Archive for November 27, 2010

A Minnesota Farmer Begs Us to Pay Attention to Climate Change

Wow, this is an amazing piece of writing by Jack Hedin, a farmer in Minnesota:

An Almanac of Extreme Weather

THE news from this Midwestern farm is not good. The past four years of heavy rains and flash flooding here in southern Minnesota have left me worried about the future of agriculture in America’s grain belt. For some time computer models of climate change have been predicting just these kinds of weather patterns, but seeing them unfold on our farm has been harrowing nonetheless.


In August 2007, a series of storms produced a breathtaking 23 inches of rain in 36 hours. The flooding that followed essentially erased our farm from the map. Fields were swamped under churning waters, which in places left a foot or more of debris and silt in their wake. Cornstalks were wrapped around bridge railings 10 feet above normal stream levels. We found butternut squashes from our farm two miles downstream, stranded in sapling branches five feet above the ground. A hillside of mature trees collapsed and slid hundreds of feet into a field below.


Our farm was able to stay in business only after receiving grants and low-interest private and government loans. Having experienced lesser floods in 2004 and 2005, my family and I decided the only prudent action would be to use the money to move over the winter to better, drier ground eight miles away.

This move proved prescient: in June 2008 torrential rains and flash flooding returned. The federal government declared the second natural disaster in less than a year for the region. Hundreds of acres of our neighbors’ cornfields were again underwater and had to be replanted. Earthmovers spent days regrading a 280-acre field just across the road from our new home. Had we remained at the old place, we would have lost a season’s worth of crops before they were a quarter grown.

The 2010 growing season has again been extraordinarily wet. The more than 20 inches of rain that I measured in my rain gauge in June and July disrupted nearly every operation on our farm. We managed to do a bare minimum of field preparation, planting and cultivating through midsummer, thanks only to the well-drained soils beneath our new home.

But in two weeks in July, moisture-fueled disease swept through a three-acre onion field, reducing tens of thousands of pounds of healthy onions to mush. With rain falling several times a week and our tractors sitting idle, weeds took over a seven-acre field of carrots, requiring many times the normal amount of hand labor to control. Crop losses topped $100,000 by mid-August.


Americans need to see our experience as a call for national action. The country must get serious about climate-change legislation and making real changes in our daily lives to reduce carbon emissions. The future of our nation’s food supply hangs in the balance.

Read more.

November 27, 2010 at 9:24 PM 1 comment

Angry at the TSA? You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

UPDATED below @9:53 p.m. ET

Here is new video of the TSA’s madness that you absolutely must watch:

While you’re watching the video, bear in mind that it was obtained by the woman who is being harassed, probably via a FOIA request, and roughly 30 minutes were redacted by the TSA.

This is the harassment and intimidation (and I would suggest, the unlawful detention) of an American citizen in its purest form.


UPDATE:  Here is an account of what happened by Stacey Armato, the woman in the video.

November 27, 2010 at 7:17 PM Leave a comment

Department of Homeland Security Becomes Enforcement Arm of the Entertainment Industry

Think about this for a minute:

In what appears to be the latest phase of a far-reaching federal crackdown on online piracy of music and movies, the Web addresses of a number of sites that facilitate illegal file-sharing were seized this week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

By Friday morning, visiting the addresses of a handful of sites that either hosted unauthorized copies of films and music or allowed users to search for them elsewhere on the Internet produced a notice that said, in part: “This domain name has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”

In taking over the sites’ domain names, or Web addresses, the government effectively redirected any visitors to its own takedown notice.

So, now that we’ve startedg down this road, where is this going to end?  Since when is the Department of Homeland Security in the business of protecting corporation profits?

My imagination could run wild here as to where we’re headed.

November 27, 2010 at 6:19 PM Leave a comment

Another Dumb Bomber

I know terrorism is deadly serious but I can’t help but think that the terrorists themselves tend to be pretty darn dumb. I almost feel like when they’re successful, it’s a fluke or a huge batch of luck.

I mean, first we had “shoe bomber,” guy who tried to light his shoes on fire, then we had the 2009 “Christmas bomber” — a guy who had some explosives but didn’t know how to put them together.  Then we had the guy in Times Square who chould couldn’t figure out how to detonate his bomb and now we have a guy in Portland, Oregon who tried to set off a fake bomb.

If these are the “monsters” we’re supposed to be terrified of, well, maybe we should scale down those fears a little.


November 27, 2010 at 5:15 PM 1 comment

O Canada

My condolences to Canada:

Canada is to get a conservative all-news TV channel after the CRTC on Friday granted Quebecor Media a license to launch Sun TV News nationwide.

The upstart cable channel, dubbed Fox News North by liberal critics, has the go-ahead to launch on January 1, 2011, with the moniker Hard News and Straight Talk.

“It (Sun TV News) will aim to challenge conventional wisdom and offer Canadians a new choice and a new voice on TV,” Quebecor Media CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau said as the conservative news channel faces stiff competition from existing cable news channels operated by the CBC and CTV networks.

The run-up to the licensing of Sun TV News spurred passionate debate about whether Canadians will embrace a news channel modelled on the successful Fox News Channel in the U.S.

“Hard news and straight talk?”  What a joke.  That’s just about as funny as “fair and balanced.”

Anyway, good luck Canada.  Fox “News” has infused the U.S. with massive amounts of extreme right-wing propaganda, lies, fear and hate.  It has done untold damage in the manipulation of our society.  I guarantee it.  Your country will not be better for this.

November 27, 2010 at 10:52 AM 4 comments

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