“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Plastics are devastating the seas.

The Telegraph:

Drowning in plastic: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of France

There are now 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of the world's oceans, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. Worse still, there seems to be nothing we can do to clean it up. So how do we turn the tide?

Way out in the Pacific Ocean, in an area once known as the doldrums, an enormous, accidental monument to modern society has formed. Invisible to satellites, poorly understood by scientists and perhaps twice the size of France, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not a solid mass, as is sometimes imagined, but a kind of marine soup whose main ingredient is floating plastic debris.

It was discovered in 1997 by a Californian sailor, surfer, volunteer environmentalist and early-retired furniture restorer named Charles Moore, who was heading home with his crew from a sailing race in Hawaii, at the helm of a 50ft catamaran that he had built himself.

For the hell of it, he decided to turn on the engine and take a shortcut across the edge of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a region that seafarers have long avoided. It is a perennial high pressure zone, an immense slowly spiralling vortex of warm equatorial air that pulls in winds and turns them gently until they expire. Several major sea currents also converge in the gyre and bring with them most of the flotsam from the Pacific coasts of Southeast Asia, North America, Canada and Mexico. Fifty years ago nearly all that flotsam was biodegradable. These days it is 90 per cent plastic.

'It took us a week to get across and there was always some plastic thing bobbing by,' says Moore, who speaks in a jaded, sardonic drawl that occasionally flares up into heartfelt oratory. 'Bottle caps, toothbrushes, styrofoam cups, detergent bottles, pieces of polystyrene packaging and plastic bags. Half of it was just little chips that we couldn't identify. It wasn't a revelation so much as a gradual sinking feeling that something was terribly wrong here. Two years later I went back with a fine-mesh net, and that was the real mind-boggling discovery.'

Floating beneath the surface of the water, to a depth of 10 metres, was a multitude of small plastic flecks and particles, in many colours, swirling like snowflakes or fish food. An awful thought occurred to Moore and he started measuring the weight of plastic in the water compared to that of plankton. Plastic won, and it wasn't even close. 'We found six times more plastic than plankton, and this was just colossal,' he says. 'No one had any idea this was happening, or what it might mean for marine ecosystems, or even where all this stuff was coming from.'

So ended Moore's retirement. He turned his small volunteer environmental monitoring group into the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, enlisted scientists, launched public awareness campaigns and devoted all his considerable energies to exploring what would become known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and studying the broader problem of marine plastic pollution, which is accumulating in all the world's oceans. (continue)


  1. A job for an electric powered fleet of roboboats w/Hydralic Rams of sufficient pressure to liquefy/solidify garbage into giant nearly inert blocks of plastic/trash.
    (nearly inert due to small surface to volume ratio)

    Subs could stand in as temporary generation plants to get the cable tethered fleet of robots sailing ASAP.

  2. VIENNA (AP) - The U.S. is obligated by a United Nations convention to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who allegedly drafted policies that approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects, the U.N.'s top anti-torture envoy said Friday.

    Earlier this week, President Barack Obama left the door open to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations. He had previously absolved CIA officers from prosecution.
    UN Anti-torture Official: US obligated to prosecute Bush LawyersDon't think, "It isn't going to happen."

  3. OMG! I had no idea we did this. I am so ashamed.

    Last week, the Obama administration released secret CIA memos detailing interrogation tactics sanctioned under Bush.

    The memos authorized keeping detainees naked, in painful standing positions and in cold cells for long periods of time. Other techniques included depriving them of solid food and slapping them. Sleep deprivation, prolonged shackling and threats to a detainee's family also were used.

  4. ...and Barry was totally innocent, still in a drug induced World of his Own, with periodic nicotine directed landings in the classroom when indoctrination time arrived again for his students with skulls full of malleable mush.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Saw Ed Rollins while surfing the Channels, he was with Larry King. Seems that Ronald Reagan signed and the Senate ratified sone Treaties that obligated US to prosecute anyone that was involved in torture.
    Rollins saying, "I think signing those Treaties was a mistake."

    Which it may well have been, a mistake, but it is a mistake that we dod make, and we are obligated to fulfill. Like an adjustable loan, the terms of which we agreed to, but did not fully understand.

