Reno? No, go!

"Reno urged to prepare for worse as earthquakes continue
By MARTIN GRIFFITH – 5 hours ago
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Scientists urged residents of northern Nevada's largest city to prepare for a bigger event as the area continued rumbling Saturday after the largest earthquake in a two-month-long series of temblors.
More than 100 aftershocks were recorded on the western edge of the city after a magnitude 4.7 quake hit Friday night, the strongest quake around Reno since one measuring 5.2 in 1953, said researchers at the seismological laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.
We can't put a number on it, but the probability of a major earthquake has increased with this sequence," Smith said Saturday. "People need to prepare for ground shaking because there's no way to say how this will play out."
Among other things, scientists urged residents to stock up on water and food, to learn how to turn off water and gas, and to strap down bookshelves, televisions and computers.
"It's getting a little bit frightening," Daryl DiBitonto of Reno told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I'm very concerned about this increase in not only activity, but also in magnitude."" LINK

No frickin' way. The New Orleans levees "repaired" with... newspaper?!?!

Not even a joke here. Someone (hiya, Shrub) seems intent on killing this city. This is unbelievable- and terrifying.

"“It blows my mind.”

Those are the words St. Bernard parish president Craig Taffaro used to watch videotape Eyewitness News showed him, of floodwalls built to protect his parish. the witness says two years ago, he saw the contractor filling the expansion joint or opening between the floodwalls with newspaper.

“The whole length of the wall was stuffed with newspaper.”

And when he confronted the contractor, the contractor blamed Washington for the substandard work.

... during a recent trip to the area, two years later, it was apparent that didn't happen. Much of the newspaper had deteriorated or been eaten by bugs, but some still remained. In fact WWL cameras even captured the date May 21, 2006, on a page of the Parade magazine from the Times-Picayune.

Eyewitness News asked local engineer Subhash Kulkarni to investigate the findings at the floodwall. Kulkarni is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The ASCE named him outstanding civil engineer in Louisiana back in 2003.

“I cannot even comprehend that somebody would stuff some newspaper in there.” " LINK to full story with video

It just gets worse and worse and worse. Shrub plotting further extraction in ANWAR, while Scottish refinery workers strike... Better get gas tomorrow?

Enough to make your skin crawl.

"According to this report by CNN, BP has confirmed that the Forties pipeline system may have to close if the Grangemouth strike goes ahead. 700,000 bpd UK North Sea production may be lost.
In addition to lost oil production, many gas fields may also have to be shut down as liquids produced with the gas will have no export route.
...Unite has said up to 1,200 workers could strike over pension changes. Ineos have said it could take up to one month to get the refinery back to full production if it is completely shut-down, sparking some panic buying of petrol in parts of Scotland." LINK

and Shrub is in New Orleans, calling for expansion in Alaska oil drilling
"President Bush Tuesday said he was concerned about record-high crude oil and gasoline prices, and said the United States needs to tap an Alaskan wildlife refuge to boost supply.
Bush reiterated his call for the U.S. Congress to overturn a long-standing moratorium on drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), home to wildlife like polar bears and migratory birds." LINK

And an excellent response to the Why Bother? article by Michael Pollan

Reading the "Why Bother?" article, I got all worked up in my pathetic own way, and rushed out to buy lettuce, leek, and parsely seedlings, and a small but pricey darling little rosemary. Filled with good intentions and feeling clean in my soul, I thought, "yes- I will grow my own lovely tomatos! and be free of the eveil, consumer cycle!" I even thought how nice it would be to be able to get a damn tomato without having an existential crisis at the supermarket, where I can spend an easy 20 minutes reading labels on tomatos and feeling torn between my puny pocket and my puny concience. Is the local greenhouse tomato a more ethical purchase than the organic from Spain? Is the $1.99/lb washed out looking hulking tasteless thing even food anymore? Is there anyway I can justify (ethically or financially) buying the gorgeous little on-the-vine ruby red ones? And it usually ends with me realizing that my quick stop for some food has turned (once again) into a minute theater of the absurd, and I quickly get some, feel horror at the register, and then let the damn things shrivel in the fridge.

