benefits of plants in the office


Marcus Scribner of ABC’s ‘Black-ish’ is taking action to protect the environment

I’m sometimes asked why I’m so passionate about environmentalism, and my answer is always pretty straightforward. As a Los Angeles native, clean air to breathe and water to drink are two things I don’t take for granted. I’m 17, but I grew up hearing the horror stories about what the city used to be like: Downtown Los Angeles smothered in a cloud of smog so toxic that students had to wear masks outdoors and drink water from wells contaminated with industrial pollution.

We still have a long way to go before everyone gets the clean water and air we deserve. But I’m proud of the progress my city has made. And that progress didn’t magically happen — it came, in part, because of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A lot of people, and young people in particular, might not know much about the EPA, so here’s quick history lesson: In 1970, President Richard Nixon – a Republican — signed into law legislation that established the EPA. Back then, there was overwhelming support to protect our environment (and considering just how awful environmental pollution was back then, it’s easy to see why.) Republicans and Democrats came together to pass some of the most ambitious environmental legislation ever. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, for example, are just two of the many important laws that EPA enforces to protect human health and the environment.

Today, many people my age might assume it was always like this: that clean air and water have always been seen as a right, essential for everyone. We never saw rivers literally on fire, because they were so full of highly flammable pollution. We never saw smog so thick it billowed over cities like a fog. That is what the United States was like when my mom and dad were kids.

Continuing the progress EPA is making to clean up our country is common sense. But you may have heard not everyone in Washington feels the same way. There are some elected representatives who claim that protecting the environment must come at the expense of prosperity.

But this could not be further from the truth. There are now more Americans employed in the solar industry than there are in the coal, oil and natural gas industries combined — and in 41 states plus Washington, D.C., clean jobs outnumber those in the fossil fuel industry. The clean energy revolution will continue and its benefits will be felt beyond those who are securing jobs.

But President Donald Trump is following through on his pledge to reverse much of the progress made under President Barack Obama. Through executive orders, the Trump administration has started to dismantle many protections that are designed to cut dangerous emissions from power plants, cars and trucks and the oil and gas sector.

To make matters worse, Trump also proposed to eliminate the EPA office responsible for coordinating environmental justice programs in its entirety. Vulnerable communities from Flint, Michigan, to Spartanburg, South Carolina, have much to lose if these unconscionable cuts become reality. Mustafa Ali, who recently resigned as head of EPA’s Environmental Justice office, said it best: that to protect public health and the environment is to “make the American dream a reality for all.”

I know many young people question whether they can have an impact on the direction of our country. Believe me, I understand as well. But I know that even in these uncertain times, we can rise up and make our voices heard to our elected leaders. With the March on Science and the People’s Climate March happening on consecutive Saturdays, young people around the world are letting us know that they want to be heard.

It’s a personal mission of mine to make sure the old days never come back — it’s why I work with Defend Our Future, a campaign empowering millennials to take action to protect the environment. Defend Our Future is making it as easy as possible for you to get in touch with your elected representatives. Please take a few minutes to send your senators and representatives a message. Let them know that you want them to protect EPA and our health. Even though I can’t vote yet, I have already reached out to my local representatives, and encourage you to do so as well, because together, we can and must defend our future.

— Marcus Scribner. Marcus Scribner plays Andre Jr. on ABC’s “blackish.” He is an honor student and has been honored with the Peabody Award, multiple NAACP Image Awards and several Emmy nominations.

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So, you’ve been approached by a police officer, or two, and you have a little (or a lot) of bud on you.
What now?

Here are 5 things to remember as a cannabis user when dealing with the police:

1. Check your state laws. Is cannabis legalized for adult use or medicinally? Are you eligible to benefit? What are the maximum amounts of plants, dried flowers, and concentrate you can have? Make sure you know the current laws in your area. If you’re a medical patient, make sure to have an ID card with you and quick access to verification.

2. Beware baggies. Authority figures tend to look at baggies as an intent to sell. Try keeping your flowers in a prescription bottle, air tight jar or box instead.

3. Remember your rights! Unfortunately, in all states but California and Arizona, the smell of weed can be used as probable cause to search your car and personhood. However, according to the Fourth Amendment, you are protected from unreasonable search and seizure unless there is probable cause or a warrant. It’s important to let the officer know you do not consent to a search, even if they do so anyway.

4. Be quiet!

Outside of your name and address you are not obligated to talk to the police. The more information you give the more chances you have of saying something that might incriminate yourself. According to the Fifth Amendment you have the right to remain silent. Here are some good phrases and questions to use if stopped by the police:

 “Why did you pull me over?” 

“I’m not discussing my day.”

