Tuesday, November 8, 2016

#Clinton, #Trump, #Stein, #Johnson and These Terriers I Used to Know

I'll keep this short.
I've always been a walking kind of fella. I walk all over the place, down alleys, into creeks, you name it.

I've never been an especially angry person. I get angry. I've gotten really angry. I've hit people with my fists and jumped on them and stuff. But that's really, really rare. It has always taken someone hitting me first for me to hit them. But yes, I get angry. And I "get" angry.

The American people are angry.

Not many of the American people I know are not angry; Angry at bankers, angry at politicians, angry at groups, angry at ideas, angry at change and angry at the status quo.

I used to go for long walks, like I said.

There was this one house I used to walk by. It had these two little terriers in the back yard. They would get furious at me for walking by.

They would growl, and bark and run around the fence. They hated me on the sidewalk.
They would chase me around from inside the fence until I was past. Then, realizing they could not get to me, they would get frustrated and turn on each other. They would tear at each other and get into a ferocious fight. It was kind of sad. And it was kind of funny.




Thursday, September 8, 2016

‏(VIDEO) @NASA : In celebration of #StarTrek50, #NASA administrator discusses real world impact of fictional characters Uhura and Sulu.

Alabama Hunters Face Potential Problems with Duplicate Lifetime License Numbers

Since the lifetime hunting and fishing licenses became available in Alabama several decades ago, more than 80,000 people have taken advantage of this opportunity.
It wasn’t until the Game Check harvest reporting system was implemented three years ago that a problem with the lifetime licenses surfaced. It seems a large number of duplicate numbers are among those 80,000 lifetime licenses. This causes a major problem when the holders try to use Game Check, which will be mandatory for the upcoming hunting seasons.
The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division has been hard at work trying to find the duplicate numbers and notify the license holders when possible.
“Of the 80,000 some-odd lifetime licenses, about 48,000 had duplicate license numbers,” said WFF Director Chuck Sykes. “The reason we discovered the duplicates was we had people who called us and told us they had tried to use the voluntary Game Check to report a harvest and it wouldn’t let them do it. It turned out to be a two-fold problem. A lot of the lifetime licenses didn’t have the number of characters needed to access the system. If it was bought 20 years ago, it may have only six digits where it needs 10 to enter the system. The second issue was the database couldn’t identify it to a specific hunter because more than one person might have that license number.
“So we had to figure out a way to solve that problem. The first step was to let people know about the issue with the old licenses and give them an opportunity to have a new license issued. We’ve always allowed people who have lost their lifetime license to get a new license for $5, or, if it was damaged, they could send it in and we would issue a new one at no charge.”
The new system also affects those lifetime license holders whose licenses are in perfectly good shape and in their possession, but they don’t have the number of digits required to enter the Game Check system.
“We have been going back through the license sales and cross-referencing,” Sykes said. “I’ll use myself as an example. I bought my lifetime license in 1992. I tried to utilize Game Check and it wouldn’t let me. So I got a new license with a unique number. There were a lot of people like me. I still get a HIP (Harvest Information Program) license for doves and waterfowl. I buy a Wildlife Management Area license. I buy a trapping license and a state duck stamp. I asked our IT department to cross-reference those licenses with my old lifetime license number. This cross-referencing allowed us to identify those lifetime license holders that we previously had no contact information to reach these individuals.”
After several months of work, Sykes said the IT staff has been able to reduce the number of duplicate licenses in half, but almost 25,000 are still out there.
“Another way we decided to attack this issue – other states already have this – is to issue hunters an individual number that follows them throughout their lives,” he said. “It’s called a Conservation ID number.”
With Game Check mandatory this year, anyone who harvests a deer or turkey must report it through Game Check, including those who are exempt from buying a license – hunters under the age of 16 or over 64 and those who hunt on their own property. To access the Game Check system, those exempt from buying a license must acquire a H.E.L.P. (Hunter Exempt License Privilege) number each year or get a new Conservation ID.
“For example, if you have a 10-year-old child who hunts, they’ll need a way to access the mandatory Game Check system if they harvest a deer or turkey,” Sykes said. “They have to get a H.E.L.P. number each year until they can buy a license. The Conservation ID is a six-digit number versus a 16-digit number. So it’s a lot easier to enter and remember. So for that child’s lifetime, all they will have to remember is their date of birth and that six-digit Conservation ID number. It’s going to simplify the process greatly. Once they get the Conservation ID number, they never have to do it again.”
For those with the lifetime licenses without the required number of digits, WFF is offering two ways to remedy that situation. First, they can get a new lifetime license, or they can go online and create a Conservation ID and use that number to access the Game Check system.
“There is a lot less room for error with a six-digit number versus a 16-digit number,” Sykes said. “Our most common error comes in entering that 16-digit number. And it’s the most time consuming as well. You’ve got to pull your license out and enter that long number. So, right now, you enter a six-digit number and you’re in the system.”
Sykes encourages people to take advantage of the Conservation ID because there is no guarantee that the number will remain at six digits.
“I hope so many people take advantage of the Conservation ID that we may have to go to seven digits,” he said. “But, right now, we’re starting with a simple, six-digit number. If you use the Outdoor Alabama app on your smartphone to use Game Check, it will cut your reporting time down from about two minutes to 45 seconds.”
Purchasing a hunting license online or through the Outdoor Alabama app has another benefit as well.
“What we learned going around the state doing the Game Check seminars is that between 75 and 80 percent of the people who attended have smartphones,” Sykes said. “If you buy your license online or through the app, you do not have to carry a paper license. When I go to the woods, I might forget my bow release or binoculars or ammo, but I’m going to have my smartphone in my pocket. Now you can have everything on your phone. That includes your license information and your harvest record on your phone. I can prove I have a hunting license. I can prove I have a harvest record. I can prove I have Game Check.”
Some critics of the Game Check system insisted the reason for Game Check was to increase the number of tickets issued by the WFF Enforcement Section. Sykes said nothing could be farther from the truth.
“People don’t realize that almost our entire budget comes from license sales,” he said. “Only about 2.2 percent of our budget comes from fines. We hope we don’t have to write tickets for Game Check violations. We’re just trying to make it as simple as possible to be in compliance and for us to have access to data we need to make sound wildlife management decisions.”
Go to https://game.dcnr.alabama.gov/ and look at the top of the page in the far right corner for Conservation ID. Click on that link and enter the information that will allow you to create a Conservation ID. If you just purchased the license online, you will need to wait about 30 minutes for that information to be updated in the system to be able to create the Conservation ID.

