Do We Really Need A Pipeline?



fuss_proposed_route                                                           Well the Republicans, having just cleaned up in the mid-term elections, thought that they would test their probability of Congress passing a Bill to okay construction of the XXL pipeline before the new Congress is sworn in n in January.  Environmentalist all agree that to run a pipeline across the United States, from Canada to Texas is just asking for trouble. Meanwhile the Republican Party say that the President is holding up hundreds of “shovel ready” jobs when the country needs them most. Well now as to the jobs, after listening to all the facts, the truth is that there may be hundreds of jobs to begin with, but once the pipeline is built, the total of full time jobs will be about 35. Think about it, it’s going to be an automated system, and all it’s going to need is people to make sure it’s running okay. That means there will be a tech guy every few hundred miles or so to troubleshoot any glitches in the system.

There’s a lot of us citizens here in the states who do not want to be the facilitators of the dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude from tar sands in Canada’s far north. And that’s not just coming from the people who’s greatest mission in life is to protect this planet on which we live, but from the people who are afraid of the impact it will have on their lives if a “oops” happens, and suddenly their land is oil covered. Some supporters of this massive  project say that could never happen, and those who oppose the pipeline say, “malarkey”.  No sooner had we opened up the year 2014, when we read about two ruptures of smaller pipelines contaminating aquifers and covering wildlife with enough oil to top off the crankcases of 1000 automobiles. Maybe those who are in favor of the pipeline will get a firm “slap in the face” when they turn on the tap to get a cool glass of water only to find that the water has the foul stench of crude oil.

While the President may seem like he want to give in to the GOP oil lobbyist, he has a “green” base that he cannot ignore. But what bothers him more than that is the fact that he suspects his own daughters probably won’t speak to him if he approves construction. While the last 4 years has been a net setback for the green movement, the President should be praised for passing an historic increase in vehicle mileage efficiency and limits on the emissions of new coal-fired power plants.

We need to be more realistic about our near-term dependence on fossil fuels, or we will pay a hefty price in the long run. But we also need to be realistic about the need to keep building a bridge to a different energy future, or we will pay an even bigger price.

DLTPONCH33

 



Law Enforcement Gone Overboard? What Do You Think?

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While I have the utmost respect for law enforcement, the following story leaves me dumbfounded.

A shy junk dealer in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, living in a working class neighborhood, barely able to make ends meet, and driving a 16 year old pickup truck was stopped for a supposed traffic violation. In 2008 he was convicted of methamphetamine possession, and police thought that he might still be involved with the drug hence his being stopped. No drugs or weapons was found, but a drug sniffing dog showed some interest in the vehicle. They also stated that the man was standing erect and kept his legs together. and because of that, they thought that he might be hiding drugs internally. They took him to a local hospital where they asked the doctor to give him a rectal exam. The doctor declined calling it “unethical”, and the whole time, the man is protesting and asking to make his one phone call. He was denied because the officer said he technically  was not under arrest.

They drove the man 50 miles to another hospital and the man was handcuffed the whole time. At this hospital, doctors took x-rays of his abdomen and performed the rectal exam. No drugs were found, but just to be sure, the doctor performed a second exam. Still nothing. Then they gave him an enema and forced him to have a bowel movement in the presence of a nurse and the police officer. Still, no drugs were found, so they gave him a second, then a third enema.

After hours of fruitless searches, they arranged another x-ray and finally anesthetized him and performed a colonoscopy. Still they found nothing. So when he woke up, they released him. After 13 hours, two rectal exams, three enemas, two x-rays, and a colonoscopy, the hospital billed him $6,000.

The man sued, and the city and the county had to pay him $1.6 million dollars. If you are a middle-class person, you probably see the justice system as protective of itself. If you’re a young man of color, you may see it as threatening. But it’s also about something as fundamental as our dignity, our humanity, and our access to justice. But all in all, it’s about the right of working class stiffs not to endure forced colonoscopies. While most law enforcement officers are of the honest variety, there will always be some who serve without honor. Those are the ones responsible for painting the picture of law enforcement gone overboard.

