China Is Re-assigning 60,000 Troops — To Plant Trees

By  Amanda Froelich Truth Theory

Good news — China is about to get a whole lot greener. According to a source in the Central Military Commission, a large regiment of the People’s liberation Army, in addition to the nation’s armed police force, have been withdrawn from protecting the northern border. Their new task? To plant trees.

The new forests will cover an area approximately 84,000 square kilometers in size — roughly the size of Ireland — in 2018. The goal is to increase forest coverage to 23 percent of total landmass by 2020. The current forested area stands at 21 percent, according to China Daily.

Asia Times reports:

“The armed police force has a specially designated forestry branch to patrol and exercise jurisdiction in forested areas such as the northeastern Greater Khingan mountain range – dubbed ‘China’s green lungs’ – in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia provinces.”

In a meeting last week, Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration, said that China aims to grow at least 6.66 million hectares of new forest this year alone. Around 208 million hectares are now forested in China; 33.8 million hectares have been added in the past five years.

To benefit citizens who are plagued by air pollution in Beijing, the Hebei province will increase its total forest coverage to 35 percent by the end of 2020. The bulk of the province’s troops will also be pulled back from the frontlines to assist in reforestation efforts.

Much of the smog that blankets northern China in cold seasons is sourced from Beijing. Three years ago, the Chinese city announced a plan to lay off 300,000 soldiers and PLA personnel. They have since been re-assigned to non-military positions, which include planting trees and “revving up key state-level infrastructure projects,” reports the Asia Times.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

Source: Asia Times

Image Credit: China Daily

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Tesla building virtual solar/battery ‘power plant’ using 50,000 homes

Tesla already ‘killed the duck’ with its gigantic battery in South Australia. Now it’s looking to capitalize on that success, this time doing so by building a ‘virtual power plant’ of solar arrays plus battery storage on at least 50,000 homes across South Australia.

Egadget reports that the installations will each involve a 5kW solar array plus Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries, and that the project will begin with 1,100 public housing homes, but will be rolled out to the full 50,000 homes in the next few years.

It’s a pretty bold move, and may help to stabilize a grid that now gets close to 50% of its electricity from wind (remember when we got excited about 20% renewable energy in SA in 2008?!). The project is being financed in part by government grants and loans, which no doubt will raise the hackles of naysayers. But given how heavily coal, natural gas and nuclear have been subsidized by governments across the world, I would personally argue that – now that decentralized energy is increasingly cost competitive – it makes a whole lot more sense to support projects that will directly benefit low income families’ bottom lines and help them to gain financial independence.

I’m sure policy makers everywhere will be watching this initiative with interest. If it really does help stabilize the grid, then I would not be at all surprised to be similar project cropping up elsewhere.

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Corrupt Cops Admit To Keeping BB Guns to Plant On Unarmed People They Kill


Baltimore, MD — (ZH) Over the past year, the Baltimore Police Department has undoubtedly gained national attention in a corruption scandal involving the Gun Trace Task Force, running wild on the streets of Baltimore.

Members of this elite group were charged with “racketeering and other corruption, accused of robbing citizens, making illegal arrests and filing for thousands of dollars in overtime they never worked,” said the Baltimore Sun.

Maurice Ward, one of the Gun Trace Task Force detectives, took the stand Tuesday in the case of officers Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor who were charged with robbery, extortion, fraud and firearm charges.

Ward’s testimony provided a somewhat shocking account of how detectives used GPS locators to follow drug dealers, and then, eventually rob them of their cash and drugs.

According to the Baltimore Sun, here are some notable and shocking moments from the testimony during Tuesday’s proceedings:

Ward testified that his squad would prowl the streets for guns and drugs, with his supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, driving fast at groups of people and slamming on the brakes. The officers would pop their doors open to see who ran, then give chase and detain and search them. Ward said this occurred 10 to 20 times on slow nights, and more than 50 times, “easy,” on busier nights.

The officers had no reason to target the crowds other than to provoke someone who might have drugs or a gun into running. “A lot of times” guns and drugs were recovered in this way, Ward said.

Ward said Jenkins liked to profile certain vehicles for traffic stops. Honda Accords, Acura TLs, Honda Odysseys were among the “dope boy cars” that they would pull over, claiming the drivers weren’t wearing seat belts or their windows were too heavily tinted.

Ward said Jenkins also believed males over the age of 18 carrying bookbags were suspicious and attempted to stop them.

Jenkins would portray himself as a federal agent, telling drug dealers that he was taking their money and drugs but would let them go because they weren’t his ultimate target.

Ward said the officers used illegal GPS trackers to follow the movements of some targets.

Jenkins would ask suspected drug dealers, “If you could put together a crew of guys and rob the biggest drug dealer in town, who would it be?” The officers would use the answers to determine who to target, Ward said.

