June 3, 2011.
NASA Earth Observatory (2011, May 11) Map of the Ancient Mississippi. Accessed June 3, 2011.
John McPhee, in The New Yorker (1987, February 23) The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya. Accessed June 3, 2011.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (n.d.) Old River Control. Accessed June 3, 2011.

Map by Robert Simmon, using data from the National Elevation Dataset. Caption by Michael Carlowicz.

Four Illini Selected on Day 2 of First-Year Player Draft

June 7, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Three University of Illinois baseball players and signee Charlie Tilson (Wilmette, Ill./New Trier HS) were selected on the second day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. Tilson was picked in the second round by St. Louis, catcher Adam Davis (Bloomingdale, Ill./Driscoll Catholic) was taken in the 11th round by Baltimore, shortstop Josh Parr (Chillicothe, Ill./Illinois Valley Central) was selected in the 12th round by Arizona and left-handed pitcher Corey Kimes (Ottawa, Ill./Ottawa) was drafted in the 18th round by Minnesota.

It marks the fifth-straight year that at least two current or incoming Fighting Illini players have been selected in the draft and sixth time in the last seven years.

"The second round is an awfully high round and I think it's going to take some money to sign Charlie, but generally when a club takes someone that high in the draft, they have a good feel that they can sign him," Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. "It's going to be tough to keep him with him going that high. Hopefully Adam, Josh and Corey all get a good deal and then they can make a decision on what they can do."

Tilson, who was rated the best prospect in the state of Illinois by Baseball America and the No. 38 player in the draft by ESPN.com, was selected by the Cardinals with the 79th overall selection in the second round. He was named the Illinois Gatorade High School Player of the Year. He hit .406 and stole 28 bases for the Trevians this spring. Tilson was the only player to hit a home run at the 2010 Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., and stole seven bases in three games at the showcase.

Illini catcher Adam Davis was selected in the 11th round of Tuesday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Illini catcher Adam Davis was selected in the 11th round of Tuesday's Major League

In the 11th round, catcher Adam Davis was selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the 335th overall selection. He becomes the third Illinois catcher selected in the last seven years and fourth in the last 10 years along with Lars Davis (2007), Chris Robinson (2005) and Patrick Arlis(2002). Davis was an All-Big Ten second team selection and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament. He hit .290 with a team-high 14 doubles, five home runs and 33 RBIs. He also stole 15-of-19 bases and made only six errors behind the plate for a .983 fielding percentage. He controlled opponents' running games, as foes attempted only 57 steals against the Illini all season and Davis threw out 18-of-52 (35 percent) would-be base-stealers.

"It felt like I had a weight taken off my back," Davis said. "I knew it would happen; it was just a matter of when. When the rounds came and went where people told me I was going to be picked and I didn't get taken, that was a little stressful. But it was great to see my name come up when it finally happened."

Parr was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 12th round with the 364th overall pick. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection and was named to the NCAA Tournament Fullerton Regional all-tournament team. He hit .302 on the season with two home runs, 11 doubles and 36 RBIs, third-most on the team, and he also had the second-most stolen bases with 17-of-19. He committed only nine errors on the season, best among Big Ten shortstops and a major improvement over the 26 he made as a sophomore. "The funny thing is I thought I would get a phone call before I saw it on the computer, so I was waiting by the phone," Parr said. "Then my best friend growing up was right next to me at the computer and he saw Adam Davis' name pop up and we all chered - it was unbelievable, so happy for him. Then a few picks later, he saw my name come up and we all went wild. Then I got the phone call and we all celebrated. It's great."

Kimes was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 18th round with the 568th overall selection. He went 4-4 on the season with a 5.15 ERA in 85 2/3 innings over 16 appearances and 15 starts. He struck out 57 and walked 39 while allowing 106 hits, but came on toward the end of the season, when he allowed one run in a complete-game effort against Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament championship game. He also gave up just three earned runs over seven innings against top-seeded Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, a game the Illini eventually won 7-5 by scoring six runs in their final three at bats. Illinois won Kimes' last seven starts this season and he allowed only seven earned runs in 21 innings over his last three starts.

