The Lady Speaks

The Longest Walk Ends

They started at Alcatraz on February 11th.

Five months. Two routes. Over 4,000 miles. From sea to shining sea.

On foot.

175 days (4200hrs.) ago walkers from all over Indian country as well as international allies embarked on a journey that carried them through rain, snow, and even a tornado.

Two paths were taken to make the journey, both a Northern and Southern route, in order to bring awareness to and address environmental and sacred sites protection, cultural survival, youth empowerment and Native American rights.

Thousands of walkers, which included new born babies and elders in their 90s, representing more than 100 Nations joined the Walk along the way. The Navajo (Dine’ Nation), Hopi, Apache, Havasupai, Tunica-Biloxi, Anishinaabeg, Wintun, Hualapai, Lakota, Six Nations, Ute, Washo, and many others as well as representatives from New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Italy, Holland, Poland comprised the diverse Walk. As they walked they picked up more than 8,000 bags of trash on the roads they traveled.

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July 11, 2008 Posted by | America, Equality, Global Warming, Government, Human Rights, Native Americans, Planet Earth | 3 Comments

Feeding America?

This is part two of my series on how the wasteful, destructive agriculture polices of the last 8-12 years — also known as “Make Money By Not Feeding America” — has affected the cost of the food we purchase. Part One is here.

In Part One, I spoke of wheat and how in the rush to grow corn for ethanol, it’s being pushed aside – which drives up prices at the mills, which then drives up the price at the retail level.

Today: Corn.

In the rush to find cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels for our vehicles, ethanol was latched onto by the Bush administration. As a result nearly a quarter of all corn grown is being diverted from human and animal food stocks and heading for ethanol plants.

As we see with wheat, prices are going up. In this case, the price rise is first seen as the price-per-bushel – the amount the corn farmer is paid. That drives up costs at the farm and farm-factory level – where it’s used as feedstock cattle and poultry. Then prices rise again at the retail level. We’ve seen a huge rise in the cost of eggs, meat, and milk and other dairy products as a result.

Meanwhile…back at the farm, it’s difficult to turn away from devoting your corn to ethanol production with prices per bushel on the rise.

From the Washington Post, via MSNBC: [my emphasis throughout]

Across the country, ethanol plants are swallowing more and more of the nation’s corn crop. This year, about a quarter of U.S. corn will go to feeding ethanol plants instead of poultry or livestock. That has helped farmers like Johnson, but it has boosted demand — and prices — for corn at the same time global grain demand is growing.

And it has linked food and fuel prices just as oil is rising to new records, pulling up the price of anything that can be poured into a gasoline tank. “The price of grain is now directly tied to the price of oil,” says Lester Brown, president of Earth Policy Institute, a Washington research group. “We used to have a grain economy and a fuel economy. But now they’re beginning to fuse.”

Oh, and thank your Democratic Congress too.

Rising food prices have given Congress and the White House a sudden case of legislative indigestion. In 2005, the Republican-led Congress and President Bush backed a bill that required widespread ethanol use in motor fuels. Just four months ago, the Democratic-led Congress passed and Bush signed energy legislation that boosted the mandate for minimum corn-based ethanol use to 15 billion gallons, about 10 percent of motor fuel, by 2015. It was one of the most popular parts of the bill, appealing to farm-state lawmakers and to those worried about energy security and eager to substitute a home-grown energy source for a portion of U.S. petroleum imports. To help things along, motor-fuel blenders receive a 51 cent subsidy for every gallon of corn-based ethanol used through the end of 2010; this year, production could reach 8 billion gallons.

There’s just one problem…well, several problems:

Although ethanol was once promoted as a way to slow climate change, a study published in Science magazine Feb. 29 concluded that greenhouse-gas emissions from corn and even cellulosic ethanol “exceed or match those from fossil fuels and therefore produce no greenhouse benefits.” By encouraging an expansion of acreage, the study added, the use of U.S. cropland for ethanol could make climate conditions dramatically worse. And the runoff from increased use of fertilizers on expanded acreage would compound damage to waterways all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Development specialists have also joined the fray. “While many are worrying about filling their gas tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs, and it is getting more and more difficult every day,” World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said in a recent speech.

