Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Carbon Trading Truths

You may or may not get rich trading carbon,
but you wont save the planet.

Macroblog: The Financial Times has uncovered some stumbling blocks on the road to carbon neutrality. Its multi-part report starts with a useful tutorial. According to the FT, however, all has not gone well:

The FT investigation found:
■ Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.

■ Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.

■ Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.

■ A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.

■ Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.

Chemistry of the Greenhouse Effect
The two gases contributing most significantly to the natural greenhouse warming of the earth are water vapor and carbon dioxide. Methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and sulfur hexafluoride are also greenhouse gases but make a smaller contribution to the greenhouse effect because their concentrations are so low. Climate.org

Corporations involved in the Emissions Trading Scheme have enjoyed $1.5 billion profits while carbon and methane emmissions across Europe are continuing to rise.

Indonesia could earn $100-$180 million from carbon trading
Indonesia has the third most forest cover of any tropical forest country, but has the second highest deforestation rate due to logging, clearing for agriculture, and forest fires. The country has expressed interest in a proposal to compensate tropical countries that reduce their deforestation rate. The profits made from the illegal logging trade while selling carbon trade credits for saving the tropical forests, will one day go down as one of the biggest corrution scandals of the century. It's called, burning the candle at both ends.

Getting Rich on Global Warming
In order for emissions trading to work correctly, the government has to set the various industry caps at levels low enough to provide for meaningful carbon reductions. Because industry lobbyists are powerful, that might not happen. This is the problem that has plagued the pilot project being run by the Eurozone under the banner of the Kyoto Treaty. The targets were far too easy to meet. As a result, the price of credits has plunged, and rather than reduce emissions under the program, emissions will actually rise.

This is not the only problem. If implemented poorly, the result can be extreme inefficiency. A case in point was offered up recently by Nature magazine. It cost $6 billion to reduce emissions of the HFC-23, a powerful greenhouse gas, which could have been reduced by buying about $130 million of equipment upgrades. The biggest problem of all is that polluters may game the system by building heavily polluting facilities that they can then make a buck off of by cleaning up and selling credits. Cnbc.com

Keywords: Climate change, global warming, carbon, carbon dioxide, CO2, methane, water vapour, greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, carbon trading, kyoto agreement, fossil fuels, corruption.

Big Profits For Carbon Generators

Financial Times - May 18 2007 - Power generators will make tens of billions of euros in profit from the second phase of the European Union’s emissions trading scheme, according to predictions in an analysis of the market released on Friday.

The second phase of the scheme, which imposes a limit on carbon dioxide emissions from industry, will run from 2008 to 2012. Businesses covered by the scheme are issued with allowances for the amount of carbon they may emit; cleaner companies can sell their excess quotas to others who need to emit more than their share.

Electricity generators are expected to profit by passing on the cost of buying allow­ances to customers in lib­­eralised electricity markets.

The Carbon Trust, the UK government-funded body that conducted the analysis, found that power companies made more than €1bn ($1.4bn, £864m) from the first phase of the scheme, which began on January 1 2005 and runs to the end of this year. That is because the generators received their allowances without charge from their governments but passed on to consumers the notional cost of having to buy them in the market.

In addition, the analysis found the scheme would fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new investments, because most member state governments had put aside large numbers of allowances for new entrants, or companies that started up operations after the scheme was introduced.

Michael Grubb, the chief economist at the Carbon Trust, said: “In effect, the cost of carbon at the point of the investment decision by a new investor is zero. They will not be held to account for their emissions.”

In many countries, entrants investing in high carbon fuels such as coal and lignite receive even more free allowances than investors in lower carbon technologies. In order to prevent companies from making excessive profits from the trading scheme, governments can force companies to buy some of their allowances at auction rather than giving them out free.

However, across the EU, governments plan to auction only 1.5 per cent of the available allowances in the second phase. That will severely limit the impact of auctioning, according to the trust.

But Prof Grubb said more allowances might end up being auctioned, because governments retained the right to auction up to 10 per cent of their allowances.

In the first phase, governments gave out too many allowances, so the price of carbon allowances collapsed and, as a result, companies had little incentive to reduce emissions.

But most member states propose to tighten emissions caps substantially in the second phase. Analysts expect the price of carbon to be €18 to €20 in the second phase of the scheme.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Non-Sustainable Rare Animal Consumption

'Noah's Ark' of 5,000 rare animals
found floating off the coast of China

· Cargo of abandoned vessel destined for restaurants
· Illegal trade drives species closer to extinction

Endangered, hunted, smuggled and now abandoned, 5,000 of the world's rarest animals have been found drifting in a deserted boat near the coast of China.

The pangolins, Asian giant turtles and lizards were crushed inside crates on a rickety wooden vessel that had lost engine power off Qingzhou island in the southern province of Guangdong. Most were alive, though the cargo also contained 21 bear paws wrapped in newspaper.

According to conservation groups, the haul was discovered on one of the world's most lucrative and destructive smuggling routes: from the threatened jungles of south-east Asia to the restaurant tables of southern China.

The animals were found when local fishermen noticed a strange smell emanating from the vessel, which did not have any registration plates, on Tuesday, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

When coastguard officials boarded the 25-metre craft, it was reportedly deserted and stripped of identification papers. They found more than 200 crates full of animals, many so dehydrated in the tropical sun that they were close to death.

The animals - which weighed 13 tonnes - were taken to port, doused with water and sent to an animal welfare centre. "We have received some animals," said an office worker at the Guangdong Wild Animal Protection Centre. "We are waiting to hear from the authorities what we should do with them."

According to the local media, the cargo included 31 pangolins, 44 leatherback turtles, 2,720 monitor lizards, 1,130 Brazilian turtles as well as the bear paws. Photographs showed other animals, including an Asian giant turtle.

All of these south-east Asian species are critically endangered, banned from international trade and yet openly sold in restaurants and markets in China's southern province of Guangdong, which is famous for its exotic cuisine.

The accidental discovery highlights the negative impact that the growing power of Chinese consumption is having on global conservation efforts. According to wildlife groups, China is the main market for illegally traded exotic species, which are eaten or used in traditional medicine. Pangolins are in great demand because their meat is consider a delicacy and their scales are thought to help mothers breastfeed their babies.

As a result of demand, the pangolin populations of China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have been wiped out. With traders moving further and further south, the animal is declining even in its last habitats in Java, Sumatra and the Malaysian peninsula. It is a similar story for many species of turtle, tortoise, frog and snake.

Despite China's international commitments to get to grips with this illicit activity, the trade is booming. Border controls are lax, and smugglers know that fines are usually far lower than the potential rewards. As a result, raids and seizures of banned products occur regularly. One recent raid on a restaurant in Guanghzou turned up 118 pangolins, 60kg of snakes and 400kg of toads.

Traffic - an organisation that monitors and tries to prevent the smuggling of endangered species - welcomed the fact that China's authorities had reacted swiftly to rescue the animals but said much more needs to be done to prevent similar cases.

"Unfortunately, this is all too common. This trade is a far bigger threat to these species than habitat destruction," said Chris Shepherd, senior program officer with Traffic Southeast Asia. "The vigilance on the border has to be improved, cooperation with source countries needs to be strengthened, there should be better monitoring of dealers, and the people violating the laws must be penalised severely."

Despite the ban on pangolins, many restaurants offer their meat. The Chaoxing restaurant in Shenzhen said yesterday that pangolin was available but was only suitable for large dining parties. "The animal is very big - about 10kg," said a waitress contacted by telephone. "We serve it in hotpot. That is the tastiest way."

According to recent reports in the Chinese media, the price of 1kg of pangolin served in Guangdong or Yunnan is between 600 and 800 yuan per kilogram (between £43 and £50). A Guangdong chef interviewed last year in the Beijing Science and Technology Daily described how to cook a pangolin.

"We keep them alive in cages until the customer makes an order. Then we hammer them unconscious, cut their throats and drain the blood. It is a slow death. We then boil them to remove the scales. We cut the meat into small pieces and use it to make a number of dishes, including braised meat and soup. Usually the customers take the blood home with them afterwards." Guardian Unlimited

E2 Protecting The Environment

E2 is a national community of business people who believe in protecting the environment while building economic prosperity. Working with NRDC, E2 serves as a champion on the economic side of good environmental policy by taking a reasoned, economically sound approach to environmental issues. E2 works at both the state and national levels through its bipartisan efforts. e2.org

Preserve Natural Heritage
Our land and seascapes are home to countless species of flora and fauna - from lumbering grizzlies to tiny gnatcatchers, gray whales to gray wolves, bald eagles to bald cypresses. But across the United States, these plants and animals are among many threatened by pressures such as pollution, development, habitat loss and global warming. We must shield these national treasures by persuading the government to grant them stronger - or permanent - protections, and work with environmental and business interests alike to find economically viable solutions to species and habitat preservation. Visit E2's ESA campaign page to learn about what we're doing to protect endangered species.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Future of Catastropic Sea Level Rise

Top U.S. Climate Scientist Issues New Warning On Catastropic Sea Level Rise

James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute Of Space Studies and the top U.S. climate scientist, has issued a new warning about the threat of a catastrophic rise in sea levels. He warns further that many scientists aware of such a rise are reluctant to discuss it out of fears of appearing “alarmist.”