Image courtesy of emblematicco.com

 

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The Immigrants Quest For A Better Life

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Illegal immigrants are becoming a sticky situation not only in the United States, it also has Europe dancing to the same tune. Here in the U.S., immigration reform has been sitting on a back burner with the Republican Party holding it up in hopes that the five million illegal aliens already here, will blame President Obama for not pushing the issue hard enough. Well it looks like the President has decided to stop waiting on the Republicans and has used his powers to issue an “executive order” to address the problem. While the reform Bill sat on hold, the boarder patrol was under orders to apprehend, hold, and return anyone that crosses the boarder out of Mexico illegally. Not only was that not sitting well with the ones who are already in the United States, who had hoped to have relatives join them, it also holds up the opportunity for those who are in the U.S. illegally to take advantage of the amnesty that’s to be offered when a bill finally passes.

In London, it’s “people-smuggling” that has the British goverment’s knickers in an uproar. In February of last year, immigration authorities in Britain, Belgium, and France coordinated raids at a lot of different addresses, and rounded up people suspected of belonging to “gangs” that smuggled immigrants across the English Channel. The use of 150 law enforcement officers in the British raid was one of the largest operations ever undertaken. People-smuggling by organized gangs is a lucrative business in Europe, and offers these gangs the chance to make large amounts of money. Desperate migrants from troubled lands including Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan pay up to $10,000 each to get past Britain’s strict border controls. Gangs use trucks that are ferried across the English Channel or sometimes they travel through the tunnel leading from Calais in France to Folkestone in England. These migrants determination to cross the channel,  a lot of them with children in tow,  do so knowing they will face severe hardships once they arrive at their destinations.

The Schengen Agreement, which covers much of Europe, permits free passage across the internal frontiers of the European Union. The trouble here is that Britain is not a part of that agreement, and anti-immigration politicians say that arriving migrants have to endure restrictions and hardships to gain access to social payments, work, and the ability to join their network of friends and family who are already in the country.  Last years raids is said to have successfully disrupted the people-smuggling gangs and their constant attempt to evade the U.K.’s immigration controls. Just as it is in the United States, immigration is a hot political issue in Europe, where the conservatives led by Prime Minister David Cameron, faces an insurgency by the United Kingdom Independence Party, which seeks to exploit suspicion of foreigners among rank-and-file voters to increase its support.

On the other side of the coin, science advocacy groups have warned that curbing some legal immigrants will damage the economy. The Campaign for Science and Engineering said that Britain was not training enough skilled people to fill available jobs in medical, engineering, nuclear and educational institutions. They state that the skilled immigrants are the ones who help grow the economy, and teach the children these most needed skills. Just as the United States need the immigrants to do the jobs that the average American won’t do because of the low pay. Farmers depend on them to harvest crops while other businesses need them to do service jobs that we may not see, but are vital to everyday life. They work, and they pay taxes, and even though the pay is somewhat less than they deserve, they endure. The Republican Party here in the U.S. kept dragging their feet for fear that if immigration reform is passed, the new citizens will vote as Democrats, and they can’t have that. To me, the immigrants are necessary, and deserve the chance to better themselves.

 

DLTPONCH33

Photo courtesy of politico.com

Owning Exotic Animals

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Everybody goes to a zoo, or a wild animal sanctuary to see exotic animals because you just can’t go to the wild and grab a bag of popcorn and sit on a rock and pet a lion. You could, but you wouldn’t last 5 minutes before the lion would want more than your popcorn. That’s why they are kept in cages so you can view them without your safety coming into play, and also to protect the animals from someone who would want to harm them. Some people are against the idea of wild animals being caged, but to tell the truth, 90 percent of them are taken care of very well.

I live in the state of Ohio where a lot of people tend to keep wild exotic animals for a type of private zoo, where you can go and see them, and can get just a little bit closer than at your normal zoo. I have such a zoo close to me and it has been operating for over 40 years. Problem is, the owner doesn’t have any permits, and to my recollection, never had to have any permits, until now. The reason why permits came to the attention of state regulators is because of a series of events that made it impossible to ignore. In one incident, a woman who kept a wild monkey in her home like you would a dog or cat, had a friend over for a visit. The monkey became agitated for no known reason, attacked the woman’s friend and chewed off half of her face. The injuries were so bad that it was touch and go if she would even survive. She did not die, but she had to have her face totally reconstructed. The owner had no permit, and the primate had to be put down.

But the event that really got everyone’s attention was in 2011, when a man became so distraught over his wife leaving him, that he opened the doors on the cages of the dozens of wild animals he had at his private zoo, releasing lions, tigers, and bears, “oh my” into the community. The neighbors were running for their lives, and while that was happening, he decided it was a good time to commit suicide. There was so many deadly animals running loose, the police had orders to shoot to kill. That brought famed wildlife expert Jack Hanna to the scene, and he himself said that there were too many lives in jeopardy and he had to agree with the authorities to execute the animals. That was a tremendous blow to Mr. Hanna, because if you’ve ever seen his television shows , exotic animals are his passion.

