Saturday, September 28, 2019

'Toontime: Double Whammy

More: If you read anything on line today, Monday, read this: https://history.house.gov/Institution/Impeachment/Impeachment-List/ 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.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Regime Guts Clean Water Rule

Destroying environmental protection regulations is a priority for the regime of Il Douche, and unlike other areas of responsibility like national security and foreign policy, he is doing a damn fine job. So far he has eliminated or seriously curtailed 85 rules protecting the environment.  The New York Times is keeping tabs on the rollbacks.

The latest victim of the environmental ghouls; is the Clean Water Rule which puts limits on the amount of polluting chemicals that can be used near streams, wetlands and other bodies of water. The Obama administration promulgated the regulation in response to a Supreme Court case that expanded the definition of what constitutes "waters of the United States". The new rule drastically narrows the definition in response to intense lobbying by farm and industrial interests. Farmer have claimed it burdens their operations using fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides if there is a creek, ditch or pond near the fields that could be polluted by runoff. Now, farmers need a Clean Water Act permit for these types of discharges. The regime says the change in definition puts an end to "an egregious power grab". Environmentalists say the rule change threatens clean drinking water supplies and endangers wildlife. Up until the rule change about 60% of the nation's water bodies were protected even though they may not be connected to larger water bodies such as lakes and rivers by a surface channel. Experts predict that the rule change will be met with hundreds of law suits in federal court seeking to protect waters stripped of regulatory protection.

Toontime: A Suggestion from Hell

credit: R.J. Matson
BC Idonwanna sez:  After another recess!
An important factor that saves the racist minority party from complete dissolution is the fecklessness of their opposition.  Responsibility for the mixed messages issued about impeaching the obviously disordered chief executive is with the Democrat leadership led by the crypto-plutocrat, Nancy Pelosi.  Therein lies the rub.  All of Washington's governing elites belong to the same class, and rule number one of that club is to not rock the boat in which their fortunes float.  Sure Chairman Nadler finally held a vote and can legitimately call his committee's dithering an impeachment inquiry, but even then über insider Steny Hoyer tried to deny the inquiry's existence.  Make no mistake, the extremist regime in power will stop at nothing to block the inquiry from any further progress in uncovering the whole truth.

Impeachment is a bad word around the House, despite 137 Democrats publicly supporting the process of sending The Malignant One to trial.  Pelosi is putting all of her eggs in the election basket--a clear mistake if the party establishment puts 'Gramps' Biden at the head of its ticket, which it will, unless the party's left unites behind Sanders and Warren at a brokered convention. The question the convention will face is whether it will put country before party by turning against the political elites (aka "superdelegates") and the reactionary corporate media which control the process.

credit: Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News
Wackydoodle sez: Y'al got a license for that weapon?

US Person does not suffer from "low T" and he is not a "small dude", so he dares offer this suggestion: to save democracy from fascist creep¹, Sanders and Warren must cut a deal to share the next eight year administration.  Sanders serves first on the condition that he will not seek a second term, but backs Vice President Warren to serve a progressive second term in which Sanders serves as Vice President if he so desires.  Sanders has much more legislative experience that he remembers than Warren². All the leading Democrat contenders poll ahead of the despicable clown in office; electabiity debates are therefore diversionary.  This pact will provide the necessary political continuity to undertake fundamental progressive reform. It may help to remeber that FDR had three terms in office. Warren may be cool to this suggestion now because she is playing her cards to option a second to Biden, as she demonstrated in the debate last night, but then US Person never believed the turncoat Repugnant was authentic.  Just look at her genome.

¹"The non-fascist ethnocentric populism of the far right is crucial in the fascistization process. In the US, this has involved Willis Carto promoting the ideas of global racial apartheid in the Right journal and working with white and Black nationalists to oppose the supposed common enemy of Zionism. The resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan under David Duke’s leadership, accelerating settler-colonial fantasies about creating a “white homeland” in the Pacific Northwest, and the emergence of the neo-Nazi “Order” terrorist group represent other important historical examples of the cross-over between the far right and fascism in the US. Moreover, the Patriot and Minutemen movements--allies to Pat Buchanan, the Tea Party and Trump--are strongly tied to the idea of private property, while the collaboration of the “Chicago School” of market fanatics with Augusto Pinochet’s fascism is well known", writes Reed Ross in his book, Against the Fascist Creep.
²Sanders is soft on the filibuster rule.  When pressed, he refuses to consider eliminating the rule suggested by Burr, saying he does not want to turn the Senate into the House of Representatives.  He has served in both, and one can appreciate the need for a more deliberative body inclined toward larger majorities than one. He also says he would use the budget reconciliation process--a cumbersome process at best--to work around the 60 vote majority now needed to pass any legislation and permits rank obstructionists like Moscow Mitch to shut down Congress.  It is clear the current rule cannot stand as practiced in the Senate if progressive reform is to succeed.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Secret GOP Plan for Minority Rule

