Thursday, March 31, 2016

Damage to Syrian Antiquities is Extensive

Although the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra is still mostly intact, minus a few important structures like the Temple of Bel, Severus' Arch of Triumph and the Temple of Baalshamin, the recapture of Palmyra by the Syrian army has revealed extensive destruction of priceless antiquities housed in the city's museum [photo]. A Syrian TV crew entered the museum on Sunday and found the floor covered in pieces of statutes destroyed by the militants. Some of the damage may have been caused by an artillery shell, probably from government forces, but a statue of Athena was found decapitated, most likely the result of deliberate disfigurement.  Twenty other statutes were found intact but vandalized.  A famous lion statute from the second century thought to have been destroyed was damaged, but it can be restored according to conservationists. Before the city fell to ISIS ten months ago, archaeologists and officials were able to remove some 400 statutes and hundreds of artifacts for safe-keeping.

The level of destruction and vandalism inside the museum is said to be extensive. One official surveying the destruction called it a "10 out of 10". ISIS follows a severe interpretation of Islam that allows it to declare the preservation of ancient images and statutes 'idolatrous', but it has also profited from trading captured artifacts in the global black market. The hard work of cataloguing the remains and restoration can now begin. But one person who had spent years studying the ancient city and its contents will not be able to help. Khaled al-Assad, the archaeological site's director was beheaded by ISIS for refusing to reveal the location of some rescued treasures

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Corporate Mass Media Ignores Sanders

The corporate media black-out of Bernie Sanders' campaign for president is becoming laughable to US Person.  Not only do they not carry his victory speeches while lavishing attention on every tit for tat of the Repugnant boys for president, they wait until the next day to report his sweep of three western states by large margins.  The brief mentions the socialist does get are essentially opportunities to repeat the mantra that Hillary Clinton leads in the number of the pledged delegates, and that Sanders has no hope of peeling away Democratic establishment votes represented by so-called 'super-delegates'.

Sanders' double digit wins in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington cut into Clinton's delegate lead by over 22% reducing it to a single digit.  Seventeen hundred fifty delegates remain to be awarded.  Further, the wins prove that Sanders appeals to voters in ethnically diverse states.  Sanders won the Washington caucus by a whopping 73%.  Clinton's lead is mostly composed of wide margins in several southern states with large black populations: Florida, Mississippi and Georgia.  Sanders was able to split the delegate award in populous Midwestern states like Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Michigan.  Of the southern states won handily by Clinton only Florida stands a chance of being carried by the Democratic presidential candidate in the general election.  The fact is Hillary Clinton suffers from a self-inflicted, rather glaring credibility gap .  Polls consistently show Sanders doing better against Trump than the former Secretary of State.

Sanders needs to do well in the east where he has already won his home state of Vermont, New Hampshire Maine and splitting Massachusetts.  He has challenged former New York Senator Hillary Clinton to another debate before the New York primary on April 19th. So Sanders has a way to go before he can mount a convention attack on the establishment delegate vote, but he is not out of the race by any imagination.   Except perhaps the imagination of the corporate hacks reading the news.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Vaquitas Pushed to Brink

Vaquitas are the worlds smallest cetacean and live only in the Gulf of California.  They are also the world's most endangered marine mammal.  Poachers who gill net for totoaba illegally in the gulf are netting vaquitas too.  The pint-sized porpoises--their name means "little cow"--are faced with extinction after 80% have died as bycatch at the hands of greedy fishermen.  Fewer than 100 remain in the wild and could disappear by 2018 according to US Fish & Wildlife biologists.

Vaquitas are secretive, sightings are very rare, causing some fishermen to claim the porpoise is already extinct.  They have a charming face with mouths and eyes outlined with a darker shade of grey.  Unfortunately they inhabit a restrictive range with the totoaba, a large migratory fish hunted for its swim bladders that fetch $20,000 each becuase the organ is considered a delicacy by Chinese. Depsite efforts of the Mexican government to control gill net fishing for totoaba and expanding the protected reserved at the head of the Gulf of California, the vaquita population continues to decline along with the totoaba stocks.  Fishing for totoaba was banned in 1975.  A resurgent Chinese economy in 2011 reignited the demand for swim bladders or "money maw", a popular ingredient in soup, and halted a temporary decline in the rate of vaquita population loss.  The local source of fish swim bladder was wiped out by Chinese demand.  Easy money made by illegally hunting totoaba could not be resisted by poor Mexicans not wanting to get involved in the drug trade.  Fines for illegal possession of swim bladders can be as low as $500.  The vaquita's lost rate topped 18% annually.  By 2012 just 97 vaquita remained alive.

