Saturday, October 12, 2019

'Toontime: L'État C'est Moi

More: The WaPo reported yesterday that at least four National Security Council officials knew in advance of the Orange King's intention to extort the President of Ukraine. They were concerned enough about his illegal request for campaign assistance that they raised the issue with a Very White House lawyer before and after the September 25th call. When then National Security advisor John Bolton found out about the Malignant One's blatant attempt to secure dirt on Joe Biden and his son, he reportedly "went ballistic" and scrambled to find a transcript of the 9:00am call that had already been 'locked down' in an ultra-secret server. As officials attempted to report the incident to their superiors, they contacted National Security Counsel legal advisor John Eisenberg.  Accounts conflict on whether Eisenberg took any action concerning the alarming information he received.  But this new information is certainly consistent with the established fact that the Very White House was aware of the incident before being contacted by the CIA's  General Counsel weeks before a whistle-blower complaint was made.

Those involved in sounding alarms “were not a swamp, not a deep state,” said a former senior official. Rather, they were White House officials “who got concerned about this because this is not the way they want to see the government run.”  As some pundits have pointed out, it is clear that the CIA whistleblower has some institutional support among the intelligence community and on Capitol Hill, but whether the unrest amounts to a "palace coup" as Trumpians would have you think is certainly not accurate. No one at PNG thinks the Democrats are without sin (Hunter Biden never held public office, and Joe Biden never threatened to withhold federal aid for his own benefit).  To leave the Malignant One in control of the Executive Branch would be the death knell of what remains of democracy in 'Merica. So US Person says: Let the great impeachment begin!

credit: K. Siers, Charlotte Observer

Update{11.10.19}A federal three judge appeals panel ruled that Il Douche's accountants must turn over his tax returns in a major defeat for the Orange King. Mazars USA must turnover eight years of financial records sought by the House investigating committees.  It took the appeals judges sixty-six pages to explain why the regime's legal argument that the congressional subpoena had no relation to a legitimate legislative purpose had no merit.  The regime, in accordance with its stonewall policy of resistance, will appeal the ruling to the full US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, or the US Supreme Court.  Tellingly, the appeals panel voted along partisan lines with two Democrat appointed judges in the majority for enforcing the subpoena.  It is an open question in Washington whether the conservative majority of the Supreme Court will vote to defend the Malignant One from congressional oversight and impeachment.

The panel majority did not address the question of whether the House needed to invoke its impeachment powers to make its discovery demands legitimate since the case was decided solely on its executive oversight responsibilities.  Chairman Cummings of the House Oversight Committee hailed the decision saying, "Today’s ruling is a fundamental and resounding victory for congressional oversight, our constitutional system of checks and balances and the rule of law...”  US Person continues to think that as a matter of jurisprudence, and even though the House is following its own adopted rules in declaring an impeachment inquiry is underway, the full House should take the extra step and hold a formal vote endorsing Speaker Pelosi's decision.  The political risks of doing so are minimal since a majority of 'Mericans now support impeachment.  Only eight Democrat representatives have not publicly declared support for an impeachment inquiry.

The ruling comes one day after Deutsche Bank told a federal court in New York that it no longer has Il Douche's tax returns in its possession.  The admission surprised former bank officials cooperating with House investigations into alleged financial fraud by Trump and his organization. Normally, financial records including tax returns are required to support loan applications.  The bank collected his records in 2011 when it became his lender of last resort after a string of bankruptcies cost other financial firms significant losses.  Deutsche Bankt relied on the submitted information when it approved loans for Trump's Doral golf course and a Chicago skyscraper in 2012.  By the time Trump was sworn into office he owed Deutsche Bank an estimated $300 million, making it his largest creditor.

{11.10.19}This week, Il Douche drew his legal guns, as predicted by US Person {28.09.29, Just the Facts, Ma'm} and turned the Very White House into the Alamo. He told Congress through his mouthpiece that he and his administration  would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry under any circumstances. The letter, written by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, was widely criticized by legal scholars as being puerile and a strange hybrid of absurd legal argument (citing George III as precedent, no less) and political polemic. The letter is concllusive proof of another impeachable offense: obstruction of Congress.  Nixon tried the same tactic and lost.  US Person has noted before that impeachment is a political process wrapped in legalisms.  So Repugnants should take note, 'Merican have woken up to the 'yuge' con of Don Veto Trumpilliini: a majority now support impeachment and removal from office.

Smilin' Jack once told us in "A Few Good Men", 'Mericans "Can't handle the truth..."  Well, US is going to give it to you anyway: Donald Trump is mobbed up with the Russians. This 'wise guy' got financing for his failing businesses from them via Deutsche Bank, his casinos laundered money for them, Russian agents got him elected in 2016, and illegal Russian money is now flowing into his 2020 campaign.  You can bet your life that the cappo di tutti capos, Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin, has the goods on Il Douche. Which explains why he put the arm on the Ukrainians to dig up 'dirt' on the Bidens, and threw the only effective US ally in Syria under the Turkish bus. Remember, you read it at PNG first.
credit: Jen Sorensen
Wackydoodle sez: He told me he was callin' "Dialing for Dollars" 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sage Grouse Feel the Heat

The Gunnison Valley is a beautiful, high-altitude basin in the Colorado Rockies surrounded by fourteen thousand foot peaks, and the home of the Gunnison sage grouse (Centrocercus minimus). The impact of global climate warming is all too obvious in the valley. Several years of drought have reduced the number of flowers produced by forbes such as sagebrush. The coldest winter in decades in 2018-19 lingered well into May, causing some hens to abandon their nests or lower their eggs' temperature beyond survival.  Fewer flowers mean fewer insects and grouse chicks eat nothing else in their first few weeks of life.  Consequently, the number of hatchlings has plummeted.

Despite concerted conservation efforts, the bird's population is at the lowest
level since 1996.  Habitat loss and climatic extremes has pushed the grouse closer to the edge of extinction in the wild.  Populations have decreased 60% in the last four years and are expected to get worse.  This species has fared slightly better in the western habitat wars than its larger relative.  The common sage grouse has served a sort of proxy for oil exploitation fights in the West. It was not listed as endangered in 2015 because of a compromise conservation plan that the current regime is dismantling.  The Gunnison grouse is listed as "threatened".  Some conservationists want an endangered listing since it would bring more federal scrutiny, but Colorado wildlife officials think the current mix of state and local protections are just as good.  Now, state officials do the population counts, relocations, and habitat improvement.  Local people are involved in planting sagebrush and removing invasive cheatgrass.

