Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day: Call Me Maybe

Earth Day 2013 will be celebrated worldwide today. This year's theme is "The Face of Climate Change."

Earth Day was established in the spring of 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, inspiring a movement that had more than 20 million demonstrators in a number of cities across the U.S., and creating an "environmental conscience" not seen before in America.

The movement worked, forcing Congress to establish the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 1970. Since its inception, the goal of the EPA has been to create a healthier and cleaner environment for the American people.

The purpose and goal of Earth Day when begun in 1970 was to inform and amend practices that contributed to “dirtying our environment.” Today, the purpose is the same because the problem is the same, but with increased scientific certainty on climate change and its causes (primarily the burning of fossil fuels), global warming has become the new focus.

We now know an immediate change in human behavior is what is needed to stem the tide of global pollution of every kind. But there continues to be a hypocrisy associated with Earth Day and its’ goals. Business organizations, colleges, universities, federal, state and local governments continue to talk the talk but not walk the walk. The “Green Banner” is hung out mainly to generate revenues not results. My own local University claims it is a nationally recognized “Green Campus”. But I see no solar panels on buildings, compost gardens on campus, limiting the use of automobiles, encouraging recycling. I only see more parking lots, doors left open while air conditioning is on, lights turned on to all hours of the night, copier machines spitting out copy after copy.  This “Call Me Maybe” hypocrisy must end.

The most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring, and people are causing it by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. This conclusion is shared by the national science academies of developed and developing countries, plus many other organizations, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization to provide the world with “a clear scientific view” on climate change.

In conclusion, global warming is caused by human activities that produce heat-trapping CO2 and other greenhouse-gas emissions. The only real debate now is about how fast warming will occur and how much damage will be done. Do your part every day of the year to reduce energy use and encourage your leaders to stop the B.S. talk and deal with it!

Dear Rink Rats:

I would like to start a compost garden, what do I need to do?


In Need of a Green Thumb

Dear In Need of a Green Thumb:

Healthy gardens start with healthy soil. And there's no better ingredient than compost, whether you till it into beds or use it as mulch.
Once it's in the soil, compost increases fertility; adds both micro- and macronutrients; buffers pH; and improves soil structure. Below is his foolproof method for making compost.

Do compost

Nearly any plant material, including the following:
Brown matter -
Dried leaves, hay, straw, sawdust, wood chips, and shrub and tree prunings. Ned Conwell collects his brown matter, but you can also use straw from a feed store. He puts branches and anything thorny in a separate slow-roast pile in the corner, where it breaks down over a much longer period of time. To hasten composting, chop or mow prunings into pieces 2 inches or smaller.
Green matter -
Green weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, cover-crop remains, and fresh grass clippings. Also coffee grounds, tea bags, and uncomposted manure from cows, goats, horses, or poultry. Pine needles take longer to break down, while compounds in black walnut and eucalyptus leaves can inhibit growth in other plants; compost those greens only if you combine them with lots of other vegetative waste.

Don't compost

Animal products (bones, meat scraps, dairy products); plants with fungal diseases such as fire blight or verticillium; or seedy or rhizomatous weeds like purslane, Bermuda grass, or bindweed.

Do turn the pile often.

Let the pile heat up for 10 to 14 days. When the temperature inside reaches 140° or 150° f, pull off the straw cap and turn the pile by pushing it over and dividing it. Then reassemble it, but not in layers, and put the straw cap back on. When the temperature climbs back to 130° or 140° f, turn the pile again. In all, turn the pile three times in 4 to 6 months, adding water if it starts to dry out. After the first two temperature-based turns, the more often you turn your pile, the quicker it will break down into compost.

The smaller the pieces, the faster they'll compost. (Run the lawn mower over big, leathery leaves before adding them to the pile.) To check the pile's temperature use a 20-inch-long compost thermometer, available at most garden centers.

Enjoy your green thumb!


Rink Rats

MARKET WEEK – Wall Street's major averages are coming off their largest weekly drops of what's been a very positive year so far. The Dow's 317 point decline (2.1 percent) was its largest since the week ending June 1, 2012, while the S&P 500 saw its biggest weekly falloff since November.

GOLD DROP WIPES OUT $560B FROM CENTRAL BANKS - "Investors are dumping gold funds at the fastest pace in two years in favor of equities, compounding a slump that has wiped $560 billion from the value of central bank reserves. ... Gold funds suffered net outflows of $11.2 billion this year through April 10, the most since 2011, while global and U.S. equity funds had net inflows of $21.25 billion. ... Central banks are among the biggest losers because they own 31,694.8 metric tons, or 19 percent of all the gold mined, according to the World Gold Council in London. After rallying for 12 straight years, the metal has tumbled 28 percent from its September 2011 record of $1,923.70 an ounce. Growing economies and corporate profits, along with slowing inflation, boosted global equities by $2.28 trillion this year at the expense of the traditional store of value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ...

