Author Archives: Aaron Doolsey

How to Grow Fruit All Year Round

Have you ever wanted to taste an apple that you grew yourself? Luckily, this isn’t a luxury reserved for orchard owners. This infographic from Happy to Survive gives all the details you need to start your very own fruit bearing plants. Read the infographic to found out just how long you have to wait before you can eat the fruit and what the best time of year to plant specific fruits is. You’ll literally get to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Infographic via Happy to Survive

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Grow Fruit All Year Round

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Republicans confirm they don’t know squat about science

Don’t ask me

Republicans confirm they don’t know squat about science

John Boehner’s Flickr feed

House Speaker John Boehner — not a scientist

GOP politicians are using a new tactic when they talk about climate change: playing dumb.

As the Huffington Post reports, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told journalists on Thursday that he’s “not qualified to debate the science over climate change” — but he does know that Obama’s “prescription for dealing with changes in our climate” involves hurting the economy and “killing” American jobs.

This isn’t a wholly new approach, as Climate Progress point out:

“I’m not a scientist,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2009, his first in a long line of statements denying climate change. “I’m not sure, I’m not a scientist,” Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) said of climate change in 2010 (Grimm changed his mind on the issue this past April).

The tactic is an interesting (and seemingly effective) way for politicians to avoid acknowledging or denying the reality of climate change while still getting to fight against any regulation to stop it.

Politico has more recent examples:

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott has offered the response “I am not a scientist” on multiple occasions when the topic has come up lately. Even the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, who have put big money into fighting President Barack Obama’s energy and climate policies, disclaimed any pretense at scientific know-how when wealthy climate activist Tom Steyer challenged them to a debate on climate change.

“We are not experts on climate change,” Koch spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia said in an email to The Wichita Eagle this month. She added, “The debate should take place among the scientific community, examining all points of view and void of politics, personal attacks and partisan agendas.”

While some Republican politicians and their fossil-fuel overlords might be shying away from public attacks on climate science, they’re not shying away from public attacks on climate action. They are already attacking the new climate rules that President Obama plans to announce on Monday. They would rather doom us all to climate chaos than help the nation switch over to renewable energy — and that really is dumb.

John Boehner: ‘I’m Not Qualified To Debate The Science Over Climate Change’, The Huffington Post
Republicans on climate science: Don’t ask us, Politico
Boehner Says He’s ‘Not Qualified’ To Talk About Climate Science. Here’s How Scientists Responded., Climate Progress

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

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Aussie farmers to be paid to store carbon in soil

Aussie farmers to be paid to store carbon in soil

Haydyn Bromley

Climate protection is getting down and dirty Down Under.

Soil serves as a great reservoir for carbon, yet it’s often overlooked in climate protection efforts. That’s changing in Australia, where farmers will soon be able to earn cash for projects that store carbon in the soil — such as tree plantings, dung beetle releases, and composting. Aussie farmers are already eligible to make money by reducing greenhouse gas pollution from livestock, manure, and rice fields.

Australia’s environment minister announced Tuesday that farmers could start applying for payments for soil carbon storage in July.

The government considers the replenishment of carbon in soil to be one of the cheapest and best ways of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions — although federal scientists recently concluded that it could only provide “low levels of greenhouse gas abatement.”

The money for payments to farmers will come from the country’s Emissions Reduction Fund — which is climate-denying Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s planned replacement for a nascent carbon tax. Having the government pay for projects that reduce CO2 might be a nice idea, but not when it comes at the expense of having polluters pay for their emissions. And the emissions reduction fund has been criticized by experts as a potentially ineffective corporate handout.

