Friday, September 25, 2009

Najibullah Zazi, Terrorist or Political Patsy?

Have you read much about his case?

He appears to be guilty, according to some media reports.

But what I'm reading and seeing on television doesn't make sense to me.

What I've learned...

1. He was trained by Al Queda to make bombs and engage in acts of terrorism.
2. He learned how to make bombs and engage in acts of terrorism by doing research on the internet.
3. The FBI helped him make bombs, and provided him with training and materials as part of a sting operation.
4. The FBI was covertly surveilling him, and screwed up. so they had to break cover and interview him.
5. Simple bombs are WMDs. This means that grenades, pipe bombs, landmines, mortars, rockets and maybe even bullets are Weapons of Mass Destruction.
6. Bombs can be made from hydrogen peroxide, acetone and a strong acid. I didn't know that before the press informed me. That certainly sounds like a dangerous combination of ingredients.
7. He bought these materials.
8. He expressed interest on the internet in blowing stuff up and engaging in a terrorist attack.

The conflicting stories paint a picture of a violent troubled man who is definitely guilty. Just like those other cases.

But if we look at the pizza delivery bombers... It turns out they were blowhards that didn't have the intelligence, finances, materials or initiative to pull the caper off. An FBI agent or informant, gave them the idea and tried to talk them into trying it. Evidently they were too lazy so they were arrested on conspiracy charges, which got dropped. They finally plead to lesser charges, unrelated to terrorism, indicating that the FBI didn't have a case.

But it made the news. It made the FBI look good. It probably got them more funding. It probably got some folks promoted. It was a lie, a sham, and a set up. It was also criminal. but they arrested Muslims, so I doubt we'll see any outcry.

So if you're a dumbass, and you like to make threats and you think it'll be cool to brag about it on the internet. Think again. The FBI can take you down, even if you're just trying to make a bad joke. They take this seriously. Seriously enough to even get folks drunk and try to talk them into saying they want to be terrorists, so that they can make an arrest. It makes them look good, it makes the President look good. And after you've been beaten abused and finally cop a plea on lesser charges, the press will barely acknowledge that you're really only guilty of being a dumbass.

Now Najibullah Zazi could be their first real arrest of a wannabe almost terrorist. But because their record on this kind of crime id dismal to begin with and they already bungled the surveillance, I wouldn't bet money on it. I'm broke, and it's not a sure thing.

I'll go out on a limb and say there's an 80% chance that the FBI really doesn't have a very good case against this dumbass, and that they'll have to get him to plead guilty to lesser charges, to avoid a trial and an acquittal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama's NewSpeak Dictionary

h/t Edgar

Obama's NewSpeak Dictionary (the first printing) is now being drafted and will be available at various distribution centers, to authorized persons, based on need to know and current standing in the party ranks.

We've now seen a preview of one item in the NewSpeak dictionary.

"No corporation or other private persons shall mail, email or or distribute in any form, any information pertaining to the government programs known as Medicare or Medicaid to it's clients or any interested or uninterested parties. Violation of this rule, shall be punishable by fines, incarceration and/or other actions as deemed suitable by agents of the Administration."

Already Humana Inc has run afoul of this rule in the NewSpeak Dictionary, and may soon face the consequences of speaking on the topic without being duly authorized by an Obama Administration representative or agent.

Insurers warned about Medicare mailers
Washington - The Obama administration warned insurance companies Monday that they could face legal action for allegedly trying to scare seniors with misleading information about the potential for lost benefits under healthcare legislation in Congress.

"As we continue our research into this issue, we are instructing you to immediately discontinue all such mailings to beneficiaries and to remove any related materials directed to Medicare enrollees from your websites," said a notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

We eagerly await the revelation of additional clues, as to the contents of the upcoming publication, and what it will contain. We sincerely hope that one of the upcoming rules in the NewSpeak Dictionary, is that you do not speak of the NewSpeak Dictionary. We at Weaseldog Publishing are adverse to incarceration, torture and execution. We prefer to avoid having these activities performed on said persons.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Garden Photos

I've finally done it. I have pictures of the trellises that I put up.