Personal intervention by the Mexican President resulted in the establishment of more protected areas of the gulf.  Stepped up enforcement by the Mexican navy using advanced technology and more boats has slashed the number of illegal gill-net boats.  A proposed law making fish poaching and smuggling a felony on par with drug trafficking is pending, but not a high-priority agenda item.  But as long as the market for totoaba bladders exists in China, there will be a conservation problem in the gulf.  A recent investigation by Greenpeace found 13 Hong Kong shops selling Jin Qian Min.  According to the investigators most of it was being bought not for consumption, but by businessmen for commodity speculation!  It takes six years for a vaquita to reach sexual maturity and they only breed every other year.  To replace the vaquitas lost already, will take about forty years.  Unless conservation efforts are rapidly concentrated on saving the vaquita, it will go the way of the baiji, the Yangtze River dolphin, the first cetacean to be extinguished by man.

Friday, March 25, 2016

'Toontime: Oh Yeah? My Wife is Hotter!

credit: Matt Davies
US Person does not know if the Republicans' discussion of the political issues is more frightening than their infantile bickering, but at least there is not a lot of it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chinese Smugglers Get 35 Years

Two Chinese ivory smugglers posing as garlic importers were sentenced on March 18th to 30 years each for smuggling ivory from Tanzania and another 5 years each for attempting to bribe officials. The sentences are believed to be the harshest every handed down by an African court for ivory poaching. One of the convicted criminals appeared to faint in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down. The men can avoid jail time if they pay a fine of $25 million. They were convicted of illegally possessing 706 pieces of elephant tusk weighing 1.8 metric tons; according to the presiding magistrate that is equivalent to 226 elephants. Tanzania lost 892 elephants in national parks to poachers during the period 2010-13. The pair were arrested in Dar Es Salaam in 2013. The ivory was found in garlic sacks stashed in the house were they lived. Investigators worked for months following tips that large quantities of elephant ivory were being shipped to Chinese brokers in the city.  Prosecutors said there was sufficient information to believe the convicted Chinese nationals were ring leaders of a criminal poaching syndicate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

France Moves Forward to Save Bees

More: Researchers at the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture have confirmed for the first time in the US that neonicotinoids are toxic to honeybees even when used as directed. The finding comes in an award of compensation to two beekeepers under a landmark 2014 state law. The beekeepers' hives were severely damaged when a neighbor planted his corn coated with neonicotinoid pesticide and the drift of pesticide reached the hives. Tests at an affected organic farm showed that within two days of the corn planting, dead bees carried acute levels of toxin. Nearby dandelions also tested significantly higher concentrations of the pesticide. Clothianidin coated corn seed is routinely used by American farmers to protect seedlings in the ground. As the corn grows the entire plant becomes infused with the pesticide. EPA's review of clothianidin is expected to be completed later this year; chemical giant Bayer has disputed the EPA findings on clothianidin as well as other international studies showing this class of compounds has both lethal and sub-lethal effects on bee colonies. Bayer's products are used word-wide.

{21.03.16}French legislators have approved plans to permanently ban neonicotinoid pesticides amid fierce debate between farmers, chemical companies, beekeepers and environmentalists. The ban goes beyond the moratorium imposed by the EU when scientific evidence showed the pesticide is harming bees, an irreplaceable pollinator of man's crops. France's National Assembly approved a total ban late Thursday on a narrow vote supported by the current government. Previously the Senate rejected such a ban.  If finally adopted in July, the law would not go into effect until September 1, 2018. The delay could be used to develop substitute pesticides and perform more research on bees to definitively determine what factors, natural and man-made, are cause their precipitous decline. Agricultural interests say the ban could put French farmers at a disadvantage to farmers in other parts of the EU.  France is the Union's largest agricultural producer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mr. Obama: Close Down This Camp!

