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sfbay Nature News from Jake Sigg

From: Jake Sigg 
Date: Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 11:23 AM
Subject: Nature News from Jake Sigg
To: Jake Sigg  jakesigg at earthlink

1.   Save the Bay wants part-time restoration project leader
2.   Hands Across The Sand - gathering against offshore oil drilling - June 26
3.   Farmers' Market in North Oakland Highlighting Small Farmers of Color, Social Entrepreneurship
4.   How safe was your last meal? If you dined out, you took a significant risk
5.   Where omega-3 fatty-acid supplements come from
6.   “The Last Ocean” The Antarctic Ross Sea/Chilean Sea Bass - June 29
7.   Tons of bushmeat consumed in Paris
8.   What is your favor environmental disaster?
9.   Two showings of '"World of Wolves" TONIGHT and tomorrow night in Marin
10. Yerba Buena Island Habitat Restoration Work Party Saturday, June 26
11.  Interesting email conversation about Western Bluebirds and the harsh realities of life
12.  Mt Sutro Open Space Reserve workshops June 30 and July 26
13.  More fun with Joe Barton
14.  Feedback:  22 oz vs 12 oz/Cost of our invention of agriculture
15.  Books of note:  organic foods/Adventures Among Ants:  A Global Safari
16.  Desert solar energy articles
17.  Nationwide boycott of San Diego in support of Arizona
18.  California considering approval of neurotoxic pesticide for strawberry farming
19.  The effects that the use (and sometimes abuse) of language have on politics, society and culture around the world 
20.  What can happen to basic liberties when national security is invoked:  the Dreyfus affair
21.  Obsolete, offensive, and obscure bumperstickers  available from Earth First!
22.  Notes & Queries:  Caps Lock key - and Archy & Mehitabel

 "We wonder whether in the present pattern the pieces are not straining to fall out of line; whether the paradoxes of our times are not finally mounting to a conclusion of ridiculousness that will make the whole structure collapse.  For the paradoxes are becoming so great that leaders of people must be less and less intelligent to stand their own leadership."  John Steinbeck, The Log From the Sea of Cortez 1941.


Save The Bay’s Community-based Restoration Program seeks energetic part-time Restoration Project Leader to lead community-based restoration programs for middle and high school students, community and corporate groups, and Bay Area residents. Save The Bay connects students, teachers and the general public directly to the Bay, introduces them to the issues impacting San Francisco Bay, and empowers them to take action to save the Bay, while restoring and enhancing over 100 acres of vital tidal marsh wetlands yearly.

Salary and benefits:
Hourly rate begins at $16.00/hour
2-3 days per week (1-2 weekdays and most Saturdays)
Additional compensation after a full season
Training and professional development opportunities

To apply for the Part-time Restoration Project Leader, please send resume and cover letter to, or:
Save The Bay
Attn: Laura Wainer, Restoration Projects Manager
350 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 900
Oakland, CA 94612

Hands Across The Sand
Saturday, June 26, 2010, 11:00am - noon
Ocean Beach - 1000 Great Highway

Americans and the World To Join Hands In The Largest Gathering Against Offshore Oil Drilling In History - Hands Across the Sand is now international. Any person in any country may plan events on the website.


Saturday, June 26th, 11:00 am
The Beach at Crissy Field

Join other Sierra Club members headed to the event.

Questions or RSVP: Email Jeramiah Dean or call (510) 848-0800 ext. 304


3.  Phat Beets Produce to Open a New Saturday Farmers' Market in North Oakland Highlighting
Small Farmers of Color, Social Entrepreneurship, and Free Community Based Workshops July 3rd at North Oakland Pediatrics

Oakland, CA — June 21st, 2010 — Starting Saturday July 3rd, Phat Beets Produce will join North Oakland Pediatrics in opening a new Farmers' Market in North Oakland (5715 Market St) rooted not only in sustainable food, but in food justice. The grand opening will feature a variety of organic, pesticide free, and local fruit and vegetable growers, local bakers socially grounded food businesses, local crafts as well as live jazz music, live art, and free cooking demos.

“Many kids don’t know what fresh food looks like,” Dr. Gary Bean said to Oakland Local, “A generation of people has not received information or resources for healthy eating.” Dr. Gary Bean runs the Arlington Medical Center at North Oakland Pediatrics and is the visionary behind this farmers' market for the neighborhood and his patients. Dr. Bean was born and raised in Oakland and grew up going to this clinic, which he described as a “as a focal point for African-American physicians” in Oakland, Ca.

Partnering with Dr. Bean is Phat Beets Produce, a North Oakland Collective that operates three other projects in North Oakland including a farmers' market in partnership with the Healthy Hearts(youth obesity prevention) Clinic at the Children's Hospital Oakland as well as the nation's first clinic based youth vegetable garden. Phat Beets Produces mission is to connect small farmers to urban communities.

