Tuesday, November 25, 2008

News That Matters - November 25, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

From Arts on the Lake:

Discover the Actor Inside:
An Introduction to Acting: Instructor: Lora Lee Ecobelli

Tuesdays from 7:30-9:30 pm and running for 6 weeks – Through December 23rd.

This class is the first step to building a solid foundation in the art of acting. By using theatre games and improvisation, students will learn basic theatre skills in a supportive, creative and fun environment. In addition, there will be further development of the actor's physical resources of voice and movement, concentration and working as a unit. Rehearsal with a scene partner outside of class is required. The class will culminate in a scene night open to the public.

There are fees involved so please check the Arts on the Lake website for more information.

Several readers wrote to tell us how they did on the Civic Literacy test I posted about yesterday and the results were as I expected. All scored 32 out of 33 answers correctly. How did you do?

And now, the News:

  1. Earthworms’ Underground Invasion Threatens Forest Sustainability
  2. For Beekeepers, Colony Collapse Disorder Makes November the Cruelest Month
  3. Plan Bee Step #1 - Plant a Bee Garden
  4. The Asheville (NC) Green Opportunity Corps
  5. At a New York Seminary, a Green Idea Gets Tangled in Red Tape
  6. Bush Rule on Oil Shale Highlights Partisan Divide in West
  7. Panic in Motown as bosses and workers stare into the abyss
  8. Psychiatric Care’s Peril and Profits
  9. "Under Coercive Conditions"

Earthworms’ Underground Invasion Threatens Forest Sustainability

Earthworms have long been considered a friend to farmers and home gardeners, playing a vital role in soil quality. However, recent studies have shown that glaciated forests in North America—forests that evolved without native earthworms--now face the invasion of European earthworms from agriculture and fishing.

This underground invasion has compounding impacts on the capacity of the soil to provide nutrients and sequester carbon—an important role as the world faces global climate change.

Kyungsoo Yoo, University of Delaware assistant professor of soil and land resources, and colleagues Anthony Aufdenkampe of the Stroud Water Research Center and Cindy Hale, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota Duluth, were recently awarded a three-year, $397,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative (USDA-NRI) to study the quantitative coupling of the ecology of European earthworm invasion--specifically in Canada, New England and the Great Lakes region--with mineral chemical weathering and carbon cycling.

Prior to colonization, the glaciated areas of North America were devoid of native earthworms. European earthworms were first introduced to U.S. soils when immigrants brought crops from their native lands, harboring earthworm cocoons. Worms made their way to the edges of farmlands and to the forests.

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For Beekeepers, Colony Collapse Disorder Makes November the Cruelest Month

As Signs of Disease Resurface, Bayer Agrees to Discuss Pesticide's Effect on Honey Bees

April may have been the cruelest month in 1922 when Eliot wrote The Waste Land, but November is the cruelest month in 2008 as beekeepers, almond growers, pollination brokers, scientists and reporters hold their breath to see if this November Colony Collapse Disorder will rise again and be counted. November is the month it begins to creep, especially in the holding yards of California. So far its presence hasn’t been overwhelming, but it has shown up, mostly in operations arriving just this month from the east coast. But it isn’t limiting itself to just California, as usual, so beekeepers everywhere are making lists and checking everything twice, or more often, to make sure their bees are doing what their bees are supposed to be doing.

One scientist speculates that the previous two years have, in a twisted sort of way, been beneficial to the beekeeping industry if for no other reason than beekeepers are working hard at maintaining healthy colonies. Carefully they are watching nutrition levels in their bees, timing mite treatments better, doing everything possible to stem the tide of Nosema cerane, the gut-infecting disease that’s been causing all manner of problems the past couple of years, and to reduce as much as possible their exposure to any and all pesticides in the agricultural environment they are required to live in.

All of these precautions have paid off to some degree for most beekeepers, as it seems, so far, the incidence of CCD has been reduced. But this is a sly and sneaky monster so no one is taking the lull so far for granted, and everyone is holding their breath.

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Plan Bee Step #1 - Plant a Bee Garden

Posted by schacker on May 12, 2008

[Ed note: Thanks to NtM Reader Judy Allen for sending this along]

Planting a bee garden is not hard। Just start with a variety of flowering plants, fruits, and vegetables, a diversity that will bloom throughout spring, summer, and fall. If you are in a city, use a window planter or your roof. The bees, assuming there are any left in your area, will arrive and feed on the nectar and pollen. And any garden vegetables, mints, or fruit will, in turn, be well pollinated for your efforts. Just don’t use any insecticides or herbicides! Learn how bees work with the physical and biological controls used in organic gardening.

Flowers that are blue, purple, and yellow especially attract bees, while flowers with no tubes or short tubes are easier for most bees to gather pollen and drink nectar। Daisies are good for bees, as are cosmos, zinnias, and dahlias. “Double” varieties, which have been bred to grow extra petals instead of anthers, make little nectar and so don’t generally make good flowers to plant. Plant “single” varieties only. Mints are excellent and provide leaves for sweet tea.

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The Asheville (NC) Green Opportunity Corps

Get Trained. Get Paid. Make a Difference.

