A radioactive legacy haunts this Navajo village, which fears a fractured future ~ The Washington Post

Signs warning of health risks are posted outside the gates of an abandoned uranium mine in the community of Red Water Pond Road, N.M. (Steven St. John/for The Washington Post)
Signs warning of health risks are posted outside the gates of an abandoned uranium mine in the community of Red Water Pond Road, N.M. (Steven St. John/for The Washington Post)
Jan. 18, 2020 at 2:43 p.m. MST


RED WATER POND ROAD, N.M. — The village of Red Water Pond Road sits in the southeast corner of the Navajo Nation, a tiny speck in a dry valley surrounded by scrub-covered mesas. Many families have lived here for generations. The federal government wants to move them out.

In what might seem a cruel echo of history, officials are relocating residents to the city of Gallup, about a half-hour away, and surrounding areas. This echo is nuanced, however. The village sits amid a Superfund site loaded with uranium mine waste. Mitigation has been delayed for decades, along with remedies for hundreds of other abandoned uranium mines across the tribe’s lands that boomed during the Cold War.

The Environmental Protection Agency aims to haul away thousands of truckloads of the radioactive waste over the next seven years. Residents do not want to stay during that work, but many fear losing their way of life if they are uprooted and unmoored from rural roots and traditions. They have countered the agency’s plan with another solution: construction on a nearby mesa of an off-grid, solar-powered community designed by an architecture group at the University of New Mexico.

The EPA had rejected the idea but is facing new pressure from lawmakers and community members to reexamine it.

“I feel empowered with those people,” resident Edith Hood says of the university’s proposal. “I feel hope.”

Red Water Pond Road has seen little reason to hope for a long time. Starting in the mid-1950s, mining companies extracted about 30 million tons of uranium from Navajo lands. It was just down the road on a July morning in 1979 that an embankment broke on a uranium tailings pond, releasing 1,000 tons of waste that traveled more than 80 miles downstream through arroyos, creeks and rivers. The Church Rock Spill remains the largest nuclear waste spill in U.S. history.

Even four decades later, only scattershot mitigation has occurred. Residents, activists and some nonprofit groups have cited a variety of health concerns, including cancer and risks to pregnancy and newborns, related to uranium contamination here. No comprehensive study on the health effects from uranium contamination on Navajo lands has been done.

The Superfund site includes two waste piles that were once owned by Kerr-McGee/Quivira, which later became part of Anadarko Petroleum, and United Nuclear Corp., now owned by General Electric. The most immediate cleanup plan focuses on the latter site, with the EPA intending to move the mine waste to tailings piles just under a mile away but over the Navajo border.

The agency says it has offered voluntary relocation to some 75 Red Water Pond Road residents. Of the residents who have accepted, nearly four dozen have moved or are preparing to do so. Many describe the process as a painful dissolution of their village — like a real estate developer clearing out a neighborhood by picking off families one by one.

“Government is supposed to have cultural sensitivity training,” one woman said at a community meeting in September. “Where is that?”

Edith Hood, who once worked in the uranium mines surrounding Red Water Pond Road on the Navajo Nation, has long pushed for cleanup of the radioactive waste left behind. (Steven St. John/for The Washington Post)
Edith Hood, who once worked in the uranium mines surrounding Red Water Pond Road on the Navajo Nation, has long pushed for cleanup of the radioactive waste left behind. (Steven St. John/for The Washington Post)

In a lengthy letter in November to several New Mexico lawmakers, the EPA defended its actions to date as “consistent with all relevant laws, guidance and policies. We continue to seek collaborative solutions and appreciate the Community’s efforts to bring additional resources and perspectives to bear on the challenges posed by both short and long-term disruptions.”

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Trump Has Made Us All Stupid ~ NYT opinion/ed

The decline of discourse in the anti-Trump echo chamber.


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.

For example, there’s a complex policy problem at the heart of this week’s Iran episode. Iran is not powerful because it has a strong economy or military. It is powerful because it sponsors militias across the Middle East, destabilizing regimes and spreading genocide and sectarian cleansing. Over the past few years those militias, orchestrated by Qassim Suleimani, have felt free to operate more in the open with greater destructive effect.

We’re not going to go in and destroy the militias. So how can we keep them in check so they don’t destabilize the region? That’s the hard problem — one that stymied past administrations.

In the Middle East, and wherever there are protracted conflicts, nations have a way to address this problem. They use violence as a form of communication. A nation trying to maintain order will assassinate a terrorism leader or destroy a terrorism facility. The attack says: “Hey, we know we’re in a long-term conflict, but let’s not let it get out of hand. That’s not in either of our interests.”

The attack is a way to seize control of the escalation process and set a boundary marker.