Yes, I thought, I shall grow my own.

But then...

I quite like to garden, you know. I like to plant, and I love seeing things come up. I am decent at keeping plants alive. I know about what many of them want, and at least always set out to provide them with what they need. But.

Full sun? Nope. Do I get home from work (the days I get home before 10 pm) filled with a wholesome urge to drag a hose around and hand-squish pests? Nope. Have I ever managed to grow enough tomatos to justify the amount of labor, expense, and sheer pain-in-the assness of it all? Nope.

So when I read Salon's Andrew Leonard's response to Pollard's article, I felt a great easing of the soul, in that maybe I am not alone in being The Worst Person Ever.

In Leonard's response, he points out that "growing your own food is work -- ask any peasant. To be able to enjoy it as play, or as an almost spiritual exercise that connects you more deeply to the earth and all living things (some of which you must kill: Die, all aphids and snails!) can be a tough call after a long day or week at the office. It can also be an affectation that is only accessible to those who spend their Sunday mornings working their way through the New York Times, before deciding where to put their snap pea trellis."

He even goes where Pollard not only feared to tread, but didn't even acknowledge was on the map- the "what-if-you-don't-have-a-back-yard class warfare morass... everyone is landed gentry, or at the very least, can plant basil in a windowbox." issue.

Well, I have these little seedlings, and I will assuredly plant them, and I especially hope to enjoy the leeks, as leeks are my favorite veggie, but I don't really feel that in any way a little suburban vanity gardening is a solution.

I don't see a solution. When rice is being hoarded and wealthy governments are talking about rationing and poor governments are trying to hold back their starving masses, yeah- me growing some Brandywine heirloom tomatos really isn't going to make a fucking difference. They might be tasty, but that is all.

Cheery prognosis from UK think tank! (I'm lying)

Just the thing to clear the blues away.

"Climate change could cause global conflicts as large as the two world wars but lasting for centuries unless the problem is controlled, a leading defence think tank has warned.
The Royal United Services Institute said a tenfold increase in energy research spending to around £10 billion a year would be needed if the world were to avoid the worst effects of changing temperatures." LINK

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Rocket attack on Japanese oil tanker in Gulf of Aden.

This is so extra bizarre, and I haven't seen this as a major headline anywhere...

"Retail gas prices reached another new milestone Monday, jumping to an average $3.50 a gallon at filling stations across the country. Crude oil prices, meanwhile, kept setting records of their own, spiking to a record above $117 a barrel Monday after a Japanese oil tanker was attacked in the Middle East.

The attack on the 150,000-ton tanker Takayama came about 270 miles off the Yemen coast in the Gulf of Aden while it was heading for Saudi Arabia, its Japanese operator, Nippon Yusen K.K., said in a statement posted on its Web site.

None of the ship's 23 crew members was injured, but several hundreds of gallons of fuel leaked before a 1-inch hole in the tanker's stern was repaired, the company said. Kyodo News agency reported that the Japanese tanker was fired on by a rocket launcher from a small boat. " LINK to CBS story, April 21

ROBOTS!!! Actually, even worse- living insects implanted with guidance systems and spy equipment. Niiiice.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

And awful. What twisted things we have turned human ingenuity to.

"(DARPA'S) Microsystems Technology Office is hard at work on HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical System), raising real insects filled with electronic circuitry, which could be guided using GPS technology to specific targets via electrical impulses sent to their muscles. These half-bug, half-chip creations — DARPA calls them "insect cyborgs" — would be ideal for surveillance missions, the agency says in a brief description on its website.

Scientist Amit Lal and his team insert mechanical components into baby bugs during "the caterpillar and the pupae stages," which would then allow the adult bugs to be deployed to do the Pentagon's bidding. "The HI-MEMS program is aimed at developing tightly coupled machine-insect interfaces by placing micro-mechanical systems inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis," DARPA says. "Since a majority of the tissue development in insects occurs in the later stages of metamorphosis, the renewed tissue growth around the MEMS will tend to heal, and form a reliable and stable tissue-machine interface." Such bugs "could carry one or more sensors, such as a microphone or a gas sensor, to relay back information gathered from the target destination."

