Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Creature Feature: Uporny Goes Free

WWF with cooperation from the Russian Forest Department and conservationists have successfully released another Amur tiger into the wild. This video records the release of Uporny, a three-year old male, who was captured last year because he was considered a "conflict" tiger. Uporny resorted to killing domestic dogs to survive because of the lack of prey in his territory. Uporny was captured and sent to a rehabilitation center in Russia's far east rather than suffer a life of captivity. Uporny's health was checked and he was released to a sparsely populated mountain area with a good source of prey. It is also home to a female Amur tiger. Obviously, we all hope that Uporny produces many little tigers in the years to come, contributing to the recovery of his magnificent species. Uporny wears a collar designed to drop off when his human monitors are satisfied with his progress adapting to his new home. Notice Uporny's eyes as he faces the freedom  after his stressful captivity! No wonder Kipling wrote, "Tiger, tiger burning bright in the jungles of the night..."

Justice Scalia Strikes Back

Just when you think you have gotten out, they suck you back in again. That is how it felt after the giddy euphoria over homosexual marriage legalization fizzled, and Justice Anthony Scalia stuck it to environmentalists. He wrote a 5-4 majority decision striking down the first ever rules requiring power plants to cut mercury and other toxins from their air emissions. In Michigan v EPA Scalia wrote that EPA failed to consider industry costs before adopting the rules, however, he did not void the rules outright, but sent the case back to a lower court for further proceedings. The EPA estimated an annual cost to the utility sector of $9.6bn when it adopted the rules in 2012. The agency decided that because it was dealing with a known threat to public health, it did not need to consider costs when deciding whether to control toxic emissions from power plants. The Supreme majority disagreed with that interpretation of the statutory standard "appropriate and necessary". The regulations were drawn up under a separate statutory authority (§7412 of the Clean Air Act) from those proposed for carbon emissions by power plants, an important regulatory effort against global warming. One coal mining company, Murray Energy, has sued the EPA over the carbon rules. It said Monday's ruling indicates the EPA would not be able justify the carbon rules either since they "impose billions of dollars in costs, with no discernible environmental benefit whatsoever. Murray Energy's minions must be living on Planet Zero, where the climate is always nice and homosexual marriage is good for business.  Pass the wedding cake, please!

COTW: The Greek Debt Pit

True to form Greece waited until the last minute to ask for more credit from the eurozone so it can make its payment on IMF loans due today. No other EU  country has defaulted on its loans before, so the impact of a Greek technical default (IMF calls it "arrears") on the euro and global financial markets is giving the Greek government some negotiating space. Yesterday the S&P sank 2%. Even if the new source of credit from a euro stabilization fund is doled out, it will take weeks to negotiate the terms, well beyond Tuesday due date. European ministers are supposed to have a teleconference this evening to discuss Greece's request. According to agreements with other eurozone countries failure to make the IMF payment allows them to demand faster repayment of 131bn€ they have lent Greece. The charts below show that private creditors have mostly escaped the Greek debt pit leaving taxpayers holding the bag of rotting olives:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Banksters at the Pass

The upcoming referendum in Greece will determine if it is still the cradle of democracy. Greeks do not want to exit the euro zone, but neither do they want their government bossed by IMF and EU bankers. They elected Alex Tsipras to negotiate a deal, but despite his best efforts too many austerity pills remain to be swallowed by Greeks, so the snap referendum is scheduled for Sunday. Before then a 1.6bn€ debt payment is due on Tuesday. So far banksters have refused Greece any further extension of credit, even to allow the democratic process to play out. That refusal speaks volumes about the banksters' bottom line. Until the referendum takes place, the Greek government has imposed capital controls to prevent a run on deposits. Banks are shut until Monday. A technical default looks likely. Using the word "betrayal" in these circumstance is the height of hypocrisy. The referendum does not mention the much anticipated Greek exit from the euro, it simply asks if Greeks should agree to the terms submitted by Greece's creditors. After all, its their money.

US Person has argued before that Greece should look to Iceland and Argentina for inspiration in its current crisis.{01.11.11, Greece DOA} A return to the drachma will be unpleasant at first, but not as grinding as more austerity. Besides, the Greek economy is already in deep depression, having shrunk by 30%. By creating an opportunity for Greece to pay back its debts in a devalued currency will accomplish two important goals. The drachma will give back control of the nation's budget back to elected Greek leaders, and allow the government to shrink the size of its outstanding debts while regaining a competitive edge. No one so far is suggesting that the euro would cease to circulate in Greece if it decided, or more likely, is expelled from the euro zone. The British devalued its sacrosanct pound after the world war for many of the same economic reasons. It was deep in war debt, had lost its trade competitiveness and its economy was moribund. A one-off devaluation of 30% could boost Greece's economic output by up to 20% depending on the government's achieving other needed reforms, such as collecting more taxes, reducing the public sector costs and enforcing anti-corruption laws. Yes, Hannah, Greece will survive this crisis and prove once again its people are true democrats.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tru'merica: Gassing Your Own

This rare military film shows the testing of the chemical weapon known as CS on military personnel. Testing did not stop at volunteer soldiers. The Pentagon has admitted that it tested mustard gas and other chemicals on 60,000 African Americans during WWII. Other 'lesser humans' including Japanese-Americans and Puerto-Ricans were used as test subjects. In one testing situation, subject were locked inside a gas chamber and mustard gas pumped in to see the effects. Apparently the use of distinct racial types was to determine if the non-white subjects had a distinct reaction to the chemical agents A Canadian researcher was the first to expose the program details in 2008. Since then program records have been declassified.  Some participants still suffer physical effects from their chemical exposure seventy years later.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tru'merica: Ukraine's Fascist Coup Backed by US

More:  In a bizarre turn-about, Ukraine's current President Petro Poroshenko has asked the country's constitutional court to recognize that Viktor Yanukovych was removed from office illegally in February 2014.  Only in bizantine Eastern Europe would a national president undermine his own legitimacy in order to protect himself.  Poroshenko actively supported the Maidan protest between November 2013 and February 2014 that resulted in his predecessor fleeing the country.  Apprarently, Poroshenko is concerned about the threats of the neo-nazi Right Sector to oust him from office when they assemble in Kiev on July 3rd unless he restarts the war in the Donbass. Poroshenko does not represent Ukraine as it was formally constituted before the violent coup.  He represents rump Ukraine, minus the two far-eastern provinces and Crimea.  Neither region voted in the election held after the coup.  Both regions are majority ethnic Russian.