President Raoul Castro, brother of the revolutionary hero of Cuba, is hosting the Current Occupant in Havana. On the agenda of issues to be discussed most certainly has to be closing the naval brig and military base at Guantanamo Bay. Under duress Cuba 'leased' the land for a token payment of $1 a year for over a century. The installation's original use as a coaling station for a boiler-driven navy is long past; now, it has become a high security warehouse for terrorists and alleged terrorists swept from the battlefields of the Mideast. War hawks in Congress have made it difficult for the Current Occupant to keep his promise to end the occupation of Guantanamo by prohibiting him from bringing the remaining 91 or so detainees to the mainland. US Person, even though a "far-left radical", believes that because the national executive is in charge of war-making under the Constitution, the federal courts would uphold an executive order to house the Guantanamo inmates in a federal penitentiary like Leavenworth, KS or Florence, CO in defiance of the Congressional ban. If Lincoln could suspend habeas corpus during war time certainly the current president can move prisoners of war between federal detention facilities. What is lacking is the political will to change two shameful policies that are relics of the Cold War. More importantly, these policies do not work. Mr. Obama, you must end the economic embargo of Cuba and return Guantanamo to it rightful owners, the Cuban people, if your visit is not to amount to a mere pose in the long view of history.

Accountability for Afghan Hospital Strike

credit: AP
In a rare show of accountability for its war crimes, the Pentagon has decided to discipline US military personnel involved in the air strike that destroyed a charity hospital in Afghanistan {7.10.15, Kunduz War Crime}. However, none of the people involved will face criminal charges. The discipline is administrative in nature, but enough to effectively end an individual's chances of advancement within the military. The strike by an orbiting gunship killed forty-two people [photo]. Medicines Sans Frontiére, who operated the hospital in Kunduz would not comment on the absence of courts martial for the personnel most closely involved until the Pentagon makes a public announcement of the disciplinary actions.

The AC-130 gunship, armed with large caliber automatic cannons, was assigned to strike an alleged Taliban headquarters building 450 yards away from the known charity hospital. The crew's sensing devices were not operating correctly, so they erroneously relied on visual descriptions and began firing on the hospital. They apparently ignored warnings from the ground that they were firing on a hospital and not an enemy position. The international charity group said it had provided all parties in the conflict with coordinates for the hospital prior to the strike. The aircraft fired 211 shells during twenty-nine minutes before the attack was stopped.  A general representing the US Central Command, responsible for mid-east operations, told the press the actions taken "were not appropriate" given the threat level the airship faced.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

'Toontime: Surprise!

Caught flatfooted and unaware, the Republican Party elite may be stuck with the Donald as their candidate.  They waited too long to de-rail Trump, because they seriously underestimated his public appeal.  Right wing, white 'Merica is making the most of the opportunity to vent their anger by voting for the Donald in droves. Even a floor fight at the convention, something that has not happened since 1948, may not be enough to prevent Trump from claiming the nomination as he builds up an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates in the primaries. The fact is however, the RNC Rules Committee controls the convention and the rules its fifty-six members write will determine who is allowed to challenge the candidate with a plurality.  Right now, some Rules Committee members say, it is unlikely a hand-picked alternative like Mitt Romney would be allowed to be a candidate of last resort at the convention. At its essence the Republican Party is facing an insurmountable  dichotomy between its party line--the morality of the Calvinist work ethic--and the reality of economic and social decline of late-stage capitalism.

Wackydoodle sez:  I always knew it was for sale!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sea World Finally Gives Up Orcas

Facing declining audiences which impacted its share price, SeaWorld announced in the LA Times
it will phase out its captive orca breeding program, the source of its performers after wild capture was terminated decades ago. Perhaps SeaWorld is the victim of its own success having dramatically changed the public perception of orcas. Once considered predatory killing machines--hence the disfavored name 'killer whale'--orcas are now viewed as highly intelligent, social animals that are too large to be humanely kept in captivity.  SeaWorld's orca performances were hugely popular with human audiences, becoming the theme park's recognizable brand [photo]. There are twenty-nine orcas still in SeaWorld's control.  Tillicum, who is the subject of Blackfish, is sick and dying; he has been held captive in Orlando SeaWorld for twenty-three years.  Whether he was driven to homicide by his long-term confinement is a moot issue now.