So as of January 1, 2014, every owner of wild animals had to have a permit, which I understand is pretty costly, and also insurance for anyone getting injured. If you could not come up with the funds for the permit, you had to surrender your animals to the authorities. While some owners could come up with the funds, one standout owner couldn’t. He had 96 animals including 32 tigers and 28 lions. Another owner had 2 alligators, 2 tigers, and 3 brown bears in his menagerie. Jack Hanna himself encouraged  state officials to introduce legislation to make owners of these types of zoos get permits. I myself am all for the permits, and a mental evaluation needs to be also mandated because you just don’t want an unstable person in charge of your neighborhood zoo full of exotic animals

 

 

DLTPONCH33

Photo of the Bengal Tiger courtesy of liveanimalslist.com

Voyager One; The Mission Goes On

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On September 5, 1977, NASA launched a probe to study the solar system but never thought that the spunky little probe would ever survive longer than it’s planned three year mission, but the probe kept on going and transmitting data.  Scientist though that the probe would have exited the solar system by June of last year, meaning that it should have crossed the heliopause leaving behind the vast bubble known as the “heliosphere” which is an area that consist of particles that are flung into space by the sun due to it’s powerful magnetic field.

The probe I speak of is Voyager One, which has proven to be very durable, and has journeyed farther than any other man made object to date. The little craft which weighs a little under 2,000 lbs is cruising along at 38,000 mile per hour, and has survived despite being a little more than 11 billion miles from the sun. And it still is able to communicate with earth, even though it’s transmissions take 17 hours to reach it’s home base. It’s signals are picked up by huge telescope arrays in the United States, Spain, and Australia, and once and a while Voyager has to fire small thrusters to keep it’s antennas pointed at mother earth. As the craft speeds away from us, the signals are becoming a little faint

In 1990, Voyager One turned its camera toward the Earth and took a picture of what Carl Sagan called the “pale blue dot” at a distance of 4 billion miles. It gets its power supply from the radioactive decay of plutonium-238 which will only have reached its half life after 88 years. Voyager One has been in space now for 36 and a half years and is one of two probes that  were launched aboard the same spacecraft in 1977.  Voyager 2 is still making its way across another part of the solar system and it is also equipped with the same technology as Voyager One. It also contains the same gold plated record which has digital information about the human civilization such as an image of a naked man and woman, a recording of whale sounds, spoken greetings and of course samples of different genres of music. The music is a little of everything from Mozart to Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. The running joke is that one day an alien species will retrieve the disc and send Earth a message demanding more Chuck Berry.

Even at Voyager’s current distance, there is still a slight feel of the sun’s magnetic field, and scientist are finding themselves having to come up with a new  answer for an aged old question of where is the  edge of the solar system?  Where scientist thought it was is being disputed by new data from the Voyager probes. They thought the little craft would have crossed a boundary in which all the solar stuff would be left behind, and  into the interstellar stuff at this point, but that hasn’t happened.  So then, how big is this transitional zone from solar to interstellar? At this point no one knows for sure at this point, but scientist expect Voyager One to arrive at another star system, AC+79 3888, in 40,000 years. Yes you heard right 40,000 years, and at that point, will the planet Earth and humans still exist?  Voyager One and Voyager Two may be all that’s left to tell the story of the species that inhabited the third planet from the sun in the Milky-Way Galaxy far, far away.

DLTPONCH33

Image of Voyager One courtesy of spacetoday.org

 

Olive Oil; Healthy And Affordable

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If history tells us anything it tells us that the Greeks know how to eat well. Their diets consist of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and monounsaturated fats. American diets are loaded down with animal fats but the Greeks intake of fat is in the form of Olive Oil. There was once a time when olive oil was just too expensive for the average family budget, but now you can get a choice quality olive oil at an affordable price. Now days a lot of health conscience recipes are heavy in the use of olive oil because it has a wealth of health properties.