- By

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Groups Sue Drummond over Abandoned Mine’s Pollution of the Locust Fork

Birmingham, AL— Conservation groups have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama against Drummond Company for violations at its Maxine Mine site, an abandoned underground coal mine located on the banks of the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River near Praco, Alabama.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, and Public Justice filed the lawsuit to stop the continuous and unpermitted polluted discharges of acidic runoff and mine drainage into the Locust Fork and its tributaries. Besides being a continuous source of acid mine drainage, the mine waste has completely filled what was once a flowing tributary of the Locust Fork.

“We cannot allow pollution at the Maxine Mine site to continue at the expense of the health of the Locust Fork, its tributaries, and groundwater,” said Barry Brock, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “To protect downstream communities, wildlife and the recreational value of this important waterway, Drummond must take immediate and effective measures to stop the contaminated discharges at this site, once and for all.”

When mining operations at the Maxine Mine ceased, an enormous pile of mining waste was left at the site, as well as sediment basins full of contaminated runoff. As a result, mining waste and acid mine drainage have been illegally discharging from the site into the Locust Fork and tributaries through surface water runoff and seeps from the underground mine for years.

“The Maxine Mine site is one of the worst of hundreds of abandoned mines in the Black Warrior basin,” said Riverkeeper Staff Attorney, Eva Dillard. “Long after active mining has ceased, many of these sites continue to degrade water quality with unpermitted discharges containing high levels of sediment, heavy metals such as iron and aluminum, and other pollutants.”

To address the ongoing pollution and storage of coal mine waste on the Locust Fork, the groups are seeking removal of the mining waste, remediation and/or restoration of contaminated streams, and any other necessary measures by Drummond to stop the illegal discharges at the site.