DARPA declined TIME's request to interview Dr. Lal about his program and the progress he is making in producing the bugs. The agency added that there is no timetable for turning backyard pests into battlefield assets. But in a written statement, spokeswoman Jan Walker said that "living, adult-stage insects have emerged with the embedded systems intact." Presumably, enemy arsenals will soon be well-stocked with Raid." Link to full Time Magazine article

Robots robots robots

Actual headline " Is Our Robot Army Ready for Combat?"

Aww, hell.

"And, like the robot cars that raced through city streets in last fall's Pentagon-funded DARPA Urban Challenge, the MULE will use sensors and GPS coordinates to pick its way through a battlefield. If a target is detected, the machine will calculate its own firing solutions and wait for a remote human operator to pull the trigger. The age of killer robots is upon us.

Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have already flooded the battlefield. There are at least 6000 robots in use by the Army and Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan. For years these small, remote-control vehicles have allowed troops to peek around corners and investigate suspected bombs. And while unmanned aerial vehicles have been loaded with missiles since 2001, the arming of ground robots is relatively uncharted territory.

Last June the Army deployed the first-ever armed UGVs. Three SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Remote Direct-Action System) robots landed in Iraq, each equipped with an M249 light machine gun. These UGVs are essentially guns on tracks, a variant of the remote-control Talon bots routinely blown up while investigating improvised explosive devices. When the trio was approved for combat duty, the potential for historic robot-versus-human carnage lit up the blogosphere. Never mind the dozens of air-to-ground Hellfire missiles that have already been launched by a squadron of armed Predator drones over the past seven years -- this was a robot soldier, packing the same machine gun used by ground troops. " LINK to full article

Another corporate monolith wins its fight to push products that people don't want and that aren't good. Congrats, Monsanto.

Christ! On the very same day I post about studies that confirmed that GM crops actually give less yield than conventional crops, I find this freaking article all prominent on Drudge. Drudge headline: "Food Crisis Weakens Opposition to Biotech Crops"

From the article
"Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.
In the United States, wheat growers and marketers, once hesitant about adopting biotechnology because they feared losing export sales, are now warming to it as a way to bolster supplies. Genetically modified crops contain genes from other organisms to make the plants resistance to insects, herbicides or disease. Opponents continue to worry that such crops have not been studied enough and that they might pose risks to health and the environment.
"I think it's pretty clear that price and supply concerns have people thinking a little bit differently today," said Steve Mercer, a spokesman for U.S. Wheat Associates, a federally supported cooperative that promotes American wheat abroad.
The pressure to re-evaluate biotech comes as prices of some staples like rice and wheat have doubled in the last few months, provoking violent protests in several countries including Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti and Thailand. Factors behind the price spikes include the diversion of crops to make biofuel, rising energy prices, growing prosperity in India and China, and droughts in some regions — including Australia, a major grain producer." LINK

Starving peasants mobbing palaces? What does this remind you of?

Great article.

"“I remembered the way out suggested by a great princess when told that the peasants had no bread: ‘Well, let them eat cake.’”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions

When I saw reports of food riots, I was reminded of these immortal words, often attributed to Marie Antoinette, although there is no evidence that she used them. The modern equivalent to “let them eat cake” is: “Core inflation is well contained.” Core inflation is a measure that excludes goods whose prices are currently rising the most – food and oil. It is a popular concept among some central bankers and academics, and an insult to consumers: let them eat refrigerators.

The global rate of headline inflation is 4.5 per cent and rising. Some economists had us believe a year ago that the rise in inflation was just a blip. But it kept on blipping. They predicted it would fall back in 2008. Now, they say it will fall next year.

...Finally, there is an argument I have been hearing a lot more recently: why bother? Let inflation go up a little. It oils the wheels of the adjustment, in particular for house owners.