Phat Beets Produce is expecting 12-15 vendors to launch this market and will expand the market to reflect the interest and needs of the surrounding neighborhood. There will be free weekly workshops ranging from tenants rights workshops to urban ag workshops on backyard egg production. Participating social businesses incubator programs include JP Organics of ,, and LaCocina. A community meeting will be held on Monday June 28th from 6-7pm at 5175 Market St @ in the Arlington Medical Center waiting room.
Phat Beets Produce 510-420-7072 -


4.  How safe was your last meal? If you dined out, you took a significant risk.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates 76 million Americans acquire foodborne illnesses annually. In the U.S., 3,334 incidences of outbreaks from 1998 to 2002 were reported in restaurants or delicatessens according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. And recent research by food safety specialist Ben Chapman of North Carolina State University found that meals prepared in commercial kitchens have been involved in up to 70 percent of food poisoning outbreaks.

OBSERVATIONS: Bacterial cross-contamination found to be a hidden problem in commercial kitchens
How safe was your last meal? If you dined out, you took a significant risk, according to new research


5.  Hey Mr Green,
I’ve heard that omega-3 fatty-acid capsules contain oil from a bottom-dwelling fish that the big supplement companies are fishing into population collapse.  Is there any truth to this?
There’s evidence that omega-3 might help prevent heart problems.  Some proponents even claim it staves off dementia, which gives me hope.
But most of the critters used for omega-3 oil are not bottom dwellers; they’re smaller fish like anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and menhaden.  And if any species, bottom dweller or otherwise, is getting fished into extinction, it’s not by the supplement manufacturers.  The supplement makers obtain the oil as a by-product of “reduction fishing”—fishing by outfits whose catch is processed into fish meal, which in turn is fed to farmed fish, chickens, and hogs.  (The fact that we roam the seas to net fish to feed other fish and livestock strikes me as one of the screwier aspects of the food system.  Why not just eat the smaller fish instead of the farmed salmon that has eaten them?  And why not just give livestock homegrown feed?)
Most of the small species caught for fish meal and omega-3 oil aren’’t endangered, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), but concern about overfishing has led 13 of the 15 Atlantic-coast states to either outlaw menhaden reduction fishing in their waters or ban the gear that’s used for this purpose.  Unfortunately, proposals to extend the ban on fishing menhaden for feed to all state and federal waters in the Atlantic have failed to get out of congressional committees.
Some fish-oil supplements haven’t been adequately screened for mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), although the EDF found that most U.S. producers do remove these toxic substances.  To be sure you’re getting a safe brand, consult the group’s list at bit.lyu/safebrands.
From Ask Mr Green in Sierra, July-August 2010

6.  Multi-media presentation--“The Last Ocean”--by Antarctic scientist Dr. David Ainley

June 29, 2010, San Francisco

Please join the Center for Biological Diversity next Tuesday, June 29, for a presentation by scientist Dr. David Ainley on his work to protect one of the last intact oceans on earth -- the Antarctic Ross Sea.

Seldom seen by most humans, the Ross Sea is perhaps the most intact open-ocean ecosystem left on earth. In a world where we have fished out an estimated 90 percent of the world's large fish, finned 95 percent of the world's sharks, and harpooned 90 percent of the great whales, the Ross remains an important refuge for emperor penguins, whales and ice seals. However, even the remote Ross Sea is now being threatened by industrial fishing as a mainstay of the ecosystem -- the Antarctic toothfish -- is being rapidly harvested and sold as Chilean sea bass.

Dr. David Ainley, who has been studying the Ross Sea ecosystem for over 30 years, is leading the struggle to stop the destructive toothfish fishery and permanently protect the sea from overfishing by designating it as a marine protected area. In a multi-media presentation, Dr. Ainley will show clips from a breathtaking documentary that highlights the extraordinary and unexpected natural beauty of the Ross Sea, and he will discuss his efforts to protect this unique ecosystem from harm. 

When: Pre-talk reception with light refreshments at 5:30 p.m.; talk begins at 6 p.m.

Where: Center for Biological Diversity San Francisco office, 351 California St., Suite 600, San Francisco (three short blocks from the Montgomery Street BART Station, between Sansome and Battery)

RSVP to Shaye Wolf at or call (415) 632-5301. Space is limited.

(JS:  I note that Chilean sea bass is offered by many supermarkets, including Mollie Stone's.  I contacted its fish/meat counter manager, Mike Tomasello, about this and related issues.  Unconcerned.  Bottom line:  most customers are not bothered by such things.  If you are, you might notify your market if it carries this item.) 

