Archive for September, 2009

Eminent Domain

September 30, 2009

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This clause of the Fifth Amendment is known as the takings clause.  It empowers the government to take private property for public use.  Maybe you know someone who had a few feet taken from their front lawn to widen a road or build a sidewalk.   The Fifth Amendment also requires that when governments exercise their right of eminent domain that “just compensation” is given to the owners of the property.   It allows governments to take private property for “public use” as long as just compensation is paid.

So the natural outcome is that we are all left deciding and defining what is “private property,” what is “public use” and what is “just compensation.”

Well a few years ago there was a big eminent domain case out of Connecticut, Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005). The long and short of it, the way I understand it, is that Big Pharma Giant Pfizer wanted to build a plant in New London.  The city established a private corporation to oversee development in the area.  The problem was that a bunch of people still owned homes and lived in the area.  The question became whether government can while exercising its power of eminent domain take private property from some people (the homeowners) and give it to other private parties (the New London Redevelopment Corp. that was representing private interests).  The big question became what was public use and whether generalized promises of future jobs and future tax revenues could qualify as “public use.”  The Court has slowly allowed “public use” to be redefined as public purpose.    If the effervescent promise of future tax revenues qualifies as a great enough benefit, just about any government taking of private property can somehow be rationalized as public purpose.

Or as Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent, “Once one permits takings for public purposes in addition to public uses, no coherent principle limits what could constitute a valid public use…”  Why not take any house or business if some developer or business is able to somehow show that by razing the existing home/business and replacing it with a new business that government may get sometime down the road the possibility of additional taxes?

I would ask, where is the public use?  How is the public able to use the plant that Pfizer wanted to build?  We can’t so there is no public use to my non-black robed eyes. The public has no beneficial interest in a privately owned plant.  To me it appeared that this was a land grab by government to further the interests of private industry.

Do you think that private entities offering the possibility of future jobs and taxes is enough of a public use to justify government taking private property? I don’t.

The City of New London won and the homeowners lost their homes.  End of story?  Not quite.

The case was decided in 2005 so what happened to all of the new jobs, new development and new taxes.  I want to know.

As Jeff Benedict wrote in the Hartford Courant,

A few weeks ago I visited the neighborhood, ground zero in the famous battle between the city and homeowners. Here’s what I saw: a sea of brown dirt littered with old rusty nails, broken bricks and slivers of glass — the only signs that people once lived there. Every home has vanished. Nothing has been built in their place. The neighborhood is a ghost town, a scarlet letter on the city’s forehead.

No new tax revenues have come.  No new jobs have come.  No new “public use” has come.

And in another follow-up story, AP writer Katie Nelson notes, “But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to bring up to 3,169 jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues?”  There are no new jobs.  There are no new taxes.  There is no public use.  They took the land, kicked the people out of their homes and gave nothing back.  Government is controlled by monied vested interests.

Like I always say, if it can happen to them, it can happen to you.  On notice is on guard.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

p1010025Just a pretty summer pond.  In a couple more weeks these trees will be ablaze with color.  I was walking about and I saw some scraping at the base of a tree from where a woodpecker had gone to town.

p1010024So I thought to myself that these scrapings would be great tinder for a firesteel.  I didn’t get a fire going, but I guess the point is to always be aware and on the look out for what you may be able to use.

Now that summer is winding down I hope to get back a bit more to blogging.

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What would you want to do without?

September 18, 2009

What would you want to do without: electricity, plumbing, sewer/toilet, hot water, refrigeration or heat?  Think about it.   These are the things that I consider modern conveniences.  Oh, sure you can boil water over a fire or warm your home with a woodstove, but it’s not the same as turning a up thermostat.  I like to read in bed because it helps put me to sleep.  Have you ever tried to read by candlelight or even a flashlight?  It’s tough.  Then when we redid the bathroom we were without a shower or toilet for almost two weeks.  I had to shower at other places and also used buckets and bags to dispose of, uhhm, solid waste.  It’s different than just flushing a toilet and saying bye bye.   Burning candles or kerosene in of doors is pretty sooty.  Heck, running a woodstove is dirty.  How about doing without watertight housing?

I guess the point is that one way you could look at things is to figure out what would be the hardest thing for you to go without and set your priorities based upon that ordering.   If you live in a dry, arid area like parts of the southwest than you probably would move water to the top of your list.  Someplace else like Maine or Minnesota well there is copious amounts of water, but planning to stay warm in the winter would have to move pretty near the top of your list.   If you live in the North Country and plan to burn wood to stay warm you best be chopping wood ten hours a week for every week during the summer. Believe me planning to stay in a tent for an extended period during the winter isn’t really a plan.

So have a plan to stay warm, stay dry, light your place, dispose of waste, boil water, do your laundry, stay cool and have potable water.  Think about what you may miss the most and apply a solution to that contingency.   Imagine if the power goes out for a week or the municipal water treatment plant goes down.  Consider having redundant systems in place for vital resources such as potable water.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

I saw a dragonfly on a tree so I took a picture of it.  I like the yellow on its wings.

p1010021These things are like the jet fighters of the insect kingdom.

p1010022If you don’t spend any time outside then you may not know that this is a blaze.  This is how trails are marked.  This is the blue dot trail.  As you’re walking along a trail like the blue dot trail you keep looking for blue dots on trees or rocks and that’s how you plot your way.  Blazes come in all different colors and shapes.  There can be the red dash, yellow dot or the blue dot dash trail.

Sole of the jackboot of Government

September 4, 2009

The police are the sole of the jackboot of Government.  But what was supposed to be a day of fun at an end-of-summer festival ended abruptly when police shot Grose with a Taser in a dispute about where to end the parade route.”

There is some sort of end of summer parade every year in Glenrock, WY.  So some old guy was driving his antique tractor through the parade.  tractor.jog The parade always used to follow one route, but for some reason this year the police wanted to change the route and end it sooner.  The elderly tractor driver had different ideas and one thing lead to another.  Cops being cops with the insatiable appetite to exert their Authoratay couldn’t let an old man get away with something so they tasered this 76 year old retiree.

Luckily the community did the right thing.  The incident nearly incited a riot as outraged neighbors rushed to his defense. Now residents of this tight-knit town of 2,400 are seething over what they see as police brutality, and town officials are scrambling to ease the tension.”

If things like this keep happening, that is rightly or wrongly, people perceiving that the police, those that are paid with our tax dollars, money coming out of our families mouths, are abusive to citizens cops will find themselves in greater danger.  That’s the breaks.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Then there is another hicktown in Arkansas where the police have been running amuck.   The town of Jericho, Arkansas has 174 residents and seven cops.  Apparently the cops like to give out tickets because it helps them to bloat the size of the force.   Everyone seems to agree that the fire chief was in court to contest a ticket and the town’s seven cops were at the hearing some sort of scuffle broke out and the fire chief was shot in the back.

Speed

“JERICHO, Ark. – It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic tick et, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn’t hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police an d their speed traps. The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

I guess that’s the breaks.  What do you expect.  The police are your enemies.  And if you are a minority you better watch your back and what neighborhoods you dare to walk through.

Just one more before I go.  So this guy was driving and got stopped by the police for suspicion of drunk driving.  They gave him a breathalyzer and he passed.  He was below the legal limit.  The cop didn’t like the result so they took this ostensibly “free” citizen to the hospital where they proceeded to chain him down to a gurney and forced a catheter up his Willie Wonka.  Pause.  Think.  Let it sink in.

“A Breathalyzer test showed Lockard was under the legal limit, but Officer Brian Miller doubted the findings.  Lockard’s attorney said his client was shackled to a gurney and had a catheter inserted against his will.”

catheterGot that the police stopped an innocent citizen from free travel took him to the hospital, tied him down and catheterized him in order to force him to give evidence against himself.  There are so many consitutional violations here that I hope the victim files a s. 1983 claim and bankrupts the community.  So much for the presumption of innocence aye?  Have no fear I’m sure that the police department’s IA division will investigate and find no violations by the cop in question.

Imagine the police tying down your grandma, mother, wife, daughter or sister to a gurney and forcibly catheterizing her.  Stop.  Pause.  Think about that.

WE NEED TO START HOLDING COPS ACCOUNTABLE!!!

So don’t ever forget that the police are your enemies.  They will ask you questions and use your answers against you in a court of law.  They will try to trick you like carnies on the midway.  They will seize your possessions given the chance too.  If you are a minority you already understand that.

Lesson is to interact as little as possible with the men in blue. Any interaction with the police is likely to turn out badly.  Avoid them like the swine flu.  They want a reason to interpose themselves in your life.  They like nothing better than to get involved with you.  That’s why they hide there on the side of the road behind bushes and bridges, like miscreants, waiting to spring out, seize you and keep you from going peacefully about your business.  Given the opportunity that police salivate over they will take you out of your car, beat you, lock you up and seize your property.  It’s what they want.  It’s why they do what they do.

Be careful out there.

BTW do yourself a favor and look at my post about purslane.  It’s a wild edible that grows everywhere, even in cities.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! © Surf it, bike it, hike it, ski it, walk it, run it, swim it, watch it, ride it.  Just Rip It The Eff Up Every Single Day Of Your Life!!

Now it’s Labor Day Weekend go …

p1010029Just a pretty stream in Western Massachusetts.  There is something special about flowing water.

p1010031

T

Purslane or spurge

September 1, 2009

This is going to be a very important blog entry.  Purslane is so important and so tasty that it deserves its own entry.   These two plants, purslane and spurge are very widespread.  Purslane tastes really good. Other than wild berries I think that purslane is my favorite foraging food. Learn this plant.  It could save your life.  Purslane grows near you.

This is purslane. b4It has red stems and kind of fat leaves.  It kind of reminds me of a succulent like a jade plant.  Purslane used to be a garden plant, but now it has escaped and even grows out of the cracks in my driveway.  It seems to like sunny, sandy soil.  Interestingly enough purslane is also very nutritious as it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, like seafood.

In nature it seems like similar plants grow near one another.    For example, the cure for poison ivy, jewel weed, grows near poison ivy.  And spurge grows near purslane.  You don’t want to eat spurge.  This is spurge.

b5Like purslane, spurge kind of has red stems too, but if you look closely you can see that the stems of spurge are more woody and thin.  Spurge radiates out from the center in a circle.  Purslane is an erect plant growing upright.  Spurge crawls along the ground.  Purslane has thickish jade plant like leaves and spurge leaves are thin growing across from one another on the stem.

Here’s another shot:

b1At the top is purslane and at the bottom is spurge.  You can see the difference right? I’m telling you purslane is one of the best wild edibles that you can forage.

This lemony, crisp nutritional powerhouse is neither, it’s actually a succulent. This accounts for its resemblance to a jade plant, and its water content. Many describe it as similar to arugula or spinach. It’s less bitter than arugula and less tannic than spinach. It can be prepared in many of the same ways as either.  In terms of nutrition, it’s a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Folate, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. More good news: recent research has confirmed that purslane is one of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids. “Purslane is one of the richest sources of ALA (alpha linolenic acid), which is a precursor to DHA. In other words, if you can’t eat fish, purslane helps fight heart disease and stroke, too.”

Did you get that, if you can’t eat fish eat purslane to fight heart disease and stroke.  Easting purslane is like taking fish oil.

b6And the spurge plant ripped up on tossed on my driveway.  Now spurge is a weed and I shed no tear as it meets a drying death.

b7And purslane and now you have to be able to identify purslane and its close non-edible neighbor spurge.  Also, when you break a spurge stem it emits a white sap.  You can always ID spurge from it’s milky white sap.

Purslane also has a ton of medicinal properties,

Purslane has long been considered of value in the treatment of urinary and digestive problems. The juice has diuretic effects. 2 Purslane is also considered to be a “cooling aid” and cleansing stimulant of the kidneys, helpful in the bladder for urinary tract infection. The plant’s mucilagenous properties make it useful in GI problems. Besides having vermicidal properties, purslane has been reported to possess antifungal effects, with marked activity against the genus Trichophyton. The phenolic constituents of the plant exhibit antimicrobial effects.  Purslane, placed in animal feed, prevents diarrhea as well as provides immunostimulation in patient. Other sources mention purslane as effective in treating hookworms and amoebic dysentery. Clinical dataPurslane in a combination mouthwash demonstrated antimicrobial as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or sunburn may benefit from purslane. Other uses of the plant include a poultice for backache/dysmenorrhea; 1 neuropharmacological actions; and in cosmetics as a gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) source.

So GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © and find yourself some purslane.