And, the future for food prices isn’t looking too good:

Two leading oil pipeline companies are exploring the feasibility of building a $3 billion ethanol pipeline, the first of its kind, to link Iowa and other parts of the Midwest with motor-fuel markets in the East. It would carry 3.65 billion gallons a year and give another industry a vested interest in maintaining high ethanol output. Because of this domestic demand, Iowa’s exports of corn are expected to shrink to less than half of current levels in the next couple of years. Nationwide, corn stockpiles are dwindling.

[snip]

… Iowa produces more eggs, 13.5 billion, than any other state. And chickens, like capons, mostly eat corn feed. The Charles City ethanol plant alone consumes three-quarters as much corn as the entire Iowa egg industry.

[snip]

“We don’t have to make fuel out of corn and soybeans, but we do have to feed animals,” says Kevin Vinchattle, executive director of the Iowa Egg Council. “We’re going to be right there bidding for feedstocks and making sure that we have the highest-quality feed available. We just don’t have an alternative.”

What we really need in this country is a responsible, sustainable, non-destructive, non-wasteful agriculture policy. We absolutely do need to support our family farmers. But, we should only support those family farmers who are contributing to the feeding of America.

It is time to end the subsidies to corporate entities that run factory farms, the owners of said corporate entities, and those whose product is going for any use other than feed or food.

What we also need is a responsible energy plan, because — thanks to the ethanol boom – the two are intertwined.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | America, Business, Congress, Farming, Global Warming, Government, Life, Made in the USA, Planet Earth | 3 Comments

Politics vs. Reality in Middle America

Sorry for the serious lack of posting. I just couldn’t make myself give a damn about politics and other bullshit.

I should care. I should care about the failures of the Democrats, the obstructions, hatred, and nonsensical positions of the Republicans, the complete and utter lack of caring about the poor and the weak and the needy.

I should be posting three and four times a day, ranting and raving.

But the truth is … I’m tired. I’m just tired and overwhelmed with outrage fatigue, and – quite honestly – depressed. Children die because bureaucrats in an insurance company, safely removed from the consequences of their decisions, decide they aren’t worth saving. Aren’t worth attempting to save.

People are going hungry, going without heat, going without necessities like expensive prescription drugs, struggling to hold on to their homes in a still-collapsing housing market and a tightening rental market, working two or three jobs to provide the basics of food and shelter and clothing and heat – in the so-called “richest nation on earth.”

Where’s the hope? Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel?

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December 27, 2007 Posted by | America, Economy, Education, Election '08, Family, Global Warming, Government, Health, Iraq, Politics, SCHIP, US Military, Veterans, War | 1 Comment

What Global Warming?

Anyone who doesn’t think global warming is a real and serious threat to the planet can kiss my patootie!

Do you know how hard it is to get in the spirit of the holiday of peace and joy when not only is there no snow in northeastern PA, but freakin’ dandelions are blooming??

This is the view outside my front door today:

Do you see that grass? Green. In December. In Pennsylvania.

Usually you can’t even see the grass because it’s buried under a foot of snow that’s piled up since Thanksgiving, and what grass you might see in patches would be a dull dead brown. Usually we can’t even get the trash cans near the curb, so we perch them on snowbanks next to the street*.

And the geese are utterly confused. They have apparently decided this is as far south as they’re going. I haven’t a clue how many are living at Island Pond and the Guthrie pond, but it’s got to be close to three hundred or more.

So. Having (finally) gotten to see ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and looking around my neighborhood, I plan to slap the living hell out of anyone who suggests global warming isn’t a serious concern.

I mean, this is Pennsylvania for Pete’s sake! We’re supposed to have snow and cold and gray skies that make a person want to hibernate. We’re at our best when there’s a blizzard. I  took my driver’s test in a blizzard, four days before Christmas! (I didn’t really have a choice; my permit was going to expire.)

