Friday, March 30, 2018

'Toontime: Saving Mr. Yuge for Last

credit: Jim Darkow, Columbia Missourian
Wackydoodle sez:  An' better knots too!
We learned this week from a sentencing of Russian-American lawyer Alex van der Zwann that Trump's former campaign official Rick Gates had ties to a known Russian agent while he worked on the political campaign. Gates worked for Paul Manafort who had a contract to lobby for the Ukrainian government. The allegation was made in a the government's brief supporting sentencing of van der Zwann, formerly a young attorney at prominent DC law firm, Skadden Arps, who pleaded guilty to lying to government investigators. {21.02.18}

van der Zwann faces possible incarceration up to a maximum of five years for his felony offense.  His attorneys asked that Zwann, who is married to the daughter of a Russian oligarch, German Khan, who co-founded the financial group Alpha Bank, only be fined $250,000. Whether he goes to jail or not, he almost certainly will loose his license to practice law, and his former life as a high-powered DC attorney is practically over.  His wife is in London where she is expecting to give birth to their first child.

Like any good prosecutor Mueller is taking down the small fry first to get "just the facts" before he interviews the man at the center of the Russian Connection. If Hair Further is egomaniac enough to answer questions under oath, he better be very, very careful.

credit: Bill Shorr

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The End of Tabasco Sauce?

If you are like US Person, when you eat at an appropriate restaurant, you look for the iconic little bottle full of red sauce that is one of the most flavorful pepper sauces around.   You should be interested in this story.  As connoisseurs of hot sauces know, Tabasco sauce is made on Avery Island, Louisiana by the seventh generation of McIlhennys.  Edmund McIlhenny discovered a wild pepper plant growing by a chicken coop 150 years ago on the salt dome island.  Hot peppers grew extensively on Avery until the 60's when Tabasco turned from cultivation to importation from Mexico and South America.

Avery towers over the flat marshes of the Louisiana coast, 163 feet above sea level, but rising sea levels threaten the island's perimeter. The salt dome is surrounded by marshes, a couple of miles from Vermilion Bay, the site of extensive oil and gas operations.  Every year salt water from the bay intrudes 30 feet into the marsh, killing it and turning what was once marshland into open tidal flats.  Storms also grind away at the island, as it sinks a third of an inch a year.  Two more feet of sea level rise according to NOAA will leave only the highest elevations of the island above water.  All of this concerns the family making Tabasco, who are taking action to stop further erosion of their idyllic island home. [photo credit: Tabasco].  A family member said, "we could make Tabasco somewhere else. But this is more than a business: this is our home.”

the 'great wall' of LA built to protect New Orleans
Avery Island's predicament is not unique.  Louisiana looses a football field of land every 100 minutes.  Since the 1930s the state has lost land the size of Delaware stemming from over-development of the Mississippi river, an unquestioning embrace of extensive drilling, and now the wrenching global consequences of climate change. Wetlands have disappeared as extensive channelization and levee building in the Mississippi Delta has drastically curtailed sediment deposition. Western Louisiana where Avery Island is located faces the most dire consequences of sea rise.  Almost all of its barrier wetlands are gone, a consequence of oil and gas infrastructure building, which allows hurricanes to plow ashore unobstructed.    Consequently, the state has decided to put all of its funds into restoring natural land barriers in the eastern part of the state.  Most residents of the Louisiana coast do not have the means to construct extensive flood protection, unlike the Tabasco company which wrapped its building in a 17 ft high dike after a hurricane flooded the island's interior.  To its credit, the company is working hard to restore wetlands and provide habitat for the wild creatures such as black bears, snowy egrets, and alligators that still live there.  The drowning of coastal Louisiana is a reality that cannot be denied.

But here is the intersection of reality and politics motivated by greed: more Repugnants are now skeptical of the human cause of global warming than before.  A poll released by Gallup shows that people who identify themselves as Democrats overwhelmingly think that global warming is happening now and it is caused by humans. (89%).  Only 40% of people who consider themselves Repugnant think global warming is anthropogenic, down from 35% a year ago.  What is astounding about these figures is the capacity of the human animal to deceive itself for the sake of Mammon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

COTW: Legal Gun Sales Drop

Since most guns sold in the US do not require registration with a law enforcement agency, state or federal, alike some European nations do, the number of background checks conducted serves as a proxy statistic.  This chart show that the number of checks related to legal sales has dropped:

Firearm manufacturers have been report declining sales and profits for the past several years.The big news is that one of America's oldest gun manufacturers, Remington, famous for its rifles and shotguns, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday.  The gun maker is buried under a reported $1 billion in debt, and hopes to reduce its burden by $700 million through the court supervised reorganization process.  The company, founded in 1816, said it plans to continue making firearms.  Remington produces the "Bushmaster" an AR-15 style assault rife which was used in the Sandy Hook, CT school massacre.  The company is being sued by survivors for deliberately marketing a military weapon to civilians.  The Chapter 11 filing gives the company added bargaining power with plaintiffs, as their suits will probably not go forward pending reorganization.  In June 2015, arms manufacturer Colt filed for bankruptcy protection. Six months later, in January 2016, it emerged from Chapter 11 with a new government contract to produce M4 and M4A1 rifles for the military and a focus on expanding business and selling more guns than ever.  Remington Arms hopes to follow the same course.

Friday, March 23, 2018

'Toontime: Last Pol Standing

credit: Jim Morin
Wackydoodle sez: Biggest bully in DC!

US Person has a suggestion: instead of an expensive presidential campaign funded by corporations and plutocrats, decided by political insiders, and that makes a joke out of majority rule, let us stage a cage match between the two party candidates in which the last man, or woman, standing wins. Hair Further likes his chances against "Crazy" Joe Biden.  A brawl would be a lot less hypocritical than the current system, and more entertaining too.  We could even ask President Putin to referee the match, and get a Playboy bunny to hold up the round cards!  What's more 'Merican than that?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Belize Creates Wildlife Corridor

Recently the Central American country Belize voted to protect one of the world's largest barrier reefs off its Caribbean coast.  But last month the former British colony also established one of the region's largest land corridors to allow wildlife, such as the iconic jaguar and tapir, to move freely between two nature reserves.  Private landowners in the corridor have agreed to establish a perpetual trust into which their lands will be placed for conservation management.  Approved by the government on February 13th, the 42 square mile corridor will connect the dry forest of the Shipstern Nature Reserve and the tropical forest of the Freshwater Creek Protected Area.  Corridors are highly important for the dispersal of genetically endangered animals.

two pumas in the Shipstern Reserve
The effort to establish wildlife corridors in Central America began with a consortium of conservation organizations proposing the "paseo pantera" or path of the panther.  The concept was broadened two decades ago by the Mesoamerica Biological Corridor Project, a visionary plan to connect forest remnants from Mexico to Columbia in recognition of the region's significant biodiversity.  Belize's new corridor is an important link in that project.  Although the paperwork for the corridor has been completed, the government must purchase 15 square miles of land at a cost of about $1 million.  Two major landowners must also sign agreements to place their land into trust.  Once again, Belize proves itself to be in the forefront of wild conservation.

Budget Busters

Not since the United States fought a world war on two fronts, has the federal deficit consumed a larger share of GDP.  Congressional negotiators are close to closing a spending budget of $1.3 trillion that includes $1.6 billion for Trumpty's ridiculous wall.  Democrats have their own pet projects in the bill including $900 million for Senator Schumer's Hudson River Gateway project.  The question is: who cares?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Attack of the Twit

Humpty Trumpty is attempting to push back against the Russian Connection investigation.  The twitter-in-chief uses social media for his modus operandi for deriding Special Counsel Mueller and his office as overtly partisan, once again referring to his investigation as a "political witch hunt" by "hardened Democrats" and "crooked Hillary supporters".  His personal lawyer, John Dowd, urged the Justice Department to end an investigation "manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey".  The unprecedented media offensive comes on the heels of the dismissal of the second in command at the FBI and a Mueller witness, one day before he was eligible to retire with twenty years service. Hair Further campaigned for months against Andrew McCabe for his role in allowing FBI agents to talk to the press about the on-going investigation.Trump was fully aware of McCabe's eligibility and even counted the days to his eligibility in a twit. When the Attorney General finally approved the firing recommended by the agency's inspectator general, Der Leader wrote it was a "a great day for democracy". If that is not partisan vindictiveness, US Person is confused as well as obscure.