In Ward’s testimony, he described some detectives carried around fake guns to plant on suspects in case they got into a jam. He further detailed an incident where detectives stole $100,000 from an illegal search of a home. The testimony shows detectives were in the game of robbing drug dealers, but on a positive note, the task force removed plenty of guns from the war-torn streets.

Ward said the officers kept BB guns in their vehicles “in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them.” He did not say whether the officers ever planted a BB gun on anyone.

In one incident, police took a man’s house keys, ran his name through databases to find his address, went into the home without a warrant and found drugs and a safe. The officers cracked open the safe, which had about $200,000 inside. They took $100,000 out, closed the safe back up, then filmed themselves pretending to open it for the first time. “Nobody touch anything,” Jenkins can be heard saying on the video, which was played for jurors.

After the man’s arrest, Jenkins listened to the man’s calls made from jail. He was discussing the officers taking his money, and said he wanted to hire a good lawyer to go after them. Ward said Jenkins determined the man’s wife was arranging his legal matters, and wanted to cut her out. They wrote a note purporting to be from another woman, saying the man had gotten her pregnant, and left it in the man’s door, Ward said.

Later, Ward said Jenkins contacted him about wanting to rob the man again. They met at an apartment, where Jenkins and Detective Daniel Hersl sipped Twisted Teas and discussed a robbery. Another time, he proposed a different robbery, and showed the officers a large black bag that was full of balaclava ski masks, black clothing and shoes. Another bag contained tools such as a crow bar, battering ram, and a rope with a grappling hook. “I didn’t understand that part,” Ward said of the grappling hook. Both bags were emptied out for jurors in the courtroom.

A federal prosecutor described the elite team of Baltimore detectives as a “perfect storm” of corruption in the opening arguments at the Gun Trace Task Force trial on Tuesday.

Justin Fenton, a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun provides more updates on the ongoing trial:

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Re: Algeria rejects Israeli equipment for power plant

Algeria’s Energy Minister said on Thursday that his ministry has rejected equipment made in Israel for the power plant in the city of Boutelis, agencies have reported. Mustapha Guitouni said that the equipment arrived in the country mistakenly, but his ministry took the issue “seriously” and “professionally”.

He accused a British company of deceiving the Algerian Sonelgaz Company by claiming that it was dealing with a French company. The minister noted that an internal investigation revealed the fact that the equipment was Israeli.

Guitouni also said that the Algerian power company had filed an official complaint against the French-American manufacturer Cegelec/General Electric, which was responsible for importing the equipment.

An MP from the Islamic Coalition Bloc in the Algerian Parliament, Lakhdar Bin Khallaf, was the first to raise the issue of the Israeli equipment, because Algerian law criminalises any normalisation and dealing with Israel or Israeli companies.

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Re: Algeria rejects Israeli equipment for power plant

Algeria’s Energy Minister said on Thursday that his ministry has rejected equipment made in Israel for the power plant in the city of Boutelis, agencies have reported. Mustapha Guitouni said that the equipment arrived in the country mistakenly, but his ministry took the issue “seriously” and “professionally”.

He accused a British company of deceiving the Algerian Sonelgaz Company by claiming that it was dealing with a French company. The minister noted that an internal investigation revealed the fact that the equipment was Israeli.

Guitouni also said that the Algerian power company had filed an official complaint against the French-American manufacturer Cegelec/General Electric, which was responsible for importing the equipment.

An MP from the Islamic Coalition Bloc in the Algerian Parliament, Lakhdar Bin Khallaf, was the first to raise the issue of the Israeli equipment, because Algerian law criminalises any normalisation and dealing with Israel or Israeli companies.

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Fully Charged reviews the plant-based Impossible Burger

There was a time when renewable energy folks focused on renewable energy. Bike folk focused on bikes. And electric car folks focused on electric cars. But I think that times may be changing. Our fellow TreeHugger Derek Markham—for example—recently wrote an excellent piece on lab grown meats for Cleantechnica, a site I tend to go to for Tesla and wind turbine related news.

The latest example of such crossover comes from Robert Llewellyn and Fully Charged, which usually focuses on wireless charging of electric cars, solar powered greenhouses and autonomous buses. This time, however, he filmed himself eating a burger. The Impossible Burger, to be precise, which is a fairly tech-focused take on eating less meat.

Like our very own Katherine’s review of the Impossible Burger here, Robert comes away mostly impressed and suggests its a tasty and mostly passable analog for its meat-based inspiration. But the big question will be whether this—and the whole host of other plant-based alternatives to meat and fish that Impossible Foods plans—could one day convince carnivores to adopt a planet friendlier diet.

