Author Archives: Delores Crane

We’re Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 2, 2014

Mother Jones

A group of US Marines learns proper blade handling techniques in the Philippines.(US Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Austin Schlosser.)

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We’re Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 2, 2014

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In Los Angeles Mall, Santas of All Types and Colors

Mother Jones

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The LA Times reports today about Langston Patterson, a black man who’s played Santa at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza since 2004:

Patterson’s place in the Christmas traditions of black families seems only to have increased as the African American population of Los Angeles continues to decline amid waves of Latino immigration. The Crenshaw mall now has both a black Santa and a Spanish-speaking Latino Santa, a nod to the demographic shift. “We make a point to stay in tune with our community,” said Rachel Erickson, the mall’s marketing director.

The Times reports that Patterson is very popular with the local community, which is thrilled that their kids grow up knowing that Santa can be black as well as white. But Patterson is a rarity. A local Santa trainer says he’s had three black pupils out of 2,200 in the past decade.

And the best part of the whole story? It’s just a story. It doesn’t mention Megyn Kelly even in passing.

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In Los Angeles Mall, Santas of All Types and Colors

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We Are Witnessing a Destruction Test of P.T. Barnum’s Philosophy of Life

Mother Jones

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So Republicans have settled on their messaging, and it’s this: Democrats are refusing to negotiate. We keep offering compromise after compromise, but Democrats won’t listen to any of them.

Will this work? The truth of a proposition has little or nothing to do with its pyschodynamics,1 so I suppose it has a chance. But it certainly shows a considerable contempt for the intelligence of the voting public. After six months of (a) refusing to meet with Senate Democrats to discuss the budget and (b) gleefully telling anyone who would listen that the shutdown and/or debt ceiling would be their ultimate leverage to force President Obama to agree to their laundry list of demands, you’d think it would be a hopeless task to pretend it was Democrats who wanted this fight all along. Add to that the fact that Democrats have already given in completely to Republican demands on spending levels, and you’d think it would be flatly impossible to pretend that Democrats were the ones refusing to negotiate.

But you never know. The fact that this is a cynical ploy doesn’t mean it won’t work. Ironically, given that Karl Rove is opposed to this strategy, it reminds me of his well-known—and frequently successful—tactic of turning an opponent’s strong points against him. Republicans are pretty universally known as the party of instransigent zealots, so let’s claim that it’s really Democrats who are the intransigent zealots! And we’ll do it by continually offering the same concession—i.e., nothing—in return for an ever-changing set of demands and pretending that this represents a sincere search for compromise. It’s so crazy it could work!

1Bonus points if you can name the fictional character who said this. No googling!

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We Are Witnessing a Destruction Test of P.T. Barnum’s Philosophy of Life

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Britain Votes Against Military Action in Syria

Mother Jones

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There will be no British support for a punitive strike against Syria:

British MPs have voted to reject possible military action against the Assad regime in Syria to deter the use of chemical weapons. A government motion was defeated 285 to 272, a majority of 13 votes.

Prime Minster David Cameron said it was clear Parliament does not want action and “the government will act accordingly”. It effectively rules out British involvement in any US-led strikes against the Assad regime.

I haven’t seen any breakdown of the vote yet, but Cameron obviously lost at least a few of his fellow Tories in addition to a large number of Labour and Lib Dem votes. Here is the U.S. response:

President Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria, administration officials said on Thursday, even with a rejection of such action by Britain’s Parliament, an increasingly restive Congress, and lacking an endorsement from the United Nations Security Council.

How very Bush-like. Or Bush-lite, I suppose.

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Britain Votes Against Military Action in Syria

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Monsanto Wins The World Food Prize

Charlene Rush


Is $10 Cold-Pressed Juice Worth the Hype?

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Monsanto Wins The World Food Prize

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PHOTOS: World’s Largest Solar Boat Sets New Record


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PHOTOS: World’s Largest Solar Boat Sets New Record

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See How Citigroup Wrote a Bill So It Could Get a Bailout

Mother Jones

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On Friday, the New York Times reported on the front page that Citigroup drafted most of a House bill that would allow banks to engage in risky trades backed by a potential taxpayer-funded bailout. The Times notes that “Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill.” Special-interest lobbyists often play a role in writing legislation on the Hill, but such sausage-making is rarely revealed to the public. In this instance, members of Congress and a band of lobbyists have been caught red-handed, and Mother Jones has obtained the Citigroup draft that is practically identical to the House bill. As you can see in the side-by-side comparison below, the lobbyists for Citigroup really earned their pay on this job.

The bill, called the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act, was approved by the House financial services committee in May and is headed for a vote on the House floor soon. It would gut a section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act called the “push-out rule.” Banks hate the push-out rule, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 13, because this provision will forbid them from trading certain derivatives (which are complicated financial instruments with values derived from underlying variables, such as crop prices or interest rates). Under this rule, banks will have to move these risky trades into separate non-bank affiliates that aren’t insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and are less likely to receive government bailouts. The bill would smother the push-out rule in its crib by permitting banks to use government-insured deposits to bet on a wider range of these risky derivatives.