7.  Just what it sounds like:

Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.  
Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.  Mark Twain

8.  From Brock Dolman:
> I must admit that when I heard Obama say the other night with his Oval Office speech - that the Gulf Gusher is “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”  – like the NY Times article below - I immediately started laying out a long list of American Enviro disasters besides the Dust Bowl and near Bison extirpation mentioned below! 
> Seems to me that we might as well invoke the clearcut conversion of the majority of all old growth vegetation communities of all types,  the genocide of over 95%+ of all Native American Indians, the near extinction of most salmonids populations,  the actual extirpation of passenger pigeons,  the discovery of Gold in CA,  the damning of most rivers in the west & east, filling of wetlands and cutting of riparian corridors,  the Gulf dead zone, and on the fur trapping front...
> ...I would also want to advocate that the destruction of beavers (and all other furbearers) on the continent and the subsequent impacts to watersheds, hydrology processes and biological carrying capacity diminishment – should be in on the competition for “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”???
> What is your favorite enviro disaster??
> Geez – From the article below - I do wonder what the ground water in Kern County between Taft & Maricopa from the “Lakeview Gusher” must be like today where roughly 150 million gallons of oil “just soaked into the ground”...quite the stats below!!!

Where Gulf Spill Might Place on the Roll of Disasters
By JUSTIN GILLIS, Published: June 18, 2010

Peter Rauch:
At 16:48 10/06/17, you wrote:
> "The worst environmental disaster our nation has ever faced."   President Obama
> (No.  Respectfully, Mr President, the greatest environmental disaster that happened to our nation and the world was the invention of the automobile.)
> Jake, I think he meant, "The worst environmental disaster our nation has ever faced since I became President"; but, he's still wrong --it's the U.S. population size that is still our worst national --if not globally-reaching-- environmental disaster.
So many disasters, so little time to list them.  Jake


9.  Two showings of "World of Wolves" with Paul Paquet and Marco Musiani
6 p.m. June 24
Marin Humane Society, 171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato 
Admission: Free
Information: 883-4621, <> ,

7 to 9 p.m. June 25
Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Admission: Free
Information: 927-0960; <> 

The Marin Humane Society contributes Tails of Marin articles. Go to   

Yerba Buena Island
Habitat Restoration Work Party
Saturday, June 26, 2010, 9 AM to 12:30 PM

Help restore the naturally occurring biotic communities of our little-known central bay island hidden in plain sight.

Yerba Buena Island supports thriving remnants of Bay Area ecosystems that include oak woodlands, riparian scrub, wildrye grasslands, and coastal scrub.  These habitats, which support a diversity of birds, butterflies and other wildlife, are being displaced by invasive vegetation.  Protecting and restoring habitat is a great excuse to get dirty, work off steam, socialize, enjoy great views and appreciate natural beauty and complexity.

Tools and gloves provided. 
Easily accessible by public transit 

Space is limited.  Reservations required.  Send an email to:

Location and Directions to be provided upon signing up. 

Sponsored by:
Sutro Stewards
Nature in the City
Treasure Island Wetlands Project
Yerba Buena Chapter, CA Native Plant Society
With the assistance of the Treasure Island Development Authority and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development 

The Metallic Green Bee gathers pollen from Jaumea flowers on Clipper Cove Beach on YBI. The Fiesta Flower grows on YBI and nowhere else in SF County.

(The following email conversation took place regarding the fate of a Western Bluebird family at the KPFA Transmitter site in the Berkeley Hills.  It is a healthy reminder to us of some realities of life that is not experienced by us city dwellers.  It could possibly also be a clue to some of the changes happening in the world.)

(Bob Nelson) Sadly, the Western Bluebirds who were nesting in the house on the south fence apparently abandoned their brood of chicks. Transmitter
Supervisor Steve Hawes found the dead chicks in the house when he checked it this week... The same thing happened last year... Steve sterilized the box after last year's experience and hoped for better results this year... However, without a Western Bluebird family in the box, Robert and I were able to get close to that nesting box and whack the weeds nearby. We had left those weeds untouched prior to last Thursday to minimize noise and disturbance to the Bluebirds...

(Bob Nelson) Dear Jake:  If I knew what the problem was that has been resulting in dead Western Bluebird chicks, I would be more than happy to share it...If we could find a way to get the nest box with the dead chicks up to UC Davis in a timely way, it has been suggested that they could analyze the cause of the dead chicks.  Robert and I have been VERY careful to keep our bodies and any loud noises away from the nesting boxes... We do, however, need to carefully pursue continuing maintenance work near the boxes... That's my best "take" about what's going on, Jake... If you have any suggestions, please pass them along! Thank you for your continuing interest in our efforts at the KPFA transmitter site! 

