Archive for July, 2008

Making the Shift to Sustainability

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Matthew Stein, author of When Technology Fails: Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, just posted a new article on The Huffington Post.

From the article:

These days, most people sense that our world is off balance and that we are sliding steadily towards some dark abyss. It can be hard to keep a cheerful positive outlook when you consider just these three signs of trouble:

1. Recent record high oil prices may be just the beginning of never-ending price escalations as increasing demand for oil (China and India are growing at about 10% per year) collides with global oil production that has been pretty much flat for the past three years, and shows all the warning signs of impending decline (Peak Oil).

2. Even the best-case projections from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) indicate that escalating natural disasters exacerbated by global climate changes may be enough to bankrupt many nations over the course of the next few decades.

3. Roughly 90 percent of the large commercial fish (swordfish, marlin, tuna, shark, etc.) have disappeared from the oceans over the last fifty years and it is projected that current trends will result in the collapse of all commercial seafood species in the oceans by the year 2048.

I hate to break it to you, but simple steps, like changing your light bulbs and driving a hybrid car, though they are good steps in the right direction, will not be enough to save our world from collapse. If we consider “Plan A” to be business as usual, which is currently consuming, depleting, and poisoning the natural systems that maintain life on Earth, then we might call a sustainable alternative “Plan B”. It has been estimated that a viable Plan B could be implemented by diverting just 1/6th of the world’s current military expenditures to supporting and implementing the sweeping changes needed to shift our world’s course from collapse to sustainability. Are we that stupid, short sighted, or selfish that we can’t devote this much to saving our planet?

Read the whole article here.

Video: The Zero X Electric Dirt Bike

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Those of you who already know me know that I am many things. I am an eco-geek—I love lowering my carbon-footprint. I am “outdoorsy”—I love camping, hiking, and bicycling. And I am an avid motorcyclist—both on- and off-road.

And if you REALLY know me, then you also know that—for the life of me—I cannot keep two pennies in my pocket if there’s a shiny new “toy” on the showroom floor. So when I tell you I want one of the new Zero X all-electric dirt bikes, you should know that the motorcycling eco-geek lust boils in my blood with the power of a thousand suns.

While I research price, availability, and shipping costs, take a look at this video about the Zero X from the LA Times.

Now as the video below will prove, this bike has the power and torque necessary to be a rugged dirt bike. However, with such battery power and easy charging, why not swap the knobby tires for road rubber, and string it with lights and directionals? Making this bike road-legal would transform it into the perfect electric commuting motorcycle—it would have the distance range necessary for rural commuters, and the “oomph” and grit necessary for urban traffic environments.And now for all of you out there who doubt the bike’s power and revolutionary battery system, here’s proof that this is no two-wheeled golf cart.

Recipe: Basic Sourdough Starter

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

The following recipe is from Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Katz.

Starting a sourdough is as easy as mixing flour and water in a bowl and leaving it on the kitchen counter for a few days, stirring as often as you think of it. The yeast is there and will reveal itself. The work is in maintaining the sourdough and keeping it alive and fresh. A sourdough starter requires regular feeding and attention, not unlike a small pet. Potentially you could pass it on to your grandchildren. I have never kept one going for more than a year at a time, fickle lover of travel adventure that I am. But luckily, sourdoughs are easy to start, so I keep starting new ones. Here is the process I use.

TIMEFRAME: About 1 week


  • Flour (any kind)
  • Water
  • Organic plums, grapes, or berries (optional)