Graziers now able to tap carbon farming, Reuters
Soil carbon storage incentive, The Land

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

Find this article interesting? Donate now to support our work.Read more: Climate & Energy


Aussie farmers to be paid to store carbon in soil

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You’ve Got Snail Mail! Handwritten Letters to Mother Jones, Vol. 1

Mother Jones

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And you thought letter writing was a lost art? Mother Jones still receives handwritten letters every day, and not all of them are from prisoners or crazy people. In any case, they just pile up. We no longer publish letters in the print magazine, and our communications are largely digital these days. We also don’t have the staff bandwidth (if you’ll pardon the internet jargon) to respond to our digital trolls, let alone our snail-mail ones. And yet every day I walk past that stack of letters and wonder what it contains. I decided to read a handful each day, or skim them at least, and share some choice excerpts with all y’all.

Mother Jones Snail Mail, Volume 1

April 2013
Dear Mother Jones,
I haven’t heard anything again in the news regarding the “house in a residential neighborhood” that neighbors (CA) complained had a lot of Chinese pregnant women paying to have their babies there so they would have US citizenship. It sounded to me like a sure-fire way to build sleeper cells. Worth investigating?
—JPH, Washington, DC

May 2013
President, Foundation for National Progress,
The “Truth” is that despite your Assertions/claims that “your hard hitting investigative journalism” is Accurate and Factual—you are delusional self congratulating Fools. When I see distortions and outright lies being printed about firearms, firearm , 2nd amendment Rights Groups and organizations, your credibility about other issues you print material about becomes untrustworthy as to veracity. Good bye you San Francisco “Tootie Frooty” Assholes located in the “land of Fruits and Nuts” (California).

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You’ve Got Snail Mail! Handwritten Letters to Mother Jones, Vol. 1

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EPA Chief on Coal, Climate Denial, and the Red Sox

Mother Jones

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This story first appeared on the Grist website and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

It’s been a long time coming, but, finally, the EPA is going to begin tackling carbon pollution from the world’s single greatest contributor to climate change—the U.S. power sector.

Under draft rules announced on Friday, new coal power plants will have to be a whole lot cleaner than the ones we’ve got today. In fact, thanks also to market conditions, new coal plants might not get built at all. Perhaps most important, the draft rules lay the foundation for a bigger move to cut emissions from already-existing coal-fired power plants, a plan due to be unveiled in June 2014.

In an interview with Grist, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the proposed regulations for new plants are not intended to push coal out of the energy mix. Still, the standards are pretty strict. The EPA had released an earlier version of them in March of last year, then decided to rework them, but this new set of regs still takes a hard line with coal.

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EPA Chief on Coal, Climate Denial, and the Red Sox

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Who Still Does Third-Trimester Abortions?

Mother Jones

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After Tiller

Inside Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic

South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers

GOP Bill Would Force IRS to Conduct Abortion Audits

Behind the Right’s Fetal-Pain Push

The House GOP’s Plan to Redefine Rape

One can understand the decision of the expectant mother after she learns that even if her baby were to survive delivery, his life would be short and marred by seizures and suffering. One can sympathize with the god-fearing couple whose unborn child is revealed to have terrible deformities and little hope for any real quality of life. And it’s not difficult to comprehend the choice of the young woman who became pregnant after being raped. But then there are the women who just waited—in denial, out of fear, or for some other private reason. No matter the case, the decision to undergo a late-term abortion is a complex moral dilemma for patients and doctors alike.

After the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller in a Wichita, Kansas church, only four doctors continued to provide third trimester abortions openly in the United States. After Tiller, a politically charged yet tender portrait by filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson, tells us the stories of these doctors (LeRoy Carhart, Warren Hern, Susan Robinson, and Shelley Sella), who perform their duties under the very real threat of assassination.

The process of third-trimester abortion is especially wrenching. The practitioners must euthanize the fetus in utero by injecting a drug into its heart, and then induce labor so the woman can deliver a stillborn child. Some families hold funerals, saying hello and goodbye to their baby in the same devastating moment. In the film, one couple takes home tiny hand and foot prints.

