Local firm says it should get streetcar construction contract instead of out-of-town company – KansasCity.com

Kiewit-Clarkson Infrastructure Co. has filed a formal challenge to Kansas City’s decision to give an out-of-town company the job of building the downtown streetcar line.

Locally based Kiewit-Clarkson came in second in the bidding to become construction manager. But the company, a joint venture of Kiewit Corp. of Omaha, Neb., and Clarkson Construction Co. of Kansas City, claims the bidding process was flawed.

via Local firm says it should get streetcar construction contract instead of out-of-town company – KansasCity.com.

10 Years After the Great Blackout, the Grid Is Stronger — but Vulnerable to Extreme Weather

Science & Space

It wasn’t the tree’s fault — or least, not just the tree’s fault. Nearly 10 years ago, on Aug. 14, 2003, the electricity grid in the U.S. Northeast was stressed close to the limit. This wasn’t unusual; summer is a period of high demand in the Northeast, as air conditioners run overtime to compensate for the heat, and a number of older power plants were already offline for maintenance. As power lines became overloaded, they began sagging because of the high temperatures, until one line south of Cleveland touched an overgrown tree limb and short-circuited. What followed was a cascade of disaster due to a mix of human error and equipment failure, until by 4:10 p.m. E.T. that day more than 50 million people had lost power in parts of Ontario and eight U.S. states. New York City looked like this, and power wasn’t fully restored for two days…

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No more citations for curbside veggies in Los Angeles

TED Blog

Planting a vegetable garden beside a road is no longer a fineable action in Los Angeles.

In a major victory for TED speaker Ron Finley, otherwise known as the renegade gardener of South Central, the Los Angeles City Council voted 15-0 on Tuesday to allow the planting of vegetable gardens in unused strips of city land by roads. The council is opting to waive the enforcement of a city law that requires sidewalks and curbs to be “free of obstruction” in the case of vegetable gardens designed for community use. The city will stop enforcing this law immediately.

[ted_talkteaser id=1685]On the TED2013 stage, Finley described getting a citation for planting a vegetable garden on his curb.

“I live in a food desert, South Central Los Angeles, home of the drive-thru and the drive-by,” he said. “So what I did, I planted a food forest in front of my house…

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Population Growth and Climate Change Fuels Coastal Flooding Risks | TIME.com

The Nature Climate Change study looked at both present and projected future flood losses in the 136 largest coastal cities in the world, looking at their financial risks both in absolute terms—taking into account protections like sea walls and dikes—and as a percentage of the city’s GDP. The cities ranked as most at risk today range from Guangzhou in southern China to Mumbai in India to, yes, New York City. What those cities tend to have in common is high wealth and population levels and relatively little flooding protection. (By contrast, Dutch cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam—which are extremely flood-prone geographically—aren’t found on the list because the Netherlands government has invested heavily in coastal protection.) Three American cities—Miami, New York and New Orleans—are responsible for 31% of the total losses across the 136 cities surveyed in 2005. When it comes to losses as a percentage of total city GDP—which gives the very richest cities like New York an advantage—Guangzhou, New Orleans and Guayaquil in Ecuador are most at risk.

via Population Growth and Climate Change Fuels Coastal Flooding Risks | TIME.com.

Fukushima apocalypse: Years of ‘duct tape fixes’ could result in ‘millions of deaths’ — RT News

Fukushima Plant

Even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT.

Fukushima operator TEPCO wants to extract 400 tons worth of spent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4. The removal would have to be done manually from the top store of the damaged building in the radiation-contaminated environment.

In the worst-case scenario, a mishandled rod may go critical, resulting in an above-ground meltdown releasing radioactive fallout with no way to stop it, said Consolo, who is the founder and host of Nuked Radio. But leaving the things as they are is not an option, because statistical risk of a similarly bad outcome increases every day, she said.

via Fukushima apocalypse: Years of ‘duct tape fixes’ could result in ‘millions of deaths’ — RT News.

Certified Naturally Grown: An alternative label to organic

 

August 21st, 2013Mary EschAP

SCHAGHTICOKE, N.Y. (AP) — Justine and Brian Denison say they adhere to all the growing practices required for organic certification, yet if they label their beans and tomatoes “organic” at the farmer’s market, they could face federal charges and $20,000 or more in fines.