  1. In a jar or bowl, mix 2 cups (500 milliliters) each of water and flour. Do not use water that smells or tastes heavily chlorinated. Starchy water from cooking potatoes or pasta is rich in nutrients that yeasts like, and can be used (cooled to body temperature) instead of plain water. I generally use rye flour because I love all-rye bread, but the flour of any grain will do.
  2. Stir the mixture vigorously. One effective technique for speeding up the introduction of wild yeasts into your sourdough starter is to drop a little unwashed whole fruit into it. Often on grapes, plums, and berries you can actually see the chalky film of yeast (“the bloom”) that is drawn to their sweetness. These and other fruits with edible skins (not bananas or citrus) are great for getting sourdoughs bubbling. Use organic fruit for this. Who knows what antimicrobial compounds could lurk on the skins of the fruits of chemical agriculture?
  3. Cover the jar with cheesecloth or any other porous material that will keep out flies but allow the free circulation of air.
  4. Store your batter in a warm place (70° to 80°F/21° to 27°C is ideal, but work with what you have) with good air circulation. Visit your batter as often as you think of it, at least daily, and stir it vigorously. Agitation distributes yeast activity and stimulates the process.
  5. After some number of days you will notice tiny bubbles releasing at the surface of the batter. That is how you can tell the yeast is active. Note that the action of stirring the batter may create some bubbles. Do not confuse these with the bubbles the batter produces when you are not actively introducing air into the mixture. The number of days it will take for yeast to become active in your batter will depend upon environmental factors. Every ecosystem has its own unique microorganism populations. This is why sourdoughs from specific locations can be so distinctive. Can you guess where Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis is found?
  6. Many cookbooks recommend starting a sourdough with a pinch of packaged yeast to get the process going more quickly. I myself prefer the gratifying magic of the wild yeasts finding their way to the dough. If you do not find bubbles forming after 3 or 4 days, try to find a warmer spot. Or add a commercially available sourdough starter or a pinch of packaged yeast.
  7. Once yeast activity is evident, strain out the fruit. Then add 1 or 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 milliliters) more flour to the mixture each day for 3 or 4 days, and continue stirring. You can add any kind of flour, leftover cooked grains, rolled oats, or whole grains. You are now feeding the sourdough. The batter will get thicker, and start to rise, or hold some of the gas the yeast releases, but you want it to remain essentially liquid in form. Add more water if the sourdough gets so thick that it starts to cross over into solidity.
  8. Once you have a thick, bubbly batter, your starter is ready to use. When you use it, pour out what you need and be sure to save some of the starter in the jar to keep the sourdough going. All you need is a little; what remains on the edges of the jar will suffice. To replenish the starter, add water roughly equal to the volume you removed for bread (2 cups/500 milliliters for most of the recipes in this book) and the same volume of flour. Stir well and leave it in a warm place to bubble. Keep it going by feeding it a little flour every day or two if you are baking at least weekly. If you use it less frequently you can refrigerate it (thus slowing the yeast’s activity). It is best to refrigerate sourdough after the replenished starter has had at least 4 to 8 hours of active bubbly fermentation. A refrigerated starter still needs to be fed once a week or so. A day or two before you plan to bake, move the starter from the fridge to a warm location and feed it, to warm it up and get the yeast active again.

Maintaining a Sourdough Starter

Your sourdough starter can live forever, given regular attention. Replenish it with water and flour every time you use it. Feed it a little fresh flour every day or two. If you go away, feed your sourdough, let it ferment for a few hours, then cover and refrigerate. Sourdough can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks, or frozen for longer periods. If you neglect your sourdough, it may get very acidic, then eventually putrid. Up to a point, sourdoughs can be easily revived by feeding them fresh flour. Other organisms dominate after the yeast has consumed all its nutrients. But the yeasts remain present and can usually return to dominance when nourished.

A Gardening Tip: Pinching Flowers to Prolong Bloom, When and How

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

The following gardening tip is from The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers by Lynn Byczynski.

Pinching can be used to increase yield and to prolong bloom. It can be an important strategy for the commercial cut-flower grower, so it’s useful to understand how and when to do it.

When growers talk about pinching flowers, they are referring to the practice of cutting off the top of a flower stem. A “soft pinch” removes just the growing tip (officially called the apical meristem) and less than an inch of stem. A “hard pinch” removes several tiers of leaves and several inches from the top of the stem. When you pinch a plant, it sends out new stems below the spot where you pinched it. By cutting off the growing tip before it has a chance to bloom, you stimulate the plant to branch and send up multiple stems that bloom at the same time. An unpinched snapdragon, as an example, will send up one flower stem. A snapdragon that is pinched when young will send up multiple flowers. It may seem obvious that you should pinch snaps in order to get more flowers, but not everyone does. That’s because there’s a trade-off in height and earliness—unpinched snaps are taller and bloom earlier than pinched snaps. Pinching, then, can be a way of extending the bloom time of a specific flower; you can leave some unpinched for an early crop and pinch the rest for later blooms.