We compete to see who has the best story about winter driving! “Well, there I was on I-81, two feet of snow on the ground, inching along behind an 18-wheeler when out of nowhere came this ambulance that hit a patch of ice and spun around. Couldn’t get it out, so I offered to take them and the patient in my Ford Escort. The EMTs delivered the baby in the backseat, and everyone was just fine. Got them all right to the hospital, no chains, didn’t even have studs on the tires.”

Pennsylvania without snow? It’s just wrong.

*What’s with the street, you ask? Well, the town decided to replace the sewer lines, and the utility companies decided to upgrade or something as well. So, they dug big-ass trenches down both sides and at multiple points along the length of the street. That was in May.

They then forgot about it, or something. Come September, people started getting annoyed about having to drive through what was, more or less, creek beds and craters, caused by the fill being carried away whenever heavy rains came through.

In response to complaints, the borough council told us the work would be finished and a ‘skim coat’ of blacktop put on – by Thanksgiving. Well – no surprise to those that live here – the work wasn’t  finished and all they managed to do was put a layer of blacktop over the trenches. And no, it wasn’t done by Thanksgiving. The so-called ‘paving’ you see here was put on about two weeks ago.

Still, it’s slightly better than what we had before. Those of us who don’t own SUVs no longer have to drive two miles an hour through craters, praying we don’t smash the muffler or take off the oil pan.

December 23, 2006 Posted by | America, Christmas, Global Warming, Pennsylvania, Weather | 2 Comments

Link Extravaganza!

No. Not really. It’s a bunch, but not enough for an extravaganza.

Sorry for the lack of posting. Not even 24 hours after getting back online, I got food poisoning. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I’ve spent the last four days in a hell of Biblical proportions. I’m not quite back to normal, so just do the clicky-clicky.

The General proves a picture is worth a thousand words. Three pictures, actually.

Buck at The Blue Herald is confused by a new CNN poll. (Me, too.) When did it become assumed that all Muslims are terrorists?

TRex at Firedoglake wants Britney Spears’ legal team as our foreign policy team.

The Rude Pundit tells us why the UCLA police tasering of Mostafa Tabatabainejad matters.

Sen. Chuck Rangel (R-NE) – a conservative, no less – says McCain’s plan to send more troops to Iraq is ‘not realistic’. ThinkProgress has video and a transcript of Andrea Mitchell’s interview.

The Democratic Veteran talks about Jose Padilla – an American citizen. If this is what is done to one American citizen, what stops the government from treating any and all of us the same way?

Natasha at Pacific Views talks about Hillary Clinton and the Whitewater lies.

November 22, 2006 Posted by | Constitution, Global Warming, Government, Iraq, National Security, Pentagon, Politics, US Military, War, White House, Women | Leave a comment

Water, water everywhere – Day 2

Good morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and yep – the water’s still here. The Sewer Treatment Plant shut down last night, so we’re being told to conserve water. I imagine we’re going to see a boil advisory soon, but I’ve been doing that anyway.

I would like to point out that our area is populated with a lot of idiots. Example? People who decide to stay put despite knowing the very spot they live in flooded up to the eaves during the April ’05 flood.

First, if you’re crazy enough to live next to a river, you need to understand that your home will flood and might wash down the river, so get the hell out!

Another example? Employers who do not realize that in a declared state of emergency, only emergency vehicles and those leaving evacuation areas or returning from work are allowed on the roads. Despite Tioga County’s “state of emergency” declaration most businesses still had their employees report to work.

From the Gannett News Service:

Tioga County, N.Y., banned all unnecessary travel and threatened to ticket anyone who violated the order. BC Transit, BC Lift and BC country bus routes didn’t operate Wednesday. Some buses were used for evacuations.

The same state of emergency was declared in Bradford County, so stay the heck off the roads!
At the same time, we have a lot of heroes, and I hope they’re not forgotten when all this is over. I’m talking about the volunteer fire companies, ambulance companies, the Red Cross volunteers, the animal rescue teams, and those who’ve volunteered time and/or materials just to help out their friends and neighbors in the Valley.

