Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Congratulations to Senator - elect Markey. A hero of mine.

There is an issue he might want to explore once he gets to Washington, DC.

This is through the grapevine. I am hearing tourism to the West Coast and Hawaii is worrisome because of the Japanese debris floating in the Pacific. There are concerns about radioactivity in the floating debris and the water itself. 

Regardless of the current rumors or not, the states involved need to actively test all the waters, shorelines and beaches to reassure their tourists the land and water are safe. It is a matter of tourism confidence.

This is a no brainer, isn't it?

May 27, 2013 

A pair of Democratic congressmen (click here) is pushing an amendment that would place an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. According to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), who is sponsoring the legislation along with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the amendment would protect voters from what he described as a “systematic” push to “restrict voting access” through voter ID laws, shorter early voting deadlines, and other measures that are being proposed in many states....

THE VOTE is the backbone of our democracy. 

Article VI, section 3, states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." The Constitution, however, leaves the determination of voting qualifications to the individual states.

The words Public Trust is right there in the US Constitution. The Public Trust is mandated in the USA.

The US Constitution is an interesting document, however, as time moves on there needs to be amendments to pick up the slack since the 13 original colonies when slavery was an economic engine.

We have since then fought a war, "The Civil War," to end hatred of difference based on oppression of a specific populous of human beings among us. There is every indication slavery was a point of irritation from the beginning of the democracy, but, balloting then was very different.

Today, the USA populous is basically well educated when compared on a global basis. Most Americans understand their government and their rights, especially voting rights. 

A funny thing about the decision today by the Robert's Court, it takes a huge leap backwards rather than moving the country forward. 

The Voting Rights Act of 1964 was passed during some of the most turbulent times in the USA since the Civil War. It was important for the country to end the hatred and manipulation. American elections are suppose to be the one place citizens have their strongest voice. So, the Voting Rights Act was important. Very.

Moving backwards is a bad habit of the Republican fervor among those that practice those priorities. They always want to roll back laws rather than realizing the importance of them. 

What I find really odd about this decision is the LACK OF APPRECIATION of voting right law's effectiveness. While 1964 is nearly five decades ago, the law never lost it's purposefulness. At some point in time a thinking Justice has to stop hanging on to the past and realize that if a law has had a purpose in Americans elections for nearly 50 years there is something basically missing in the USA Constitution, which brings me to this amendment proposal. 

Realizing the States are allowed to make their own rules according to the USA Constitution with the overriding premise of "Public Trust," the states might be the best testing ground for the composition of this Amendment. There are states that uphold the integrity of elections and there are states that seek to control power and undermine the integrity of elections. 

I would think there would be Governors in states with good civil rights histories that would be happy to carry out laws to uphold The Voting Rights Law of 1964 as an amendment to their state constitutions. With that is the realization there would be acceptance for ratification for the Amendment. I think we need 26 states to ratify an Amendment to the USA Constitution. I would think that would be doable.

Until then Congress needs to write the formula for the Pre-clearance and soon. There are elections coming up that need clear parameters to carry out their elections.

Kind of suprised this is an issue. 1000 questions isn't that much. If I may.

Now, if there is a remedy the Senate Democrats can follow to mediate an obvious breach of ethical standards of the Senate they should follow through. I do believe this is harassment, but, what do I know.

Sixth in a series 

WASHINGTON — A tortured and bitter nomination (click here) battle may have stalled Gina McCarthy’s selection as the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, but it has firmly established David Vitter as one of the Senate’s most inquisitive members.
The Republican from Louisiana has secured his place in the annals of congressional gridlock by posing a flood of 653 questions — with demands for comprehensive, written answers — to McCarthy, a career regulator who served four Republican governors in Massachusetts and has bipartisan support outside the Capitol.
Vitter’s colleagues have posed an additional 400 or so questions, boosting the total above 1,000 and raising the Republicans’ tactic of aggressive questioning to new prominence in the state of permanent partisan warfare over Obama’s Cabinet nominees....