Trump's pushback against the FBI and the Special Counsel's Office is receiving its flack from congressional Republicans.Trump was warned today by Senator Lindsey Graham (R) that attempting to fire Mueller, a Republican, "would be the beginning of the end of his presidency."mA spokesperson for the Speaker of the House said Speaker Paul Ryan has always believed that Mueller and his team should be allowed to do their job.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

COTW: The Everything Bubble

The US fiance capitalist economy is being buoyed on an Everest of debt.  Every commodity it seems is a bubble now, not just stocks, bonds, and finance markets, but real estate, oil, cyrpto-currencies, you name it, and its goosed with debt to grow.  The inevitable downside will not be pretty.

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Toontime: Excusegate

'Crooked' Hillary waited until she reached India before she laid more blame for her embarrassing lost to Hair Further in 2016.  This time it was "deplorables" (racists) in the fly-over zone, and backward men (husbands) to blame.  With politicians like Hillary periodically spouting off about why they loose the Electoral College vote (Trump had the smallest share of popular votes since 1828), the Democrats need a miracle-worker for their next presidential candidate.

credit: Rick McKee. Augusta Chronicle

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ticks Causing Lyme Disease Reach Canada

More biological evidence of climate change: deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease, have gained a foothold in Canada according to health officials.  Normally, the ticks transported by migrating birds die out in Canada's cold winters.  Global warming has changed that, and significant numbers of Canadian are becoming seriously ill from infected tick bites.

According to Canada's monitoring, the number of confirmed lyme cases has jumped six fold from 144 in 2009 to 987 in 2016.  Lyme in not easy to diagnose.  The protocol requires two tests, one to confirm the production of relevant antibodies by the body, and the second to confirm the presence of proteins unique to the bacterium.  The tests are imperfect too, leading false negatives.  To further complicate the testing the bacteria carry a number of pathogens such as anaplasma and the parasite, babesia.  These produce co-infections not detected by standard testing.  Biologists in Manitoba estimate that 65% of deer ticks there are carrying lyme disease bacteria and/or one of the two other pathogens.  Unfamiliar with the disease, some practitioners are turning to profit-making US labs where lyme is common in the northeast. [map below] That is potentially a mistake, too. A review of studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2015 showed that some analyses of U.S. specialty labs had false-positive rates ranging from 2.5 percent to as high as 25 percent. One lab showed false-positives in 57 percent of samples taken from a control group known to be Lyme-free.

Surrounding the problematic diagnosis, are issues with insurance coverage.  Disability insurance companies in Canada often claim that chronic Lyme disease does not exist, for example, so that they don’t have to pay disability claims. At the same time, many insurance companies deny life insurance to potential clients who have had a Lyme disease diagnosis, says a Lyme disease researcher at University of Alberta.

A French pharmaceutical firm is working on a vacine for lyme.  A vaccine existed in the US, but it was withdrawn from the market in 2002 midst lawsuits over its side effects.  Canada is going through what people in the northeast went through in the 1980's when chronic lymne disease was first being diagnosed. People who were asymptomatic when for years without treatment.  Now, thanks to global warming the disease has spread to Canada.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Trophy Horror Show Continues

Cecil (L) was killed by a trophy hunter, credit: NatGeo
Despite calling trophy hunting a "horror show" in one his infamous tweets, Hair Further's administration said it will end the ban on importation of lion and elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Conservationists derided the memorandum from US Fish & Wildlife, which said trophy importation would be decided on a "case by case" basis, as lacking transparency, confusing and promoting corruption.  It said its decision making would be based on the consideration of the Endangered Species Act, but it could not say how many permits would be issued for either specie, nor could it offer any further clarification of the new rule.  One if the reasons offered for the lack of guidance was on-going litigation over trophy importation.  A Zimbabwe conservationist called the entire muddle, a debate over “butchering the last survivors for entertainment.”  The trophy business is already highly opaque and the relaxation of the ban provides an another mechanism for corrupting a system that benefits a few highly-placed safari outfitters and wealthy foreign hunters.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

COTW: Trumpomania

credit: N. Beeler, Columbus Post Dispatch
US Person can say something positive of about Hair Further: the man can make a decision when he wants to.  He had his Reykjavik moment this week when he told South Korean Ambassador he accepted Kim Jong-un's apparently frank and sincere willingness to discuss nuclear disarmament with the United States.  If the Deep State allows him to follow through on his imperious acquiescence,   peace on the armed peninsula of Korea will be the single greatest, historic accomplishment of his administration.  Swallowing Trump's expensive military parade ($30 million) after such a breakthrough will be much less distasteful.