Former Labor Secretary and Berkeley Professor, Robert Reich goes to the drawing board to explain the "secret" GOP plan for minority rule in 'Merica. Spoiler: First name is Gerry, second name is Mander NOT Seinfeld: And yes, GOP stands for "Greedy Old Plutocrats":

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Shocking Electric Eel

credit: Flickr
For a species that has a prominent place in the lore of science--Alexander Volta designed the first synthetic battery inspired by the eel's body design, and Michael Faraday placed his bare hands on the animal to understand the phenomenon of electricity--the electric eel or Electrophorus electricus, has some shocks in store for modern researchers. First, the eel is not an eel at all, but a type of knifefish, (Gymnotiformes) which have a flattened body, use gills to breath, and employs electric impulses for navigation and communication. The eel is unique in the order because it breaths air, has a thick cylindrical body shape, and has a organ that can produce shocks of more than 600 volts, strong enough to incapacitate a horse or human being. Its electric organ stretches 80% of its two meter body length with a positive pole in the head and a negative pole in the tail.  The organ contains thousands of specialized muscle cells called electrocytes that can generate electric potential of about 150mV each. [see chart]

credit: Schroeder et al / Nature
But the oddities do not stop there. Thought to comprise a unique species in its own genus for two hundred and fifty years since the famous taxonomist Linnaeus named it, the electric 'fish' is actually three distinct species according to Brazilian researchers. Carlos David de Santana of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum says his research based on museum specimens and live captures shows the three species have distinct genetics, physiques, habitats and electric power. Their DNA suggests they diverged from a common ancestor seven million years ago, before lions and tigers, brown bears and polar bears, humans and chimpanzees.

One of the species retains the original name of E. electricus. (Linnaeus' eel) The others are now known as E. voltai after the Italian battery builder, and E. varii after Peter Vari, a famous ichthyologist who was a member of Stantana's research team until be died in 2016. Santana can now identify the species by sight, but to make scientifically significant distinctions, his team focused on ten important genes. They found little variation in the genes within a group, but much variation between the three. These genetic differences express themselves in subtle physical characteristics such as head shape and the number of touch sensitive pores along the flanks.

In the wild, the eels live in distinctly different habitats. E. vari lives in muddy, oxygen-deprived lowland streams. The other two live in highland rivers with fast flowing, clear water that is well oxygenated. This difference in habitats probably occurred when the Amazon River reversed its westerly flow about 2.5 million years ago, the same time frame when Volta's and Linnaeus' eels variegated into two separate species. Murky water quality allows E. Vari to hunt stealthily alone, using weaker shocks to paralyze its prey. The clear water species hunt in groups and use much stronger shocks because clear water is less conductive. Volta's eel can discharge up to 860 volts, the strongest shock emitted by any electric fish, and strong enough to kill a man. Eels have been known to leap out of the water in order to stun potential prey with maximum effect by creating a short circuit through their target. Alexander von Humboldt, the German naturalist, described this behavior in 1807.

Recently Ken Catania from Vanderbilt University discovered that eels use their electric battery power for more than just hunting. They release 400 volt pulses to cause their hiding targets to twitch with muscular contractions. Eels can then detect distortions in the weak electrical field that surrounds them with electrosensors in their head, and use them to track their victims. They share this ability with other electric fish, which use weak fields to navigate and communicate. But eels take it up a level by immobilizing their prey using their electric superpowers  to transmit high voltage pulses. Helpless prey is then sucked up by the Tazer-equipped monster. What other stunning discoveries await researchers in Amazonia? We may never know since the eels' habitat is rapidly being destroyed by humans..

Monday, September 09, 2019

COTW: A Nation Underwater

This is a topographical map of Grand Bahama Island:


The areas in green are elevations between 0-15 feet, yellow 16-30 feet, red above 30 feet.  Dorian's estimated storm surge was 18-23 feet, so almost the entire island was inundated by the sea. As a reporter on the island said, "The level of devastation is breathtaking..."  Only 35 hurricanes in the Atlantic have attained Category 5 status since record keeping began--five of those have been in the last four years .  Catastrophic storms used to be once a decade, but in the 'new normal' brought to you by the oil industry, they could be three to 15 times each year in low-lying Bangladesh, a country literally disappearing into the Bay of Bengal.  While in the Mekong Delta, which has an average elevation of less than a meter, flooding could displace more than 12 million people. The Vietnamese government shielded the actual elevation information from researchers for years.  Tuvalu archipelago in Oceania is sinking according to natives.  Two of nine islands have already succumbed to rising ocean levels. Home to just 11,000 people, Tuvalu is the fourth smallest nation in the world, but it is nevertheless home to them.  Scientists predict the island chain could become uninhabitable in 50-100 years; meanwhile residents helplessly watch the waves consume their world.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