  7. Rember, too, amigos, Alinsky's Rules

    RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."

    Screwed, blued and tattooed.

    The only way out is for Obama to pardon all the miscreants, as President Ford did with Mr Nixon.

    Short of that, we'll see Team43, or at least some of it, in the Dock. For international crimes that the US is fully obligated, by Treaty, to prosecute.

  8. "Torture" is a relative term, like pornography. One man's fine art is another man's porn.

    Aside from the fact that there is no universally agreed definition of torture, the question is whether we are going to allow someone else (other nations, foreign interests, NGOs) to define what we are bound to. The current Supreme Court has repeatedly shown an inclination to forfeit US sovereignty when US law did not comport to their worldviews. We now wait for the US Executive and Democratically controlled Congress to indicate their inclinations and intent.

  9. Personally, if President Obama did pardon the miscreants, without the publics full understanding of the wrong that was done, by both Team43 and Mr Reagan, he deserves a bashing.

    So the light of truth and justice will shine, only President Obama can stop it, that's the Law we agreed to. Foolishly or not.

    Or Osama wins, again.

    The besieged entity's very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. "Waterboarding IS TORTURE!"

    To paraphrase John "Maverick" McCain, Republican Standard bearer.

    Beyond that, what those treaties proscribe, is humiliation, and degradation. Which is less than torture. Regardless, by the Republican Standard the US tortured.

    The reasons for committing those Treaty violations, to be heard in mitigation, not in the finding of fact or ascetaining of guilt phases of the investigation.

  12. In five to nine years someone on Larry King Live or the UN could be calling for prosecution for these war crimes.

    25 Apr 2009 08:25:31 GMT
    Source: Reuters
    KABUL, April 25 (Reuters) - Western forces in Afghanistan said they killed six to eight militants in air strikes during a joint operation in Wardak province on the southwestern outskirts of the capital Kabul on Friday.

    Some 3,000 U.S. troops were rushed this year to the provinces of Wardak and neighbouring Logar, where insurgent attacks had risen sharply last year and bringing the Taliban to the capital's edge in large numbers for the first time since 2001.

    A spokesman for the NATO-led force that includes the U.S. troops in the area said the air strikes were called in to back up a joint operation with Afghan and Western troops.

    A Taliban spokesman in the area, Zabiullah Mujahed, contacted a Reuters reporter and said eight people were killed including militants and four civilians. None of the figures could be immediately independently verified.
    NATO says kills 6-8 Taliban in air strikes

  13. ...higher quality thought occurred in the shower:

    No doubt a carrier's power system would be better sized, and designed for long duration high power output operation.

    ...the robo-boat/barges would merely be harvesters, de-watering and compacting the trash in cylindrical tubes.
    The tubes would be lifted on deck to be extruded into a solid plastic snake with cables embedded for structural integrity.

    These snakes would lie on the sea bed, becoming "rails" for underwater monorails which could be used to transport heavy freight, such as steel.
    They would also have storage for petroleum products, which could be adjusted to give the monorail near-neutral buoyancy, for efficiency, and to minimize stress on the submersible snakes/rails.

    The carrier deck would provide plenty of space where robo-boat repair and maintenance could be performed. shovel-ready as a trans-oceanic submersible monorail could possibly be.

  14. If you were Cheney, would you accept a pardon from Obama?

  15. Byron York makes that very case, whit

    Ted Olson: “Torture” probes will never end.

    Team43 left US in the perverbial crosshairs.

    They never did understand nor appreciate the importance of message making.

    While the US does torture, it does not dissementate propaganda.

    We're proud of it, too!

  16. There's the next part of the drama, duece.

    Obama holds all the cards.

  17. Correction:
    W still holds the Compassion Card.

  18. From my reading of Cheney's position, he's in the mitigation phase, already admitting to guilt.

    "It Worked!"

    Being what I hear him saying.

  19. W turned out to be an
    Old Maid kinda Cowboy.

  20. Bob,

    I'm glad your wife enjoyed Out of Captivity.

    On the week of its release in the US, Keith Stansell returned here for the first time since that flight out the morning of July 3. He spoke to an open room at the embassy, with US news crews in attendance, then in closed remarks to embassy personnel. The latter was standing room only, and after his talk he took the time to speak to and shake the hand of everyone present.