Like other birds who perform a dancing display at a lek, their behavior patterns are considered inflexible, and since it is confined to a small geographic area, it also has an extreme lack of genetic diversity.  These factors make the Gunnison grouse susceptible to a downward extinction spiral.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

COTW: Student Debt Rising

Senator Sanders, bless his heart, wants to forgive student debt and make public higher education free, and here are some of the reasons why in this chart from The Economist:

Student debt has more than tripled in the time period shown and is still going up.  One in five students attending private, for profit schools will default on their loans, wrecking their all-important credit rating, within 3 years.  Those students attending public institutions and graduate with a degree are much less likely to default. So the next time you ask yourself why doesn't Bernie appear more on the CMM, it is because he talks about issues that media elites do not care about, but that are vitally important to working people of all varieties.<10 able="" are="" employment.="" obtain="" p="" since="" they="" to="">

Monday, October 07, 2019

Night Lights Harm Pollination

A two decades ago, there was little scientific interest in the effects of artificial lighting on the wild.  Scientist who noticed the phenomenon of night glow were mostly astronomers that complained about lights interfering with their observations of the night sky.  If you live in an urban zone, you may not remember the last time you saw the Milky Way arched across heavens.  Seeing the stars in a truly dark sky such as in the Australian Outback is a revelation of the non-biblical kind.  The effect of artificial night lights in now receiving increased study, and the news for animals and plants is not good.

Much of the planet's surface is lit at night and the surface area affected is growing at about 6% a year.  Studies show that artificial lighting at night disrupts natural behavior of animals and insects.  From migrating birds thrown off course and turtle hatchlings diverted from the sea to insects uselessly fluttering around a llight bulb until they drop dead from exhaustion human's penchant for lighting up the night is posing an increasingly serious threat to biodiversity.  A third of bee and butterfly species are in decline, beset by disease, toxic pesticides and climate change.

Plants are also affected by night lights.  Much pollination goes on at night by bats, moths, beetles and other insects; almost nothing was known about night pollination until a Swiss researcher, Eva Knop, began studying the affect of artificial lighting on night pollination.  Insects account for 88% of plant pollination and 39% of crop pollination worth an estimated $361 billion in the US, so its an important question to answer.  Ms Knop and her colleagues installed artificial illumination over half of the fourteen Swiss meadows in her study.  For two consecutive summers when the meadows were in bloom they walked the fields at night collecting any pollinating insects they could find. The study, published in Nature, provided the first clear evidence that artificial lighting deters pollinating insects, thus harming the plants that depend on them to reproduce.  One plant, cabbage thistle, which is usually heavily visited by nocturnal pollinators produced 13% less fruit in lighted fields compared to dark ones in the study.  Fortunately cabbage thistles are visted by day time pollinators and can self pollinate too, but the these paths are not enough to make up for decreased night pollination by animals and lead to less genetic

It unlikely humans will give up their need for night illumination, but it can be used more sensitively.  Use of motion detectors for some optional lighting will illuminate walls of light that repeal some insects such as moths.  Spacing street lights farther apart will also help, as would using longer wave length lighting.  LEDs are replacing other street lighting because of their efficiency, but the blue wavelengths emitted are particularly attractive to insects. Changing the lights color will do less harm.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

'Toontime: The Unraveling

credit: Kevin Siers
Update: A second whistle blower from the 'deep state' has emerged.  This staffer from the National Security Council reportedly has first-hand knowledge of the now infamous call to Ukraine's President by the Malignant One to ask "a favor" in return for release of previously appropriated military aid. He corroborates the first whistle blower's complaint.  The second whistle blower has contacted the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community, but has yet to file a formal complaint.

It is worth repeating that a "quid pro quo" is not necessary for a criminal violation of federal election laws, merely a "solicitation" is enough. Don Veto's statements to the Ukrainian president is beyond that legal standard, and could even be reasonably construed as attempted extortion. The first complaint mentions six people with first-hand knowledge of the conversation with President Zelensky as well as a verbatim transcript created as SOP by the Situation Room staff. The reconstruction of the call released by the White House is not complete.  It is now very likely that Trump will be impeached by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.  Hold the vote formalizing the inquiry Ms. Nancy, you have the votes, and the regime will be deprived of another argument in court for not responding to Congress' subpoenas.

On another front, and potentially more damaging, is the news that an enormous cache of financial documents from Deutsche Bank relating to Donald Trump's business dealings has been turned over to the FBI.  According to the NYT on Tuesday, a son of William Broeksmit, a senior risk executive of the bank, found a trove of bank records--including minutes of board meetings, spreadsheets, and financial plans --in his father's email account.  His father died of suicide in 2014.  The son met House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff at a party. Val Broeksmit reportedly demanded money for sharing the documents with his committee, but was refused. Schiff subsequently subpoenaed Broeksmit for the documents. Shortly thereafter Broeksmit turned them over to the FBI.

{05.10.19} We know that Don Veto, but apparently the rubes thought you would grow out of it while shouldering the burdens of the nation's highest office.  Instead, you only continue to demonstrate your unfitness for it's heavy fiduciary responsibilities.  Your criminal behavior began well before occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, however--your dad set you to military school in an effort to set you straight.  The Houdini-like escape from the Mueller investigation only heightened your narcissistic sense of invulnerability, but the Ukrainian shakedown ("Do us a favor..."; "Potus really wants the deliverable") one day after Mueller testified to Congress about your 2016 collaboration with Russia to illegally influence an election will prove your demise*.  Apparently, you have been relieved of "the humiliating chimera of conscience", but ignoring congressional subpoenas is not going to save you.  If not removed from office because of craven sycophants like Moscow Mitch in the Senate, you will nevertheless be forced to ask for re-election with a red letter "I" imprinted on your forehead in shame and disgrace. History will remember you as the only the third president to bear that distinction, as well as its most corrupt.

credit: Daryl Cagle
*Any bill of impeachment should include, at least, the obstruction of justice charge investigated by Mueller.  Mueller found ample evidence of Don Veto's attempted obstruction of his investigation; the only reason he did not indict him on that charge is because of the Office of Legal Council's unsound policy of not indicting a sitting president.  That policy has no application to an impeachment. The investigative work is already done, and the evidence supporting the charge of record.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Logging Roads Allow Poachers to Penetrate Remote Forests

logging track, photo credits WCS
A study published in July reports that poachers are using logging roads to access remote areas of rain forest prey on endangered species central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) and western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). The study published in Frontiers in Forest and Global Change looked at intact forest located in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and an adjacent sustainable logging area in Democratic Republic of Congo, to assess the impact of human activity on the species' habitat. The comparison showed little effect on the number of individuals in the undisturbed and logged areas, but changes in plant ecology altered the apes foraging behaviors. Previously studies have shown that gorillas are more able to adapt to disturbed landscapes than chimpanzees because they have a more varied diet, and they are not as territorial as chimps. One change the researchers noted in chimpanzee behavior is that they build their sleeping nests closer to the ground in logged areas.