Because the Denisons chose not to seek organic certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Denison Farm, which has been under organic management for more than 20 years, is banned from using that term. So they and hundreds of other small direct-marketing farms across the country have adopted an alternative label: Certified Naturally Grown.

Started by a group of organic farmers in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley as a backlash against federal takeover of the organic program in 2002, Certified Naturally Grown has expanded over the past decade to include more than 700 farms in 47 states, executive director Alice Varon said.

“Certified Naturally Grown is tailored for direct-market farmers producing food without any synthetic chemicals specifically for their local communities,” Varon said. “It’s a particular niche of the agricultural world. It’s not in direct competition with the national organic program.”

Many small farmers previously certified organic by an independent organization have declined to participate in the federal program. They voice a variety of objections: extensive record-keeping requirements; fees that can amount to 6 percent of a small farm’s gross sales; and philosophical objections to joining a monolithic government-run program that also certifies huge operations that ship produce across the country.

“We have noticed over time that more and more farmers — often, younger farmers — who appear to be following organic practices don’t bother to get certified,” said Jack Kittredge, co-owner of a certified organic farm in Barre, Mass., and editor of “The Natural Farmer,” journal of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. “My major concern is that sometimes, unless you’re certified you’re not even aware of some of the problems,” such as calling livestock organic even though the animals eat feed containing genetically modified crops.

Atina Diffley, an organic farming consultant and author in Farmington, Minn., said alternative labels create confusion for customers. She said there are only about 13,000 USDA certified organic farms out of 2.2 million farms, and more organic farms are needed to bolster the movement’s impact on national farm policy. “When farms have an alternative certification, they’re not counted,” she said.

Sam Jones, spokesman for USDA’s organic certification program, said the agency doesn’t comment on guidelines other than its own and doesn’t take a position on whether alternative labels cause confusion. But he noted that growers are required by law to get federal certification if they want to sell their product as organic. Jones said USDA has a new program called “Sound and Sensible,” aimed at reducing paperwork and other burdensome aspects of certification.

Ryan Voilland, co-owner of the certified organic Red Fire Farm in Granby, Mass., said the certification fees and paperwork aren’t a big burden. He grows 100 acres of produce and has gross sales of about $2 million, and pays $2,000 a year for certification, of which $750 is returned in a federal rebate program. The premium price for organic produce far outweighs the fee, he said.

But farmers who opt for labels like Certified Naturally Grown and The Farmer’s Pledge, sponsored by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, say there’s room for all the labels; some farms even boast several alternative labels in addition to USDA organic.

“The Farmer’s Pledge is a better program for direct-sales farmers like me, who find the national organic program too burdensome,” said Mark Dunau, who farms five acres in the Delaware County town of Hancock.

About 130 farmers in New York and Connecticut have signed The Farmers Pledge, a commitment to a broad set of farming principles that address labor issues, organic production practices, community values and marketing.

Farmers who participate in Certified Naturally Grown rely on peer inspection by other farmers to ensure they follow organic practices, such as avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and using cover crops and rotation for healthy soil. While critics say peer review rather than USDA-certified inspectors could lead to cutting corners, Varon said that’s unlikely.

“It’s a different mindset that people bring to Certified Naturally Grown,” Varon said. “They believe in farming in harmony with nature as an expression of their values. It’s not something they do to get a premium in the marketplace.”

Denison agrees. She and her husband operated a conventional farm in Maine before they bought the 164-acre farm in Schaghticoke, 20 miles northeast of Albany, in 2005. They switched to organic farming because they and their two daughters had developed illnesses they believed were caused by exposure to agricultural chemicals.

“We were one sick family,” Denison said. “We were close to 50 when we bought this farm, but we were ready to change course and make a commitment to Certified Naturally Grown.”

The US government is bankrolling the engineering of humans

The US government is bankrolling the engineering of humans.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is preparing to launch these genetic experiments. DARPA is organized under the Pentagon, which is organized under the Dept, of Defense, which is an agency of the executive branch, which means the White House, which refers to the President, where the buck stops. So that’s the chain of command. The violation of the Constitution goes all the way to the top.

Here is a key quote from the DARPA proposal: “…the successful development of technologies for rapid introduction of large DNA vectors into human cell lines will enable the ability to engineer much more complex functionalities into human cell lines than are currently possible.”

DARPA plans to insert a 47th chromosome into human cell lines. That chromosome will serve as a kind of platform that will make subsequent delivery of new genetic information much easier.

via The US government is bankrolling the engineering of humans.