Unfortunately, this may work for people with high levels of mortgage debt, but not for the poor and those on fixed incomes. In Europe, and especially in the south, there are people who have difficulty paying the vastly increased prices for bread and grains. Since poorer people spend a higher proportion of income on food and petrol than middle-class people, the inflation rise hits them hard. Higher inflation is the transfer of wealth from the poor to the middle classes. You might as well say: if you cannot afford the bread, let me eat the cake.

What about the fact that the US has a negative savings rate? Surely the country would be better off with higher inflation, as this transfers wealth from foreign creditors to US debtors? My guess would be that under such a scenario the US bond market would implode, the current account deficit would become impossible to finance, the dollar would collapse, inflation would rise even more and the Federal Reserve would have to raise interest rates to high single digits or higher. In that scenario, nobody eats cake anywhere.
I expect that the biggest danger to global economic stability will be not the credit crisis, but the way we are overreacting to it. Both in the US, and increasingly in Europe as well, monetary policies are no longer consistent with price stability. Since a pre-revolutionary contempt for the poor is a side effect of this policy, I suspect Rousseau’s unnamed princess would have found our early 21st century most congenial." LINK

Blood in the streets in the town of Chicago

Well, what with the starving and the food riots and the avalanches and the gas prices and the hey hey, I've been ignoring (pretty much) plain old domestic Uhmerikan-brand mayhem. Let me take a moment to rectify that.

Chicago- "-- By ABC 7 News' count, there have now been 31 people shot in Chicago since Friday. Six people have died. "

New Orleans - "A man was fatally shot Sunday in Gentilly, becoming the seventh person slain in four days in New Orleans. "

Los Angeles - "Foreclosed listings from Hollywood to Glendale"

Ouch- looking at those LA foreclosures- eep.

How I love Heather Havrilesky.

Best. Line. Ever. (Ok, in a television critic column!) No, seriously, Heather Havrilesky is one of my favorite writers out there.

"Drink to excess, brothers and sisters, for tomorrow we squat in the dust, gnawing on goat kabobs! " LINK to her fantastic review of Paradise Hotel and South Park

GM crops actually less productive!!! Lying lying bastards!

"Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.

The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields." LINK

Birds, headed out?

"Many of the birds that migrate to Britain and Europe from Africa every spring, from the willow warbler to the cuckoo, are undergoing alarming declines, new research shows.
The falls in numbers are so sharp and widespread that ornithologists are waking up to a major new environmental problem – the possibility that the whole system of bird migration between Africa and Europe is running into trouble.

Fantastic fantastic article. Why bother?

This article made me cry it was that good and did, honestly, make me feel that there is maybe a tiny speck of hope- or at least of redemption. Maybe.

"Why bother? That really is the big question facing us as individuals hoping to do something about climate change, and it’s not an easy one to answer. I don’t know about you, but for me the most upsetting moment in “An Inconvenient Truth” came long after Al Gore scared the hell out of me, constructing an utterly convincing case that the very survival of life on earth as we know it is threatened by climate change. No, the really dark moment came during the closing credits, when we are asked to . . . change our light bulbs. That’s when it got really depressing. The immense disproportion between the magnitude of the problem Gore had described and the puniness of what he was asking us to do about it was enough to sink your heart.

But the drop-in-the-bucket issue is not the only problem lurking behind the “why bother” question. Let’s say I do bother, big time. I turn my life upside-down, start biking to work, plant a big garden, turn down the thermostat so low I need the Jimmy Carter signature cardigan, forsake the clothes dryer for a laundry line across the yard, trade in the station wagon for a hybrid, get off the beef, go completely local. I could theoretically do all that, but what would be the point when I know full well that halfway around the world there lives my evil twin, some carbon-footprint doppelgänger in Shanghai or Chongqing who has just bought his first car (Chinese car ownership is where ours was back in 1918), is eager to swallow every bite of meat I forswear and who’s positively itching to replace every last pound of CO2 I’m struggling no longer to emit. So what exactly would I have to show for all my trouble?" LINK

Some farmers giving up on growing oranic because of high grain prices, food prices escalating.