{22.06.15}The video compilation posted here summarizes the connections between the US government and fascist leaders in western Ukraine that successfully led a coup against a democratically elected government friendly to Russia. Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland at one point boasted to right-wing Ukrainian leaders that "we have invested more than $5bn to help Ukraine". US support of Svoboda ("Freedom") party went beyond funding. Svoboda was previously the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine built upon pro-nazi nationalists who fought the Red Army during WWII. The Maidan demonstration against Yanukovych's government was organized by party founder Andriy Parubiy, a co-leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution. Prior to Maidan in 2014, the CIA trained Ukrainian nazis in Poland. The snipers who shot protesters in Maidan Square were shooting at both sides as the transcript of a phone conversation between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and her representative Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet shows. The infamous incident captured on video has the hallmarks of a false flag operation conducted by agent provocateurs.

The US certainly did "F**ck the EU" to employ the crude explicative of the Clinton neocon Assistant Secretary of State during her discussion of who should compose the next Ukrainian government. Now the United States is on the brink of nuclear confrontation with Russia over a civil war it help create to satisfy the greed of hegemonic plutocrats. Stratfor, the private security firm, labeled Maidan "the most blatant coup in history". All of this occurs after former president George H.W. Bush assured Russia's leaders that NATO would not move "one inch eastward" (Secretary Baker to Mikhail Gorbachev; Feb, 1990) St. Petersburg is now only one hundred miles away from the latest NATO ally thanks to Democratic President Bill Clinton.  It is no coincident that American armament producers make 56% of all global arms sales. Russian sales constitute only 8% of the market. Way to drag us back to the future, Nobel Peace Prize winner!

Royal Navy Bombs Killed Pilot Whales

credit: Guardian
A British government report that required four years to compile and releaseconcludes the Royal Navy killed 19 pilot whales with underwater bomb explosions in 2011. The four explosions caused 19 pilot whales to beach on the the north coast of Scotland. DEFRA said the sonic blast damaged their hearing and navigation abilities that causing them to beach and die.

On 22 July 2011 70 long-finned pilot whales swam into the Kyle of Durness, a shallow tidal inlet, east of Europe's largest active bombing range at Cape Wrath. Despite attempts to herd them back out to sea, thiirty-nine were stranded. Twenty whales were refloated with the help of experts and local people, but 19 did not make it. The stranding was the largest in recent years and prompted an official investigation. The long-awaited report is cumulative evidence of the lethality of military sonic emissions, either from munitions or sonar. Three dud 1000 pound and one 250 pound bomb were denotated for safety reasons. The stranding started after the first bombs were exploded. The report concluded the three initial explosions had a significant detrimental effect on the hearing of nearby cetaceans and the forth explosion drove the disoriented whales further inland. Pilot whales are known to follow their leaders and are frightened relatively easily. DEFRA reccomended that in future munitions be disposed of by burning on land, and said the Royal Navy's visual checks for whales were "insufficient". MoD said it accepted the report and would implement reccomendations "where appropriate". How many more whales and dolpins will have to die before the military finally gets the message?

'Toontime: Stupid Season 2016 Begins Early

credit Michael Ramirez, Weekly Standard
Wackydoodle sez: Yo Don, lend me yur comb!

credit Jeff Danziger
BC Idonwanna sez: Me too, like'm RC & Moon Pie!
US Person sees little reason to cheer as the smirky Current Occupant basks in the reflected glare of predictable victory at the Supremes where the Affordable Care Act was upheld. The legal case against the law in King v. Burwell was weak anyway, based on tortured interpretation of a subsidy scheme that was clearly inartfully drafted by the so-called reformers. He maintains that an upgrade of Medicare into a universal single-payer program would have done the most to control healthcare costs and insurance premiums at lower cost. At this point in history even conservatives admit there is nothing else on the political horizon to fix America's healthcare crisis short of socialized medicine, and they are willing to go to the barricades to prevent that from happening. The health insurance industry virtually wrote the law to "improve the health insurance markets", as Chief Justice Roberts wrote defending the Act, so the industry and 'Merica are stuck with the band-aid to the relief of GOP presidential candidates. The simple truth is that the Affordable Care Act was never intened to reach 100% insurance coverage despite the promises of candidates Obama, Clinton, and Edwards. Some pretentious alphabet person should remind Mr. Smirky that his lease on 1600 Pennslyvania Avenue is up in 16 months, and my how time flies, when you are having fun tweaking people.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bitterns Back in Britain

This marsh heron (Botaurus stellaris) went extinct in the UK by the end of the 19th century and was not breeding there between 1870 and 1911 when the first breeding male was recorded. Bitterns reached a peak population in the 90's with around 80 breeding males before decline set in due to marshland loss. A concerted conservation effort began to prevent the bittern from a second extinction in the UK. RSPB video here.

Conservation has been a success with 150 breeding males heard in England and Wales. Researchers count bitterns by the male's booming, foghorn-like call [audio]. Breeders prefers large areas of marsh that became scarce in Great Britian two decades ago. Efforts to save marsh habitat were funded by the Royal Society for Preservation of Birds and the EU. One of the wetland sites restored is near Lakenheath, Suffolk. It was a carrot field in 1995 before being converted to marsh. Bitterns began booming there in 2006. Six breeding males are now recorded on the new marsh. Somerset county is the top destination for breeding bitterns with over 40 boomers, but East Anglia remains the regional stronghold for the bird with over 80 birds. Bitterns are protected under European Union directives.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

TPP: Fast Track to Fascism

It looks as though the Current Occupant will get the democracy crushing authority he so desperately wants thanks to Repugnant senators beholding to corporate plutocrats. Obamanation gets to pass "Go" and collect on the other side of his White House front job. When the so-called free trade treaty is signed into law, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be an unmistakable milestone in the death march of democracy and perhaps even for the planet. The treaty trumps our judiciary with star-chamber tribunals run by corporate minions. The simple fact is that the "fast track" authority which allows the Executive to ram trade legislation through the Congress on simple majority votes violates the Constitution's Treaty Clause.

The Greatest Imperialist, Richard Nixon, introduced "fast track trade promotion authority"in his Trade Act of 1974. No one in Washington really pays attention to the contents of the Constitution since the Korean War when Democrat Harry Truman decided not to ask Congress for authority to wage war against the North Koreans, then rapidly passing the 38th Parallel en route to Pusan. But for what its worth, the clause says the President has the authority to make treaties provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur. "Fast Track" abolishes that requirement and replaces it with 50% + 1, the Vice-President voting in the case of a tie. Obama's trade deals do not have a snowball's chance of receiving a two-thirds Senate majority, nor does an amendment to the Constitution allowing the change to simple majority vote a political possibility since, as we all should know, a constitutional amendment requires a convention or two-thirds of the states voting in favor of the organic change.