 “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”

 “I’m going to remain silent. I want a lawyer.” 

 5. Be nice! A calm attitude can turn a potentially nerve wracking situation with the police into a quick and uneventful one.

REMEMBER. Although cannabis is federally illegal, local and state police cannot turn you over to the feds if you are possessing, cultivating or transporting within the legal parameters of your state.

Stay safe, stay educated and stay elevated.

This is the Jiffy mascot. His name is Corny.

This is the president and CEO of the Jiffy empire. His name is Howdy. He’s the one in the middle. He’s the fourth generation to run the family business: the Chelsea Milling Company in Chelsea, Michigan. (Oh, that’s me on the left; producer/photographer/awesome traveling buddy Elissa Nadworny on the right.)

I talked Howdy Holmes into making corn muffins with me at company HQ. He was totally game, though I have to say: not a natural baker. (Sorry, Howdy!)

It was Howdy Holmes’ grandmother Mabel who came up with the idea to create the country’s first pre-packaged baking mix. The Jiffy mix came out in 1930, and the rest is baking history. I adore these little recipes Mabel jotted down in her notebooks. They’re hanging in the hall outside Howdy’s office. (I’m quite sure my grandma Val’s recipes also call for “nutmeats.”)

If you work for Jiffy, you get free mixes for life, even after you retire. The company started in 1907, and Howdy Holmes told me they’ve never laid off an employee: They’ve managed to downsize through attrition as older workers retire. The company has 311 workers now; Holmes figures with automation, they’ll be down to 240 in ten years, but will produce four times the volume. Current pay is roughly $22 an hour, plus benefits, and workers doing the same job get the same pay regardless of whether they started today or twenty years ago. 

Fun fact about Howdy Holmes: before he took over the family business, he used to be a race car driver. His Indy 500 rookie of the year plaque hangs in his office. 

You can listen to our story from the Jiffy plant and see more pictures here: 


Photos: Melissa Block/NPR


SERIE: Top 5 green roofs worldwide

The City Hall rooftop garden

Chicago’s most famous rooftop garden sits atop City Hall, an 11-story office building in the Loop. First planted in 2000, the City Hall rooftop garden was conceived as a demonstration project - part of the City’s Urban Heat Island Initiative - to test the benefits of green roofs and how they affect temperature and air quality. The garden consists of 20,000 plants of more than 150 species, including shrubs, vines and two trees. The plants were selected for their ability to thrive in the conditions on the roof, which is exposed to the sun and can be windy and arid. Most are prairie plants native to the Chicago region.

Keep reading

Life Energy of Plants in Homes

Because living things radiate a particularly strong Ch’i which is beneficial to an environment, bringing them into one’s home can welcome a good flow of energy. Placing plants around the house is the easiest way to generate such energy provided, one looks after them well.

Plants bearing dead leaves or dryness indicate a lack of health and symbolize decay, thus, bringing bad Ch’I into one’s home. If you don’t have green fingers, the answer may lie in bringing artificial plants into a house. These symbolise the Ch’I of life and can often almost be as effective as the real thing, but because they do not “breathe”, they will not stimulate the surrounding Ch’I as much as living plants.

The sort of plants you bring into a room largely depends on whether you want to encourage a greater level of Yin or Yang energy. Plants bearing angular or spiky leaves are Yang and will tend to make a room more beneficial to those who wish to be active. Plants with smooth, more rounded leaves are Yin and will contribute to a more relaxing atmosphere.

Plants can be placed almost anywhere and benefit the overall energy of a room. A Yang plant in the south eastern corner of a home office will help in increasing the wealth and creativity of a worker. Similarly, a Yin plant placed in the eastern section of a living room will encourage better family relations.

By K.Nagori

Jonathan Crane #16

In case you all needed anymore encouragement to stay away, I’m helping the Doctor here flood the sewer runoff with this sleeping powder. This powder, once dissolved, is not traceable, so it’ll reach the water recycling plants and it’ll be passed right on through for the asylum to drink at its leisure.
And for my own benefit, I’m adding a little dose of my toxin to the mix. I’ll call this experiment “Nightmare”.
In short, you all stay where you are, and nobody gets exposed this stuff. Don’t drink anything from the tap. And when I’m done, we can all get out of Arkham and show the world what staff has been doing to us.
-Jonathan Crane

UK gets first publicly available dedicated cannabis research facility

Cannabinoid biotechnology company MediPen Ltd. is launching its own dedicated 1,800ft sq marijuana research facility this summer, which will also provide a platform for anyone looking to utilise its facilities for the purposes of driving innovation around the use of medicinal cannabis.