The concept behind pinching is pretty simple, but the practice gets complicated. Some flowers should never be pinched. Those that grow from a rosette of leaves, such as statice, don’t benefit from pinching and will, in fact, become misshapen if you do pinch an emerging stem. Others get too tall and lanky if you don’t pinch them; chrysanthemums and dahlias are good examples. Sometimes seedlings start to bloom in the plug tray, and you have to pinch off the flowers before planting them outside so they will send up new flower stems. (It’s often easiest to shear off the tops of the whole flat with sharp scissors.) Sometimes nature, in effect, pinches your young plants for you: When wind, cold, or hail kills the growing tip, the plant will often branch lower on the stem and rebound, looking much fuller.

When your information reference recommends pinching, it usually will tell you whether you should do a hard or soft pinch, and at what stage in the plant’s development. If there is no mention of pinching, don’t be afraid to experiment on your own. Pinch one side of the bed and leave the other side unpinched, and see if it makes a difference. As with so many things about flowers, local conditions will determine the best practices. The important thing to remember is that plants want to grow, and you probably aren’t going to hurt them by pinching them—or by not pinching them. Even if you forget to pinch, you can usually compensate by cutting a long stem of the first flower that blooms in the center of the plant. That effectively removes the apical meristem, forcing the plant to send out branches lower down on the stem. Those eventually will grow just as tall as the central stem, and you’ll still get multiple blooms from each plant.

Ten Facts About the Water We Waste

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

As the globe’s temperature rises and the earth’s weather patterns go haywire, water is quickly becoming a hot topic in the US and elsewhere. Floods are sweeping through new areas, while others are drying out faster than ever. We’ve long had the luxury of holding a cavalier attitude about the water we use, and more often than not that attitude has led us to unnecessary waste and pollution of our water.

Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert, authors of Water: Use Less—Save More, have assembled some facts about our water use that may surprise you.

From Water: Use Less—Save More:

  1. Americans now use 127 percent more water than we did in 1950.
  2. About 95 percent of the water entering our homes goes down the drain.
  3. Running the tap while brushing your teeth can waste 4 gallons of water.
  4. Older toilets can use 3 gallons of clean water with every flush, while new toilets use as little as 1 gallon.
  5. Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water each year.
  6. A garden hose or sprinkler can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in one day.
  7. A water-efficient dishwasher will use as little a 4 gallons per wash cycle, whereas some older models use up to 13 gallons per cycle.
  8. Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by over-watering.
  9. Many people in the world exist on 3 gallons of water per day or less. We can use that amount in one flush of the toilet.
  10. Over a quarter of all the clean, drinkable water you use in your home is used to flush the toilets.

For tips on how to reduce the amount of water you use and waste, see Water: Use Less—Save More, by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert.

Cartoon: The Birth of Greenwash, Inc.

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Dennis “I am Batman” Pacheco just posted a new comic on his blog here at Chelsea Green. It is an “origin story,” of sorts. It details the birth of Greenwash, Inc.—a company that wants so-very-much to get on board the green movement.

The third installment of our cartoon series: Greenwash, Inc.

(Click here for a larger version.)


Project: Stay Cool this Summer with a Horizontal Trellis

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Stephen and Rebekah Hren, authors of The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit, are full of an astounding number of great tips to reduce energy consumption. This one is not only a great way to reduce your summer cooling costs, but also is a fun project that will improve the look of your house or apartment. Below Stephen and Rebekah outline their plans for a vine-covered horizontal trellis that will block the high summer sun’s direct light from pouring into your home, but will still allow the low winter’s sun to warm your windows.

Have fun!

Building a Horizontal Trellis for Shading

Renter friendly.

  • Project Time: An afternoon.
  • Cost: $50–200, depending on size.
  • Energy Saved: High. Shading, especially of windows, is extremely effective at reducing interior temperatures in summertime.
  • Ease of Use: Harvesting fruits can be somewhat more difficult when they are high up over windows.
  • Maintenance Level: Low. A well-constructed trellis could need some occasional tightening, and the climber will need some annual pruning.
  • Skill Levels: Carpentry: Basic.
  • Materials: 9-gauge galvanized or 121/2-gauge hightensile fence wire, trellis brackets (enough for every 10 feet or less), spring tighteners, washers.
  • Tools: Drill, wire cutters, needle-nose pliers, adjustable wrench or ratchet set, pilot drill bit for lags.