Nowadays, the political double-think artists in Washington play games with the language, calling TPP an international agreement not a treaty, so the clause does not apply. Nixon's Trade Act was itself a conventional law, not a treaty. Since 1974 five treaties have been put on the "fast track" railroad by the President and Majority Leader. TPP has international signatories and cannot be undone unless the other nations are willing to change the agreement, unlike an ordinary law that can be changed or abolished unilaterally. Thus, TPP is a treaty not a law, no matter how much you want to twist the language. Hopefully those strict constructionists on the Supreme Court will pay attention to this analysis, but then the global corporatocracy is behind the treaty, so their construction may not be so strict. Thomas Jefferson said in his Inaugural Address, Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none." Still wise policy over two hundred years later.

Eric Zuesse at Washingtonsblog.com writes the source of the fascistic, unconstitutional "fast track authority" can be found in the Bilderburg Group machinations, which from the organization's very start worked toward global rule by American, European and later Japanese aristocracies. David Rockefeller and Wall Street magnate George W. Ball were two leading Bilderberg members from its inception. The Bilderberg archetype was counterpoised to the concept Franklin Roosevelt with the aid of policy advisor Rex Tugwell envisioned: an evolution from the bottom up of a world democracy, not a corporatocracy, a sort of federal United States of the World backed up by an international police power. This world democratic government concept was endorsed by Albert Einstein in 1946 after a visit to the University of Chicago where Rex Tugwell taught. The TPP is of the Bilderberg paradigm that leads to global fascist dictatorship. Their is democratic wisdom in our founding document. We do well to always follow its dictates.

Shale Oil's Last Roundup

It was inevitable given the economics of the oil "bidness" and the price behavior of scarce commodities. Shale oil drillers have always spent more to get the "tight" oil and gas to the surface than what they collected in revenues. Now that the price of shale oil has dropped to $65/barrel the cost-revenue differential is becoming unbearable. Operators have relied heavily on debt financing as this chart [yellow] shows:
According to Standard & Poors the "shale revolution" was 75% financed by junk bonds. One company that put Bakken on the oil patch map and turned it into one the biggest oil producing regions of the world, spent almost as much as Exxon-Mobil, a company twenty times it size. Interest on the drilling debt is eating up profits--more than 10% for 27 of 62 drillers on the Bloomberg Independent Index. Total drillers' debt expanded to $235 billion at the end of this first quarter. An incredible number of new wells have been drilled with the money as the chart below shows, but the number of barrels recovered per well has leveled off, typical of the high decline rate for enhanced recovery wells.

What controls oil production are variable costs. Once the well is dug, the expenses associated with digging it are, excuse the pun, sunk. Each subsequent barrel produced contributes to defraying the initial capital outlay. But if the well cannot produce enough-- to cover operating expenses because the price per barrel is too low, that is another matter. Fracked well are more expensive to operate than conventional wells and the heavy product sells at a discount to "sweet, light" crude. Wells costing $20 to $30/barrel can be produced at prices of $60-80, but not when prices drop below variable costs. So what this all means is that the frackers, those cowboys of the patch, appear to be headed for the last well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Asiatic Lions Increase

More direct evidence that conservation saves species from extinction comes from the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica). A new survey puts the number of lions living in and around Gir Forest National Park at 523 individuals, an increase of 27%.  The lion was once common throughout Central and Western Asia; now it is confined to the sanctuary established for them.  There are 109 males, 201 females and 213 cubs says the chief minister of Gujarat State, India.  In 2005 359 lions were counted indicating a steady increase, but being confined to one sanctuary imperils the last lions.  Gujarat State has held up plans to relocate a portion to protect them from a natural disaster or disease that could extinguish them.  The ICUN classifies the Asiatic lion as endangered.

A new update of the ICUN's Red List shows the West African population of lions is critically endangered.  Experts estimate that there are only 125-375 adult lions left in West Africa based on a study in 2014.  West African lions are considered to be genetically separate from lions in other regions of Africa.  They are found west of the lower Niger River in parks of Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.  The update also shows that the African golden cat (Caracal aurata), a beautiful forest feline, has declined from Near Threatened to Vulnerable.  Deforestation and poaching are responsible for its decline.  Cats vacate forests were there is noticeable human encroachment.

credit: NPL/Alamy
The good news for felines is that decades of intensive human intervention on behalf of the Iberian lynx has rescued the world's most endangered cat from extinction.  It moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered on the Red List.  Conservationists worked to reestablish the feline's preferred prey, rabbits; conducted captive breeding and reintroductions; and improved detection of illegal trapping.  Conservationists also helped private land owners improve lynx habitat on their land.  Much of Iberian lynx's range are productive cork forests.  Their work shows wild predators and humans can live harmoniously together.  Automobile traffic may be the lynx's biggest peril today.  In 2014 a record 22 lynxes died in collisions with cars up from just two in 2008.  This threat is a relatively easy fix with proper road maintenance and the establishment of barriers and wildlife crossings.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Laudato Si

Pope Francis has issued his Encyclical letter on "care for our common home"  It is destined to become a classic letter of social teaching from the Holy See.  How fitting it is that this heartfelt and profound Encyclical was authored by a Pope who takes his inspiration from a saint known for his genuine austerity and poverty, Saint Francis of Assisi, who called creatures around him "brother'" and "sister".  Pope Francis says that the Poverello's identification with his fellow creatures was "no mere romanticism, but something "much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled."  The entire letter may be read at this link.  It is a welcomed if belated scrutiny of the stark physical and spiritual poverty facing humanity if we allow our greed to destroy our "very good" common home.  At an atomic and metaphysical level, we are of the Earth.  To have dominion over the planet does not mean despotism; we are to "till it and keep it".  Even beasts of burden common to the Israelites were to have rest on the seventh day. (Ex 23:12)  Animals are also endowed with senses to superior to man's. (Nm 23:25) Nature is not divine in Judaeo-Christian thought, but neither is tyrannical anthropomorphism tolerated.  Suffice it here to quote from the beginning of Francis' letter:
This sister [Earth] cries out now to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.  The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and it all forms of life. This is why the Earth itself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she "groans in travail". We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the Earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air, and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
You do not have to be Roman Catholic believer or even a believer in God to understand the wisdom and appreciate the urgency in these words. Earth is finite; humanity as a matter of survival has to protect its abundance.