(Kay Loughman) An acquaintance with two bluebird nest boxes near the top of Claremont Canyon (on the Oakland/Berkeley border) has found dead baby birds in one of the boxes. The second box has a viable (so far) nest. Last year he found dead babies in both boxes. But in previous years both boxes have fledged birds. I know he is careful about cleaning the boxes after the nesting season, so am at a loss to know what the problem is now. Is there anyone around who really knows about bluebirds and bluebird boxes who could advise him?  

(mari litsky) I'd be happy to talk to your friend and pass on any information I have about bluebirds .  I will be out of town next week, but happy to meet or email/talk on phone when I get back.  Please feel free to pass on my email address to your friend and we can take it from there.  I too have found dead babies in a nest this year.. but I don't think it is a phenomenon that is happening this year. I DO think many cavity nesters may be vying for same cavity and the house sparrows are very aggressive pecking eggs and babies.  Could also be a case of an abandoned nest due to adults' death.. Anyways,  these are some possibilities... best of luck with the other nest!  Look forward to talking more about this. 

(Kay) Steve - I'm forwarding correspondence about bluebird nest failures, and copying Mari Litsky who may have some ideas for you.  Since Mari mentioned House Sparrows, I want to let you both know that (based on my 35 years experience living and birding in here) we don't have that species here in Claremont Canyon - you have to go all the way down Claremont Ave. to Peet's Coffee on Domingo before you can find House Sparrows!  So something else is going on.  I sure hope you two can figure it out.  

(Irv Tiessen, Bluebird Monitor)   Kay, Marilyn sent your inquiry about the nesting results of your bluebird boxes to me, for a possible answer. I monitor some 269 bluebird boxes in Eastern Alameda Co. and some 1002 birds were fledged from the same boxes. My mortality chart shows some 69 chicks perished through my last nesting season. In some instances, one or two chicks might fledge out of one brood, while several sibling chicks might have died in incremental stages. In other instances, all chicks will have perished at the same approximate time. The real culprit, in most cases is inclement weather. If a storm moves in with rain, wind, etc. it knocks the insect hatch down and insects are the primary source of food for the birds.  Also the timing of the storms and the age of the chicks. The younger chicks 0-5 days require softer insects (spiders/grubs/caterpillars), while the 7+ days old chicks can manage insects with harder exoskeletons i.e., grasshoppers/crickets etc. The other source of consternation exists when a predator becomes wise to the boxes and develops a strategy to kill the parents. Feral and tame cats, raccoons, bobcats, foxes, Sharp-shinned hawks, Coopers hawks, take a huge toll on the parent birds, especially when the adult birds are feeding chicks. The adult bird will cling to the outside of the entrance hole and reach inside the box to feed the chicks. This is a vulnerable position. Check the
 exterior of the box for horizontal scratch (claw) marks across the front of the box.  If the chicks die incrementally, different size, it means sibling
 rivalry has taken place where the most aggressive chick, consumes a diminishing supply of food. This is caused by storms. A single adult bird can generally fledge an entire brood if food is plentiful.  If the dead chicks are all about the same size, it means that no food got into the box.  Again, this might indicate stormy weather, or the parents were driven off, or killed by a predator. A storm that lasts two or three days is devastating to chicks. Without protein they cannot maintain body heat and quickly die.


12.  Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

The Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve is a largely undeveloped area of approximately 61 acres of land that is owned by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and located adjacent to UCSF’s Parnassus Heights campus. 

UCSF has withdrawn grant applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for two proposed fire mitigation projects.  The FEMA timeline would have  inhibited UCSF’s ability to implement small demonstration areas in advance of the fire mitigation projects.  UCSF remainsfully committed to reducing the risk of wildfire and improving the health and safety of the Reserve while maintaining scenic quality, and will continue to seek alternate funding.  In keeping with the 2001 Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan, UCSF will work closely with neighbors to plan, implement, and evaluate small demonstration project(s).   This collaborative effort will embrace best practices to improve the health of the forest and ensure public safety through fire mitigation, while maintaining scenic quality.  This project will be subject to environmental review according to the California Environmental Quality Act. 

Please join us at these Community Workshops to plan for a safe and healthy forest:
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 6:30 p.m.
Faculty Alumni House
745 Parnassus at 5th Avenue 

Monday, July 26, 2010 - 6:30 p.m.
Millberry Union
500 Parnassus Avenue 

For   more   information,   visit   this   website: 


13.  Rep. Joe Barton's proficient command of the English language, "the law of the land"

David Biello in Scientific American:
Of course, Obama may have created his own political vortex by calling for such a "clean energy future." That may be the only way to really stop the circumstances that led to the Macondo well spewing into the Gulf of Mexico in the first place. But it is also the kind of initiative that doomed President Jimmy Carter and his famous cardigan—an early effort towards energy conservation—to just one term in office.

