The new Commission with the new portrait got to hear about money and transparency right away. And a surprise alcoholic vote caused by their lack of transparency.Continue reading
In memory of Armistice Day, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when World War I ended, let’s help the military get us off of oil and to deal with climate change so fewer people will die in wars.
John M. Broder wrote for NYTimes 9 November 2012, Climate Change Report Outlines Perils for U.S. Military,
Climate change is accelerating, and it will place unparalleled strains on American military and intelligence agencies in coming years by causing ever more disruptive events around the globe, the nation’s top scientific research group said in a report issued Friday.
The group, the National Research Council, says in a study commissioned by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies that clusters of apparently unrelated events exacerbated by a warming climate will create more frequent but unpredictable crises in water supplies, food markets, energy supply chains and public health systems.
“This is the sort of thing we were talking about,” said Mr. Steinbruner, a longtime authority on national security. “You can debate the specific contribution of global warming to that storm. But we’re saying climate extremes are going to be more frequent, and this was an example of what they could mean. We’re also saying it could get a whole lot worse than that.”
Climate-driven crises could lead to internal instability or international conflict and might force the United States to provide humanitarian assistance or, in some cases, military force to protect vital energy, economic or other interests, the study said.
This is in addition to the even more obvious connection between war and U.S. dependence on foreign oil which the veterans in Operation Free want to fix by helping us shift to clean renewable energy.
“In Iraq… the lines would stretch up to ten miles long under the hot sun, under constant risk of attack by extremists. I realized then just how vulnerable it makes any country to be dependent on oil, especially the United States, which uses nearly a quarter of the world’s supply.”
We also heard last year from Col. Dan Nolan (U.S. Army ret.) that the Marines in Afghanistan realized Continue reading
Want jobs, low taxes, and less flooding? Help maintain our watersheds with good local planning.
What’s a watershed? Kaid Benfield wrote for Atlantic Cities today, The Cost of Sprawl on Clean Water:
Watersheds are topographic areas where all the rain that falls eventually ends up in a namesake steam, river, lake, or estuary.
These are our local watersheds. Purple is the Little River Watershed, blue is the Withlacoochee Watershed, and Valdosta is where the Little River flows south into the Withlacoochee. Green is the Alapaha watershed, and Tifton is where all three meet. Every drop of rain or used well water or wastewater overflow or pesticide runoff or soapy shower water or clearcut mud that runs downhill into one of these rivers is in their (and our) watersheds.
Becoming greener doesn’t just mean a municipality’s adding a pleasant new park here and there, or planting more trees, although both components may be useful parts of a larger effort. How a town is designed and developed is related to how well it functions, how well it functions is related to how sustainable it really is, and how sustainable it is, is directly related to how it affects its local waters and those who use those same waters downstream.
Compact, mixed-use, well-designed in-town growth can take some of the pressure off of its opposite on the outskirts — or beyond the outskirts — of towns and cities. We know that sprawling growth is generally pretty bad for maintaining environmental quality in a region (air pollution from cars that become necessary in such circumstances, displacement of open land, water pollution from new roads and shopping centers that are begot by such growth patterns).
We also know, as UGA Prof. Dorfman told us several years ago,
Local governments must ensure balanced growth, as
sprawling residential growth is a certain ticket to fiscal ruin*
* Or at least big tax increases.
Kaid Benfield explains how town planning is related to watersheds:Continue reading
A $200 transaction can cost society $100,000 for a three-year sentence.It’s time to legalize, regulate, and tax drugs, taking tax money away from private prisons and police militarization, and freeing it up for education, health care, and rehabilitation.
George F. Will wrote 11 April 2012, Should the U.S. legalize hard drugs?
Amelioration of today’s drug problem requires Americans to understand the significance of the 80-20 ratio. Twenty percent of American drinkers consume 80 percent of the alcohol sold here. The same 80-20 split obtains among users of illicit drugs.Will-like, he ignores the real reasons we’re locking up so many people (corporate greed), but he does get at the consequences: Continue reading
About 3 million people — less than 1 percent of America’s population — consume 80 percent of illegal hard drugs. Drug-trafficking organizations can be most efficiently injured by changing the behavior of the 20 percent of heavy users, and we are learning how to do so. Reducing consumption by the 80 percent of casual users will not substantially reduce the northward flow of drugs or the southward flow of money.
Neal Peirce wrote a syndicated column 22 May 2011, Misguided U.S. drug policies afflict Mexico, Central America:
The war on drugs in Mexico, partially funded by hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government assistance, has not only failed to curb the trade but intensified horrific violence, corruption and human rights abuses, writes Neal Peirce.So what can be done? Continue reading
For most Americans, the recent news of popular demonstrations in Mexico was probably a small diversion from the daily tide of bloody global reports from such faraway hot spots as Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Bahrain.
Why worry, most of us likely concluded, if thousands of Mexicans are marching in the streets, protesting the horrific violence and high death toll in their nation’s raging drug war? Isn’t that their problem?
It’s true, the news reports focus less on the American role, more on growing anger with the government of President Felipe Calderón and the meager returns from the massive police and military crackdown on the drug trade he inaugurated in 2006.
Since then, more than 37,000 Mexicans have been murdered, often tortured and brutalized before their deaths, as cartels battle for control of drug smuggling routes and brazenly assassinate anyone, official or average citizen, they think is in their way.
The hard lesson is that the war on drug dealers, decreed by Calderón and partially funded by hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government assistance, has not only failed to curb the trade but intensified horrific violence, corruption and human-rights abuses.
In the U.K., small local shops are being replaced by big-box supermarkets. A widespread argument for this conversion is that consumers get more choice. Peter Wilby wrote in the Guardian 3 May 2011 about why that’s not good enough:
Even the “good for consumers” defence of the big stores requires scrutiny. Supermarkets may offer mangoes and kiwi fruit as a blessed relief to generations who recall the surly greengrocer grunting “no demand for it” when asked for anything out of the ordinary. But the option to buy locally grown produce is increasingly closed off; many varieties of English fruit disappeared long ago. Supermarkets stock food not for its taste, but for its longevity and appearance. Conventional economists count numbers, assuming that a huge increase in toilet roll colours represents an unqualified gain to the consumer. They neglect more subtle dimensions of choice.He then cites U.S. research that shows local stores promote the local economy. Are we just consumers? Maybe we do other things than just buy stuff? Especially, do we do other things together? Continue reading
The central issue, however, is whether “what the consumer wants” should close down the argument. What people want as consumers may not be what they want as householders, community members, producers, employees or entrepreneurs. The loss of small shops drains a locality’s economic and social capital. Money spent in independent retail outlets tends to stay in the community, providing work for local lawyers and accountants, plumbers and decorators, window cleaners and builders.
He’s on the board of Homeland Defense Corp., which does “Custom Automated Mosquito and Insect Misting Systems” and says this:
Thomas B. Call graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. After a career in the agricultural chemicals industry, Tom branched out into real estate. Today, he is the owner of Coldwell Banker Premier Real Estate, and owns a number of successful businesses specializing in residential and commercial real estate development. www.Valdostarealtors.com(Also on that board are Continue reading