The revenue generated by the whales made it very difficult for the park's management to change it attitude toward ending orca shows even though it faced mounting opposition from animal welfare groups and eventually government authorities.  Premature death of orcas, a killing of a high-profile keeper, and a controversial film, Blackfish that revealed alleged abuse made it impossible for the theme park not to phase out its "theatrical whale shows".   In its announcement the entertainment company acknowledged the global extinction of wildlife, but defended its captivity of orcas saying zoos and aquariums were not part of the problem. SeaWorld also said release of its captive performers into the wild was not possible since no captive orca has ever survived such a shocking change in habitat; it promised to focus its future efforts on providing shelter for injured and stranded marine life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Oregon Wants De-listing of Grey Wolves to Stick

OR-25 poses for his selfie
Governor Brown (D) signed a bill to impede legal challenges to a decision to de-list wolves from endangered status under state law taken in November by the state wildlife commission.  Wildlife advocates will gather in Salem to protest the legislation today.  HB 4040 was introduced by Republican legislators and was passed at the behest of the livestock industry.  The new law has been tagged with an "emergency" label so it will go into effect immediately and before a lawsuit brought by conservation groups to reverse the delisting is decided by the courts.  Advocates say the legislation sidesteps the constitutional separation of powers by hindering judicial review of administrative actions.

Wolves have returned to Oregon in this century after being exterminated by humans. {08.06.16, Not Welcomed in Oregon} The decision in November to strip grey wolves of their protection under the state's endangered species law is based on flawed science according to a group of scientists who say their criticisms submitted during the comment period were ignored by the commission. The commission also took action without submitting de-listing it to an outside peer-review panel as required under state law.   If you snooze, you loose in Oregoon. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

NOAA Says Hottest Ever

More:  A hard rain is going to fall and six southern states are already getting a sample.  Flooding due to torrential rains has reached record proportions.  The flood waters have reached a level not seen in three decades with more than twenty-four inches of rain in the hardest hit areas.  In Mississippi 5000 homes have been damaged. Climate scientists have predicted global warming will intensify the Earth's water cycle. Global warming increases the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere causing much heavier rainfall.  A new study published in Nature says dry regions where normally dry soil is unable to absorb heavy downpours will be the most adversely affected, but it is hard to predict where flooding will occur.  The increased precipitation trend is expected to continue until at least 2100.  According to UN statistics, floods already account for half of all weather related disasters in the world.

{11.03.16} A huge spike in greenhouse gas emissions is responsible for driving global temperatures higher, and the US is playing a leading role in creating the problem.  A new study by Harvard University published in Geophysical Research Letters says the United States alone could be responsible for between 30-60% of the growth in human methane emissions since 2002 probably due to its fracking boom.  The data cannot identify specific sources, but the timing of the releases of large amounts of methane coincides with large amounts of methane leaking from wells and pipelines nationwide.  The Aliso well in Southern California which went unplugged for four months spewed enough of the potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to equal the gases emitted by more than 440,000 cars in one year.  Over a century methane is 35 times more potent than carbon dioxide in driving climate change.   According to the study the US emitted 39 to 52 million tons of methane between 2002 and 2012.

NOAA also reports that CO₂ levels rose by the biggest amount since record-keeping began. You have to go back eleven millennium to find a similar sustained increase. A combination of continued fossil fuel burning and a strong El Niño caused the level to increase to 403.50ppm, breaking the previous record set in 1998. Climate scientists are watching the Keeling curve, a plot of global CO₂ recorded at Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1958 with alarm. Has anyone shown this curve to Ted Cruz?

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Failed Foreign Policies of Hillary Clinton

Before you go to the polls in Ohio on Tuesday and blindly pull the lever or mark the card (hopefully no bogus touch screens there) for the Democratic establishment front, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and famous friend of alphabet people, US Person asks you to consider for a moment her foreign policy record as Secretary of State and Senator:

Iraq: Sec. Clinton steadfastly defends her unequivocal support for the Iraq invasion by George W. Bush despite the complete lack of evidence that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction, the alleged justification to remove him from power. As senator she pointed to her husband's unilateral decision to bomb Kosovo as an example of the need for America to act alone if it perceives a threat to world order. Of course as we know now there were no nukes stored in underground bunkers in Iraq. The war cost trillions and thousands of American lives (of lesser import because "we do not do body counts", at least since the defeat in Vietnam, 174,000+ documented dead Iraqi civilians). The chaos directly lead to the formation of even a bigger nightmare--ISIS--in the aftermath of America's intervention. There was no just cause for this military invasion--not even 9/11--despite considerable propaganda effort to smear the Iraq dictator with responsibility for Al Qaeda's wildly successful terror raid.  Nevertheless in the face of the lies, Senator Clinton ran against Obama's opposition to the war in her 2008 presidential campaign.