"Cleaning up our energy habits is indeed the moral equivalent of war ."
Jimmy Carter urges energy reform, again

(JS:  You'll perhaps recall that political detractors used this against Carter with devastating effect.  They were quick to point out that the "moral equivalent of war" acronym is:  MEOW.  This helped Ronald Reagan become the next president, and he assured the people there was nothing to worry about.  "It's morning in America."

Such is the fate of thinking politicians.  When Adlai Stevenson--the best presidential candidate since FDR, and one of the best ever--was in a tough race with Eisenhower and things weren't going well, a supporter said:  "But Mr Stevenson, all thinking people are going to vote for you."  His response:  "I know, but I want to win.")

More Joe Barton bashing (It's such FUN)

As the humble son of two English teachers with master's and specialist's degrees in speech and education who took pleasure in scolding me as a child in both Latin and Greek, I'd like to apologize to all English-speaking nations for Rep. Joe Barton's apology for apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward while he apologized to America for turning the Gulf of Mexico into a sorry petrochemical spittoon.

Now, I'm speaking only for me, not myself, but for me, because I'm the only one speaking to the larger grammatical construction of Barton's apology that he claimed was misconstrued "in opposite effect" for which deserved an apology for that miscontrue ... misconstruction ... therein.

Mr. Barton's clunk and mangle of Funk & Wagnalls was a slap in the face to anyone who stays up late arguing over two-letter Scrabble words; whose idea of a wild night is staying home drinking schnapps and diagramming sentences. I'm getting goose bumps just talking about it.

Rep. Barton, I believe you mean these words indelibly carved on your website: "I support English as the official language of our country and believe all Americans should be proficient in the language spoken by our founding fathers."

But when a congressmen demands proper English be the language of the land, and then destroys that language in front of an Englishman — I must apologize for me, myself, or I to my mom and dad; I'm sorry.

Brian Unger is a writer, satirist and actor. He helped launch The Daily Show and is a regular contributor to NPR.

14.  Feedback

Kyla Dahlin:
> Hi Jake-I'm guessing you'll get lots of responses on this, but the explanation I've heard for 22 oz beer tasting better than 12 oz (and even better from a keg) is that hops photodegrade, so the less light exposure they get, the better (a 22 oz bottle has a much smaller surface area per unit volume than a 12 oz). 
> Here's a news article:
> And here's the abstract from the scientific paper:  (Abstract sent on request.  It's very technical.  JS)
Thanks a lot for the feedback, Kyla.  No, I doubt that I'll get many responses, so I appreciate this.  I was a little timid about saying it; when I converse with people and say that the 22 oz tastes better than the 12 oz I get peculiar looks, like:  Hm, I think Jake is getting a little barmy.  Pardon my Englishisms (barmy), but they creep into my psyche from reading so many English journals.

Hops photodegrade, huh?  I've heard that beer should be in only brown or green bottles, never in clear.  Corona is always in clear glass, but then, I don't consider this real beer.

From Name Withheld:
> Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization  by Spencer Wells. 
> Around 10,000 years ago humans invented agriculture, shedding the hunter-gatherer lifestyle for one in which they created their own food. This innovation, argues anthropologist and geneticist Spencer Wells, set into motion a chain of events that would ultimately lead to our present era of overpopulation, infectious disease and anxiety—a mismatch between culture and biology. Below he describes modern-day stresses and their impact on our still fundamentally hunter-gatherer minds.
> I certainly agree with you about agriculture. The percentage of soil on the earth that has been ruined is very high. People don't value it. I try to tell people that cultivation, in all its forms, kills fungi. Using a simplistic concept, I say that (mycorrhizae and other fungi) tied the roots of almost all plants into a togetherness like human connections. It was a perfect dance of life. People rarely connect that way now, either. I recommend Paul Stamets. No one listens.
> I look forward to Spencer Wells' book.

Mention of Paul Stamets led me to fish this out of my archives:
Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets
"Paul Stamets...believes mushrooms can save the world...he explains how mushrooms can be used to filter out microorganisms and pollutants from waterways; restrain termites and ants; degrade or remove toxins from the environment; and--most important--repair and restore the weakened immune system of environments.  Stamets is an inventive and imaginative thinker..and will show you nontoxic and harmless ways to solve serious health and environmental problems.”
“The woods are full of dead and dying trees, yet needed for their beauty to complete the beauty of the living.”  John Muir


15.  Books of Note

The Earth's Best Story:  A Bittersweet Tale of Twin Brothers Who Sparked an Organic Revolution, by Ron Koss and Arnie Koss

Organic Manifesto:  How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe, by Maria Rodale

The Town That Food Saved:  How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, by Ben Hewitt

Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions
by Mark W. Moffett. University of California Press, 2010

Join biologist and photographer Mark W. Moffet of the Smithsonian Institution—who has been called the “Indiana Jones of entomology”—as he journeys to the Amazon, Nigeria, Borneo and beyond to uncover the secret lives of ants.