There is a mitigation technique for this kind of mess. It is fairly straight forward. It is a valid technique, used all the time. I know this is going to send the Republicans into a tizzy, but, who cares?  The Republicans are breaching ethical standards and we need an EPA director.

It is called "Keywords." The 1000 questions can be classified into subject matter. That will more than likely reduce the 1000 to about 100. There are only so many subjects, verb, adjectives, conjunctions and adverbs that construct well written questions.

So, once the questions are consolidated there is the fact Senators will never understand the answers to the questions anyway. It is then the burden of the questioner to understand the answer. It is not the nominees burden to answer a question about any aspect of the EPA on a Kindergarten level. She is not required to give a university PhD education to every questioner.

The questions can be entered into a data base and then searched for keywords. Those keywords can then consolidate the topics and a paragraph or two without sinking to explanations so much as ANSWERS can be written and redistributed to the Senators. It will be up to them to understand it all. I am not saying to deceive anyone, but, there is no need to elaborate on questions so much as simply answer them.

Given the experience and education of the nominee she can probably knock that stuff out in a few days. Good luck. I admire the willingness of the nominee to entertain the Senators in their confusion. Awfully nice of her. 

Oh, one other thing. Senator Vitter has a horrible reputation for taking advantage of women. I would not hesitate to file a sexual harassment complaint against him either.

Breathing silica causes silicosis. Like asbestosis.

...NIOSH's recent field studies (click here) show that workers may be exposed to dust with high levels of respirable crystalline silica (called "silica" in this Hazard Alert) during hydraulic fracturing....

What does it mean to have silicosis? It means a person cannot breath.

Breathing in silica dust (click here) causes silicosis by damaging an area of the lungs called the air sac. The presence of silica dust in the air sac of the lungs causes a body defense reaction that results in the formation of scar tissue in the lungs. This scar tissue can limit the ability of the lungs to stretch, thereby limiting the amount of air that can be breathed in.

What do workers do when they are diagnosed with Silicosis? They sue.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson (click here) are announcing the launch of the law firm's new fracking injury and information website Silicosis Fracking Lawsuits (http://www.silicosisfrackinglawsuits.com/). Hydraulic fracturing—or "fracking"—has been linked to an increased risk of silicosis and other respiratory diseases among oil and natural gas workers and those who live near fracking sites. 

The silicon dust doesn't end at the fracking operations. Which means workers can carry the dust home on their clothes, to be breathed by family members, including children. It means silicon dust is everywhere trucks that carry it out of the fields run and park.

Increased silicosis in the USA increases those on disability. They are due disability when their ability to breath begins to fail. They don't have to be cigarette smokers to have this occur. One might remember the battles with Johns Manville over asbestosis. Same thing. Same exact thing. This stuff is even worse if the truth is to be known. At least asbestos was fibrous and not a rock.

PHOTO: A worker stands on top of a storage bin at a drilling operation. The dust is from silica powder (to be) mixed with water for hydraulic fracturing.(click here)

June 19, 2013 

...A lot of the brand new oil rigs (click here) are visible from Interstate 94 approaching and departing Dickinson, as are the new dirt (red clay) roads leading one’s eye to the distant hills and unseen drilling. However, it is in the city of Dickinson that I was totally entranced. The scene reminded me of photographs, news stories, movies, magazine articles, etc., of the old gold rush days and the first oil boom several generations ago. Parking lots full of dusty, dirty, pickup trucks (all brand new, of course), semi-loads of equipment awaiting off-loading, restaurants overflowing with construction workers, hotels and motels and boarding houses going up everywhere I looked!

Right there, in the midst of it all, with a very high profile, is Halliburton! I love it! Despite the hatchet job the “save the planet” bunch tried on Halliburton and Dick Cheney, there Halliburton is; high, wide and handsome!

Leaving Dickinson, I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that big bad Halliburton and the Cheney family (and the Bush family?) are making a ton of money, every day, from North Dakota shale.
Christopher Schutz, Pardeeville

The States that seek to produce natural gas are in for a very rude awakening.