They’ve been working non-stop since Tuesday afternoon. Sandbagging, water rescues, feeding and sheltering the evacuees, working out response plans with their mutual aid companies to provide services once they were cut off by rising water. The animal rescue team has rescued about 300 pets, and is providing shelter for them at various locations

Also, huge rounds of applause go to the businesses helping out. Several restaurants are providing meals for the emergency shelter. Businesses like Walmart and Kmart have been working like crazy to get supplies in, not just for the evac. center, but for those like me who are unaffected by water, but have relatives seeking refuge.

There was some sort-a good news: The supposed crest of 33 feet was a goof of some kind, and our area saw a crest of 23.4 feet early this morning. The river is cresting in Towanda at 21 feet currently.

We also got some sad (but not unexpected) news: The 4th of July celebration, normally at the Sayre Little League park has been cancelled. You can see why:

That yellow line you see in the picture is the top of the fences at the Little League field.

The National Weather Service is calling for rain off and on for the next 10 days, and the river isn’t expected to drop below flood stage (11 feet in Sayre) anytime before Sunday or Monday.

You can read more at: The Star-Gazette (Elmira NY), The Daily Review (Towanda PA), and WICZ-TV (Binghamton NY).

June 29, 2006 Posted by | FEMA, Flooding, Global Warming, Pennsylvania | 2 Comments

Pat Robertson – Weather Prophet

I've said this before, but watching a man lose his sanity on television is just pathetic.

Yet, it's also mesmerizing. You just can't turn away. You want to keep watching to see what happens next. Will he froth at the mouth? Will he begin speaking in tongues (ie: incomprehensible gibberish) while flailing wildly on the floor? Will he gouge out his own eyes?

Or, will he just say something incredibly stupid….again?

From WFTV.com:

The Rev. Pat Robertson says God has told him that storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year.

The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network has told viewers of "The 700 Club" that the revelations came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.

"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8.

He added specifics in Wednesday's show. "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest," he said.

I'm guessing here, but do you think maybe God got a preview of Al Gore's new movie An Inconvenient Truth?

*

The Lady's going to make her own weather predictions for this year, based on conversations with a turnip seed:

In 2006, I see…..

At least THREE hurricanes, possibly beginning with the letters A, B, and C. There could be more than three, but the turnip seed wasn't willing to spill everything he knew.

All hurricanes will be the subject of intense media scrutiny, and all network anchors and correspondents will refer often to New Orleans and/or Katrina.

Warmer than normal temperatures across the South, drought continuing.

Monsoon rains in the Phoenix area beginning sometime in early July. Several well-known, low-lying places will flood, and several idiots will drive into those flooded low-lying spots despite the big yellow signs warning against it.

Rain in Seattle.

Many tornadoes in the Midwest.

May 18, 2006 Posted by | Christianity, Global Warming, Homeland Security, Religion, Republicans, Television, Weather | Leave a comment

Jenn’s Sunday Sermon

I haven't done one of these in awhile.

Today's sermon is about stewardship of Mother Earth.

Yesterday was Earth Day, and while I'd planned to spend the day outside, getting my gardens ready for planting and neatening up the front and backyards, the weather failed to cooperate. So, I ended up working inside on an Earth Day-related project: getting rid of stuff.

One thing unique about Americans is our need to have stuff. We buy stuff and then we need a bigger place for all our stuff. But, because nature abhors a vacuum, soon the new place fills up with stuff, and we need an even bigger house to hold it all. Stuff in the attics, stuff in the basements, stuff in the garage – so much stuff that the cars have to be left in the driveway.

And cars don't hold enough stuff, so we have to buy a great big, gas-guzzling SUV to hold all the stuff we desperately 'need' while driving around. (And yes, I'm pointing at you fools who buy portable DVD systems to mesmerize the kids. Would actually talking with your children kill you?!)

Americans just don't seem to be happy unless they're buying more stuff – most of which they didn't need and will hardly use. We are the world's most wasteful society. Whether it's consumer electronics or food, war machinery or trailers for Katrina victims, we waste as much as many nations produce!