Now, as someone who has been eating a lot more plants lately, I will say I approach this topic with caution. After all, rather than replacing fast food burgers with fast food veggie burgers, we’d probably do well to eat a lot more vegetables first. That said, however, I have always had a hard time imagining our convenience-focused culture converting en masse to brown rice and salad.

The sheer amount of coverage that the Impossible Burger has gotten might actually be testament to why it’s important. There appears to be a recognition among many that too much meat is neither sustainable nor healthy, and yet we are having a hard time ditching this staple of our culture. If the high-tech, analog approach can serve as a gateway drug to more plant-based eating, then it will be doing every single one of us a huge favor.

In the meantime, enjoy watching Robert Llewellyn talking with his mouthful. And consider supporting his efforts with by pitching in on Patreon.

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Campbell shutting down Toronto soup plant, cutting 380 manufacturing jobs

The Campbell Soup Company’s longtime Toronto manufacturing plant will close down within the next 18 months.

The soup giant says it will move its headquarters to a new location in the Greater Toronto Area after the closure, but 380 of the company’s current 600 jobs will be “impacted.”

“The decision to stop producing soup and broth in Canada was a difficult one,” said Campbell executive Mark Alexander. “After a thorough review, we decided this was the best course of action for our business.”

The company says the Toronto closure is necessary to improve its operational efficiency, citing a challenging retail environment that has seen volume declines of canned soup in North America.

Campbell says several factors have resulted in excess capacity in its North American supply chain network, and that due to its size and age the Toronto plant cannot be retrofitted in a way that is competitively viable.

Local councillor Mark Grimes tweeted Wednesday that the news was a “devastating” blow for Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

“I personally have many close, personal friends who work at this facility. I am truly saddened to hear this news, and want to extend my sympathies to all the employees and families that will be affected by this closure,” Grimes said in a statement. “This is a truly sad day for the Lakeshore community.”

The company says soup and broth production at the Toronto facility will be moved in phases over the next 18 months to three plants in North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

Campbell says it will move its current Canadian headquarters and commercial operations at the Toronto facility to a new location in the Greater Toronto Area, which will feature a new food innovation centre.

“The Centre will develop new recipes that will continue to be tailored to Canadian tastes and preferences,” Campbell’s spokesperson Alexandra Sockett said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The company says the Toronto closure is necessary to improve its operational efficiency, citing a challenging retail environment that has seen volume declines of canned soup in North America. (CBC)

It says about 200 jobs out of the nearly 600 positions at the Toronto facility will be relocated to the new headquarters.

In a statement, Mayor John Tory said he extended his sympathies to those affected by the closure and added that he was assured by Campbell Canada president Ana Dominguez that the company “will be helping their employees as much as much as possible over the coming months.”

“It was simply put a situation where we can produce a lot more soup than what we can actually sell,” Dominguez said, adding that consumption of canned soup has declined by 30 per cent over the last 10 years

Being the oldest and smallest of the facilities, she said, it was decided that the one in Toronto would need to be closed.

Dominguez says no one will lose their job right away, and that the closure will take place over a period spanning 18-months.

The company will include severance packages based on service, as well as help with resume preparation and job fairs.

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A Solar Power Plant Is Being Built In Chernobyl, Ground Zero

By Fattima Mahdi Truth Theory

What was once a fallout zone, after the catastrophic explosion had plagued the Ukrainian atmosphere, has now become the site for an Ukrainian-German renewable energy project called Solar Chernobyl. It will be a 1MW (megawatt) plant, with 3,800 photovoltaic panels. The structure spans two football pitches in size,“This solar power plant can cover the needs of a medium-sized village”, said Yevgen Varyagin, head of Solar Chernobyl.

The company already has a 4.2MW plant in the Republic of Belarus, a neighbouring country, however, their latest Chernobyl project is one of 60 proposals recognised by the Ukrainian government since the land around the destroyed nuclear power plant was made safe for such developments. A steel shelter was constructed around the infamous nuclear plant in 2016 to contain further fall-out. In fact, Solar Chernobyl’s panels had to be installed on concrete slabs as the soil is still contaminated, making drilling and digging into the ground forbidden. Despite the extra measures, building at the site proved convenient for Solar Chernobyl, as they were able to utilise the nuclear power plant’s already established connection to the power grid following completion of their structure. “Bit by bit we want to optimise the Chernobyl zone,” Said Yevgen Varyagin. “It shouldn’t be a black hole in the middle of Ukraine.”

Other companies and authorities in the Ukraine are also looking to take advantage of the wide expanse of land that was once quarantined.

Read More: South Australia Is Building The World’s Largest Thermal Plant

Image Credit: Wikimedia

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‘Vegan For Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & In-Between’ (book review)

America’s Test Kitchen does not simply exchange vegan ingredients for non-vegan ones, but starts from scratch to figure out the best alternatives.

