Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Shills for Big Pollution step up the efforts against clean energy through whatever deceptive means possible, coordinating to defeat any common sense proposals in order to preserve the status quo:
[A] confidential strategy memo seen by the Guardian advises using "subversion" to build a national movement of wind farm protesters.

The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) – although the thinktank has formally disavowed the project.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting of self-styled 'wind warriors' from across the country in Washington DC last February.


Among its main recommendations, the proposal calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing "subversion in message of industry so that it effectively because so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it."

It suggests setting up "dummy businesses" to buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a "counter-intelligence branch" to track the wind energy industry. It also calls for spending $750,000 to create an organisation with paid staff and tax-exempt status dedicated to building public opposition to state and federal government policies encouraging the wind energy industry.
There's certainly nothing surprising about this, but it does once again highlight the entrenched power those of us pushing for a sustainable future are up against.

Those new weak proposed rules on fracking? Even weaker than you may have initially realized since they only apply to a small sliver of fracking projects:
Although widely understood as “national” guidelines, the draft rules would in fact only apply to a sliver of the nation’s natural gas supply. That’s because they would apply to mineral rights managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which means areas beneath most BLM and tribal land, but scarcely any U.S. Forest Service, private or state-owned lands – where most drilling occurs.


The lands covered by the proposed rules are the source of “11 percent of the Nation’s natural gas supply and five percent of its oil,” according to the BLM. About 3,400 wells are drilled on these lands each year, according to the bureau, and 90 percent of those wells use hydraulic fracturing, a technique to extract natural gas by injecting into the earth highly pressurized fluids laden with chemicals, sometimes including potentially toxic ones such as benzene and lead.

Environmental activists wonder how likely the rules are to be enforced. In New Mexico, for example, the BLM oversees more than 30,000 active wells ­– with only 69 inspectors. “However strong the rules are, enforcement is only as good as staff on the ground,” said attorney Erik Schlenker-Goodrich of the Western Environmental Law Center.

Environmentalists also lambasted a provision that would require companies to disclose the chemicals they use to frack on some public lands. At issue was timing: The draft rule would allow companies to complete drilling before they make public the chemicals they had injected into the ground. Although some drilling companies report the chemicals they use to online public registries, they are not always required to do so. Many drillers claim that disclosure would amount to revealing “trade secrets.”

The timing of disclosure matters. Landowners who want to see if a nearby well is polluting their land or water need a baseline assessment of chemicals that are present before drilling. If they don’t know the chemicals the company will inject, the only way to get a baseline reading is to test for a vast number of chemicals, an expensive and impractical undertaking. “Knowing after the fact is nice, but does not allow for any steps to be taken if the chemicals being used are of concern to the public. I urge the Interior Department to strengthen this rule,” Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) said in a statement.

With the judicial system unwilling to hold war criminals accountable for their actions, David Cole argues that the time has definitely come for the Obama administration to create a commission to look into the abuses of law during the War On Terror:
John Yoo has celebrated this decision as vindication, just as he treated the Justice Department’s decision not to refer him to his state bar for disciplinary action based on his memos. But it is hardly that. The court declined to address the merits of whether the conduct Yoo authorized actually violated Padilla’s rights. Instead, it held only that the law was unclear in 2001-03 on this point. But absent any legal principle that would permit us to subject military detainees to abuse that no one else may suffer, Yoo’s advice was wrong—legally, ethically, and constitutionally.

I suspect that what may actually be going on here is that a US court is not about to award damages, even nominal damages, to someone who was allegedly seeking to fight for al-Qaeda. Padilla was eventually prosecuted and convicted for a more general attempt to provide material support to terrorism, but US officials frequently asserted that he was linked to al-Qaeda.

If that is the case, however, it only underscores the necessity for an independent commission to investigate and report on the use of torture and other forms of cruel and inhuman techniques against suspects in the “war on terror.” A commission could make findings that what was done was wrong, legally and morally, and counterproductive, without rewarding “the enemy” in doing so. We now know much about the brutal mistreatment of prisoners in secret prisons, inflicted according to specific legal guidance from Yoo and others in the Justice Department—although the Obama administration is shamefully still seeking to suppress the details, arguing that Guantanamo detainees should be barred even from discussing the facts in their public trials. But what we still lack is any form of accountability. The courts have proved unwilling not only to impose such accountability, but even to let suits seeking accountability go forward at all. We have exhausted that avenue of redress. But we have not yet said we are sorry. A commission is more urgent than ever.

