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Monthly Archives: May 2013

The president accidentally tells the truth.

Obama at yesterday’s press conference regarding Benghazi:

“We’ve got a whole bunch of people in the State Department who consistently say, ‘You know what, I’m willing to step up, I’m willing to put myself in harm’s way because I think this mission is important in terms of serving the United States and advancing our interests around the globe.’”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/13/obama-republicans-dishonor-benghazi-victims-with-political-circus/

So what about the “humanitarian intervention” bullshit that you gave us when you decided to go in and ruin Libya?  I thought that was what the whole decimate-Libya thing was about.  And weren’t we there to “make life better for Libyans” than what they had under the “evil despot” Ghaddafi?  You mean to tell us that Libya was really about advancing US interests all along?

Imagine that.

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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Libya, MIC

 

The dynamic duo.

When last we saw our heroes, Obama and Holder, Barack Obama was assuring the students at Ohio State that their government has only their best interests at heart and that they should not despair.  Rather, they should participate fully.  Vote early and often.  After all, this country is all of us working together for the common good, rumors to the contrary.

[Teri’s note: First, the obligatory salute to the warrior class.  It must be pointed out, since we all – including Obama himself – seem to have forgotten, that the president is the Commander in Chief to the Armed Forces.  If you are not in the military, he is not your Commander in Chief, he is your President.]

[…] Consider that today, 50 ROTC cadets in your graduating class will become commissioned officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. (Applause.) A hundred and thirty of your fellow graduates have already served — some in combat, some on multiple deployments. (Applause.) Of the 98 veterans earning bachelor’s degrees today, 20 are graduating with honors, and at least one kept serving his fellow veterans when he came home by starting up a campus organization called Vets4Vets. And as your Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of all of you. (Applause.) […]

Now, if we’re being honest with ourselves, as you’ve studied and worked and served to become good citizens, the fact is that all too often the institutions that give structure to our society have, at times, betrayed your trust. In the run-up to the financial crisis, too many on Wall Street forgot that their obligations don’t end with what’s happening with their shares. […] [Teri’s note: And Wall Street is quite satisfied that the rest of us have forgotten their obligations, malfeasance, crimes, grift and theft.  Luckily for Wall Street, Obama and Holder have complete amnesia about the whole state of affairs as it was then, and willful blindness as to what it is now.]

And that’s precisely what the Founders left us — the power, each of us, to adapt to changing times. They left us the keys to a system of self-government, the tools to do big things and important things together that we could not possibly do alone — to stretch railroads and electricity and a highway system across a sprawling continent. To educate our people with a system of public schools and land-grant colleges, including The Ohio State University. To care for the sick and the vulnerable, and provide a basic level of protection from falling into abject poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth. (Applause.) To conquer fascism and disease; to visit the Moon and Mars; to gradually secure our God-given rights for all of our citizens, regardless of who they are, or what they look like, or who they love. (Applause.)[…]  [Teri’s note: Well, ain’t that a hoot coming from the guy who signed the sequester and the “fiscal cliff” bills, gave the insurance and pharma industries carte blanche on making as much cash as possible from a captive income pool, and is trying to gut social security, medicare, and sell off the TVA.  He is also attempting to fast-track the TPP, a trade agreement that totally relinquishes our national sovereignty to corporate power.  See: http://economyincrisis.org/content/the-trans-pacific-partnership-would-destroy-our-national-sovereignty]

Where we’re going should give you hope. Because while things are still hard for a lot of people, you have every reason to believe that your future is bright. You’re graduating into an economy and a job market that is steadily healing. […]  [Teri’s note: Numbers?  You want numbers?  We can make up any numbers you want – we got accountants!  Twenty-four point six, that’s a good number.  Hey, we can give you forty-two – that’s the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything in it.  How about a quadrillon – that’s a great number!]

“The founders trusted us with this awesome authority. We should trust ourselves with it, too. Because when we don’t, when we turn away and get discouraged and cynical, and abdicate that authority, we grant our silent consent to someone who will gladly claim it,” he said. “That’s how we end up with lobbyists who set the agenda; and policies detached from what middle-class families face every day; the well-connected who publicly demand that Washington stay out of their business — and then whisper in government’s ear for special treatment that you don’t get.”[…]  [Teri’s note: The man knows of which he speaks.]

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/05/06/transcript-obamas-commencement-speech-at-ohio-state/

A day or so later, he followed up this fine, fine speech with a little hint that he may be open to backdoor internet wiretaps of everyone all the time.

United States President Barack Obama is likely to endorse a Federal Bureau of Investigation effort that would ensure all Internet companies in the US provide a way for the government to conduct undetected, backdoor surveillance.[…]

http://rt.com/usa/obama-internet-wiretap-surveillance-009/

Eric Holder, for his part, was revealing plans to use his good offices to sue the arch-criminal, Lance Armstrong, on behalf of the citizens of the United States, who have been much abused by this nefarious character.
http://news.msn.com/us/government-sues-armstrong-over-usps-sponsorship-money

Ah, but today, the dynamic duo wants you to know that they have Justice in their Hearts and the Sword of Righteousness in their Hands.  For, lo, Holder and Obama are coming to the defense of a person badly wronged a few years ago.  They would like to correct his sentence, which was obviously and egregiously too harsh, by reducing his sentence by ten years.  Considering that the criminals doing the same fucking thing as he did in the intervening years since his sentencing have never even faced charges, this is the only reasonable thing to do.  USA number one!  Go, go, Team Justice!  Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers!