There’s nothing like a new cookbook to get me excited, especially one that teaches new techniques and pushes my culinary boundaries. The latest book to join my collection is Vegan For Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between, published in 2017 by America’s Test Kitchen.

After cooking quite a few recipes from it and seeing how seamlessly they fit into my family’s not-usually-vegan diet, I can agree with the title, that this book truly does make veganism appealing to all.

The recipes are great. They are hearty, interesting, and packed with flavor. My fears of yet another salad-and-smoothie vegan cookbook were quickly allayed by names such as Pinto Bean and Swiss Chard Enchiladas and Tofu Ranchero.

It’s a vegan cookbook that allows me to satisfy the bottomless pits that are my family. The kids were big fans of the Butternut Squash Chili with Quinoa and Peanuts, a dish my husband said was even tastier than the peanut stew he orders from a local restaurant. I can’t get enough of the rich Vegan Shepherd’s Pie, with onion- and olive-oil-infused mashed potatoes on top of a tomato-wine-carrot sauce made meaty with ground soy.

Because so much of vegan cooking is about replacing traditional animal-based ingredients, it often results in compromised textures, especially in baking, where eggs and dairy play a major role. In keeping with America’s Test Kitchen’s trademark inquisitive style, the cookbook creators have gone to great lengths to figure out the best possible methods for replacing animal products.

The authors don’t shy away from speaking their preferences on brand names and explaining why they don’t choose certain, more common vegan substitutes. For example, when it comes to egg substitutes, they don’t recommend powdered egg replacer, tofu, or applesauce, as these make baked goods “pasty, wet, and heavy.” Instead, they are big fans of ground flaxseed, baking powder and soda, and — most curiously — aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas, that can be beaten just like egg whites to stiff peaks. It works well enough even to make meringues!

Vegan for Everybody© America’s Test Kitchen — Experimenting with aquafaba in the test kitchen

From a media release:

“One of our biggest takeaways: Simply exchanging vegan ingredients for nonvegan ones doesn’t cut it. When swapping in dairy-free milk and store-bought vegan cheese for our Fettuccine Alfredo yielded bland, grainy results, we blended cooked cauliflower and cashews into a silky, decadent but not heavy sauce.”

When it comes to baking, I was especially impressed by the Fudgy Brownies, a recipe that typically requires many eggs, but in this case relies on a small quantity of baking powder to give it some lift.

While the book has the usual grain bowls, stir-fries, and curries I’ve come to expect from every vegan cookbook, it goes above and beyond that. The breakfast offerings are diverse, including a variety of baked goods (waffles, pancakes, scones) in addition to tofu-vegetable scrambles and frittatas.

The pasta section is impressive, with vegan versions of lasagna, mac ‘n cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, even fettucine alfredo. Clearly the cookbook authors have not shied away from recreating classic foods, no matter how dependent on animal-based products their traditional versions are.

If you’re looking for your next vegan cookbook, or simply wanting to incorporate more plant-based food into your diet, this is a good choice. With beautiful food photography and clearly written directions, the recipes are a real pleasure to use. That’s why I’ll keep reaching for this book when planning my family’s meals.

Vegan for Everybody, $29.95

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California Is Shuttering The Last Nuclear Power Plant In The State

California regulators voted unanimously Thursday to shutter the state’s last nuclear power plant by 2025.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear facility is scheduled for an incremental shutdown, phasing out Unit One in 2024 and Unit Two in 2025. The plant produces about 18,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power 1.7 million homes and nearly 10 percent of California’s energy mix.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to close the nuclear plant as the federal licenses for each unit expire, and move the state toward 100 percent renewable energy.

“With this decision, we chart a new energy future by phasing out nuclear power here in California,” CPUC President Michael Picker said, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. “We’ve looked hard at all the arguments, and we agree the time has come.”

Expecting to close the plants when the federal leases ran out, the PGEC had brought together environmental groups and local officials in 2016 to construct a plan for the CPUC to review and approve. The PGEC plan requested $85 million in mitigation funding for communities reliant on nuclear power and $363.4 million for PGEC staff retention and retraining.

The plan passed by the CPUC gave PGEC a reduced $222.6 million and did not include any of the community mitigation money, most of which was for cities and school districts. The commission said the mitigation money was best awarded through the legislature, not forced onto ratepayers.

“We’re disappointed. The County worked with a broad community and business coalition to develop a program that would help us protect local public health, safety and economic stability,” County Administrative Officer Wade Horton said in a press release sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Local officials are now exploring avenues to secure the mitigation funding through the California legislature, Assistant County Administrative Officer Guy Savage told TheDCNF.

Diablo Canyon employs 1,500 workers as the county’s fourth largest employer. It adds about $1 billion into the local economy annually.


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