Building a well-functioning deciduous trellis for shading passive solar glazing is much simpler than building a permanent overhang. Even if you’re just shading eastern or western walls, a wire trellis has the advantage of not only being long-lasting but also letting all available sunlight strike your home and enter any windows in morning or afternoon during winter. Concerning southern applications, since the deciduous vine will lose its leaves as the sun sinks in the sky in autumn and the solar gain becomes necessary, an accurate calculation of the horizontal overhang for shading purposes is not necessary. Generally, 2 feet of overhang for a one-story wall will provide plenty of shading during the hotter summer months as well as plenty of sun for your vine’s happiness and well-being.

The basic components of a trellis system are shown in figure 10.9.

Making brackets. Trellis brackets can be purchased from garden supply stores or made out of a few sections of 2 °— 12 and 2 °— 4, which, if not a moisture-resistant wood, should be protected from the weather with some linseed oil or primer and paint. Cut out something curvy (see figure 10.10) with a jigsaw, making a pattern with some cardboard first. Finish out the bracket with a 2-foot piece of 2 °— 4 on the two straight sides, using several 31/2-inch exterior screws. This bracket will require eyeholes to be placed in the top of the bracket for holding wire. Note that wire must be used and not lathing as is the case with many trellises, as the lathing will block too much sun in the wintertime. For more durable assembly, use stainless-steel components (including the wire) instead of galvanized.

Assembling the trellis. Assembly of the trellis system is relatively straightforward, although a few points are crucial. The trellis brackets must be secured by lag screws into the structural members of your home, not just into the siding. If your home is made of masonry, thread cement screws through predrilled holes in the mortar. For wood-frame houses, find vertical studs by looking for the line of nails in the siding, making sure to get purchase for all of the required lags in the trellis bracket. For the bracket described above, drill through the vertical section of the 2 °— 4 next to the attached 2 °— 12, making sure to leave space for a washer. At least two 5-inch lags should be used to provide plenty of purchase through the 2 °— 4 and weatherboard into the actual stud. For metal brackets shorter lags can be used.

Attaching the wire involves threading two sections starting at each end and meeting in the middle at a spring tightener, which will keep your trellis wire from sagging, when your grape or passionflower is laden with fruit, for example. The wire can be held in place at the ends by wrapping it numerous times around a washer that is larger than the hole in the bracket or simply being tied through the eyehole. Thread the two wires into the spring tightener and ratchet it tight.

There are other methods for tightening wire, including Daisy tighteners and Hayes-style Strainers. Tension springs are the most commonly available, at least where we live, but any style can be used.

Windbreaks and Other Landscaping Considerations

Much literature has been devoted to landscaping strategies that involve tall deciduous trees on the east and west side of homes for summertime shading. While this is certainly effective, it blocks many other solar options from being pursued. The roof can no longer be used for photovoltaic or solar hot-water or air systems, and large amounts of gardening and orchard space are lost as a result. Large trees are not a good match for tighter urban spaces, as they also undermine home foundations, underground sewer and plumbing lines, and sidewalks and streets and can foul rainwater- catchment systems, as well as shading any of your neighbor’s attempts at PV or solar hot water. The same cooling effects can be achieved by other strategies while maintaining your access to the sun (see chapter 7).

For windbreaks on the northern and sometimes western sides of houses, evergreen trees can be used to greatly reduce heat loss by reducing the wind load. Again, keep your neighbor’s solar gain in mind as these trees mature. Consider smaller trees or harvesting larger trees if they get too tall. For a windbreak to be effective, there needs to be foliage near the ground.

Tree windbreaks are most effective when what you are trying to protect is 8 to 10 times farther away than the trees are tall, although they are still effective much closer in. Medium density is preferred, meaning about half of the wind is allowed through (this corresponds to how much light is allowed to pass through when looking at a stand of trees, so it’s not too hard to make a visual estimate by looking at the branches of a mature specimen of the type of tree you are considering planting). If you’re using very dense trees like red cedars, you’ll want to have some space in between your trees. Otherwise, turbulence can develop downwind of the break and reduce its effectiveness. Keep in mind that red cedar can cause apple and other blights. Check the compatibility of your evergreens with any fruit trees you’re thinking about planting.