This is the western trellis. In this photo you can see mexican sunflowers and elephant head amaranth growing under it. I didn't realize that the sunflowers would grow so huge. I've cut them back since, to give some light for the grapes and morning glories. I had hops and kiwis planted there, but they didn't make it.

This shot is just a little to the right of the last photo. The enclosed space is my main garden. you can see some squash and peppers in it. The fences are covered in purple string beans. The plant in the back with the large leaves are poke salat. The mockingbirds love the berries. The left pot has peppermint and the right one, a volunteer vegetable leaf amaranth.

The open space in my yard, aka The Grass Farm. You can see the Eastern trellis in this shot. It remains temporarily unfinished. I need to buy a a few more cedar 2X2s and a middle support to complete it. It has grapes, hops, passion flowers and morning glories growing on it. the structure in the back with the blue tarp is my chicken coop. It's made from pipe and chicken wire. Today it has a brown tarp and would be harder to see in a pic like this.

A similar shot with a better view of the trellis, and the lawnmower with a plastic cover over it.

This is Ginger, hiding in the foliage, waiting to ambush prey at the watering hole. The plants you can see are cannas, daturas and irises. In the pond are dwarf lilypads. Not visible are thornless blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. Perhaps they'll be easier to see next year.

An early morning visitor.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Holds The Market Up?

A thread I see consistently popping up in various forums is the question, "What is holding the market up?" Or to paraphrase, "Where's the crash?"

I think there's a simple answer. It's a bubble and it needs pinprick.

Past bubbles tended to pop after oil prices rose and fell. You could see the unraveling as oil prices reached their zenith.

For now, we're still in a demand destruction phase. We're still shedding jobs. Costs are going up for everything, so people are limiting purchases to only those things they need and often, limiting those.

Until this bottoms out, or oil production drops significantly, I think we may see the market continue to be buoyed by seemingly, nothing at all.

This time around we might see some other event occur to pop the bubble. It could be a war, an assassination, or a natural catastrophe. There's no way to know.

For now though, if I had money to blow, I'd be betting that once again, it will be an intersection of supply and demand for energy. Perhaps this time natural gas could take center stage?

Forecasters are already calling for a harsh winter. Global Warming is being temporarily repressed by El Nino. If we do get a cold winter, then our economy could take a big hit, as demand for natural gas and heating oil rises. But don't worry, FOX will be running debates on Global Warming and ignoring the economy. Things will look much as they do now. More distractions, more bailouts, more job loss, more green shoots...

Osama Bin :Laden, Did He Win?

I didn't get up this morning, intending to write a 9/11 piece. But being a news junkie, I couldn't help but look at the headlines. And the first that caught my eye was a propaganda piece from Time Magazine, 'Eight Years After 9/11: Why Osama bin Laden is a Failure'.

Evidently, Time Magazine is completing their move to being an outlet for stories in fantasy and fiction. While most of the world has believed that Osama Bin Laden died in December 2001, Time Magazine still thinks he's alive and well, or dead... or something.

Bin Laden's voice was detected regularly until [14 December 2001] by intelligence operatives monitoring radio transmissions in Tora Bora, according to the Pentagon [details]. Since then, nothing has been heard from the al-Qa'eda leader and President Bush has hinted in private that bin Laden's silence could mean he has been killed. [Telegraph, 12/28/2001]

Osama Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive?

The last time the world heard from Osama bin Laden, there was reason to believe his end was near. In a videotape released in December, bin Laden looked sallow; his speech was slow, and his left arm immobile.

But that doesn't stop Time Magazine from rewriting the facts to push a political agenda.

In today's article, they write, "He may have eluded justice and the long reach of the world's most powerful military force; his followers may (and probably will) strike again at some point in the future, near or distant; but history's verdict on Osama bin Laden has been in for some time, now: Al-Qaeda failed."