Many Americans consider third-trimester abortion homicide; in a December 2012 Gallup poll, only 14 percent of respondents said it should be legal. This past June, in fact, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest, and where the health of the woman is endangered. The Senate won’t even consider the legislation, and the White House has indicated it would veto such a bill. Still, 11 states have enacted similar abortion bans; Arizona even narrowed the window to 18 weeks, although the courts have blocked it and two other states from enforcing these laws, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

After Tiller demonstrates that these doctors—protégés, peers, and friends of the murdered abortion provider—understand better than anyone that their profession skirts a morally ambiguous line. At the same time, it succeeds at showing why their work is desperately, vitally important.

In medical school, Warren Hern started out as an obstetrician because he loved delivering babies, calling it a joyful and miraculous experience. Then he did a stint in the Peace Corps in an impoverished part of Brazil, working with post-natal women and also women recovering from illegal abortions—nearly half of whom died, he told the filmmakers. He also saw the horrible abuse of children born to parents who didn’t want them or who were unprepared to care for them. “I’ve looked at this from the beginning as a public health issue,” he says.

The film portrays LeRoy Carhart as being most in the crosshairs of anti-abortion protesters who alternately plead and pray or heckle and harass his clinic’s patients and staff. In February, shortly after the film debuted at Sundance, one of his patients died from complications related to an abortion procedure. Although the police filed no charges after investigating the case, the woman’s death sparked fresh outrage among anti-abortion groups. Carhart is now on the short list of abortion doctors targeted by Operation Rescue, whose senior policy advisor, Cheryl Sullenger, served prison time for plotting to blow up an abortion clinic in the 1980s. While the group doesn’t openly advocate for violence against abortion providers or patients, Sullenger’s phone number was found in possession of Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Tiller.

Although it is a woman’s choice whether to have an abortion, a doctor ultimately must agree to do the procedure. Here’s how Susan Robinson, one of the doctors profiled, justifies her decision to heed her patients’ wishes:

What I believe is women are able to struggle with complex ethical issues and arrive at the right decision for themselves and their families. They are the world’s expert on their own lives. So if somebody comes in and says, “I want an abortion,” whether or not she is articulate about it, let alone she has a great story to tell, isn’t the point. The point is that she has made this decision…For me, if I’m going to turn down a patient it should be because I think it’s not safe to take care of her. I think that is really the only reason that it’s fair to turn a patient down.

After Tiller opens in theaters in New York City on September 20. Check here for other screenings.

Also read: Meet Chicken & Egg Pictures, the driving force behind women-produced films like After Tiller.


Who Still Does Third-Trimester Abortions?

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Ohio lawmakers who oppose fracking tax have gotten lots of money from frackers

Ohio lawmakers who oppose fracking tax have gotten lots of money from frackers

bill baker

This Ohioan opposes fracking, but she is not a lawmaker.

Oil and gas companies have been on a fracking spree in Ohio for a couple of years now, but they’re not bringing many jobs to the state, so Republican Gov. John Kasich has been trying to get them to give back in another way: via a fracking tax.

Under Kasich’s proposal, revenue from the fracking tax would be used to reduce income taxes, an idea that proved overwhelmingly popular with voters, including many Republicans. And the tax would be in line with those imposed by most other oil- and gas-producing states, Kasich said.

But GOP members of the state legislature have repeatedly blocked the tax from being enacted. Why are they standing in the way? The Cincinnati Enquirer has a theory:

If campaign contributions are any measure of influence, the oil and gas industry played an important part in the outcome.

An Enquirer analysis has found that 10 of the largest oil and natural gas companies and their main political action committee have pumped more than $660,000 into Ohio legislators’ campaign coffers since 2010.

They’ve given mostly to Republicans, who got 91.5 percent of oil and gas contributions, and most often to Republicans in Ohio’s House, who would later decide the fate of the fracking tax.

House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, alone got more than $227,000 — about $1 of every $10 he raised — from oil and gas companies, PACs and individual donors with ties to the industry.