Olive oil is 77% monounsaturated fat, which just in case you didn’t know, is the good fat. It is rich in Vitamin E and has some compounds that are said to resist cancer. It fights heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and helps to prevent diabetes. What you don’t have to worry about with olive oil is cholesterol, salt, and gluten. Olive oil has been used as far back as 2475B.C. and is mentioned in the Bible and in Greek mythology. It protects the heart because the fat found in olive oil helps cut down on the bad cholesterol without harming the good. It also decreases your blood’s stickiness which in turn decreases your chances of having blood clots. And using olive oil helps to promote weight loss and it also helps to keep your skin smooth.

When shopping for olive oil, you’ll want to look for “Extra Virgin” which has the strongest flavor, and also has the most of the good stuff that we buy olive oil for. If the extra virgin has too strong of a taste for your palet, try just a “Virgin” or a “Light” oil.  If you’ve never used olive oil before it is suggested that you spend some time experimenting with tastes’ and uses. The oil can last for up to 2 years in a tightly sealed container without refrigeration. But chances are     that when you find the perfect oil, storing it won’t be a problem.

 

Image courtesy of realfoodforlife.com

 

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Are You Willing To Change For Love?

You have just run into the person you feel would be perfect for you, and they have all the qualities that you are looking for in a soul mate. You’ve been single and alone for quite some time and you were begining to feel that there was no hope for you to be in a meaningful relationship ever again and then suddenly, there they were. You can’t believe your luck and you think, this is it, but you overlooked one thing, how will that person respond to the amount of baggage that you bring with you?

What baggage you ask?  Well your past relationship was with someone who abused you mentally, they constantly cheated on you, and belittled you in front of everyone and you were made to look like a fool and your self esteem is on life support. You stayed in the situation because you thought that it might get better, but it never did so you became bitter, and you found out that you had very little patience with the world. You become angry at every little thing, and that person of your dreams, might notice your mental shortcomings. And while you look fine on the outside, on the inside you’re an emotional train wreck.

In your defense, you would try to explain that the hurt that you suffered at the hands of the person that treated you badly sometimes manifests itself, and you let it show in unpleasant ways. But deep down inside, the goodness in you yearns to be released, and you tell them that you have a confidence problem because you are afraid of another heartbreak. And you tell them that it’s no reflection on them, and that you’d hoped they understood. Studies have shown that this type of situation can be remedied by that special person noticing the angriness, and doing everything possible to reassure you that this is a different circumstance. There is no need to fear betrayal and that all that happened in the past is dead and buried.

Remember, love conquers all, and if the other party likes the real inner soul that they see in you, they will help you to rearrange your emotions and feelings. But you must make a positive effort to smother those angry feelings from days gone by. If this is truly the person you think could make you a changed person, then there is nothing that can get in the way of making that change. Life is too short to waste it being upset all the time. So you must open up the windows of your mind to change. If this is the person you feel you would walk over hot coals for, and they show a willingness to help you down another path, then change is what you want to do. If they are willing to spend their time and effort to help you see the light, then you can assume that they see a diamond in the rough. Let them help you smooth out the jagged edges, and you will be a better person for it. And just look at the reward that’s in store for you.

 

 

 

 

DLTPONCH33

The Age Of Robotic Surgery

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The doctor just tells you that you must have a delicate surgical procedure done, and it must be done right away. He explains the operation to you, and tells you that your outlook after the surgery looks to be pretty good. You give it some thought, and you feel confident that you’ll be okay, and you tell the doctor that you’re on board with having the operation. Then he tells you that the surgery will be performed by a robot. And now that confident feeling you had a minute ago just flew out the window.

This scenario is playing out around the world as technology has made it to the operating room in the form of the da Vinci Si Surgical System. This system is operating on patients everyday, and to look at it, it’s about the scariest machine you’ve ever seen. It’s arms make it look like a giant menacing insect, yet they say that it’s dexterous manipulators are able to slice and burn through fatty connective tissue, and can maneuver around veins, arteries, and nerves with a level of precision no human could ever hope to achieve.  It is controlled by two human surgeons who are sitting in a corner of the operating room, at two consoles. They take turns controlling the machine using foot control switches along with hand controls to snip and sear through human tissue.

The claim is that a surgical procedure done by a human surgeon that would have a patient in the hospital for two to three days, could be done by the surgical robot and would allow the patient to go home in just 24 hours. The da Vinci system first reached hospitals 15 years ago, and has become the most common surgical robot on the planet. There are 2500 of these robots around the world performing 200,000 operations a year. Instead of nurses, surgeons, specialist, and technicians all huddled around the patient during a normal operation, everyone has a station in which to watch the surgery on monitors with the ability to zoom-in to watch the robot do its thing.