    He is an amazing human being. He was before his capture; he is moreso now. And whereas many or most would be inclined, after that long experience, to get a job (as a friend of mine put it) "driving an ice cream truck," Stansell plans on going back to work-work.

    Again, just an incredible guy.

    And I will always be especially grateful to have been here on that incredible day - and the one that followed.

  21. Rufus wrote:
    "...Canada has a budget surplus"

    Debts and deficits lead to higher taxes as night follows day
    Headshot of Jeffrey Simpson

    April 24, 2009


    Lesson one for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff: Don't answer hypothetical questions in a sound-bite era. Lesson two: Don't even hint at the truth.

    Last week, in answer to a question about what he might do if the federal deficit reached $80-billion, Mr. Ignatieff said he couldn't take any policy options "off the table," including raising taxes.

    Boom, the media pack went into action, and the Conservative yapping brigade hit him for espousing higher taxes. Such is political life.

    Mr. Ignatieff did not call for higher taxes; indeed, he stressed that "no one in their right mind wants to shut off the recovery by raising taxes in any capacity."

    But in ruminating about the hypothetical, Mr. Ignatieff danced around a certain truth: Taxes will eventually go up to pay for the deficit and increasing debt brought on by the recession and government responses to it.

    The Harper government has forecast $64-billion deficits in the next two years. Forget about it. They will be higher, because the economic circumstances are gloomier than anticipated. The Western world is awash in debt, led by the United States, whose projected deficits are astronomical, whose financial-sector debts are gigantic, whose personal indebtedness is enormous but whose political culture still refuses to acknowledge that, at some point, the piper must be paid.

    As long as the United States refuses to face this fact, it will struggle to recapitalize itself. And as long as that recapitalization is delayed, the country's long-term economic future will be cloudy and the relative decline in which it now finds itself will continue.

    High debts and ongoing deficits lead to higher taxes as night follows day.Canadians should know this truth. That was the Canadian experience once federal deficits began in the mid-1970s. The Mulroney Conservatives and, in their early years, the Chr├ętien Liberals raised taxes (and cut services) because there was no other realistic way to fight the Siamese twins of ongoing deficits and higher debts.

    There was plenty of nonsense in those years about solving the problem with industrial strategies, pro-growth measures, eliminating "waste" in government spending, laying off civil servants. Everyone who wanted to avoid hard truths had a formula, just as so many do today. Eventually, the truth hit home, as it will after this recession.

    That Canada is heading toward more debt will merely increase the subsequent tax load. But, of course, politicians live in the twilight zone of veracity, suspended between what they know privately to be right and what their instincts and handlers tell them the political culture will allow.

    So neither Mr. Ignatieff nor Prime Minister Stephen Harper will tell the whole truth about what lies ahead, in part because the truth will play itself out long after the next election. And since the country's economic literacy is so low, there is no point allowing your political opponent to embark on a scare campaign.

    Deficits are dangerous for liberals, but especially hard for conservatives, to talk about sensibly. A mantra of conservative parties is that deficits are bad, but the way they govern invariably produces deficits, or at least weakens the fiscal position of the government.

    This observation is heretical to conservatives and counterintuitive to others, but the evidence in Canada and the United States bears it out.

    In opposition, then in office, conservatives promise lower taxes, and try to deliver them, as the Harper Conservatives did with their two-point cut to the GST that cost the treasury about $12-billion.

    Having eroded the government's fiscal capacity, conservatives then promise to eliminate "wasteful" spending. When that effort produces meagre results, as it always does, the government either cuts programs (but never enough to make up for the tax reductions) or lets spending proceed apace, as the Harper crowd has done.

    Twenty years of Republican administrations under three presidents followed this formula: a political campaign based on lower taxes and an attack on "wasteful" spending, followed by lower taxes but higher spending, with resulting chronic deficits.

    Deficits of the kind conservative parties left in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Ottawa (Alberta was the exception because of energy royalties) also suggest that deficits and conservatives go together, rhetoric notwithstanding.

    I tried highlighting the best sections but the tags are all messed up for some reason....

  22. If Cheney did not, he'd be portrayed as the politico being "Divisive", while the President was trying to "Bring US together" by "Healing the Wounds".