Friday, June 19, 2015

'Toontime: Only in 'Merica

It is the question all rational non-conformists want to ask:

credit: Michael Ramirez
BC Idonnwanna sez: Me actually white man!
Clearly 'Merica's unresolved race problem has become pathological. Rooted in the organic sin of slavery that was not completely reconciled by the Civil War because of an incomplete and inadequate reconstruction of a rebel slave economy, it continues to produce unusual symptoms like Ms. Dolezal's distorted self-image.  US Person agrees whole heartedly with comedian Jon Stewart who momentarily dropped his jokey persona to speak truth about racism on his program,"...we still won't do jack-shit about it. Yeah, that's us. That's the part that blows my mind."  Speaking of opportunistic self-images:

credit: Gary Varvel
Wackydoodle sings: Oh Suzanna, don't yer cry fer me...!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Creature Feature: Tokyo Walkies

This Tokyo man has a somewhat unique walking partner. They don't walk fast, but they turn a lot of heads:

China's Dogs and Cats Need Help

Can there be any greater betrayal of the ancient relationship between man and dog than displayed in this photograph? US Person thinks NOT. The Chinese take the cake when it comes to disgusting culinary habits. Eerything is edible there--including man's best friend. The species service to man should earn them and an exemption from being treated as a prey animal. The same rule should apply to cats too. The Yulin Dog Meat festival is held on the summer solstice every year. Ten thousand dogs are slaughtered and eaten. Cats are now on the menu too. hinese are indifferent to foreign criticism of their culinary habits, but pressure from inside Chinese society to stop the slaughter is rising. A recent discussion forum on Weibo, China's Twitter, gained 350,000 participants. In 2011 a social media campaign helped to ban a similar dog slaughter in Qianxi township, Zhejiang province. The event had been held for 600 years.

The Yulin festival began in the 1990's, but dog consumption in China predates written history.  It is popular with older generations in the south, especially in winter, when it is eaten as an ingredient in a steaming hot-pot. The dog and cat meat industry in China is largely unregulated, so no one really knows how many dogs and cats are eaten each year. A Hong Hong based animal rights group estimates 10 million dogs based on a four year investigation of the practice. People who object to the consumption of dogs claim that many dogs sold for food are stolen or lost domestic pets. Dog meat vendors' public image as blood thursty, cruel money grubbers may also be contributing to the down turn in 'dog food' popularity. Local media reports that slaughterers are threatening to use inhumane methods unless protestors buy the animals' freedom. Activists hope the Yulin "festival of cruelty" is a dying one that will be gone in five years under pressure of animal rights activists. Sign the Humane Society International's petition to stop the anachronistic stupidity.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cold War II

Topol 12-M mobile ICBM
The Cold War has for all practical purposes resumed after only a two decade hiatus. The latest tit for tat between East and West is Russia's
announcement that it is modernizing its intercontinental missile force with 40 new advanced weapons [photo]. These are not additions but substitutions; nevertheless NATO is characterizing the move as "dangerous". Of course NATO is not referring to its provocative decision to store heavy conventional weapons in former Warsaw Pact nations bordering Russia as anything but a deterent. The decision represents a significant change in US military policy since the Cold War allegedly ended with the internal collapse of the Soviet Union. So it is definitely back to the future for the Pentagon in Europe. No decision has been made yet on whether to station troops in the Baltic states. The Poles, who live in perpetual fear of invasion given their history, are especially anxious to host a NATO presence. Their defense minister wants a permanent US base on Polish territory.

Iskander short range missle
Interfax quoted a Russian defense official saying that Russia would be forced to retaliate against the latest NATO move by building up its forces on the western border. It could even ship missles to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania. [photo] General Uri Yakubov said Russia's "hands are completely free to organize retaliatory steps" against what he called "the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War." Of major concern to Russian military planners is the NATO missle defense shield erected during the Current Occupant's administration. This latest increase in tensions comes just days after President Vladimir Putin told western media the West has nothing to fear from Russia. President Putin went to Italy for meetings with its leaders and the Pope two days after the G-7 group snubbed Russia for its support of separatists in Ukraine.

COTW: When the People Don't Spend

As much as the financialized plutocrats want not to believe the fact, the US economy is still driven by consumer spending. And their handmaidens over at the Fed are scratching their collective head over why 'Mericans are not spending like they should. This chart shows one reason. The people with the jobs are aging baby-boomers working to make up for their lack of retirement funds (average: $12,000) and who instinctively do not consume as much as other age groups:

The prime age bracket for spending and earning is the 24-54 group. They are still 4 million jobs short of where they were before the Great Financial Panic of 2008. Median household income has become static while inflation rises. The psuedo-recovery is just that--illusory. After six years of 'recovery' the Fed discount rate is still at the emergency level of 0.25%. The Fed cannot afford to increase it because the economy is a giant bubble blown up by its cheap money the plutocrats loan to us at 16% or more. Consumer debt as a percent of personal income is at a historic high of 22%. That represents total consumer debt ten times what it was in 1980. Corporation controllers that only consider the short-term bottom line impact of their actions continue to export jobs to overseas sweatshops with the encouragement of a captured national government which touts global corporatocracy disguised as free trade treaties. Debt has replaced wages and savings. Think Greece is screwed? Our upcoming deflationary collapse will be truly nasty.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shell Gets Two More Permits for Arctic Drilling

The runners are greased for Shell's drilling program in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea this summer. The latest permits came last week from the Environmental Protection Agency for discharge of wastewater from Shell's contracted drilling rigs, the Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer. The EPA permits cover 13 separate waste streams.  Dishcharged waste fluids could include toxic drilling mud that would pollute the relatively unpolluted waters of the Arctic. Polar Pioneer left Seattle yesterday leaving behind twenty-four protesters arrested by police for attempting to block the rig's northward progress with their kayaks. During Shell's last exploration season in 2012 the company did not dishcarge drilling muds into the Beaufort Sea under an agreement with Inupiats living on the North Slope. Instead the company transferred the fluids to the Chukchi Sea, farther from the North Slope. The company has just four remaining permits to obtain before beginning legal operations. Two of those are "incidental harassment" authorizations allowing Shell to disturb marine and animal life in the area. The Interior Department put out-of-boundsa major walrus habitat, but the remote site of Shell's six exploratory wells are home to an estimated 2,000 polar bears and the feeding grounds for gray and bowhead whales. The two outstanding authorizations are drilling permits now under review at the Burea of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, part of the Department of Interior. Expect those shortly.

UNESCO Puts Great Barrier Reef on "Probation"

Australia has eighteen months to report back to the World Heritage Committee on progress it has made protecting the Great Barrier Reef from significant threats to its health according to a Committee draft report.  Official Australian government reports on the reef complex say it is poor, having lost half of its live coral in the past thirty years and populations of reef dwelling animals such as sharks, dugongs and dolphins are declining.  Plans to build and enlarge coal ports for exporting coal to India and China have increased degredation of the reef ecosystem, the world's largest.  Plans to ban dumping  dredge spoil in the marine reserve have not yet come into force.  Twenty-one nations will gather in Bonn, Germany to discuss the status of the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage site and whether to list the reef as World Heritage in Danger, which would be a public relations disaster for Australia.  The reef generates nearly $6 billion each year in revenue from tourism and fishing

Monday, June 15, 2015

North Carolina Gives Duke Power Big Break

Another example of the too cozy relationship between big business and government is the ruling North Carolina's Supreme Court giving Duke Power until 2029 to clean up groundwater pollution from its unlined ash pits.  Appearantly this constitutes "immediate action" in the highest court's opinion, overruling a lower court judge who agreed with environmentalists that rapid action was required.  Last year the North Carolina legislation passed a law in the wake of the Dan River ash spill requiring the company cap or fill all of it dumps by 2029.  Four high priority sites must close by 2019.  The case represents the "extraordinary influence" Duke Power has over North Carolina's government said an attorney for Waterkeeper alliance that brought suit against Duke.  The attorney said Duke was not subject to the same regulation that other citizens and small business had to abide, but eventually after disaster occurred the government rewrote the law to suit Duke's criminal negligence.