From Hansen’s new paper in the journal Environmental Research:
I suggest that a “scientific reticence” is inhibiting the communication of a threat of a potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because of system inertias that could create a situation with future sea level changes out of our control. I argue for calling together a panel of scientific leaders to hear evidence and issue a prompt plain-written report on current understanding of the sea level change issue.

Climate Progress has more. This week, CNN’s Anderson Cooper has been reporting live from the source of much of this sea level rise — the disappearing glaciers in Greenland. Last night, Cooper interviewed biologist Jeff Corwin, who laid out the massive changes taking place in Greenland:

Today, it’s actually losing ice at about 100 billion tons a year. I mean, that’s incredible. One hundred billion tons of ice is disappearing. And, of course, it just doesn’t go up in smoke. The ice melts. Not only do you have to deal with water being lifted up, with the potential sea level going up virtually 20 feet, but also salinity. People aren’t thinking about this problem. What happens when a saltwater environment becomes more fresh lake? Sea-level-rise

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Secret Lives of Beekeepers

Backyard apiarists tend to not want any buzz about their hobby.
Cindy McNatt - The Orange County Register

Who knew that the guy next door who wears a suit and designer loafers during the week, or the freshman at your neighborhood high school, or the little old lady who plants sunflowers on a Saturday could be saving the world from a fruitless future?

With news reports of bee colonies collapsing this year in the United States, Canada and Europe, with no sure cause, the small and secretive efforts of everyday backyard beekeepers could be setting the bloom that provides us a third of our food.

People don't look kindly upon backyard beekeepers, especially if they live next door. So a small and avid group of apiarists in Orange County keep their heads down and their hobby a secret. They meet at night, exchange ideas, and ask that they not be identified.

It is not that the group is not proud of their work, it is just that there is the hysteria. A single bee can cause panic for a person who is allergic to them. And who wouldn't run for the hills when a swarm of killer bees is headed your way?You wouldn't recognize a beekeeper though, if you sat next to one at Starbucks. They don't bore outsiders with talk about drones, they don't load up neighbors with honey, and they don't dash to Ralphs in their beekeeping suits. They prefer to fly, so to speak, under the radar.

There is Mr. Real Estate, who lives in a manicured community in Irvine, governed I should add, by a homeowners association. Six years ago, bees colonized a set of drawers that he put outside.

My neighbors complained for years that they had no fruit on their trees. But since I've been keeping bees, everybody has fruit. Our avocados are loaded. So are our citrus. But nobody realizes that the bees live at my house," he said.His bees are largely left to their own devices. Mr. Real Estate, who is not an expert, believes they are feral bees. Once a year they swarm as the hive grows too big for the drawers and the colony divides.

"Bees definitely need an enclosed space to set up a hive," he said, "and it's very hard for them to find a place to settle in. I am giving them somewhere to live."

Ms. Organic Gardener began keeping bees in a similar way, taking care of a swarm that settled in the roof of her Orange Park Acres home. They stayed there for six months.

"We tracked down someone who would rescue them," said Ms. Organic. "It was so funny. He had his 90-year-old mother waiting in the car and the bees were swarming her head and crawling on her hands. But it was all good. I learned how to handle bees and be around bees from him."

Her knight-in-a-beekeeping-suit removed the colony and re-established them in a proper hive box. After they were established, he brought them back. The first year Ms. Organic kept her bees she harvested 300 pounds of honey. A good return on little effort.

"I got some of my beekeeping items at a garage sale – which would never happen now. But if someone started from scratch, it would cost about $300 to get started," she said.

Mr. Old Country grew up keeping bees in Holland.

"I've been tending bees since I was 7 years old, in all, 71 years," he said. "When I came here, I found a swarm in an orange crate abandoned in a field. The field was about to be bulldozed for a shopping center. When you get beekeeping in your blood, it never goes away."

One beekeeper I call The Queen, who keeps her bees in a field in Brea and tends them full time, has been fascinated by insects for as long as she can remember. She bought her beekeeping supplies even before she had bees.

"I waited for bees to show up and when they didn't, I ended up ordering them by mail from Northern California," she said.

All in all, the secretive beekeeping community feels misunderstood. While we run for cover when we see these furry but potentially painful pollinators, beekeepers make up the group that "gets" bees.

Apiarists understand that bees are about more than honey, contributing to the critical food chain that brings us pollination-dependent carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, squash, apples, cherries, peaches, blueberries, avocados, almonds, grapes, melons and alfalfa.

A big one, alfalfa could affect the food supply even further by disrupting the dairy industry if bee colonies collapse.

Backyard beekeepers rescue colonies when they hear about them and improve general bee behavior by introducing a European queen to each swarm. European queens keep Africanized bees out, and enhance the overall mood of the colony by making the bees more passive.

David Marder of BeeBusters in Laguna Beach says on his Web site that bees are dangerous only when they are defending a colony, nest, honey or brood. They are not aggressive when they are foraging for pollen, collecting water or when swarming.

Sometimes, though, even a docile bee can become a "hot" bee.

A hot bee is not a nice bee," The Queen said. "I've gotten bees in my boxes that are nice, and then the next day not so nice," she said. "Usually something has bothered them before I came along. It could be a hot day, or the end of a long day. Even nice bees get in a bad mood sometimes." Ocregister.com

Google's Silent Running

ZDNet Gary Rodgers
Google isn’t shy about it’s stance on the environment — they have a huge array of solar panels that provide some energy at the Googleplex, a shuttle that transports employees to and from work, powered by biodiesel, and a public statement on google.org.

Climate Change: mitigate the effect of climate change on the poor by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency, and supporting clean energy sources.

While going through my daily list of domains today, I found that Google registered “climatesaverpc.com” on Wednesday — could this be Google’s next step in their ambition to save the environment? This domain was registered through “Mark Monitor“, a brand management company. I can guarantee it belongs to, and was intentionally registered by Google.

As far as the importance of the domain, obviously a link between it and any upcoming announcements is complete speculation — nobody but Google themselves can know exactly what is happening behind those doors. But in a feeble attempt at guessing, perhaps Google is looking to form a partnership with a company such as Enano?

Silent - Green - Smart
e2s are the latest energy-efficient computer designed for our evolving planet. Our sole mission is to make a real, honest and lasting difference in how people around the world use computer energy.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chinese Killer Bananas

It never occured to me that bananas would come from a Chinese source. The killer bananas from Hainan, may seem like a joke... but why are the bananas sick? Common food hygene is that you do not eat food that is diseased. This is just common sense. Who wants to eat a diseased banana, even if it is safe to eat? I hope my bio-bananas are free of don't worry its safe disease.

Panama-disease-contracted Bananas Edible
The bananas which have contracted Panama disease are safe to eat, said the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. An official with the ministry said the banana is a major cash plant in south China and has won good reputation among consumers.

He said the country has grown 260,000 hectares of bananas and produces nearly 7 million tons every year, ranking third in the world. Ninety percent of the bananas are of find breed, said the official. The ministry has sent experts to major banana producing areas to investigate the epidemic situation and help farmers to prevent the disease, he said.

Panama disease, also called Banana Wilt, is a devastating disease caused by a soil-inhabiting fungus species. It is widespread in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and many other regions. So far, the world has no effective cure for the disease.

What is Panama disease?
Panama disease is a serious disease of bananas caused by the Fusarium wilt fungus, which spreads with soil and water movement, and also with infected planting material.

How is it controlled?
Prompt detection is essential, and affected plants must be destroyed because the disease cannot be cured. There are strict quarantine regulations to prevent spread of infected material to clean areas through movement of soil, water or plant materials.

Panama disease, also known as Fusarium wilt, is a banana plant disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. The fungus attacks the roots of the banana plant. The disease is resistant to fungicide and, so, cannot be controlled chemically.

Biological warfare?
Interest in Fusarium oxysporum as a pesticide was first raised after the discovery in the 1960s that it was the causative agent in the destruction of the Hawaiian coca population. The United States government was involved in a controversial program to use Fusarium oxysporum for the eradication of coca in Colombia and other Andean countries, but these plans were cancelled by president Bill Clinton who was concerned that the unilateral use of a biological agent would be perceived by the rest of the world as biological warfare. The Andean nation have since banned its use throughout the region. Use of biological agents to kill crops is potentially illegal under the Biological Weapons Convention.

If the disease cannot be killed with a fungicide - just think about it - then why should people eat the bananas? Not only that! If people don't want to eat bananas, then who is to tell them they have got to eat them? It may be that in the future most people will stop eating meat. Global trade is just going to have to adapt and live with it. If the bananas are infected with fungus spores? I sure would not eat them.

Does it pose a threat to human health?
Agent Green: Eradicating Drug Crops Using Fusarium Fusarium oxysporum is can cause life threatening infections in humans with a weakened immune system. Invasive Fusarium infections are an emerging disease with a mortality rates up to 70%. Fusarium is known to cause serious dermal and eye infections.

Mono-Culture & Banana Disease

It's the mono culture plantations and the heavy dependence on fungicide that lie at the root of disease free banana cultivation problems. The plantations are convenient for humans, but are wide open to the spreading of disease. There are no natural barriers to protect the plants as there would be in the wild (nature's way). Of course, the fungus can easily spread in a totally unnatural human created environment that benefits the spread of disease over the health of the plants. How do they answer that problem? Massive spraying of fungicides.