Generally, a great many trees are planted initially and then thinned as they grow. Alternately, a quickgrowing species like Leland cyprus is planted for quick effect, and a row of slower-growing spruce, fir, holly, et cetera, is planted beside it. The Leland cyprus is then harvested once the slower, growing species grows tall enough.

There are at least a dozen species of pine nut that produce excellent edible seeds, can do double duty as a windbreak, and grow in almost every zone. The Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) is the most widely cultivated in the United States. Pine nuts are harvested from the cones and contain up to 31 grams of protein per 100 grams, the most of any nut. Many of these species will eventually grow very tall, upwards of 100 feet, and lose their windbreaking characteristics although their food production will be going strong. The dwarf Siberian pine (Pinus pumlia) tops out at 9 feet, although it is much less frequently cultivated.

Trellising Walls as a Windbreak

Alternatively, you can create a windbreak right where it’s needed, on the northern wall of your house. An effective way to do this is either by planting evergreen shrubs on the north side and keeping them pruned or by creating a trellis and growing evergreen vines. Keep in mind that the north side of your home is the most vulnerable to insect damage, especially termites. You never want to create a permanently damp area on any side of your home, but the northern side is the most vulnerable, the northeast corner especially so. The idea is to greatly reduce the airflow between your home and its coldest side, not eliminate that flow altogether. This is something that will require annual maintenance, usually an early spring pruning. For shrubs, prune off the lowest branches so the bottom part of your home can dry out.

If your northern wall is masonry, dampness is much less of a concern. What is a concern in this regard is the poor insulative value of masonry in general if your wall is, indeed, solid masonry and not just a veneer. If it is solid, you want to build up as many layers of vegetation as possible to actually create stagnant air gaps that provide insulation. Vining is an easy and effective method for accomplishing this. Greater care needs to be taken with facade masonry walls, by far the more common type in the United States, to ensure that the interior wood wall is not getting damp.

For masonry walls, English ivy (Hedera helix) is a common choice as an evergreen vine, although as previously mentioned it can be very aggressive. Variegated or duckfooted cultivars are showier and easier to contain. For the vertical trellis described below, native honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) or evergreen clematis makes a good choice. Remember, in climate zones colder than 8, evergreen vines are for northern vertical trellises and deciduous vines are for all others in order to allow winter passive solar gain. Also, wire trellises are best for twining or tendril-type vines.

Ten Guidelines to Successfully Storing Your Garden Produce

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

The following garden produce storage tip is from How to Store Your Garden Produce: The key to self-sufficiency by Piers Warren.

  1. Harvest produce for storage in its peak condition.
  2. Handle produce carefully – bruised fruit and vegetables will rot quickly.
  3. If you have to process your produce in some way before storage (e.g. the freezing of peas) do this immediately after harvesting, as enzymes can get to work very quickly and reduce the quality of the product.
  4. Some varieties store better than others – if you are growing some crops for storage, research your varieties first.
  5. Do not store near strong-smelling substances or hazardous chemicals – often a problem when storing in a garage or garden shed. Creosote-flavoured potatoes are not my favourite.
  6. Always label any stored produce with a description of contents and the date of preserving or storing.
  7. Check your stored produce regularly – remove any that is rotting to reduce the chance of it spreading.
  8. Plan what you store (and therefore grow) according to your family’s tastes. There’s little point in storing twenty pumpkins if your family is bored with eating them after two or three.
  9. The priority should always be to EAT the freshest produce while fresh, then store the excess. If you have a freezer full of year-old broccoli, you have simply grown too much broccoli.
  10. As well as storage techniques, extend your growing season, if you can, using a greenhouse, polytunnel and/or cold-frames. You will be eating fresh produce for longer, and can grow a wider range of varieties.

Maine Takes the Lead on Combating Chemicals

Monday, July 28th, 2008

As Mark Schapiro details in his book Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power, the EU is light-years ahead of the US in terms of regulating product chemical safety. The EU’s precautionary approach prevents harmful chemicals from being used in products before death and sickness. The US allows harmful chemicals to be used in products even after death and sickness while evidence is collected and proof is established—a process which often requires decades.