Last month the power company pled guilty to nine criminal violations of the federal Clean Water act and was assessed $102 million in fines, restitution and community service. The company ignored repeated warnings about its leaking coal ash pits.  After years of denial Duke admitted in December that it identified about 200 leaks and seeps at 32 dumps, oozing out more than 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater a day. Despite the egregiously damaging nature of its conduct and disregard for the public's health, the company has the temerity to challenge a $25 million fine imposed by the state for a polluting seep from its power plant near Wilmington.

So much for the concept of 'corporate citizenship'. US Person thinks it is much more realistic and accurate to refer to "coporate criminality" when describing the anti-social behavior of legal fictions that fundamentally exist to avoid social responsibility for collective behavior. Get the whole story at Persona Non Grata.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tru'merica: San Francisco 1934 General Strike

These videos show the 1934 general strike in sympathy with striking longshoremen that paralysed San Francisco. It did not last long after the California governor called in troops to break the strike. One hot-headed politician equated the general strike to civil war. Two people were killed in the rioting.  Mounted police using tear gas were directed to rout out the "red agitators" allegedly responsible for the striker's anti-social behavior.  Longshoremen finally agreed to federal arbitration of their labor dispute. The same year general strikes in Minneapolis and Toledo erupted in labor unrest:

Since this is the weekend the pseudo-liberal former Secretary of State holds her first major campaign rally, it is instructive to listen to what a real socialist sounds like. This speech by James P. Cannon was given to the 1948 Socialist Workers Party convention in New York. In those days when the debris from a world war to defeat fascism was still piled high around the globe and the Cold War was just beginning, his speech was nationally broadcast over the ABC radio network! It is from this speech another more recently discredited American politician, John Edwards, got his campaign theme of "the two Americas".   My, how things have changed in sixty-years, and NOT for the better.

Friday, June 12, 2015

All Chimpanzees Declared Endangered

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has declared today both wild and captive chimpanzees "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. Wild chimps have been endangered for decades, while captive chimps were "threatened". The reclassification will give captive chimpanzees enhanced legal status. That means persons wanting to use chimpanzees in medical research must obtain a permit from the agency. The new regulations will go into full effect on September 14th this year. The agency director said the previous distinction between wild and captive chimpanzees was undermining the conservation of chimpanzees in the wild and created a "culture of treating these animals as a commodity". Capitalism does that to pretty much anything from which unethical people can wring a profit.  Chimps once numbered in the millions at the beginning of the 20th century; now an estimated 172-300,000 remain.

The reclassification of captive chimpanzees will make biomedical use more difficult since their use in research must be "directly and substantially supporting the conservation of chimpanzees in the wild." About 730 chimpanzees are held captive by biomedical laboratories. The National Institutes for Health decided to retire chimpanzees in government custody in 2013. More funding for sanctuaries will be needed once all captive chimpanzees have been freed from research.

US Person notes that chimpanzees have the cognitive ability to cook their food, if they knew how to use fire. Behavorial experiments show chimpanzees prefer cooked sweet potato over raw, and are willing to bring raw food to a researcher so he can 'cook' a sweet potato chip for the subject. No fire is used to keep the primates safe; the researchers covertly substitute a pre-cooked chip for the raw one deposited in a bowl after shaking the bowls in front of the subject chimpanzee. Watch this video of the experiment. [no commerical endorsement intended]

'Toontime: Employment Opportunities in Iraq

credit: Tom Toles
Wackydoodle sez:  An doint expect to get paid nither!

Well, you can always join the Army. It looks as if they are going to need some more warm bodies as the Pentagon considers opening up more bases in Anbar Province to hold ground against the terrorist army, ISIS. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters in Naples that the possibility of more bases requiring more American troops is part of "prudent planning" Translation: the Puzzle Palace generals are pressuring a reluctant President to allow direct engagement of ISIS fighters by claiming self-defense. The generals have reluctantly come to the conclusion that their tranning efforts are wasted on a hopelessly corrupt Iraqi army that cannot attract enough recruits and whose number of "ghost soliders"--deserters--are in the thousands. The current training site in Anbar is located at Habbaniys, only about 15 miles from Ramadi which was recently captured by ISIS. Four hundred fifty more soldiers are on their way there now to train and assist Iraqi soldiers, if any show up. Gen. Dempsey said there is practical planning underway to expand from that base with more American soldiers into a corridor that extends from Tikrit to Kirkuk and on to Mosul. The US already spends $9 million a day fighting the terror group. Why? One reason is because the Pentagon delivers four JDAM bombs by air to take out a building seen in a selfie and posted on the internet by a stupid militant. Major victory!

So far, the Current Occupant has refused to go back on his promise not to deploy American military personnel directly in the fight against ISIS except for commando operations against specific high value targets, but the pressure is mounting on him to do more as the Iraqi government continues to demonstrate its ineptitude. The elephant in the room is that the ISIS war has become yet another sectarian conflict in Iraq, and few Sunnis want to risk their lives fighting Sunni militants. Nor do the Shias in Baghdad want to arm and enable Sunni militias that could turn their weapons against the shaky central government. Paradoxically it is exactly these Sunni tribe members the US wants to train and arm to throw against the militants in Anbar, the only Sunni-dominated province of Iraq.