Yes, we'll have no bananas?
Wild Bananas, which are much smaller than the bananas we usually see in grocery stores, originated in SE Asia and have been domesticated for thousands of years (perhaps as far back as 8,000 BCE). The Portuguese established banana plantations in the Caribbean and imported the fruit back to Europe. Cultivated bananas are sterile, which means they have no viable seeds, so old plants must be spliced to create new ones. That means taking one plant and creating a clone of it by placing a shoot in the ground and allowing it to grow. This creates a monoculture of genetically-identical bananas. Today banana production occurs in most tropical countries and the banana is perhaps the world's largest monoculture crop. The lack of genetic variability makes them vulnerable to being wiped out abruptly; an entire crop is at risk of crashing when a pathogen is introduced. Greendecade.org

Plastic Bananas
"The root of the problem lies in the origins of the edible banana, about 10,000 years ago. The edible banana is a variation of the wild banana, which has lost the mass of black seeds that make the wild banana inedible. But this also means that the edible banana is sterile, and is only propagated through cuttings. Unlike other plants, scientists can not cross-breed different varieties of bananas in an attempt to find a disease resistant plant. Today's bananas only survive through the use of huge amounts of fungicides, as much as 40 sprayings a year. Of course, the fungal diseases mutate and become resistant. Plastic.com

The Banana Plague
Yes - in 10 years we may have no bananas
The Need For A Paradigm Shift

Apes Prefer Organic
Monkeys at Copenhagen Zoo are going ape over organic bananas and other fruits, rejecting traditional foods left in their cages, zookeepers said Monday."For one reason or another, the tapirs and chimpanzees are choosing organically grown bananas over theothers," keeper Niels Melchiorsen told the magazine Oekologisk Jordbrug (Ecological Agriculture).

"Maybe they are able to instinctively tell the difference, and their choice is not at all random," he suggested."The chimpanzees are able to tell the difference between the organic and the regular fruit," Melchiorsen reported: "If we give them organic and traditional bananas, they systematically choose the organic bananas, which they eat with the skin on."

"But they peel the traditional bananas before eating them," he added.

Wheat mixtures better than monocultures
09 May, 2007 - The United States Department of Agriculture recently published a summary of research showing that mixtures of two or three pure varieties of wheat consistently yield an average 3.2% more than monocultures, with no difference in grain quality. The advantage of using agricultural biodiversity in this way apparently stems from the differing response of the mixture components to stresses such as droughts and diseases. Bioversityinternational.org

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Earthquakes Toppled Ancient Greece

Don't blame the Trojan Horse: Earthquakes toppled ancient cities,
Stanford geophysicist says, by Ellen Licking

Around 1200 B.C., the great Bronze Age civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean toppled like a string of dominos. One by one, over a period of 50 years, dozens of bustling centers of scholarship and industry, including Troy, Mycenae and Knossos, collapsed into rubble. Today, crushed skeletons and scattered debris are all that remain of the powerful cities. What force could wreak such widespread destruction?

Historians and archaeologists have long battled over this question, citing civil war, invasion and pestilence as possible causes. When Stanford geophysicist Amos Nur examines the evidence, he sees another possibility: The earth moved. A string of massive earthquakes could have knocked down one city-state after another, bringing the Bronze Age civilizations to a premature end. Earthquake activity also may be at the root of the biblical prophecy of Armageddon, the site of the final conflict between good and evil. According to Nur, the repeated destruction of the city Megiddo probably inspired the author of Revelation to script his haunting prediction of the Apocalypse.

For over 20 years, Nur has been studying the role of earthquakes in the Eastern Mediterranean. By poking around the ruins of Megiddo and other ancient cities, he has gleaned fundamental information about the patterns of large quakes. Amidst the rubble of the ancients, Nur discovered clues that may help modern geophysicists understand when and why earthquakes occur. His findings suggest that earthquakes are episodic ­ periods of greater earthquake activity are bracketed by periods of relative quiet. Large quakes may trigger other large quakes, in a domino effect that zips down a fault line, knocking down cities along the way.

Nur is the Wayne Loel Professor of Earth Sciences, director of the Rock Physics and Borehole Project, and the current chair of Stanford's geophysics department. He is an expert on the physics of large-scale earth movements, including earthquakes. In the early 1970s, he began studying the temporal and spatial patterns of historical earthquakes in order to identify indicators of future tremors. He chose the Eastern Mediterranean, the Holy Land, since it has the oldest, most complete record of earthquake activity. "Although human history in this region provided evidence for bygone earthquakes, it was recent advances in our understanding of plate tectonics which imparted unexpected insights about the destruction of ancient cities," he said.

According to the plate tectonics model, the crust, or outer layer of the earth, consists of about a dozen large, irregularly shaped plates that slide over, under and past each other. As the plates move relative to each other, sudden dislocations in segments of the crust create fractures, or faults. Because faults reflect zones of weakness in the crust, earthquakes tend to occur at the plate boundaries in these regions. Those fault zones often form the mountain passes and river valleys most used by humans in their migrations.

For five millennia, the city of Megiddo stood at one of the most important junctions in the ancient Near East, the Nahal Iron Pass. This pass was the only means of traversing the Carmel-Gilboa mountain range on the road from Damascus to Egypt. By controlling this route, Megiddo commanded the course of trade and the march of armies in the Holy Land. Excavations suggest the city was repeatedly devastated by some large force. Archaeologists believe that warring factions were responsible for this destruction. Nur is certain that earthquakes were partly to blame.

Megiddo is located very near the Carmel-Gilboa fault system, which is a branch of the larger and more dangerous Dead Sea fault system. The latter system accommodates motion between two plates, the Arabian plate to the east and the Mediterranean plate to the west. Given Megiddo's proximity to a fault zone, "it is beyond doubt that Megiddo, along with its neighboring territories, must have experienced earthquakes strong enough to cause significant or total destruction," Nur said.

Archaeological and historical data support Nur's hypothesis. According to written records, the Holy Land has been shaken by 11 devastating earthquakes since 1400 B.C. At Megiddo, three layers of destruction cannot be explained by the invasion of foreign armies. In addition, the excavation of sites far to the north and to the south suggests that additional cities were damaged at the same time as Megiddo. This regional pattern of destruction is consistent with a massive earthquake along the Carmel fault.

The most compelling evidence for Nur's earthquake hypothesis is also the most gruesome: crushed skeletons found trapped under the collapsed rubble. The tortured positions of the bodies indicate that these people were struck by a sudden and massive load. The amount of debris found in adjacent areas suggests that the wall's collapse was not an isolated incident. It is unlikely that these people died in an invasion, given the presence of pottery shards and precious metals in their immediate vicinity. Why would conquerors destroy valuable objects instead of looting them?

Also, there exists at least one biblical reference to seismic activity at Megiddo. John of Patmos, the author of the book of Revelation, appeared to know of Megiddo's frequent destruction by earthquakes when he wrote, "And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon and there came a violent earthquake" (Revelation 16:16). The word Armageddon is a Greek transcription of the Hebrew Har Megiddo, which means the Mount of Megiddo. It seems likely that John used the recurring desolation of this one particular city to symbolize his vision of the Apocalypse to come.

Nur and his colleague, Hagai Ron of the Israel Institute of Geophysics, reported their data on Armageddon's earthquakes in the 1997 edition of the journal International Geology Review.

The fall of Troy ­ and more
Recently, Nur expanded his geophysical analysis of the Holy Land to include cities besides Megiddo. His current work suggests that earthquakes may have played a large role in the collapse of at least 50 great cultural centers, including Troy, Mycenae and Knossos, at the end of the Bronze Age. He presented his data in July at a conference on the destruction of Bronze Age civilizations held at Cambridge University.

Because it took 50 years, from 1225 B.C. to 1175 B.C., for the major cultural centers to collapse, it is unlikely that the end of the Bronze Age was caused by a single historical event. However, a string of earthquakes could have destabilized society enough to wipe out the economic, social and political structures. "The end of the Bronze Age may actually have been a period of recovery following a string of severe earthquakes," Nur said.

According to Nur, seismic records indicate that large earthquakes are temporally clustered. Short periods of very intense earthquake activity are preceded and followed by long interludes of relative quiet. Geologically, these episodes may be explained as follows: When a plate ruptures in one place, it strains another part of the plate boundary and may cause its collapse a short time later. This cascade of activity occurs until the entire plate boundary ruptures. This period of intense activity is followed by longer time periods when the whole plate is strained but doesn't quite give. Eventually the strain builds up and the cycle begins again.

Nur points to measurements of Turkey's North Anatolian Fault as evidence of episodic earthquake activity. In this century, between 1939 and 1967, a series of earthquakes ruptured the entire plate boundary along Turkey's North Anatolian Fault, causing a slip on the order of 2 to 4 meters. Historical records indicate that seismic crises also occurred in the 4th and 8th centuries.

According to Nur, the cities destroyed at the end of the Bronze Age were located in regions that historically have experienced high seismic activity. He has calculated the intensities of recent earthquakes and shown that the modern-day regions that experience heavy damage overlap with the ancient ruins destroyed at the end of the Bronze Age. As Nur states, "Earthquakes have been happening in this region for thousands of years. There is no way that these places could have escaped severe ground shaking. It is impossible."