The Asheville Green Opportunity Corps (Asheville GO) is a paid training and leadership program designed to prepare under-served young adults (ages 18-25) for living wage jobs in the rapidly expanding Green Economy. Our hands-on curriculum combines community service projects, life skills training, and on-the-job experience in order to provide GO members with everything they need to launch successful careers in promising fields like green construction, clean energy, recycling, ecological landscaping and restoration, and sustainable agriculture.

Asheville GO is a collaborative program administered by the Clean Air Community Trust in partnership with numerous local businesses, government agencies and nonprofits. These include the Asheville Housing Authority, the Land of Sky Regional Council, the City of Asheville, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Progress Energy, the Community Foundation of WNC, Habitat for Humanity, the Western NC Green Building Council, and many more.

Read More

At a New York Seminary, a Green Idea Gets Tangled in Red Tape


Here was the easy part about an elegant, smart alternative energy project at an Episcopal seminary in Chelsea: drilling 1,500 feet through Manhattan schist to reach the water that runs deep and warm in the earth.

“An 8 3/4-inch carbide button drill bit,” said Dennis Frawley, who managed the project for the General Theological Seminary. “Behind that, there was a fluted percussion hammer. That pounds the rock into particulate.”

Drilling a quarter-mile into solid rock was simple, said Maureen Burnley, the seminary’s executive vice president, compared with persuading government officials and agencies that had the authority to say no — or to simply do nothing and stop all progress.

“We had to answer to 10 agencies,” Ms. Burnley said. “It took three times as long as it should have. The left and the right hand did not know what the other was doing.”

Read More

Bush Rule on Oil Shale Highlights Partisan Divide in West

by Joaquin Sapien - November 22, 2008 10:30 am EST
This story was co-published with Politico.

Seven weeks after a congressional moratorium on oil shale development expired, the Bush administration has issued rules that take the first step toward tapping an estimated 800 billion barrels of oil trapped in sedimentary rock in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

The new rules have highlighted a divisive partisan issue among Western politicians, with Republicans ready to push forward with development and Democrats urging a more cautious approach. The rules establish a framework for how energy companies will lease federal land for oil shale mining. Opponents say oil shale mining uses so much water that it could threaten their drinking water supply. They also say its heavy consumption of energy could outweigh its energy benefits.

Read More

Panic in Motown as bosses and workers stare into the abyss

Elana Schor in Washington and Phillip Inman guardian.co.uk,
Saturday November 22 2008

General Motors yesterday belatedly promised to give up two of its five leased executive jets, after its boss had used one to fly to Washington to plead for more government cash in order to stay in business.

The US car firm said less symbolic cuts were also on the way, as it and fellow Detroit giants Ford and Chrysler teeter on the brink of insolvency. But the contrition came too late to spare them a further lashing as investors weighed their debts.

Barack Obama appears to be putting Detroit on notice that his arrival in January could mean a drastic shift. Bloomberg news reported yesterday that the president-elect's advisers are talking to lawyers about an auto bankruptcy, a prospect dismissed as "pure fantasy" this week by GM's chief, Rick Wagoner.

Read More

Psychiatric Care’s Peril and Profits

by Christina Jewett and Robin Fields, ProPublica November 22, 2008 3:28 am EST

Psychiatric Solutions Inc. was on its way to becoming the nation's leading provider of private psychiatric care when it snapped up Sierra Vista Hospital in Sacramento in mid-2005.

The company put its well-honed business formula into action: Staffing fell. Beds filled up. Profits soared.

It was a winning strategy for investors. But for some patients, federal records show, checking into Sierra Vista proved dangerous – at times deadly.

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"Under Coercive Conditions"

By Andrew Sullivan. The Atlantic

Ben Wittes ups the Orwellian ante:
Detainees who pose a grave national security threat might be unprosecutable for a variety of reasons: because of deficiencies in the criminal law as it stood in 2001, because evidence against them would not stand up in court, because the government might not have enough evidence to convict or because it obtained key evidence under coercive conditions.

Photo: a detainee killed by US forces in Abu Ghraib prison, after being beaten and forced into a position with his arms bent back over and behind his head, with a hood restricting his breathing. All the techniques used against him were authorized by president George W. Bush.

"Under coercive conditions". Excuse me, but what does that mean in English? Try: Because they got intelligence from torturing people. Coercion means force. It means they forced "information" out of them. Not coax, trick, lure, force. That means the victims had no choice. And the only way in which human beings can seriously have no choice at all is by subjecting them to such severe mental and physical pain and suffering that they have no option as human beings but to tell their torturers something.

This is the defining line of torture: not some arbitrary comic book technique, but a psychological and physical fact: pushing another human being to the point where choice becomes unavailable to him or her. You can do this in any number of ways; it can take three seconds of electrocution or it can take two months of sleep deprivation, hypothermia and darkness. But the line it eventually crosses is the same line. Throughout human history, human beings have known what that line is, and the West was constructed on a disavowal of ever crossing it again. Why? Because a society that endorses torture commits itself not to limiting, but to extinguishing human freedom. And a protection of human freedom in its most minimal form is what our entire civilization is premised on.

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