“The Obama administration’s Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has reached a deal with Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief operating officer of Enron that would see him released from jail as early as 2017, ten years ahead of his original sentence.”

A deal?  What deal, you ask?  How do you “cut a deal” with someone who has already been sentenced, you might wonder.  Well, see, the poor fellow had been ordered to pay $40 mm or so in restitution (a joke of a settlement, in any case), but does not have to pay it as long as he still has appeals pending.  So Holder and Obama, ever so bright and so solicitous of the public weal, are offering him a deal wherein he ends his appeal processes and actually pays the restitution in exchange for ten years off his sentence (currently being served at Club Fed).

[…] Skilling was found guilty in 2006 of conspiracy, insider trading and multiple charges of securities fraud relating to the collapse of Enron in 2001. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined $45 million.

Along with former CEO Kenneth Lay, who died in 2006, Skilling systematically defrauded investors and siphoned money from millions of people by manipulating energy prices and employing false accounting. Among its many crimes, Enron defrauded the state of California out of billions of dollars during the 2000-2001 energy crisis by creating artificial energy shortages and jacking up prices.Enron’s bankruptcy in December 2001 led to thousands of layoffs, the collapse of the company’s stock price and the loss of billions of dollars by investors, including many of the company’s own employees.

Two billion dollars in employee pensions were wiped out, as well as $60 billion in stock. Five thousand employees lost their jobs, and 20,000 people lost their entire life savings. […]

The fine leveled on Skilling was a fraction of his salary at Enron, which in 2001 alone was $132 million. Now the government is allowing him to leverage his vast personal fortune, amassed through fraud, in order to get out of jail sooner.

As a multi-millionaire, Skilling was afforded every opportunity of legal defense, with multiple appeals, including a hearing before the Supreme Court. The ongoing legal procedures kept the $40 million in restitution he owed to his victims from being seized.[…]

http://wsws.org/en/articles/2013/05/10/skil-m10.html

What a thing of beauty it is to see the law work in such delicate and nuanced fashion.  Solomon, I tell you, King Solomon himself, with God whispering in his ear, could not surpass the wisdom and righteousness of either Holder or Obama.  Together, they are simply unstoppable.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in corporatocracy, Wall St and banks

 

Colony collapse.

Or: Honey bees versus the stupid humans who take care of them.

All of a sudden, the media has noticed that honeybees in the US are dying off.  This may be because the EU has decided to ban neonicotinoids for a two-year period, in the hopes that the bee colonies will magically recover, while the EPA and the USDA in the US need more time to think about the situation.  Like, when the last bee expires, they will do an necropsy on him and commission the National Geographic Channel to present a special.

All the articles I have been reading lately discuss the problem with two details most prominently displayed: one; the articles only talk about commercial bee hives and two; the economic impacts are brought up ad nauseum.  I am here to tell you that there is a problem with wild bees in the US, too.  My neighbor and I are not bothering to plant gardens this year and did not last year, either.  There are no pollinators.  The gardens we worked so hard on two summers ago produced next to nothing.  This was after years of generous successes – the problem was not in our skill level or willingness to work.

I don’t think that there is one simple answer to the bee collapse.  I think about cell towers and wonder if the signals affect the bees’ homing instincts.  And what of our (bad) habit of mono-cropping?  Bees need a variety of nectars each season to stay healthy, but we plant the same crops in the same fields year after year.   Nor do I think that the media or the EPA is much worried about the wild bee populations.  Those little bees only pollinate our home truck gardens and do not affect the GDP – so who cares?  Which brings me to the second item covered in these articles, and the one most important to the guys in charge: the money angle.  There is not one thing in the US that is worthy of attention unless it has an “economic impact”.  Poor people dying for lack of food or more people going hungry due to rising food costs are subjects rarely touched upon – as a matter of fact, I don’t recall any recent article which mentions these points.  On the other hand, these may actually be considered positives.  A few less poor people hanging around looking wan has a salutary effect on the bottom line if you are one of those who thinks that way.  Colony collapse of a different species, is all.

Here is a typical article:

US honey bees have been dying by the tens of millions, with annual death rates of about 30 percent. With fewer bees to pollinate fruits and vegetables each year, ‘beemageddon’ may soon cause the collapse of the agriculture industry.

