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Archive for May 21st, 2009

David “Kagro X” Waldman Was At The Same Meeting With Civil Liberties Advocates That Michael Isikoff Covered

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 21, 2009

And while he agrees with most of how Isikoff characterized it, he did disagree with the portion of Isikoff’s interpretation currently being bandied about by several persons online as alleged ‘proof’ that Obama’s shut the door on any probes (and which was used by some Kossack commenters to attack the diary I referenced earlier today):

There’s not much I’d feel compelled to add to what’s already out there, though one thing that jumps out at me is that I don’t know that I’d be able to agree with the assessment Isikoff passes on that the President spoke for the Attorney General and foreclosed the option of investigations, prosecutions or the like. The President ran the meeting, and it was his session. But I don’t know that I’d agree that it was his intention to announce the foreclosure of any such options. It may ultimately be his actual intention, but it didn’t appear to be his intention to declare it then and there — a subtle difference perhaps, but that subtlety was pretty much characteristic of most of what he had to say. He took his time and approached the issues and his answers to our questions carefully. The absence of any comment from the Attorney General appeared to me to be more of an acknowledgment that it was the President who wanted to direct the discussion, and the White House staff and administration officials present weren’t getting in the way of that.

Now, anyone who’s read David/Kagro’s diaries and front-page pieces over the past few years knows that he’s not an Obamabot in the least. But I predict that he will soon be accused of being one, if he hasn’t been already.

Posted in judicial rulings, judiciary, media | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

A Justice Department Attorney Looks At Obama’s Speech Today

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 21, 2009

Excerpted from Kossack and Justice Department attorney Lars Thorwald’s DKos diary on Obama’s speech:

I heard a level of determination in his voice that I think some could reasonably interpret as being tinged with a bit of pique over the political silliness of the last few weeks.  

Of course, the President used carefully weighed language, but I think his message was clear on those matters in which he was determined to set forth policy.  True to Obama: steel determination wrapped in a velvet glove.  

Where he wanted to be, the President was certain and clear and unwavering.  For instance, he forcefully declared that we will close the prison at Guantanamo–delivering that message without hesitation or reservation.

The message between the lines was, hey, you scairdy-cat and illogical Congress critters can sort of suck it if you think otherwise.  Some of these detainees are going to SuperMax prisons.  You’d best learn to deal with it.  So he took some in his own party to task in that measured, reasoned way that is becoming Obama’s hallmark.

But here’s the point: although Obama’s speech was powerful enough that he could have declared that there will be no further investigation or examination of the legality or illegality of the use of torture, and even though he did declare set positions on several key issues,  I did not hear such foreclosure with regard to possible prosecutions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in judiciary, torture | 10 Comments »

Vertical Farming

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 21, 2009

Terrapass’ Adam Stein, who is normally skeptical of vertical farming, links approvingly to this LA Times piece on two high-tech greenhouses that grow large amounts of high-value crops like tomatoes with far less of a water input than needed in conventional farming — a big deal in desert places like Southern California:

Rising out of verdant acres of strawberries and artichokes between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean in Ventura County are two mammoth, high-tech greenhouses.


The facility generates its own renewable power. It hoards rainwater. It hosts its own bumblebees for pollination. And it requires a fraction of the chemicals used in neighboring fields to coax plants to produce like champions.


The son of a Dutch immigrant farmer, the 51-year-old Houweling has helped build his family’s agricultural business into one of the largest greenhouse-based growers in North America. But the California facility is no ordinary hothouse.

On a recent afternoon, he was eager to show visitors clusters of plump, sweet tomatoes hanging overhead from vines that reach high into the rafters. This arrangement allows the farm’s 450 permanent employees to climb ladders to pick the fruit instead of stooping. The plants, which are fed individually through tubing that looks like intravenous hospital equipment, produce 20 times more fruit per acre than in conventional field production.

Virtually nothing is wasted in this ecosystem. Workers have dug a four-acre pond to store rainwater and runoff. This water, along with condensation, is collected, filtered and recirculated back to each of the 20-acre greenhouses. That has cut water use to less than one-fifth of that required in conventional field cultivation. Fertilizer use has been reduced by half. There are no herbicides and almost no pesticides, and there is no dust.

Five-acres of photovoltaic solar cells supply much of the electricity to run pumps and climate controls. Thermal systems collect solar heat and warehouse refrigeration exhaust to warm the greenhouses on cool evenings. Together, the two systems generate 2.1 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1,500 homes.

“We believe this is the first greenhouse in the world that is energy neutral,” Houweling said.

Until recently, it wouldn’t have been possible to do this and make any money at it — and it certainly won’t work everywhere, or for every crop. But in places like California, where the prices for land are high and access to water is by no means guaranteed, this is likely going to be the wave of the future for various types of produce.

Posted in climate change, energy, environment, farming, food, gardening, global food crisis, global warming, Good Things | 2 Comments »

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