It is not too hard to imagine how earthquakes might have caused the collapse of ancient societies. Given their limited technology, it would have been difficult for societies to rebuild their magnificent temples and houses. In the wake of such a catastrophe, skills like reading and writing could have disappeared if people were concerned with more important activities, like survival. "It probably took many years to recover from such an event," Nur said.

Straining geophysicists' ideas about quakes
Nur believes his studies of the Bronze Age civilizations may cause geologists to rethink the forces that generate earthquakes. Do earthquakes really occur in episodic bursts? If so, geologists will need to reevaluate how and when strain is released along plate boundaries. The traditional view is that strain is periodically released at each segment of the plate boundary. The evidence obtained from Nur's analysis of the Eastern Mediterranean suggests that strain is released in episodes via a sequence of earthquakes. A tremor at one segment of the plate boundary appears to trigger a chain reaction of displacements along the rest of the fault. According to Nur, "The entire plate boundary gets unzipped by this sequence of large earthquakes."

Nur's findings may have an impact on the way geophysicists predict the likelihood of future earthquakes. By charting past episodes of strong earthquake activity, it may someday be possible to design models that predict active and quiescent periods. According to Nur, such predictive algorithms are a long way off. He says, "Right now earthquake patterns aren't regular enough to tell us anything."

Still, based on seismic measurements, it's pretty clear that a strong earthquake will hit the Eastern Mediterranean some time in the future. Who knows? If John of Patmos' description is correct, Megiddo may be the site of the "next big one." As it was written in the Book of Revelation:
"into a place called Armageddon . . . there was a great earthquake such as was not seen since men were upon the earth. . . . And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nation fell. . . . And every island fled away, and the mountains were not." SR

Ellen Licking is a science writing intern at Stanford News Service.

FDA Stops Imports of Chinese Toothpaste

China calls for cooler heads over product safety
BEIJING (Reuters) - China called for cooler heads to prevail in a dispute over product safety on Wednesday, accusing critics of exploiting concerns about specific cases to erect barriers to its exports in general. In the latest incident, the Dominican Republic has banned the sale of two brands of Chinese toothpaste for allegedly containing a lethal chemical responsible for dozens of poisoning deaths in Panama last year.

A company under investigation for exporting the toothpaste, Danyang Household Chemical Company, defended its product.

"Toothpaste is not something you'd swallow, but spit out, and so it's totally different from something you would eat," one company manager, who declined to be identified, said by telephone from the eastern province of Jiangsu.

Toothpaste toxin `safe'
SHANGHAI, China — Wire reports - The maker of a Chinese toothpaste found to contain a potentially deadly chemical said today that he is under investigation but claimed his product was safe.

Chen Yaozu, general manager of Danyang Chengshi Household Chemical Co., said his firm had exported toothpaste to Panama containing diethylene glycol, blamed for the deaths of at least 51 people there after it was mixed into cough syrup.

Chen said the chemical, a thickening agent used as a low-cost substitute for glycerin, was permitted under Chinese rules and was safe in small amounts.

FDA Finds Melamine in Chinese Catfish
Tests conducted at a US Food & Drug Administration laboratory on behalf of the Arkansas Department of Health & Human Services have detected melamine in at least one sample of imported Chinese catfish. And while officials are downplaying the health hazard, this latest finding suggests that the human food supply is much more widely contaminated than previously acknowledged. Huffington Post

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

US Knew About Food Contamination

Don't worry America - the cancer causing Melamine tainted pet food that was shipped around to Canada and back into the United States as fish feed will not harm you. The fish, and the chickens and the pigs have eaten it, and they are dead. So, what is a little teeny weeny bit of Melamine contamination between friends?

The fact that the poison in the pet food that killed all those cats and dogs is back in the food chain? Well, it wont harm you. You don't know which fish it is in anyway. None of us know what kind of crap is contaminating our food - from pesticides, to fungus and bacteria.

China vows to prevent food contamination.
The fact that the people in China are unfortunately dying of Cancer at an unhealthy rate, does not mean that the pesticides in those imported products contain the same levels of pollution killing the people there. Filth and residue are the top reasons for rejection of China's food imports to the US. So what about Europe?

While Chuck Strahl wonders if we should regulate pet food, the FDA is coming under fire for their own inability to maintain food safety in the US, which means our food in Canada is also unsafe since we get so much from the states.

The Food and Drug Administration has known for years about contamination problems at a Georgia peanut butter plant and on California spinach farms that led to disease outbreaks that killed three people, sickened hundreds, and forced one of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history, documents and interviews show.
Politique Vert

Pet food poison in farm animals poses little risk
Beijing blames pollutants for rise in killer cancers
Ideologues won't accept food-safety regulation
Why should I care about pesticides?
Out-of-date food in UK supermarkets

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Highland Clearances

In the Scottish Highlands and Islands the years following the Jacobite Rebellion lead to considerable social unrest, made worse by a sharp rise in the population putting pressure on the use of the land. This brought about schemes to resettle abroad in North America, or in Australia, but in some cases, especially in Sutherland, emigration came after the people had been forcefully evicted from their homes and had seen their roof-timbers burned down.

This displacement of people to allow the introduction of large numbers of sheep, is a painful but important part of our heritage which deeply affects Scottish life today. The clusters of deserted crofts which litter the Highlands and Islands are an eloquent reminder of treatment of whole townships deprived of their land. The 'wilderness' that is the Highlands today is a direct man -made result of these events and the impact can be seen too, in the Scottish cultural influences throughout the world.

In writing, in song, and in the accounts of the dispossessed the lessons of the Clearances still relate to Scotland today:

"In but too many instances the Highlands have been drained, not of their superfluity of population, but of the whole mass of inhabitants, dispossessed by an unrelenting avarice which will be one day found to be shortsighted as it is unjust and selfish". - Sir Walter Scott

Pre-clearances - The Gaels

To understand the Clearances fully it is necessary to understand life as it used to be in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, home of the Gaels. The Gaels are the original Scots who arrived from Ireland about 1,500 years ago. Highland Clearances

The Clans
The old Scottish clan society proved to be a stable, lasting and fair way of living. Each clan had a chief to whom the people owed allegiance and he in turn could call on them to fight in his private army when necessary. Often disputes would break out with neighbouring clans over clan boundaries or disputed chieftainships. The chief was chosen from the immediate family of the previous chief.

Every child was given two names -a Christian name and a clan name. Each clan had it's own laws, beliefs and customs. Every clan lived in it's own district - the boundaries were usually mountains, lochs and seashores.

Each clan had it's own tartan. The clans with brightly coloured tartans usually wore a darker one to go hunting. Each clan also had it's own crest badge and motto - a short phrase often shouted in battle when the clan charged. The badge of the head of the clan had three feathers on it, and sometimes a coronet. The head of a sept, or branch of a clan, wore two feathers, while the head of a household wore one feather.

The chief controlled the land but leased it out to "tacksmen". They in turn rented the land to tenant farmers and they in turn employed farm labourers who were know as "cottars" to help with the day-to-day running of the farm. It was the chiefs' responsibility to ensure that all members of the clan had sufficient land to maintain him or her self. Under the clan system nobody owned the land. Everyone was free to farm and graze the land in order to survive. This equal and fair distribution of the land was honoured by all succeeding monarchs and clan chiefs.

The Highlands had naturally developed and evolved its own culture, language, customs, sense of identity and unique character by those living in it.

The Brahan Seer's Prophecies
Coinneach Odhar spoke of the day when Scotland would once again have it's own Parliament. This would only come, he said, when men could walk dry shod from England to France. The opening of the channel tunnel which allowed just such a walk was followed a few years later by the opening of the first Scottish Parliament since 1707.

Duke & Dutchess of Sutherland

Nobody pursued the clearance policy with more vigour and cruel thoroughness than Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, and her name is still reviled in many homes with Highland connections across the world to this day.

Her husband was George Levenson-Gower, Marquis of Stafford who was made 1st Duke of Sutherland in 1832. Both usually lived in London, rarely visited the Sutherland estate and neither of them spoke Gaelic. The income from their Stafford estates alone brought in the huge sum of 300,000 pounds annually, but despite this enormous wealth, which is equivalent to several million pounds at today's values, they rushed through an "Improvement" program for their remote Sutherland estate.

They employed a lawyer called Patrick Sellar and a factor called James Lock to carry out the actual "Improvements" or, as the tenants would have it, "To Clear" them. Both of these men hated the Gaels and they are still remembered in the Highlands to this day due to their cruelty and barbarity towards the tenant farmers.

The estate records show that evictions at the rate of 2,000 families in one day were not uncommon. With no shelter remaining for the cleared families many starved and froze to death where their homes had once been.

Removing the Duke's Statue
In 1994, Sandy Lindsay of Inverness proposed that the Statue of the Duke of Sutherland be removed from its lofty perch on Ben Bhraggie, in Golspie, Sutherland. He appealed to the descendants of the Highland Scots who were driven off their lands by agents of the Duke of Sutherland, often with their houses burned over their heads.

The plan was later amended to remove, rather than demolish the statue and to site some information panels on the top of Ben Bhraggie, in memory of the people who were cleared and harried by the Duke.