The company, which has had big success selling non-psychoactive CBD vaporisers that users claim to have a long list of medicinal benefits, is currently in the process of securing a license from the Home Office to import and work with controlled compounds found in cannabis so it can study the plant in greater detail.

These include Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which will be studied in the laboratory with regard to cancer patients and with the aim of minimising the negative impact of existing chemotherapy-based treatments such as nausea and vomiting through its antiemetic properties, along with attempting to suppress metastasis through inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells.

Last summer, MediPen devices were tested by an NHS unit, an unprecedented step that helped increased scrutiny on cannabis’ medical benefits.

“As it stands there is a significant amount of scientific data available detailing the powerful effects of cannabinoids within cell culture systems and in vivo,” a representative told The Independent. “However, we plan to be amongst the first in the world to begin clinical trials on humans.”

GW Pharmaceuticals is also developing cannabinoid based medicine from its own facility, but MediPen’s will be a little different in its public availability, allowing use of its facilities to founders of other cannabis based innovations who are encouraged to take advantage of their established R&D network, state of the art in-house testing as well as on board business and legal advice.

*Now, even more obvious than ever before!  Texas, all the way!

The NSA Uses Powerful Toolbox in Effort to Spy on Global Networks

Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit


Google Earth

The NSA’s TAO hacking unit is considered to be the intelligence agency’s top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting.

In January 2010, numerous homeowners in San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors. They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn’t budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop 410.

n the United States, a country of cars and commuters, the mysterious garage door problem quickly became an issue for local politicians. Ultimately, the municipal government solved the riddle. Fault for the error lay with the United States’ foreign intelligence service, the National Security Agency, which has offices in San Antonio. Officials at the agency were forced to admit that one of the NSA’s radio antennas was broadcasting at the same frequency as the garage door openers. Embarrassed officials at the intelligence agency promised to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and soon the doors began opening again.

It was thanks to the garage door opener episode that Texans learned just how far the NSA’s work had encroached upon their daily lives. For quite some time now, the intelligence agency has maintained a branch with around 2,000 employees at Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio. In 2005, the agency took over a former Sony computer chip plant in the western part of the city. A brisk pace of construction commenced inside this enormous compound. The acquisition of the former chip factory at Sony Place was part of a massive expansion the agency began after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

On-Call Digital Plumbers

One of the two main buildings at the former plant has since housed a sophisticated NSA unit, one that has benefited the most from this expansion and has grown the fastest in recent years – the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. This is the NSA’s top operative unit – something like a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked.

According to internal NSA documents viewed by SPIEGEL, these on-call digital plumbers are involved in many sensitive operations conducted by American intelligence agencies. TAO’s area of operations ranges from counterterrorism to cyber attacks to traditional espionage. The documents reveal just how diversified the tools at TAO’s disposal have become – and also how it exploits the technical weaknesses of the IT industry, from Microsoft to Cisco and Huawei, to carry out its discreet and efficient attacks.

The unit is “akin to the wunderkind of the US intelligence community,” says Matthew Aid, a historian who specializes in the history of the NSA. “Getting the ungettable” is the NSA’s own description of its duties. “It is not about the quantity produced but the quality of intelligence that is important,” one former TAO chief wrote, describing her work in a document. The paper seen by SPIEGEL quotes the former unit head stating that TAO has contributed “some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen.” The unit, it goes on, has “access to our very hardest targets.”

A Unit Born of the Internet

Defining the future of her unit at the time, she wrote that TAO “needs to continue to grow and must lay the foundation for integrated Computer Network Operations,” and that it must “support Computer Network Attacks as an integrated part of military operations.” To succeed in this, she wrote, TAO would have to acquire “pervasive, persistent access on the global network.” An internal description of TAO’s responsibilities makes clear that aggressive attacks are an explicit part of the unit’s tasks. In other words, the NSA’s hackers have been given a government mandate for their work. During the middle part of the last decade, the special unit succeeded in gaining access to 258 targets in 89 countries – nearly everywhere in the world. In 2010, it conducted 279 operations worldwide.

Indeed, TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry’s BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted. Achieving this last goal required a “sustained TAO operation,” one document states.

This TAO unit is born of the Internet – created in 1997, a time when not even 2 percent of the world’s population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency. Their task was clear from the beginning – to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.

Recruiting the Geeks

To do this, the NSA needed a new kind of employee. The TAO workers authorized to access the special, secure floor on which the unit is located are for the most part considerably younger than the average NSA staff. Their job is breaking into, manipulating and exploiting computer networks, making them hackers and civil servants in one. Many resemble geeks – and act the part too.