Kasich says he’ll keep pushing for the tax. Unfortunately, the oil and gas lobby is sure to keep pushing against it — and they’ve got a really big war chest.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

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The Supreme Court Just Made It Easier for Big Business to Screw the Little Guy

Mother Jones

In a little-known case called American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the Supreme Court today issued yet another decision making it easier for big corporations to use their market power to screw over consumers and small businesses. Thursday’s 5-3 decision affirmed the right of big corporations to use mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts to force small businesses to challenge monopolistic practices in private arbitration rather than through class actions in court. The case shows once again that the conservative majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, has no problem with judicial activism when it comes to bolstering corporate power.

Here’s the background on this decision:

The case, Italian Colors v. American Express,was brought by a California Italian restaurant and a group of other small businesses that tried to sue the credit card behemoth for antitrust violations. They allege Amex used its monopoly power to force them to accept its bank-issued knock-off credit cards as a condition of taking regular, more elite American Express cards—and then charging them 30 percent higher fees for the privilege.

The small businesses’ claims were pretty small individually, not more than around $5,000 per shop. So, to make their case worth enough for a lawyer to take it, they banded together to file a class action on behalf of all small businesses affected by the practice. In response, Amex invoked the small print in its contract with them: a clause that not only banned the companies from suing individually but also prevented them from bringing a class action. Instead, Amex insisted the contract required each little businesses to submit to the decision of a private arbitrator paid by Amex, and individually press their claims. (Arbitration is heavily stacked in favor of the big companies, as you can read more about here and here.)

The restaurants estimated, with good evidence, that because of the market research required to press an antitrust case, arbitration would cost each of them almost $1 million to collect a possible maximum of $38,000, making it impossible to bring their claims at all. After a lot of litigation, the little guys prevailed in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because it prevented the plaintiffs from having their claims heard in any forum. The court said the arbitration contract should be invalidated and that the class action should go forward in a regular courtroom. (Sonia Sotomayor sat on one of the appeals before heading to the high court and is recusing herself from the case as a result.)

The 2nd Circuit repeatedly voted in favor of the merchants. It heard the case at least three times, including once after the high court reversed its original decision in favor of the restaurants, and it seemed fairly united in its belief that the Amex contract was unenforceable. But the Roberts Court has been no friend of small businesses or consumers, particularly those seeking to bring class actions against big companies. The court’s conservative majority has made class action litigation much harder to bring, mostly notably in 2011 when it struck down a huge sex discrimination case brought by 1.5 million women working at Walmart.

That’s one reason public interest lawyers have sounded the alarm about the Amex case for a year, noting that, given the court’s current makeup, the case had potentially awful implications for anyone ripped off while using a credit card or cellphone and for small businesses trying to fend off corporate monopolies.

In an amicus brief submitted in this case on the side of the small businesses, lawyers for AARP, Public Justice, and the American Association for Justice warned that if the court sided with Amex, “statutes intended by Congress to protect weaker parties against stronger parties will essentially be gutted. Small businesses might as well move to a different country where they no longer enjoy the protection of the antitrust laws. At the whim of an employer, workers could be required to prospectively waive their Title VII anti-discrimination rights. Consumer protection laws such as the Truth in Lending Act could be silently, but inescapably, repealed by corporations with the stroke of a pen.”

Indeed, if the court ruled that Amex could use an arbitration clause in a contract with a much less powerful party to escape punishment under the Sherman Antitrust Act, there’s no reason why a big company couldn’t create contracts that prevent people from filing sex discrimination, consumer fraud, or other similar claims in any venue. Laws that Congress passed to protect the public could simply be voided through artfully written arbitration clauses that create expensive hurdles to pressing a claim.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion in the Amex case, seems to believe that this isn’t a problem. He said that the law doesn’t entitle every potential plaintiff a cheap route into court, noting that litigation outside arbitration is expensive, too, a fact that can keep people from exercising their legal rights. His argument boils down to this: The Federal Arbitration Act, a 1925 maritime law that the court has broadened to cover just about everything, trumps every other law on the books. So if a big company breaks the law and screws you, but you signed a contract with an arbitration clause giving away your right to sue or bring class action, you don’t have a case, even if federal law says you do.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas invoked the fiction that the contract Italian Colors signed agreeing to arbitrate its claims individually with Amex was voluntary. But anyone who’s ever tried to open a bank account knows it’s virtually impossible to engage in commerce these days without being forced to sign a contract in which you forego your right to sue the company if it rips you off.