Central Africa's once vast, pristine rain forests were protected by their remoteness, but that has changed perhaps forever. Roads cleared for logging now snake through the farthest reaches of dense rain forest. Estimates are that Central Africa has lost a tenth of its undisturbed forest landscapes, and the length of roads in the Congo Basin has increased two and half times since 2003. With the roads have come greedy humans exploiting natural resources including poachers illegally killing forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) for their ivory. Between 2002 and 2011 researchers observed a 62% drop in the population of of their cousins, savanna elephants.

forest elephants dig for minerals, courtesy USF&W
The park, which is part of a UNESCO world heritage site that stretches across Cameroon, Central African Republic and DRC, and its natural inhabitants face other threats. In 2018 the Congo government invited oil companies to explore a block of land that overlaps park boundaries. The French company, Total, holds the Koli sector concession, which overlaps, but also contains valuable peat lands in the Cuvette Basin. French researchers have been advising Total Foundation, the company's non-profit arm to pivot towards forest conservation and renovation. They’ve proposed that Total could leave undeveloped the Koli and Mokelé-Mbembé blocks as a way of locking in carbon. According to the company's own information, it plans to invest $100 million a year starting in 2020 for the “preservation of forests, mangroves and degraded lands. Reports from conservationists say the government continues to urge Total to explore for oil reserves.  Congo's economy is heavily dependent on resource extraction.

David Morgan, a conservationist with Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo and lead author of the study said oil exploration does not fit with Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park's world heritage status. Still, the park is one of the best protected and funded in central Africa and conservationists want to keep it that way, but the research shows it is vulnerable to the scourge of poaching. Moran added, "You can’t let places like this become open to poachers. We have to do all we can to protect [against] that.”

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Robert Reich Talks to Bernie Sanders During Office Hours

Former Labor secretary Robert Reich talks to Senator Sanders about the current constitutional crisis precipitated by the Malignant Orange One, and the reasons for hope.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Impeachment 4.0

Two words: INHERENT CONTEMPT.  If it was good enough for our forebearsers*, it should be good enough for Trump's goombas.  Secretary Pompeo is just the beginning of the regimes non-cooperation--there is no 'limited hangout' in the Trump Zone, only a resort to the mattresses. Other tips: don't give up a shotgun for a pea-shooter against a raging bull elephan by ignoring the damning contents of the Mueller Report (Can 1,000 former federal prosecutors be wrong?), and clean out the Capitol Hill jail. From there it is a short route to the Supreme Court.  The future of the Republic depends upon YOU...

*The last time the power was invoked was in 1935 by the Senate. When the inherent contempt power is invoked, the House or Senate directs the Sergeant-at-Arms to bring the individual before the bar of Congress to be tried.  If found guilty of contempt, the witness may be incarcerated until he or she complies with the order in question or until the expiration of the current session of Congress.

Sanders Rings the Bell

As the corporate mass media (CMM) continues to largely ignore socialist Bernie Sanders for President, and media polls predict his campaign's early demise, the curmudgeonly senator from Vermont forges ahead to a showdown with Joe Biden, or Elizabeth Warren at the convention.  Bernard has raised $25.3 million in the third quarter from small donors exclusively (average just $18 each), a feat of political support matched by no other candidate!

Bernie has responded to his deep grass-roots popularity with ground breaking policy positions.  US Person is utterly amazed that the corporate press seems to be more concerned with were he buys his suits (Khol's) than our society's widening social equity gap.  The top 0.1 now control about a fifth of the nation’s wealth. Senator Sander's latest proposal is a far reaching wealth tax, more aggressive than the wealth tax proposed by Ms. Warren.  His tax would start out at 1 percent on net worth from $32 million to $50 million, and it would top out at 8 percent on net worth over $10 billion. Bernie makes no bones about the existence of a plutocracy in the United States. “There’s no question to my mind that the United States is moving toward an oligarchy,” Mr. Sanders said. “This is an issue that has to be addressed, and this wealth tax begins to do that.”  He has often said he does not think billionaires should exist in our society. Recent figures from the US Census Bureau reveal that income inequality has reached its highest level since the government began tracking the data in 1967. A professor of law and politics at Yale University commented, “We are living in the second Gilded Age.”  The idea of taxing the wealthy is popular with 'Mericans who have seen Il Douche give away $1.5 trillion in tax revenue to the already rich, on the discredited grounds that such leniency stimulates economic growth that "floats all boats".  Despite his munificence, the US economy is slowing down causing the Fed to create more low interest money.

Sander's tax plan would raise $4.35 trillion over a decade.  It also includes mandatory audits of all billionaires and establishing a "national wealth registry".  One criticism of a wealth tax is the difficulty of detecting cheating and its enforcement. The plan has the goals of reducing the share of the national wealth that is scooped up by the richest 1%, and of paying for new social programs like universal child care and low-come housing.  His tax plan would hardly leave billionaires destitute.  For example if his plan had been in effect since 1982, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, would be worth $43 billion today instead of the obscene $160 billion Forbes estimates he is worth now.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

'Toontime: Double Whammy

More: If you read anything on line today, Monday, read this: Richard Nixon is not on the list because he resigned before a vote on a bill of impeachment was held on the floor of the House (the Judiciary Committee had voted to pass on three articles of impeachment, then the Supreme Court forced the turnover of the 'smoking gun', secret White House tapes). There is no doubt the vote would have been in favor of a referral to the Senate, since Democrats, then as now, controlled the House of Representatives. The important point is that no other president has ever been accused of jeopardizing national security to obtain advantage over a political rival by soliciting the aid of a foreign government in an election.  Nixon's abuse of power was solely domestic. As US Person has stated before, Trump's "Russia Connection" is worse than Watergate.