Here is the key section of the legislation that Citigroup cooked up compared to the same section of the final bill:

The bill is sponsored by Republican and Democratic members—Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Richard Hudson (R-NC), and Sean Patrick Mahoney (D-NY)—and its passage would be great news for Citi and other financial titans. Five banks—Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo—control more than 90 percent of the $700 trillion derivatives market. “The big banks support the bill because it means that they’ll get to keep the public subsidy”—FDIC insurance and the implicit promise of a taxpayer bailout—”to their derivatives-dealing business,” explains Marcus Stanley, the policy director at Americans for Financial Reform.

The origins of the Citigroup proposal date back to 2011, when several large banks fought to repeal the push-out rule entirely. When it became clear that full repeal couldn’t pass, Citigroup pitched an alternative: allow banks to use FDIC-insured money to bet on almost anything they wanted. It proposed letting banks keep most types of derivatives trading in-house, requiring only that derivatives based on certain pools of assets, such as mortgages, be moved into separate entities. Citigroup was not able to get the measure passed before the end of the last Congress, but its allies on Capitol Hill reintroduced it this year.

Citi’s move to expand the types of derivatives it can trade comes as banks have increasingly been shifting derivatives out of their investment banking divisions (which aren’t backed by FDIC insurance) and into taxpayer-backed entities. “The rule is needed more than ever,” says Mike Konczal, an expert on financial reform at the Roosevelt Institute. The financial services committee passed the Citi-written bill on a 53-to-6 vote; all the no votes came from Democrats.

This is certainly not the first time that the financial industry has shaped financial reform laws for Congress. Citigroup was a central player in the 1999 repeal of the Depression-era law called the Glass-Steagall Act that forced banks not to engage in investment activities. Its lobbyists flooded Capitol Hill for that fight. “Citigroup was of course the bank that administered the coup de grace to Glass-Steagall,” says Stanley.

Citigroup’s drafting of the anti-push-out measure fits into “a long history of things being written by industry—and that generally has not worked out very well,” says Konczal. “This is very bad news.”

See how the Citigroup proposal allows more risky dealings by taxpayer-backed banks:

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See How Citigroup Wrote a Bill So It Could Get a Bailout

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Fracking waste deemed too radioactive for hazardous-waste dump

Fracking waste deemed too radioactive for hazardous-waste dump


A truck carrying fracking waste was quarantined and then sent back to where it came from after its contents triggered a radiation alarm at a Pennsylvania hazardous-waste landfill. The truck’s load was nearly 10 times more radioactive than is permitted at the dump in South Huntingdon township.

The radiation came from radium 226, a naturally occurring material in the Marcellus Shale, which being fracked for natural gas in Pennsylvania and nearby states. “Radium is a well known contaminant in fracking operations,” writes Jeff McMahon at Forbes.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Township Supervisor Mel Cornell said the MAX Environmental Technologies truck was quarantined Friday after it set off a radiation alarm at MAX’s landfill near Yukon, a 159-acre site that accepts residual waste and hazardous waste.

[Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection] spokesman John Poister confirmed the drill cutting materials from Rice Energy’s Thunder II pad in Greene County had a radiation level of 96 microrem.

The landfill must reject any waste with a radiation level that reaches 10 microrem or higher.

“It’s low-level radiation, but we don’t want any radiation in South Huntingdon,” Cornell said.

Poister said DEP instructed MAX to return the materials to the well pad where it was extracted for subsequent disposal at an approved facility.

Pennsylvania is currently studying radiation issues associated with fracking of the shale and disposal of the industry’s waste.

John Upton is a science aficionado and green news junkie who


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Fracking waste deemed too radioactive for hazardous-waste dump

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Hogwash: Big Ag’s Ban on Caging Pregnant Pigs Is Just For Show

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Among all the various dodgy aspects of factory-style meat production, the use of tight cages to confine pregnant female pigs surely ranks among the most awful. The hog industry isn’t keen on displaying this practice to the public, but in 2010, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) planted a camera-toting undercover investigator in a hog facility run by Smithfield Foods, the globe’s largest hog producer and pork processor. You can read the report here, but you can’t beat the video for sheer visceral effect:

In the wake of the exposé, Smithfield saw fit to recommit itself to phasing out the practice in its own hog-production facilities by 2017. (The company had made a similar pledge in 2007 and backed off from it in 2009, claiming that financial losses in its hog-production business made the capital investments necessary for the transition too expensive.) In 2012, its rival Hormel made a similar pledge; and Cargill, another massive pork processor and hog producer, says that it has already phased out gestation stalls in half of its hog facilities. A raft of high-profile companies that use pork in their products—including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Subway, Oscar Mayer, Kroger, Safeway, Costco, Denny’s, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sodexo, Sysco, ARAMARK, and Bon Appétit Management—have promised to stop buying from suppliers who treat pigs in this fashion. And no fewer than nine states have banned the practice, HSUS reports.