The man, whose memory still offends so many, stands on a 76ft pedestal casting his proud, stony gaze on the town of Golspie below. The Sutherland statue is seen by many Scots, particularly in the North, as a symbol of power, greed, oppression and heartless evictions. It represents a family, a ruling class, and a period in history which split communities and sent families to the far corners of the earth in search of livelihood denied them on their own soil.

A harsh land, a harsh sea, and a harsh climate were hard enough burdens to be borne by the people, but harsh overlords backed by unfair laws, and servants of these laws, were the final tribulations, which brought a way of life to an end for many for the benefit of a privileged few.

Many see it as a monument to the greed and vanity of the Sutherland family, the toadyism of their hirelings, and the efficient extortion racket which squeesed contributions from unwilling tenants.

The Duke of Sutherland cleared 15,000 people from his land to make way for 200,000 sheep. Evictions at the rate of 2,000 families in one day were not uncommon. Many starved and froze to death where their homes had once stood. Until today the Sutherland family own vast estates of stolen land in the Highlands of Scotland.


'S i seo an dùthaich 's a bheil an cruadal
Gun fhios do'n t-sluagh a tha tigh'nn anall.
Gur h-olc a fhuaras oirnn luchd a' bhuairidh
A rinn le'n tuairisgeul ar toirt ann'.

'This is the country where there is hardship though the people coming across don't know it. It was evil they brought on us, those enticers, who contrived through their fairy tales to bring us out here'.

The bard John MacLean settled at Barney's River,
Pictou County, Nova Scotia, in 1819

Testimony of Seonaid Nic Neacail

These are the reminiscences of my great grandmother Seonaid ( Janet in English ) MhicNeacail, born in the Crofting Township of Mhealbeag ( Melvaig ) in the spring of 1853 and died in Torrin ( Isle of Skye ) in November 1949, just a few days before my 5th birthday.

She was a wee spritely sparrow of a woman, about 5ft 1 inch of height, with long grey hair which came down to her waist, but was normally held up in the form of a bun made up of two intertwined plaits. She had grey blue eyes which always seemed to dance and sparkle in the light of the 'Tilley' lamp. She might have been taller but for the 'bow' legs caused by rickets in her childhood; ( Milk was difficult to get, due to the landlords ruling that the township people were not allowed to graze more than ten head of cattle on the common grazings.)

She was the eldest daughter of a family of five, having one younger sister ( Ishbel ) who died at the age of 3 of consumption, and three elder brothers, Aonghas the eldest, Calum and Fionn ( Fingal ). Her Father Aonghas Mor MacNeacail was a corporal in a Highland regiment who served in the Crimean War, was badly wounded, losing his left arm to a cannon ball at Sevastopol. Both parents died in an epidemic in the 1880's.

She could only speak a few words of English and conversed in Ghaidhlig most of the time. I remember that she was not in any sense of the word 'Senile' but rather did a full day's work on the croft, and her mental faculties were sharp right up to the day she died peacefully in her sleep.She often used to tell me stories of the great Celtic Hero's and kings, of battles long past, of maidens wooed and lost, and other stories that held me spellbound for hours. She used to sing all the beautiful old Ghaidhlig airs, and at the periodic 'Ceileidhs' could hold her own with the girls, indeed they often used to come to her to learn the 'Old' songs and airs.

She would sometimes tell me about the time she and her family were 'Cleared' out of Mhealbeag when she was about 5 or 6 years old. I am of the opinion that this was an experience that scarred her for life, because she would often break down in tears at the recollection of it. My Grandmother translated difficult words to help me and to the best recollection this is her story...

The Testimony of Seonaid Nic Neacail

"When I was about 5 years of age, just one year after my father came back from the War against the Russians, the whole township was warned by the factor at the time of paying the rents, that his 'Lordship' was wanting the people to move away from the township, in order that his lordship could let out the ground to Shepherds from the Lowlands. The menfolk did not believe that they would have to move, as there was plenty of ground where sheep could graze.

However two months later a notice ( In English ) was posted, requiring the inhabitants to remove themselves, their goods and chattels, within ONE Month. A Visiting Priest translated the notice into Ghaidhlig for them, but the Menfolk still did not believe that his Lordship would cast them out into the depths of winter. However three months went past without anything being done by the factor, and the people of the Township relaxed. There had been rumours of 'terrible doings' elsewhere, of people being turned out and the roof trees of the houses being destroyed, but this was 'elsewhere'.

Suddenly in the month of January, the factor turned up, accompanied by a large number of policemen from Glasgow, Lowlands Estate workers and Sheriffs Officers from Dunedin and told the people of the township to be out of their homes by dawn the following day, where they would be taken to Ullapool to be put on board a ship to the Americas (Nova Scotia). The menfolk were cast down ( in modern parlance - 'Shattered' ) and only the womenfolk made any protests. A group of them went to the factor to protest and were beaten up by the policemen's batons, my Mother amongst them.

The Dawn came, hardly anyone had moved their possessions and furniture out, we waited to see what would happen. An hour after dawn, the factor and his men went to the house of Eachunn MacLeoid, a widower of 86 years of age, thrust him out of his house and proceeded to throw his chattels out of the door. Then two men with axes cut through the rooftrees, causing the roof to collapse. They then piled winter forage inside the door and put a torch to it. Within a few minutes the pall of smoke had rolled through the township, causing panic as people raced to save their few things before the factors men arrived.

Our house was next, my mother tried to stop the men entering the door, they called us 'Irish filth' and one of them floored her with a mighty punch to the head and laid her out senseless on the floor. My father tried to protect her, despite having one arm, but he was punched and kicked senseless by four of the policemen. My brothers and I managed to drag our parents out of the house, and by the time we had got them outside, the axemen had already cut through the rooftrees. They then set fire to the house and went next to the house of my Uncle Coinneach.

I remembered that my doll was on our bed, it was a precious thing, that my father had brought back from the war. A rag body with a lovely china head, which my mother had sewn clothes for; I ran into the house to get it, through choking smoke, but I could not find it. Aonghas beag came after me and took me outside.

It was like the picture of Hell I once saw in the Ministers bible, smoke and flames everywhere, you could hardly see in front of your face. My Mother was kneeling by my father, cradling his bloodstained head and sobbing for the thing that had befallen her family and the loss of her few precious things.

Some terrible things occurred after this, the policemen and factors men were reeking of whisky before they started, and when they found the whisky from Uncle Coinneach's 'Poit Dubh', the Evil got worse. They took a delight in smashing some of the chattels which had been salvaged, and at the house of Eibhlin and Aoirig MhicNeacail ( Unmarried orphaned Cousins of my Father ) - the two girls, only 14 and 17 were forcibly taken by some of the policemen, who did not spare their tender years and ravished them.

Their screams brought many of the menfolk to their aid, but by this time the policemen were the devils themselves because of the whisky, and they laid into the menfolk with their batons and clubs. One man who tried to stop them by firing at them with a fowling piece, was clubbed to the ground senseless, then bound hand and foot after which they kicked him for ages. All the time they were screaming insults like 'pig shit Irish bastard's'. Poor man he died that night from an efflux of blood from the mouth.

After this the spirit went from us, and the menfolk were saying that this was a visitation upon us by the Almighty in punishment of our sins, and that we should not resist further. During the night Eibhlin and Aoirig hanged themselves for the shame of what had been done to them and the bodies were buried in the vegetable plot without a Minister present and even then the Policemen showed their loathing of us by passing water on the girls bodies.

By Noon the Devil had done his work, and the factors men rounded us up like beasts and we were made to walk to Ullapool, carrying what we could , and driving our few beasts before us. It took us two days to get there, I had no shoes and my feet were very sore. We were all Cold and wet from the icy wind and smirr. We were all hungry as we did not have any food. Some people in a nearby township took pity on us and tried to give us food, but the factor warned them, that anyone who did aid us would have the same treatment and a passage to America. We got no food.

At Night we took what shelter we could, behind walls, with blankets for a tent, but it was bitterly cold, and we could not sleep. A woman gave birth before her time and the baby was born dead and a three weeks old baby died of cold and the bodies were put in the ground without a christian burial or marker.

At last we got to Ullapool, to find the emigrant ship moored in the roads, with boats waiting at the stone wharf. The factor then took all the beasts and the few possessions which the people had got with them, as 'Payment' for our passage. Each person was given a bag of 'Sowans' (Husked oatmeal) to last us the voyage and we were told to be ready to embark the following day. The policemen guarded us all that night, but there was no sleep for us, for the lamenting and sorrow would not let us go by.

Before dawn, my father noticed a fishing boat approaching the wharf and recognised one of the crew as cousin Domhnull from PuirtRigh ( Portree ). Domhnull persuaded the owner to come alongside the wharf, and we got in quickly before the policemen noticed. The boat pulled away, and the policemen called out to the Boats crew to return to the wharf, but as they called out in the English tongue which no one understood, we left them shouting and cursing us.

It took two days to row to PuirtRigh, we sheltered one night in the lee of Raasay and at last came to the house of my fathers cousin, where we were made welcome. They were poor like us, but their home was our home. My Father found a small place in the south at Torrin and my Mother found employment in service to the local minister, indeed I went into service for Him too when I was twelve.