    It's a great trap set, for an ego's like Cheney's. Obama wins either way, his proxies thumping on the GOP for the next 18 months, right up to the 2010 elections.

    Could Cheney be so selfish as to demand a right to testify on the Senate floor, if he does not except a pardon, despite the damage it would do to the Country?

  23. If trials for torture begin, trials for war crimes will not be far behind.

  24. 64 Billion is not even worth Barry or Timmy's attention, Ash.
    Not even a rounding error.

  25. We have a president that has no particular connection to the country he leads except as a critic and as a messianic visionary for change. He has an international model designed far from mainstream America.

    His legacy is to be a combination of reparations, retribution and reorganization with a structural shift in power. He is going to attempt to break the underpinnings of traditional American values.

    It is quite a marvel to behold, almost as astounding as Adolf Hitler legally taking power in Germany. It happens.

  26. Well, Speaker Pelosi says the current CiC is a great intellect, a strategic thinker and a visionary.

  27. Cheney had his eight years of fame, too bad it wasn't fifteen minutes but there you go. He should slide on out of here.

  28. Newt "Small Government" Gingrich says we should have mandatory Singapore-style drug tests for all Americans.

  29. Obama on Fiscal DisciplineTwo TRILLION in Deficit Reduction!!!

    The Man's a Walking, Talking FOS Demo.

    Paygo: OMFG

  30. I love the way you see his eyes jump to the left, then pan right.

    Teleprompter calling all the shots.

  31. Now we all know why Barry is Brown.

    ...Xena got that color in the tropics - no offense, pure defense against the rays.

  32. Toes Knows

    Earlier today, Rahm told reporters that Big Guy has 100% faith and support for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. As even I, a humble computer, understand it, in Washington this means that Bernanke, who can't be fired the same way other political types can, is in huge trouble.

    This is especially true since Big Guy has been spending so much time with Paul Volcker, who used to have Bernanke's job back in the Grover Cleveland administration. Big Guy loves going old school. My guess is the Ben either ends up out on the street working for JP Morgan or in one of those big holes in the Rose Garden. Either way, this can't end well. For America.

    - Teleprompter

  33. "A Couple of Hot Kinky youg
    I-MACS Waiting inside the Tour
    Bus Every Night.

  34. "young"
    Teleprompter was panting

  35. Grandkids Lost in the Grand Race:

    35. Barry 0351:

    The EX daughter in law is a teacher fills the grandkids heads with such drivel and the way to keep the kids away from the truth is to seperate the kids from all grandparents who would teach the children the old bad ways of living.
    The Grandkids live with her in a multicultural, multiracial family attend school from early morning to 7:00 PM and then go home to the same family situation everyday.
    We have let the wrong folks run the education system these want to tell a child what to think not how to think.

  36. Oprah Shines Light On Great Garbage PatchWe know AlGore's opionion, or can quess.

    On the other hand, some scientist or other I was listening to one night, who seemed to know what he was talking about, says it's greatly overrated. May have been Dr. Bill, but can't recall.

    Raise you hand if you are willing to live totally without plastics for the rest of your miserable lives, you odiferous full-gorged moldwarps!

  37. Plastics are one of the gifts of the gods to mankind, as Mrs. Robinson knew well. Sent down to us as a reward for our good behavior.

    All this talk about torture waterboarding trials and such is disturbing. The administration lawyers ok'd it, all the democrats knew about it, and knowing about it supported it, the whole thing's a farce, and one begins to wonder if such a country is even worth defending.

  38. And, HERE'S the Answer. Corn-based Plastics for Corn Chips.

    Any plastic that can be made from petroleum can be made from Bio.

  39. At least, doug, Obama can pronounce and understands the meanings of the words he reads.

    Mr Frum's work is proof positive Mr Bush was lost, even with a telepromter.

    He could read it aloud, but never understood what he was saying.

  40. Ah, but Mr. Bush would have given aid to a baby that survived an abortion, trying to save its life, whereas Mr. Obama would give the baby a "comfort room" to die in, and that is all ye need to know, thou dankish ill-breeding mumble-news!

  41. 'Rat was only a baby's rights Crusader under the GOP Regieme.

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.