The fire at the Bellows Operating Salt Water Disposal Well was the result of a lightning strike on a oil tank battery during a severe thunderstorm Friday evening, shortly after 7 p.m. 

Atascosa County deputies, DPS, Christine and Jourdanton Volunteer Fire Departments responded. TX Hwy. 16 was closed between FM140 and FM 3387 roughly about 7 hours. 

Additional tank batteries caught fire from the initial battery fire. 


Open pit disposal of Fracking Fluid causes extremely dangerous airborne oil pollution of the air. Any governor that has and continues to entertain fracking as some kind of answer to some kind of problem needs to tour all the facilities in Texas. It is quite an eyeopener.

That black smoke is burning chemicals, including oil, from fracking wells. 

How many of these wells are in Texas?(click here)
Texas is the nation’s number one oil and gas producer with more than 216,000 active oil and gas wells statewide. Injection and saltwater disposal wells are also located statewide to safely dispose of the produced water and frac fluid from these oil and gas wells. Texas has more than 50,000 permitted oil and gas injection and disposal wells. 

That means besides the 3 million gallons of water needed for fracking there are at least one disposal site for very four drilling sites.

Before all those businesses Perry has been pandering to actually move to Texas, they might want to check the air quality in the state. I would not dismiss the concerns for water quality either.

How often are these wells inspected?
The Railroad Commission (Know as the RRC) inspects commercial disposal wells (wells that take produced water from various operators for a fee) at least once per year.
There is no "schedule" for non-commercial disposal or injection well inspections. These wells are inspected based on several factors including their location (near sensitive environmental areas or public areas) and the operator’s compliance record.
During Fiscal Year 12, there were 3,693 inspections related to Commercial Disposal Wells and 18,617 inspections related to non-commercial Disposal/Injection Wells.

Currently Permitted Commercial Injection/Disposal Wells for each RRC District. (click here)

District Number 4 is involved in the fire above. The answer by Texas is put out the fire, not close down the dangerous facility. Permit Number 180783 should be cancelled, the site closed and made into at the very least a Brownfields Site if not a Superfund site. Will that happen in Texas? No. I would venture a guess that at least 50% of the fracking salt well sites should be shut down and evaluated for Brownfields or worse.

Hydraulic Fracturing is disgusting. It destroys air and water quality both with the drilling and waste water sites. Additionally, the underground storage wells cause seismic activity. Repeated seismic activity. This repeated seismic activity causes liquifaction otherwise known as sink holes and/or quick sand.

Now you it, now you don't. This picture is from Christchurch, New Zealand. It illustrates exactly how dramatic, dangerous and sudden  liquifaction is to the land.

President Obama is working hard to push the Climate Crisis as an important American agenda.

As a community we have made more progress under this President to stop this crisis since it was first recognized 100 years ago. Our focus until this President has been to empower consumers to decide the standard of responsible citizenship. The reason that was our focus is because of irresponsible government. Our fellow Americans have been magnificent, but, we all know this crisis was never going to abate until governments took strong positions to protect biotic content of our lands, protect our oceans from pollution and ending greenhouse gas pollution.

We have President Obama for years yet and he is very aware of the of this crisis. He values the world his daughters are growing into. He will not abandon us and will continue to push this crisis down the correct path. He does not want this to be a political agenda forever, because he knows it simply has to end. It is how that crisis ends which will be dictated by President Obama's leadership today.

As a community we need to protect what we know are facts and continue to push the end of this crisis in responsible ways that will guarantee our children their future.

This is disappointing, methane is not the answer. We all know it is not the answer, but, today is a victory. We must continue to pursue the best outcomes and not settle for mediocre measures. It is still up to us. We have over three good years to continue to mold the policies of the future. We have a new President to elect in 2016 to continue the policies we know will protect our children.

The use of fossil fuels, including methane has to end and we need to continue to stress that at every turn. I have no intention of setting this aside until Earth's troposphere is safe again.

