Coral Transplants Saving Damaged Reefs

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The report by Kerry Sanders was broadcast on the NBC Nightly News on June 20, 2012.
The transcript below was posted by NBC. I corrected a few typos and omissions (e.g., the posted transcript omitted that much of the funding had come from private grants), but I have not checked the whole transcript.

>>> In Florida tonight the race is on to save a precious natural resource, coral reefs. we can sometimes forget they are living things. after being damaged by everything from rising ocean temperatures to storms and fishing nets, environmental experts are stepping in big time to help. our report from nbc’s kerry sanders.

>> reporter: a quarter mile off the coast of fort lauderdale, down 25 feet so the seabed, scientists have taken a tiny experiment that began more than six years ago and turned it into a massive accomplishment.
>> no one thought it was possible. we proved them wrong.
>> reporter: corals, impossible to ongrow artificially in the environment are now thriving. researchers say it’s a very simple idea, coral is grown in an underwater nursery, then it’s harvested. i joined the team snipping two-inch long cuttings, like pruning a rose. with a nail glued into the rhinestone they are held in place. zip ties hold the ties to the nail. in two weeks the coral has anchored itself growing in the very spots where it was disappearing. from the coast off south florida as far south as the virgin islands, the first 8,000 coral can you get are taking hold saving endangered elkhorn and stag horn coral.
>> after it was listed it helped our funding.
>> reporter: Funding came from private grants and even federal stimulus money to protect this natural resource, prized for supporting an abundant fish life and attracting tourism.
>> They protect our coastlines from storms, without these reefs breaking up wave energy, our erosion on the beach would be much more substantial.
>> reporter: Coral making a comeback one clipping at a time. Kerry Sanders, NBC News off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.

As of 6/21/2012, the video clip was posted at:

Sam Walton Was “America’s Greatest Entrepreneur of the Twentieth Century”

(p. 194) Sam Walton is my pick for America’s greatest entrepreneur of the twentieth century.
He not only built the world’s largest retailing empire and the single most valuable company in America, he created the institution with the greatest muscle to do good today.

Wyly, Sam. 1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire. New York: Newmarket Press, 2008.

“A123 Systems” Battery Company Is Another Example of Failed Industrial Policy

The YouTube video embedded above was from a CBS Evening News broadcast in June 2012. It illustrates the difficulty of the government successfully selecting the technologies, and companies, that will eventually prove successful. (The doctrine that government can and should do such selection is often called “industrial policy.”)

The Obama administration has bet billions of tax dollars on lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles that A123 Systems won $249 million of. But as Sharyl Attkisson reports, expensive recalls and other setbacks have put substantial doubt in the company’s ability to continue.

The text above, and the embedded video clip were published on YouTube on Jun 17, 2012 by CBSNewsOnline at

Electric Car “Hype is Gone” and Challenges Remain

(p. 7) . . . is this what an emergent technology looks like before it crosses the valley of death?
“Face it, this is not an easy task,” said Brett Smith, assistant research director at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “You still have an energy storage device that’s not ready for prime time. You still have the chicken and egg problem with the charging infrastructure. That’s not to say it’s not viable over the long run. But the hype is gone and the challenges are still there.”
The market for all-electric and plug-in electric cars in the United States is tiny, amounting to fewer than 20,000 sales last year out of total light-vehicle sales of 12.8 million. Even in optimistic forecasts, plug-in vehicles will account for less than 5 percent of the global market by 2025.

For the full commentary, see:
JOHN BRODER. “NEWS ANALYSIS; The Electric Car, Unplugged.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., March 25, 2012): A8.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: online version of the commentary is dated March 24, 2012.)

Crop Insurance Is Worse for Taxpayers than a One-Time Bailout

GrasslandBurnedInNorthDakota2012-06-11.jpg “A grassland field in North Dakota that was burned and then seeded with soybeans. More than one million acres have become farmland in the state since 2007.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A13) By guaranteeing income, farmers say, crop insurance removes almost any financial risk for planting land where crop failure is almost certain.

“When you can remove nearly all the risk involved and guarantee yourself a profit, it’s not a bad business decision,” said Darwyn Bach, a farmer in St. Leo, Minn., who said that he is guaranteed about $1,000 an acre in revenue before he puts a single seed in the ground because of crop insurance. “I can farm on low-quality land that I know is not going to produce and still turn a profit.”
. . .
Environmentalists, hunting groups and even some farmers say the prospect of expanding insurance will only speed the push to turn grasslands into farms.
. . .
The existing crop insurance subsidy ballooned to $7.3 billion last year from $951 million in 2000, or about $1.2 billion adjusted for inflation, according to another G.A.O. report released in April. The costs of the program have risen as the value of crops has increased. Over the next 10 years, a Congressional Budget Office study estimates, the premium subsidy for the existing program will cost about $90 billion.
“This is better than a government bailout,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of the Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group in Washington. “A bailout is a one-time thing when something bad happens. But crop insurance keeps giving, good or bad. And it’s about to give even more.”

