Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Climate change and food wars: FEMA projections

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Nafeez Ahmed has an interesting article at Motherboard. It seems evident that climate change will have a major impact on food supplies due to crop failures from drought, flooding, and other effects of changing climate, but that is not much discussed, this article being an anomaly.

The US national security industry is planning for the impact of an unprecedented global food crisis lasting as long as a decade, according to reports by a government contractor.

The studies published by CNA Corporation in December 2015, unreported until now, describe a detailed simulation of a protracted global food crisis from 2020 to 2030.

The simulation, titled ‘Food Chain Reaction’, was a desktop gaming exercise involving the participation of 65 officials from the US, Europe, Africa, India, Brazil, and key multilateral and intergovernmental institutions.

The scenario for the ‘Food Chain Reaction’ simulation was created by experts brought in from the State Department, the World Bank, and agribusiness giant Cargill, along with independent specialists. CNA Corp’s Institute for Public Research, which ran the simulation, primarily provides scientific research services for the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Held from November 9-10 in 2015, the “game” attempted to simulate a plausible global food crisis triggered by “food price and supply swings amidst burgeoning population growth, rapid urbanization, severe weather events, and social unrest.”

By 2024, the scenario saw global food prices spike by as much as 395 percent due to prolonged crop failures in key food basket regions, driven largely by climate change, oil price spikes, and confused responses from the international community.

“Disruptions affected developed and developing countries alike, creating political and economic instability, and contributing to social unrest in certain areas,” the project’stechnical report states.

The report notes that at the end of the simulation, the teams highlighted the important role of “extreme weather events” and “food insecurity” in exacerbating “instances of significant internal and external migration and social unrest.” These, in turn, greatly “contribute to conflict.” . . .

Continue reading.

The use of the term “social unrest” seems to be a euphemism along the lines of the tactful phrasing used by doctors and dentists, that a procedure may cause “some discomfort,” which can refer to (for example) excruciating pain.

I’ve read that the uprisings of the Arab Spring were due to increased food prices caused by crop failures due to drought, but some dispute that. Still, one remembers Lenin’s dictum that every society is three meals from chaos.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2016 at 9:46 am

Private prison companies encourage mass incarceration to drive revenue growth

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Donald Cohen has an interesting article in Salon:

In February 2010, falling prisoner numbers caused the country’s largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), to shutter its only facility in the state of Minnesota. The company knew that every day Prairie Correctional Facility in the rural city of Appleton would sit empty, it would incur operating expenses without generating revenue. Even before the facility officially closed, CCA had begun seeking new people to imprison there.

Ron Ronning, the mayor of Appleton, was “very optimistic” that CCA would find new business by the summer. According to Ronning, who also worked at the prison at the time, the company was “really making an effort to get this place [Prairie Correctional Facility] filled again.”

Later that year, that effort seemed to have paid off. After spending half a million dollars in California on campaign contributions, CCA convinced the state’s officials to send their prisoners over 1,000 miles to Appleton—but the deal fell through before any prisoners were transferred. Today, the company is at it again, this time trying to incarcerate 500 of Minnesota’s prisoners currently held in county jails because the state’s public prisons are full.

By seeking people to imprison in facilities they own, private prison companies contribute to mass incarceration. Currently, CCA and GEO Group — the second largest private prison company in America — own 87 facilities across the country. When these companies, both publicly traded corporations, lose contracts at their prisons, they seek out other people to incarcerate from state corrections departments, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), sheriffs’ offices, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In doing so, they encourage decision makers to put people behind bars, diverting attention and resources away from making the criminal justice system more humane. Lobbying disclosure records show that CCA and GEO Group have strong presences in the offices of government officials. In 2014, CCA had 103 lobbyists working in 25 states and 25 lobbyists in Washington, D.C. GEO Group had 68 lobbyists working in 15 states and 14 lobbyists in D.C.

Once CCA or GEO Group secures a new contract, every taxpayer dollar that goes to their profit is a dollar not spent on improving conditions in jails and prisons or pursuing alternatives to incarceration. Private prison companies also pitch their services as short-term solutions to overcrowding, but too often public officials become dependent on the private space and delay addressing the root causes of incarceration.

Despite CCA’s failure so far in Minnesota, private prison companies’ efforts to find people to incarcerate often prove successful. In 2003, when Wisconsin removed all its prisoners from CCA’s facility in Sayre, Oklahoma, the company began searching for people to imprison. In 2004 Steve Owen, a spokesperson for CCA, said, “We have all along, and continue to aggressively market that [Sayre] facility. We’re doing this on a daily basis, and the goal is to definitely refill that facility.” By the end of 2006, CCA’s Sayre facility was housing 800 prisoners from Colorado, Vermont, and Wyoming.

In 2010, GEO Group purchased Cornell Companies, a prison company that owned a vacant prison in Bakersfield, California. In November 2014, GEO Group renovated the prison and announced it was “actively marketing the facility to both state and federal agencies.” Two months later, the company secured a contract with ICE to incarcerate detained immigrants at the prison. Between 2011 and 2014, GEO Group spent $460,000 lobbying on immigrant detention and other issues at the federal level.