Desert solar energy articles


16.  Nationwide Boycott of San Diego in Support of Arizona is Launched!

A general boycott of the City of San Diego was launched on May 29 by the Support Arizona/Boycott San Diego Coalition (SABSDC). This politically diverse and growing group of organizations, about thirty so far, represents all parts of the United States. 

The boycott was organized in response to a resolution passed by the San Diego City Council (SDCC R-305813) that attacks and presents false information about Arizona’s new immigration law (SB 1070). In the opinion of the coalition, that law represents an eminently fair, sensible, and constitutional attempt to compensate for the irresponsibility of the federal government in not enforcing existing immigration laws firmly and consistently over a few decades....The flyer put out by the group has some unusual twists. Of the 18 cities in San Diego County only the city council of San Diego condemned the new Arizona law. Polls have shown that most San Diegans, like most other Americans, think the Arizona law is a good one. 

Copies of the Arizona law, the SDCC resolution, and other pertinent documents are available on the SABSDC webpage at Coalition members are also listed there. 

FEATURES: The Reproductive Revolution: How Women Are Changing the Planet's Future
The population bomb is being defused. It is being done without draconian measures by big government, without crackdowns on our liberties--by women making their own choices

OBSERVATIONS: White rice raises risk of type 2 diabetes
Although brown rice was tied to a lower overall risk for diabetes, it accounts for less than a third of the rice consumed in the U.S. each year


Need an ironclad reason to buy organic strawberries? California has one for you: methyl iodide. The chemical is a drift-prone fumigant that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved in 2007, primarily to replace methyl bromide, which is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol because of its ozone depleting properties and its toxicity. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) plans to approve the use of methyl iodide to sterilize soil for strawberry crops as the alternative to methyl bromide. 
What's the problem? Methyl iodide is a highly toxic carcinogen that the EPA approved over the objections of more than fifty scientists, including five Nobel laureates in chemistry. Chemists have historically used the carcinogen to induce cancer in lab tissue, according to scientist Susan Kegley of the Pesticide Action Network of North America. Human toxicity experts from the Hazardous Substances Data Bank at the National Institute of Heath state that the chemical "acts as a poison attacking the skin, eyes and the [central nervous system] via inhalation, ingestion, eye and skin contact." It's also mutagenic, meaning it causes chromosomal and DNA alternations. The DRP's own panel of scientists and an independent peer review reported grave concerns over the use of methyl iodide in any scenario, particularly before the effects on human neurological health are better understood.
Nevertheless, the DPR is set to approve the carcinogenic pesticide by the end of June. That would be bad news for all of us, but especially for California's farm workers, agricultural communities, children and elderly.
DPR is taking public comments prior to making its final decision, so you have a chance to make your voice heard on this important issue. The comment period ends June 29, 2010.
Comments may be sent to:
Pesticide Registration Branch,
Department of Pesticide Regulation,
P.O. Box 4015, Sacramento, CA 95812. 

About Johnson
In this blog, named for the dictionary-maker Samuel Johnson, our correspondents write about the effects that the use (and sometimes abuse) of language have on politics, society and culture around the world 

• SOME pundits might call Barack Obama "professorial"; others, for his get-tough attitude with BP and, before that, the banks, are calling him a "populist". But as Matt Bai points out at the New York Times, populism no longer means what we thought it did:
• Most Democrats, after all, persist in embracing populism as it existed in the early part of the last century—that is, strictly as a function of economic inequality. In this worldview, the oppressed are the poor, and the oppressors are the corporate interests who exploit them.
• That made sense 75 years ago, when a relatively small number of corporations... controlled a vast segment of the work force and when government was a comparatively anemic enterprise. In recent decades, however, as technology has reshaped the economy, more and more Americans have gone to work for smaller or more decentralized employers, or even for themselves, while government has exploded in size and influence...
• Since this transformation took place, a succession of liberal politicians--Jesse Jackson, Jerry Brown, John Edwards—have tried to run for president on a traditionally populist, anticorporate platform, with little success. That is because today’s only viable brand of populism, the same strain that  Ross Perot expertly tapped as an independent presidential candidate in 1992, is not principally about the struggling worker versus his corporate master. It is about the individual versus the institution—not only business, but also government and large media and elite universities, too.
• Whence the success of Tea Party-ism, and, Mr Bai argues, the inevitable limpness of Mr Obama's tirades: he's perceived not as standing up for the little guy (sorry, the "small people"), but as being just another oppressor.
• Contrast this with Latin America, where populists like Hugo Chávez can still get away with claiming to represent the little guy against the corporations and oligarchs that have always controlled the wealth. There, as in America, income inequality has risen in recent decades, but it is capitalism, not the state, that is blamed.
• In Russia, meanwhile, Vladimir Putin as president gave populism a new twist: rather than offering merely to liberate Russians from the oppression of the oligarchs he persuaded them to trade it for oppression by the state, a bargain most of them have accepted quite happily.
• How many other concepts are there that we consider basic, yet turn out to be so thoroughly dependent on political circumstances?