"It was kind of unbelievable when I heard my name," Kimes said. "It was just a lifelong dream come true. I couldn't believe it when I saw it."

The final 20 rounds of the draft will be held Wednesday, beginning at 11 a.m. CT.

Jun 7, 2011

Are You Lurking? The 90-9-1 Principle of Social Media

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2011/04/26/The_Psychology_of_Twitter

Social networks like Twitter boast ever-climbing rates of use, but how many account holders are actually participating?

A panel of Australian media experts discusses the 90-9-1 principle of social media, which has it that 90 percent of users on any social media platform are lurking, 9 percent are moderate contributors, and 1 percent are super users.

Do you post comments online? Blog about your ideas? Tweet your opinion? Perhaps you're a "lurker," listening to, reading and following others who have their say in social media? It's no secret that Twitter, blogs and Facebook have changed the way we communicate, but have they tapped in to our modern pathological need to be "revered"? And, what does it really mean to be "someone" in the Twittersphere?

At a pub in Brisbane, a panel of twittering journos and scientists fess up on their desires, obsessions, and hates of social media and try to unpick the psychology behind our intimate relationship with it. Among the panelists are Dr. Rod Lamberts, a science communications expert from ANU; Andy Gregson, a social networking entrepreneur; and Natasha Mitchell, the presenter of Radio National's "All in the Mind," who's a fervent blogger and Tweeter herself. Leading the conversation is "New Inventors" judge and ABC science broadcaster, Bernie Hobbs.

This event is presented by ABC Cafe Scientific, as part of the Brisbane 'media140' conference.

Antioch College - Horace Mann Award 2011 Recipient: Robert Greenwald

Robert Greenwald, director of Brave New Films and Brave New Foundation, accepts the 2011 Horace Mann Award from Antioch College and shares with us the inspiration behind what led him to venture into political documentaries and what continues to motivate him to tell the important personal stories that are all too often eclipsed by the mainstream political discourse.

Join at bravenewfoundation.org or bravenewfilms.org to check out the latest videos and to get involved in our campaigns!

Great investigative reporter... !!! Monte

Wisconsin Protests Ramp Up With Approach of Budget Showdown, Recall Elections | The Nation

File:ScottWalker.jpgUsing a supposedly minor “budget repair bill” as his vehicle, Walker proposed to scrap most collective bargaining rights for state, county and municipal employees and teachers, to radically restructure state government to concentrate power in the governor’s office and to use that power to limit access to healthcare for working families and seniors while bartering off public assets in no-bid deals with favored corporations.

If he could pull it off, Walker told himself and his closest associates, he could be what Republicans have been looking for since the mid-1980s: a new Ronald Reagan. It was a dream he outlined In an extended conversation with a caller who he thought was billionaire conservative campaign contributor David Koch.“Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers. And, uh, I said, to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover,”Walker chirped, in the midst of a self-serving soliloquy. “And, uh, I said this may not have as broad of world implications, but in Wisconsin’s history—little did I know how big it would be nationally—in Wisconsin’s history, I said this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history. And this is why it’s so important that they were all there. I had a cabinet meeting this morning and I reminded them of that and I said for those of you who thought I was being melodramatic you now know it was purely putting it in the right context.”

Now, almost four months into the fight, Walker does not look much like a new Reagan.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a political careerist who has never taken one elected office without beginning to position himself to run for the next, made a wild play for the national stage just weeks after being sworn in last winter as a Republican governor with Republican majorities in both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature.

His anti-labor agenda has been blocked by the largest and most consistent pro-union demonstrations the United States has seen since the 1930s, along with legislative maneuvers and court orders. His personal approval ratings have flat-lined, and runs the risk of losing control of the state Senate to Democrats who are determined to block his initiatives.

