Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yes, this was the USA before The Clean Water Act of 1972.

The Clean Water Act is forty years old in the USA this Earth Day.

We need to honor the accomplishes of The Clean Water Act by being certain our state governments are living up to expectations.

We have a right to clean water for every purpose water serves in our lives, including recreation. It is vital to economies and after forty years, it is time to take notice of the 'state of our waters.'

This year water is more important than ever. Globally we are facing a Climate Crisis that could rob Earth of its benevolence. We continue to witness the ravages of drought in Texas. It has been nearly a decade since the Lone Star State has enjoyed the moist soil supporting crops and livestock.

The conservation of water is important, but, the quality of that water is just as important. 

It is easy for the USA to point at profound problems of water availability and water quality throughout the world, but, at home we are witnessing abuses of water quality through highly invasive practices of hydraulic fracturing. Additionally, we have witnessed the contamination of oil leaks, near Yellowstone National Park that have displaced families and threatened their livelihoods. We are still witnessing extreme stress on the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico following the oil/gas rupture and explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. Yet, the American people are asked to look the other way as the petroleum industry insists on devastating the nation's central farm belts with a pipeline we do not need nor oil we will never know the benefits of for cheaper oil prices.

It is time to realize Clean Water is becoming a fading commodity and act to protect our natural resources and the recreational economies it produces.

So, on this Earth Day, I honor those that created The Clean Water Act and those that upheld its integrity. As a nation we can continue to be vigilant demanding clean and ample water for our lives and our economy or we can allow Big Oil to dominate our outcomes while whittling away at our proudest accomplishments.

Have a great Earth Day.

I am still settling into my new home and will be back in full swing by next Saturday. I appreciate your interest and value your friendship. Thank you.

Food Deserts

Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. It is better as E85 in the fuel tanks of our automobiles!

I understand from recent studies the gap is closing on food deserts in URBAN environments. That is a good thing and I do believe the First Lady can take credit for it, along with the national focus of localizing economies.

Food deserts do exist. They are real and they can be found in the USA. We have witnessed at times reports of people up to two miles away from a convenience store as their sole source of nutrition as they have to walk due to poverty.

I don't call convenience stores a grocery and I hope the new studies are not considering that as one either. They have small inventories and high costs, regardless, of the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

There is no reason to diminish the work First Lady Obama has put forward in bringing the need for our nation to change the way we think about nutrition. We have an obesity epidemic in this country and for the first time in a decade we are beginning to see a reduction in the obesity rates in our youngsters. First Lady Michelle has a lot to be proud of and she is a wonderful example of a devoted mother, wife and advocate for a healthier nation. 

If there are improvements due to her efforts those should be highlighted in big letters. She has made a difference and continues to do so. She and Second Lady Biden have worked tirelessly to make a difference with our military families, too. I think they are great and I thank both of them for being a part of the forefront of change in the USA. They are 'out there' and making a difference.

All in the name of oil. Human beings are simply 'in the way.'

From the Boston Globe (click here)

By Rodney Muhumuza
Associated Press
April 16, 2012

This photo of Saturday, April 14, 2012, shows the aftermath of a bombing by the Sudanese Air Force in Bentiu, South Sudan . Two Sukhoi jet fighters dropped 6 bombs in the area, killing 5 and wounding 4 others. Two Sudanese warplanes dropped "many bombs" Monday April 16, 2012, on the oil-rich city of Heglig, as long-range artillery targeted southern army positions in the disputed town, said southern army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer. He did not give a casualty figure. He also said Monday that Sudan's air force killed five civilians in aerial attacks Sunday over Heglig. Aguer also said that the town of Bentiu in South Sudan's Unity State was hit and that the conflict has spread to several southern states bordering Sudan, including Western Bahr el Ghazal. (AP Photo/Michael Onyiego)

Most people think of Southern Sudan as a newly developed sovereign nation developed to protect the people being killed by the Sudanese government. That is not entirely accurate. 

Southern Sudan has been an 'autonomous region' within Sudan since Sudan itself broke away from Egypt in 1956.

The Southern Autonomous Region was officially declared in 1972 after a long civil war within Sudan. It is this region which has declared its autonomy from the nation of Sudan because of the massacres. When the autonomous region was officially designated, it was not about oil, it was about ethnic freedoms. The oil is a bit of a perk to the people of Southern Sudan. 

The Southern Sudanese need to enter into an agreement to provide oil to the North for a period of time while its government becomes stable. It is the right thing to do and it will save lives. There does not have to be a continuous war between these two peoples. They can settle a peace based in sharing oil until some future time frame whereby Southern Sudan will no longer be a part of a peace agreement to allow for transitions of economies. At that point, Sudan would be no different than any other customer of Southern Sudanese oil.