And more...

"The purpose of the 9/11 attacks was not simply to kill Americans; they formed part of Bin Laden's strategy to launch a global Islamist revolution aimed at ending U.S. influence in Muslim countries, overthrowing regimes there allied with Washington, and putting al-Qaeda at the head of a global Islamist insurgency whose objective was to restore the rule of the Islamic Caliphate that had once ruled territory stretching from Moorish Spain through much of Asia."

Now if I took the goals of a well known person or organization and rewrote them to make a point, I'd likely be called on it. Say for instance, I wrote that the American Cancer Society's purpose is to rescue lost puppies and give them to school children. You'd catch me in the lie and call me on it.

Now Osama Bin Laden had been very clear up to the year 2001, that his goal was to end US support for Israel and to expose the US Policies in the Middle East. He argued that we are a brutal nation that commits atrocities in the Middle East in order to control it's oil.

The following article covers some of this. You can google for more. It's all documented.
Terrorism...or Merely “Blowback”?

Once Bush decided he would invade Iraq and Afghanistan for the oil industry, he changed the narrative and rewrote the published words of Osama Bin Laden. An American public that was eager to kill Afghans and and Iraqis in revenge for being attacked by Saudis and Egyptians, eagerly ate up the lies and trusted that Bush was an honest man, who enjoys war from afar, and sending soldiers off to the kill and die to get the man that tried to kill his daddy.

Now I'll concede that we are still supporting Israel and the expansion of their Palestinian Concentration Camp. We're not going to stop that. One day the Palestinians will all be dead and Israel will own their land. So on that note, Osama was fighting a losing battle.

But as to exposing the US as an evil empire that will commit any atrocity for oil, he succeeded. After conquering and subjugating Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA is now a world leader in torture and human rights violations. the whole world knows it, though we Americans like to pretend that raping children in front of their parents is a legitimate means fo getting information from POWs. To get back at Saudi Arabia for financing the the 9/11 attacks, we've killed millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we did it for the oil illegal drug industry. the oil companies got their pipelines, Halliburton got Iraqi Oil, and the heroin trade that the Taliban was trying to eliminate, is booming.

So that's our legacy for 9/11. To honor the 2,993 who died on 9/11 we slaughtered millions of innocent people and tortured thousands more. Obama continues to have innocent people slaughtered to commemorate 9/11. We're so used to hearing about air strikes on civilians now, that we hardly even notice in the news. Our continued slaughter of innocent people, has gotten boring.

Ultimately, the sacrifices made on 9/11 were made to keep Halliburton out of bankruptcy, and to justify two illegal wars and occupations. I find it difficult to imagine a more horrible memorial to the people who died that day.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Frenchy In America

Check out my new friend, Philippe Bertaud's blog, A Frenchy In America.

He has some interesting insights into our culture, from a transplanted Frenchman's perspective.

Jack Dingler

New Poor Tax

Just a quick hit and run here... Or maybe not...

The Healthcare reform bill is going to have fines associated with it. If your employer doesn't provide insurance and you can't get it at an affordable rate, you will be taxed an additional amount at the end of the year.

A family of 4 earning $66,000 / year, will be taxed an additional 3,910.

But this is stil cheaper than insurance. The insurance companies won't be required to provide you affordable insurance, but you're being told you must buy it anyway. So inruance costs may still run close to $1,000/ month per family member.

In 2001, when I went to CORBA, after being laid off, my insurance premiums were $500/ month. I'm told that's a bargain now. And even though I paid on time, I was ditched as soon as it ran out. Insurance corporations don't like to insure individuals, And when Obama's healthcare program kicks in, they won't have to.

You'll be required to buy insurance, but there is no guarantee that it will be made available to you.

