Images of India

Click on the link below to see some very interesting photos of India in a powerpoint (pps) format.

These are not the kind of photos I see in magazine and newspaper articles about India. These are much more real.

Download India.pps (1722.5K)

Thanks to Jayant.

Monsanto Files Patent for the Pig

When greed overrides common sense, life gets strange. Thanks to Chris Gupta for uncovering unearthing this mutation of law and science.

Link: "The Earth is flat, pigs were invented by Monsanto, and genetically modified organisms are safe. Right." – Share The Wealth.

Monsanto Corporation is out to own the world’s food supply, the dangers of genetic engineering and reduced biodiversity notwithstanding, as they pig-headedly set about hog-tying farmers with their monopoly plans. We’ve discovered chilling new evidence of this in recent patents that seek to establish ownership rights over pigs and their offspring. In the crop department, Monsanto is well on their way to dictating what consumers will eat, what farmers will grow, and how much Monsanto will get paid for seeds. In some cases those seeds are designed not to reproduce sowable offspring. In others, a flock of lawyers stand ready to swoop down on farmers who illegally, or even unknowingly, end up with Monsanto’s private property growing in their fields.

One way or another, Monsanto wants to make sure no food is grown that they don’t own — and the record shows they don’t care if it’s safe for the environment or not. Monsanto has aggressively set out to bulldoze environmental concerns about its genetically engineered (GE) seeds at every regulatory level. So why stop in the field? Not content to own the pesticide and the herbicide and the crop, they’ve made a move on the barnyard by filing two patents which would make the corporate giant the sole owner of that famous Monsanto invention: the pig.

The Monsanto Pig (Patent pending) . . . The patent applications were published in February 2005 at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. A Greenpeace researcher who monitors patent applications, Christoph Then, uncovered the fact that Monsanto is seeking patents not only on methods of breeding, but on actual breeding herds of pigs as well as the offspring that result. "If these patents are granted, Monsanto can legally prevent breeders and farmers from breeding pigs whose characteristics are described in the patent claims, or force them to pay royalties," says Then. "It’s a first step toward the same kind of corporate control of an animal line that Monsanto is aggressively pursuing with various grain and vegetable lines."

There are more than 160 countries and territories mentioned where the patent is sought including Europe, the Russian Federation, Asia (India, China, Philippines) America (USA, Brazil, Mexico), Australia and New Zealand. WIPO itself can only receive applications, not grant patents. The applications are forwarded to regional patent offices.

The patents are based on simple procedures, but are incredibly broad in their claims. In one application (WO 2005/015989 to be precise) Monsanto is describing very general methods of crossbreeding and selection, using artificial insemination and other breeding methods which are already in use. The main "invention" is nothing more than a particular combination of these elements designed to speed up the breeding cycle for selected traits, in order to make the animals more commercially profitable.

More posts about Monsanto:

Are you eating Monsanto’s genetically modified crops?

Monsanto’s Government Ties

Monsanto Backs Off Bio-Wheat

Shining a Light on Agribusiness and It’s Poster Child Monsanto

THE TOXIC 100: Top Corporate Air Polluters in the United States

Here’s the top 10 of the THE TOXIC 100: Top Corporate Air Polluters in the United States. 

Source: Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) via GreenBiz.com

Rank
Corporation
Toxic score
(pounds released
x toxicity x
population exposure)
Millions of
pounds of toxic
air releases
1
E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co.
475,482            
17.15               
2
United States Steel Corp.
359,681            
2.84               
3
ConocoPhillips
284,772            
8.04               
4
General Electric Co.
266,308            
4.46               
5
Eastman Kodak Co.
253,054            
5.09               
6
Exxon Mobil Corp.
247,699            
15.47               
7
Ford Motor Co.
244,782            
9.67               
8
Tyson Foods Inc.
234,041            
1.28               
9
Alcoa Inc.
193,034            
9.88               
10
Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM)
191,367            
12.40               

The Value of Privacy

Bruce Schneier, security expert, describes the dangers of government surveillance of citizens. I understand why public places like airports and traffic intersections should be recorded on video. But somewhere between public places and private residences is a line that should not be crossed. Private information can be mis-used to manipulate and persecute. (There are some laws in here in Georgia….)

Link: Schneier on Security: The Value of Privacy

Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest — or just blackmail — with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies — whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It’s intrinsic to the concept of liberty.

For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.

Humanity’s Off Button/Kill Switch

John Barron Moore says that Nature is not a passive landscape that will let humans continue to overpopulate unchecked.

