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Showing posts from April, 2017

Good Neighbors Make Low Fences

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Regarding migration, which Samuel P. Huntington called "the central issue of our time," the Green Party takes a humanitarian, internationalist view. In the long run, the Green position is that North America should become more like the European Union with regard to border policies, rather than building walls on the U.S. southern border.

This week may be decisive as to whether Blowhard's promised wall will be built. He wants to get it into the bill that continues funding the government, but the 60% majority needed for its passage appears to be out of reach. He's even threatening to shut down the government for his pet project.

Spending oodles of tax dollars on a big wall to keep Latinos out would be a net negative. If Jared Diamond's observation that good international relations with neighboring countries is key to avoiding collapse, then we would probably be better off without a giant wall.  Good fences might make good neighbors in New England farm country, but th…

First they came for the Muslims, but I did not speak out - Because I was not a Muslim...

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George Calvert's vision for Maryland was a religiously tolerant colony where citizens would be entitled to live as landed gentry.  Lord Baltimore had embraced Catholicism, though much of Europe was turning to Protestant puritanism. As a consequence, Maryland became a refuge for all faiths; for Catholics especially.

It is not unlikely that there were even some Muslims among those who settled early in Maryland, but most came later to the colonies as slaves. It is estimated that up to 1/3 of the slaves in the colonies were Muslim. Their faith did not flourish in the new world, however, as religion was just another part of their liberty that their Christian overlords decided to withhold.

Repression of Islam by American society (like that which occurred in the early years of our democracy) has surfaced again since we became embroiled in constant war in the Middle East. A homegrown propaganda industry has warped many Americans' perception of Islam no less than the Russian propaganda…

Roots

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Being a Navy brat, and later navigating my own Navy career, nothing I could call home ever left much dust on my shoes before being washed away with the next tide. Having retired in the same southern Maryland town where I finished my Navy career, I haven't felt anyplace drawing me back home. Yet, intriguing information that my older brother just discovered, now makes me feel like Calvert County, Maryland is where I belong anyway.

According to my brother, who has long been curious about the Gillett family genealogy, our
great¹¹grandparents are Leonard R. Calvert and Alicia Grace Calvert through their daughter Mary and son-in-law Isaac Chapline. George Calvert, my great¹⁰grandmother Mary's brother, was responsible for arranging the chartering of Maryland as a colony apart from Virginia. He was a baron with the title Lord Baltimore, after which there followed six others with the same title. I've long had a vague sense of being deeply rooted in America because family oral hist…

Before Letting the GeNe Out of the Bottle...

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Applying the Precautionary Principle to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we support a moratorium until safety can be demonstrated by independent (non-corporate funded), long-term tests for food safety, genetic drift, resistance, soil health, effects on non-target organisms, and cumulative interactions. - Green Party Platform (Agriculture)The Green Party would probably like to idle CRISPR until we better understand all of the ramifications of making changes to an organism's DNA, but its inventors have come out with a benign version that can be used just to detect a particular disease. It does this through matching RNA of the virus or other pathogen, typically from a blood, urine, or saliva sample. The fact that the new system, named SHERLOCK, can be impregnated into paper and stored there until needed makes it very cheap to produce by the millions for bedside detection of communicable diseases, cancers, and other urgent conditions. Each unique RNA sequence being checked (Zika…

America's Weak Immune System

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While weighing the possibilities of launching more Tomahawks on parts uncivilized, Blowhard has paid scant attention to a threat far more perilous than chemical weapons; even far more likely than a nuclear attack, but more deadly. That threat is from viruses in our environment that can mutate, spread, and multiply too quickly for us to respond if we are not organized and prepared. Once a virus is on a rampage, the result of unpreparedness could be millions of deaths in just a few weeks... for months on end.

Those viruses may seem to favor squalid and exotic places, but globalization, decay of our cities and towns, and wild changes in our climate make the U.S. a better breeding ground than we would care to admit. Neglect of the environment only increases the chances of a pandemic. Blowhard is not only guilty of such neglect, he is also failing to appoint officials who can prepare us for any outbreaks that do occur - indeed, he is calling for drastic budget cuts to agencies whose job it…

The Solution to Pollution is Economic Revolution

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It may have escaped most people's notice that availability of the earth's resources has been swiftly declining for decades. This will soon be reflected in a declining rate of goods available to the average world citizen, including food. Widespread hunger will be a faithful witness that we lack the basic necessities to sustain a growing world population. Those of seared conscience will begin to take notice when they sense it in their gut, if not in the food line.

This predicament simplifies decision-making considerably. When decisions deal with feeding a starving population in the interest of the common good, choices that improve food production and distribution should receive highest consideration. Problems that weren't formerly seen in those terms are brought into stark relief when recast in the context of famine.

Many issues could be boiled down to how well the possible solutions improve food availability, but one salient example in my neck of the woods is the health of …

The Chesapeake Bay in Greater Peril Than Ever

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While the estuary on a stick known as Maryland girds for legal battles over continuing the federal program to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the global force of climate change will increasingly hamper the region-wide effort even if the program ends up being fully funded in the official federal budget.

We are already able to discern the impacts of climate change on the Chesapeake. For example, though most of the world is losing access to water, the northern Chesapeake Bay area where I live has gained 6.6 inches of annual precipitation over the last century. In some respects, this is beneficial, but the major negative effect of more heavy rain is runoff into the bay and its tributaries, causing pollution by nutrients and sediment. This is exacerbated by urbanization throughout much of the watershed. Building codes and local governments are racing to keep up with the problem of stormwater runoff caused by development.

Rising temperatures affects a number of other aspects of the bay ecosyste…