As the Fed Desperately searches for ways to get more money out of the jobless and underemployed, I'm seeing the trend continue in local governments. Dallas Area Rapid Transit is raising fares another 50%. Much of the DART system is funded by local sales taxes and bond sales. With more and more people living on the edge, sales tax revenue is in decline.

My city newspaper published a glowing report of how the city is doing great financially, because of the way they think about budgets. And they have invented more innovative fees to cover declining revenue. These would be fees on top of the previous fees they invented. I guess they are discovering the age old lesson, that you can price the taxpayers out of markets.

Again, this fits in with the nutcase conpsiracy theory I had that in periods of decline the bulls in government will desperately find new ways to implement poor taxes, so they don't have to take a hit. And natural born politician is a perpetual bull. They can't sell a message in which economics has occasional downturns. They must always act as if every lottery ticket is a winner. They must insist that there are no downturns and when the find themselves in one, they must pretend it's temporary. A local councilwoman was quoted as saying that things will improve when the recession ends in two years. I suppose that's a 'feel good' number. I don't see any fundamentals in our economic situation that warrants such a quick turn around. I would expect to see a dramatic reduction in foreclosures and bankruptcies first. We have to quit pumping arterial blood through open wounds before we can declare the patient as recovering. So long as we are bleeding jobs at over a half million a month, talk of recovery is very premature.


The Yahoo News article I read over the weekend has been hard to track down.
today I came across the CBS News Version, 'Congress Considers Fining the Uninsured'

American families would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday as divisions among Democrats undercut President Obama's effort to regain traction on his health care overhaul.

And is a fine, extracted by the Tax Man, anything other than a tax?

Friday, September 04, 2009

We're Going To A Bad Place

h/t Edgar

we have another data point, suggesting that Healthcare Reform is going to be a tyrannical system, and an extreme hardship for millions of Americans in the following article.

Health care reform means more power for the IRS.

There's been a lot of discussion about the new and powerful federal agencies that would be created by the passage of a national health care bill. The Health Choices Administration, the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, the Health Insurance Exchange — there are dozens in all.

But if the plan envisioned by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats is enacted, the primary federal bureaucracy responsible for implementing and enforcing national health care will be an old and familiar one: the Internal Revenue Service. Under the Democrats' health care proposals, the already powerful — and already feared — IRS would wield even more power and extend its reach even farther into the lives of ordinary Americans, and the presidentially-appointed head of the new health care bureaucracy would have access to confidential IRS information about millions of individual taxpayers.

With the IRS in charge, this legislation will have some real teeth. If you can't afford insurance, then you may well get your wages garnished. If you don't earn wages, you'll be a criminal.

Under the various proposals now on the table, the IRS would become the main agency for determining who has an "acceptable" health insurance plan; for finding and punishing those who don't have such a plan; for subsidizing individual health insurance costs through the issuance of a tax credits; and for enforcing the rules on those who attempt to opt out, abuse, or game the system. A substantial portion of H.R. 3200, the House health care bill, is devoted to amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to give the IRS the authority to perform these new duties.

And notice that it's up to the taxpayer to insure that they have an acceptable plan. It's not up to the insurance carriers to offer one. And what criteria will the IRS use to judge if the plan is acceptable? Will their criteria be somewhat whimsical or flexible enough to be open to abuse? How many employer provided health care plans will be eligible? If you've paid for a year's coverage, for a plan that turns out to be a little substandard when tax time comes around, what will be your punishment for making that mistake?

And finally, what will be the criminal penalties for those that are jobless and broke, as many millions of Americans will be, over the next decade?

As this legislation is being written by the insurance industry, I have no reason to believe that it contains any restrictions on abuses by the industry. I'd be very surprised if it didn't allow more abuses.

Quite honestly, I am very frightened by this proposed legislation. I fear this will be more destructive to America, than any single piece of legislation we've seen yet. It will channel a large portion of the wage earner's income into an overpriced tax to benefit insurance carriers, who will have no obligation to improve their systems, or actually pay for coverage that they are contracted to provide.