This effort to include Sunni sectarians not trusted by Baghdad is a departure for US policy which has so far been focused on establishing a credible Iraq national force. Even the Kurds, who have fought successfully against the terrorists in the north, complain that Washington's military support has been underwhelming, and it is cleared with Baghdad in advance. That policy may change if ISIS continues to win. Right now, Iraq is more and more resembling the three Ottoman provinces it was before WWI. The ISIS problem, or more specifically the problem of Iraq's nationhood, is one that will await a new Current Occupant unless the generals manage to create an incident that politically will sooner require a direct US response on the ground. So US Person suggests if you enjoy hot days and hot nights camping out with your buds in a romantic desert offering lots of selfie opportunities, consider joining up so you can be all you can be! Ain't no jobs hereabouts, anyways.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

First Tiger Seen in Thai Park

Conservationists have confirmed for the first time that Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) are occupying Thailand's Chaloem Ratanakosin NP. A tigress allowed her photo [left] to be taken in a camera trap set up by the Zoological Society of London and the Department of National Parks. A few months later a tiger was photographed in the same park. Chaloem Ratanakosin is very small, only 59km², but is part of the Western Forest Conservation Complex that extends 18,000km² and is considered one of the largest forests remaining in Southeast Asia. If the photos represent tigers extending their range in the protected area, it is good news. Tigers have been confined to the northern section of the Complex until this documentation of their presence in the southern section. Experts think that the Complex could support as many as 2,000 tigers. The region also provides habitat to 150 other mammals, 490 birds, 90 reptiles, 40 amphibians and 108 fish species.

Only 200 to 350 tigers of the Indochinese subspecies are estimated to remain in five countries of Southeast Asia. Thailand is thought to contain the vast majority of them despite the country's well-known role in the international illegal wildlife trade. Tigers are on the Red List established by the IUCN as a result of relentless poaching, human conflict, and massive deforestation. A major international conservation effort is underway to save and increase the remaining tiger populations in Asia.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

EPA Study Mostly Concludes Not Enough Evidence

If you pay attention to the television ads paid for by the oil and gas industry, fracking is the best thing since canned beer. Enhanced recovery techniques have led to a boom in domestic fossil fuel production, making the US first in natural gas production according to the ads. That ought to make the jingoists yell, "buyeh" and set off some seasonal fireworks.

The EPA meanwhile has issued an assessment of fracking and horizontal drilling effects on groundwater quality. The report is significant for the questions it does not answer, which are quite a few, because the industry would not submit to the rigorous testing the government wanted to determine if their is scientifically proven link to drinking water contamination. The study did say that the techniques do have the potential to contaminate drinking water. Duh. The greatest risks to drinking water are spills, water withdrawals, wastewater releases and migration of gas and oil underground. Thank you, Captain Obvious. The agency went so far as to say there is no evidence of widespread contamination by fracking or slant drilling. The number of cases of contamination or possible contamination are small compared to the estimated 25-30,000 enhanced recovery wells drilled between 2011 and 2014. The industry touts the EPA's failure to discover widespread contamination as confirmation of its safety record.  Industry critics say it merely shows the agency's lack of before and after data on specific water sources. The report repeatedly cites the need for this type of comprehensive study. The agency, cowed by the powerful fossil fuel lobby, backed out of a well contamination study in Pavillion, Wyoming after its methods were critized by the industry, and dropped similar research in Texas and Pennsylvania.  Despite the political pressure, EPA has found contamination linked to hydraulic fracturing in the past.  A 2010 well blow-out in Killdeer, ND caused fracking fluids to contaminate the Killdeer aquifer with brine and tert-butyl alcohol.

Another source of pollution from all the drilling activity in the "Saudi Arabia of Gas" are methane releases to the atmosphere. Since 2010 according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration 12.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas has escaped into the atmosphere from the nation's network of gas transmission and distribution lines--enough energy to heat 170,000 homes for a year. Burning natural gas for energy is less dirty than burning coal, emitting about half the amount of CO₂ per kilowatt of electricity with no particulates of mercury or sulfur dioxide. But methane has about 30 times the potential warming effect of CO₂ over a century. With the amount of leakage involved natural gas is loosing its greenhouse gas advantage over coal; according to the Environmental Defense Fund if only 3% of gas produced escapes, natural gas plants have no advantage over coal plants. If the industry will not clean up its act and invest in new infrastructure, government will have to require it.

South Africa Releases Lion "Management" Plan

wild lions in Kruger NP
South Africa's government has released a lion management plan that conservation critics say is an attempt to legitimize trade in lion parts. Asian trader became interested in African lions when the decline in tiger numbers became acute. In folklore superstition, tiger and now lion bone is powdered and used to make wine and cake that supposedly cures a whole range of human ills. It is Asia's version of snake oil.

note light-colored mane of captive male
The are currently 2300 wild lions in the country's national parks [photo above, credit A Meintjes] and 800 more living in managed reserves.  The plan reccomends downlisting lions from Vulnerable to Least Concern. But the data is ten years old says a trustee with LionAid, a UK charity working to save lions.  There are 6,000 lions bred in captivity to basically waiting to be slaughtered in canned hunts, a morally degenerate activity that is legal in South Africa [photo right, credit I Michler]. A breeder can be paid $5000 to $25,000 per lion shot, but can earn $1000 to $2000 more by selling the bones to a Chinese trader. Hunting trophy operators and no doubt poachers outside South Africa have already started selling lion bones.  It is a small step for man's greed to legitimize the insane Asian parts trade in South Africa.  Such legalization further endangers wild lions.  Instead South Africa should be making plans to protect wild lions from hunting by man, eliminate the obscene canned hunt trade entirely, and establishing more protected habitat for lion populations to expand.  Compare the two pictures in this post. How do you want to see lions treated by man in Africa?

COTW: Fed Policy Enriches the Rich

The first chart shows how much money the Federal Reserve has pumped into the American economy through its policy of "quantative easing" otherwise known as fiat money-printing. The $4 trillion is larger than the entire economy of Germany:

Five years of ZIRP (zero interest rate) policy has done zip for employment as this chart shows:

The real effect of the Fed's policy has been to protect the financial markets from their own debt binging and to re-inflate financial assets. The next chart shows the unmistakable correlation between financial sector profits (black line) and the ratio of debt to GDP (red line). A similar close correlation exists for the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet and the S&P stock index:

What these charts and one below tell us is that the Federal Reserve, a privately-controlled central bank that sets national money policy, has actively widened the obscene inequality between rich and poor in America by practically guaranteeing a lucrative return on capital owned by the very top people that created the world-wide Financial Panic of 2008. If the bottom 80% of Americans want to use some capital for consumption they have to pay the owners 16% or more. If you want to get a higher education, you still pay 9%.  If you lend your relatively meger capital (savings) your are lucky if you get a 4% return. The Federal Reserve charges the plutocrats less than 1% for the same borrowing privilege. Fair? You decide.

Monday, June 08, 2015

California Leads the Way on Climate Change

When the American do-nothing Congress has failed miserably to do something significant about climate change Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) administration [photo] has accomplished noteworthy and noble goals: reduce greenhouse gas emissions further and divest California's public pensions from coal. The world's fifth largest economy already has one of the highest renewable energy portfolio standards in the country. Last week the California Senate passed twelve bills that plan to reduce gasoline use on California roads by 50% and source 50% of its electric energy from renewable sources. The legislation also directs cap and trade revenues to public transportation infrastructure, and extend the CO₂ emissions target to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. One of the bills prohibits new oil and gas wells in California coastal waters. An aging pipeline burst at Refugio Bay has fouled the coast near Santa Barbara again endangering marine creatures.