President Obama is carrying out what is possible today. He is a great ally. Tomorrow is our promise to ourselves to make everyday cleaner and cleaner of fossil fuels. It will happen, we have come this far and we will go further. Today we are validated, it is not even close to a conclusion to end this crisis. But, today is a great step forward for all of us. It is a great day for the USA. President Obama's words and actions are vitally important. He is a great President and will continue to be. I applaud him, we still have a lot of work to do and policy to direct. 

Wind and solar and electric cars and mass transit. Don't stop now.

Alito's pettiness is more than obvious.

I've never realized a point made by Justice Scalia that was petty. Quite the contrary, if anything the comments made by Justice Scalia reaches into the depth of the soul.

I can only imagine "Breakfast with the Justices" whereby the girls state, "Oh, that is just Sam. We don't take all that seriously. He is a grouch most of the time."

Why do they have to put up with an arrogant idiot at all? Why do we is more the question.

June 24, 2013
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (click here) has disagreed with Justice Samuel Alito Jr. in 35 percent of the cases decided so far this term, more than she has differed with any other justice. On June 20, they even disagreed about the board game Clue.

The case was Descamps v. United States, and the issue was how to categorize a defendant’s prior conviction for the purpose of enhancing a sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Kagan authored the majority opinion, and was describing how individual criminal offenses can be broken down into “an infinite number of sub-crimes” depending on how the crime was committed.

She resorted to the game Clue—or the plot line of the musical version of Clue, to be exact—to illustrate her point. Kagan wrote: "(Think: Professor Plum, in the ballroom, with the candlestick?; Colonel Mustard, in the conservatory, with the rope, on a snowy day, to cover up his affair with Mrs. Peacock?)"

It was an example of the vivid writing, aimed at making complex concepts understandable that Kagan has adopted in her first years on the high court.

But Alito, the sole dissenting justice, was apparently not impressed. Making the point that different ways of committing a crime do not make them different crimes, Alito wrote a footnote responding to Kagan’s reference.

“The board game Clue, to which the Court refers… does not provide sound legal guidance. In that game, it matters whether Colonel Mustard bashed in the victim’s head with a candlestick, wrench, or lead pipe. But in real life, the colonel would almost certainly not escape conviction simply because the jury was unable to agree on the particular type of blunt instrument that he used to commit the murder.”

I sincerely believe the conservative court has become hostile toward the individual.

...Under previous Court rulings, (click here) the Justices have held that an employer is automatically liable under the 1964 Civil Rights Act for the actions of supervisors who harass the workers under their control. If, however, the harasser is a co-worker and not a supervisor, the company is only liable if it was negligent in responding to a complaint. In Monday's case, the question was who qualifies as a supervisor....

Companies and corporations are suppose to be responsible for policies and practices of their management. All of a sudden money is a citizen and corporations carry no responsibility for adverse actions toward employees.

Part of this is linked to the movement within the States to remove the rights of the workforce. This court is very political. 

Right-to-work laws forbid unions and employers to enter into agreements requiring employees to join a union and pay dues and fees to it in order to get or keep a job. Twenty-one states, mostly in the South and West, have right-to-work laws. 

The basis for this court majority is wrong. It could be argued successfully that The Wagner Act goes to far and unmitigated as it was written in 1935. Even FDR was worried it would interfere with economic recovery, however, it has proved to build a strong Middle Class that actually accelerated economic recovery.

The Wagner Act was followed by The Taft-Hartley Act. Taft-Hartley didn't destroy, nor attempted to destroy, unions. Taft-Hartley demanded oversight to union activities and tamed some of the anarchy existing in The Wagner Act, however, even Taft-Hartley recognizes the importance and power of unions in validating a vibrant Middle Class. 

There have been laws passed that better define both these historic laws. We now have a National Labor Relations Board that mitigates injustice. I have to wonder what this decision will do to their directives, if any impact at all. The NLRB has an autonomous mission. 

This decision by the court is a new direction. It does not build on Taft-Hartley or any other subsequent legislation. This is a clear change in direction by the Robert's Court that simply makes new rules. The Robert's Court clearly is a conservative activist court. This decision, above all others, makes that perfectly clear.