'Toontime: The Many Crimes of Il Douche

Update: It seems the politically advantageous impeachment strategy long advocated by US Person is finally being recognized by Democratic pundits. A trial in the Senate of Il Douche puts the despicable bourbon Senator Mitch McConnell in a very embarrassing squeeze during an election year: publicly defending the least popular and probably criminal 45th President. Acquitting a president that is so obviously guilty of multiple "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a political liability that even the residents of Kentucky could not stand.  To make impeachment a lock in the House and send the case to the Senate, caucus leaders need 87 more public commitments from Democrats by the end of the year, otherwise it will be too close to the election.  Its worth the effort because the process may not rid US of the Malignant One short of loosing re-election, but it might unseat 'Moscow Mitch' as collateral damage.  Jonathan Alter writing at the Daily Beast suggests, "Despite his acquittal, impeachment—a convenient shorthand for all of his despicable qualities—would hang around Donald Trump’s neck all the way to Election Day. And he would be stained forever in history, his just deserts.” 

credit: John Cole, Scranton Time-Tribune
BC Idonwanna sez: Orangeman get what he want, big time!
{7.09.19}The list of particulars against Il Douche has grown since Robert Mueller dropped his bombshell report.  It seems every other day the media uncovers another instance of his blatant financial exploitation of public office¹.  It is nothing new for the serial bankrupt from Queens: his inherited real estate empire was built on his father's cronyism and political influence peddling².  His criminality is now so obvious that even cautious Jerry Nadler (D-NY) will resort to holding a hearing for a vote on a formal impeachment inquiry.  Reports are that the vote is is scheduled for mid-week.  Nadler has already told federal judges reviewing congressional subpoena requests that his committee is conducting such an investigation, but a formal vote will undoubtedly help clarify Judiciary Committee's legal position as it battles the regime's scorched earth resistance. The Judiciary and six other committees investigating the Malignant Donald have faced a stonewall attempting to obtain testimony and documents.

Apparently some Democrats on recess in their districts encountered difficulty explaining the "fake impeachment" process to constituents too.  The formal impeachment measure is expected to delineate the parameters of the official inquiry.  Repugnants on the committee complained loudly that any impeachment inquiry requires a formal vote.  They will undoubtedly get their demand fulfilled. More than half the Democratic caucus in Congress support impeachment of the wannabe fascist occupying the Very White House.

credit: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
Wackydoodle sez: Use the one marked "emoluments"! 
1"But now, miraculously, now that Donald Trump is president, American military cargo planes have started refueling at that [Prestwick] airport, at a significant price mark up. Right. It’s much cheaper for them to get their fuel at military bases [Lakenheath]. That’s part of the reason they always stop at military bases. Also, they’re the military. They’re no longer stopping at military bases,” TV journalist Rachel Maddow noted.  “Instead they’re stopping at the airport that Trump needs to prop up to keep his Scottish golf resort going and paying full freight commercial airport rates for that fuel. And then they’re sending the aircrews to go stay at the president’s resort,” she explained.  Where by the way, their per Diem is not enough to pay for drinks and food at the pricey Turnberry resort.
2 Amazingly troubadour Woody Guthrie was a tenant of the elder Trump.  He sung of Fred Trump's racial discrimination in housing: “I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial hate/He stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line.”

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Real Socialism

the owners react
Senator Sanders identifies himself as a democratic socialist, but his announced policies so far are basically progressive left.  However, Sanders is set to announce a policy proposal that actually qualifies as socialist.  Academically socialism is characterized by worker control of the means of production.  The Green New Deal nor Medicare for All does this.  However, the Senator from Vermont's most ambitious economic plan to date is his employee ownership plan. According to the Washington Post under the plan for which details have yet to be revealed, big corporations will be required to invest 2% of their stock per year in a fund to be owned by employees, and that would pay out regular dividends to those employee-owners. The employee equity position could go as high as 50%, giving them effective control of corporate policy. As such this ambitious shift in ownership from capitalists to workers is a democratic redistribution of wealth, and socialist by any generally accepted definition of the term.

