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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Monday, January 18, 2010

18 Jan - Night Blogging

Canadian military team heading to Haiti

1,000-strong contingent to arrive this week

The soldiers will be serving as engineers, medics and security forces. They'll join at least 200 members of Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team, who are already in Haiti.
The troops from Valcartier will complement an additional 500 soldiers aboard two Canadian Navy vessels that are expected to reach Haiti's shores early this week.
Three water purification units were to leave CFB Trenton in eastern Ontario on Sunday and arrive in Haiti later in the day to set up "immediately," MacKay said.

What Now?

This effort is unlike anything that we have seen recently. The United Nations lost dozens of their staff in the initial quake. We are talking Pompeii-level devastation here. We are talking about a city of two million, originally built for 50,000, and with not a single unaffected structure. Roads are impassable. The port is devastated, with no cranes to get shipping containers off of vessels. The airport has one runway, a tower being run off the laptops that two Air Force air traffic controllers brought with them, and there is no fuel to get the inbound jets outbound again.
None of the normal rules of response apply here.
They are doing the sane thing - they are planning their next move because chaos will serve no one, and chaos could easily ensue. Best at this point to wait for the next military contingent and once enough boots are on the ground, send out choppers to fan out around the airport and set down in greenspaces to set up aid stations and food distribution centers. There is a practical security reason for setting up multiple sites, as well.  If groups are dispersed and not massed in one or two places, the liklihood of mob violence goes way down.
It is frustrating to watch devastation and see the needy faces and the pallets on the ground and it is natural to feel anger that relief is not as rapidly forthcoming as we think it ought to be. But the people in charge of this know what they are doing.

Mountaintop Removal Threatens Our Water

Coal companies like Massey Energy continue to violate federal and state water quality laws -- to the tune of over 12,000 violations of the Clean Water Act and surface mining laws in West Virginia alone.  It appears that Massey's operations prefer illegally dumping pollution into Appalachian waterways despite EPA's record $20 million fine against the company in 2008 for over 4,600 previous violations.
People may hear about this and wonder what exactly this has to do with mountaintop removal coal mining.  That's because when it comes to this kind of strip mining, it's easier to grasp the impact to the land.  After all, there is a clear and visceral connection between using explosives and heavy machinery to alter the landscape by clear-cutting forests and converting a steep peak into a flattened surface. And the scale of this destruction in Appalachia is such that this form of strip mining represents the largest earth-moving activity in the United States.  But turning mountains into moonscapes does even greater harm than simply transforming geography.  It screws up the water -- both in terms of polluting downstream waterways with toxic waste and wiping out fragile headwater streams.

World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

Meet Mikey Hicks, 8, on US Terror Watch List

FBI turned Spanish MP into Bin Laden  

An age-processed image of the al-Qa'ida leader was hard to do, until a technician found a suitable image on the internet 


Bison after brucellosis: Bison are losing their stigma as a diseased species, but many hurdles remain for their return to the prairie

 Hiding your feelings can lead to memory and social deficits

Alan Grayson On Expected SCOTUS Ruling: 'The Law Itself Will Be Bought And Sold'

 Understanding Obamacare
The idea that there is a competitive “private sector” in America is appealing, but generally false. No one hates competition more than the managers of corporations.
When Congress created the first U.S. regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission, in 1887, the railroad barons it was meant to subdue quickly recognized an opportunity. “It satisfies the popular clamor for a government supervision of railroads at the same time that that supervision is almost entirely nominal,” observed the railroad lawyer Richard Olney. “Further, the older such a commission gets to be, the more inclined it will be found to take the business and railroad view of things. It thus becomes a sort of barrier between the railroad corporations and the people and a sort of protection against hasty and crude legislation hostile to railroad interests.” As if to underscore this claim, Olney soon after got himself appointed to run the U.S. Justice Department, where he spent his days busting railroad unions.
The story of capture is repeated again and again, in industry after industry, whether it is the agricultural combinations creating an impenetrable system of subsidies, or television and radio broadcasters monopolizing public airwaves for private profit, or the entire financial sector conjuring perilous fortunes from the legislative void. The real battle in Washington is seldom between conservatives and liberals or the right and the left or “red America” and “blue America.” It is nearly always a more local contest, over which politicians will enjoy the privilege of representing the interests of the rich.

And so it is with health-care reform. The debate in Washington this fall ought to have been about why the United States has the worst health-care system in the developed world, why Americans pay twice the Western average to maintain that system, and what fundamental changes are needed to make the system better serve us. But Democrats rendered those questions academic when they decided the first principle of reform would be, as Barack Obama has so often explained, that “nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”

Gallery of the strange

A 26-year old decided to have a cup of coffee. He took a cup of water and put it in the microwave to heat it up (something that he had done numerous times before).
I am not sure how long he set the timer for, but he told me he wanted to bring the water to a boil...

When the timer shut the oven off, he removed the cup from the oven. As he looked into the cup, he noted that the water was not boiling, but instantly the water in the cup 'blew up' into his face. The cup remained intact until he threw it out of his hand but all the water had flown out into his face due to the build up of energy.

His whole face is blistered and he has 1st and 2nd degree burns to his face, which may leave scarring. He also may have lost partial sight in his left eye.

While at the hospital, the doctor who was attending to him stated that this is fairly common occurrence and water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven... If water is heated in this manner, something should be placed in the cup to
diffuse the energy such as: a wooden stir stick, tea bag, etc. It is however a much safer choice to boil the water in a tea kettle.

General Electric's Response:

Thanks for contacting us.
The e-mail that you received is correct. Microwaved water and other liquids do not always bubble when they reach the boiling point. They can actually get superheated and not bubble at all.

The superheated liquid will bubble up out of the cup when it is moved or when something like a spoon or tea bag is put into it.

To prevent this from happening and causing injury,
do not heat any liquid for more than two minutes per cup..

After heating, let the cup stand in the microwave for thirty seconds before moving it or adding anything into it.

If you pass this on, you could very well save someone from a lot of pain and suffering.

Slave Labor on Hawaii's Second Largest Farm

If you ate produce from Hawaii, especially Asian vegetables and melons, between 2003 and 2005, chances are you were eating fruits and veggies grown by slaves. That's because the owners of the second-largest fruit and vegetable farm in all of Hawaii, Aloun Farms, enslaved 44 Thai nationals during that time. The workers were all promised lucrative jobs in the U.S., but once they arrived in Hawaii, the promises were broken and the slavery began.
The Aloun Farms case is in many ways a typical human trafficking case. Company president Alec Souphone Sou and his brother Mike Mankone Sou made a deal with Thai labor recruiters to trick workers into taking jobs on the farm. The recruiters charged each of the workers $16,000 to bring them to the U.S. and find them work at Aloun Farms. Once in Hawaii, the workers were told they must pay off this debt before receiving a paycheck. Because of this falsely inflated debt, some workers never saw a penny from their labors at Aloun. They were told they could not leave the compound where they were housed or speak to people outside their group. Several workers were threatened with deportation if they were "disobedient."
Fortunately, Aloun Farms and their scheme were eventually busted and the brothers arrested. This week, they pled guilty to forced labor charges. They would have been sentenced to 15 years in prison each, but they agreed to help authorities find the Thai recruiters they worked with, the ones who deceived 44 Thai workers about the reality of a job on Aloun Farms. Their new sentence, taking the plea bargain into account, is still forthcoming.

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