These sorts of operations have risks and rewards. A risk is that it won’t cease the escalation, just accelerate it. The radicals on the other side will get enraged and take to the streets. Their leaders will have to appease that rage.

A reward is that maybe you do halt the escalation. The other side implicitly says: “Message received. We’ll do some face-saving things to appease the streets, but we don’t want this to get out of hand, either.” Another reward is that you’ve managed to eliminate an effective terrorist like Soleimani. Talent doesn’t grow on trees.

The decision to undertake this sort of operation is a matter of weighing risk and reward. And after the Soleimani killing, you saw American security professionals talk in the language of balancing risk and reward. Stanley McChrystal, a retired general, and Michael Mullen, a retired admiral, thought it was worth the risk. Susan Rice, a former national security adviser, thought it wasn’t.


But in the anti-Trump echo chamber, that’s not how most people were thinking. Led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they avoided the hard, complex problem of how to set boundaries around militias. Instead, they pontificated on the easy question not actually on the table: Should we have a massive invasion of Iran?


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No Country for Old Typewriters: A Well-Used One Heads to Auction/NYT ~ an old story, but a good one. rŌbert

Cormac McCarthy has written more than a dozen novels, several screenplays, two plays, two short stories, countless drafts, letters and more — and nearly every one of them was tapped out on a portable Olivetti manual typewriter he bought in a Knoxville, Tenn., pawnshop around 1963 for $50.

Lately this dependable machine has been showing irrevocable signs of age. So after his friend and colleague John Miller offered to buy him another, Mr. McCarthy agreed to auction off his Olivetti Lettera 32 and donate the proceeds to the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit interdisciplinary scientific research organization with which both men are affiliated.

“He found another one just like this,” a portable Olivetti that looks practically brand new, Mr. McCarthy said from his home in New Mexico. “I think he paid $11, and the shipping was about $19.95.”


Mr. McCarthy, 76, has won a wagon-full of honors including a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award and the MacArthur Foundation’s so-called genius grant. Books like “Blood Meridian,” “All the Pretty Horses” and “The Crossing” have propelled him to the top ranks of American fiction writers.

Cormac McCarthy is finally giving up this particular typewriter.CreditChristie’s

Even nonreaders are familiar with his storytelling since his two most recently published novels, “No Country for Old Men” and the 2007 Pulitzer winner “The Road,” have been made into movies. (“No Country” won best picture and three other Oscars last year.)

Christie’s, which plans to auction the machine on Friday, estimated that it would fetch between $15,000 and $20,000. Mr. McCarthy wrote an authentication letter — typed on the Olivetti, of course — that states:

“It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose. … I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not published. Including all drafts and correspondence I would put this at about five million words over a period of 50 years.”

Speaking from his home in Santa Fe, Mr. McCarthy said he mistakenly thought that the typewriter was bought in 1958; it was actually a few years later. He had a Royal previously, but before he went off to Europe in the early 1960s, he said, “I tried to find the smallest, lightest typewriter I could find.”

Mr. McCarthy is known for being taciturn, particularly about his writing. He came to realize that not only his working method but even his tools are puzzling to a younger generation.

He remembers one summer when some graduate students were visiting the Santa Fe Institute. “I was in my office clacking away,” he said. “One student peered in and said: ‘Excuse me. What is that?’ ”

Cormac McCarthy says he realizes that both his working method and tools are puzzling to a younger generation. CreditDerek Sharpton

“I don’t have some method of working,” he said, adding that he often works on different projects simultaneously. A few years ago, when he was in Ireland, “I worked all day on four different projects,” he said. “I worked two hours on each. I got a lot done, but that’s not usual.”

Glenn Horowitz, a rare-book dealer who is handling the auction for Mr. McCarthy, said: “When I grasped that some of the most complex, almost otherworldly fiction of the postwar era was composed on such a simple, functional, frail-looking machine, it conferred a sort of talismanic quality to Cormac’s typewriter. It’s as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army knife.”

The institute is in a rambling house built in the 1950s that sits on a hill overlooking Santa Fe. “It’s been under not-so-benign neglect,” Mr. McCarthy said.

He is working to help upgrade parts of the house, like the library. It turns out that architecture is one of the many odd jobs that Mr. McCarthy said he had had in his life.

He joined the institute at the invitation of its founder, the physicist Murray Gell-Mann, whom he met at a MacArthur Foundation meeting years ago. “It’s just a great place,” said Mr. McCarthy, whose primary responsibilities at the institute are eating lunch and taking afternoon tea.

He still has a house in Texas. If he had his druthers, he would live there now, except “they wouldn’t move the institute.”