Apparently, the toxin-filled citizens of the US are taking notice and taking action. Take, for example, Hannah Pingree. Hannah is the majority leader of Maine’s House of Representatives. Recently, as an article on Reuter’s points out, Hannah “was so alarmed when she learned she had dangerously high levels of mercury, arsenic and other toxic chemicals in her body that she took her case to the Maine state legislature and challenged chemical makers.”

From the article:

As the majority leader of Maine’s House of Representatives, she sponsored legislation that gave the state the authority to broadly identify and investigate “chemicals of high concern” in consumer products, particularly those that may reach children.

The bill, signed into law in April, makes Maine the first U.S. state with such authority and could serve as a model for other U.S. states trying to fill a regulatory void left by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Just five chemicals out of 82,000 known to be hazardous to human health, for instance, have been banned by the EPA since 1976, the most recent being asbestos in 1989.

Maine’s law coincides with mounting concerns in the United States over chemicals found in everyday products, from cars to clothes, and follows similar European Union laws.

The EU in 1999 banned phthalates — chemicals used to make plastic more flexible — and last year implemented a law known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) that requires businesses to prove substances in everyday products are safe and submit data about them.

Maine’s bill echoes the EU approach. It requires makers of toxic chemicals to notify state authorities of the quantity and purpose of the chemicals and work to develop safer alternatives.

Experts are watching to see if Maine’s law will lead to tougher measures nationwide, while an organization representing chemical manufacturers expressed concern that layers of new state-by-state regulations could hurt the industry.

Under the law, Maine will test chemicals and issue a “certificate of non-compliance” to manufacturers stating their chemicals do not meet state laws. The state can notify retailers the product contains toxic chemicals and legislation can be approved to ban its sale.

Read the full article here.

Kudos to Hannah Pingree and Maine for getting taking the lead in US product safety. If you’re interested in seeing a similar law passed in your state, call your state representative and let him or her know about Maine’s new law—reference this article in your conversation.

Let us know the response in the comments below.

Censorship of the Media’s War Coverage

Monday, July 28th, 2008

The New York Times recently reported on the story of one embedded journalist who was stripped of his access to covering the war because he published photos of dead American soldiers from the platoon he was with. As the article points out, after five years of war, it is difficult to find more than a half-dozen photographs of dead American soldiers. Obviously, photographs of dead American soldiers are ones that no one wants to see. But the fact that these images are so scarce after five years, 4,000 deaths, and over 30,000 wounded underscores the point that the American people are not being told the true cost of the war. It is being hidden from view. Which, as the article points out, is a complex issue.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Kael Alford, Thorne Anderson, and Rita Leistner are war photographers who published one of the first photography books covering the cost—and the human side—of the Iraq war. See Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq for more.

From the article:

If the conflict in Vietnam was notable for open access given to journalists — too much, many critics said, as the war played out nightly in bloody newscasts — the Iraq war may mark an opposite extreme.


While the Bush administration faced criticism for overt political manipulation in not permitting photos of flag-draped coffins, the issue is more emotional on the battlefield: local military commanders worry about security in publishing images of the American dead as well as an affront to the dignity of fallen comrades. Most newspapers refuse to publish such pictures as a matter of policy.

But opponents of the war, civil liberties advocates and journalists argue that the public portrayal of the war is being sanitized and that Americans who choose to do so have the right to see — in whatever medium — the human cost of a war that polls consistently show is unpopular with Americans.

Journalists say it is now harder, or harder than in the earlier years, to accompany troops in Iraq on combat missions. Even memorial services for killed soldiers, once routinely open, are increasingly off limits. Detainees were widely photographed in the early years of the war, but the Department of Defense, citing prisoners’ rights, has recently stopped that practice as well.

And while publishing photos of American dead is not barred under the “embed” rules in which journalists travel with military units, the Miller case underscores what is apparently one reality of the Iraq war: that doing so, even under the rules, can result in expulsion from covering the war with the military.

“It is absolutely censorship,” Mr. Miller said. “I took pictures of something they didn’t like, and they removed me. Deciding what I can and cannot document, I don’t see a clearer definition of censorship.”

Read the full article.

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