credit: J. Darkow
Wackydoodle sez, No unemployment for you!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

COTW: Inconvenient Proof

Inside Climate News provides these charts showing the indisputable evidence that the oceans are warming as a result of anthropomorphic climate change.  The truth is becoming so well substantiated that Neanderthals in Congress can no longer deny the reality.  House Repugnants have asked the military to study the effects of climate change.  They only trust the military establishment, because according to them the civilian scientific community is full of fuzzy-headed liberal pinkos bent on destroying capitalism:

This chart of ocean temperatures in excess of 78℉ are show in red, orange and yellow.  These temperatures are sufficiently high to cause more hurricanes. Warmer ocean water played a role in three major hurricanes of 2017: Harvey, Irma and Maria.  The rate at which oceans are warming has nearly doubled since 1992, and the heat is reaching much lower in the water column.  As ocean temps rise, sea level rises due to thermal expansion among other contributors such as melting ice shelves:

Talk about "strong", try talking about the weather.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Nor'Easters Stronger!

The northeast has been battered by two powerful winter storms with a third one on its way, expected Wednesday.  Maryland, Virginia, New York and Massachusetts declared states of emergency as they were inundated by record high tides and hurricane force winds.  Boston experienced its third highest high tide on record since record keeping began in 1928.  The record of 15.16 was set just two months ago, on January 4th.  Conservationists say the "strong" weather is a stark of example of whats to come in an age catastrophic climate change.  There is some $6 billion worth of construction in Boston's Seaport District; lately its been known as the 'inundation' district and few of the projects are equipped to handle repeated flooding.  Boston planners say sea level has risen 9 inches in the last century and could rise 1.5 feet in the first half of this century.

The massive Naval Station at Norfolk, Virginia not only floods during severe storms, but even on sunny days if the tides and wind are right.  US Army Engineers identified the tipping point of 1.5 feet of sea level rise which would cause serious infrastructure damage in a 2014 study.  So far there are no plans to address the condition which scientists expect within a few decades.  When the station was established 100 years ago, sea level was 1.5 feet lower than it is now.  To compound flooding problems, the land is flat, near sea level, and compressing since much of the base was built on landfill.  The Union of Concerned Scientists said its own study that a sea level rise of 1.4 feet would cause the base flood.

Alaska's Bering Sea lost a third of its ice cover in just eight days in mid-
February, at a time when ice cover should be reaching its greatest extent for the year.   Instead it is shrinking; now 60% below its average of 1981-2010. [map]  The Arctic's cool temperatures act as a global climate moderator, but that role is coming to an end as the Arctic's last two years were the warmest on record. Arctic sea ice has been declining this century at rates not seen for the last 1500 years. The low ice level is impacting subsistence hunters along the Alaska coast.  In a positive development, a federal appeals court ruled last month that the ringed seal, which is rapidly loosing its habitat, qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act.  Now, the federal government must identify critical habitat for the seal, which impede exploitation plans by oil companies and their governments.

Friday, March 02, 2018

COTW: Great American Patriots?

credit: Joe Heller
NRA reported spending a record $55 million to influence the 2016 elections, but sources close to the gun industry pressure group told McClatchy DC Bureau that the amount is closer to $70 million.  Some of that money apparently came from Russian sources; it is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.  The FBI is investigating Alexander Torshin, a prominent Russian banker with close ties to the Kremlin and the NRA. During his campaign for president, Hair Further was an outspoken proponent of gun rights.  Torshin, a member of the same political party as Vladimir Putin, was investigated by Spanish authorities for money laundering operations.  The investigative report describes Torshin as a leading figure in the Russian mob named "Taganskaya".  Torshin reportedly used his government connections to launder money for Russian mobsters through Spanish banks and properties.  Torshin is a lifetime member of the NRA and claims he met Trump through the organization that Trump characterizes as, "great American patriots". 

The evidence of malfeasance tightens around Humpty Trumpty, implicating his organization not only in illegal campaign activities, and obstruction of justice, but also money laundering. The New York Times reports that Special Counsel Mueller has reached an agreement with fired senior White House political advisor, Steve Bannon, to answer questions concerning Trump's Russian Connection.  Earlier, he refused to answer any questions unless approved in advance by the White House.  US Person says, Moloch is alive and well and living in 'Merica, and he demands human sacrifice. Leviticus 18:21: "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD."

"God-given right", says Rev. S. Moon at PA religious ritual.