Some years later we learned that the ship had arrived in Nova Scotia, but that half the People had not survived the voyage. Cholera and typhus had carried them off and their grave was the sea, with only the fish to know their resting place and the keening of the seabirds their only lament. I cannot forgive the cruelty of that awful day, what had we done that we should have been judged so harshly?" Electricscotland.com

Cultural & Racial Genocide

The Gaels, scattered like seeds in the trade winds,
carry the land in their hearts.
While the invaders, with faces like sheep,
carry the land in their pockets.

Two political groups conspired to destroy the Gaels in the Highlands, carrying out unrestrained acts of genocide during the Highland clearances. They were the lowlanders of Scotland and the colonising powers who ruled and directed them from London. The Highlanders of Scotland (Alba) were of Gaelic, Celtic descent mixed with the last remnants of the Picts. The lowlander was a mixture of Norman and Saxon descent who had pushed their way up from the South. The lowlanders accomodated and intergrated with each invading colonial power from the Romans to the Saxons and later the English.

The Highlanders spoke only Gaelic, while the lowlander spoke English. The people of the Highlands were illiterate to the laws passed, in English, by the colonial ruling elite from the South. The inhuman disease of racial and cultural genocide has continued its spread across the world, and is still used as the primary tool of control in the 20th Century.

History of The Highland Clearances
Robert M. Gunn

This account will always stay true to historical facts and conventions, even if ocassionally, given from a Highland point of view. After all, I owe this much to my own Highland ancestors, most of whom were forcibly expelled from their picturesque, ancient Highland glens and lochs by unsympathetic and uncaring eighthteenth and nineteenth century "Improvers". The only thing the 'Improvers', improved, were their own greedy pocketbooks. To tell this emotional and terrible story of our ancestors sufferings -- unknown or dismissed by careless historians for centuries -- I shall willingly endure the slings and arrows of the history critic. After all I am one and I know how critical we can be. Many of these historians and history story tellers' preferred versions, until fairly recently, have been the uncaring and excuse-making perspectives of the 'improver' southrons and sheep fattened Clan Chiefs. In the end, I know I have told the truth of it, and my Highland soul is no longer bound to the revisionist and 'blameless' historians, who would have you believe it was simply a tragic circumstance -- no-one's fault. It simply isn't that simple, nor is it blameless. It was, however, inevitable. To take control of the land, they had to destroy the people.

Before any words can even begin to attempt to describe the 'ethnic cleansing' of the Highlands of Scotland, one must be aware of the circumstances that occured prior to the atrocities of the Clearances. This is especially true for understanding the two nations of Scots and their relationship; the clan systems; the Jacobite wars and most especially that event that led directly to the Clearances. That event is the anti-climatic destruction of the great and proud Highland army, the very last Highland army -- under the command of a young Prince Charles Edward Stuart or "Bonnie Prince Charlie" at Culloden in 1746.

End of The Clan System
At the time there were in truth two distinct Scotlands. One, the ancient Gael, descended from Celtic origins with dashes of Norse, Flemish and even some Norman blood. Whereas the Lowlander had been a more Germanic-English (genetically speaking) or Saxon, Angle, Norman, Celtic, Dane, Flemish and other European blooded racial mix since before the days of William Wallace. The kings of Scotland since MacBeth were more in line with English beliefs than the older Celtic ones -- and the kings of Scotland now ruled from the Lowlands. Therefore, what evolved in Scotland were two different peoples, using the same name and Nationality, but being fundamentally different both racially and linguistically. The Highlander had retained his native Irish tongue (Gaelic), manner of clothing and was by every aspect, very Gael and very Celtic. The Lowlander had adopted many Anglo customs since the days and arrival of Malcolm Canmore (Cean more), Malcolm III, and early Lothian English had become the primary tongue of Edinburgh and other great cities of the Lowlands in the 11-12th centuries.

The Highlander saw the Lowland Scot as a 'foreigner' and more (in their early view) like the English than any Scot. This in itself was offensive to the Lowland Scot who was anything but English!

However, the Lowlander, of this time, saw the Highlanders even worse; as tribal barbarians -- not the 'noble savage' painted in words by Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century. Highlanders were odd, barbaric and 'clannish' to the city dwelling Lowlander, who naturally saw them as more like 'wild Irish' (as they called them), more than Scottish.

Even had there been common ground for both, it seems as if a tragic barrier of mutual incomprehensibility was built between them -- they could not, and did not really ever attempt to understand each other. Is it all the fault of the Lowlander? No, of course not. That would obviously be too simplistic an answer. The tragedies that would occur in the Highlands between Scots, Lowlander and Highlander, were long in the blood of these uneasy allies. A clash of cultures was inevitable at some point. It had flared in some cases before, as in the battle of Harlaw, or "Red Harlaw". But the disasterous depths of the clash coming could never had been predicted by the two races of Scots who never truly understood the other to begin with. Yet, the Highland leaders, the Chiefs, are as much to blame, if not moreso, for the calamity of the Highland Clearances once the horrible process had begun.

Scots-English and Gaelic
Throughout the centuries, Scotland acquired a rich mixture of races through both invasion and immigration. The newcomers were always absorbed into a fairly homogeneous breed. The forms of speech varied widely between Lowland Scots cities, but they were all forms of the English, or the sub-division known as Scots-English, and that is partially the situation even today. Auld Scots is and has been spoken in Lowland Scotland for centuries, but when they write, it is generally in English. Why? This dichotomy is largely due to the translation of the Bible which was carried out in the south of England. It was carried out in that majestic 17th century style, and this helped to introduce, or rather, impose, 'Standard' English as the written language.

There have been periods between then and now when Scots have tried to eradicate the 'Scottishness' of their speech, feeling (under heavy pressure from England) it inferior or somehow lower-class than Standard, even whilst they revered the Scots poetry of Robert Burns, usually very briefly, once per year on the celebration of his birthday on 25 Janurary.

Lately, Auld Scots is enjoying something of a revival and a new respectability. An event this author is pleased to see and promote. The nature and history of old Scots is emotional, turbulent and complex, changing even faster than the history of those who use it.

One group of Scots, those Northern Scots, stubbornly remained outside the homogenizing process; the Gaels. Their ancient language and its cousin languages in Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man, Brittany in France, and to a lesser extent in Cornwall, are descended from the lost tongue of the ancient Indo-European. It tended to move, or be driven, to the Western extremities of Europe, and, much like its people, has regularly been under threat.

Some estimates show that Gaelic is spoken by perhaps as few as 100,000 Scots, out of a population of over four million. Although attempts are underway to revitalise this ancient tongue of the Gael, it is still a very small minority.

But the language divide has always been there, and remains. Children in the Highlands and Islands today learn English as well -- Standard English rather than Scots-English. Thus, the country is still partially separated by language and culture, into English speaking Lowlands and Gaelic-speaking Highlands and Islands, though this division is not nearly as extreme as it was in the mid-eighteenth century.

The language gap or division was much more profound in older times, and played a bleak part in the great tragedy of the Highland Clearances, which left the Highlands void of most, possibly 85-90%, of its people, trees and forests...leaving vast areas bare and deserted even today.

All original material © Robert M. Gunn 1997-2003

The Brahan Seer, Coinneach Odhar

Prophecies of The Brahan Seer
It is possible the following may have something to do with the same calamity in the Highlands. Mr. Maclennan says: - With reference to some great revolution which shall take place in the country, Coinneach Odhar said that “before that event shall happen, the water of the river Beauly will thrice cease to run. On one of these occasions a salmon, having shells instead of scales, will be found in the bed of the river.” This prophecy has been in part fulfilled, for the Beauly has on two occasions ceased to run, and a salmon of the kind mentioned has been found in the bed of the river.

Mr. Macintyre gives another version: - “When the river Beauly is dried up three times, and a ‘scaly salmon’ or royal sturgeon, is caught in the river, that will be a time of great trial.” (Nuair a thraoghas abhainn na Manachain tri uairean, agus a ghlacair Bradan Sligeach air grunnd na h-aibhne, ’s ann an sin a bhitheas an deuchainn ghoirt.) The river has been already dried up twice, the last time in 1826, and a ‘Bradan Sligeach,’or royal sturgeon, measuring nine feet in length, has been caught in the estuary of the Beauly about two years ago.

The following is one which we trust may never be realized in all its details, though some may be disposed to think that signs are not wanting of its ultimate fulfilment: - “The day will come when the jaw-bone of the big sheep, or ‘caoirich mhora,’ will put the plough on the rafters (air an aradh); when sheep shall become so numerous that the bleating of the one shall be heard by the other from Conchra in Lochalsh to Bun-da-Loch in Kintail they shall be at their height in price, and henceforth will go back and deteriorate, until they disappear altogether, and be so thoroughly forgotten that a man finding the jaw-bone of a sheep in a cairn, will not recognise it, or be able to tell what animal it belonged to. The ancient proprietors of the soil shall give place to strange merchant proprietors, and the whole Highlands will become one huge deer forest; the whole country will be so utterly desolated and depopulated that the crow of a cock shall not be heard north of Druim-Uachdair; the people will emigrate to Islands now unknown, but which shall yet be discovered in the boundless oceans, after which the deer and other wild animals in the huge wilderness shall be exterminated and drowned by horrid black rains (siantan dubha). The people will then return and take undisturbed possession of the lands of their ancestors.”