“Acid mine drainage and runoff continues to threaten streams and groundwater in the area around the Maxine Mine site,” said Richard Webster, Environmental Enforcement Project Attorney with Public Justice. “Drummond has a responsibility to clean up the mess unleashed by mining operations at the site, and filing suit is an urgent effort to compel the company to take action now.”

Click here to read the lawsuit.

Click here for an aerial view of acid mine drainage and polluted runoff from Maxine Mine entering the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River (bottom left).  (© Nelson Brooke, Flight provided by SouthWings.org)

Monday, July 25, 2016

USDA Seeks Applications for Funding to Develop Advanced Biofuels and Plant-Based Products

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking applications for funding to help support the development of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and biobased products.

"The bioeconomy is a catalyst for economic development in rural America, creating new jobs and providing new markets for farmers and ranchers," Vilsack said. "Investing in the businesses and technologies that support the production of biofuels and biobased products is not only good for farm incomes. The whole economy benefits from a more balanced, diversified and consumer-friendly energy portfolio, less dependence on foreign oil and reduced carbon emissions."

Funding is being provided through the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, formerly known as the Biorefinery Assistance Program.

Congress established the program in 2008 to encourage the development of biofuels that use renewable feedstocks. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program to include renewable chemicals and biobased product manufacturing. The program now provides loan guarantees of up to $250 million to develop, construct and retrofit commercial-scale biorefineries and to develop renewable chemicals and biobased product manufacturing facilities.

USDA has provided $844 million in loan commitments to 10 businesses in the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program since the start of the Obama administration. Companies receiving these commitments are projected to produce 159 million gallons of advanced biofuels.
In 2011, under this program, USDA provided Sapphire Energy a $54.5 million loan guarantee to build a refined algal oil commercial facility. Sapphire's "Green Crude Farm" in Columbus, N.M., is an example of how USDA funding and partnerships with the private sector are helping to support the development of biorefineries.

The plant opened in May 2012 and is producing renewable algal oil that can be further refined to replace petroleum-derived diesel and jet fuel. According to the company, more than 600 jobs were created during the first phase of construction at the facility and 30 full-time employees currently operate the plant. After Sapphire received additional equity from private investors, it repaid the remaining balance on its USDA-backed loan in 2013.

USDA is helping to develop the bioeconomy, which has the potential to spur unprecedented growth in the rural economy by creating opportunities for the production, distribution and sale of biobased products and fuels. For example, USDA has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Navy to create advanced drop-in biofuels that will power both the Department of Defense and private-sector transportation throughout America. Over the course of this Administration, USDA has invested $332 million to accelerate research on renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and cost/benefit estimates of renewable energy production. For more information on how renewable energy factors into USDA's work to reduce greenhouse gases, visit the latest chapter of USDA's Medium entry, How Food and Forestry Are Adapting to a Changing Climate.

The Department has also taken steps to support biobased product manufacturing that promises to create new jobs across rural America – including adding new categories of qualified biobased products for Federal procurement and establishing reporting by Federal contractors of biobased product purchases. The more than 2,200 products that have received certification to display the USDA Certified Biobased Product label are creating and increasing consumer and commercial awareness about a material's biobased content as one measure of its environmental footprint. A 2015 USDA study of the bioeconomy found that the biobased products industry generates $369 billion and 4 million jobs each year for our economy. Biobased products industries directly employ approximately 1.5 million people, while an additional 2.5 million jobs are supported in other sectors.

For this announcement, USDA will seek applications in two cycles. Applications for the first funding cycle are due October 3, 2016. Applications for the second cycle are due April 3, 2017. For more information, see page 48377 of the July 25, 2016, Federal Register. Application materials can be found on USDA's Rural Development website.

In October 2015, Rural Development implemented a redesigned two-phase application process. This new process helps the Agency identify the projects that have made the most progress in the development stage and have the greatest capacity for implementation and loan closing. The first two application cycles under the new process yielded complete applications from projects producing biogas, biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, biobased lubricants and oils, lignin cake and syrup, and fertilizers.