Great Writer Great Machine

Last Friday, Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter sold at Christie’s for a staggering $254,500 to an anonymous American collector. “I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not yet published,” McCarthy wrote in his authentication letter. Of the machine—an Olivetti Lettera 32—Glenn Horowitz, a rare-book dealer who handled the auction for McCarthy, told the New York Times:

When I grasped that some of the most complex, almost otherworldly fiction of the postwar era was composed on such a simple, functional, frail-looking machine, it conferred a sort of talismanic quality to Cormac’s typewriter. It’s as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army knife.

Otherworldly fiction, okay, fine. Talismanic, sure. But is it me, or does Horowitz sound genuinely unimpressed with the Olivetti Lettera 32? Because he really shouldn’t be. “He has all his metaphors right, but he doesn’t understand design,” Paola Antonelli, the Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA, told me this week. “Olivetti was a great company. And actually—the Swiss Army knife is another masterpiece!”

(Left: the Lexikon; right: the Lettera 22)

Designed by Marcello Nizzoli, the Lettera 22 (and its later incarnation, the 32), was a lightweight and luxurious machine. Simple, as Horowitz said, but purposely so. “Before the Olivetti, typewriters had an old-fashioned look,” said Antonelli, “You could see the keys. There was more decoration. Nizzoli basically changed the shape of typewriters by taking a technological innovation from the auto industry—press-forming steel—and applying it to typewriters. All of a sudden, they had a monocoque look, a real smooth line.” Nizzoli’s first typewriter, created in 1948, was called the Lexikon. Encased in enameled aluminum, a light, malleable metal, the machine has a glorious curve, like an inverted Nike Swoosh. The Lettera 22, made two years later, is encased in steel, and, though boxier, is more portable. Everything, from the keys to the corners, feels as though it’s been smoothed down and rounded over. The Lettera 32 (McCarthy’s version) which was introduced in 1963, retains the same essential shape, but has square keys. Both the Lexicon and the Lettera 22 are in MoMA’s permanent collection.

Horowitz also describes the Lettera as “frail-looking.” It may look frail, but McCarthy used his machine for forty-six years and, in his letter, added: “It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose.” Most Olivettis have a longer lifespan than today’s computers.

Olivettis were cherished by many other talented writers, too. Sylvia Plath owned one; so did the playwright James Purdy; John Updike favored a nineteen-forties variety; Ann Landers typed her famous column for the Chicago Sun-Times on one; T. C. Boyle used one his mother gave him until switching to a computer; and Thomas Pynchon likes his so much he even mentions it on page fifteen of “Inherent Vice.”

Former U.S. Senator Mark Udall Is ‘Haunted’ By CIA Actions Post-9/11 ~ Colorado Public Radio

December 10, 2019

<p>U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) says one of the highpoints this year has been unwinding some of the national security laws.</p> Courtesy of U.S. Congress
Former U.S. Sen Mark Udall says the CIA used torture to interrogate detainees after 9/11.  Udall was on a Senate committee that investigated CIA interrogations after 9/11. The probe’s featured in a newly released film, The Report.





Mark helping celebrate Denny Hogan’s el cumpleaños at Rancho Desperado Mental Health Retreat.

Don’t Mess With Me!


191206190303-01-opinion-cartoons-1206-jones-exlarge-169.jpgJulian Zelizer (professor of political history and an author in the United States at Princeton University) observed that “with a firm hand and clear vision, Speaker Pelosi has done something that no one else seemed to be able to accomplish. She has seized back the public square from the Trump White House.”







The 2010s will go down in history as Earth’s warmest ~ The Washington Post

The planet is also finishing its warmest five-year period as effects are felt from the oceans to the Greenland ice sheet.

Global average surface temperature departures from average for the January-to-October period. (WMO) (World Meteorological Organization)

December 5

The 2010s almost certainly will be the warmest decade on Earth since instrument temperature data began to be gathered in the 19th century (and very likely long before that), according to new data released this week from the World Meteorological Organization. “Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than the last,” the WMO stated in its provisional state of the climate report.

The WMO also found that the past five years have been the warmest such period on record, as 2019 careens toward the second- or third-warmest year.

The past month tied for the warmest November on record globally, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, in a statistical dead heat with November 2016 and just behind November 2015. The global average temperature in 2019 (January through October) was about 1.96 degrees Fahrenheit above the preindustrial period.

What’s remarkable about the warmth this year is that there has been no strong El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, as there was in 2015-2016. Such events tend to boost global average surface temperatures and can reconfigure weather patterns from the United States to Africa and Australia. Typically, the hottest years of a given decade occur when an El Niño is present, but 2019 illustrates the increased role played by human-caused climate change in driving temperatures ever higher.

One trend the WMO pointed to is a sharp uptick in ocean heat content, which is leading to more pervasive marine heat waves.