Libya:  is another example of US "regime change" with disastrous, unintended consequences. Libya has descended into armed chaos with lawless militias controlling sections of the country since the removal of Muammar el Qaddafi. Once again the stateless terror group, ISIS, has established a territorial foothold in a state without an effective central government. Clinton's alleged response to the extrajudicial execution of Qaddafi borders on the sociopathic: "We came, we saw, he died". The resulting Libyan civil conflict is now causing part of Europe's refugee crisis, and set the stage for the killing of American diplomats in Benghazi. In the private words of the President, Libya has become a "sh** show". Libya is in such dire straits that he has asked the Pentagon to draw up contingency plans for another invasion!*

Afghanistan: Secretary Clinton's hegemonic policy preferences also helped the military sway President Obama to send thirty thousand more troops to the unfinished war in Afghanistan despite his promise to end military involvement there by 2014, and opposition to a 'surge' from his vice-president and other advisers. She also advocated the use of military force in Syria despite a 70% margin of opposition among the public to yet another armed intervention. She agreed with CIA director David Patreaus' advice to create a proxy army out of Syrian rebels irregardless of his expensive failure to do the same thing in Iraq. She advocated a 'no-fly' zone which would have required a deepening US involvement in the Syrian civil war to enforce. Her pattern of support for militarism is well-established by now, and is well to the right of her former White House boss' policies. The seal of approval for her foreign policies by leading neo-con ideologist, Robert Kagan, is testimony enough to her establishment credentials.

Iran:  Ms. Clinton's rhetoric is positively belligerent when it comes to Iran.  The international nuclear agreement recently concluded does not impress her much.  She still insists Iran should be attacked, even "totally obliterated" if it violates the agreement and attempts to create a nuclear weapon.  In a speech to the Brookings Institute she advocated additional sanctions on Iran unrelated to the nuclear program issue. Perhaps this language, which is reminiscent of George Bush according to Obama, is intended to shore up her support among Zionists, but it is counterproductive to a successful reset of US-Iran relations that have deteriorated since the hostage crisis of Jimmy Carter's administration.

Honduras:  The most glaring betrayal of her claimed support for human rights, and especially the rights of women and children, occurred during the 2009 military coup in Honduras.  Secretary of Clinton supported the removal of moderate Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.  He wanted to increase the minimum wage in his country by 60%, a policy objected to by two US fruit companies, Chiquita Brands International and Dole Food Company. He also wanted to give poor school children education and meals, subsidies to small farmers, and free electricity to the poor.  His economic policies led to a 10% in poverty during his shortened administration.  Secretary Clinton enabled Zelaya's removal by refusing to recognize the military's machinations against him as a coup. Her State Department called the situation "confused" and refused to cut- off aid.  Clinton's strategy revealed in her emails and book was to "delay, delay, delay" in order to make President Zelaya "moot".  The strategy worked.  Zelaya was forced on a plane and sent into exile after a sham election of a corrupt president to save face.  Secretary Clinton pressured other countries to accept this so-called "unity government" and not insist Zelaya return to his legitimate office.  Honduras in now one of the world's most violent countries.  The 2014 murder rate in the country's second largest city, San Pedro Sula, was 171 per 100,000.  Its war between criminal gangs caused 18,000 children to flee their country to the US.  Secretary Clinton was not welcoming.  She told Honduran parents their children should be deported to "send a clear message" that because they cross the border did not mean they could stay.  Hardly the message of a compassionate child advocate.

US Person wants to know, Ohio voters: what's the point of breaking a glass-ceiling by electing a woman president if her foreign policies are to be a continuation of the failed, expensive, and deadly hegemonic variety that has created more enemies for America around the world?  Answer:  Zero, period.