So, gestation crates are on the way out, right? Well, maybe not. Consider that the states that have banned the practice do not include Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois, or Indiana—the five that produce 85 percent of US hogs. The ban on gestation crates in Rhode Island is a nice gesture, but not likely to move the industry. Given the power the meat industry wields in these hog-heavy states, it’s hard to imagine such a ban in, say, Iowa.

Now check out this column by Rick Berman, a notorious PR hired gun whose past clients include Big Tobacco, in the industry trade journal Pork Network. If the piece is any indication of the pork industry’s commitment to banning sow crates, then the practice seems pretty entrenched for the long haul. Berman is a battle-scarred veteran of pork-industry battles. During its nasty and ultimately failed fight to stave off unionization at its vast Tar Heel pork-processing facility, Smithfield hired Berman to roll out TV commercials trashing union leaders, Bloomberg reported last year. And Berman’s Center for Consumer Freedom even runs a website dedicated to “Keeping a watchful eye on the Humane Society of the US.”

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Hogwash: Big Ag’s Ban on Caging Pregnant Pigs Is Just For Show

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The Mysteries Of Organic Gardening Revealed

[I:]Begin Organic Gardening

Organic gardening may be viewed like a pastime or even a more wholesome means of growing your own foodstuff with no usage of pesticides and fertilizers. Having said that, beginners often need to have a couple of suggestions to get started. How need to a beginner gardener get going? All you might have to complete is go through the next tips.

Gardeners who will be intrigued through the concepts of organic and sustainable approaches must take into consideration designating a part of their landscape to assist native plants and animals. Specified wildlife can be good for an organic and natural garden; birds and bugs will help your vegetation reproduce and become as healthy as they might be!

Making ready The Soil For Organic Gardening

When you find yourself mulching, use 3 inches of natural and organic resources. If you do that, you help save income by conserving the amount of h2o you use, and it also assists out the setting inside the process at the same time. Being an added bonus, it typically seems extremely rather.

An excessive amount of h2o could harm crops because added drinking water can preserve roots from obtaining the vitamins and minerals they want through the soil. Just before watering your outside plants, you need to verify with weather stations to find out if it will likely be raining afterwards while in the day. If rain is on its way, you’re possibly secure to skip watering responsibilities to the working day.

A large portion of organic gardening is paying out shut interest for the amount of h2o that is employed. Check out a soaker hose with your garden. These are in a position to drinking water the plant base immediately, which would help slow down dampness decline due to evaporation. The early early morning hrs are classified as the best the perfect time to drinking water plants.

In an effort to increase the effectiveness of the organic gardening, guarantee your gardening tools are held shut by you. Carry a sizable bucket with you or wear trousers having a large amount of pockets. You should be in a position to do your backyard perform rapidly in case you preserve a trowel, gloves, tiny pruning shears, as well as other handy gadgets near to you personally.

If you are organic gardening, request your sons or daughters to help. Gardens are fantastic educating resources for youths, and provide great chances for interaction, growth, and instruction on healthier living.

Enrich The Soil For Organic Gardening

Chop up remainders of veggies from supper and feed them to the yard, fairly compared to trash. These veggies decay swiftly, which then leech crucial vitamins into your new plants which can be increasing. In addition to tossing it into the compost, use leftover natural materials in the garden.

Every year rotate your backyard. Once the same vegetation occupy a location inside your backyard garden for a few years within a row, it might direct for the improvement of fungi and ailment. These plant enemies could become stored within the floor, ready to attack your crops the following calendar year. Once you rotate your crops, fungus and condition have less chance to distribute.

Gardening of any type can be a excellent pastime that can help you to definitely feel more at one together with the earth, but organic gardening is particularly very good at this. You are going to be a witness in the growing process of several distinct vegetation and understand how an entire ecosystem capabilities.

Old laundry baskets are helpful instruments at harvest time. This can be just like a strainer for your generate. Rinse the item off even though it truly is while in the basket to ensure that any extra h2o can strain through the laundry basket’s holes.

Pine Needles

For many plants, pine needles helps make a great mulch. A lot of sorts of vegetation thrive in soil which includes substantial acid amounts. Pine needles are a great form of mulch for these kinds of plants. Simply add a layer of pine needles a couple of inches deep for the plant beds. The needles will decompose in excess of time and provide the soil with acidity.

Natural foods are beneficial because they haven’t been contaminated by pesticides. Obviously, natural generate is way more healthy, however, you should still thoroughly rinse it before use.

You ought to now understand the amount of entertaining and how enjoyable gardening could be. Organic gardening may be an immensely gratifying interest. Making use of the recommendation you’ve study in this particular report, you’re now completely ready to begin organic gardening.

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