Marine heat waves in 2019, with the dark red areas denoting the “severe” heat wave category. (WMO) (World Meteorological Organization)

The oceans are the world’s main heat sponge, absorbing more than 90 percent of the added energy building up in the climate because of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

“In 2019, ocean heat content in the upper 700 meters (in a series starting in the 1950s) and upper 2000 meters (in a series starting in 2005) continued at record or near-record levels, with the average for the year so far exceeding the previous record highs set in 2018,” the WMO found.

Marine heat waves can have a cascading effect on marine ecosystems, bleaching or even killing coral reefs, driving out cold water fish species, and causing mass mortality events in iconic marine species such as gray whales.

The effects of warming were observed far and wide. The Greenland ice sheet shed an unusually large amount of ice in 2019, the WMO found, amounting to a loss of 329 billion tons. This was not a record but was well above the long-term average of 260 billion tons per year. Ice melt from land-based ice sheets, including Greenland, are the largest contributor to sea level rise.

This 115-Year-Old Japanese Wave Design Book Made To Inspire Craftsmen Is Still Inspiring Artists Today And Is Now Available For Free

In 1903, Mori Yuzan – a little known Japanese artist from Kyoto – has created a 3 volume book titled ‘Hamonshū’. The books featured various traditional Japanese wave designs and were created to serve as inspiration for local craftsmen. Over a hundred years have passed since the books were published and now you can download and browse them for free on the Internet Archive.

Although the books originally were created as inspiration for the decoration of traditional items, like swords and sculptures, nowadays they can be used for anything you can think of. If you are looking for a neat tattoo design or just want something relaxing to look at, these books might be just what you need.

Check out the traditional Japanese wave art in the gallery below!

More info: Vol 1 | Vol 2 | Vol 3 | h/t

In 1903, Mori Yuzan created an illustration book titled ‘Hamonshū’

The 3 volume book features traditional Japanese wave designs

They were created to serve as inspiration for local craftsmen 115 years ago

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Meet Memo, the Marie Kondo of Fitness ~ New York Times

In a cluttered world of boutique fitness studios and high-end gear, Guillermo Piñeda Morales reminds us that we don’t need much to be our best.


Screen Shot 2019-11-24 at 8.49.20 AM.png

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Video by Lindsay Crouse, Nayeema Raza, Taige Jensen and

Meet Memo, the Marie Kondo of Fitness

In a cluttered world of boutique fitness studios and high-end gear, Guillermo Piñeda Morales reminds us that we don’t actually need much to be our best.

Memo is a minimalist, so we’ll keep this short. In the Video Op-Ed above, we trail Guillermo Piñeda Morales, a.k.a. Memo. He clocked a 2:28:42 at this year’s Boston Marathon. At age 46, that places him in the top 10 marathon runners for his age group globally. That’s very fast.

The American fitness industry is worth $30 billion, but Memo’s not in on the trend. He won’t pop up in your Instagram #fitspo feed and you won’t get a glimpse of him at your gym. But if you have a resolution to run a marathon sometime, Memo will likely be whizzing past you. This Sunday, he’ll be running the New York City Marathon, bib #477. You can track him on the marathon’s official app. Share your photos, signs and well wishes using #WatchMemoRun on social media.

What’s Memo’s trick? Well, you can find that in the video. But it’s far simpler and cheaper than anything else out there.


Global 5G deal poses significant threat to weather forecast accuracy, experts warn ~ The Washington Post

A satellite image shows a mid-latitude cyclone swirling in the Gulf of Alaska on Nov. 12.  (NOAA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

November 22 at 5:41 PM

A long-awaited international deal governing how the world’s technology companies should roll out 5G technology poses serious risks to weather forecast accuracy, according to data from federal agencies and the World Meteorological Organization.

Negotiators from around the world announced a deal Friday at a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for how to roll out 5G technology that operates using specific radio frequency bands.

Studies completed before the negotiations by U.S. government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Navy had warned that 5G equipment operating in the 24-gigahertz frequency band could interfere with transmissions from polar-orbiting satellites used to gather weather data. This could make forecasts much less reliable, the reports found.

Specifically, these highly technical analyses concluded that if deployed widely and without adequate constraints, telecommunications equipment operating in the 24 GHz frequency band would bleed into the frequencies that NOAA and NASA satellite sensors also use to sense the presence and properties of water vapor in the atmosphere, significantly interfering with the collection and transmission of critical weather data.

The NOAA report, for example, warned of a potential loss of 77.4 percent of data coming from microwave sounders mounted on the agency’s polar-orbiting satellites.

The agency’s microwave sounders operate at a frequency of 23.6 to 24 GHz, which is close to the frequency that the Federal Communications Commission auctioned off the use of for about $2 billion beginning this past March.

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