{29.09.19}You know Il Douche is afraid of impeachment now, after his attempted shake-down of Ukraine for personal gain is exposed.  He ludicrously tried to accuse Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) of "TREASON" and "lying to Congress" for accurately summarizing his conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Il Douche is certainly NOT a lawyer; and he has no understanding of not using his office for personal advantage BECAUSE HE DID IT AGAIN WITH AUSTRALIA! No other modern president has refused to completely divest themselves of control of their businesses. That is the case because he intended to use the prerogatives and publicity attached to the office to promote the Trump Organization from the beginning of his bizarre political odyssey; unfortunately for the Republic, the rubes fell for it.
credit: R.J. Matson
Wackydoodle sez: Now that's slow walkin!

{28.09.2019}Now that a whistle blower has provided the "smoking gun", the impeachers in the House should not ignore the abundant record evidence of Il Douche's crimes and misdemeanors already provided by Robert Mueller.  The telephone call to Ukraine's president to "do us a favor" merely corroborates Il Douche's willingness to criminally corrupt the US election process through foreign influence which dates back to the Russian offer of assistance to his 2016 campaign.  His consistently corrupt state of mind was also admirably exposed in an interview with George Stephanopolis wherein he stated he would be willing to receive political dirt from a foreign country, and that he never called the FBI in his life.

Chairman Jerry Nadler stressed in a private meeting with his Judiciary Committee, which has the constitutional authority to recommend impeachment articles to the full House, that the House should not sideline other potentially impeachable offenses, including those outlined in the Mueller report and allegations that Trump is violating the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution.  US Person has one question for Ms. Nancy: where is the freakin' resolution of the House convening an official Impeachment Inquiry?  You have the votes now!  Do you expect a federal judge reviewing a Judiciary committee subpoena or habeas writ to take your word for it?

The process is now moving at comparative 'ludicrous' speed, after being stalled over the summer by the House leadership with new subpoenas issued to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and evidentiary preservation orders issued to the White House.  Testimony from officials mentioned in the corruption complaint is scheduled next week before the House Foreign Relations Committee.  One of those, Special Envoy for the Ukraine, Kurt Volker, resigned his post on Friday.  New players have also been snared in the growing net of exposed corruption:  Attorney General William Barr, consiglierie Rudy 'Ghouly' Guliani, and unnamed sources in the White House who provided information to the CIA whistle blower*.

Chairman Schiff, who now has the lead investigative role in the House, will keep his Intelligence Committee working over the two week recess.  Significantly, three investigating committee chairs wrote the State Department that, “The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the committees. Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry." The whistle blower complaint is better than an eighteen minute gap. It is next to self-incrimination by Il Douche. His message to Zelensky was crystal: cough up dirt on Joe Biden, or no anti-tank missiles to fight the Russians crossing your eastern boarder.
credit: Adam Zyglis 
BC Idonwanna sez: Speaker have strong back!
*Not only did Il Douche illegally try to extort an in-kind campaign contribution from the Ukrainian president in the form of an Ukrainian investigation of Joe Biden, but his underlings in the Very White House abused the national security apparatus to cover-up his criminality and abuse of power. If House investigators are successful in dislodging Trump's verbatim transcripts from beyond-top-secret storage on the stand alone server maintained exclusively by the NSC, US Person predicts here that they will find equally illegal deal making with Russian President Vladimir Putin based upon Don Veto Trumpillini's life long pattern of corrupt behavior and mobster mentality. In a blatant demonstration of just how damning this evidence is, Il Douche, in true mobster style, attempted to intimidate White House personnel who may have given information to the CIA whistle blower.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Yurok Tribe Declares Klamath River a Legal Person

If corporations can be legal persons under the law, why not natural features like rivers, mountains and forests?  The Yurok Tribe did just that this summer.  In a first of the kind action, the tribe declared the Klamath River a legal person with standing in its tribal courts.  The resolution, which  "Establishes the Rights of the Klamath River to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve; to have a clean and healthy environment free from pollutants; to have a stable climate free from human-caused climate change impacts; and to be free from contamination by genetically engineered organisms,” passed by the tribe's council came after a particularly difficult year for the over-appropriated Klamath.  Low water flows for the past few years have caused disease in salmon and cancelled fishing seasons.  The Yurok is the largest native tribe in California, and they join a growing movement to protect the environment from more devastation by granting legal standing to natural resources, giving native people another legal mechanism to protect their river.

Last year the Ojibwe Tribe adopted "the right of Manoomin" to protect their precocious wild rice--Mannoomin--and the fresh water sources it needs to survive in Minnesota.  Another common law country, New Zealand, adopted the Rights of the Whanganui River, which give it standing in courts.  A spokesperson for the tribe said the resolution not only gives legal standing to the Klamath, but reflects the values the tribe. Cherokee Nation lawyer, Geneva Thompson, who worked on the resolution said, “The idea is that the laws of a nation are an expression of the nation’s values.”  Tribes under the US legal system are separate sovereigns who can legislate their own laws and enter into treaties with the United States.

credit: KCET
2002 when about 34,000 salmon died in the Klamath, was a turning point for the Yurok, who began to take steps to protect the salmon.  Legal fights over water rights and fishing erupt regularly as the salmon population continues to decrease and disease blights the river.  This year, thanks to global warming, the snowpack was only 46% of normal; Oregon declared another drought in the Klamath Basin.  The drought is causing an "operational nightmare" for agriculturalists, which directly compete with salmon for adequate water flows. Yurok's tribal counsel Amy Cordalis, says the issues remain the same despite some successes in protecting water and salmon: an over allocated river and dams that diminish water quality.  What has changed is the tribe's approach.  Representing itself in lawsuits, it is reclaiming governance of the river.

In April 2017 a federal district court judge ruled that endangered salmon in the river were entitled to priority over appropriating irrigators.  When disease rates exceed permissible limits, water was diverted into the river to maintain flow. Yurok Tribe et al. vs. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation et al is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.  The victory in court represents a resurgence of the Yurock culture.  For many years it was submersed in institutionalized racism and limited self governance.  The Yurok had lost most of its reservation to white settlers.  The reservation was established in 1855 after a treaty with the US was signed in 1851, but as early as 1874 settlers were arguing it had been abandoned, and they had the right to homestead there.  In 1878 Congress passed the General Allotment Act, dividing up the reservation into small lots for each tribe member.  Surplus lots were granted to non-natives, and more lots bought from natives in a divide and conquer strategy.

credit: J. Yazzie
Despite the 1973 landmark Bolt case, which reaffirmed natives' right to  manage their own fisheries, the state of California claimed the power to regulate native fisheries for conservation purposes pursuant to a 1977 Supreme Court decision.  A year later the state closed native gill netting on the river.  Surreptitious fishing at night by natives began.  It has been an almost continuous struggle to obtain sufficient flows for salmon in the Kalamath.  There have been important wins along the way, such as the 9th Circuit case in 2017 that ordered flushing flows to rehabilitate the Trinity tributary, which had lost 80 percent of its salmon habitat due to the irrigation project on the river.  The judges found the amount of evidence showing the salmons' need for water to be "staggering".  In 2009 Pacific Corp., facing environmental lawsuits and expensive dam retrofitting for salmon passage, began negotiations with a coalition of natives, conservationists and regulators to remove dams on the Klamath.  The negotiations resulted in an agreement to remove four of the eight dams blocking salmon habitat pending federal approval.  If  the agreement is allowed to go ahead, it will be the largest dam removal project in the United States.