*Of America's allies France had the most reasons to invade Libya. None of them had to do with the alleged humanitarian crisis inside the country.  They had to do with assertion of France's post-colonial control of Libya's oil among other geopolitical concerns.  Eager to cement transatlantic ties in a dangerous post-911 environment, the United States backed the French desire for military intervention against Qaddafi.  He was in the process of using his gold and silver hoard to back a new international currency for Africa based on the gold dinar, definitely an unwelcome development.  Once unleashed, NATO completely destroyed the Great Man-Made River project by which Qaddafi would turn Libya's desert into a national breadbasket using his own central bank's financing.  One of the justifications used by Hillary Clinton for the Libyan intervention was to prevent Qaddafi from unleashing hordes of Viagra-fueled soldiers to rape female rebels.  Cynicism knows no bounds in Washington, DC; the real goal was to disrupt a move for African independence led by Qaddafi that was inconsistent with the economic ambitions of European powers.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

'Toontime: 'Merica for only $19.95 + Shipping and Handling!

credit: Jim Morin, Miami Herald 
Update: Not unsurprisingly, disturbances broke out at a Trump rally in Chicago last evening. The fights between supporters and protesters appeared from video reports to be along racial lines, but the shrewdly bombastic Trump blamed Bernie Sanders' supporters, calling Senator Sanders "our communist friend".  The protesters succeeded in getting the rally cancelled by police. John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio also running for president, said Trump was to blame for creating a "toxic environment" at his rallies where scuffles have broken out before.  It is only March, so expect more to come.

US Person is relieved he is not the only one who notices how full of commercial hype Donald Trump's public addresses are! He tuned in briefly to the Donald's victory speech in Miami after he won Michigan and Louisiana and thought he was viewing a TV advertisement for Donald Trump Steaks by mistake. The Repugnants belatedly realize that if they do not elevate the level of discourse after the exhibition of locker room banter during the last debate, they have no chance of convincing the electorate they deserve to occupy the White House.

credit: Mike Luckovich
Wackydoodle sez:  I heard he's renaming the House 'Trump Mansion'

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The "Plane That Ate the Pentagon"

Wonder why US Person goes on about the F-35 Lightning II? Because it is absurdly expensive at a cost of $1.5 trillion, and it does not perform as advertised, being beaten in simulations by last generation Russian and Chinese jets. Lockheed-Martin rakes in $36 billion a year of taxpayer money for this project. It spent $21 million of that for political contributions. The sad fact is that military spending produces fewer jobs per dollar than spending on transportation, healthcare, or education. So this procurement epitomizes how desperately misguided military Keynesianism as an economic policy is:

COTW: Prelude to Recession

The US economy is now mostly a service and consumption economy as opposed to a manufacturing economy as it was in the last century.  Manufacturing accounts for only about 12% of the economy.  In the last two recessions manufacturing contracted first, then the service sector.  In this chart presented by the Dallas Fed manufacturing has already contracted for four months in a row.  Will the purple line (service sector) follow?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Democratic Debate: Live Blog!

Update: BERNIE WINS MICHIGAN! Proving he can attract disenfranchised voters in a big diverse state, Socialist Bernie Sanders won the Michigan primary. He even split the younger black vote with Ms. Clinton who is counting on the black voting bloc to beat back the rising challenge from the populist left.  On to Ohio and another win there will be the start of a seismic shift in support for fundamental social change. Res ipsa locquitor!

08/03/16 The candidates are in Flint MI to 'feel the pain' and hopefully talk about some effective policy proposals to stop the slow poisoning of 'Merica after four centuries of capitalism:

5:13pmPST Good point, Senator Sanders.  Most of America's problems can be fundamentally traced to a skewed set of national values. The war machine-national security state is swallowing our tax revenues which need to be spent elsewhere such as rebuilding our civilian infrastructure.

5:20PST Effective enforcement of existing federal laws may have prevented the state of Michigan from switching water sources without installing the necessary and required corrosion protection for a system full of lead pipes.

5:22PST Senator Sanders brought F-35 jobs to Vermont, but that is not a solution to America's joblessness.  The war machine is not enough to create a vibrant economy.  Tax incentives for corporate America to ship manufacturing jobs overseas to low-wage regions has to stop. The tax subsides handed out to rich corporations like oil and aerospace companies has to end. Free trade agreements that force 'Mericans to compete with third-world workers for wages cannot be tolerated.

6:25PST Detroit's property tax base has been essentially destroyed.  The state of Michigan must explore ways to replace the needed tax revenues to support the school system.  The federal government can help in this process.

5:26PST The Wall Street bail-out is the worse example of crony capitalism this country has ever experienced since Tea-Pot Dome.

5:28PST  The 2009 bailout of the Detroit auto industry was not the first one. Mitt Romney was against rewarding an inefficient industry.  He was right.    Incidentally, Sanders did vote to save Detroit jobs in another bill that did not include the infamous Wall Street aid package!  Senator Sanders is offering a different vision of this country, not just tinkering with the status quo.