Its slim, cable driven manipulators fit into small incisions, fully or partially removing organs more nimbly, and with less trauma to the body than conventional surgeries. This is the reason that the recovery time for the patient is drastically reduced. What’s certain about all of this is that the times of human hands going inside another humans body to perform an operation is quickly drawing to a close. So the question in the doctors office won’t be which doctor is going to do the surgery, but what robot will be doing the surgery.

 

Image courtesy of eastsidemedical.com

 

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DNA Testing; Free The Innocent, But…..

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit? You are locked up for 20 years and there is no hope for you to be exonerated . Well that use to happen all the time until the science of DNA testing was discovered. Unfortunately, by the time it became available, countless people had already served more than half their time in a penal institution. How do you replace 10, 20, or 30 years of a persons life? They wrongly done do have the option of suing the state for money, with the amount based on the time they had to spend behind bars, but still, money can’t replace the time that you spent away from loved ones. Time is a precious commodity in which its value far exceeds any monetary appropriations.

Because I’m from the state of Ohio, my information about DNA gathering and testing will be concentrated on information I’ve researched and collected from my state. A law passed by the Ohio General Assembly that took effect in 2011, requires law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony even if he or she is later found innocent. Before that, police needed a search warrant to collect a sample, unless the person was convicted in which case a sample was collected at that point. According to The Toledo Blade, the local newspaper in my town, the new law has greatly expanded the states database to nearly 500,000 samples.

This is where the legality of the law comes into play. A person should not have to give a sample of his or her DNA to law enforcement unless they are actually convicted of a crime. As the newspaper says, “treating a criminal charge or arrest in the same manner as a conviction runs counter to America’s legal tradition.” The point here is whether human rights have been violated by not allowing those not convicted to withhold giving up a DNA sample. While the use of DNA samples have cleared a number of people who have been locked up for crimes they never committed, there is also the possibility that your DNA, in the wrong hands, could lead to false imprisonment so DNA testing works both ways.

As the world moves forward with new and improved ways to solve crimes, it is important that human rights are not violated in the process. People don’t like to be spied on as evident with the NSA situation, and to force someone to give up DNA samples opens up a whole new can of worms where your privacy is concerned. “Innocent until proven guilty” is the law, and until I’m proven guilty, I’d like to keep my DNA to myself thank you.

This is an editorial with my own opinions and should be viewed as such.

 

DLTPONCH33

DNA image courtesy of philly.com

Clean Drinking Water; The Future War

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Water, it’s the life blood of every species, and while two-thirds of our planet is covered with it, fresh drinkable water is becoming a resource that is in short supply. Eighteen countries, which together have half the worlds population, are using water faster than it can be replaced. The population in these countries total 3.6 billion people with the biggest decline in aquifers noted in China, India, and the United States. These are the three largest food producing countries in the world, as well as the Middle East, and with climate change and the increasing population, the Great Lakes region here in the U.S. has become an important role player as water shortages become more severe in other parts of the world.

But even in this seemingly water blessed region, agribusinesses are concerned about water availability even though some people find it hard to believe in the short term because of the unstable weather patterns in the Great Lakes that contribute to severe, water producing, thunderstorms during the summer months. The Great Lakes are positioned to become “ground zero” as water vanishes elsewhere since it has been viewed as one of the worlds most abundant collection of fresh water lakes. But as climate change takes hold of this planet, even those lakes will be affected and may even fall victim in an extreme drought situation brought on by “global warming”.

That may seem, to some, to be a far fetched situation since the Great Lakes holds an estimated 6 quadrillion gallons of water, enough to submerge the entire United States in five feet of water, but we must keep in mind that the lakes are also the source of drinking water for 30 million Americans, and 10 million Canadians. Now the Great Lakes do not hold as much water as the world’s largest lake, Russia’s Lake Baikal, nor do they come close to holding most of the fresh water on the planet, but the Great Lakes are in a moderate climate. That makes them valuable because they are readily available for such things as shipping, recreation, tourism, drinking water, agriculture, energy production, and manufacturing.

There will come a time that fresh drinking water will become more valuable than oil, a new catalyst for wars, and the country that has access to largest amounts of this dwindling resource will be known as the keepers of life in some parts of the world because it’s unmistakingly clear that while we may be able to live without oil, humans cannot exist without water.

 

DLTPONCH33

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons