Tag Archives: process

EPA cutbacks are real, and they’re here.

In seemingly choreographed lockstep with President Trump’s revelation that the U.S. would exit the Paris Agreement, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday a buyout program to begin the process of cutting its staffing levels. 

According to an internal memo from Acting Deputy Administrator Mike Flynn (not that Mike Flynn), the EPA’s offer encourages “voluntary separations” that would cause “minimal disruption to the workforce.”

The workforce was plenty disrupted, however, by the budget proffered earlier this year by the Trump administration. It basically suggests taking a blowtorch to the agency — proposing a 31 percent budget cut and the elimination of 3,200 out of the EPA’s 15,000 jobs.

The proposed buyout will cost $12 million, and will first have to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The agency hopes to complete the cuts by September.

If approved, the buyouts may be popular. After Trump was elected, some EPA career staff cried, others set up rogue Twitter accounts, some quit, and others just waited anxiously for what would come next. Now we know: The newly arrived EPA honchos are sharpening their knives.

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EPA cutbacks are real, and they’re here.

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How to Pass a Thousand-Year Tax Cut

Mother Jones

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Republicans would like to pass a permanent tax cut. Sadly for them, Senate procedures prevent that. The only way to avoid a Democratic filibuster is to pass their tax plan via reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate and can’t be filibustered. But thanks to the Byrd Rule, any reconciliation bill that increases the deficit beyond a 10-year window is once again subject to a filibuster, and that would doom any tax measure. This limits Republicans to tax plans that sunset in 2028.

But wait. Maybe there’s an alternative. The Wall Street Journal explains:

President Donald Trump has said he wants to cut taxes, big-league, and Republicans are having trouble squeezing his ambitions into congressional rules forbidding bigger deficits after a 10-year budget scoring window.

Some lawmakers are exploring a way around that problem: Make the window bigger. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) suggested last week a “longer horizon” to overcome obstacles posed by the process known as reconciliation….A 15-year, 20-year or 30-year budget window could let Republicans pass a temporary tax cut that is long enough to give companies confidence to invest but short enough so its fiscal effects peter out by the 2030s or 2040s.

Surprised? That’s because everyone always talks about the Byrd Rule forbidding deficit increases beyond a 10-year “budget window.” But that’s not what it says. Here’s the actual relevant language:

A provision shall be considered to be extraneous if it decreases revenues during a fiscal year after the fiscal years covered by such reconciliation bill or reconciliation resolution.

In this context, “extraneous” means it can be filibustered, and there’s nothing in there about ten years. That’s just custom. If Republicans felt like it, they could pass a bill that “covers” the next millennium and sunsets in 3018. Here is Daniel Hemel, an assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago:

“I don’t think there’s anything magical about the number 10, other than 10 has been the maximum number for long enough that 11 would seem like a break from Senate norms.”

But who cares about Senate norms? Not Republicans. So there must be something more to this or they’d just go ahead and do it. One possibility is that there are still a handful of old-school deficit hawks left in the party, and they won’t vote for a longer budget window. Or there might be some arcane technical issue involved. I would be fascinated to hear from a real budget expert on this.

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How to Pass a Thousand-Year Tax Cut

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Phil Klay’s Resistance Reading

Mother Jones

Courtesy of Phil Klay

We asked a range of authors, artists, and poets to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. Two dozen or so responded. Here are picks from author Phil Klay, who served in Iraq prior to landing on the New York Times bestseller list for his riveting fictional stories of war and the experience of coming home.

Latest book: Redeployment
Reading recommendations: I’ve been reading A. Scott Berg’s anthology World War I and America, a fascinating collection of essays, articles, diary entries, and speeches from 1914 to 1921. Among the riches there are several articles by W.E.B. Du Bois and James Wheldon Johnson, showing first-rate minds grappling with which political course to advocate in a world gripped by a massive war abroad while black Americans routinely faced horrific acts of domestic terrorism.

I’ve also been thinking increasingly about Teddy Roosevelt’s 1883 speechThe Duties of American Citizenship.” Though some of his positions are dated—”the ideal citizen must be the father of many healthy children”—so much of it holds up as solid, practical advice in how to go about creating political change. Roosevelt continually stresses the hard work of building up organizations and institutions as the key component of American political life. “A great many of our men in business,” he says, “rather plume themselves upon being good citizens if they even vote; yet voting is the very least of their duties.” (Sadly, he has little to say on the possibility of tweeting your way to a greater democracy.)

Few things make me happier than reading Sandra Boynton’s Muu, Bee, Así Fue to my 14-month-old son. I don’t know if there’s any direct link between that book, which is mostly an excuse to make animal noises, and our current moment of political rancor, but I’d like to believe that the process of reading to my child is slowly teaching me to be a kinder person.
_______

So far in this series: Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Bill McKibben, Rabbi Jack Moline, Karen Russell, Tracy K. Smith, Gene Luen Yang. (New posts daily.)

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Phil Klay’s Resistance Reading

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Trump: Failure of Health Care Bill Is All Democrats’ Fault

Mother Jones

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It’s laughable watching President Trump whine endlessly this afternoon about how his health care bill didn’t get any Democratic votes. Not one! The Democrats just wouldn’t work with him to craft a bill! Boy, that sure makes things tough.

Needless to say, neither Trump nor Paul Ryan ever tried to bring Democrats into this bill. It was purely a Republican plan from the start, and neither of them wanted any Democratic input. That’s just the opposite of Obamacare, where Democrats tried mightily to get Republican buy-in, and still ended up getting no Republican votes in the end. Not one!

Anyway, Trump’s plan now is to wait for Obamacare to implode and then Democrats will have to do a deal. I guess it hasn’t occurred to him that he could do a deal with Democrats right now if he were really serious about fixing health care. But no. Trump says he intends to move on to tax reform, because that’s something he actually cares about.

In the meantime, it’s very unclear what will happen to Obamacare. With so much uncertainty surrounding it, it’s hard to say how insurance companies will respond. They might give up and pull out. Or they might stick it out and wait. It’s pretty close to a profitable business now, so there’s probably no urgency one way or the other for most of them. And anyway, somewhere there’s an equilibrium. Having only one insurer in a particular county might be bad for residents of that county, but it’s great for the insurer: they can raise their prices with no worries. There are no competitors to steal their business, and the federal subsidies mean that customers on the exchanges won’t see much of a change even if prices go up. In places where they have these mini-monopolies, Obamacare should be a nice money spinner.

April will be a key month, as insurers begin to announce their plans for 2018. We’ll see what happens.

POSTSCRIPT: It was also amusing to hear Trump say that he learned a lot during this process about “arcane” procedures in the House and Senate. Like what? Filibusters? Having to persuade people to vote for your bill? The fact that the opposition party isn’t going to give you any votes for a bill that destroys one of their signature achievements? Reconciliation and the Byrd rule? I believe him when he says this was all new to him, which means he never had the slightest clue what was in this bill or how it was going to pass.

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Trump: Failure of Health Care Bill Is All Democrats’ Fault

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Sanity Break: Society Exists Because of Beer

Mother Jones

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When hunter-gatherer tribes began to stay put and focus on growing crops, starting around 13,000 years ago, things didn’t begin promisingly. The fossil record suggests the switch to farming made us shorter and triggered widespread malnutrition and dental problems. And yet, the agricultural revolution ultimately brought forth cities, writing, and what we know as civilization. So what saved the day?

The answer might well be beer, which is really just what happens when you sprout a bunch of grain, thus releasing its sugars, and then grind it into a mush with water, exposing it to those ubiquitous single-cell microbes we call yeasts. Here’s a fascinating National Geographic piece on humanity’s long-standing need for a stiff drink:

Indirectly, we may have the nutritional benefits of beer to thank for the invention of writing, and some of the world’s earliest cities—for the dawn of history, in other words. Adelheid Otto, an archaeologist at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich who co-directs excavations at Tall Bazi an archeological site in northern Syria, thinks the nutrients that fermenting added to early grain made Mesopotamian civilization viable, providing basic vitamins missing from what was otherwise a depressingly bad diet. “They had bread and barley porridge, plus maybe some meat at feasts. Nutrition was very bad,” she says. “But as soon as you have beer, you have everything you need to develop really well. I’m convinced this is why the first high culture arose in the Near East.”

Fermentation—the process by which yeasts consume sugars—doesn’t just generate alcohol and carbon dioxide. It also delivers “all kinds of nutrients, including such B vitamins as folic acid, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin,” the author, Andrew Curry, notes. Even the alcohol would have been useful to these early settlements, beyond the gift of a buzz—it’s toxic to many microbes, helping alcohol-tolerant yeasts colonize the resulting brew and pushing out pathogens that make use sick. And that effect “explains why beer, wine, and other fermented beverages were, at least until the rise of modern sanitation, often healthier to drink than water,” Curry writes.

That doesn’t mean you should replace your daily water intake with beer. Most—not all—Americans have access to clean water, and we have a better variety of nutritious foods available to us than those early agricultural societies seemed to. And of course, we now know that tippling excessively courts other problems, including liver disease. And besides, all of these B vitamins “would have been more present in ancient brews than in our modern filtered and pasteurized varieties.”

Still, as Curry notes, emerging research suggests that enjoying a bit of alcohol may be part of what makes us human—and it didn’t just help us through the agricultural revolution:

To our fruit-eating primate ancestors swinging through the trees, however, the ethanol in rotting fruit would have had three other appealing characteristics. First, it has a strong, distinctive smell that makes the fruit easy to locate. Second, it’s easier to digest, allowing animals to get more of a commodity that was precious back then: calories. Third, its antiseptic qualities repel microbes that might sicken a primate. Millions of years ago one of them developed a taste for fruit that had fallen from the tree. “Our ape ancestors started eating fermented fruits on the forest floor, and that made all the difference,” says Nathaniel Dominy, a biological anthropologist at Dartmouth College. “We’re preadapted for consuming alcohol.”

So wine (fermented fruit juice) got our evolutionary predecessors down from the trees, and beer (fermented grain mush) got our early farming ancestors through an extremely rough transition. Sounds like something to ponder over a beer—preferably, an unfiltered, unpasteurized one.

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Sanity Break: Society Exists Because of Beer

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Republicans Are Coming for Your Free Birth Control

Mother Jones

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The process of repealing Obamacare began yesterday in the Senate, and Republicans rejected the amendment that requires insurance companies to cover the full cost of contraceptives in the process.

In 2012, a women’s preventative health care provision within the Affordable Care Act went into effect making birth control free for women with insurance. When it was first rolled out, an estimated 26.9 million women benefited. If the mandate is struck down, it will leave 55 million women without no-copay birth control.

During the budget negotiations that took place Wednesday night, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) penned an amendment to preserve protections for women that were created under the ACA, but it was voted down. The measure aimed to ensure that women receive birth control and mammograms without charge, required insurance companies to cover maternity care, prevented insurance companies from charging women more for preexisting conditions, and sought to even out health care costs between men and women.

“If my colleagues destroy the Affordable Care Act, it will have real, direct, and painful consequences for millions of American women and their families,” Gillibrand said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

The Senate also voted down the preexisting-conditions protection, which prevented insurance companies from considering pregnancy as a preexisting condition.

Last night’s vote is just one piece of what will be a very long process in the effort to repeal Obamacare. Next, the current measure goes to the House, which is expected to approve it on Friday. If that is approved, the House will then draft its own bill, approve it, and return it to the Senate for another vote before it would go to President Trump’s desk.

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Republicans Are Coming for Your Free Birth Control

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We Are Our Brains – D. F. Swaab & Jane Hedley-Prole

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We Are Our Brains

A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer’s

D. F. Swaab & Jane Hedley-Prole

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: January 7, 2014

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


A vivid account of what makes us human. &#xa0; Based groundbreaking new research, We Are Our Brains is a sweeping biography of the human brain, from infancy to adulthood to old age. Renowned neuroscientist D. F. Swaab takes us on a guided tour of the intricate inner workings that determine our potential, our limitations, and our desires, with each chapter serving as an eye-opening window on a different stage of brain development: the gender differences that develop in the embryonic brain, what goes on in the heads of adolescents, how parenthood permanently changes the brain. &#xa0; Moving beyond pure biological understanding, Swaab presents a controversial and multilayered ethical argument surrounding the brain. Far from possessing true free will, Swaab argues, we have very little control over our everyday decisions, or who we will become, because our brains predetermine everything about us, long before we are born, from our moral character to our religious leanings to whom we fall in love with. And he challenges many of our prevailing assumptions about what makes us human, decoding the intricate “moral networks” that allow us to experience emotion, revealing maternal instinct to be the result of hormonal changes in the pregnant brain, and exploring the way that religious “imprinting” shapes the brain during childhood. Rife with memorable case studies, We Are Our Brains is already a bestselling international phenomenon. It aims to demystify the chemical and genetic workings of our most mysterious organ, in the process helping us to see who we are through an entirely new lens. &#xa0; Did you know? &#xa0; • The father’s brain is affected in pregnancy as well as the mother’s. • The withdrawal symptoms we experience at the end of a love affair mirror chemical addiction. • Growing up bilingual reduces the likelihood of Alzheimer’s. • Parental religion is imprinted on our brains during early development, much as our native language is. Praise for We Are Our Brains &#xa0; “Swaab’s ‘neurobiography’ is witty, opinionated, passionate, and, above all, cerebral.” — Booklist (starred review) &#xa0; “A fascinating survey . . . Swaab employs both personal and scientific observation in near-equal measure.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review) &#xa0; “A cogent, provocative account of how twenty-first-century ‘neuroculture’ has the potential to effect profound medical and social change.” — Kirkus Reviews From the Hardcover edition.

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We Are Our Brains – D. F. Swaab & Jane Hedley-Prole

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No, the Senate Will Not "Heavily Vet" Trump’s Cabinet Nominees

Mother Jones

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At the Wall Street Journal today, Damian Paletta notes that Donald Trump is announcing his cabinet picks at a faster pace than his predecessors:

But there also are signs some of Mr. Trump’s choices haven’t been rigorously vetted during the informal deliberation process….That leaves open the possibility that the first officials to study such material will be the Senate committees that next year will conduct the confirmation hearings, a process that can be grueling and disqualifying.

….People involved in the process said Mr. Trump is running an unorthodox transition process—much like his campaign. He is making some decisions based on gut instinct and his chemistry with people, and at times has revealed the name of a nominee before his transition team was ready for the announcement.

Well, that’s about what we expect from Trump. But the Journal’s headline writer concludes that this means Trump’s picks are “likely to face heavy Senate vetting.” Raise your hand if you believe that. Anyone?

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No, the Senate Will Not "Heavily Vet" Trump’s Cabinet Nominees

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How to Compost at Home

In the old Brothers Grimm tale Rumpelstiltskin, a miller swears to the king that his daughter can spin straw into golda bold-faced lie.With the help of the eponymous imp and his magical powers, the daughter was eventually able to spew gold from her very fingers. But, she had to promise her firstborn child to him in order to receive the special talent.

In the real world there is one way to turn straw into gold, so to speak, that doesnt require any special powers or bargaining with a frightful creatureits known as composting. Creating organic fertilizer from food scraps happens to be much easier than most people think. Heres everything you need to know:

Photo Credit: Paul Delmont

WHAT IS COMPOSTING?

In basic terms, composting means recycling plant scraps from the kitchenincluding carrot tops, potato peels, herb stems, celery fronds, eggshells, coffee grounds, used tea bagsall in the effort to minimize waste and to make garden fertilizer. The process transforms such food scraps, which would have normally ended up in the garbage, into a nutrient-rich mulch that can be added to soil and help you grow even more fruits and vegetables, thereby perpetuating the cycle. Now thatssustainability at its finest.

How it works

As organic materials decompose, they break down into nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassiumthe same compounds plants need to thrive. Brown matter, like dead leaves and branches, provide carbon while green matter, like vegetables and fruits, provide nitrogen. Compost piles and bins ideally consist ofthree parts brown matter to one part green matter.

When these organic materials are exposed to air and water, microorganisms likebacteria, actinobacteria, fungi, protozoa, and earthwormsstart to break them down into compost. Carbon gives these microbes energy, and nitrogen facilitatesprotein synthesisa biological process where individual cells build up their specific proteins..

After these microorganisms break down the plant matter, what youre left with is a substance calledhumus(no, not hummus) which basically looks, smells, and feels like dark, moist soil. Spread a thick layer of it on top of the soil in your garden and watch your plants flourish! (Well get to more specifics below.)

COMPOSTING BENEFITS

Reduces and recycles kitchen and yard waste

One of the greatest benefits of composting is giving food scraps and yard waste another life. Instead of going straight to a landfillwhere40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. ends uptheyll serve a new purpose and nourish your garden naturally and even help you to cultivate more food.

Good for the environment

Compost can serve as a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, which oftenseep into groundwater and end up polluting waterways.

Conditions and fertilizes soil

Compost helps give soil a softer, looser texture, which allows water and nutrients to reach the plants roots more efficiently. Its all thanks to those beneficial microorganisms, which can evenkill pathogensand prevent plant disease, according to theEnvironmental Protection Agency.

Photo Credit: Paul Delmont

WHAT TO COMPOST

Heres what can (and cant) go into your compost heap,according to the EPAandRodales Organic Life.

Brown matter

These are generally dry ingredients that are rich in carbon:

Cardboard
Corn husks
Cotton
Dead leaves
Hay
Nutshells
Paper
Pine needles
Sawdust
Shredded newspaper
Straw
Twigs
Wood ashes
Wood chips
Wool

Green matter

These tend to be wet and are rich in nitrogen:

Algae
Bread
Coffee grounds and filters
Dead plants
Eggshells
Freshwater aquarium water
Fruits
Fur
Grains (cooked, plain)
Grass clippings
Hair
Seaweed
Tea bags
Vegetables

WHATNOTTO COMPOST

These materials may be harmful to the health of your compost:

Black walnut tree leaves and twigs
Charcoal
Dairy products
Diseased plants
Dryer or vacuum lint from synthetic fabrics
Fats or oils
Glossy paper (especially with color printing)
Meat or fish scraps or bones
Pet waste

HOW TO COMPOST

Its easy to start composting at home. Whether you have a big backyard or live in an apartment with minimal outdoor space, heres how to do it.

Composting in a backyard

1. Pick a spot

The first step is to pick a dry, sunlit area outdoors and near a water source (like a garden hose). Since compost tends to be smelly, be mindful and choose a spot where the appearance or smell wont bother your neighbors. Its best to keep it far away from anywhere you eat or entertain, too. You should also avoid placing it near the house or any other wooden structures, as the decomposing materials can rot wood.

2. Dig a hole or buy a compost bin

If you dont mind letting your compost heap sit exposed, its a good idea to dig a hole in the ground to make it easier to manage. Make sure the hole measures at least 3 x 3 x 3.

You can buy a holding unit or bin at Thrive Market, likethis one here. Or you can get crafty and check out how tomake a DIY version. A closed bin with a lid also worksjust drill holes into the lid to allow air in, and add your own worms (you can pick those up at home and garden stores, too).

3. Start adding organic materials

Add compostable materials in alternating layers, starting with brown matter, then green matter, and some brown again. Try to maintain a ratio of three parts carbon (brown) to one part nitrogen (green). Too much carbon can slow down the decomposition, while too much nitrogen can make the pile slimy, smelly, and difficult to aerate.

4. Turn and add water

If you arent continually adding new matter, let it sit for five weeks. Then, turn it with a pitchfork or rake to oxygenate the mixture, and add enough water to dampen the pile. (Excess moisture hinders airflow, and too little prevents the microorganisms you need to start decomposition from thriving.) Leave it for three or four months longeritll turn into dark, moist soil, which is your key to know its ready to use.

Most people, however, tend to add new materials throughout the year. In this case, whenever you add new food waste or kitchen scraps, bury it to incorporate. Turn and moisten the pile at least every four to five weeks, but keep in mind that turning more often can really speed up the decomposition process.

Composting indoors or in an apartment

No backyard? No problem. You can make your own small-scale composting system indoorsand you dont even need worms. Heres how:

What you need

Small trash bin with a lid
Tray that fits underneath trash bin
Soil
Newspaper

Instructions

Choose a space to keep your compost bin. (Under the sink works well.)
Poke or drill a few holes on the bottom and around the rim of the bin.
Cover tray with newspaper and place the bin in the tray.
Add a layer of soil, a few inches deep, into the bin.
Add a layer of shredded newspaper into the bin.
Start adding your food scraps (green matter as listed above), along with a handful of newspaper or other brown matter as you go. (If it starts to smell bad, add more brown matter.)
Once a week, mix the pile and add a handful of fresh soil.

Youll know the compost is ready when its broken down into dark, moist soil. Use it as a top layer for potted plants or donate whatever you cant use to a neighborhood garden.

Photo Credit: Paul Delmont

TOP COMPOSTING TIPS

Here are some important things to know before getting started to make your composting a success.

Start your compost in summer:The process works best in heata compost pile that maintains an internal temperature of 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit breaks down faster.
Keep a small compost bin in the kitchen:Its a convenient way to collect food scraps without having to run out to the compost pile every time you have something to add. Once your indoor bin is filled, you can throw it all into the pile at once.
Always keep a healthy balance of of carbon to nitrogen (brown to green):Remember its three parts brown to one part green. Too much or too little of either can slow things down.
The smaller the materials, the better:Before adding things into the compost, cut them down to smaller chunks to help them decompose faster.
Dont pack too much waste in:The pile needs air to breathe.
The more green matter you use, the less water you need:Remember that too much water keeps the air from flowing freely through the mixture.
Do not compost pet waste:It can contain parasites.
Do not compost meat, meat scraps, fats or oils:Otherwise pests will come crawling and potentially spread disease through the compost.
Wormsare your friends:When these guys show up, leave them be and let them do their thing. Theyll feed on your food waste and help turn it into the beautiful compost youve been waiting for.
You can compost weeds:Just make sure they dont have seeds, or else you may get some pesky plants cropping up in your garden.
Turn your pile frequently:Aerating the compost as often as every two weeks can really speed up the process.
Keep two separate compost piles:Got a lot of organic material and extra space? Starting a second pile is handy so you can let the original one break down faster while continuing your composting habit.
Add compost to the garden two to four weeks before planting:This allows time for it to meld with the soil. Once youve got it all ready to go, its time to plant theseeds. When beautiful, bright-orange carrots grow in, youll be pretty happy you didnt trash those old peels.

Written by Emily Murphy, and reposted with permission fromThrive Market.

More From Thrive Market
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The Benefits of Raw Garlic
How to Cook Salmon

Photo Credit: Lindsay/Flickr

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Compost at Home

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Here’s Some Good News for Sexual-Assault Victims

Mother Jones

The Department of Justice announced more than $38 million in funding on Monday to help state and local agencies address the backlog of untested sexual-assault kits. The funding, part of a national initiative launched last year, will go toward increasing the inventory and the testing of kits, training law enforcement officers on sexual-assault investigations, helping police departments collect DNA that could lead to the identification of serial sex offenders, as well as several other efforts.

Sexual-assault kits, more commonly known as rape kits, are the DNA swabs, hair, photographs, and detailed information gathered from victims of sexual assault and used as evidence for the prosecution of rapists. The forensic exam can often be long—from four to six hours—and, as activists note, invasive, but it can provide key evidence for identifying assailants. But getting the contents of a rape kit tested is expensive, costing between $1,000 and $1,500 on average. Lack of funding in police departments, as well as murky protocols around testing, has created a backlog of more than 400,000 untested kits across the country, according to a 2015 estimate. As a result, victims may never see their cases prosecuted, and serial rapists could go on to commit more crimes. New York, among other states, is still in the process of counting the number of untested kits it has, while others simply do not know how many untested kits there are, according to the Joyful Heart Foundation’s Accountability Project.

This round of funding could go a long way toward helping cities and police departments close cases, identify serial offenders, and better handle sexual-assault cases in the future. (Last fiscal year, the DOJ awarded nearly $80 million in grants to state and local agencies in 27 states, but there are still states that have yet to participate in the initiative.) After Detroit received a pilot grant to test rape kits, its police department has been able to make DNA matches, identify potential serial rapists, and secure convictions against perpetrators. In a 2011-13 DOJ-funded study on rape kit testing in Detroit, researchers had found that in many cases, law enforcement stopped investigating cases after minimal effort and were biased in how they conducted sexual assault investigations, with officers expressing “negative, victim-blaming beliefs about sexual assault victims.” The DOJ later released guidance on how police departments could better address gender biases in how they investigate sexual assault and domestic violence. A study this June by Case Western Reserve University of nearly 5,000 rape kits collected in and near Cleveland found that serial rapists are more common than previous research has suggested.

Maile M. Zambuto, CEO of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a sexual-assault advocacy organization, applauded the new funding in a statement. “Testing rape kits sends a fundamental and crucial message to victims of sexual violence,” she said. “You matter. What happened to you matters.”

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Here’s Some Good News for Sexual-Assault Victims

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