What is perhaps more surprising is that polling done on the subject of employee stock ownership shows that a majority of 'Mericans support the idea of becoming corporate "stakeholders".  A policy research group in DC said that its polling shows 55% of respondents support the idea and only 20% opposed it. [chart below]  The idea is not a new one.  The British Labour Party proposed similar, “Inclusive Ownership Funds" in a 2017 manifesto.  That plan is capped at 10% of a company's capitalization, but enough to give control to workers in Britain's fragmented company ownership structure.  The Labour proposal goes farther than just employee ownership; the Party plans to bring water, energy, the railways, and the Royal Mail back to public ownership.  Sanders' plan harks back to the 1976 Meidner plan which failed in Sweden because the Social Democratic Party backed out fearing the proposal was too radical. The key difference between the original Bernie's current proposal and the Meidner Plan is that it contemplated worker investment funds across entire industry sectors, not just individual companies.[flow chart, above] eventually resulting in collective ownership of the stock market within a few decades.  Both the Meidner and Sanders' plans have the redistribution of wealth and worker participation in corporate control as goals, which will make other egalitarian reforms such as universal health care, public higher education, and debt forgiveness more viable.

The Meidner Group found that, "the modern economies of the west are filled to
growth in top incomes, credit NYT
the brim with measures against monopolies, cartels or trusts. But nonetheless, nobody denies that the direction of economic development is essentially controlled by and for owners of capital, and their interests."  The is undeniably the situation in the US. [see chart, right]  The average 1% person has an annual income of $21 million from capital. The average hourly wage has grown a niggardly $2 even though per person income has doubled in the last forty years. As Beto O'Rouke might say, that is certainly F***ed Up! 

Nevertheless, employee ownership does exist in some forms in the United States.  Several large companies are majority owned by their employees: Publix Supermarkets, WL Gore & Associates (the makers of Gore-Tex), and Norton Publishers.  Basing worker participation at the company level does lock in inequalities since some companies perform better than others.  Social research reveals that companies that have worker ownership have fewer layoffs, and modestly higher wages.  Shareholders may argue that allowing workers to own shares will dilute their value.  Spoiler: shares are regularly diluted by corporations to give senior management stock options as compensation. The average annual dilution for chief executive and senior management pay is 2.5 percent. So why not allow dilution to give workers a voice in managing the company?  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.  And that, dear readers, is class politics.
 

Friday, September 06, 2019

New Monkey Species Found in Amazonia

In a part of the Amazon being rapidly deforested, a monkey new to science has been found. A type of marmoset, Mico munduruku, named after the indigenous group with which it shares habitat, lives between the Tapajós and Jamanxim rivers in the Brazilian state of Parà.  It has distinct white tail, white forearms, feet and hands with a yellowish pelage on the elbows and saddle, and was described by researchers in the journal PeerJ after ten field studies to the region. Species distribution of marmosets in Amazonia are currently not well understood and the region between the two rivers poorly studied. Consequently its conservation status is data deficient.

White tails among South American primates are very rare.  Only one other species, the white saddle back tamarin, has this characteristic. To confirm that M. munduruku is a separate species, researchers treked in the forest and canoed rivers to observe troops attracted by the recording of marmoset long calls.  Five specimens were taken in the field under permit and muscle tissue genetically analyzed in the lab. The researchers stated in their journal article that, "more studies are urgently needed in order to generate the information necessary for science driven conservation initiatives".   Munduruku marmosets live entirely within the arc of deforestation of the Amazon rain forest.  They may not survive man's wanton destruction of their home to allow scientists to study them further.

Monday, September 02, 2019

COTW: 'Merica's War Machine

The chart shows a current dollar growth rate in war mongering is 5% per year, regardless of the status of foreign relations.  Spending is clearly driven by  considerations other than national self-defense, the only morally acceptable reasons to spend public money on weapons.  Pentagon spending is ethically challenged, out of control and produces extremely expensive systems that are not fit for purpose, or meet no legitimate need. See e.g., F-20 Tigershark vs F-16 Falcon. This is the case because weapons spending is based on politico-economic factors--military Keynesianism is the predominate economic mode today:


Which explains why no Democratic candidate mentions defense spending as a problem, or as a source of cuts to an exploding federal deficit. This situation is merely accepted as the status quo, for fear of accusations of not 'supporting our troops'.  US Person thinks that is 'stinking thinking'.  The US is now spending more in inflation adjusted dollars on weapons that at any other time in its history, except for the 2010 peak reached under 'neoliberal' Barack Obama, and despite the much acclaimed, but delusional "end of the Cold War".

Four separate studies by experienced, respected authors have recommended cuts to the 'defense' budget, but have been totally ignored by the candidates.  The studies recommend Pentagon budget cuts from $1.25 trillion to $3.5 trillion over ten years.  The fact that no candidate will address the issue does not attest to the quality of the studies, but to the compromised status of the national political debate.