Sending prisoners to empty facilities owned by private prison companies is a short-term solution to overcrowding, but the public bears the long-term costs. Doing so impedes meaningful criminal justice reform. In Minnesota, public officials can alleviate overcrowding either by reopening the Appleton prison, as supported by CCA, or finding ways to reduce the number of people incarcerated. They could adopt the guidelines of the state’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission and invest more resources in reducing recidivism and overhauling probation. If Minnesota reopens the Appleton prison instead of investing in these and other reforms, overcrowding will only be exacerbated. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2016 at 9:30 am

Interesting review of the role of white rage in our racial divide

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Pamela Newkirk, a professor of journalism at New York University, reviews White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson:

The virulent backlash against President Obama’s 2008 election set the stage for this year’s presidential campaign, in which Muslims, Mexicans and other marginalized groups have been explicitly maligned.

While Obama’s historic two-term presidency has inspired the “birther” movement, an unprecedented spike in death threats, and wanton disrespect by members of Congress and other prominent officials, until now, many observers had been hard-pressed to attribute the hostility to race.

In White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, Carol Anderson compellingly does just that. In this slim but persuasive volume, she catalogues white Americans’ centuries-long efforts to derail African American progress. She cites the venomous response to Obama alongside a litany of setbacks that have followed African American strides stretching back to the Civil War and emancipation.

Anderson, a professor of African American history at Emory University, traces the thread of white rebellion from anti-emancipation revolts through post-Reconstruction racial terror and the enactment of Black Codes and peonage, to the extraordinary legal and extralegal efforts by Southern officials to block African Americans from fleeing repression during the Great Migration. She continues connecting the dots to contemporary legislative and judicial actions across the country that have disproportionately criminalized blacks and suppressed their voting rights.

Anderson argues that this pattern of advancement followed by retreat has effectively eroded, if not scuttled, every modicum of progress made by African Americans since the Emancipation Proclamation.

Anderson’s book, which began as a 2014 opinion article in The Washington Post, recounts numerous instances when hard-won gains by African Americans have been reversed. For example, in 2008, for the first time in history, the black voter turnout rate nearly equaled that of whites, and the turnout of voters of all races making less than $15,000 nearly doubled. “While the number of whites who voted remained roughly the same as it had been in the 2004 election,” she says, “two million more African Americans, two million additional Hispanics, and 600,000 more Asians cast their ballots in 2008.”

The GOP, “trapped between a demographically declining support base and an ideological straitjacket . . . reached for a tried and true weapon: disfranchisement.” Anderson notes that despite the rarity of voter fraud, state after state began requiring voters to have documents such as bank statements, utility bills and W-2 forms, which African Americans, Latinos, the young and other economically disadvantaged people are less likely than others to possess.

Then, in 2013 the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act that for decades had protected African Americans from blatant disfranchisement. Since the ruling, 22 states have passed voter-restriction statutes. Anderson also argues that white resistance to the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision explains why, six decades later, black children largely remain trapped in segregated and unequal schools.

Anderson singles out President Ronald Reagan for presiding over the rollback of many of the gains blacks made during the civil rights movement. She says that while Reagan “positively oozed racial innocence,” his policies showed a contempt for blacks.

Black unemployment had declined sharply during the ’60s and ’70s, actually closing the racial gap, and the number of blacks enrolled in college had doubled between 1970 and 1978. But Reagan erased those gains through massive cuts in federal programs and jobs. Black unemployment rose to 15.5 percent — the highest it had been since the Great Depression — and black youth employment to a staggering 45.7 percent. “At this point,” Anderson writes, “Reagan chose to slash the training, employment and labor services budget by 70 percent — a cut of $3.805 billion.”

Among the programs targeted were those that assisted college-bound African Americans, causing their college enrollment to tumble from 34 to 26 percent. “Thus, just at the moment when the post-industrial economy made an undergraduate degree more important than ever, 15,000 fewer African Americans were in college during the early 1980s than had been the case in the mid 1970s,” Anderson writes.

Her most explosive allegation is that at a time when marijuana use was down, and cocaine, heroin and hallucinogen use was declining or leveling off, Reagan’s National Security Council and CIA “manufactured and facilitated” a drug crisis and were complicit in flooding African American communities with crack. She says the administration’s shielding of Colombian drug traffickers “actively allowed cocaine imports to the United States to skyrocket 50 percent within three years. . . . Soon crack was everywhere, kicking the legs out from under black neighborhoods,” she writes.

“The Reagan administration’s protection of drug traffickers escalated further when the CIA received approval from the Department of Justice in 1982 to remain silent about any key agency ‘assets’ that were involved in the manufacturing, transportation, or sale of narcotics,” she adds.

Anderson cites research showing that between 1984 and 1994, the homicide rate of black males ages 14 to 17 more than doubled, while life expectancy rates among African Americans declined — “something that not even slavery or Jim Crow had been able to accomplish,” she notes.