It is my opinion The Robert's Court found it's purpose from States' Rights. With 21 states implementing Right to Work, that was good enough for The Robert's Court. If this decision does anything it effects economic decline. The power of the employee is watered down by Right to Work. Where employees lack power to change their circumstances, they lack the power to change the circumstances of economic growth. This decision will impede economic growth.

...In summarizing the views of the four dissenters in both cases, Justice Ginsburg said that the workplace decisions diluted the strength of the federal anti-discrimination law in ways Congress could not have intended....


Alito is disgusting.

Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor before the State of the Union Address in 2010. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Putting Alito aside as it should be, isn't the blouse Justice Sotomayor beautiful? Absolutely beautiful. Lovely, gracious lady. As are her other women peers.

...The associate justice, (click here) a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn’t stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague.... 

Who does this Constitutional idiot think he is? He ought to be impeached from his seat.

..."Alito pursed his lips, (click here) rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head 'no,'" wrote Epps in the Atlantic. "He looked for all the world like Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, signaling to the homies his contempt for Ray Walston as the bothersome history teacher, Mr. Hand." 

He added that Alito's gestures "brought gasps from more than one person in the audience."...

Demeanor matters. Scalia exhibits some really outrageous demeanor, but, he does it within context of the nature of the court. I never thought I would be appreciating Judge Scalia, but, he doesn't attack his colleagues. He expresses his disagreements, but, not inappropriate demeanor. 

There are only nine members of this court. To state they live under a microscope is an understatement. Their PROFESSIONALISM matters. 

The beetle is not the problem, the FIRE is the problem. If one will open their minds to understand I'd be happy to explain.

The beetle does damage to trees. The trees can die from excessive damage. 

When trees die they fall to the forest floor and become SOIL. Before the trees become thick rich soil they become litter on the forest floor, however, as tree deteriorates TO BECOME litter on the forest floor new trees are growing. 

In a HEALTHY forest by the time the dead tree becomes litter the 'tree canopy' remains intact. SO LONG AS there is NO DROUGHT. Tree rings, you know? Tree rings reveal activity in the trees cambium based on water availability.

When a healthy forest exists, even in the presence of beetle populations, and has a full canopy the forest floor is dark. There is little sunlight that makes it to the forest floor, it is interrupted by the TREE CANOPY. The forest floor is not only dark, it is wet. It is wet because the soil is moist. 


Even unattended campfires or discarded cigarettes from a passing and irreverent Hummer can't start a fire in a healthy forest.

Then there is the topic of controlled burns. Some trees like the rare Long Leaf Pine REQUIRE controlled burns to propagate it's health. The Long Leaf Pine Ecosystem, of which there are very few in full health in the Southeast USA (the only place in the entire world where it exists) has an entire array of beauty and moist, wet forest flora if anyone bothered to look.

By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News

Tiny, winged bark beetles (click here) have been the ecological bad guys of the West for more than a decade, and rightfully so. They've killed off millions of acres' worth of trees in Colorado. Now all those dead trees are feeding the flames across tens of thousands of acres in the southern part of the state.

The West Fork Complex fire raging through southwest Colorado has already burned through more than 75,000 acres, including wide stretches of tinder-dry trees hit by beetle damage. With 600 people evacuated from homes, and nearly 900 firefighters on the scene, it is considered to be the worst fire to hit the Rio Grande National Forest....

...Are the beetles to blame for wilder wildfires? Not long ago, experts would have said yes. But more recent research suggests that the connection between Colorado's beetle infestation and the vulnerability to wildfires is more complex than that.
Google has it right in celebrating the great Catalan architect Antoni Guadi of Barcelona.

This is Park Guell of Barcelona (click here)


Gaudi developed the technique known as trencadis. It uses broken tiles to craft art.

Architects that see their work as an asset to the environment of the mind and spirit are hard to find.

Indeed, Antoni Guadi was an artist-architect in love with the aesthetics of living, not just the mechanics of it.