...Two Sudanese warplanes dropped "many bombs" Monday on the oil-rich city of Heglig, as long-range artillery targeted southern army positions in the disputed town, said southern army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer. He did not give a casualty figure. He also said Monday that Sudan's air force killed five civilians in aerial attacks Sunday over Heglig.

Aguer also said that the town of Bentiu in South Sudan's Unity State was hit and that the conflict has spread to several southern states bordering Sudan, including Western Bahr el Ghazal.
He said the rival armies had not yet engaged in physical fighting this week.

"Today they bombed our positions in Heglig and the oil installations in Heglig," he said Monday. "We are waiting for them in the killing zone and they are not coming."

But he said the north's army is now 23 kilometers (some 14 miles) from Heglig, which is claimed by Sudan but was seized last week by South Sudanese forces in fierce fighting that southern officials say killed at least 240 Sudanese soldiers and 19 South Sudanese troops....

After decades of hatred and atrocities, it is time to find a peace that will last and save lives. 

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A Muslim mob set ablaze a Catholic church frequented by Southern Sudanese in the capital Khartoum, witnesses and media reports said on Sunday.
The church in Khartoum's Al-Jiraif district was built on a disputed plot of land, but the Saturday night incident appeared to be part of the fallout from ongoing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan over control of an oil town on their ill-defined border.
Sudan and South Sudan have been drawing closer to a full-scale war in recent months over the unresolved issues of sharing oil revenues and the disputed border.
Last week, South Sudanese troops seized Heglig, which the southerners call Panthou, sending Sudanese troops fleeing. The Khartoum government later claimed to have regained control of the town....

This is Mark Baker when he made testimony to the State of Michigan regarding his operation.

Snyder is the most bizaare governor of all times. He might be ahead of Scott Walker, but, not by much.

In an unprecedented private property grab, (click here) Governor Rick Snyder's Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued an Invasive Species Order (ISO) that allows his agents to forcibly commandeer and destroy heritage breed pigs -- including piglets -- on thousands of family farms in that state....

Snyder is abusing the right of private property owners that happen to be farmers acting responsibly in their operations. The reason Snyder acts in this bizarre manner is for some kind of weird application of an "Invasive Species Law in Michighan."

Get this, Snyder even attached the right of an Iraq War Veteran farmer that raises an endangered species of pig. No lie. This one is a real doozy.

This is a Mangalista. It is an endangered pig. It hails from Hungary and a Michigan farmer, an Iraq War Veteran has a pure bred he crosses with other pigs to derive a hybrid that local markets and restaurants find an irresistable form of pork to serve their customers.

An Old Breed of Hungarian Pig Is Back in Favor (click here)

Published: March 26, 2009

LIKE style on the runway, style for pigs is changeable. With their abundant fat, the curly-haired Mangalitsa pigs of Hungary were all the rage a century ago. But as time went on, they became has-beens.

Now that succulent pork is back in fashion, the Mangalitsa — saved from near extinction on a farm here at the edge of Hungary’s bleak and barren Great Plain — are making a comeback.

Most of those raised here become ham and other cured meats in Spain. But Mangalitsas are also being raised at farms in the United States for chefs who pay as much as 40 percent more for them than for Berkshires, another elite breed....

The farmer is Mark Baker and his farm is called "Baker's Green Acres,(click here). Pigs like the Mangalitsa's are considered a Heritage Breed. Heritage Breeds usually have special status in the market place and on farms around the country. But, for some bizarre reason Snyder has decided to pub these pigs on his list of invasive species.

There are 'FERAL HOGS' in southern Michigan, but, Mr. Baker's pigs are well tended to on a 'pasture fed' basis. These are not feral hogs and this entire issue with Snyder and the hog farmers is insane. There are already farmers in Michigan that have culled their stock on the threat of imprisonment. This is an outrageous injustice in a state where an economy is more important than feral hogs!

Don't ask me what turns a Governor against his own farming community, but, perhaps it is the same idiot claim he has the right to remove democracy from cities and instill his own form of dictatorship!

If anyone wants to get serious about feral hogs in any state, they should introduce a 'fatal' gene into the population of the hogs and within a generation or two they won't be multiplying by the hundreds every year.

Snyder is a crackpot like most of his peers from 2010. He seriously needs to be recalled.

Please see Mr. Baker's testimony above, thank you. 

The gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel has been sabotaged 14 times since the change in government.

An explosion at an Egyptian natural gas terminal in April last year.

Egypt has to come to terms with the fact the Mubarak government signed contracts with other nations. It has no right to simply pull a tantrum and cancel a contract whereby Israelis will have their lives interrupted in a profound way.

