News, views 2/20/13

Wanting to get on the biofuel gravy train, farmers are replacing grasslands with biofuel crops which are more intensive, harder on the land, and we could be looking at another dust bowl if things go wrong.  The practice is further incentivized by the Federal government’s subsidies for crop insurance.

The Chinese military behind U.S. cyber attacks?  More here.

The Obama administration said on Tuesday that it will operate federal online health insurance marketplaces in 26 of the 50 U.S. states with little or no input from local state officials.

Did you know ObamaCare redefined ‘full time worker’ to mean 30 hours a week?
Detroit is still in trouble, no plans for fixing the financial crisis.

At issue is a dispute over the patent for a soy bean seed developed by Monsanto that is resistant to the powerful weed killer Roundup.

Farmers pay a premium price for the seeds and enter into a contract with the company. Farmers who use the special seeds must buy new seeds for subsequent planting seasons.

Monsanto argues that the restrictions are necessary to protect the company’s investment and its patented technology.

According to Monsanto, the seed is now being used in more than 90 percent of soybeans grown in the United States. But its popularity has also generated lawsuits: By 2010, Bowman’s lawyers say, Monsanto had filed 136 infringement lawsuits against 400 farmers and 53 small businesses.

For years, Bowman has purchased the seeds from Monsanto for his first crop and he has abided by the technology agreement.

Bowman also does a late season second planting of soybeans, but because this crop has a higher failure rate, he bought his seeds from the local grain elevator instead.  Many of those seeds are also round-up resistant.  Bowman saves some of the seeds from that crop for other second plantings.  Monsanto doesn’t like this and sued him for infringement. They won, and now it’ gone to SCOTUS.  It’s not looking good for him.

“The Exhaustion Doctrine permits you to use the goods that you buy,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. “It never permits you to make another item from the item that you bought.”

Assistant to the Solicitor General Melissa Arbus Sherry argued on behalf of the Department of Justice in support of Monsanto.

Supporters of Bowman say the case highlights a troubling and dangerous situation in which a handful of large agrichemical corporations own a large share of seeds.

“The essence of the case is this: who should control and own seeds, the very product of life,” said Debbie Barker, whose group Center for Food Safety has filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Bowman. “Corporations are saying that they own seed, but in fact seeds have been bred, exchanged and saved by farmers over the centuries.”

But Scott McBride, a partner at Chicago-based law firm McAndrews, filed an amicus brief on behalf of universities eager to ensure innovative biotechnology continues to be made available for the public benefit.

Universities, bastions of the left, are hand in glove with the Corporate giant of Agribusiness, Monsanto.

“Journalist” Fallow shares Van Jones’ obvious Photoshop. Is it true that he’ll believe almost anything about Fox news if it’s bad enough? I don’t know. I also don’t know if it’s true that he forcefeeds Monsanto soybeans to cute little puppies and then eats them in between hot dog buns (white bread hot dog buns).

American CEO explains why has no interest in taking over a failing French tire company

“The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three,” Taylor wrote on February 8 in the letter in English to the minister, Arnaud Montebourg.

“I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!” Taylor added in the letter, which was posted by business daily Les Echos on its website and which the ministry confirmed was genuine.

“Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs,” he said. “You can keep the so-called workers.”

Obama is annoyed over the spending cuts he signed into law.

Did you know about this consensus?

The ‘other’ consensus- They’ve been so very, very wrong so many, many times:

Claim: “[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots . [By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” Michel Oppenheimer and Robert H. Boyle, Dead Heat, St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Claim Jan. 1970: “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” Life Magazine, January 1970. Life Magazine also noted that some people disagree, “but scientists have solid experimental and historical evidence to support each of the predictions.”
Data: Air quality has actually improved since 1970. Studies find that sunlight reaching the Earth fell by somewhere between 3 and 5 percent over the period in question.

Hansen, McKibben, the pipeline, their deliberate efforts to get arrested (this is not the behavior of a trustworthy scientist), and why Hansen joined McKibben’s protest- also not based on sound scientific research ( “Yes, I know, the merits of this continuing activity may be dubious, but Bill is working his butt off so hard that I can’t refuse.”)

Judith Curry on scientists becoming stealth advocates:

 The opportunity to testify in front of Congress often leads to a desire on the part of the scientist to play politician, and advocate for policies either explicitly or stealthily.  Which isn’t really surprising given the political motivation and environment of these hearings, but I would like to provoke some dialogue and reflection on how scientists can most effectively and honorably participate in this process.

Normative science

For context, here is a recent essay from Robert Lackey of Oregon State University (retired from the EPA), entitled Normative Science, with subtitle It is easy – and wrong – for scientists to become stealth advocates.

Horsemeat and climate science.

Sticker shock for ObamaCare

The L.A. Times warns that even in states where politicians have enthusiastically embraced President Obama’s health care law, many officials — especially the young — are bracing for unexpectedly high health insurance premiums when the law’s major coverage provisions kick in next year:

Vote fraud in Ohio by poll worker who may have voted six times, but doesn’t think that’s a good reason to charge her with vote fraud. Another official claimed she didn’t know it was illegal to vote twice! Guess the party.

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