Indeed, it is from these very circles that the NSA recruits new hires for its Tailored Access Operations unit. In recent years, NSA Director Keith Alexander has made several appearances at major hacker conferences in the United States. Sometimes, Alexander wears his military uniform, but at others, he even dons jeans and a t-shirt in his effort to court trust and a new generation of employees.

The recruitment strategy seems to have borne fruit. Certainly, few if any other divisions within the agency are growing as quickly as TAO. There are now TAO units in Wahiawa, Hawaii; Fort Gordon, Georgia; at the NSA’s outpost at Buckley Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado; at its headquarters in Fort Meade; and, of course, in San Antonio.

One trail also leads to Germany. According to a document dating from 2010 that lists the “Lead TAO Liaisons” domestically and abroad as well as names, email addresses and the number for their “Secure Phone,” a liaison office is located near Frankfurt – the European Security Operations Center (ESOC) at the so-called “Dagger Complex” at a US military compound in the Griesheim suburb of Darmstadt.

But it is the growth of the unit’s Texas branch that has been uniquely impressive, the top secret documents reviewed by SPIEGEL show. These documents reveal that in 2008, the Texas Cryptologic Center employed fewer than 60 TAO specialists. By 2015, the number is projected to grow to 270 employees. In addition, there are another 85 specialists in the “Requirements & Targeting” division (up from 13 specialists in 2008). The number of software developers is expected to increase from the 2008 level of three to 38 in 2015. The San Antonio office handles attacks against targets in the Middle East, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia, not to mention Mexico, just 200 kilometers (124 miles) away, where the government has fallen into the NSA’s crosshairs.


WHEN people put their heads together, a real difference can be made.

And this fandom doesn’t do things by halves, does it? One of the greatest things I’ve gained from becoming a Cumbercollective member is that when people have an idea - and sure, it’s with Benedict’s interestes and good causes in mind - we really go to town.
His birthday was proof enough, with the Prince’s Trust, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the ALS Foundation, mental health charities, cancer charities benefiting from huge amounts of cash, and all the Batch of Kindness activities bringing smiles and heartwarming comfort.

And just because it’s Christmas - why not do it again?

An interview with a technology magazine is what triggered it, Benedict declaring there were people behind the scenes having nervous breakdowns to keep his life organised. A twitter conversation ensued between myself, Silvia (@MsSilT) and Olivia (@frenchnavygirl), about how hard the guys behind the scenes worked.

Within a few hours, we had gone from maybe sending some chocolates and flowers round to Karon and CVGG, from organising special cards by Jackie (@enerjax), which you see here, a mental shopping trip and delivery of gifts in London by myself, and a fundraiser for homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway, in Benedict’s name.

By the time December 12 came along, we had almost £2,000 donated to St Mungo’s, charity socks bought for Benedict also benefiting homeless people, and funds to buy all the treats in London. In the space of a few hours and with the help of Christmas “elves” Rebecca, Deborah, Ollie and Lydia, we gathered a giant hamper, two bottles of bubbly and two orchid plants. The hamper and one bottle of bubbly to CVGG, the other bottle and one orchid to Karon, and the final mini orchid to Benedict’s PA, Emily.
Now, to get it to them. We had found their offices in advance, discovering they were on a side street, on the third floor of an inconspicuous building with a small door and an intercom. We were told, upon ringing, that only one person could come up. That would be me! So, armed with everything, I got buzzed in, and tackled the six flights of stairs.

To say the receptionist and the lady waiting for me looked baffled as I bundled through their door was an understatement. “So this is all for Benedict?” the receptionist said, looking at me like I was clearly mad. “Oh no, I replied, only a small part of it actually, the rest is for you guys.”

I proceeded to hand out each gift and card, indicating what went with what. They said several thank yous, I said Merry Christmas and looking around, realised that this did not happen often, if at all. I think I, on behalf of Operation Thank You, may have made a little history! I darted off within a couple of minutes of arriving, absolutely terrified of outstaying my welcome.
But please know, that the deed is done, cards have been opened, gifts passed on and, wherever Benedict is, he’ll know (if he doesn’t already), that the people of St Mungo’s have a little more cash to help those they assist at Christmas and all year round.

And that he is very much supported, and very much loved.

What a nice thing to know and feel this Christmas eh? Maybe we can do it all again next year?


Majunga Tower

The “double skin” facade offers numerous benefits: plenty of natural daylight floods into the offices, but they are also protected by an integrated sun shade system. Energy consumption is thereby cut both for lighting and air-conditioning. 

On the southern side, loggias and plants are used behind glass slats. These loggias form hollows in the facade repeated the full height of the tower, each recessed a little further than the last, contrasting with the smooth, spare surfaces of the other facades. This new typology brings an original dimension to the tower.

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Architect: Viguier