There have been three failed attempts to reach a long term agreement of how to use the Klamath's waters.  The last agreement between irrigators and natives failed because Congress did not implement it with legislation.  It was consumated primarily because of a golfing buddy relationship between the tribe's director and the head of the Klamath Water Users Association.  Tribal water rights are among the oldest in the basin, going back to treaty days.  However, non-native ties to the land are strong too.  In 1902 both Oregon and California ceded land to the federal government which opened it to settlement, promising homesteaders water rights.   Repeated droughts have caused the shut off of farmers' life blood--irrigation water. Each year the tribe holds a salmon festival [photo], but lately there has been very little salmon in the festival.  The tribe has canceled fishing for two years in a row.  Oregon irrigators filed an appeal of the case allowing increased water flows for fish in 2017. Ultimately the  Supreme Court will have to decide the fate of salmon and salmon fishers on the Klamath. Whether the river's new personhood will help it regain health remains to be determined.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

"Just the facts, Ma'm"

More: The New York Times has published the full whistle blower complaint on-line here. The identity of the whistle blower has not been revealed but media sources say he is a senior CIA analyst with functional responsibility for Eastern Europe and was once detailed to serve at the White House.

The sh*t has definitely hit the fan (52 USC ℥30121), and even the stock market cannot save the Malignant One. Thank you, George Stephanopolis.

Update: It took another shoe, but thank you, Nancy for finally admitting the imposter in the Very White House is lawless, a clear and present danger to the Republic. Or is US Person just mentally ill?

{23.09.19}That's what über cop, Joe Friday (Jack Webb) told witnesses on the iconic TV crime drama of the 50's, Dragnet.  With that nod, NYT opinion columnist, David Leonhardt has given us forty (40) facts to hurl at the Malignant One holed up in the Very White House. He may indeed be the most corrupt president in US history. The question is: why did 'Mericans elect a failed inherited real estate mogul and 'reality' TV personality with a documented history of questionable business practices and bankruptcies? Perhaps for the same reasons the Germans elected a ego-maniacal failed artist turned paper hanger and house painter. At least Schicklgruber served with distinction in his nation's army. We got bone spurs! Here are the facts (some of which may be classified simply as distasteful personal failings, not impeachable offenses) so far:
He has pressured a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 American presidential election after he urged Russia to intervene in the 2016 presidential election.
He divulged classified information to foreign officials.
He publicly undermined American intelligence agents while standing next to a hostile foreign autocrat.
He hired a national security adviser who he knew had secretly worked as a foreign lobbyist.
He encourages foreign leaders to enrich him and his family by staying at his hotels.
He panders to murderous dictators.
He has alienated America’s closest allies.
He lied to the American people about his company’s business dealings in Russia.
He tells new lies virtually every week — about the economy, voter fraud, even the weather.
He spends hours on end watching television and days on end staying at resorts.
He often declines to read briefing books or perform other basic functions of a president’s job.
He has aides, as well as members of his own party in Congress, who mock him behind his back as unfit for office.
He has repeatedly denigrated a deceased United States senator who was a war hero.
He insulted a Gold Star family — the survivors of American troops killed in action.
He described a former first lady, not long after she died, as “nasty.”
He described white supremacists as “some very fine people.”
He told four women of color, all citizens and members of Congress, to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”
He launched his political career by falsely claiming that the first black president was not really American.
He launched his presidential campaign by describing Mexicans as “rapists.”
He has described women, variously, as “a dog,” “a pig” and “horseface,” as well as “bleeding badly from a facelift” and having “blood coming out of her wherever.”
He has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by multiple women.
He enthusiastically campaigned for a Senate candidate who was accused of molesting multiple teenage girls.
He waved around his arms, while giving a speech, to ridicule a physically disabled person; he mocked a 16 year old Swedish climate activist at the UN.
He has encouraged his supporters to commit violence against his political opponents.
He has called for his opponents and critics to be investigated and jailed.
He uses a phrase popular with dictators — “the enemy of the people” — to describe journalists.
He attempts to undermine any independent source of information that he does not like, including judges, scientists, journalists, election officials, the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Congressional Budget Office and the National Weather Service.
He has tried to harass the chairman of the Federal Reserve into lowering interest rates.
He said that a judge could not be objective because of his Mexican heritage.
He obstructed justice by trying to influence an investigation into his presidential campaign.
He violated federal law by directing his lawyer to pay $280,000 in hush money to cover up two apparent extramarital affairs.
He made his fortune partly through wide-scale financial fraud.
He has refused to release his tax returns and claims he is immune to any investigation.
He falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping him.
He claimed that federal law-enforcement agents and prosecutors regularly fabricated evidence, thereby damaging the credibility of criminal investigations across the country.
He has ordered children to be physically separated from their parents.
He has suggested that America is no different from or better than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
He has called America a “hellhole.”
He is the president of the United States, and he is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for.
Thank you for reminding us, David, about why we must remove Il Douche from the most powerful office in the land!

COTW: A House Divided

These charts demonstrate the widening gap between 'Mericans over some very basic issues.  Half a century ago there was more of a middle consensus, but that has disappeared over time. The electorate is now more polarized, with no consensus on fundamental national priorities:

credit:Pew Research

Significantly, people who identify as Democrats or "leaning Democrat" are three times more likely to view climate change as a crisis caused by human activity, and they are much more likely to support regulating economic activity to protect the planet. (77%-36%) Partisan animosity, which has been well exploited by Il Douche, is on the rise too.  81% of partisans view the other side unfavorably.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Three Mile Island Closes

The infamous Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979 was officially closed on Friday, a historic milestone in the checkered history of nuclear power in the United States.  The owner cited lack of subsidies for its power as a reason for the closure. The plant lost money for the past five years and the state of Pennsylvania  balked at further subsidies. Only one reactor of the facility was still in operation.  The plant's owner, Excelon Corp., said clean up of the site will take an estimated $1.2 billion.  All of the facility's nuclear material will not be removed until 2078.  High decommissioning costs are one reason nuclear power finds it increasingly difficult to compete against cheaper, cleaner alternative energy and natural gas.  The nation's fleet of 96 operating reactors are all nearing the end of their planned operating lives; their average age is 38.