We have yet to see the realization of the following:- “A dun, hornless, cow (supposed to mean a steamer [or a submarine?]) will appear in the Minch (off Carr Point, in Gairloch), and make a ‘geum,’ or bellow, which will knock the six chimneys off Gairloch House.” (Thig bo mhaol odhar a steach an t-Aite-mor agus leigeas i geum aiste ’chuireas na se beannagan dheth an Tigh Dhige.) Gairloch House, or the Tigh-Dige of Coinneach’s day, was the old house which stood in the park on the right, as you proceed from the bridge in the direction of the present mansion. The walls were of wattled twigs, wicker work, or plaited twig hurdles, thatched with turf or divots, and surrounded with a deep ditch, which could, in time of approaching danger, be filled with water from the river, hence the name “Tigh Dige,” House of the Ditch. It has been suggested that the Seer’s prediction referred to this stronghold, but a strong objection to this view appears in the circumstance that the ancient citadel had no chimneys to fall off. The present mansion is, however, also called the “Tigh Dige,” and it has the exact number of chimneys - six.

“The day will come when a river in Wester Ross shall be dried up.” “The day will come when there shall be such dire persecution and bloodshed in the county of Sutherland, that people can ford the river Oykel dryshod, over dead men’s bodies.” “The day will come when a raven, attired in plaid and bonnet, will drink his full of human blood on ‘Fionn-bheinn,’ three times a day, for three successive days.”

“A battle will be fought at Ault-nan-Torcan, in the Lewis, which will be a bloody one indeed. It will truly take place, though the time may be far hence, but woe to the mothers of sucklings that day. The defeated host will continue to be cut down till it reaches Ard-a-chaolais (a place nearly seven miles from Ault-nan-Torcan), and there the swords will make terrible havoc.” This has not yet occurred.

Who Owns Scotland?

Although all of the above could apply to some landowners, there is one thing wrong and two things missing from the list.

Wrong is the English Aristocrat. While the aristocracy dominates land ownership, it is also internationally fashionable to own a large estate in Scotland. Because, almost uniquely, of the lack of land ownership legislation, Belgians, Swedes, Arabs, Swiss and a myriad of other nationalities own swathes of our country.

Scottish large estate ownership is not acceptable because of the negative contribution to the environmental and economic well being of Scotland. Which brings FirstFoot on to the first of the two missing elements of the list …Neglect.

Despite owning landmasses which would comfortably accommodate several major cities, the typical estate owner employs few people, contributes next to bugger all to the economic and social good and depletes the resource of the estate.

While many will point to the forests that they plant, few will acknowledge either the tax concessions which accrue, or the enormous environmental damage concomitant with such planting. Scotland's native wildlife is being depleted with both fauna and animal species under threat or extinct due to loss of natural habitat. Soil erosion is rife, caused by ploughing of hills for tree planting. The soil that runs off hills silts up streams and rivers and causes further damage to that micro-environment.

They take a lot out and put very little back.
Who Owns Scotland

The Holistic Community of Humankind

Wingmakers Neruda Interview 4

Sarah: “In this whole discussion tonight – most of which has been centered on the Incunabula or, maybe more appropriately I should call it the world power structure – I don’t hear much about the spiritual implications. It really sounds oddly impersonal and unspiritual, if that’s a word. Can you comment on this?”

Dr. Neruda: “What is occurring in our world is a manifestation of how a species migrates from statehood to species-hood. It is a stage within the migration plan. Humans must move from the patriotic, believe-what-I-am-told mentality, and elevate their thinking to encompass and embrace the holistic community of humankind. It will require enormous leadership capacity in order to accomplish the conclusion of this migration, because the world’s people will require a watershed event to erase its memory.”

Sarah: “Hold on a moment. What do you mean to erase its memory?”

Dr. Neruda: “There’s a persistent memory in the psyche of humans – particularly the weaker cultures that have been trampled on by nations bent on colonization. These grievous indignations to the weaker nations of the world have left a deep mark on their collective memory. It’s vital that this memory be erased or purged in order for humankind to become unified in its governance and fundamental systems.

“This event can be orchestrated or it may occur through natural means, but it’s generally agreed that an event must arise that galvanizes the world’s people to unite, and in this process, purge the memory of all peoples, but especially those who have been dealt with as victims of colonization.” Wingmakers.com

Children of Dune

When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom, because
that is according to your principals; when I am stronger
than you, I take away your freedom, because that is
according to my principals.

Words of an ancient philosopher
(Attributed by Harq al-Ada to one Louis Veuillot)

Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Dream Time

They say we have been here for 40 000 years,
but it is much longer -

We have been here since time began
We have come directly out of the Dreamtime
of our creative ancestors -

We have kept the earth as it was on the first day.
Our culture is focused on recording the origins of life.

We refer to forces and powers that created
the world as creative ancestors.

Our beautiful world has been created
only in accordance with the power,
wisdom and intentions of our ancestral beings.
Aboriginal Art

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sun Cycles

Either there is something happening with the sun or there is an ozone hole over Northern Europe allowing more light to enter. Something is changing and it is not CO2. After many days of grey skies, heavy rain and drastic cooling of the air temperature the clouds dispersed and the temperature shot up into the mid 20s °C. But that is not what is different about the weather. There is something else happening.

Today, with clear skies overhead, the official temperatures are 28°C. I was out in the heat for maybe half an hour (late afternoon) and I felt as though I was cooking, sort of like microwave radiation. Is there a hole up there we don't know about? Or is it changes in the sun?

I have walked for hours on Crete in temperatures that were 38°C to 42°C and it never felt like this (apparently 28°C). Even better than that! Around 6 O'clock in the evening the sunlight from the West was hitting the West facing wall of the building opposite, and bouncing off the stone building with blinding intensity. I have never experienced anything like it.

Is the sunlight hitting the earth more intense? The sunlight has been brighter and more intense over the last three to four years. Is there increased radiation penetration the atmosphere due to a weakening or a hole in the protective shield around the earth? Or do these changes happen naturally in cycles?

February 2002
The ozone layer was up to 30 per cent thinner over Europe during the first week of February and periodic depletions like this are becoming more frequent, say scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA). The thinning resulted from streamers of tropical air from the equatorial regions - where ozone levels are lower - spreading up across southern Spain, France and Germany, decreasing the total ozone coverage.

2 October 2006
Record ozone loss during 2006 over South Pole. Ozone measurements made by ESA’s Envisat satellite have revealed the ozone loss of 40 million tonnes on 2 October 2006 has exceeded the record ozone loss of about 39 million tonnes for 2000. ESA

What do they mean? DNA-damage UV daily dose? TEMIS

Aero-sols and the Earth's climate
Aerosols play an important role in the global climate, the radiative forcing of the climate, and the Earth's radiative balance. Direct scattering and absorbing interaction between atmospheric aerosols and incoming solar radiation may influence the radiative forcing and explain the difference between observed and modeled temperature trends. Energy balance models have shown the aerosols effect on cooling. They act by modifying the local and planetary albedo and by absorbing the upward terrestrial thermal radiation. The aerosols scattering and absorption features depend on their chemical and physical properties.

Aerosols influence also indirectly the radiation balance through another key processes: by acting as cloud condensation nuclei and thus by affecting dramatically the optical properties of clouds.

Today we take a very materialistic view of what is happening to our world. We see changes through the eyes of the past. The eyes of the past are conditioned by the things we have established. That includes society, our way of life, our way of thinking, common interests and established patterns. But, what if the way we see things is not even close to what is taking place? What if some changes are natural? What if some of the things happening now were set out this way? It is the sun that would trigger molecular evolution in all species to prepare them for transformative changes in the earth. The molecular changes would begin during the process of a shift to a new cycle. It is inevitable that the old would end and the new would evolve into the new cycle. I am sure this has been going on for billions of years.

Keywords: Climate change, sun cycles, ozone hole, UV, DNA repair, aerosols, biomass burning, pollution, evolution, seasons of the sun, molecular evolution

Organic Bees Thriving

Organic Bees Are Thriving While Pesticide Intensive Conventional Bee Hive Colonies Are Collapsing

"Natural" beehives appear less affected by the strange new plague dubbed colony collapse disorder. - By Sharon Labchuk

We would not be so dependent on commercial non-native factory farmed honey bees if we were not killing off native pollinators. Organic agriculture does not use chemicals or crops toxic to bees and, done properly, preserves wildlife habitat in the vicinity, recognizing the intimate relationship between cultivated fields and natural areas.

While no one is certain why honey bee colonies are collapsing, factory farmed honey bees are more susceptible to stress from environmental sources than organic or feral honey bees. Most people think beekeeping is all natural but in commercial operations the bees are treated much like livestock on factory farms.

I'm on an organic beekeeping email list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list. The problem with commercial operations is pesticides used in hives to fumigate for varroa mites and antibiotics are fed to the bees to prevent disease. Hives are hauled long distances by truck, often several times during the growing season, to provide pollination services to industrial agriculture crops, which further stresses the colonies and exposes them to agricultural pesticides and GMOs.

Bees have been bred for the past 100 years to be much larger than they would be if left to their own devices. If you find a feral honeybee colony in a tree, for example, the cells bees use for egg-laying will be about 4.9 mm wide. This is the size they want to build ­ the natural size.