5:32PST Prove it, Ms Clinton.  Release your records!  Can you really accept $100,000 checks with one hand and pass tough financial regulation to prevent another meltdown with the other?  Will you break up the banks to big to regulate?

5:36PST  Capitalism is not in the business of social wage scales.  That is why US Person says the profit motive is socially inadequate because it creates a society of unfair subsidized competition, not beneficial efficient cooperation.

5:41PST Are you talking about companies in socialist countries, Secretary Clinton? You can bet your bottom dollar those companies bear a lot more in social costs than American companies do. Germany's major corporations are  prime examples of social capitalism.

5:50PST Abigail might have been spared suffering if guns were not destroying our society due to a historic misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. Guns R US because of the profit motive. Gun manufacturers need to be held accountable as well as those who misuse their product. The nature of our gun crime tells us what is fundamentally wrong with the system: multiple casualties in shootings made possible by high-volume military weapons in the hands of deranged or criminal individuals. These types of inherently dangerous weapons have no place in a modern mass society full of irresponsible people and schoolchildren. 'Merica is no longer the wild west or the colonial frontier. If you must shoot a deer to feel fulfilled use a bow and arrow, a shotgun, or a bolt-action rifle. The deer will respect you more. If you think you need a revolver to defend yourself, then register it with the local police so it can be easily traced if used in a crime.

6:03PST Madame Secretary, do you think corporations should be building and staffing prisons for a profit? The sad fact is law enforcement and security has become another big business in 'Merica

6:16PST You seem fond of the word "stalker" too, Madam Secretary.

6:19PST Stop taking credit for the dot-com boom! It was new technology and the financial enthusiasm for it that made the 90s prosperous, and fueled by the deregulation of the financial markets begun in your husband's administration (repeal of Glass-Steagall Act; Commodity Futures Modernization Act).  The rest is unfortunate history!

6:28PST Detroit's property tax base has been crippled by the city's mismanagement and bankruptcy. These taxes support the local school system.  Ways have to be found to reinvigorate Detroit's economy so working and tax-paying people return to the city.  The state of Michigan must step in to help in this process, as should the federal government.

6:30PST We spend trillions on weapon systems like the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship that we do not really need. In contrast, Germany, a nation that was totally defeated and largely destroyed in war seven decades ago offers its citizens free university education.

6:39PST  A carbon tax is the right way to go.  Even Yale University says this. For better or worse a lot of our social policies are implemented using a complex system of tax incentives and disincentives.  Fracking is ripping up our western landscapes causing more seismic activity and polluting our underground water supplies.  Its not a good thing.

6:44PST Why waste valuable air time talking about the immature loony tunes on the other side?  They can't talk about policies because they are controlled by the plutocracy; so they talk about the size of the Donald's physical endowment.  To change a corrupt system, you cannot be a part of a corrupt system because just when you think you are out of it, they drag you back in.

6:53PST Why is the victory gap so large?  Because the distinction is even more stark between a member of the plutocracy and an 'alleged' communist.  The Cold War is over, and so is McCarthyism.  Donald does a passable impression of insult artist Don Rickles or Benito Mussolini, take your pick; he would make a disastrous president.

Nebraska Democrats voted for Bernie; they are some of the most conservative voters in the United States, but they also have a strong populist tradition.  They understand what Bernie promises:  it takes a political revolution to take down a corrupted political system.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Yellowstone Grizzly Bears May Loose Protection

US Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed removing the Yellowstone grizzly bear from protection under the Endangered Species Act.  The bear has had intermittent protection of threatened status since 1975 when their population reached a nadir of 312. The new proposal is not the first time the species has been removed.  In 2007 the agency de-listed the species and was promptly sued by conservation groups.  The dispute centered on the effects of the whitebark pine beetle infestation on grizzly survival rates and feeding habits.  Conservationists think the grizzly population in Yellowstone leveled off because of the lack of nuts while the agency preferred the interpretation that the carrying capacity of the Park for grizzly had reach maximum.  By 2011 the litigation was resolved and the bear put back on the list because the agency was deemed by federal courts not to have considered the impact of the loss of whitebark pine.