Although no one died from the nuclear fallout of the meltdown, the incident led directly to stricter federal regulation of nuclear power facilities.  The number of new plant constructions has declined to zero since then. The last two nuclear plants built in the US are Watts Bar, begun in 1973, and River Bend, begun in 1977. More than a decade elapsed before these plants began producing power, once claimed to be "too cheap to meter".

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Regime Opens Entire Arctic Refuge to Oil Drilling

A final plan that the government admits will result in extinction of more species, opens the entire coast plain of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to exploitation by the oil industry. The proposal is the most extreme of three plans presented by the BLM.  In its final environmental impact statement, the Interior Department noted that in combination with global warming, to which drilling one of the last great wildernesses on Earth will certainly contribute, birds that nest in the refuge are “already are experiencing decreasing populations, and many could suffer catastrophic consequences from the effects of global climate change in one or more of their seasonal continental or even global habitats...These effects combined with development-related impacts across the ranges of many bird species may result in extinction during the 85-year scope of this analysis.”  Over 200 bird species rely on the refuge for survival.  

Drilling operations will require the pumping of huge amounts of water from the plain's limited water sources, destroying habitat for waterbirds.  Birds are not the only species that will perish.  Federally protected polar bears den in the refuge.  The noisy intrusion of oil infrastructure will disrupt their reproduction, and more bears will be killed in conflict with humans. The massive caribou herds that migrate to the refuge in summer will also suffer vehicle collisions, and lack of forage.  In sum, development of the pristine wilderness poses an existential threat to the entire coastal plain ecosystem.

This aggressive and extreme action by the regime shows, "how far this administration is willing to go to extract oil and gas, even in what should be a protected area,” says the Alaska Audubon's policy director.  The oil industry and its political handmaidens have been attempting to open the refuge to development for fifty years.  They have been turned back by conservationists several times in high profile political showdowns.  A bill finally made it through Congress in 1995, but it was vetoed by Bill Clinton.  Ever since the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, the public has supported protecting the wilderness.  A 2017 survey by Yale University shows 70% of respondents oppose drilling in the refuge.

The latest assault by the Nature rapists is seen as an rush effort to breach the sanctuary during the tenure of Il Douche because the existence of approved oil leases will make it more difficult to reverse course in a subsequent administration.  The draft environmental impact statement was submitted only eight months after the review began.  In its haste, the Interior Department omitted relevant information and altered the findings of its own scientists to downplay adverse impacts.  There has been no seismic testing in the refuge to find specific pockets of oil that can be exploited.

Because Alaskans get a hefty annual royalty from oil extraction, many support opening the reserve, but the native Gwich’in people have staunchly opposed exploitation.  They hold the immense Porcupine caribou heard as sacred, and subsist on hunting it.  Native leaders have condemned the decision to rape the reserve as a demonstration, "that this administration and the Alaska delegation will disregard our way of life, our food, and our relationship with the land, the caribou, and future generations to pander to industry greed.”  Congressional Budget Office estimates that lease sales would generate only half of the $1.8 trillion in revenues claimed by the regime. Next door at Prudhoe Bay,
only 18,000 acres have technically been developed, but the overall amount of land that has been disturbed and developed is more like 217,000 acres.  The same industrial sprawl or greater is inevitable on the Arctic plain if left unprotected.

Although a deadlocked Congress has passed legislation to protect the refuge from the latest attack, the bills will not pass the Senate where oil industry legislators like Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK), who chairs the Natural Resources Committee, are in control.  Conservationists will once again have to resort to litigation to save the last remaining American wilderness. God help them before the eco-fascists turn the Arctic Refuge into another industrial wasteland like the Mississippi Delta.

Friday, September 20, 2019

'Toontime: It Was the Worst of Times...

credit: Steve Sack, Star Tribune

Someone has suggested that humanity suffers from an intellectual incapacity to grasp the fate that awaits it.  If we as a species have to wait on evolution, we will certainly run out of runwayPerhaps the only threat to national security that equals global warming is the Malignant One in office.

credit: Matt Davies, Newsday
BC Idonwanna: Take fire away from Orange man!

You can watch Rudi 'Ghoully' confess to another 'high crime and misdemeanor' here. That makes seven by US Person's count. According to the New York Times, Il Douche repeatedly pressed the Ukrainian president to talk to his personal lawyer who was urging the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.  The regime had placed a hold on military aid to Ukraine for weeks. There is rampant speculation that the hold was connected to Il Douche's desire to see Joe Biden smeared with a corruption investigation. In any event, his transactions with foreign leaders prompted an unprecedented whistle blower complaint from a member of the 'deep state' on August 12th.  It is now obvious that the US intelligence community considers the freestyle improvisation of the 'Chosen One' to be a security risk Stay tuned for more.   His tacit quid pro quo issued to Ukranie is gross corruption for which impeachment is the intended the remedy provided by the founders.

The acting Director of National Intelligence upon advice from a highly politicized Justice Department is refusing to hand over the whistleblower's complaint (probably submitted by fired deputy intelligence chief Sue Gordon) to Congress despite a statutory mandate to do so. If Congress wants to redeem its shattered credibility as a co-equal branch of government, it must impeach Il Douche or he will continue to bully and manipulate a political system that was built to protect a white minority.  As one commentator put it, "our political system is broken".  US Person could not agree more.

The Real Battle for America

Robert Reich nails it with his analysis of the false dichotomy between left and right engendered by the ruling "oligarchs" (=plutocrats, lead by the puppet master, Il Douche) in a divide and conquer strategy:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

TEPCO Execuitves Acquitted of Fukushima Disaster

Three executives of the company that owns the destroyed Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant were acquitted of criminal negligence in a Japanese court on Thursday.  A thirty foot tsunami destroyed the seaside plant after a magnitude 9 earthquake in 2011. Thousands died in the natural  disaster, but forty-four more died in the chaotic evacuation after the giant wave exposed the core of the nuclear reactors requiring the movement of 160,000 people to escape nuclear fallout. Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro were the only people charged with a criminal offense, so their acquittal makes it unlikely anyone will be held criminally responsible for the worst nuclear disaster in history.  TEPCO still faces numerous civil lawsuits and responsibility for the disaster clean up.