Link: A Day in the Life of…: Humanity’s Off Button/Kill Switch

The one thing Nature hates is overpopulation of a monoculture. Mankind is now a global species. We are spread all over the Earth, turning the planet into an island in space. Almost every spot on the globe can be reached within 24 hours via aircraft from any other point. We are cutting down the rain forests for lumber for building our civilization and rain forests have the greatest biodiversity of any ecosystems on the planet. They also have some of the worst tropical diseases on record. CDC’s worst nightmare is an Ebola-like virus being spread by airline across the globe, but now I understand. If we destroy the rain forests, likely some virus or combination of viruses will emerge and will kill us. Just one good plague and the human race is in check again. If it’s a fast plague, something that kills in 72 hours or less and is highly contagious, then our public health systems would be unable to cope. So, the lack of Siglecs to moderate our immune systems is our Achille’s Heel or "Off Switch" — Nature’s last chance to bring everything back into balance again if we are too stupid to do it ourselves.

US Energy Policy

Our elected officials recently proposed a $100 rebate for drivers. This is a great example of the deep insight and impressive leadership that Washington consistently provides.

As Jim Jubak at MSN Money points out:

It’s difficult to come up with creative ideas for solving an oil crisis when you’re so beholden to the oil and gas industry — the same oil and gas industry that contributed $26 million to candidates running for the House, Senate and White House in 2004 and $34 million in 2000 (ranking oil and gas as No. 13 among donor industries in 2004.) About 80% of the money in each of these years went to Republicans and 20% to Democrats.

Here’s the list from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Rank

Candidate

Office

Amount

1

Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX)

Senate

$140,911

2

DeLay, Tom (R-TX)

House

$112,490

3

Santorum, Rick (R-PA)

Senate

$110,050

4

Barton, Joe (R-TX)

House

$109,450

5

Burns, Conrad (R-MT)

Senate

$101,575

6

Allen, George (R-VA)

Senate

$92,500

7

Hastert, Dennis (R-IL)

House

$92,000

8

Cornyn, John (R-TX)

Senate

$86,000

9

Pombo, Richard (R-CA)

House

$66,200

10

Bode, Denise (R-OK)

House

$63,700

11

Talent, James M (R-MO)

Senate

$63,150

12

Sullivan, John (R-OK)

House

$62,500

13

Kyl, Jon (R-AZ)

Senate

$60,850

14

Cole, Tom (R-OK)

House

$52,796

15

Sessions, Pete (R-TX)

House

$50,300

16

Thomas, Craig (R-WY)

Senate

$49,000

17

Inhofe, James M (R-OK)

Senate

$48,200

18

Pearce, Steve (R-NM)

House

$44,700

19

Tiahrt, Todd (R-KS)

House

$43,650

20

Thomas, Bill (R-CA)

House

$41,500

But it’s not just the politicians who are embarrassingly short sighted. The American consumer drives stylishly, regardless of the cost.

Sales of General Motors’ new Tahoe SUV climbed nearly 35% in April; sales of the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade jumped 36% and 127%, respectively.

Big Oil likes the current situation, just the way it is.

ExxonMobil said that, despite record profits, it won’t be building any new refineries anytime soon in the United States because it doesn’t believe that current high gasoline prices are here to stay.

Ethanol is the solution, many politicians suggest, with patriotic zeal.

The May 12, 2006 issue of Executive Intelligence Review reports that ethanol takes more energy than it gives.

  • ethanol from corn requires 29% more fossil fuel energy than the fuel produced;
  • ethanol from switchgrass requires 45% more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
  • ethanol from wood biomass requires 57% more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

Pimentel and Patzek looked at the energy used in producing the crop, which includes pesticide and fertilizer production, farm machinery, irrigation, and transportation, and the energy necessary for distilling the ethanol. Source: Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2005, pp. 65-76)

As long as our elected officials are more concerned about donors and donations than the future of the country, our energy policy will continue to be an embarassment. What will it take to get their attention?

Mark Twain on Government

While the government is analyzing our phone calls, we can look to Mark Twain for perspective.

The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble . . . and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action . . . and sink into the helplessness of [one] who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in fine, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.

Mark Twain

Link: In Praise of Irreverence – Mises Institute

Neglecting our National Parks

If you’ve visited a national park lately, you’ve seen the effects of budget cuts.

Ann and I were in Yellowstone last June, and we saw evidence of infrastructure disrepair. Roads had potholes, campgrounds were run down, buildings were closed, and trails were washed out. Why? The budget for our national parks has been slashed. Nothing gets fixed.

Jim Hightower explains: AXING OUR NATIONAL PARKS