Since all the accumulated stuff has an impact on the amount of electricity we use, the amount of chemicals we buy to clean said stuff, the amount of time wasted in trying to keep the stuff looking nice while hiding it all in closets and dressers, armoires and cabinets, bins and buckets, I decided to lessen my family's personal impact on the planet.

Whether it's making my own cleaning products or just trimming my daughter's wardrobe down to a 'necessary' three weeks' worth, the changes I make now will – I hope – have a lasting impact on our lives and on Mother Earth.

This is an on-going project in my home – to reduce the amount of food wasted, space wasted, and time wasted. I'm going to tackle one room every weekend, stripping it down to the real essentials, leaving only those things that are truly necessary to daily living and those that have sentimental or personal value.

I hope others will feel inclined to do the same.

April 23, 2006 Posted by | Earth Day, Economy, Family, Global Warming | 8 Comments

Censoring Scientists

Turns out that scientists at NASA weren't the only ones being muzzled by the administration and its desire to ignore the reality of global warming.

From the Washington Post:

Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing.

Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.

[snip]

Christopher Milly, a hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said he had problems twice while drafting news releases on scientific papers describing how climate change would affect the nation's water supply.

Once in 2002, Milly said, Interior officials declined to issue a news release on grounds that it would cause "great problems with the department." In November 2005, they agreed to issue a release on a different climate-related paper, Milly said, but "purged key words from the releases, including 'global warming,' 'warming climate' and 'climate change.' "

Administration officials said they are following long-standing policies that were not enforced in the past. Kent Laborde, a NOAA public affairs officer who flew to Boulder last month to monitor an interview Tans did with a film crew from the BBC, said he was helping facilitate meetings between scientists and journalists.

[snip]

Several times, however, agency officials have tried to alter what these scientists tell the media. When Tans was helping to organize the Seventh International Carbon Dioxide Conference near Boulder last fall, his lab director told him participants could not use the term "climate change" in conference paper's titles and abstracts. Tans and others disregarded that advice.

None of the scientists said political appointees had influenced their research on climate change or disciplined them for questioning the administration. Indeed, several researchers have received bigger budgets in recent years because President Bush has focused on studying global warming rather than curbing greenhouse gases. NOAA's budget for climate research and services is now $250 million, up from $241 million in 2004.

 [snip]

NOAA scientists, however, cite repeated instances in which the administration played down the threat of climate change in their documents and news releases. Although Bush and his top advisers have said that Earth is warming and human activity has contributed to this, they have questioned some predictions and caution that mandatory limits on carbon dioxide could damage the nation's economy.

In 2002, NOAA agreed to draft a report with Australian researchers aimed at helping reef managers deal with widespread coral bleaching that stems from higher sea temperatures. A March 2004 draft report had several references to global warming, including "Mass bleaching . . . affects reefs at regional to global scales, and has incontrovertibly linked to increases in sea temperature associated with global change."

A later version, dated July 2005, drops those references and several others mentioning climate change.

[snip]

Tans, whose interviews with the BBC crew were monitored by Laborde, said Laborde has not tried to interfere with the interviews. But Tans said he did not understand why he now needs an official "minder" from Washington to observe his discussions with the media. "It used to be we could say, 'Okay, you're welcome to come in, let's talk,' " he said. "There was never anything of having to ask permission of anybody."

The need for clearance from Washington, several NOAA scientists said, amounts to a "pocket veto" allowing administration officials to block interviews by not giving permission in time for journalists' deadlines.

Ronald Stouffer, a climate research scientist at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, estimated his media requests have dropped in half because it took so long to get clearance to talk from NOAA headquarters. Thomas Delworth, one of Stouffer's colleagues, said the policy means Americans have only "a partial sense" of what government scientists have learned about climate change.

"American taxpayers are paying the bill, and they have a right to know what we're doing," he said.

April 6, 2006 Posted by | Global Warming, Government, Science, Uncategorized | Leave a comment