If extrajudicial targeted killings are legal, let's see the legal justification:
Even considering these intentional oversights, it was odd to hear Mr. Brennan publicly acknowledge the program—because the administration is currently swatting away FOIA requests and lawsuits on this very topic. Both the New York Times and the ACLU are seeking disclosure of the legal memos authorizing targeted strikes.

But so far the administration has argued that it would jeopardize our national security if the government even admitted it had such a policy.

No really, that’s the argument.

Mr. Brennan has talked about the program at great length and so has Attorney General Eric Holder. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has repeatedly mentioned targeted killings. So has President Obama. But, in court, the administration clings to its absolute secrecy argument. Pick your literary reference: Is that more Orwellian, or Kafkaesque?

If Mr. Brennan’s so sure that targeted killings are legal and ethical under international law, why not at least release the memos justifying that position?

Our internal clocks are going haywire:
Roenneberg cites experiments in which subjects were confined to bunkers and deprived of all temporal cues. While most subjects maintained a day-night periodicity of roughly 24 hours (circa one day: hence, “circadian”), some people’s cycle doubled, to about 48 hours. Amazingly, they were oblivious to the change. They continued to eat three meals a “day,” and their sense of smaller time units doubled, too. Asked to estimate an hour, they estimated two instead.

Fortunately, internal clocks are seldom left to their own devices. Instead, they are “entrained,” as chronobiologists say, by sun time. Entraining is not a mystical Stonehenge-y sun-worshipping thing: It’s a precise biochemical process, conducted by a light receptor in your eye, melanopsin, neglected stepsister of the more famous rods and cones. Just as your biological clock runs free if you remove natural light, it runs free if you remove melanopsin: Barring medical intervention, some blind and almost all eyeless people are impervious to sun time and cannot be entrained.

Most of us are spared that fate—but, increasingly, we all live in bunkers. The average American spends more than 21 hours per day indoors, and when it comes to entraining a biological clock, indoor lighting cannot hold a candle, so to speak, to the sun. A well-lit indoor space maxes out at about 200 lux, a unit of light intensity. A rainy day measures around 10,000 lux. A sunny day can hit 150,000. Meanwhile, as we’re exposed to less natural light, we’re also exposed to more artificial light—i.e., less darkness. As a result, the contrast between day and night (in technical terms, the amplitude of the light-dark cycle) is much smaller than it was for our preindustrial ancestors. We live, Roenneberg writes, in “constant twilight.”

The impact on our sleep is significant. One researcher he cites found that nursing-home residents sleep poorly in part because they’re exposed to almost no natural light. Similarly, the average chronotype of people in cities is later than that of rural dwellers—and the larger the city, the later it gets.

Of course, urbanites also keep later hours thanks to the third temporal regime: social time. For most of history, social time was closely aligned with sun time, for the obvious reason that there are limited (albeit interesting) things people can do in the dark. Modernization changed all that. Today, almost one in five workers in the industrialized world does shift work. And countless people hold jobs located countries or continents away—from Filipinos in call centers to traders on their Bloomberg terminals, checking Greek stock prices at 2 a.m.

Perhaps the most explicit shift away from sun time came around the turn of the twentieth century with the gradual adoption of global time zones. Before then, all time was local, typically dictated by a church or town-hall clock. That system kept social time and sun time aligned—the clock read noon when the sun reached its zenith—but it became inconvenient in a nationalizing and then globalizing world. Time zones, by contrast, are convenient but contrived. If you are in, say, western Spain during daylight saving time, the clock will read midnight at what is, by sun time, 9:22 p.m.

Low urban biodiversity and allergies?

Invasive species: to eat or not to eat?

Canada is struggling to lower its GHG emissions.

Visualizing the Anthropocene.

An interview with Wendell Berry.

Pushing for better regulation of pesticides.

Cancer goes comic book.

The Chronicle apologizes for Riley's wretched piece and their inappropriate defense of it and otherwise pathetic response.

In defense of universalism.

Goldman Sachs is screwing over truckers.

No matter who you vote for, you're voting for war. (h/t Sourav)

“Liking” something on Facebook is not protected speech. (h/t Sourav)

The right to assemble is under attack.

Life is getting worse for women in the Bible Belt, it seems.

The sensoaesthetic properties of spoons.

My favorite zombie fungus has its own enemy.

Don't say “fuck” at SCOTUS — or in the NYTimes.

Wayneandwax highlights an interesting review he wrote a while back.

Heather's Happy Link Of The Day: 100 minutes of Queen.

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