Yet Walker refuses to compromise. So beholden is he to political paymasters such as the Koch brothers and the De Vos family, which has steered millions of dollars into the state to promote his extreme proposals to replace on of the nation’s strongest public education systems with voucher programs and privatization schemes, that the governor continues to pressure his legislative allies to enact a biennial budget that slashes spending for education and local services. Like his national counterpart, Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, Walker spins the fantasy that he is interested in balancing budgets. But his initiatives actually shift spending away from the public sphere and toward the accounts of major campaign contributors. To protect themselves politically, Walker and friendly legislators are busy seeding the budget proposals with anti-union proposals, which are designed to weaken organized labor as an electoral check and balance on corporate-tied Republican politicians. At the same time, they are rushing to enact draconian restrictions on voter participation and local democracy.

The governor’s “dictatorial” approach—as it has been described by the senior member of the state legislature—and his power plays have stirred a new outcry. Wisconsinites are back in the streets, camping out around the state Capitol as part of a “Walkerville” protest that takes its name from the “Hooverville” encampments of the Depression era. And they are protesting with renewed energy, massing Monday for a demonstration (led by former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold) that filled the streets around the Capitol with firefighters, police officers, state and local employees, steelworkers, students and their allies. This was the first of as serious of new demonstrations that are expected to rally tens of thousands of Wisconsinites against the governor’s budget. Already, the protests have scared Republican legislators into abandoning some aspects of the Walker agenda (assaults on care programs for seniors, recycling programs, a plan to begin privatizing the University of Wisconsin).

But Walker and the most desperate of his Republican compatriots are working overtime to implement as much of the governor’s program as possible. The reason for the aggressive push to enact unpopular programs is clear enough. Walker’s actions have so offended the voters of the state that they are preparing to remove his allies from state Senate seats and shift control of the legislative chamber from the Republicans to the Democrats. That would stall the governor’s agenda, increase the prospect that he might be recalled next January and knock him off any serious list of GOP presidential or vice presidential prospects.

Political operatives and lawyers aligned with Walker, the Republican majority in the state Senate and the state Republican Party are attempting to block the recall elections, while at the same time trying to force recall elections against Democratic senators who objected to the governor’s agenda.

It is not going well for Walker. Last week, the state Government Accountability Board (a combined elections and ethics agency) certified recall elections against the six targeted Republican senators. At the same time, the board asked for more time to review petitions that were filed against the Democratic senators—following revelations about fraudulent signature-gathering and the inclusion of the names of dead people on the petitions.

The Republicans cried foul and filed legal actions. But last Friday a circuit court judge upheld the accountability board’s position, and there is little reason to believe the Republicans will have more success in higher courts.

They will continue the delaying tactics, however, seeking to buy time to advance of the governor’s anti-labor, anti-education, anti–social services agenda as they can before their electoral judgment day. But their crude tactics are now so transparent that they have brought the people back into the streets. And the combination of protesting and political action is cornering the governor. He may still think he is the next Ronald Reagan. But he is looking more and more like Herbert Hoover every day.

Scott Walker is worst than Herbert Hoover for Wisconsin...!!!!  Monte

Dr. Cornel West: Greetings From a 21st-Century Prophet | Truthout

by: Max Eternity, Truthout

Dr. Cornel West provides illumination on the state of the nation in the intellectual sanctuary of his Princeton office (Photo: Max Eternity)

"There is a price to pay for speaking the truth. There is a bigger price for living a lie." -Dr. Cornel West

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Can America's collective economics inform who we are as a people, whereby - through obsessive bean-counting - we sculpt our destiny, tacitly sanctioning the stripping of basic dignity from fellow citizens, the erosion of civil liberties, the evisceration of public education policies, of the arts and humanities, bankrupting entire communities, tarnishing longstanding values of the populace and its self-image, thus ultimately destroying all that was once valuable to society?

For even after the world swooned from the megahype of England's latest royal wedding and the hip, hip, hurrah of President Obama's ordered assassination of Osama bin Laden, a cornucopia of catastrophic socioeconomic horrors - in addition to America's continued unpreparedness for natural disaster - still face this nation: endless war, long-term unemployment, swelling prison populations and multiple years of record-breaking home foreclosures.

All of these problems may be well on their way to becoming the new normal in the US, but they won't be here to stay if a certain brilliant, black man of prophetic word and deed can help it - namely, Dr. Cornel West.