Eligible borrowers include individuals, corporations, federally-recognized tribes, units of state or local government, farm cooperatives and co-op organizations, associations of agricultural producers, national laboratories, institutions of higher education, rural electric cooperatives, public power entities – or a consortium of any of these borrower types. Entities that receive program financing must provide at least 20 percent of the funding for eligible project costs.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 185,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

Friday, April 29, 2016

USDA Unveils New 'Urban Agriculture Toolkit' for Urban Farmers and Agri-business Entrepreneurs

Online Resource Draws on USDA's and Partners' Experience with Launching and Sustaining Urban Agriculture Operations Points Producers to Helpful Financial and Technical Resources
WASHINGTON, April 29, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the USDA Urban Agriculture Toolkit, a new resource created by USDA's Know Your Farmer team to help entrepreneurs and community leaders successfully create jobs and increase access to healthy food through urban agriculture. From neighborhood gardens grown on repurposed lots, to innovative mobile markets and intensive hydroponic and aquaculture operations, urban food production is rapidly growing into a mature business sector in cities across the country.

"Urban agriculture helps strengthen the health and social fabric of communities while creating economic opportunities for farmers and neighborhoods," Vilsack said. "USDA's Urban Agriculture Toolkit compiles guidance from our Know Your Farmer team and many private partners into one comprehensive resource to help small-scale producers manage all aspects of their business. From protecting soil health to marketing to schools and grocery store chains, USDA has tools to meet the needs of this new breed of innovative urban farmer and small business owner."

Industry estimates show U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008, and experts anticipate that value to hit $20 billion by 2019. The numbers also show that these opportunities are helping to drive job growth in agriculture, increase entrepreneurship and expand food access and choice.

USDA's Toolkit is an electronic document that helps urban and small farms navigate more than 70 helpful resources, including technical assistance and financing opportunities. It focuses on some of the most pressing challenges confronting urban producers such as land access, soil quality, water resources, capital and financing, infrastructure, market development, production strategies, and applying for federal, state or private foundation grants. University extension service partners in Chicago and Indianapolis helped develop cost estimates for starting urban farms and the toolkit includes information on best practices and check lists for start-ups and early-stage producers planning outdoor or indoor operations.

Some of the USDA resources featured in the Toolkit include:
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service technical and financial assistance for drip irrigation and seasonal high tunnels to extend the growing season.
  • Farm Services Agency microloans that provide up to $50,000 in financing for equipment, working capital or other expenses.
  • Food and Nutrition Service assistance to help urban farmers become authorized to accept SNAP, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefit cards.
  • Agricultural Marketing Service Farmers Market Promotion Program grants that support direct-to-consumer marketing activities in cities, and Local Food Promotion Program grants that support food hubs, farm-to-retail, and related projects.
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program support for field trials in urban settings and urban farm planning and marketing guides.
Vilsack made the announcement today during an event opening a new school community garden at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore. The idea for the Toolkit was originally conceived at a USDA Urban Agriculture roundtable held nearby in Baltimore last spring. A key result of that meeting was the creation of USDA's Urban Agriculture Working Group (UAWG) that has assembled an inventory of existing department resources and worked to make them more readily accessible. The UAWG continues to actively engage urban producers around the country to identify evolving needs and support their success as a positive socioeconomic force in their communities.

Several Baltimore organizations in the vanguard of urban agriculture have developed resources that are included in the Toolkit as models for other communities like the City Farm Alliance's Urban Agriculture How-To Guide, the Community Law Center's Urban Agriculture Law Project Manual and the Green Pattern Book that helps local leaders map and identify productive new uses for vacant land.

During the event, Vilsack also highlighted expansion of a partnership between USDA and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, increasing the number of opportunities for young people in Baltimore to serve as AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates, earning valuable professional and life experience while serving their community. These AmeriCorps members will serve with the Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network to provide summer opportunities for Baltimore City residents. They will join the more than 1,400 AmeriCorps members currently serving institutions and organizations throughout the city, including Frederick Douglass High School.

The Urban Agriculture Toolkit and the UAWG are part of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative (KYF2) supporting the Obama Administration's work to strengthen economic bonds between rural and urban areas. Launched in 2009, KYF2 breaks down silos and takes stock of USDA programs that support the growing demand for local and regional food systems.