This whole article was very interesting, but some of these prices are jsut plain scary. "In some parts of the country, a loaf of organic bread can cost $4.50, a pound of pasta has hit $3, and organic milk is closing in on $7 a gallon."

"Organic prices are rising for many of the same reasons affecting conventional food prices: higher fuel costs, rising demand and a tight supply of the grains needed for animal feed and bakery items. In fact, demand for organic wheat, soybeans and corn is so great that farmers are receiving unheard-of prices.

But people who have to buy organic grain, from bakers and pasta makers to chicken and dairy farmers, say they are struggling to maintain profit margins, even though shoppers are paying more. The price of organic animal feed is so high that some dairy farmers have abandoned organic farming methods and others are pushing retailers to raise prices more aggressively.

...There has been no new surge of land going into organic,” said Lynn Clarkson, who buys organic grain as president of Clarkson Grain in central Illinois. “We are having to compete with this ethanol juggernaut,” he added, referring to the growing use of field corn for fuel.

...Doug Hartkopf, a dairy farmer in Albion, Me., said the high feed costs forced him to stop farming organically in December.

“Instead of paying $3,000 a month, I was paying $7,000,” he said. “It was a very tough decision. It was something we had to do.”

In all, at least 25 dairy farmers in the Northeast have retired early or stopped farming organically in the last six months, said Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. He predicted that the shifts would continue unless farmers received a price increase of about 25 percent from milk processors." LINK

IMF addressing food crisis

This is scary stuff- and it's getting worse.

"The head of the International Monetary Fund has warned of dire consequences if the price of food staples continues to rise around the world, suggesting last week's food riots in Haiti could just be the warm-up for much more widespread global unrest.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF's managing director, told a meeting in Washington over the weekend that he foresaw widespread starvation and economic disruption if food prices did not come under control. "The consequences will be terrible," he said.

The IMF is now forecasting inflation rates in developing countries of an average 7.4 per cent this year, up from a January forecast of a 6.4 per cent increase. The price of rice has almost doubled over the past year, and wheat has increased by 130 per cent, including a 10 per cent jump just last Friday.

In Haiti, where food riots led to an emergency cut in the price of rice and the dismissal of the Prime Minister over the weekend, fresh violence erupted as a United Nations peacekeeper carrying food for his unit was dragged from his car in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and shot, execution-style, in the back of the neck. It was the first time a UN peacekeeper had been killed since the current mission to Haiti began four years ago, and suggested a new rage that is unlikely to abate." LINK

A really, really, really bad idea.

Sometimes the government still surprises me with their apparent reckless desire to destroy everything. This is one of those times. Fresh from admitting that there were accidents at Plum Island, they want to build a new center for animal disease research. Next to land where there are herds of cattle and a wildlife preserve. Yay!

And don't forget the possibility that Plum Island might be where Lyme disease spread out from. Tinfoil hatty or not, it is true that tick borne diseases were being studied there for use in wartime, and that Plum Island is only 6 miles across Long Island Sound from Lyme- deer swim to Block Island, and that's 12 miles offshore.

"...former Plum Island lab director Jerry Callis talking about tick research on Plum Island:
"Plum Island experimented with ticks, but never outside of containment. We had a tick colony where you take them and feed them on the virus and breed ticks to see how many generations it would last, on and on, until its diluted. Recently they reinstated the tick colony."

"In the book, The Belarus Secret, author John Luftis, the Justice Department employee who exposed Kurt Waldheim as a Nazi, states that Nazi germ warfare scientists had experimented with poison ticks dropped from planes to spread rare diseases. Loftus also states that he had received information that the United States had tested some of these poison ticks on the Plum Island artillery range off the coast of Connecticut during the early part of the 1950s." LINK to wikipedia on Erich Traub

"Mr. Carroll argues that outbreaks of the Dutch duck plague virus that devastated duck farms on eastern Long Island in the 1960's, Lyme disease in 1975, West Nile virus in 1999 and the mysterious 1999 disease that killed most of the lobsters in Long Island Sound all occurred too suspiciously close to Plum Island to dismiss the possibility of a laboratory link. " LINK to NYT