This legislation will give the insurance carriers a captive population of customers. It will remove the last vestiges of competitiveness from the system. Carriers will be able to earn huge profits, while providing very little in the way of actual services.

The potential for abuse by this legislation is tremendous. So far, I haven't heard a peep about any safeguards to protect the citizenry.

Let me give a big congratulations to the insurance carriers. This is quite bonanza you're being handed.

And so the corporate welfare state continues it's massive expansion. the days of working for profits are ending. Why work, when your industry can collect free checks for nothing?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Conspiracy Theorist Karl Denninger

I appear to be completely banned from Karl's forums now. And he's gone and posted another really weird ticker.

Jim Willie Proves He Has No Brain

Karl writes, "3,000 Americans dead, two planes flown into the WTC towers (or was that "faked" too Jim?), the third building blown up (no, that huge chunk clearly shown missing after the tower collapses and hundreds of tons of debris rained from the sky didn't have anything to do with structural compromise), the Pentagon hit (or was that a missile Jim? Oh, where are the people who were in that plane if it didn't hit the Pentagon?) and finally the aircraft that we know for a fact was attempted to be retaken by the passengers (we know this because multiple people had cellular conversations with passengers just before they died) in a valiant fight with a bunch of nutcases that, unfortunately, was unsuccessful and led to their deaths in a field when the plane impacted the ground at somewhere close to 500mph."

Then he goes on to warn folks not to post any conspiracy theory stuff in his ticker.

I ask you Karl, 'What the hell has wormed into your brain?'

I'm sick of the 9/11 crap myself. But a lot of folks love conspiracies.

Why are you posting competing conspiracy theories, if you're not inviting discussions?

JP Morgan, Enron, Saudis and Egyptians with box cutters, Cheney, whatever, they are all competing conspiracy theories.

You don't want these discussion, why even invite them?

You're taking a strange change in direction of late. Fed Conspiracies, Banker Conspiracies, Healthcare Conspiracies, etc...

I think we're all getting a bit confused by you Karl.

Dude, you're flaking out on us. What is wrong with you?

The Future Will Save The Present

I suspected that Karl was a cornucopian and an unabashed worshiper of technology, and he's proved it with a recent post, 'The Sort of Decoupling You don't Want'.

He made a number of statements that I disagree with on various levels. But what really caught my eye, was this one...

"It is also a fact that nuclear fission can be entirely fuel-cycle neutral, as we proved the technical ability to run breeder reactors in the 1960s."

And he's almost right. Except it's not fuel-cycle neutral. That implies that a fixed mass can produce infinite energy. When I asked him if this is what he meant, he didn't answer, he kicked me from the forum.

Now I'm aware that breeder reactors can coax energy out of materials that won't sustain fusion on their own. But this is still energy in a high potential state. When the neutrons are knocked out, and the atom is split, we have material at a lower energy state. We have extracted energy out of the system. To keep this going, we must provide a steady supply of neutrons from U-238, plutonium or some other source, and we have to provide the feedstock that the energy is being extracted from. Though some of this reaction appears to run uphill. The net reaction is tending to entropy.

This reaction does require that you add fuel. It is not 'fuel-cycle neutral'. There is no free lunch. you don't get something for nothing.

One poster made a long technical comment, I'll post a couple of choice lines.

"If it takes a million years to get fusion up and running cost effectively, then so what? With breeder reactors you can do that standing on your head."

"ETA: Also keep in mind that we don't strictly need breeder reactors for quite some time, there's plenty of uranium if you are willing to go up to say $10 per barrel of oil equivalent which is ~$500/lb of yellowcake uranium."

Karl commented, "(Oh my God, someone gets it!)"

Except, that they don't. No one has gotten a commercial breeder reactor to work yet. And folks with deep pockets have tried. Maybe one day, someone will prove that a commercial breeder reactor can be profitable and safe, but for now, I'm asking, 'Show Me The Money'. If these things could be proven out, you can bet that GE would be building them. They like money. They like to build things that make money. They like to earn profits. If these things could be built for a profit and generate cash flow, they'd build them.