West equates America's banking elite with gangsters and deplores President Obama's choice to surround himself with their minions - Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers et al. This well-heeled phalanx of criminals is, in West's view, to blame for many, if not most, of America's current ills.

Man of Mystery: LEGENDS - Cornel West from the Man of Mystery series (Limited-edition digital print by Max Eternity)

In a moment when the clatter and chatter of austerity economics has reached a fever pitch, West observes that some elected officials and policymakers want to take austerity to yet another level of penny-pinching belt-tightening, which almost always means cutting America's already-anemic social programs to depressed new lows of paucity. The union-busting in Wisconsin and elsewhere assures the near-irreversibility of those lows.

It would seem money is tight, except when it comes to finding $100 million a day to drop bombs on Libya. That's a peculiarity that serves as proof that, no matter how supposedly broke the country is, the American government seems to always have a blank check handy for certain things, such as the ambiguous and wildly unsuccessful war on drugs, and the war on terror.

President Obama once embodied the promise of a glorious future for this nation. In these times, however, West points out that Obama's leadership more or less represents a renaissance denied, a platform of unfulfilled assurances.

President Obama, he said in an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, is the, "black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats." Yet such criticisms come much to the chagrin of some African-American heavyweights like Al Sharpton, who recently appeared on MSNBC saying that, "too many of us are putting it all on the president," and Melissa Harris-Perry, who wrote in an article published in The Nation that many of West's comments were "utter hilarity."

West stands firmly by his remarks. For all the president's super-sophistication and caviar oration, in West's view, the enduring fact remains that almost everything Obama has chosen to put in place, such as the Summers-Geithner economic team, spells business as usual. This pattern leads to one to question: does hope minus change equal more of the same ... a la Dubya?

"To be human, you must bear witness to justice," West writes in his book, "Hope on a Tightrope," for, "[j]ustice is what love looks like in public." It's an idea that West is passionate about, even though truth and justice might seem antiquated in this waterboarding, Guantanamo Bay world where wars of aggression have become commonplace.

Nevertheless, in a podcast recorded in his Princeton University office on April 27, 2011, West dug deep into his passion for justice and his kinship and empathy for the poor and working class, and also shared what it means to be a "funkmaster." It was an electrifying conversation in which West spoke frankly about the Obama administration and the unfolding developments in Egypt and other nations of that region. He also spoke about some of the more private joys in his life, such as the particulars of his favorite musical legends. This discourse came after enjoying a shared round of homemade gourmet cookies from renowned cake masters Ellen Baumwoll and Cheryl Kleinman at Betty Bakery in Brooklyn. It was a chat that found West imparting wisdom about the critical importance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (FDR) Works Projects Administration (WPA) as an example from which America could be learning. He also provided some illumination as to why Obama has not chosen the course of reigniting FDR's grand civic plan in a way that is appropriately nuanced for today.

"For me, I come out of a black freedom movement that is on intimate terms with death," West says. "The social death of slavery ... civic death, Jim Crow ... psychic death, taught to hate ourselves ... but America," he says "is a death-dodging, death-denying, death-ducking culture - so they clash."

In the dialogue, West spoke of the power of love, too, illustrating the idea by holding up Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as both a unified field and contrasting manifestations of what love means in action:

West explains what it means to be a "funkmaster," while also commenting on America as a "death-dodging, death-ducking, death-denying culture."

West makes a comparative analysis of the respective legacies of MLK and Malcolm X.

West talks about the two forms of a new Jim Crow offered by the Democratic and Republican parties, also speaking to the "gangster-like" activities of President Obama's big-banking allies on Wall Street. West shares his understanding of casino capitalism and what he calls "turbo-capitalism." West also explains why President Obama is unlike FDR.

In this clip, West says the left in America has been pushed out to the wilderness - the "poor people demonized, poverty criminalized, trade unions scapegoated," while at the same time we saw "prophetic churches, mosques and synagogues marginalized." West comments on President Obama's choice to prop up Wall Street by placing the very people who destroyed the US economy - Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, et al. - on his economic team.

