State of the Union + Reading


race-riotIf the wealthy can purchase $5,000 purses (by Hermès, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, or Louis Vuitton), $60 million artworks (Warhol’s Race Riot, 1964 went for $62.9 million at a Christie’s auction), or fly into Davos on a private jet with a spouse, children and two nannies (billionaire Jeff Greene), they can probably pay 28% rather than the 23.8% on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains taxes that President Obama has suggested.  (The percentage was 28% under President Reagan.)

Single filers with taxable income above $406,750 (almost $200/ hour, but that probably doesn’t count your lawyer, who has to rent his/her office, pay the secretary and possible legal assistants, the water and electric bills, etc. out of that) and joint filers with taxable income above $457,600 pay the highest capital gains rate.  Americans are noticing:  …more than half [of Americans] would raise taxes on the wealthy and businesses.1

Keystone XL Pipeline

>Jobs: John Boehner says Keystone XL pipeline would create 100,000 jobs.2  But …both the federal government and the Global Labor Institute at Cornell University …examined TransCanada’s application and made their own job creation estimates, at 6,000-6,500 and 2,500-4,500 [construction jobs] respectively.  A State Department study projects only 35 permanent jobs in pipeline maintenance and inspection.3


What a TransCanada pipeline will do is put a major underground water supply at risk. Keystone XL would be built directly above the Ogallala Aquifer, located beneath most of Nebraska and extending to seven other states. The Ogallala is a shallow aquifer, meaning a pipeline spill could easily pollute this drinking water source for 2 million Americans.
The pipeline would cross thousands of acres of farmland in the Great Plains; a spill could make this land unusable for years. In 2013, an oil pipeline spilled 840,000 gallons of crude near Tioga, North Dakota, and crews are still working to clean it up. Keystone I, which runs from Canada through Illinois, had 14 reported leaks during its first year of operation.

turtleJanuary 21, 2015
GLENDIVE, Montana — When an oil pipeline burst in July 2011 and poured 63,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River 200 miles upstream from Dena Hoff’s farm of wheat, beans and corn on the Great Plains in Glendive, she felt disgusted.
When it happened again Saturday, she felt terror. This pipeline breach was underneath the Yellowstone River, just a few feet from her sheep pasture. The new spill poured out some 50,000 gallons of crude oil. Leaders of this small riverside farming and ranching community in northeastern Montana warned residents not to drink their tap water, because benzene, a carcinogen, was found in the municipal water system. Oil slicked the river for dozens of miles, almost to the border with North Dakota…

>American support: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Tuesday shows that [only] 41 percent favor construction of the pipeline to bring crude oil from Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.6

Whatever your opinion on these issues, let your members of Congress know, by email or letter (do people still do that?)


Read The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus, by Richard Preston, in two days.  It’s 352 pages, but goes quickly as it’s hard to put down.  This is a true account, most of it takes place just outside Washington D.C., and it is very scary.  (Truth really is scarier than fiction.)  I highly recommend it.

Just finished In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan.   (A friend had lent it ages ago, with Pollan’s The Botany Of Desire7, which I read first.)  Highly endorse!  Am inspired to join our local CSA.  (Before I had moved back into my house five years ago I had stayed with friends who live next to the CSA and got used to the weekly piles of vegetables.)8  The book knocks the entire Western diet.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. He gets specific: avoid products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup. Guess goldfish crackersthat eliminates the Goldfish® Baked Snack Crackers that my daughter gives her kids in the car. They don’t really qualify as food. Food should not be so over-processed that it has to have nutrients added back in.  Here are the Goldfish ingredients:

Made with smiles and unbleached enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), cheddar cheese ([cultured milk, salt, enzymes], annatto), vegetable oils (canola, sunflower and/or soybean), contains 2 percent or less of: salt, yeast, sugar, autolyzed yeast, leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium bicarbonate), paprika, spices (contains celery) and dehydrated onions.

Plus he said, Do all your eating at a table.  None of this car snack stuff.

Had a huge salad (mostly mizuna from my garden) for lunch yesterday, and homemade bread, but also ate the last two tiny Snickers bars left over from Halloween.  Ingredients: Sugar, Roasted Peanuts, Glucose Syrup (Sources include Wheat), MilkSolids, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Vegetable Fat, Salt, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Egg White, Natural Flavour (Vanilla Extract).  Too many ingredients. They flunk.

I buy tiny containers of Häagen-Dazs®, and last night checked the ingredients. Phew! They passed.  I had made a soup for dinner – all of the fresh vegetables passed (well, they should have been organic, but only the spinach from my garden), but the cheap can of navy beans that went into the soup had a bit of corn syrup!  Must look at ingredients from now on, not price.

Before that I had read Julie Schumacher’s novel, Dear Committee Members, made up mostly of  letters of recommendation written by the protagonist, an English professor in a failing department.  I would recommend it to English teachers or professors, current of retired.  (I taught English for five years.)


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One Response to “State of the Union + Reading”

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