Waving your hand and saying that it's easy to do, ignores the problem that it's actually hard to do. The hand waving doesn't make it easy.

And the yellow cake comment? That's a demonstration of ignorance. Now I know that most people don't know what Yellow Cake Uranium is, and that's fine. But when someone writes something technical, pretends to be an expert, and uses this argument to back it up, they are just advertising to the world, their ignorance.

Let's use the current Wikipedia Definition, it's a good one for this purpose...

Yellowcake (also called urania) is a kind of uranium concentrate obtained from leach solutions, in an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores. Yellowcake concentrates are prepared by various extraction and refining methods, depending on the types of ores. Typically yellowcakes are obtained through the milling and chemical processing of uranium ore forming a coarse powder which is insoluble in water and contains about 80% uranium oxide, which melts at approximately 2878 °C. Although uranium is one of the densest metals on Earth, yellowcake is relatively light, with a density approximately that of elemental sulfur.

Our intrepid commentator has implied that Yellowcake costs $10 per 500lbs and that it's ready to use as fuel. I would bet that if pressed on it, the person would clarify the statement and it would lose it's argumentative value. Because it's bullshit. Yet, it's bullshit that Karl agrees with.

The yellowcake is not ready to use. It requires additional processing to produce uranium hexafluoride gas or other 'pure' compounds that can then be used in centrifuges or other technologies to separate the isotopes, and concentrate the more radioactive forms of uranium. then this must be chemically processed again, to produce Uranium Oxide for use in fuel rods.

The yellowcake is the first easy, and relatively low energy step. The additional steps are where the expense and high energy inputs come in.

The commentator appears to be making the argument that fuel rods can be manufactured for $10 per 500 pounds. This is a falsehood.

In fact we may not actually be able to determine the true costs from where we sit. Much of the processing is subsidized by the weapons industry. Our civilian nuclear plants are a byproduct of our war machine. Without subsidies, none of our civilian nuclear power plants would even turn a profit.

As a specific example, when the Commanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in my area went live, electrical rates were doubled overnight. This was blamed on the fact that it there were protesters driving up costs. It seems it costs more to hire security guards than it does to build a nuclear power plant. I knew a lot of folks at the time who honestly believe that it costs hundreds of millions of dollars (1970s) to hire security guards. They believed that this was the source of cost overruns, and why the plant cost ten times more to build, than the publically stated estimates.

So after the first big electric bill, there were so many complaints by the City of Fort Worth, corporations doing business there, and residents, that the Federal Government announced they were subsidizing the loan for the plant. TXU essentially got a free nuclear power plant, paid for, by the US taxpayer. After this, electrical rates were reduced to about 20% over the previous rates.

I've posted before the ratio of nukes to US energy consumption. The figure is approximately fifty nukes equals 1% of the energy we get from oil. Now I'm not talking electricity, I'm talking raw BTUs.

So the idea that nukes are gonna save our bacon, leads to some pretty wild math. To offset a 3% decline in oil with a modest 3% growth rate, we need to complete 300 nukes every year.

And this increases the odds that a serious failure will occur. Each nuke will have a low probability of serious failure, but as the number increases, the probability that one of them will have a serious failure, increases.

Consider the simple case of the lottery. Each single ticket has a low probability of winning. But when enough tickets are sold, the probability that one of them will win, becomes high. And the fact that the lottery goes on week after week, guarantees that a ticket will win.

So if we build thousands of nukes and operate them year after year, the probability of a serious failure becomes certain.

This is the risk that Karl is talking about.

There is no such thing as risk-free energy; environmental and health damage from our existing power-production infrastructure in one year dramatically exceeds that of nuclear energy over its entire time on the planet!