"The only U.S. facility allowed to research the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease experienced several accidents with the feared virus, the Bush administration acknowledged Friday.
...The Homeland Security Department told a House committee there were other accidents inside the government's laboratory.
The accidents are significant because the administration is likely to move foot-and-mouth research from the remote island to one of five sites on the U.S. mainland near livestock herds."
LINK to article about accidents at Plum Island

"The Bush administration is likely to move its research on one of the most contagious animal diseases from an isolated island laboratory to the U.S. mainland near herds of livestock, raising concerns about a catastrophic outbreak.
...One such government report, produced last year and already turned over to lawmakers by the Homeland Security Department, combined commercial satellite images and federal farm data to show the proximity to livestock herds of locations that have been considered for the new lab. "Would an accidental laboratory release at these locations have the potential to affect nearby livestock?" asked the nine-page document. It did not directly answer the question.
A simulated outbreak of the disease — part of an earlier U.S. government exercise called "Crimson Sky" — ended with fictional riots in the streets after the simulation's National Guardsmen were ordered to kill tens of millions of farm animals, so many that troops ran out of bullets. In the exercise, the government said it would have been forced to dig a ditch in Kansas 25 miles long to bury carcasses. In the simulation, protests broke out in some cities amid food shortages.

...An epidemic in 2001 devastated Britain's livestock industry, as the government slaughtered 6 million sheep, cows and pigs. Last year, in a less serious outbreak, Britain's health and safety agency concluded the virus probably escaped from a site shared by a government research center and a vaccine maker. Other outbreaks have occurred in Taiwan in 1997 and China last year and in 2006.

If even a single cow signals an outbreak in the U.S., emergency plans permit the government to shut down all exports and movement of livestock. Herds would be quarantined, and a controlled slaughter could be started to stop the disease from spreading." LINK to article about creating new facility

Eeeeek! This is too horrible to even think about!

Warmer winters have allowed millipede populations in Germany and Scotland to explode, leading to serious problems. A town in Germany built a wall around their village, and in Scotland, affected towns are blacking out their homes for the first time since WWII!

"The local council says it cannot help so the estate owner, the John Muir Trust (JMT), has come up with a novel solution. Based on experience in Australia, where homes have suffered similar invasions, residents are being urged to black-out their homes at night so they are less of a target. European black millipedes – tachypodoiulus niger – are most active between one hour after sunset and one hour before dawn.

One resident planning to impose a blackout is postmistress Bridget Graham, who has lived in Balchrick for 37 years."I'll try anything," she said. "They could start appearing any time now and everyone is desperate to stop it. They are horrible. They start in April and last year they were still coming in in October."

All the residents tell stories of millipedes swarming across village roads and getting into baths, showers, bedrooms and cupboards. Across from the post-office, holidaymaker Fiona Young, who visits her family in Balchrick every year during the summer, found them crawling over her four-year-old son when she went to wake him in the morning.

Millipede experts believe the explosion in numbers could be attributed to a succession of milder, wetter winters which have allowed more eggs to survive to hatching time." LINK

Boycott Nestle!

This is insane and maddening and awful and its unreal that no one involved is in jail. Drought stricken Florida, which is fighting with other states over water rights and use, is supplying Nestle with water to bottle and sell at a profit. Eh? Yeah. And according to Nestle, "Floridians should be grateful". Read the whole thing and then say no more Nestle. I hadn't known before about the great breastmilk boycott against Nestle- sounds like they're total bastards.

"The company got a permit to take water belonging to Floridians — hundreds of millions of gallons a year from a spring in a state park — at no cost to Nestle.
No taxes. No fees. Just a $230 permit to pump water until 2018.

Nestle bottles that water, ships it throughout the Southeast — much of it to Georgia and the Carolinas — and makes millions upon millions of dollars in profits on it.

The state granted Nestle permission to draw so much water against the strong recommendation of the local water management district staff. Because drought conditions were stressing the Madison Blue Spring, the staff said the amount of water drawn on the permit should be cut by more than two-thirds.