The foundation wax that beekeepers buy have cells that are 5.4 mm wide so eggs laid in these cells produce much bigger bees. It's the same factory farm mentality we've used to produce other livestock ­ bigger is better. But the bigger bees do not fare as well as natural-size bees.

Varroa mites, a relatively new problem in North America, will multiply and gradually weaken a colony of large bees so that it dies within a few years. Mites enter a cell containing larvae just before the cell is capped over with wax. While the cell is capped, the bee transforms into an adult and varroa mites breed and multiply while feeding on the larvae.

The larvae of natural bees spend less time in this capped over stage, resulting in a significant decrease in the number of varroa mites produced. In fact, very low levels of mites are tolerated by the bees and do not affect the health of the colony. Natural-size bees, unlike large bees, detect the presence of varroa mites in capped over cells and can be observed chewing off the wax cap and killing the mites. Colonies of natural-size bees are healthier in the absence mites, which are vectors for many diseases.

It's now possible to buy small cell foundation from US suppliers, but most beekeepers in Canada have either never heard of small cell beekeeping, aren't willing to put the effort into changing or are skeptical of the benefits. This alternative is not promoted at all by the Canadian Honey Council, an organization representing the beekeeping industry, which even tells its members on their website that, "The limitations to disease control mean that losses can be high for organic beekeepers." [ref link]

Organic beekeeping, as defined by certification agencies, allows the use of less toxic chemicals. It's more an IPM approach to beekeeping than organic.

Commercial beekeeping today is just another cog in the wheel of industrial agriculture ­ necessary because pesticides and habitat loss are killing native pollinators, and vast tracks of monoculture crops aren't integrated into the natural landscape.

In an organic Canada, native pollinators would flourish and small diversified farms would keep their own natural bees for pollination and local honey sales.

The factory farm aspects of beekeeping, combined with an onslaught of negative environmental factors, puts enough stress on the colonies that they are more susceptible to dying out. Organic Consumers

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Trading Global Parasites

You can see that I have a contamination bug obsession this month... That is because I care about my health. We are what we eat. I was wondering how inconvenient it might be for people all over the planet to be sharing their regional parasites through unregulated global trade. Maybe supermarket checkouts will soon be giving away herbal parasite capsules? An alternative to free disease protection condoms. I already ordered my colon cleanse anti-parasite herbs and my baby food style vegetarian instestinal cleanser. Next month I will add the toxin-out to detox the liver (I don't want to do it all at once). You may want to watch the Agri-food corp fun video about modern farming methods: The Meatrix

Food boom brings unpalatable truths
China's huge food export market could be making the world sick, write Ariana Eunjung Cha in Shanghai and Kelly Burke. Tainted ingredients that originated in China made their way into pet food that has sickened and killed animals around the world, with nearly 4000 deaths reported in the US. With China playing an ever-larger role in supplying food, medicine and animal feed to other countries, recognition of the hazards has not kept up.

By value, China is the world's No.1 exporter of fruits and vegetables, and a major exporter of other food products ranging from apple juice to garlic and sausage casings. Its agricultural exports to the US surged to $US2.26 billion last year - nearly 20 times the $US133 million of 1980. China's food exports to Australia were worth $450 million in 2006, up from $345 million the previous year, and dominated by prawns, cereal, fruit juice and vegetables.

China has been especially poor at meeting international standards. The US subjects only a small fraction of its food imports to close inspection, but each month rejects about 200 shipments from China, mostly due to concerns about pesticides, antibiotics and misleading labelling. In February, border inspectors for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) blocked peas tainted by pesticides, dried plums containing banned additives, pepper contaminated with salmonella and frozen crayfish that were filthy.

Since 2000, some countries have temporarily banned whole categories of Chinese imports. The European Union stopped prawn shipments because of banned antibiotics. Japan blocked tea and spinach, citing excessive antibiotic residue. And South Korea banned fermented cabbage after finding parasites.

As globalisation of the food supply progresses, "the food gets more anonymous and gradually you get into a situation where you don't know where exactly it came from and you get more vulnerable to poor quality", said Michiel Keyzer, director of the Centre for World Food Studies at Vrije University in Amsterdam. Sydney Morning Herald

Parasite Eggs Found Again in Kimchi From China
Health officials have again discovered parasite eggs in some Chinese-made kimchi products, escalating public concerns about the health risks of food imports. The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said Thursday that it has found parasite eggs in 15 samples of 82 Chinese kimchi products stored in warehouses. Kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage and radish that is the main side dish of most Korean meals.

Quarantine officials have conducted inspections on a total of 82 Chinese kimchi products (227.6 tons) stored in warehouses after customs clearance since the food regulator found three species of parasite eggs in nine samples of the 18 Chinese kimchi products sold in Internet shopping malls last Friday. The KFDA already recalled all of the inventory of the 15 products.

Chinese farmers often use human excrement as fertilizers when growing cabbages for kimchi. There is a possibility that the parasites could invade the cabbages through that channel. The recent food scandals reveal the problems of Korea's public quarantine system as it came just a month after authorities banned the sale of some Chinese-made kimchi after they found a significantly high lead content in it.

In July, the KFDA also banned the sale of imported Chinese eels and other fish products after finding they were contaminated with malachite green, a cancer-causing substance. Following the scandals over the Chinese food imports, the Korean government plans to hold a high-level meeting with China to prevent tension caused by contaminated kimchi from damaging the two countries’ overall trade relations.

According to a November report by the Asian Development Bank, food-borne disease affects 300 million Chinese per year... On Feb. 5, the Chinese government released a list of 10 of last year's most egregious food-safety cases—everything from selling homemade beer in brand-name bottles to making edible gelatin from OLD LEATHER. The top spot went to a firm in Jiangsu province busted for adulterating its nationally sold nutritional supplement, supposedly made from silkworm chrysalis. The real ingredients? Dried pig's blood and chicken feathers.

On Feb. 6, Chinese health officials ordered six kinds of lipstick from two Shantou-based companies—including a strawberry-flavored variety—pulled from stores after they were found to contain SUDAN RED, an industrial dye known to cause cancer in lab animals. The dye, used to color petrol and floor polish, has also shown up in some Chinese chili powders and eggs.

Tests by environmental group Greenpeace recently detected residue from banned PESTICIDES such as DDT in 4 out of 5 mainland-grown tangerines, strawberries and green vegetables bought in Hong Kong produce markets. One tangerine tested positive for 13 different pesticides.

Illegal experimental GE rice from China: entering Europe's food chain

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Food Contamination

The contamination of our food is going to become a big issue in the months and years ahead. The more deaths that occur, the more people are going to demand that action is taken. Or people will take action for themselves and buy local produce or grow local produce. Some of the substances polluting our food imports are pesticides, herbicides, molds, fungus, rodent feces, insect residue, toxins, heavy metals and chemicals.

Fears of killer chemical in toothpaste
13 May 2007 - Health authorities in Panama have ordered toothpaste to be removed from shelves over fears it contains a chemical that killed at least 51 people last year. The government warned against using Excel or Mr Cool, because they may contain diethylene glycol. Testing was under way to see if the products contained the chemical, which had previously been linked to deaths of 51 people who took a medication containing it. It is alleged that a Chinese factory made the diethylene glycol and passed it off as harmless glycerin to a Spanish company, which sold it to Panama. The Observer

You may say: "We are protected against all that, by our regulators and food standards commissions. No we are not, and for a very good reason. The European Union and the WTO consider food regulatory standards as intrusive blocks to the movement of free trade. They don't want rules that regulate how much rodent feces per milligram is allowed in our food, or how much pesticide per milligram is a safe limit. ANY SAFE LIMIT IS A LIMIT TO GLOBAL TRADE... and a limit to global trade hurts profits, restricting the free flow of goods into your home. Regulating food safety damages world trade, which damages profits, which damages the financial health of the global economy. Who is going to know if the imports poison a few people, or poison a few cats or dogs? Who is going to know? We have over population anyway... Better we become rich than die poor.

"Excuse me waiter! There's a rat in my soup!!"
I eat mostly vegan, and I like to take products like Ginseng. These products once came from reliable suppliers who had an interest in keeping their sources clean of contamination or it could destroy their business. Poisoning people is a risky road full of pitfalls. However, over the past couple of years things have changed. The sinking of local market trade has grown into a geneve-cally modified behaviour, that has morphed into a deadly globalisation bug, where food growers and suppliers are grey areas on the global map. To find who provided what to whom you have to trail through buyers of a buyer of a buyer. If a middleman lies about the source of his trade to hike the price or to hide the origins of the supplier, who is going to know? If the supplier dumps excess pesticide on the food, or sprays it with fungicide? Who is going to know? If rodent feces are ground into the food supplement, who is going to know?

I like Ginseng, but if it is contaminated with pesticide residue, fungicide, rodent feces and chemicals... then I am paying to be poisoned. I don't like that too much.

How about: local alternatives to the Global Economy?
Global Exchange - Earth Island - Go Local - Global Economics - Grow Your Own - Permaculture Institute - Ecological Institute - Masanobu Fukuoka - Food Contaminants - Urban Farmer - Garden Adventures - Wild Ginseng

Keywords: Food contamination, pesticides, food additives, allergies, mold, fungus, algae bloom, red tide, toxins, heavy metals, pollution, chemical food contaminants, rodent feces, bird feces, parasites, neuro toxins, common foodborne pathogens, Foodborne illness.