I realize the new Egyptian government condemns its former President for corruption and personal wealth, however, there are contracts to be honored and renegotiated in the face of a changing world. It is not reasonable for Egypt to simply stop a pipeline, which is a lifeline, to the Israeli people.

Published 20:27 22.04.12
By Avi Bar-Eli and Reuters

Egypt's national gas company EGAS (click here) announced Sunday that it will be cancelling its natural gas supply deal with Israel.
Ampal-American Israel Corporation, a partner in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), which operates the pipeline, said the Egyptian companies involved had notified EMG they were "terminating the gas and purchase agreement."...
This is a contract between two sovereign countries, it cannot be ended unilaterally, especially considering this is a product for the survival of the Israeli people. Egypt has to honor this contract even though they are opposed to the terms as established by the past Mubarak government. The new Egyptian government can negotiate different terms with proper notice of its demands. What if the roles were reversed? Israel would be at the world court by now on charges of human rights violations. 
...Critics charge that Israel got the gas at below-market prices (click here) and that Mubarak cronies skimmed millions of dollars off the proceeds, costing Egypt millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Egyptian militants have blown up the gas pipeline to Israel 14 times since the uprising more than a year ago.
Israel insists it is paying a fair price for the gas.
Mohamed Shoeb, the head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, said the decision to cancel the deal was not political.
“This has nothing to do with anything outside of the commercial relations,” Shoeb told The Associated Press....
I bet it was below exploitative current market prices, but, that probably was not the case when the contract was first drawn up. Egypt has to take itself more seriously. If they are going to unilaterally withdraw from contracts it will be viewed as an untrustworthy partner. Egypt is endangering its future in the way of acting as a reliable source for natural resources if this is the way it conducts itself. I doubt the new Egyptian government wants to provide an image to the world of being impulsive based on the changing of its leadership.
If there was corruption by the Murbarak government that has to be proven. The corruption has to be dealt with internally in Egypt and based on the outcomes then Israel can be approached with proof of the adverse effects the previous government had on Egyptian natural resources. Egypt cannot simply come out with a statement regarding a unilateral withdrawal without reasonable proof and APPROACH of the other partner of the contract.

Egypt has to stop embarrassing themselves like this. They are appearing unreasonable and vindictive rather than as a sovereign nation with a right to justice within its contractual agreements. 

The corruption was a surprise post Bush/Cheney.

Ryan Crocker with Hamid Karzai

Ambassador Crocker is in serious need of a walk in the sun. Sunscreen of course. Some R&R somewhere, perhaps?

Here again the transparency of the Obama Administration allowed the American people their first look at what was actually occurring in Afghanistan under Karzai. 
Since that reality, President Karzai has paid dearly for the mistake of corruption with the death of his brother.
Before President Obama took office, the "Poppy Crop" was a necessity for Rumsfeld who believed the Afghan people needed their economy, their drug economy, intact to promote the benevolence of their new government. One "POPPY BLIGHT" virus showed a poppy crop wasn't what was needed at all.
The reality of the depth of deception regarding Afghanistan to the American people was as bad as the corruption itself. 
The strategic agreement is necessary. We have to realize this region is very unstable, including Pakistan. I sincerely don't believe we can honestly be detached from the region and not pay a price over time. Afghanistan has also proven to be a country with natural resources. If they are managed for the benefit of the people, rather than Wall Street and warlords, Afghanistan will have future for its children.
I believe that is the greatest responsibility of the Karzai government and those that may follow; to develop their natural resources in a responsible way that benefits the people of Afghanistan. I could be President Karzai's greatest legacy if he is determined enough to make it happen. We know poverty is paramount to the oppression of the Afghan people and with a wealth of natural resources that poverty could end and end the oppression of the Taliban forever.
I do not believe NATO is needed in Afghanistan with an obvious presence within the country. There are too many unpleasant experiences with the people. Our troops need to come home and the sooner the better.
...Crocker said the negotiations (click here) leading to the agreement had been very difficult. The pact cements a long-term strategic partnership between “two equal and sovereign states,” he said.
The contents of the agreement were not made public. U.S. military bases were not believed to be part of the it.
“Our goal is an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating al Qaida and its extremist affiliates,” Sundwall said.
Gul Ahmad Azami, a senator from western Farah province, said the agreement was in Afghanistan’s favor if the United States keeps all its commitments after signing it. He said the U.S. and its allies had promised the country a strong government based on the rule of law, “but they failed and instead they supported a corrupt government.” If the U.S. government repeats that mistake, the agreement will go nowhere, he said.

Read more here:

In the day and age of Bullying, I would think teachers are good for students.