The legislation builds on climate initiatives by the Democratic governor who signed an eleven party agreement with city leaders from around the world to help keep global temperature increase under the two degree threshold. California has been hit hard by climate change that is intensifying wildfires and costing the state's lucrative agriculture business. The state's historic drought is linked specifically to climate change in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The persistent high pressure ridge from Hell that causes low precipitation is much more likely to occur now than prior to the Industrial Revolution according to the research by Stanford scientists.

The legislation must pass the lower Assembly before being sent to the governor's desk for his signature. Democrats have a large majority there. The solar industry in California employs 55,000 people, and last year $11.5bn was spent on solar energy in the state. US Person thinks Gov. Brown is a long way from "Gov. Moonbeam" nowadays, and proves there is no pay being ahead of your times.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Tru'merica: The Progressive Era

What you need to know about this relatively brief reform period in US history from "Mugwups" to socialists in thirty minutes. The seventy-two year battle for woman's suffrage is a good example of the entrenched power of the bourbons that are still with us today and threaten to overwhelm our elected government. The video lavishes attention on the era's presidents at the expense of the popular movements which brought radical leaders to the forefront of American politics, see below. Civil rights for all citizens was never a priority with any of the Progressive Era presidents. In fact, Woodrow Wilson conspicuously did not support an anti-lynching law sought by negro citizens. Civil rights for all citizens would have to wait another half-century before it was addressed.

The following video production focuses on the first general strike in American history, the one that occurred in Seatlle in 1919. A general or sympathy strike is accepted as a legitimate tool to leverage social change by socialists and marks one bright line distinction from Progressives or Social Democrats. The reaction of the local press--"Seattle Shall Not Be Crucified" read one headline-- was important in mobilizing public opinion against the "un-American" strikers.   Seattle's general strike failed to achieve its key goal, raising wages for shipyard workers, but is the progenitor of later civil disobedience, notably Occupy.

Friday, June 05, 2015

'Toontime: Perversionland

credit: Tom Toles
Wackydoodle sez:  Too busy building F-35, buyeh!
The only accomplishment of the gulag at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is that it provided an outlet for the most disgusting perversions, most of which seem to be of a homsexual tendency, ever to eminate from the US military. The Current Occupant should be remembered in history for nothing else than closing it down and giving the land back to Cuba. Only then he can say he earned the Nobel Prize without changing color.

credit: Ted Rall
BC Idowanna sez: White man have long record.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

NW Indians Resist Big Energy

High Country News tells US that a British Columbia tribe turn downed $260,000 for each member offerred by a Malaysian firm wanting to build a natural gas export terminal on ancestral lands. Lax Kw'alaam First Nation said no to a $1.15 billion package after the community voted unanimously against the terminal because of the risk it posed to local salmon habitat. Understandably the town's mayor said he hoped the message sent was unequivocal: no amount of money can replace a nation's culture and respect for other creatures living in the same habitat. Message received and Green Kudos to the Lax Kw'alaam!
Dust on the water, credit: Columbia Riverkeeper

South of the border, tribes are facing a similar threat to their way of life and natural inheritance from oil and gas companies exploiting the energy boom. Opposition is rising in the Pacific Northwest against the transportation of fossil fuels across native lands. Instead of gaining consent, companies are encountering a "choke point" in their expansion plans to export energy to Asia via the west coast. For the last three years, the Lummi Nation has fought the proposed Pacific Gateway Coal Terminal near Bellingham, Washington. The Lummi say the terminal would interfere with their fishing rights, and symbolicly burned a $1 million check to indicate that no amount of money would get them to back the project. The 1974 Boldt decision gives tribes the legal right to co-manage natural resources and an equal share in salmon and steelhead fisheries with the state. The decision determined that treaties signed with the US government in the 1850s guaranteed tribal members have access to their traditional fishing grounds. Today those areas include most of the locations proposed for fuel terminals.

In Oregon, the Yakama Tribe came out against a coal export facility, citing thier fishing rights. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation turned down $800,000 in opposition to the project. Together with the Warm Springs and Nex Perce tribes they convinced the Oregon state government to disapprove the proposed coal terminal. Two years ago, 57 nations that are part of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians decided to oppose all proposals for the transport and export of fossil fuels. Proposed coal export terminals would bring 29 coal trains through the region each day. Opposition among Indian tribes is costing energy businesses significant amounts of money in delayed production and other costs. That's a sensitive issue even for multinational energy corporations with huge budgets.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

COTW: The Middle Class is Falling

Another chart, more evidence that the middle class in 'Merica is on its way out. According to the latest economic data the middle class suffered its worst decade in modern times as wages stagnated, the cost of necessities went up and their share of national income fell:
Pew Research noted that income disparity in the US is comparable with those notable democracies, Pakistan and Ivory Coast. In the last twelve years incomes for the wealthiest 400 quadrupled as their tax burden halved. So go ahead get mad and vote Repugnant for revenge. Just so you know what you will be voting for, Jeb Bush's favorite author, Charles Murry, rejects democracy and believes the United States should return to a colonial-like state with the hyper-rich in power instead of a hereditary aristocracy. Are you really ready for "mon argent et mon doit" or is socialism that abhorent?  I was not in the first half of the 20th century, when middle Americans had leaders like Robert 'Fighting Bob' LaFolette, and Eugene Debs to represent them.  Today we have a psuedo-populists spouting resurrected southern accents that are enslaved to Wall Street and willing to sell the middle class out at the drop of a foreign donation.

The richest 1400 Americans who filed taxes in 2012 had an average income of about $161 million for that year.  The lowest qualifier for this exclusive group made $62,068,187 in adjusted gross income, that is after tax credits and exclusions!  Ninety-five percent of the decline in the tax rate for the very top of the income pile is explained by the Bush-era capital gains tax cuts.  In Detroit, the water department shut-off water supply to 1,000 poor residents, despite the City Council's plea to stop.  Baltimore is following suit, shutting off water to 25,000 households owing $250 or more.  Yes Hannah, capitalism is just grand!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Mystery Disease Strikes Saigas

courtesy: Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture
The central Asia steppes antelope, saiga (Saiga tartarica), was once a conservation success story.  Hunted for its horns (superstitious medicinal use) about 95% of the population disappeared and it was declared critically endangered.  After implementation of strict anti-poaching rules, the antelope recovered from 50,000 to 250,000 last year. Now a mysterious disease is sweeping through the herds, killing a third of the world's population. To loose 120,000 individuals of any species in three weeks is phenomenal, say conservation scientists. The carcasses litter the steppes [photo right]; dead saiga are being buried in mass graves scraped out by earth moving equipment.