Since then, scientists determined that grizzlies have switch food sources from nuts to more meat and grubs.  An increased meat diet puts more pressure on ungulates [photo] and brings the big bear into more contact with humans and their livestock.  Last year 59 bears died due to conflicts with agriculture and hunters; but the number of grizzlies, estimated at 714 down from a peak of 757 in 2014, are still above the assigned recovery number of 500.  Bears are very slow breeders, so it will take time to determine if the latest drop in their numbers is the start of a long-term trend.  Hence conservationists say de-listing now is premature.

note: do not dance!
One chance grizzly advocates may have in court to stop the latest removal is a federal court ruling. In the case of grey wolves the court ruled that the agency may not separate a species into distinct sub-species in order to remove protections from a distinct population it thinks is "recovered".  This is exactly what the agency has done with the Yellowstone grizzly.  When first protected in 1975, the agency made a status determination for grizzlies throughout the lower 48 states.  The grey wolf case is currently on appeal in the District of Columbia.  Once again the federal government's primary wildlife protection agency has been caught out playing politics with the lives of animals slowly recovering from man's past exploitation.  The de-listing is bound to become a political football since the Current Occupant, "Black Eagle", is an adopted member of the Crow tribe and forty Native American tribes want protections for the bear, considered a totemic animal, to continue.   Conservatives, lead by an Idaho (R) senator want the protections removed.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Possible New Octopod Species Located

NOAA researchers have located a ghost-like octopod living in the deep waters off the Hawaiian island of Necker (Mokumanamana).  A submersible spotted the animal at a depth of 2.5 miles, and unlike other cephalopods,  it does not have any pigmentation cells, called chromatophores.  Immediately it was nicknamed 'Casper' after the cartoon character for its ghostly appearence.  The animal seemed unfazed by being observed, its dark eyes starring directly into the camera.  But when the camera got too close it started to climb away. [video] The submersible Deep Discoverer is part of a geologic survey of a narrow ridge feature that extends past the current US exclusive economic zone.

Apparently a member of the incirrate (lack of fins) octopod family, the animal did not look very muscular but more gelatinous, an adaptation that would help it survive a great depths where food is scarce.  'Casper' is almost certainly a member of an undescribed species, if not genus.  The discovery is the deepest observation ever recorded for this type of incirrate.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Toontime: Hillary's Secret Race

The nation's spy agencies scored a victory of sorts against Hillary Clinton's wall of denial about her fast and loose handling of classified material in her e-mail. A federal court found that some of the information leaked by her was properly classified. The last batch of her mails were released this week. At the center of the controversy is an e-mail concerning a North Korean missile launch which is now classified "secret" apparently because it reveals information about this nation's system of spy satellites which allow it to detect missile launches anywhere in the world. This leak prompted a referral of the case to the FBI for investigation along with three others. Only one email has now been classified top-secret.  None were classified at the time the e-mails were sent. Clinton supporters often point to a report by the State Department's IG saying former Secretaries of State Collin Powell and Condolizza Rice mishandled classified information in similar ways. Clinton's e-mail problems are not going away, however. Immunity has been granted by the Justice Department to her former tech staffer who set up the private, insecure server.   General Petraeus plead guilty to a similar offense of putting classified material into a non-classified setting, a misdemeanor. 

credit:  Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune
Wackydoodle sez:  He's a lot faster than Bill!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Bernie Sanders Wins Colorado

He also won in Vermont, Oklahoma and Minnesota. The Vermont senator is locked in a close race in Massachusetts which has 91 delegates to award. Sanders was behind Clinton 48% to 50.5% when the AP called the race at midnight. Sanders will get about half of those pledged delegates. Compared to Clinton's wins in seven states, it could be the writing on the wall for the Sanders anti-establishment campaign since the Clinton corporate team appears to have an insurmountable lead particularly among super-delegates (she has the support of an estimated one-half of the total delegates needed to win the nomination), but Sanders' performance among Latinos in Colorado and his ability to raise a record $42 billion in small donations gives cause to continue his unlikely quest for the White House.

Clinton may beat Trump in the general election, but it will be an unpopular administration in debt to the corporate Money Power. Clinton's negatives are almost as high as the Donald's. Only an economic catastrophe--the 'Second Great Depression'--will impel more Americans to the political left, making a socialist federal government possible here. According to economic experts that future may not be far off. A chairman of the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) stated at the recent Davos confab of the rich and fabulous that, “The situation is worse than it was in 2007.” William White warned this time around the world’s central banks will not be in a position to bail out the financial markets. “Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up,” he told attendees.