It is called ethics and peer review. If teachers have the time to 'be a friend' on Facebook to their students, I would consider that special connection a chance to save a life and improve the mental health and educational functioning of their students. 

When I was in school, I was a nerd. I was a good student. But, I also had teachers I considered to be friends. Not confidants. That was exclusive to my social friends and activities, but, I did consider teachers to be friends. I learned from them and felt comfortable in the classroom. I considered their insight important and they were esteemed. 

I never had a teacher call upon my parents for any correction in my behavior or my attention to studies. I find nothing inappropriate in children finding a friend with their teachers. Teachers know where to draw the line and they certainly can council a peer when their attachment to any particular student is too intense. 

There are roles of responsibility for teachers to intervene with troubled students. I doubt if a teacher that sincerely cares for their students can passively collect a paycheck and not find satisfaction in a job well done. Teachers are connected to students in a very different way than their parents and it should never be overlooked as invaluable. 

Teachers walk fine line with students on Facebook (click here)

New York --
Should students and teachers ever be friends on Facebook? School districts across the country, including the nation's largest, are weighing that question as they seek to balance the risks of inappropriate contact with the academic benefits of social networking....

Senator Lieberman isn't discerning the arrival of the White House Staff in this instance.

The interview with Ralph Basham has revealed other occurrences, even under his time as Director.  The idea this has never happened before is bizarre.  The reason these things 'show up' under the Obama Administration is because of the TRANSPARENCY of this President.  This level of transparency has never been realized by the people of the USA. 
Example: How long did the Office of Mining and Mineral Management get away with corruption?
...Of the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, (click here) Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said it best on Tuesday: “In the Bush administration, these were the guys that were having sex orgies and pot parties and weren’t showing up for work.”
As the government agency that regulates offshore drilling, MMS is already under scrutiny for its handling of the rig that exploded and caused the oil spill. It’s not yet clear whether there were missteps by the agency, though theWashington Post reported earlier this week that MMS’ environmental impact assessments of the Deepwater Horizon rig had not considered the possibility of a major spill....
Even though I find it interesting Mr. Basham's redirection of the fact this occurrence is not exclusively new to the Secret Service, he does point out an interesting FACT. This happened prior to the arrival of the President and his staff to Columbia. The question is, do we sincerely have to spend time and money on questioning people that were not even in the country at the time and obviously not involved with 'someone's idea of a good time?'

...Mister Basham, let me ask you-- (click here) I mean the question people are asking, is this just some sort of an anomaly or is this thing has been going on all the time? Did you have these kind of problems with your agents when you were there?
RALPH BASHAM (Former Director, U.S. Secret Service/Command Consulting Group): Bob, absolutely not. And-- and I will tell you, absolutely, that this is an aberration. This is not the character of the men and women who serve every day in the Secret Service. And-- and, obviously, this is a huge story, it's a huge issue, because this sort of thing does not happen in the Secret Service. And-- and I could answer Senator-- I think I can say to Senator Lieberman that-- that I don't believe in the past these types of things have happened. And they certainly didn't happen on my watch, and I spent over three decades in this organization. And I can tell you this is not what that organization is like.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So-- but you had-- you know, supervisors involved here. These weren't rookies. These were supervisors who, obviously, got to be supervisors-- some of that time they must have in the service you were the director. You're-- you're saying that there was never any indication of anything like this when you were there?
RALPH BASHAM: Well, Bob, that's not to say that-- that we did not have situations where agents, officers, got themselves into inappropriate situations and had to be brought back. And-- and in some cases, the di-- discipline went all the way to-- to re-- removing them from-- from the service. But-- but to this magnitude, absolutely not. And-- and-- and-- and what makes it even more of-- of an issue is the fact that it was done prior to the President's arrival, which could have compromised the-- the-- the-- the trip and the safety of the President. But-- but, but Mark Sullivan took immediate and decisive action just as Senator Lieberman said, removed those agents from Cartagena, and did immediate investigation to check-- to determine whether or not the President's security had been-- been compromised. He recognized-- they could not. I'm sorry....

And I would think of the President had first hand knowledge of the events of the 'Merry of the Secret Service,' he would not have needed a sit-down with Director Sullivan.

On Friday, Secret Service director Mark Sullivan  (click here) finally sat down with President Obama to discuss his agency's widely-publicized bad behavior in Cartagena, Colombia, which has so far resulted in the departures (or firings) of six agents, with five others being placed on administrative leave. (One employee has been cleared of misconduct.) In addition to the Secret Service investigation, the Pentagon is now investigating 11 members of the U.S. military, including those serving with the 7th Special Forces Group, the Marines, the Navy, and the Air Force....

No money is too much, no committee time to great to score politically.