“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson
20.  Review from The Economist, Jun 10th 2010

J'accuse - The Dreyfus affair
Pointing fingers
More than a century on, the illegal cashiering in France of Captain Alfred Dreyfus shows what can happen to basic liberties when national security is invoked

For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus. By Frederick Brown

The Man on Devil's Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair that Divided France. By Ruth Harris

Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters. By Louis Begley.

HE LED an unremarkable, bourgeois life in fin-de-siècle Paris, riding his horses in the Bois de Boulogne, and sending his family to the Normandy coast to take the sea air. He was a conscientious, if not particularly likeable, army officer, and a graduate of Polytechnique, the highly competitive French engineering school. His father was a successful industrialist from Alsace (which had fallen to the Germans after the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71), supplying him with an unusually handsome income for a man of his rank. He also happened to be Jewish.

In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was secretly arrested, wrongfully convicted by a court martial of high treason, sentenced to life imprisonment, stripped of his military rank and shipped off in chains to solitary confinement in the sweltering heat of Devil’s Island, a French territory off the coast of South America. The only evidence presented at his trial was a torn-up note containing confidential military information, which had been found in a wastepaper basket at the German embassy by a cleaning lady working as a French spy. It was written in a hand that was said, implausibly, to resemble the captain’s.

How could the French army have conspired to bring down an innocent man in the name of national security? To this day, and despite the scores of books on the subject, the affair that rocked and divided France fascinates historians. Three new works re-examine what happened for contemporary readers.

In a dense study, Frederick Brown of the State University of New York, sees the affair as the product of culture wars. The French army was humiliated by the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, then shaken by the Paris Commune uprising. Nationalist feeling, spiced with paranoia about traitors and spies, took hold at a time when the top brass was forced to improve military performance through reform. Meritocratic recruitment drew in outsiders like Dreyfus. But this also made him the object of suspicion by the old Catholic families, who traditionally manned France’s officer class.

Mr Brown is particularly good on the battle of ideas, symbolised by the construction of two of the capital’s landmarks. In 1875 the first stone was laid for the Sacré Coeur basilica in Montmartre, designed as a statement of religious renewal, national atonement and devotion to Rome. Across the river, the following decade, Gustave Eiffel began work on his monumental iron tower as an emblem of industry and science. The clerical elite was scandalised: it towered over the churches, did not speak to God, and reflected “imbecility, bad taste and foolish arrogance”. As one anti-Semitic writer declared at the time, “Only a Jew could have submitted such a project.”

Political instability and insecurity fuelled social paranoia and anti-Jewish sentiment. Conspiracy theories about Jewish financiers were the talk of Paris salons. “La France Juive”, by Edouard Drumont, an anti-Semitic tract published in 1886, became a bestseller. The respectable Catholic press, notably La Croix, joined in. In one diocesan newsletter in the Cévennes, readers were told about “the Jew”, who, it declared, was: “Servile, slithering, artful, filthy and vile when he is the weaker one; he becomes arrogant when he has the upper hand, as he does now.”

Against this background, the clubby French military elite hunted for a traitor. A perfunctory internal investigation swiftly fingered Dreyfus, the only Jewish trainee officer on the General Staff. He stood out, in the words of Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Sandherr, head of intelligence, as reported to a young diplomat, for “his indiscreet curiosity, his constant snooping, his air of mystery, and finally his false and conceited character, in which one recognises all the pride and all the ignominy of his race.” The military hierarchy closed ranks: its singular aim to defend its honour, and incriminate Dreyfus, triumphed over the facts.

In the end, justice prevailed. Yet it took five years before the Dreyfusards secured a second military trial, at which the captain was again found guilty, this time after the top brass forged evidence against him. Dreyfus’s name was not officially cleared until 1906. He was readmitted to the French army, served in the first world war and died in 1935. In another scholarly study, Ruth Harris, an Oxford University historian, shows how the battle to establish his innocence was never, as myth would have it, a neat tale pitting the forces of truth and justice against paranoid military authority and national honour. This, she writes, was “good rhetoric but poor history”.