In their defense the executives claimed they could not have foreseen the magnitude of the event which destroyed their facility and caused radioactive contamination of land and sea that will last for generations.  Prosecutors presented evidence that three years before the accident the executives were warned that a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters could overwhelm the sea wall and hit the plant.  Defense attorneys dismissed the warnings as "unreliable".

In light of the evidence against the executives, an appointed prosecutor said the acquittal could only be seen as an unjust verdict.  The government, an active partner in Japan's nuclear power industry, was extremely reluctant to criminally prosecute company officials.  Only after two citizen review panels overturned state prosecutors' decisions not to bring charges in 2013 and 2015 was the case filed by appointed special prosecutors.  Conviction rates in Japan are close to 100%, but only two of eight cases instigated by citizen review since the war resulted in convictions.  TEPCO has lost every civil suit for damages related to the disaster brought to trial so far.

Since the disaster, Japan has placed only five of its 39 nuclear power plants back on line after a temporary moratorium.  TEPCO has struggled with the consequences of its multiple reactor meltdown.  It announced that it will run out of storage room for contaminated water used to cool the still burning reactors by 2022.  As of August, 2019 1.2 million cubic feet of radioactive water is stored in 977 surface casks at the facility, perhaps another disaster in the making.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Electoral College Wild Card

Update: A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that candidates who loose the popular vote are increasingly likely to win the Electoral College contest, the only vote that officially counts when electing a president. Reseachers using a model that predicted the 'inversions' of 2002 and 2016 concluded that a looser of the popular vote wining the Electoral College vote is about 40% in races decided by less than 1% of popular votes, and about 30% in races decided by less than 2%. More alarmingly, that asymmetry is skewed toward Repugnants, so much so that in an inversion the GOP candidate wins 69-93% of the time! Conversely a Democrat popular looser only has a 35% chance of winning the actual contest! Is that f**cked up or what? NOT. This is what the aristocratic founders intended all along. None of them wanted the nation swayed by a populist uprising, so they put the decision of picking a head of state in the hands of an elitist cabal and out of the hands of a growing urbanized mass.

According to the research the explanation for the results lies in the fact that Democrat candidate tend to win large states by large margins and loos them by small margins.  This makes little difference in the College where it is winner take all.  For example, Mrs. Clinton won California by 3.5 million votes, but lost large electoral vote states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by 80,000 votes.  Correcting this anachronism requires awarding Electoral votes proportionately, but to actually insure that the popular vote elects the president is to scrap the Electoral College entirely agrees the authors lead researcher, Michael Geruso.  The take away here is:  the election of Il Douche is no fluke and it very likely could happen again.  Bernie Sanders has called for the abolition of the system, but not Joe Biden or Kamila Harris.

{23.08.19}The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in Baca v. Colorado Department of State that it was unconstitutional for the state to remove a "faithless" elector and replace him with one who voted for Hillary Clinton.  Baca, a Democratic elector, wrote in the name of John Kasich, a Repugnant governor of Ohio at the time, even though Hillary Clinton carried the state's popular vote and all nine electoral votes were pledged to the Democratic candidate.  The Colorado Secretary of State replaced Baca with another elector.

The appeals court decided that the removal of Baca as a presidential elector violated the 12th Amendment.  The three judge panel in a split decision, wrote that a state does not have the authority to interfere in the vote of a presidential elector appointed under the federal constitution.  This case is very significant, since it is the first federal appeals court ruling on whether an elector is bound by the results of a state's popular vote, according to Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessing.  His group, Equal Citizens, brought the lawsuit resulting in the court's decision.  It may be a shock to most 'Mericans to understand that their 'democracy' hangs by the thread of appointed party insiders' discretion rather than the vote of the people. Colorado has a law which requires electors to vote in conformity with the popular vote, as do most states. Binding electors to the popular vote result has been the historic practice, but this federal appeals court has made it clear that federal presidential electors act independently of a state's laws or practices, there being no grant of authority in the Constitution to a state that allows removal of an appointed elector once in office.

Lessing said that soon the Electoral College vote may result in a tie or near tie because of hyper-partisanship and gerrymandering.  This situation may motivate electors like Baca to go their own way in an effort to swing an election to a candidate they actually support. Seven electors defected in the 2016 election. Two Democratic presidential candidates, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, have lost the presidency within two decades. despite wining the popular vote.  Lessing wants to see the issue resolved before there is another constitutional crisis. It took Congress sixty-three rounds of voting in 1800 to finally select Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr, the murderer of Alexander Hamilton. They were tied in the Electoral College vote.

Apparently US Person is not the only rabble rouser who thinks the institution has outlived its utility.  Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren want to abolish it. The College clearly violates the modern principle of one person, one vote; that is the main reason to abolish an undemocratic anachronism intended to bolster the political influence of the South's slave economy.

COTW: A Mountain of Plastic

This graphic compares one month's amount of plastic bottle waste to a well known monument:
credit: Reuters
One can see that the scale of the waste stream is enormous.  Although there are effort to recycle plastic bottles, the world is literally drowning in single use plastic.  Only six percent of the plastic waste stream is recycled as shown in this chart:

Canada and the EU are set to ban certain single-use plastics by 2021. Sixty other nations are enacting similar laws, but humanity's use of plastic is on an unsustainable trajectory.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Black Lies from Black Rock

The Original Bern needs to start differentiating himself from his two main competitors.  The points of departure are fairly obvious: Biden's neoliberal voting record in the Senate that he seems to have difficulty recalling accurately and Warren's past as a Repugnant.  Here is a contribution in kind post that may be of interest to Bernie's campaign advisors:

Larry Fink is a supporter and donor of presidential candidate Joe Biden. So who is Joe Fink?  He is the CEO of Black Rock a mega hedge fund that manages more than $6 trillion in investments.  He is also a Democratic superdonor, who allegedly vowed to put 'Gramps' Biden in the Very White House.  Fink has paid homage to sustainable enterprise, but as is distressingly clear with most capitalist his commitment does not extend beyond writing letters urging companies he invests in to consider their impact on the environment.