For the full story, see:
RON NIXON. “Amid Growth, Plan to Insure Risks on Crops.” The New York Times, First Section (Thurs., June 7, 2012): A1 & A13.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article has the date June 6, 2012 and has the title “Crop Insurance Proposal Could Cost U.S. Billions.”)

Ben Franklin Stores as Incubators of Retail Success

(p. 192) The chain was called Michaels. I’d never heard of it but, as George related its ancestry, I became more and more intrigued. You see, once upon a time it had been a Ben Franklin store, and therein lies a story.
Back in 1877, Edward and George Butler, brothers from Boston, came up with a new concept for retailing. Instead of setting up a specialty shop to sell one line of items–like shoes or dresses or kitchen supplies–they set up a store where they could sell all sorts of stuff. This was the very beginning of department stores, except that they weren’t yet called that. They were called variety stores, and they carried a large assortment of low-cost goods. Then the Butlers set up a “five-cent counter,” where everything cost a nickel. It worked in Boston, so they expanded westward and called it Ben Franklin Stores.
Three-quarters of a century later, in the days when America was just starting to move westward with the automobile, there were no shopping malls or big national retail chains. What you found in every town, especially in small-town America, was a variety store, like Ben Franklin’s. In Lake Providence, we had Morgan and Lindsey’s, where you could buy everything from paper napkins to thimbles, birthday cards, curtain hooks, and boxes of chocolates. The Butlers’ idea of a nickel counter became so popular and widespread that these places came to be nicknamed “five-and-dimes” or “five-and ten-cent” stores.
(p. 193) While some of them became the heart of Main Street America, others grew to become legendary department stores, like Macy’s in New York, Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia, and Lehman’s in Chicago. Still others merged into chains to compete with Ben Franklin Stores. That’s how JC Penney’s was born.

Wyly, Sam. 1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire. New York: Newmarket Press, 2008.

Same Government that Allows Violence, Prioritizes Taxing Soda

BoozeCourtlandRichmondCityCouncil2012-06-11.jpg “One vocal opponent of the tax is Courtland Boozé, a City Council member who calls it a hardship on poor people.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 14) Even here at a sweaty Zumba class sponsored by a nonprofit group called Weigh of Life, the city’s proposal for a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which is to appear on the November ballot, meets up against the hard realities of residents’ lives.

“What don’t I have?” asked Rita Cerda, a longtime soda devotee, ticking off her ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. She is also overweight.
“I have problems drinking water,” she said. “I don’t like water.”
The proposed tax, a license fee on businesses selling sweetened drinks, would require owners of bodegas, theaters, convenience stores and other outlets to tally ounces sold and, presumably, pass the cost on to customers.
. . .
Courtland Boozé is a City Council member and a vocal opponent of the soda tax. “We are primarily an economically suppressed community,” he said. “It will be a huge hardship.
“I eat sweet potato pie and candied yams,” continued Mr. Boozé, who is from Louisiana. “And what about cupcakes? Are they going to tax those?”
The city’s Chamber of Commerce is also opposed to the tax. A group fighting the tax that includes the beverage industry has begun dropping off “Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes” placards at La Flore de Jalisco Market, a small, cheerful grocery store where soda bottles in dozens of hues match the colorful piñatas hanging from the ceiling.
. . .
Charles Finnie, known as Chuck, a vice president of BMWL, a San Francisco lobbying firm, called the tax “an administrative nightmare for local businesses” that would also put them at a competitive disadvantage, with customers opting for cheaper soda in nearby cities.
. . .
At the RYSE Youth Center, founded 12 years ago after the killing of four high school students, the soda issue seemed both close to the heart and far away.
Kayla Miller, an 18-year-old college freshman, said that if complexion problems from too much sugar would not deter her friends from drinking sodas, neither would a tax.
Shivneel Sen, 14, does not favor the tax but knows how the money should be spent if it passes.
“The police came heck of late,” he said, recalling the recent death of a best friend. “We need more of them.”
Kimberly Aceves, the center’s executive director, says that too often, the burden for making healthy choices falls unfairly on young people. Society may say “go exercise,” she said, “but if the community isn’t safe, how many kids are going to go out running?”
“Soda is bad for you,” Ms. Aceves said. “So is violence.”

For the full story, see:
PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN. “RICHMOND JOURNAL; Plan to Tax Soda Gets a Mixed Reception.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., June 3, 2012): 14.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article has the date June 2, 2012.)