West talks about President Obama's unwillingness to make mention of poor people in his 2011 State of the Union Address and asserts that Obama's economic team has no care or concern for the poor.

Jun 6, 2011

Illinois Biochar Website-Videos


NCAA baseball: Stanford eliminates Illinois from tournament - Chicago Tribune

June 06, 2011  |By Douglas Farmer, Tribune Newspapers

FULLERTON, Calif. — Illinois needed everything to break right Sunday at the NCAA regional here just to live to play another day. Twice.

But after finding some magic to eliminate the region's top seed earlier in the day, the Illini were simply outclassed late Sunday night in a 14-2 loss to Stanford that ended Illinois season.
Starter Lee Zerrusen gave up five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in the loss. Zerrusen's misery hadcompany: Stanford had no trouble with any of the six pitchers Illinois coach Dan Hartleb trotted out, and the Cardinal ended the game with 20 hits.

"(We) kind of ran out of pitching and it got away from us," Hartleb said. "Even when it got away from us, I thought our guys played with class."

Stanford designated hitter Ben Clowe inflicted the worst of the damage, beginning the assault with a two-run home run in the third inning. Clowe launched another two-run blast in the sixth and finished with four hits, a walk, four RBIs and three runs scored.

Stanford pitcher Brian Busick snuffed out any Illinois hopes in the last two innings by striking out five of the seven batters he faced.

Illinois (30-27) had eliminated Cal-State Fullerton, 7-5, earlier Sunday, rallying to tie the game at 4 in the seventh before pulling away with a three-run eighth. That earned a date with Stanford. Had Illinois won that game, which ended about 1 a.m. Monday Chicago time, the teams would have played again Monday for a berth in the super regionals.

Illini centerfielder Willie Argo scored twice against Fullerton, and added an RBI in the fall to Stanford. Designated hitter Justin Parr knocked in the Illinois' only other run against the Cardinal. Illinois shortstop Josh Parr and rightfielder Davis Hendrickson were both named to the All-Regional team.

ILLINI BASEBALL made me proud to be an ILLINI. Look at these plays: Video: Cappetta's & Hendrickson's Top Plays of the Weekend http://bit.ly/lJaN3y ...! Monte

The failure of shareholder capitalism

The verdict is in: The Thatcher-Reagan-Blair-Clinton model of capitalism is a failure.

By cutting taxes, slashing wages and destroying unions, the U.S. was supposed to lead the world in high-tech industry. But a recent study by the Asian Development Bank found that the majority of the added value of iPhones assembled in China come from high-tech companies in Japan, Germany and South Korea, whose inputs dwarf those from American companies. For a generation we've been told that the European and Asian capitalist countries were doomed by statism and high wages. Instead, they dominate global high-tech industrial production, while the U.S. continues to be deindustrialized.

Oh, well, who needs manufacturing, anyway? Let the rest of the world make things; we'll invent them and live off the royalties. Right? Wrong. The tech sector employers only a tiny number of Americans -- and offshoring the production of goods invented here will only shrink that number further.

Most Americans work in the nontraded service sector. In the last decade, as the economist Michael Mandel has pointed out, almost all of the new jobs have been created in health, education and government, which share one characteristic in common: low productivity and rapidly escalating costs. The other big growth area, before the 2008 crash, was in the largely unproductive FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector, where high salaries enticed smart young Americans who might have manufactured useful goods and services into manufacturing the toxic financial products that brought down the world economy. The homeland of Margaret Thatcher became even more dependent on a bloated financial sector than the over-financialized U.S.

Still not convinced that the Anglo-American model of the last generation is a failure? Orthodox economists recite the dogma that if productivity goes up worker compensation will follow. But according to the economist Alan Blinder in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed titled "Our Dickensian Economy" last year, since 1978 productivity in the nonfarm business sector has grown by 86 percent, while real compensation -- wages plus benefits -- has grown only 37 percent. Take out the increased benefits, which tend to be eaten up by cancerous health insurance costs, and the real average hourly wage has not increased in 35 years.

Where have those missing gains from productivity growth gone? To a small number of rich American shareholders, CEOS and highly paid professionals, thanks to "shareholder capitalism."

Shareholder capitalism is the doctrine that companies exist solely to make money for their shareholders. It is frequently contrasted with stakeholder capitalism, which holds that companies exist for the benefit of their customers, workers and communities, not just for ever-fluctuating number of mostly remote and unengaged passive investors who just happen to own stock in them, often without even being aware that they do.

The rise of shareholder capitalism in the U.S. is often dated to an influential article in the Journal of Financial Economics in 1976, titled "Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure" by Michael C. Jensen and William H. Meckling. They argued that shareholders should demand higher returns from complacent corporate managers. The idea of shareholder value was publicized by a 1981 speech in New York by Jack Welch, who had just taken over General Electric, and by Aflred Rappaport's 1986 book "Creating Shareholder Value."

The shareholder value movement sought to persuade corporate managers to ignore the interests of all stakeholders like workers, customers and the home country, other than shareholders. Granting CEOs stock options, in addition to salaries, was supposed to align their interests with those of the shareholders.

The theory had an obvious problem: Who are the shareholders and what are their interests? Most publicly traded companies have shares that are bought and sold constantly on behalf of millions of passive investors by mutual funds and other intermediates. Some shareholders invest in a company for the long term; many others allow their shares to be bought and sold quickly by computer software programs.

Unable to identify what particular shareholders want, CEOs with the encouragement of Wall Street have treated short-term earnings as a reliable proxy for shareholder value. According to shareholder value theory, breaking up a firm and selling its pieces might maximize shareholder value in the short run more than long-term investments that would not pay off for many years. So could shutting down factories in the U.S. and turning the American branch of a global manufacturing company into an importer and vendor finance company.

While the shareholder value theory had some influence in Europe and East Asia, it never displaced the stakeholder models of capitalism that exist outside the English-speaking world. As the Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf observes: ...[T]he idea that a company is an entity that can be freely bought and sold is culturally specific. It is the view, above all, of Anglo-Americans. It is not shared in most of the rest of the world. The reason for this divergence is that, for many cultures, a company is viewed as being an enduring social entity. I once read that, for many Japanese, one can no more sell a company over the heads of its workers than one can sell one's grandmother. In this view, goods and services can be bought and sold. Companies, like countries (or, as we all now agree, people), must not be.

Only in the English-speaking world, with its tradition of radical libertarian ideology, could a head of state like Margaret Thatcher declare: "There is no such thing as society." According to a 2007 article in the Journal of Business Ethics, 31 of 34 corporate directors, each of whom served on an average of six boards of Fortune 200 corporations, agreed that their duty to shareholders would require them to cut down a mature forest or allow a dangerous, unregulated toxin into the environment, if that increased shareholder value.

Because they never wholly accepted the shareholder value ideology, other capitalist nations have not seen fit to follow the Americans and British in steering most of the gains from economic growth away from workers to CEOs and shareholders. In Europe, average CEO pay is half the American level. The average European CEO makes 25 times as much as the average employee in the same company. The ratio in the U.S. is 100 to 1.

America's most dysfunctional industries have the best-paid CEOs. The U.S. spends twice as much on healthcare as other developed nations, with no better results, and the runaway cost of medicine in the U.S. is the biggest threat to the economy in the long run. And yet a Wall Street Journal CEO compensation study in 2010 found that healthcare CEOs did much better than their equivalents in more productive industries like energy, telecom and consumer goods.

The disproportion between the compensation of American financiers and their foreign equivalents is even more grotesque. In 2008 Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, the world's fourth largest bank, was paid $19.6 million. Jiang Jianqin, the head of the world's largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, earned $234,000 -- 2 percent of Jamie Dimon's compensation.

Shareholder value capitalism in the U.S. since the 1980s has even failed in its primary purpose -- maximizing the growth in shareholder value. As Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto points out in a recent Harvard Business Review article, between 1933 and 1976 shareholders of American companies earned higher returns -- 7.6 percent -- than they have done in the age of shareholder value from 1977 to 2008 -- 5.9 percent a year.

For his part, Jack Welch has renounced the idea with which he was long associated. In a March 2009 interview with the Financial Times, the former head of GE said: "Strictly speaking, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world."

In the aftermath of the failed 40-year experiment in shareholder capitalism, Americans need not look solely to other democratic nations for models of successful stakeholder capitalism. The U.S. economy between the New Deal and the 1970s was a version of stakeholder capitalism, in which the gains from superior growth were shared with workers, CEOs were moderately paid and the rich engrossed far less of the economy. In reconnecting with America's native tradition of stakeholder capitalism, American companies can learn from the example of Johnson & Johnson, whose credo was written by Robert Wood Johnson in 1943: We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services....We are responsible to our employees, the men and women who work with us throughout the world....We are responsible to the countries in which we live and work and to the world community as well...We must be good citizens....and bear our fair share of taxes....We must maintain in good order the property we are privileged to use, protecting the environment and natural resources....Our final responsibility is to our shareholders....When we operate according to these principles, the shareholders should realize a fair return.

Michael Lind is policy director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation.

Michael Lind is Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation and is the author of "The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution."

My vote is for stakeholder capitalism...!!! Monte


Biochar Is a Valuable Soil Amendment

Biochar is a 2,000 year-old practice that converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.

Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer.

Biochar can be an important tool to increase food security and cropland diversity in areas with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and chemical fertilizer supplies.

Biochar also improves water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop utilization. More nutrients stay in the soil instead of leaching into groundwater and causing pollution.

Biochar is a Powerfully Simple Tool to Combat Climate Change

The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. Biochar is produced through pyrolysis or gasification — processes that heat biomass in the absence (or under reduction) of oxygen.

In addition to creating a soil enhancer, sustainable biochar practices can produce oil and gas byproducts that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy. When the biochar is buried in the ground as a soil enhancer, the system can become "carbon negative."

Biochar and bioenergy co-production can help combat global climate change by displacing fossil fuel use and by sequestering carbon in stable soil carbon pools. It may also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide.

We can use this simple, yet powerful, technology to store 2.2 gigatons of carbon annually by 2050. It’s one of the few technologies that is relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable. We really can’t afford not to pursue it.

Jun 5, 2011

Watch NRA heads explode: Al Qaeda spokesman urges terrorists to buy lots of guns at gun shows | Crooks and Liars

That popping sound you hear is the heads of NRA loyalists exploding from massive cognitive dissonance, all because of the release this week of a video showing a spokesman for Al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn, urging would-be jihadis to go out and stock up on as many guns as they can get their hands on -- through the gun-show loophole:

America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?

Of course, we've previously discussed how the gun-show loophole is an open invitation to criminals, particularly in the context of the the drug-cartel violence along the Mexico border, which is in fact beingheavily fueled by guns purchased legally in the USA, many of them at gun shows.

As Chris Brown at Media Matters observes:

At gun shows buyers can purchase guns from private sellers without passing a background check. An investigation by the City of New York showed that even buyers that identified themselves as people who "probably couldn't pass a background check" were able to purchase guns at gun shows. The investigation also showed the wide variety of guns available at gun shows.

In addition, people on terrorist watch lists are not forbidden from purchasing guns and many have done just that. Gadahn's instructions come in the wake of Associated Press reporting that showed that more than 200 people with suspected terrorist ties bought guns legally in the United States last year. Following the AP report Representative Mike Quigley introduced an amendment to the Patriot Act that would give the Attorney General the authority to block gun sales to individuals on terror watch lists. The amendment was voted down.

Of course, the NRA remains adamantly opposed to closing the gun-show loophole. Indeed, they also remain opposed to bipartisan efforts to make it tougher for terrorists to buy guns.

One can only conclude that they are objectively pro-terrorist.

I am all for the right to bear arms, and own many guns.  I think there should limits and rules on gun ownership.   I am anti-NRA. NRA mainly supports gun manufactures and gun sales at any costs to society. They fight "common sense" laws...  Monte