And he gets it wrong. His argument works if we don't add more nukes. And is assuming that we find a way to keep future generations from being harmed by the waste we're producing. After all, the fossil fuel waste problems will clear up on a much shorter time scale, than the nuclear waste will, if left to natural processes.

And now I'm going back to that exponents problem. We can't attain infinite consumption on a finite planet. Our need for eternal growth to power capitalism is at it's core, impossible to satisfy. Chasing nukes is merely an attempt to kick the can down the road. Our general willingness to live in a much more polluted environment, in order to chase infinity, simply means that other problems will become more severe as we continue this path.

Our problems are much bigger than trying to figure out how to build thousands of nuclear power plants over the next decade. We are exhausting our food and water supplies. We are killing off our life support systems. and Karl wants to kill the planet faster, to eat polluted food and drink polluted water.

And say we enjoy the prosperity that comes with a more polluted world. Will we be happier with shorter lifespans and more sickness throughout our lives? Is that worth it? I don't think so.

Our quest for infinite growth is destroying our ability to produce food in a sustainable fashion, even as we seek to expand our population. We are on a collision course with the wall of exponents and Karl, who normally gets the exponents problem, is saying we should bring it on.

On my final note, a lot of folks are saying the environmental whackos have stopped progress. As if they are supermen, immune to bullets, able to encase oil industry CEOs in blocks of ice through sheer force of will...

That's just more bullshit. If someone can make money building a nuke plant, they'll build it. The environmental whacko bullshit is for the people who prefer not to engage in critical thinking skills. we don't build more plants because we have enough to satisfy the waste disposal for the US Military's production of nuclear weapons, and because the gov doesn't want to subsidize more plants. They are not a profit center. If China is really building them, it's because their nuclear weapons industry sees a need for them.



The prototype Fermi plant that Karl uses as a counter example, I'll give partial credit for. It provided civilian power, and suffered a partial fuel meltdown. It was shut down in 1972 when it came very close to a second meltdown. I have trouble reconciling this example with his argument that the risks are worth it. I think a an uncontrolled meltdown would've cost more than the value added by the plant.

It still hasn't been fully decommissioned. The monetary costs are too high.

I'm not sure that a plant that costs more to operate than it earns can be considered commercial... and on that note, perhaps no civilian plant really qualifies?

And now that the Gov admits a cover up in the Three Mile Island episode, how can we trust the industry at all? When there's an imminent danger, they lie to us.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Vanishing Bees

h/t Steve Kurtz from Energy RoundTable

It appears that geneticists have found the smoking gun for our Vanishing Bees problem.

GMO crops with the Bt gene inserted produce pollen, containing this natural pesticide.

Insects that feed on the pollen are then ingesting small quantities of the pesticide.

Now laboratory tests show that the levels are low and the Bt toxin in pollen in these amounts are not immediately fatal to many insects. but the story doesn't stop there. Bees concentrate the nutrients in pollen to produce Royal Jelly. That is the food for the Queen Bee. So Bt toxins in the pollen could become concentrated during this process.

But still this isn't deadly on it's own. According to the paper linked above, the Bt toxin changes methyl groups in the bees. Now methyl groups are chemicals bound to DNA that regulate how the DNA is expressed. They can activate or deactivate genes. They can create virtual genes, and they can change gene function.

So this gets us to reproduction. when the queen is producing eggs, the Bt toxin modifies the way genes are expressed in the developing larvae. It changes the way their body chemistry and brains develop. When they finally join the hive as adult bees, they are a different breed than their sisters. Their brains may not have formed with the correct encoding and structures to function in the hive. So they fly away and never come back. Perhaps they get lost? Perhaps their navigation is totally screwed.

Now that we know that Bt crops modify the development of bee larva from a genetic level, researchers will be able to carry forward experiments in this vein to get a clearer view of exactly what the Bt toxin may be doing to destroy nature's pollinators.

It's ironic that technology designed to increase food production, may inadvertently cause it to crash, and set our agricultural systems back hundreds of years.