Long live the Blogthing!

Radio alert: Friend o’ the Journal Jennifer Savage sent this along this morning:

Thursday, Feb. 12 at 1 p.m., Jen Savage will conduct a conversation with bloggers Kym Kemp, Eric Sligh and “Sohumborn” in the KSLG studio. Kemp’s blog, “Redheaded Blackbelt,” covers issues inherent to living in the Southern Humboldt hills. Sligh’s blog, “Humboldt Grow,” details the nuts and bolts of marijuana growing. “Sohumborn” shares fictionalized stories revolving around the culture of growing pot in SoHum – stories that are real enough that she must remain anonymous. On Thursday, the three of them will discuss the ways in which growing pot has evolved and subsequently continues to affect the people, businesses and culture in Humboldt County. Additionally, they’ll talk about why they blog, the response they’ve received and related issues with law enforcement. Listeners can tune in on the FM dial at 94.1 or on the stream at kslg.com

If Barbara Groom hadn’t been craving a pint of Häagen Dazs after a movie last Friday, she wouldn’t have driven into the parking lot of Ray’s Food Place in Eureka; she wouldn’t have seen two men fighting there; she wouldn’t have tried to stop them by yelling and inching her car into the fracas; and she wouldn’t have seen one of those men — 36-year-old Andrew Pease of Eureka — get fatally stabbed in the stomach.

Groom owns the Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe, where, earlier that same night, men matching the description of the alleged murderers attempted to rob an employee at knife-point, according to Groom. She said the men were caught briefly on a parking lot security camera trying to rob a Lost Coast employee with a hunting knife identical to the one that would later be used to kill Pease. The men’s car — a white Volkswagen Jetta — also matched descriptions of the car used in a string of at least five robberies or attempted robberies that culminated in the murder of Pease, according to police reports. (Read the Times-Standard‘s account here.) Groom recounted her experience in a phone interview today with the Journal:

(more…)

60_bassstraitoffshoredrilling_800x6494

The AP reports that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is dumping ye old Bush plan to open up areas of  the Outer Continental Shelf in the Atlantic and the Pacific previously off limits to oil and gas drilling. A good portion of these virgin waters lie off of California.

It’s not that Salazar is against expanding offshore drilling, says the story, he’s just not that into the old admin’s overbearing approach to the whole thing, not to mention its basing the midnight decision to drill on 30-year-old studies.

Let us have some fresh new reports, says Salazar, to find out how much oil and gas is out there; let’s ask people what they think about it; and let’s all do it with the wind at our backs — that is, maybe some wind energy and other renewabale developments worked into a broader energy program.

The oil people are not happy. Now we gotta wait and wait and wait some more, says American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard.

UPDATE: Congressman Mike Thompson sends a news release with this statement:

“By extending the public comment period and making sure that there is sound science behind any policy decision, Secretary Salazar has taken the first crucial steps towards reversing the failed policies of the Bush Administration,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA).  “This is a clear signal that important decisions about our precious natural resources will no longer be made by oil executives behind closed doors.  I have told Secretary Salazar about the importance of protecting our coastline, and look forward to working with him to permanently ban drilling off the shores of the North Coast.”

Well, all of you sniggerers who like to put down Arcata for meddling in distant world affairs when it ought to be attending to its own potholes, here’s your comeuppance: Our favorite anklebiter city may have just helped shape future world energy development.

Two settlement agreements were filed last Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In them, the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — U.S. government-run agencies — agreed to evaluate the impacts on global warming of the fossil fuel projects they finance around the world, often in places with no environmental regulations. They’ve also agreed to each put $250 million into overseas renewable energy projects. In addition, Export-Import Bank agreed to consider carbon dioxide emissions from its projects, and to create a carbon policy. OPIC committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from overseas projects it funds by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

In August 2002, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the City of Boulder, Colo., sued these two behemoth federal financiers and insurers, accusing them of spending more than $32 million between 1990 and 2003 on major fossil fuel projects without analyzing their impacts on climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act. Arcata joined the lawsuit in 2004; Santa Monica and Oakland also jumped on.

“Typically when a U.S. agency does a large project that has potential environmental impacts, they run it through NEPA,” said Mark Andre, Director of Environmental Services for the City of Arcata, last Friday. “Well, overseas projects aren’t subject to that.”

The projects named in the lawsuit, said the litigants, had cumulatively contributed to the equivalent of “nearly eight percent of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, or nearly one third of annual U.S. emissions in 2003,” said a news release from the City of Arcata.

Over the years that the suit malingered, the Bush administration insisted the agencies remain exempt from NEPA, said Arcata Mayor Mark Wheetley. This settlement, however, marks a change in direction. Wheetley said it’s been incremental; the world “mindthink” was bound to catch up to Arcata’s progressive ways, he said.

“When we filed the suit, we were back in the dark, dark, dark Bush days,” Wheetley said. “We weren’t even acknowledging global warming yet. And now we’re having a national dialog about it. It’s been coming — you know, Al Gore’s efforts, the increase in knowledge and awareness through An Inconvenient Truth, that was just a huge education outreach. And now, this whole issue has percolated to the top.”

Some major precedents came out of this case, says Nancy Diamond, the City of Arcata’s attorney in the matter. In 2005, a federal judge granted legal standing — the ability to sue, in this case under NEPA — to cities claiming injuries from global climate change. That, in turn, set the stage for a big Supreme Court decision in another case, Mass v. EPA: that greenhouse gases are subject to Clean Air Act regulations.