And as crack ravaged black communities, Anderson argues, the Reagan administration targeted the victims, rather than the drug-smuggling villains. In 1986 Reagan signed into law the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which mandated minimum sentencing, emphasized punishment over treatment, and disproportionately criminalized African Americans, Latinos and the poor. Two years later, Congress enacted mandatory sentencing for first-time offenders. The war on drugs, Anderson says, “replaced the explicit use of race as the mechanism to deny black Americans their rights as citizens.”

Meanwhile the Supreme Court, in a series of cases, upheld racial profiling by police and mandatory sentencing for drug offenses, and made it more difficult to prove racial bias in a variety of circumstances, including jury selection and arrests. And while African Americans are the least likely to use or sell drugs, Anderson writes, “law enforcement has continued to focus its efforts on the black population.” As a result, she writes, blacks, while 13 percent of the national population, make up 45 percent of those incarcerated.

Anderson convincingly shows that African Americans’ economic and social progress has historically, and sometimes ferociously, been reversed. Less persuasive is her contention that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2016 at 7:48 am

Why the iKon X3 debut has been delayed

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I recently emailed iKon razors about the X3. My message was not to urge that it be soon brought to market—a second’s reflection will, I think, make anyone realize that of course iKon must doing everything it can to release the razor since it’s only then they can start to get a return on their development investment. Rather, my point in writing was to provide them another data point on likely demand based on various comments I’ve seen on my blog and in threads on Wicked Edge, in the hope that iKon will make the initial production run large enough so that the razor doesn’t immediately go out of stock.

I found the reply quite interesting. You’ll recall that my own X3 is a prototype, and I was told that iKon made a final adjustment to that design, and the adjustment is what delayed the razor. Here is the email I received:

Right after sending you the test sample we did another mod to the X3 to tighten up the blade play inherent in most torqued slants. This meant rebuilding the tooling and then more R&D after the next hard sample came out, so we are now completing the final design production and not in any way rushing these to market.

Surely you have noticed the main complaints with torqued slants are setting the blade alignment, so we did something unique design-wise and got the blade alignment tolerance down to almost 0. This will promote ease of use and should establish the X3 as the most user-friendly of the torqued slants on the market.

I found this interesting, especially the phrase “we are now completing the final design production,” which gives me hope that the release date draws nigh.

FWIW, I have not noticed any blade-alignment problems or requirements in my prototype: I just slap in the blade and start shaving, with no need to tinker with alignment. But it does sound as though the production version will be even more precise in blade control.

Thought you would be interested, so I obtained permission from iKon to share the email.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2016 at 7:40 am

Posted in Shaving

Brexit would have gone the other way if the young had bothered to vote

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From a Kevin Drum post in Mother Jones that’s worth reading:

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 7.09.09 AM

I wonder why the young do not vote. I’m tempted to fault their education, since as life goes on it seems that people do learn the importance of voting.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2016 at 7:11 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Impromptu dinner that turned out well

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In large sauté pan, add:

1-1.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions (large if possible), chopped, including leaves

Sauté that for about 5 minutes then add:

2 Meyer lemons: cut off the two ends, then cut horizontally into slabs, and then dice those; leave the peeling on except for the discarded ends.

Sauté for about 5 more minutes, then add:

1 bunch collards, rinsed, stalks minced, leaves chopped—cut leaves into strips, then across in squares
1 bunch Lacinato kale, same deal
splash of Amontillado sherry
good dash of Worcestershire sauce (from the UK—I order from Canada), or could use 2-3 anchovy fillets

Sauté until greens wilt, about 5-8 minutes. These were particularly fresh, and their character as leaves was quite evident as I chopped, and it occurred to me that there is a lot of knowledge (and trial and error) embedded in the leaves we eat and those we don’t eat. Someone had to test things. (Though some leaves we seldom eat are quite good: fresh radish greens are very tasty, for example.)


1 15-oz can Muir Glen San Marzano style tomatoes (and I don’t know what “style” they mean other plum tomato)
1/2-3/4 c pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

I always at least halve Kalamata olives used in recipes to check for pits, but in addition chopping them increases the likelihood of having some olive in each bite. I did in fact discover one pit today in chopping the olives.

Simmer for 45 minutes. Add

1/4 c pignolas (pine nuts)

Simmer for a while. Then spoon out a portion in a bowl and top it with:

1 egg, cooked over-easy in butter (I have an 8″ T-Fal pan I use for frying eggs: easy to flip them)

It was quite tasty. After adding the pignolas I was thinking that the greens would make a good dinner by themselves if I could add some protein. I thought about adding some canned fish—tuna, say, or white anchovies or sardines or yellowtail or mackerel, all of which I have on hand, but I knew The Wife would not be keen on those at all. And then the thought of topping it with an egg came to mind, and that was perfect.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2016 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

Kevin Drum takes a look at whom to blame for Brexit

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Very interesting post.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2016 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Government, Politics


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