Anti-clerical republicans—most famously, Emile Zola and his front-page letter to President Félix Faure entitled “J’Accuse”—took on the Catholic elite, with its hold over the military hierarchy. But the Dreyfus affair often cut across political and religious lines. Léon Blum, Georges Clemenceau, Jean Jaurès and other Dreyfusards intellectuels, a term originally coined to insult them, were aghast at left-leaning friends who refused to join the campaign. Through a close reading of a mass of private documents, Ms Harris subtly draws the complex, and contradictory, human behaviour behind the public affair.

Louis Begley, an American novelist and retired lawyer, and a Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Poland, has produced the shortest of the three books. It is also the paciest read. As a primer on the affair, this is a first-rate narrative and a heartfelt plea to modern democracies to stick to their values and defend basic liberties, however threatened they feel.

The author draws an intriguing parallel between the Dreyfus affair and the Guantánamo detainees under President George Bush, held on suspicion of terrorist links, grossly mistreated and denied basic rights. Yet he stretches his point. Dreyfus was innocent, like some of those held at Guantánamo. Crucially, however, he was the “enemy” within: picked from the ranks of the officer class, by the military’s own elite, and in a country—unlike America—that was not at war.

More than a century on, the Dreyfus affair still holds important lessons about freedom, notably the fragility of basic liberties when national security is invoked. It is also a reminder of the deep roots of anti-Semitism, in France and beyond. Even after Dreyfus’s death, the family felt the consequences. As Mr Begley notes, Dreyfus’s wife, Lucie, changed her name and fled Vichy France for the free zone in the south. Her granddaughter, Madeleine, who fought in the French Resistance, was sent to Auschwitz.

Regarding protestations by the administration that the government will not abuse powers entrusted it by the Patriot Act, Jim Hightower has this to say:  "I would rather trust a coyote with my last lamb chop than trust John Ashcroft with my last freedom."

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22.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

The size of letters does not convey the force of ideas
Do we really need tHE CAPS LOCK KEy on our keyboards?  Does anyone sell a keyboARD WITHOut one?

The Archy and Mehitabel books relate the story of a cockroach (Archy) with a literary bent inhabiting a news editor's office.  When the editor left a blank sheet in his typewriter Archy, keen to chronicle the life of the office cat (Mehitabel), an active participant in nocturnal trysts with the local toms, managed to jump on the keys and type messages to his boss.

But they were all in lower case, as the caps lock key was too stiff for him to shift.  One evening, however, it was left depressed, and that night's missive was printed entirely in capitals.
Adrian Cooper, Queens Park, NSW, Australia
The writer didn't understand Archy's problem.  He threw himself from the typewriter onto a key.  He couldn't depress the Caps key at the same time, as that required having at least two fingers, or their equivalent.  Therefore, everything was lower case.  The guy had a problem.  Unlike today's lower case-ists, who do it by choice, or laziness.
Jake Sigg, San Francisco

OF COURSE we really need it, to SHOUT.  If you hate inadvertently engaging Caps Lock, DISABLE THE DAMNED KEY!!!  Sheesh.
Donna Samoyloff, Toronto, canada

Don't know but k d lang, the famous Canadian singer, would line up for one.  From my recollections she has been adamant that her name did not have capitals.
Heather Emmett, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

No, indeed we do not.  But it is not necessary to buy a keyboard without a caps lock key (or to tear it off with a pair of pliers).

There are several free software utilities available to disable the caps lock key.  Just do a Google search for "kill caps lock".  The particular utility you use will depend on your computer's operating system.  I have disabled caps lock on all of my computers.  It really confuses people who borrow my laptop and try to enter their PASSWORDS!
David Josephy, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

In cyberspace no one can hear you scream.
Oliver Sheppard, Vincennes, France

The last line of defence
Why are we doing this?  Why aren't we blogging, tweeting or making friends online?

Because like the monasteries of Europe in the dark ages, we are keeping the light of learning and sanity burning, until the next age of enlightenment arrives.
Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

As readers of the Guardian Weekly we guard the civilised tradition of reading and writing to newspapers.  
Reiner Jaakson, Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Don't upset the emperor!
The Roman numeral for 4 is IV.  Why do clocks usually have IIII for 4?

The "proper" Roman expression of four, and the only one that the Romans would have recognised, is IIII.  The subtractive principle in Roman numerals did not appear until the second millennium CE, and is still considered illegitimate by some Roman numeral purists.  Now as to why clocks have IIII but also IX?
Greg DePaco, New Westminster, BC, Canada

The Roman numeral IV also represents the first two letters of the name Julius - as in Caesar - and was avoided, the better to not annoy the emperor.
Ken Jewell, New York City, US

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