So while Florida is in a bitter dispute with its state neighbors over water use, it's giving its water away to a private company that bottles and ships it to those very same states.

Nestle says Floridians should be grateful. Its bottling plant has generated taxes and created jobs. "You're talking about millions and millions of dollars in tax benefit,'' said spokesman Jim McClellan. "It's a very good deal for the state of Florida.'' LINK

Barcelona importing water

"Barcelona is to take the unprecedented step of importing water by ship to prevent a water crisis prompted by extreme drought. The emergency measure, to start next month, indicates dramatically how climate change has affected one of Europe's most developed cities – a metropolis known for its efficient infrastructure.
The emergency has already prompted officials in Barcelona to turn off municipal fountains and beachside showers, drain ornamental lakes and large swimming pools, order a hosepipe ban backed up with fines, and patch up leaky pipes.
Meanwhile, engineers are redigging old wells, filtering polluted aquifers, drilling new wells around Tarragona and frantically laying pipes for "temporary" transfers." LINK

Actual headline - "Hungry mob attacks Haiti palace"

"Crowds of demonstrators in Haiti have tried to storm the presidential palace in the capital Port-au-Prince as protests continue over food prices.

"We are hungry," they shouted before attempting to smash open the palace gates.

In recent months, it has become common among Haiti's poor to use the expression "grangou klowox" or "eating bleach", to describe the daily hunger pains people face, because of the burning feeling in their stomachs.

Rising food prices are causing unrest around the globe but in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, the protests threaten to destabilise an already fragile democracy. " link

Rice crisis getting worse- hoarders to be given life imprisonment in Philippines

"With rice prices hitting record highs, tensions are rising across the Philippines.

The government was forced this week to draft in troops to deliver rice to poor neighbourhoods...

The government has warned rice hoarders that they would be given life imprisonment if found guilty - underlining the highly sensitive nature of the issue for the authorities. " LINK

"Rice prices are set to keep rising as demand for the staple is outstripping production, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has said.

The price of rice has risen by as much as 70% during the past year, with increases accelerating in recent weeks." link

Behind all those grim headlines (below) is the really scary stuff.

Map is of locations where there have recently been food riots or protests. LINK to tracker

"Food price rises threaten global security - UN

Rising food prices could spark worldwide unrest and threaten political stability, the UN's top humanitarian official warned yesterday after two days of rioting in Egypt over the doubling of prices of basic foods in a year and protests in other parts of the world.

Sir John Holmes, undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and the UN's emergency relief coordinator, told a conference in Dubai that escalating prices would trigger protests and riots in vulnerable nations. He said food scarcity and soaring fuel prices would compound the damaging effects of global warming. Prices have risen 40% on average globally since last summer.

"The security implications [of the food crisis] should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe," Holmes said. "Current food price trends are likely to increase sharply both the incidence and depth of food insecurity."

He added that the biggest challenge to humanitarian work is climate change, which has doubled the number of disasters from an average of 200 a year to 400 a year in the past two decades.

As well as this week's violence in Egypt, the rising cost and scarcity of food has been blamed for:

· Riots in Haiti last week that killed four people
· Violent protests in Ivory Coast
· Price riots in Cameroon in February that left 40 people dead
· Heated demonstrations in Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal
· Protests in Uzbekistan, Yemen, Bolivia and Indonesia"

LINK to The Guardian

And over in The NYT, farmers are making too much money to care about the environment. This is the kind of thing that spirals out of control.

"Thousands of farmers are taking their fields out of the government’s biggest conservation program, which pays them not to cultivate. They are spurning guaranteed annual payments for a chance to cash in on the boom in wheat, soybeans, corn and other crops. Last fall, they took back as many acres as are in Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Environmental and hunting groups are warning that years of progress could soon be lost, particularly with the native prairie in the Upper Midwest. But a broad coalition of baking, poultry, snack food, ethanol and livestock groups say bigger harvests are a more important priority than habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife." LINK

Hey, brother, can you spare a dime?