"Gold futures in New York slumped 17 percent this year through yesterday, the worst start since 1981, after a 9.3 percent drop on April 15 that capped the biggest two-day decline since January 1980. The metal tumbled into a bear market on April 12, losing more than 20 percent since the record close in August 2011, the common definition of bear market."

JOE SCARBOROUGH on 'Morning Joe,' re the Senate's defeat of expanded background checks for gun buyers (54-46 in favor, short of the 60 votes needed for passage): 'This fight has just begun. ... We are the 90 percent. ... 90 percent will not be ignored. ... The American people were insulted yesterday. ... This is going to be a turning point in the history of the Republican Party. ... This party is moving toward extinction.'

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Carol Burnett (90), Tim Duncan (37), Gene Hasse …The Man, Ann-Margaret (72), Jack Nicholson (76), Al Pacino (73), Joe Zanetta …famous friend who knows everyone.

TREASURY'S MARY MILLER SAYS TBTF IS OVER - Big bank executives rejoiced last week at Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller's speech at the Minksy conference in New York on how Dodd-Frank does, in her view, definitively end "too big to fail." From the speech: "The 'too-big-to-fail' catchphrase appears to mean different things to different people. A common use of the 'too-big-to-fail' shorthand is the notion that the government will bail a company out if it is in danger of collapse because its failure would otherwise have too great a negative impact on the financial system or the broader economy. With respect to this understanding of 'too big to fail,' let me be very clear: It is wrong. ...

"As a result of the comprehensive reforms passed by Congress and signed into law by President [Barack] Obama, no financial institution, regardless of its size, will be bailed out by taxpayers again. Shareholders of failed companies will be wiped out; creditors will absorb losses; culpable management will not be retained and may have their compensation clawed back; and any remaining costs associated with liquidating the company must be recovered from disposition of the company's assets and, if necessary, from assessments on the financial sector, not taxpayers."

Yeah, and the Houston Astros are going to win the World Series this year. Call Me Maybe. AND then there is this…

WALL STREET RETURNS TO RISK PRODUCTS - "The alchemists of Wall Street are at it again. The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom ... are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street.

'The revival partly reflects the same investor optimism that has lifted the stock market to new heights. ... But the revival also underscores how these investments, known as structured financial products, have largely escaped new regulations that were supposed to prevent a repeat of the last financial crisis.

"Banks are turning out some types of structured products as fast or faster than they did before the bottom fell out. So far this year, for instance, banks have issued $33.5 billion in bonds backed by commercial mortgages, slightly more than they did in early 2005 ... according to data from Thomson Reuters. Banks have won over investors by taking steps to make this generation of structured products safer than the last one. But with demand for these products on the rise, credit ratings agencies and regulators are warning that the additional protections are already dwindling."

CNN TAKES A HIT OFF RINK RATS WATCH LIST: "The news audience has been chopped up into ideological camps, and CNN's middle way has been clobbered in the ratings. ... But the biggest damage to CNN has been self-inflicted - never more so than in June, when in a rush to be first, it came running out of the Supreme Court saying that President [Barack] Obama's health care law had been overturned. ... On Wednesday at 1:45 p.m., the correspondent John King reported that a suspect had been arrested. It was a big scoop that turned out to be false. Mr. King, a good reporter in possession of a bad set of facts, was joined by The Associated Press, Fox News, The Boston Globe and others, but the stumble could not have come at a worse time for CNN.

"When viewers arrived in droves - the audience tripled to 1.05 million, from 365,000 the week before, according to Nielsen ratings supplied by Horizon Media - CNN failed in its core mission. It was not the worst mistake of the week - The New York Post all but fingered two innocent men in a front-page picture - but it was a signature error for a live news channel."

DRIVING THE WEEK –  CFPB Director Richard Cordray testifies before Senate Banking on Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT ... House Financial Services has a hearing at 10 a.m. on Wednesday on reforming the housing finance system ... HFSC subcommittee has a hearing Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the U.S. contribution to the IMF ... Existing home sales this morning at 10 a.m. expected to rise to 5 million from 4.98 million ... New homes sales at 10 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise to 416,000 from 411,000 ... First-quarter GDP on Friday at 8:30 a.m. expected to come in at a strong 3.1 percent. That could well be the high-point for the year, however, as the payroll tax hike and sequester spending cuts take an increasingly large chunk out of growth ... University of Michigan consumer sentiment at 10 a.m. Friday expected to drop to 73.5 from 78.6.

Next week: Jack Ass of the Month and my double life.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA
April 22, 2013

#IV-1, 158

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