“Global warming in and of itself wasn’t a recognize theory of harm, when we brought the lawsuit,” said Diamond. “So, it was the first case that established standing for global climate change.”

It was Andre who helped establish Arcata’s claim to injury. In a 2004 court declaration he described how, based on available records and science, since the late 1800s the temperature in the Arcata area had risen, annual rainfall had decreased, and sea level along the California coast had risen. He cited projections of more sea level rise.

“A 12-inch rise in sea level would mean that the current 100-year high tide peak would become instead a 10-year high, thus a rare event would become common,” Andre wrote.

This could mean inundation of Arcata’s 225-acre marsh — a wildlife sanctuary and wastewater treatment facility — and the adjacentl treatment plant where chlorine is used. About 550 acres of low-lying pastures owned by the city would become saltwater messes. Diminished snowpack would reduce Arcata’s drinking water supply. There would be unpredictable floods. And a rise in ocean temperatures would threaten marine life, and thus the commercial and recreational fisheries.

Andre said the settlement is a good one. And Diamond said settling was better than going to trial. Now, the two agencies must consider the impacts on climate change of any projects they fund from here on out, instead of just the projects named in the lawsuit in 2002.

A snow angel

A snow angel

Buried in the Op-Ed section of today’s Times-Standard is this stunning, er, revelation from contributor Dave Stancliff: Angels exist! This will no doubt be shocking news to the 17 percent of (hell-bound) Americans who have until now denied the existence “God’s Ambassadors.”

“These blessed spirits are armed with the authority and might of paradise,” Stancliff evangelizes. “Angels bring healing, perseverance, creativity, joy, and solutions to the problems and circumstances of our human condition.” After checking the masthead to make sure I hadn’t picked up an extra-large issue of Watchtower by mistake, relief washed over me. Did you hear that, economic crisis? I’ll mail you a copy, Afghanistan. Any other problems or circumstances care to step up? The T-S has a message for your ass: “[T]he universality of angels cannot be denied.” Booya!


CORRECTION
: It was Sunday’s edition, appropriately.

image ganked from popsci.com

image ganked from popsci.com

If you’ve been following the news this week you know that there’s been a lot of discussion about postponing the end of analog television and the coming switch to the digital age. It turns out that despite a lot of advance warning to get digital converter boxes before the big switcheroo on Feb. 17, which you’ve been warned about with those annoying banner ads, and despite a coupon program to help people pay for them, a fair number of TV watchers, particularly poor folks and the elderly, are still operating with the old 20th century analog technology.

So, on Wednesday the House of Reps voted to extend the deadline until June 12. The Senate passed similar legislation last week; President Obama said he’ll sign it, and through a spokesperson promised to “continue to work with Congress to improve the information and assistance available to American consumers in advance of June 12, especially those in the most vulnerable communities.”

If you think old school TV people are breathing a sigh of relief and thinking maybe they’ll have more time to finally figure out that new-fangled box, well, that’s not exactly the case, not locally anyway. If you live in Humboldt County sans cable, and were watching the few stations still available with a TV antennae (and no digital TV or converter box) you know that the Eureka Television Group’s CBS 6 and Fox 29 made the switch on Nov. 28 last year, which is to say they switched off their analog signal and — no more Simpsons (now on 28, not 29).

Today we learned that despite the reprieve from Washington D.C. the local PBS affiliate KEET-TV will follow the original February date to shut down its analog signal, basically because it costs too much money to run both digital and analog feeds and it’s up to them to decide when to switch.  As noted in a Friday press release:

After 40 years of broadcasting on analog Channel 13, KEET-TV, public television for the North Coast, will cease transmission of its over-the-air analog signal after 11:59 p.m. on February 17, 2009. The analog shut-off will only affect viewers that receive their programming with an indoor or outdoor antenna. Cable subscribers will have no interruption of service.

Ron Schoenherr, KEET-TV’s Executive Director said, “There is some understandable confusion over the current legislation moving through Congress dealing with the possibility to continue analog broadcasting until June 12, 2009. KEET-TV’s staff and board of directors made the decision to stick with the originally mandated shut-off date and stop broadcasting our analog signal on February 17. The main consideration was a financial one. To date, KEET-TV has spent almost $2 million to comply with the federally mandated digital conversion, and we are still seeking funds for its completion. The average monthly PG&E bill for operating KEET’s 23-year-old analog transmitter is between $3,000 to $4,000. We simply do not have the funds to continue analog broadcast for another four months.”

In compliance with the federal mandate KEET began broadcasting a digital signal in 2003. In 2007, KEET began broadcasting a high-power digital signal on digital channel 13-1, and added their second channel KEET WORLD, which airs PBS news, public affairs and documentary programming on 13-2. In January of this year, KEET applied to the FCC for permission to terminate analog broadcasting on the originally mandated date of February 17, and has been running public service announcements giving viewers advance notice of the analog cut-off date.

Viewers that receive an over-the-air signal will need to install a converter box that connects to an antenna and television set. In many cases, “rabbit ear” antennas may not work well with digital broadcasting. New digital set-top antennas may also need to be purchased. There is viewer information available on KEET’s website www.keet.org, and questions about the digital conversion may also be directed to dtv@keet-tv.org. Information is also available at www.dtv2009.gov. A good site for antenna information is www.tvfool.com.

That leaves only KIEM Channel 3 for the analoggers post Feb. 17. The NBC affiliate decided to go with Obama’s pushed back June date. And they have an all new set of annoying messages ready to tell you as much.

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