Spooky headlines everywhere this morning.

"International Monetary Fund shows U.S. sliding into recession and pulling down economic growth around the world" CNN

"IMF says US crisis is 'largest financial shock since Great Depression'" The Guardian

"Crude Surges to $111 Level On Surprise Drop in Supply " CNBC


Salmon, headed out, fast.

God how sad.

"The stunning collapse of one of the West Coast's biggest wild salmon runs has prompted even cash-strapped fishermen to call for an unprecedented shutdown of salmon fishing off the coasts of California and Oregon.

But only about 90,000 adult chinook returned to the Central Valley last fall -- the second lowest number on record and well below the number needed to maintain a healthy fishery. That number is projected to fall to a record low of 58,000 this year. By contrast, 775,000 adults were counted in the Sacramento River and its tributaries as recently as 2002.

...Many fishermen and environmentalists believe the main problem lies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They say too much water is being diverted to farms and water districts in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
"This stock got off-the-charts bad very suddenly," said Donald McIsaac, the council's executive director. "It's a very, very severe situation." LINK

Survivalist cabins with wine storage- the yuppie approach to the Doom.

"Yet in Mr. Biggs’s new book, “Wealth, War and Wisdom,” he says people should “assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure.”

“Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food,” Mr. Biggs writes. “It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily completely breaks down.”

“You just can’t help wonder if there’s a train wreck coming,” said David Anderson, 50, a database administrator in Colorado Springs who said he was moved by economic uncertainties and high energy prices, among other factors, to stockpile months’ worth of canned goods in his basement for his wife, his two young children and himself.

With only slight irony, Mr. Steffen, 40, said he and his girlfriend could serve as “poster children for the well-adjusted, urban liberal survivalist,” given that they keep a six-week cache of food and supplies in his basement in Seattle (although they polished off their bottle of doomsday whiskey at a party).

I think of survivalists as being an extreme case of preparedness,” said Ms. Vontourne, 44, “people who stockpile guns and weapons, anticipating extreme aggression. Whereas what I’m doing, I think of as something responsible people do.

“I now think of storing extra food, water, medicine and gasoline in the same way I think of buying health insurance and putting money in my 401k,” she said. “It just makes sense.”

Silent Spring, here, now.

Heartbreaking story, and another reason to eat local. I just saw the documentary Winged Migration, and my (already huge) appreciation of birds has, to put it cheesily, soared. To think that they are being poisoned so we can have Chilean grapes or whatever is awful. So I'm going to redouble efforts to check where produce comes from.

"The number of migratory songbirds returning to North America has gone into sharp decline due to the unregulated use of highly toxic pesticides and other chemicals across Latin America.

Ornithologists blame the demand for out-of-season fruit and vegetables and other crops in North America and Europe for the destruction of tens of millions of passerine birds. By some counts, half of the songbirds that warbled across America's skies only 40 years ago have gone, wiped out by pesticides or loss of habitat.

Ornithologists say another silent spring is dawning across the US as birds are being poisoned by toxic chemicals or killed as pests in their winter refuges across South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. They say that many species of songbird will never recover, and others may even become endangered or extinct if controls are not put in place or consumer habits changed.

More problems await those birds which make it home. Millions of acres of wilderness the birds use as nesting grounds have been ploughed under in the drive to grow corn for ethanol, for bio-fuel. " LINK

Eucalyptus, heading out? And taking koalas with it?

"The future of the koala, perhaps Australia's best-loved animal, is under threat because greenhouse gas emissions are making eucalyptus leaves – their sole food source – inedible.
Scientists warned yesterday that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were reducing nutrient levels in the leaves, and also boosting their toxic tannin content....

"What we're seeing, essentially, is that the staple diet of these animals is being turned to leather," said Bill Foley, a science professor at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. "This is potentially a very significant development for the future of some marsupial populations. Life is set to become extremely difficult for these animals."

"This suggests that in areas where nutrient levels are inadequate, animals will not be able to reproduce successfully," she said. "What follows are extinctions of wildlife populations. It's pretty scary stuff." LINK