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Showing posts from November 18, 2012

HURRICANE SANDY: As Coasts Rebuild and U.S. Pays, Repeatedly, the Critics Ask Why ...

Jeff Haller for The New York Times

Multiple storms have shifted the sands on Dauphin Island. 

Published: November 18, 2012

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. — Even in the off season, the pastel beach houses lining a skinny strip of sand here are a testament to the good life.

They are also a monument to the generosity of the federal government.

The western end of this Gulf Coast island has proved to be one of the most hazardous places in the country for waterfront property. Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand onto the roads.

Yet time and again, checks from Washington have allowed the town to put itself back together.

Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If…

Thanksgiving, Colonists & Early American Law

Can Americans Learn Anything From Our Founders for Today?

- Kelly OConnell (Bio and Archives) Sunday, November 18, 2012

Who were the original Founders of America? Two groups can be described from the group of original hardy settlers—the Pilgrims and the Puritans. The seeds of the Pilgrim stock came from the illegal English Separatist Church. All Englishmen were expected to attend Anglican Church, weekly.

It provoked much controversy in Christian circles that power swung between English Protestants and Catholics. 

The Separatists wanted no state meddling in private beliefs, and so left England in search of religious freedom, first to Leiden, Netherlands, and later to North America. 

This explains the US Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition against a state mandated church.

The second group of American colonizers were “Puritans,” a term loosely describing all those who wanted to purify the English Church from outside influences. They settled in Massachusetts under John Winthrop in 163…


'The Fruit Hunters' Documentary Explores World Of Rare Fruit Obsessives, Including Bill Pullman

The Huffington Post | By Rachel TepperPosted: 11/13/2012 5:05 pm EST

For some people, grabbing a piece of fruit means popping out to the market for an apple or orange. For others, it involves plane rides to the ends of the Earth, hacking with a machete through dense underbrush and seeking out increasingly odd and interesting fruits.

A new documentary from director Yung Chang called "The Fruit Hunters" explores the world of these obsessive rare fruit seekers, which though unsurprisingly few in number, include Hollywood actor Bill Pullman. The trailer is full of barefooted fruit enthusiasts scaling mango trees and spreads of other exotic fruits, which Pullman says are often displayed "the way your drug dealer will sit you down at the table" to show off narcotics.

There's also a shot of Pullman sniffing something or other that made us giggle.

The Fruit Hunters hits…

A Pause for Negotiations in the Israeli-Hamas Conflict ...

November 18, 2012 | 1400 GMT


Israeli soldiers prepare for a ground operation in the Gaza Strip on Nov. 18

By George Friedman

The Israeli-Hamas conflict has entered into a negotiation phase. Both sides want talks. Hamas wants them because any outcome that prevents an Israeli ground assault gives it the opportunity to retain some of its arsenal of Fajr-5 rockets; the Israelis want them because the cost of an invasion could be high, and they recall the political fallout of Operation Cast Lead in 2008, which alienated many European and other governments.

No matter how much either side might want to avoid ground warfare, negotiations are unlikely to forestall an Israeli assault because Hamas' and Israel's goals leave little middle ground.

Visit our Israel page for related analysis, videos, situation reports and maps.

One of Hamas' main goals in this current round of fighting is to retain enough Fajr-5 rockets to allow it to threaten the Israeli heartlan…

Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker: Produce Testing Cuts Unwise ...

November 17, 2012 

By Carla Gillespie

Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker discussed how cuts in produce testing will affect food safety with Minnesota Public Radio’s Cathy Wurzer on Friday morning. Funding for the Microbiological Data Program (MDP) has been cut, so the program will cease to exist after December 31, 2012. What kind of affect will this have on food safety? Not a good one, Pritzker sad.

“We know people will be sick becasue of this action,” Pritzker said. “Why would we be doing that?”

The Microbiological Data Program (MDP) is a national foodborne pathogen monitoring program that was cerated in 2001. Operated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program basically brought the USDA’s meat and poultry monitoring program to produce. At a cost of about $4 million per year, MDP worked in cooperation with state agriculture departments and other federal agencies, to manage the collection, analysis, and reporting of foodborne pathogens on selected agricultural commoditie…