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Environmental Scientist

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Senate panel sets hearing on Keystone XL

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline next week.

The hearing, announced Tuesday, will be the first one held by new chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Notice of the hearing comes as Republicans are gearing up to take control of the Senate.

Before the end of the 113th Congress, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said legislation approving the $8 billion oil sands project would be the first item brought to the floor by the GOP in January.


Given gas prices nothing is going to go through that pipe, even if built.

NRA-Backed Law Spells Out When Indianans May Open Fire on Police

Two years ago this happened:

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a state law this year that allows residents to use deadly force in response to the “unlawful intrusion” by a “public servant” to protect themselves and others, or their property.

Every time police Sergeant Joseph Hubbard stops a speeder or serves a search warrant, he says he worries suspects assume they can open fire -- without breaking the law.

Hubbard, a 17-year veteran of the police department in Jeffersonville, Indiana, says his apprehension stems from a state law approved this year that allows residents to use deadly force in response to the “unlawful intrusion” by a “public servant” to protect themselves and others, or their property.

“If I pull over a car and I walk up to it and the guy shoots me, he’s going to say, ‘Well, he was trying to illegally enter my property,’” said Hubbard, 40, who is president of Jeffersonville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 100. “Somebody is going get away with killing a cop because of this law.”

Indiana is the first U.S. state to specifically allow force against officers, according to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in Washington, which represents and supports prosecutors. The National Rifle Association pushed for the law, saying an unfavorable court decision made the need clear and that it would allow homeowners to defend themselves during a violent, unjustified attack. Police lobbied against it.



So when will we see Police turning their backs on Mitch, and NRA members? When does the work stoppage in Indiana begin?

Not the Onion: Monsanto Tries Patenting Natural Tomatoes


Many individuals are aware that biotech has developed a seed monopoly largely by patenting genetically modified organisms, but not everyone realizes that Monsanto tried to patent a tomato that had no biotech traits. Now, the European Patent Office (EPO), with help from an international coalition, No Patents on Seeds!, has revoked Monsanto’s fraudulent patent and claim to tomatoes that are naturally resistant to a fungal disease called botrytis.

These natural, non-GMO tomatoes, like many healthy plants, have a natural resistance to certain pests. In this case, a fungal disease, but this is not a novel phenomenon. Why Monsanto would try to claim they created it is about as believable as Syngenta or Dow saying they invented the sun.

Though plant breeders can help plants develop this natural pest resistance, much of it is innate – the same as our own immune systems. When individual plants reproduce, they pass along exceptional combinations of genes to their offspring. Varying environments (such as cold, or dry, moist or breezy) favor individuals with different physical and behavioral traits. Individual plants with genes that improve their survival will be more likely to pass along these genes compared to the rest of the population.

- See more at: http://naturalsociety.com/new-level-monsanto-tries-patenting-natural-tomatoes/

49 Tremendous Things That Florida Men Accomplished This Year

By Sophie Kleeman

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more perfect caricature of America's wildest, bawdiest and most unintelligible impulses than Florida Man.

As the Internet's most notorious citizen, Florida Man isn't a single person, let alone a single resident of Florida. He's an amalgamation of the characters who populate the ridiculous news stories that often trickle out of the Sunshine State. Florida Man is a raunchier version of the Onion's mild-mannered Area Man, a caricature, with a wink and a nod, to our fellow Americans.

Florida Man is best known for his outlandish conduct, which ranges from the bizarre (carrying a meth lab in his pants) to the terrifying (trying to ignite a "race war" near Disney World). His batshit crazy antics are frequently documented on the Twitter account @_FloridaMan with headlines like "Hospital Nearly Burns Down After Florida Man on Oxygen Tank Tries to Smoke Crack in ICU" and "Florida Man Firebombs Boss' Truck Because Meth."

In short, Florida Man is America's id. And although he hails from the nation's wang, Florida Man embodies America's deepest and darkest desires — and does so with reckless abandon. Jalopnik's Patrick George described him best as "America's worst superhero" in 2013: "Whoever this Florida Man is, he's clearly insane and unstoppable. He feels no pain, has no ethics, and is capable of feats far beyond that of normal American man. It almost sounds like Florida Man is a superhero — just a really terrible one."

As 2014 comes to a close, it's time to salute the best and brightest of this year's class of Florida Men.

1. Florida Man attempts to smoke crack in ICU, almost burns down hospital.



Play-Doh Is Doing Damage Control for Accidentally Manufacturing a Dil-Doh

Thought you were too old to play with Play-Doh? Think again, because their latest toy is fun for all ages! It’s a fun-sized plastic dildo with an identity crisis, claiming on the box to be a “Cake Mountain icing topper.” Clearly those dirty liberals running Cake Mountain are all about starting sex ed early.

Now parents have their panties in a twist because obviously three-year-olds are going to immediately recognize this icing piper’s resemblance to male genitalia. Play-Doh’s Facebook managers are exercising some serious damage control, though not in the way they teach you in Social Media 101. They’re just deleting every angry comment about how Play-Doh’s major manufacturing diddle has totally RUINED CHRISTMAS.

Luckily Twitter exists. And for now, so does the Dil-Doh. If size doesn’t matter and you’re a lady on a budget, it’s a helluva lot cheaper than the Crave Duet Lux — and, for the record, far less terrifying than Teddy Love.



College student-athlete unionization now illegal in Michigan

LANSING — It’s now illegal for student-athletes at Michigan’s public universities and colleges to join a union after Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Act 414 into law Tuesday.

The Michigan Legislature passed the law, formerly House Bill 6074, during the "lame-duck" session, which ended on Dec. 19. Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, introduced the bill in early December.

Detractors criticized the ban as a solution without a problem, as there has been no talk from athletes at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University or the state's other public colleges and universities of unionizing. Supporters said the ban would simply reinforce the idea that student-athletes are students first and should be focused on the classroom rather than their athletic pursuits.

Public Act 414 officially “excludes college athletes from the definition of ‘public employees’ who are entitled to collectively bargain,” according to a release from Snyder’s office.


Same day UM hires Jim Harbaugh for 37 million…..

The Politics of Drinking Water

On January 9, 2014, American Water warned 300,000 customers in and around Charleston, West Virginia, that local tap water was no longer safe. Ten thousand gallons of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM), a chemical used to clean coal, had leaked from a rusty holding tank into the Elk River, upstream of the water treatment facility. State officials warned that exposure to the licorice-scented solvent could cause “burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering.” Given the paucity of information on MCHM’s effect on the human body, no one could predict the long-term consequences of exposure.

Within 24 hours, a mayor’s convention was cancelled, restaurants were shut down, and public schools were closed. Traffic clogged around the South Charleston Recreation Center, where the fire department distributed free cases of water, limited to one per vehicle. Its cache was depleted within hours. Bottled water supplies vanished. The National Guard delivered tanks of potable water and FEMA promised additional truckloads. When water shipments arrived at a local Wal-Mart, demand was so high that nervous employees called the cops, requesting guards to stand by while they restocked shelves.

It’s no surprise that the West Virginia leak, the more recent Duke Energy coal ash spill, or the newest BP oil rupture rile consumers. Hydration isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Providing access to clean water is a fundamental measure of effective government. When water goes bad, so do political relations. After the MCHM spilled, West Virginia officials made a series of conflicting statements. Two days after Governor Earl Ray Tomblin began lifting the do-not-use order on local taps, the U.S. Center for Disease Control advised that pregnant women continue to avoid Charleston water. In response, Gov. Tomblin back-pedaled: “It’s a very complicated issue,” he said. “I’m not a scientist.”



“Bernie Sanders for President? You Frickin’ Kidding Me? "

There were a few changes in that same speech Bernie ­Sanders freely admits he’s been giving for the past four decades, give or take a j’accuse or two.

Beginning in 1981, when he was first elected as the democratic-socialist mayor of Burlington, a.k.a. “the ­People’s Republic of Burlington,” the only U.S. city then maintaining a pro–Nicaragua-­Sandinista foreign policy, Bernie, as he is universally known there, often railed against “the ruling class.” These days, with the condition-red Republican hegemony hard upon the land, the 73-year-old U.S. senator has upped the ante, going with “the billionaire class.” Likewise, well-worn jeremiads against the Rockefellers, big oil, and the Bush neocon cabal have been replaced by broadsides decrying corporate media and the moneybag Koch brothers, Chuck and Dave, wielders of the Citizens United truncheon.

“The Koch brothers say, ‘Oh, you want to run for the Senate?’ ” Sanders thundered during a recent speech in New Hampshire, the early presidential-primary state where prospective candidate Sanders has been spending a good deal of time of late. “ ‘Okay,’ ” Sanders continued. “ ‘Here’s your hundred million dollars. Here’s your speech. … You’re not an elected official, you’re an employee.’ …Does their greed know any bounds?”

The question is rhetorical. Almost everything Bernie Sanders says, in his incongruous Brooklyn-deli-man accent that dates to his 1940s Flatbush upbringing, is rhetorical. Small talk and false ­ingratiations are not his thing.



Ted Cruz is billed as a Passover vacation attraction

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a likely Republican presidential candidate and a vocal pro-Israel hawk, is being advertised as a featured attraction at a string of ritzy resort vacation getaways catering to religious Jews.

Cruz, along with several rabbis, is listed as a speaker at four different vacation spots, including Aspen, over Passover, the spring holiday that honors the freeing of enslaved Jews in Egypt. The Prime Hospitality Group is the company behind the offers, according to an email solicitation shared with POLITICO.

“4 Questions. 4 Cups of Wine. 4 Sons. And 4 Luxurious Prime Passover Programs,” the invitation reads. “All featuring unparalleled service and The Prime Group’s legendary cuisine.”

A Cruz adviser insisted he’s speaking at only one event, although Prime Hospitality’s ads suggest he’ll be at getaways in Westlake Village and Monarch Beach in California; Aspen, Colorado; and in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/ted-cruz-is-billed-as-a-passover-vacation-attraction-113870.html

McCain's big purge

The Arizona senator’s team has been ridding the state’s GOP apparatus of his tea party foes.
By ALEX ISENSTADT 12/30/14 5:33 AM EST

Nearly a year ago, tea party agitators in Arizona managed to get John McCain censured by his own state party. Now, he’s getting his revenge.

As the longtime Republican senator lays the groundwork for a likely 2016 reelection bid, his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies.

The ambitious effort — detailed to POLITICO by nearly a dozen McCain operatives, donors, and friends — has stretched from office buildings in Alexandria, Virginia, where strategists plotted and fundraisers collected cash for a super PAC, to Vietnamese-American communities across Arizona, where recruiters sought out supporters eager to help the incumbent defeat the tea party.

Team McCain’s goal? Unseat conservative activists who hold obscure, but influential, local party offices.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/john-mccain-arizona-tea-party-113849.html
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