Visit the KYF2 website at www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer to find local and regional food system resources in your community. Learn more about the $1 billion USDA has invested in 40,000 projects to develop local market opportunities at https://medium.com/usda-results as USDA celebrates Know your Farmer Month in April.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

#ELECTION2016! Can We Just Get a Do Over? Obviously Something is Broken

I don't care where you stand on issues, or who your candidate is. I imagine there are times we have all sat watching this primary cycle and just shaken our heads in disbelief.

I admit it! I absolutely have my candidate! 

I don't fall in the camp of those who don't see an answer in any of the selections. But, and that's a BIG but. And I love big buts and I cannot lie. Many of my fellow citizens feel completely without representation. And that's a big problem.

Even those who have a champion in this fight seem to feel the process is inherently flawed.

I would LOVE for my candidate to get elected and change the country "for the better!" But is that likely to even happen this time around? No matter who we get in the White House... it's doubtful.  

We have been moving in this direction for years and frankly, this circus was predictable. Given the extreme unpopularity of George W. Bush and the fact that name recognition is most definitely a major factor in sinking his brother Jeb's candidacy, we need look no further back than the Bush era tactics for the seeds of our current crop of crap. His was the culmination of arrogance which saw a complete disregard for the will of so many American people. And his administration was the center of corrupt ineptitude. Hell, even the republican voters know that. They might not admit it openly. But their treatment of Jeb Bush screams it loudly.   

I know we can go even further back, and find examples of the partisan schism in our society, where we have become so polarized we have created two distinctly different societies at war with each other. We long ago lost common ground where a single president or party could expect some sort of respect or support from those on "the other side."

It was only recently that nearly half of our fellow citizens would always feel disenfranchised and excluded from any choice in the public sphere. Now...those two halves have themselves, not only split, but splintered, which was an obvious outcome.

We will, in the inevitable outcome of this election cycle, install a weakened leader. The infighting of each party, and the struggle between them will ensure we continue our slip into political decay.

The Democratic Party, by maintaining the superdelegate system has guaranteed the alienation of nearly an entire generation which has come out in massive numbers to support the "grass roots candidate" Bernie Sanders. 

The DNC has taken steps to defeat
any possible candidate for change, in favor of establishment candidates who don't have to compete on a level playing field. They have guaranteed control of their party by their corporate sponsors and party insiders in opposition to the will of the people, blatantly so, without remorse or compromise. Even if Sanders manages to pull out a victory, it would be obvious the cards of any true policy changes would be stacked against him.

The Sanders supporters, likewise, will brook no interference in the master plan of redefining the party, the process and the potential for social revolution. They are entrenched.

The GOP? 

I don't have to explain it to anyone. Even though people see the GOP circus from different seats. They all see the circus. And unfortunately it's as if the clowns and animals have all gone insane and are turning on the audience. There is a massacre in the works, a trampling, a trouncing of the party and the country. This is inevitable.

Any way you look at it we have created a shit storm. And we're all caught in it.

What can be done? This answer, unfortunately will need to play out over a long period of time. Americans don't like that.

Of course, what WILL be done is one candidate will win the primaries on each side, then turn his or her message to their broader target audience. They will repaint themselves as the great healer. They will espouse their plan to repair the divisiveness. Bring "our great nation" back together...that sort of thing.

But, what will really happen will most likely be more ineffective government focused on squabbling and self interest. When people feel they are out of control things get, well, out of control. Unfortunately it isn't just a feeling, it's fact.

Either we will have the GOP corporate sponsors, or we will have the DNC corporate sponsors. That is how our government will "work."

Those who have been predicting a police state to control the masses on behalf of the corporate overlords will have a field day. And hell, they might be right. But more likely than that, as corporations are want to do...they will try and SELL US SOMETHING! They will sell the "idea" that things are working. That is their nature. And we...we will buy it. 

Why? Because we are consumers. We let them buy and sell everything, including us and the future of our country. At least that is how it has been for the longest time. Generation after generation we have grown to worship the transaction.  

Speaking of generations. That Millennial generation, what will they be doing?  What they have been all along I assume. They will watch. Hopefully they will continue to act.

If we're lucky their generation will learn more than they will be taught. Because, as of late, the teaching skills of our nation have been somewhat lacking.