Justice Elena Kagan gets this point. In her biting dissent aimed squarely at Scalia, she called the majority opinion a “betrayal of our precedents and of federal statutes like antitrust laws.” She observed that the court would never uphold an arbitration agreement that explicitly banned merchants from bringing an antitrust claim, yet that’s effectively what the Amex contract does by compelling merchants to give up the option of class actions in court. She noted that by ignoring several precedents, the majority is providing companies “every incentive to draft their agreements to extract backdoor waivers of statutory rights.” That is, they will use contracts to immunize themselves from laws they don’t like.

Kagan was blunt: “If the arbitration clause is enforceable, Amex has insulated itself from antitrust liability—even if it has in fact violated the law. The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse. And here is the nutshell version of today’s opinion, admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad.”

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The Supreme Court Just Made It Easier for Big Business to Screw the Little Guy

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24 Surprising Uses for Salt

Isabella Linde


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24 Surprising Uses for Salt

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Who Will Immigration Reform Help More? Republicans or Democrats?

Mother Jones

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The other day I was idly wondering whether immigration reform would be better for Republicans or Democrats. Politically, it’s a zero-sum game, so it can’t be both. And if, in the end, supporting immigration reform doesn’t improve GOP electoral prospects, why should they bother supporting it?

Today, Andrew Gelman points to a piece written a couple of months ago by Alex Engler that takes a look at just this question. Engler assumed a voter turnout of 42 percent and then examined the 20 congressional districts for each party that were most likely to switch sides based on shifts in the Hispanic vote:

Based on this data, a dramatic shift in Hispanic support toward Democrats would have yielded startlingly small gains in the House. Under the 42 percent Hispanic voting scenario, a 10 percentage point shift toward Democrats would net only one additional seat….Conversely, shifts away from Democrats by Hispanics could be devastating. Under the 42 percent scenario….a 10 percentage point shift to the right would have handed Republicans 12 seats.

The basic insight here is that Democrats already get such a high percentage of the Hispanic vote that another few points wouldn’t do them much good. But just the opposite is true for Republicans. The chart on the right shows this graphically. The area outlined in yellow represents congressional districts that are (a) heavily Hispanic and (b) in play. There are only a few currently in Republican hands, so even if immigration reform helps Democrats, it won’t do them much good. But there are about 20 currently in Democratic hands. If depriving Democrats of immigration reform as an issue hurts them, Republicans could make significant gains.

This doesn’t answer the question of which party immigration reform is likely to help. What it does say is that it’s a no-lose proposition for Republicans. Even if it turns out to help Democrats more, Republicans aren’t likely to suffer much because of it.

Of course, as Engler points out, the fact that immigration reform is likely to help the Republican Party doesn’t mean that it’s likely to help very many individual Republicans:

Most incumbent Republicans will not have a strong incentive to vote for an immigration bill containing a path to citizenship if a significant Hispanic population appears to be lacking in their districts. In fact, many conservatives may be far more concerned about primary challengers than Hispanic backlash.

On the other hand, the Republican Party as a whole has a tremendous opportunity to turn districts in their favor. If they can redefine themselves to the Hispanic population, starting with comprehensive immigration reform, they will be doing more than pouring water on the DCCC’s gunpowder—they will be stealing it for themselves.

This suggests that GOP party leaders probably should push hard to get Republican support for immigration reform. It also means that if they don’t push hard, it’s pretty likely to fail. It’s an interesting analysis.

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Who Will Immigration Reform Help More? Republicans or Democrats?

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