An international team of wildlife biologists is examining tissue samples to find out what is killing the odd-looking creature that has the body of a deer but the nose of an elephant seal. It is also a remarkable creature. A survivor from the Pleistocene, saiga once inhabited all of the Eurasian continent and North America, from Britain to the Northwest Territories. It was a characteristic animal of Scythia according to Strabo, who called it "Kolos" and described it as drinking through its nose. Males use their inflated, fleshy proboscis [photo left] to attract females with flatulent noises.

It will take weeks to isolate a disease agent from tissue, meanwhile speculation about the cause abounds. Chemical pollution is a often mentioned as a possibility, but previous die offs were thought to be related to lush growth of plant species that make the antelope dangerously bloated [photo right]. In 1988 there was a mass die-off of 434,000 animals. Certain grasses of the Brassicacea family are poisonous to ruminants if eaten in large quantities, causing diarrahea, bloating and foaming fermentation. Brassicacea species proliferate in wet conditions. The steppes are wet this year due to heavy rains. But the speed of infection and 100% mortality is inconsistent with that hypothesis according to an expert on the scene. The animals were infected with Pasteurella and Clostridium, both deadly, but common in healthy animals that have tolerance for these organisms. The United Nations agency overseeing saiga conservation measures says the die-off is over, but long term survival of the species is in doubt if science cannot determine what killed the saigas.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Confrontation in Black Sea and Elsewhere

More: US does not consider 1000 meters at 500 feet "provocatively close". The SU-24s were not visibly armed. Both war machines were operating in international space. In an action that might be considered provocative, Ukrainian sailors have come aboard the RossVideo of the incident was posted by the US Navy, a globally self-promoting organization.

{30.05.15}The United States military is becoming increasingly truculent about its forward defense posture. The latest example is is the USS Ross, a missile destroyer now showing the flag in the Black Sea. Russian media reported the Ross was "buzzed" by SU-24 fighter-bombers as it cruised along the edge of Russia's territorial waters headed towards Russia. East-West confrontations continue as tensions mount over Russia's covert intervention* in the Ukraine civil war and Russia's annexation of Crimea last year. Crimea is the home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. US has officially complained about what it calls the "sloppy" interception of its spy aircraft near Russian borders. In response Russia has resumed Cold War patrols of its strategic bomber fleet, causing Britain and Sweden to scramble fighters [photo] to intercept the "Bear" patrols.

Russia is not the only target of US aggressiveness. China was told to stop reclaiming land in the South China Sea. The US objects to China's claim of most of the South China Sea as its territorial waters. Other Asian countries including the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand have made overlapping territorial claims in the region. China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, and is unlikely to heed the US demands. Given the increase in global miltary preparedness, the custodians of the "Doomsday Clock" started after the Manhattan bomb project, have moved the clock three minutes closer to midnight.

To understand 'Merica's demonic penchant to return to its violent past, just look at the Texas legislature. It passed a bill to allow citizen-cowboys to openly carry handguns in public. The Repugnant governor of the state already twitted his intention to sign the bill into law. US Person advises: do not mess with 'Merica because you might get shot or bombed, wild west style.

*President Putin recently declared the number of Russian military men's deaths in peacetime a state secret.

Patriot Act Dies Formal Death, Long Live Spying!

Yes, Hannah, the hated Patriot Act died a lingering death at midnight Sunday with the White House ninnies crying, 'the sky will rain terrorists' and Senators pontificating to an empty chamber, but the reality is the United States will keep on spying hard. The Act's replacement is likely to pass the Senate having already recieved approval from the House, and the Current Occupant lobbying in favor. The Senate voted to end debate on the replacement bill, ending a mini-filibuster that carried the Patriot Act into official history. The even more misleadingly titled "USA Freedom Act" maintains most of the snooping provisions of the Patriot Act except for the mass collection of meta-data from landline calls by Americans, the unused 'lone wolf' suspect collection authority and so-called 'roving wiretaps' provision. In fact the NSA views the Freedom Act as a major win for continued survelliance since private phone companies will now collect and hold the meta-data. Not only is the Freedom Act practically a carte blanche, but there are other ways the world's largest spy organization can snoop on you, too, the old fashioned way--by getting a subpoena. The secret FISA court hardly ever turns the government down.  Big Brother is still watching.

A Win for the Little Guy in Hawaii

US Person told you about the group of Hawaiian activists that were standing up to giant chemical company, Monsanto, demanding a ban on genetically modified seed {19.11.14, Monsanto's Evil Seed}  A handful of activists from Waimea, Kauai actually won against the corporate giant in court. Plaintiffs were awarded $500,000 in damages caused by contaminated dust from DuPont-Pioneer seed operation.  Seed corporations have made the "Garden Isle" the epicenter of global genetically modified seed testing.  Even US could grow gorgeous plants organically in the island's rich volcanic soil and continuous growing season.  The dust, colored red from chemical contamination, washed over the low-income community for years before the lawsuit was filed.  The award was low because the judge directed attorneys to focus only on property damage, not health affects.  According to court documents the pesticides sprayed in Kauai by DuPont have been linked to cancer, birth defects, liver disease and disruption of hte endocrine, immune and nervous systems.

The residents of Waimea are exposed six to eight times the number of pesticides used in the mainland US and they are applied 15 times more frequently on the seed test crops.  DuPont-Pioneer and other chemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta grow seed crops year round.  When Kauai residents got a law passed in 2013 to restrict the use of hazardous pesticides near communities, the multi-nationals promptly sued the County of Kauai to prevent enforcement.  Some community leaders traveled to Syngenta's annual shareholders' meeting in Switzerland.  They were not welcomed by the Philistines, but they got their message across to shareholders and connected with allies at the meeting.

BP Vice President Lied to Congress

It is the ecological disaster that keeps on giving. Jury selection in New Orleans has begun for the trial of a BP executive accused of misleading Congress'
investigation of the amount of oil spilled in Gulf of Mexico. Executive David Rainey, former vice president for Gulf exploration is charged with obstructing a congressional investigation into how much oil was surging from the Macondo well into the Gulf of Mexico. He is the most senior company official to stand trial for events related to the largest oil spill in US history. Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, BP supervisors on the Deepwater Horizon [photo] rig face involuntary manslaughter charges for the death of 11 rig workers. A geologist by training, Rainey had no idea how to calculate flow rates from the blowout, yet submitted a lengthy memo to an investigating House subcommittee. He estimated the flow at 1000 barrels to 5000 barrels per day, much lower than it actually was. He was given an internal presentation that put flow estimates at 14,000 to 82,000 barrels per day.