Honey bees pollinate more than 100 US crops, including apples, zucchinis, avocados and plums, that are worth more than $200 billion a year. Since 2006, about 10 million bee hives at an average value of $200 each have been lost in what scientists call the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), according to a new report by the US Department of Agriculture. There are currently about 2.5 million honey bee colonies in the US, which is a drastic decrease from the 6 million that existed in 1947 and the 3 million that existed in 1990. Last winter alone, the honey bee population declined by 31.1 percent, with some beekeepers reporting losses of 90 to 100 percent.

In the previous two winters, beekeepers lost about 22 percent of their populations. “Currently, the survivorship of honey bee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of US agricultural crops,” the USDA report states. […]

But with a bee shortage that gets worse every year, many of the almond orchards will never be pollinated, which could eventually cause a global almond shortage and economic consequences for the US.

The USDA knows how the agriculture industry will be affected by the large-scale bee die-offs, but does not know why exactly they are dying in such numbers. The report cites “multiple factors… including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure”, while also citing last summer’s drought as a contributing factor. […]

But US officials have stated that they don’t have enough evidence to ban neonicotinoids. And with a drastically decreasing honey bee population, ‘beemageddon’ might be just around the corner.“We are one poor weather event or high winter bee loss away from a pollination disaster,” Jeff Pettis, the USDA’s bee research leader, said in the report.

http://rt.com/usa/bee-pollination-disaster-food-959/

The following is from a petition I received from Credo Action yesterday:

Honey Bees are dying at an alarming rate, and this winter marked the worst losses by far. U.S. beekeepers reported that as many as 50% of their bees disappeared or died.

Last week, the European Union took a major step to protect its bee population – placing a two-year ban on the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which many scientists think are a major factor behind the alarming rate of colony collapse.

But the U.S. is still finding excuses for inaction. The USDA just published a study claiming that neonicotinoids are in fact the least important in a long list of contributing factors to bee die-offs.

With the health of our bee populations – and the estimated $15 billion in agricultural benefits they provide – on the line, it’s time for the EPA to stop ignoring the science, and follow the EU’s lead.

What is still a mystery to U.S. regulators appears to be abundantly obvious to our bees: these pesticides are deadly for honey bee hives.

Incredibly, in many hives that have died-off, the bees themselves appear to have identified the threat of pesticides and taken measures to protect their hives – physically sealing off hive cells full of pollen that contain dramatically higher levels of pesticides than neighboring cells.

While the bees make emergency – and unfortunately, insufficient – efforts to save their hives, it’s the same old story from U.S. regulators, who have been continually handing the reins to the industry since the EPA first approved the pesticide clothianidin against the warnings of its own scientists in 2003, just a few years before bees began dying off in large numbers.

Now, the EPA says that it needs to keep studying neonicotinoid pesticides for two more years. We can’t wait that long.

-credo action

Pesticide use is generous in Australia, but they do not seem to have the bee die-off problem that the US and the EU are experiencing; as a matter of fact, commercial bee-keepers in the US are importing bees from Australia in an effort to keep the crops pollinated one more year at a time.  Why is this?  One answer may be found in an article that is guaranteed to be widely ignored:

Much of the food that fills your dinner plate can only be produced with the help of a highly managed insect species: the western honey bee. Many farmers actually rent commercial colonies to unleash on their fields when the crops are in bloom. Such pollination services rake in $14 billion a year in the United States.

But honey bee populations have plummeted in the last half decade as worker bees have mysteriously flown off and never returned to the hives—a phenomenon now called Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists are stumped. Some blame malnutrition. Others point fingers at pathogens. Perhaps it’s pesticides. New research has identified a particular chemical in pollen that may finally provide an answer.

Western honey bees have a taste for a range of nectars, so they are exposed to many different chemicals in and on the plants they pollinate. In addition, commercial hives are often treated with insecticides to kill parasitic mites. The trouble is that the western honey bee doesn’t have a lot of defenses: only 46 of its genes (about half that of most insects) can metabolize these potentially dangerous chemicals.

Even more important than how many genes the bees have is knowing what kicks these genes into gear. For the first time, researchers have identified the chemicals that regulate these genes, and have determined that many bees raised in commercial colonies don’t get enough of them.

The researchers identified a handful of chemicals that boost these detoxifying genes. The most potent was an acid called p-coumaric acid, which is found in pollen grains. By eating honey, which contains traces of pollen, the bees become less susceptible to the range of pesticides and pathogens they encounter on their pollinating exploits.

Wild bees are normally raised on honey, so there is no shortage of p-coumaric acid in their diets. But commercial colonies raised for agricultural pollination aren’t so lucky. To cut costs, many bee keepers harvest and sell the honey their bees produce and instead feed the growing bee babies high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners. While nutritionally comparable, the researchers say these sugars lack essential chemicals like p-coumaric acid. […]

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/04/30/honey-may-be-bees-best-medicine-for-colony-collapse-disorder/#.UYetVEp5Joh

To cut costs, many bee keepers harvest and sell the honey their bees produce and instead feed the growing bee babies high fructose corn syrup…”

Kind of takes the breath away, doesn’t it?  There is simply no creature on earth like homo sapiens sapiens (genus americanus).

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in big ag/pharma, environment