Amazon fires from space, credit WaPo
US Person says this because a concerned person need look no further than the biggest on-going environmental disaster on the face of the planet.  Deforestation of Amazonia is contributing to more global warming and destroy irreplaceable habitat at a time when the Earth needs every square foot of wild landscape humanity can spare. [photo right]  Black Rock has provided significant financing to the world's largest meatpacker, JBS which has repeatedly bought cattle raised on cleared forest land.  According to Yale University, cattle ranching is the biggest driver of deforestation in South America.  Ranchers clear cut the forest and then light fires to reduce the timber to ash, which fertilizes the mineral poor soil.  Grass replaces the forest, which provide forage for cattle.  The corrupt JBS enterprise is responding to burgeoning demand for beef around the world including the US where fast food businesses buy it in huge amounts.  While Fink was publicly telling business leaders to consider the environment in their business decisons, Black Rock was increased investment in JBS by $41 million between 2016 and 2018.  According to the NGO Amazon Watch, JBS main supplier of cattle was finded by IBAMA, the Brazilian environmental protection agency in 2017 and 2018 for illegal clearances.  The agency has been drastically defunded under the far right Bolsonaro administration; conservation groups have nicknamed him "Captain Chainsaw"; Bolsonaro was an Army captain before becoming president.

It is not just private capital that is funding Amazon deforestation.  Because JBS has a US subsidiary, $62.4 million of tax revenue has been given to JBS to mitigate the negative impacts of Il Douche's trade war with China.  Black Rock is not alone investing in Amazon deforestation.  Capital Group, Vanguard and Fidelity along with Black Rock hold the most significant equity investments in JBS.  Notably Black Rock markets it ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) as "sustainable"; these funds alone have invested $29 millioin in companies driving deforestation.  A black lie that you can ask Joe Biden about.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Breakthrough Developments in Drug Regulation

Still More: The state of New York, which is balking at joining the tentative settlement of claims against Perdue Pharma for its role in the opioid epidemic, has traced a billion dollars in wire transfers by the Sackler family including some involving Swiss bank accounts.  Plaintiffs say the transfers indicate attempts to hide their wealth as their company faced a raft of lawsuits. The uncovering of these wire transfers pursuant to subpoenas issued by the NY state's attorney general to 33 financial institutions strengthen New York and Massachusetts refusal to join the settlement agreement. NY Attorney General Letitia James argues that this money should be used to compensate victims of opioid overdose and addiction.  James called the settlement a "lowball", and told media, “Records from one financial institution alone have shown approximately $1 billion in wire transfers between the Sacklers, entities they control, and different financial institutions, including those that have funneled funds into Swiss bank accounts.”  Lawyers for Purdue are seeking to quash subpoenas on the grounds they are, "premature, facially defective, over broad” as well as “harassing, and an improper attempt to avoid the rules and procedures governing party discovery.”

The New York Times reported that court documents filed by James' office focused on one financial institution that responded to subpoena demands for documents: "A series of transfers involving Mortimer D.A. Sackler was highlighted in the filings. In one case, $64 million was transferred in 2009 from a previously unknown trust called Purdue Pharma Trust MDAS, through a Swiss bank account in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, and then to Mr. Sackler". The Island of Guernsey is a notorious tax haven.  State officials argue that such transfers demand more disclosure before a fair settlement can be entered into.  One commentator likened discovering the Sackler family's international financial dealings to an "Easter egg hunt" that could take some time.

More: {11.09.19}The Sacklers have reached a settlement of the opiod epidemic claims against Perdue Pharma, makers of OxyCotin.p; As part of the tentative settlement of most claims, now in excess of 2,300 lawsuits, the company will file for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. A new company will take over the assets and all proceeds of the sale of drugs will go to compensate plaintiffs.  The Sacklers will pay $3 billion in cash over seven years without any admission of wrong doing.  Forbes estimates their personal fortune to be about $13 billion. Twenty three states represented by the plaintiffs' negotiating team are said to be in favor of the settlement, but several states have said they will continue to pursue family members individually.  New York's attorney general called the deal, "An insult, plain and simple." From 1999 to 2017 about 218,000 people have died from opiod overdoses.  The economic burden of the epidemic is estimated at $78.5 billion a year by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Update: {28.08.19} The ultra-rich Sackler family, who own Perdue Pharma, makers of OxyCotin are reportedly in negotiations to settle all claims against the company for $3 billion of their own money and turning the company into a public trust via bankruptcy that would pay out drug profits to addiction claimants.  The potential deal is worth an estimated $10 to $12 billion.  The company would also provide, without cost, new anti-addiction drugs it is developing.  The opiod epidemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the last few decades since OxyCotin was introduced in 1996.  

Two developments have occurred that could be groundbreaking in the regulation of two analgesic drugs.   First is the announcement by the DEA in the Federal Register that it will begin accepting applications for grows of high quality marijuana for medical research.  The announcement comes just before a deadline in a lawsuit by a medical marijuana researcher, Dr. Sue Sisley, against the agency for its refusal to consider such applications.  Up until today, only one marijuana grow for medical and scientific research was allowed.  The marijuana produced by a contractor in Mississippi is not of suitable quality for medical research applications.  Experts think theproposed rule to expand marijuana grows under research permits will result in the eventual reclassification of the plant from Schedule I that includes cocaine and heroin, the most strictly controlled category of narcotics.

DEA has insisted that marijuana, or "marihuana" as the agency revealingly labels it, remain a Schedule I narcotic despite half the states now allow medical or recreational use of the drug. The agency unrealistically claims there is no acceptable medical use for marijuana. If clinicians like Dr. Sisley succeed in identifying specific medical uses of cannabis or its extracts, and the Food and Drug Administration certifies those findings, that would force the DEA to reschedule cannabis nationwide.  Dr. Sisley performs research on medical marijuana applications to treat veterans.  DEA's regulatory announcement is a belated acceptance of reality--huge profits are being made by the marijuana industry in the US.  Ending the Nixon-era "reefer madness" may even eventually empty the nation's jails of its numerous marijuana criminals.

The real drug criminals may be those companies that manufactured and distributed vast amounts of highly addictive opioid drugs causing a nationwide epidemic of abuse.  The first verdict against a manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, was handed down by a judge in Oklahoma.  Judge Thad Balkman ruled that the company, which supplied sixty percent of the opiod ingredients in pharmaceuticals like oxycotin, pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million in damages.  This is the first ruling against opiod suppliers in over 2,000 lawsuits filed against them.  The state argued that Johnson & Johnson, a family friendly brand familiar to most 'Mericans, aggressively marketed the drug as safe and effective. The verdict proves that J & J profited billions on a drug that is the "root cause of the opiod crisis",  according to a state attorney on the case. Previously Oklahoma settled with two other manufactures, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals for $270 and $85 million respectively, without an admission of liability.  Company attorneys say they will appeal the verdict.