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Prediction for the New Decade : U.S. as Polyphemus

January 3, 2011

It was either that or Humpty Dumpty, but I don’t expect Uncle Sugar to just quietly topple. Expect a lot of blind staggering about because even with its ubiquitous electronic surveillance, the empire can’t seem to tell its own ass from a hole in the ground. And there will be quite a bit of lashing out at every perceived threat to its hegemony with many brown people gnashed to death in its maw before all is said and done. What with the collapsing economic system however, by the end of the decade the lashing may be done with kalashnikovs rather than smart bombs.

Sounds a lot like the decade just passed. I doubt Polyphemus will make it to the 2020s though, at least in one piece, as the monster is taken down by nobody in particular.

Whether or not Odysseus makes it home again safely in this version remains to be seen.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    January 3, 2011 1:51 pm

    Odysseus is going to have a rough go of it getting home if Polyphemus’ also blind and stupid poodle dog puts millions of gallons of oil slick in his way – MPs give backing to deep water drilling off UK.

    Following the Deepwater Horizon spill, the Energy and Climate Change Committee was asked to look into the risks of drilling in deep water off the UK.

    Oil companies have openly admitted that current plans for deep water drilling off the Shetland islands could cause an oil spill worse than the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

    But Tim Yeo, the Chairman of the Committee, said both the energy and national security of the UK depends on the newly discovered oilfields.

    He said safety procedures could be “tightened up” but on the whole the industry is safe and the regulatory system “robust”, following reforms brought in after the Piper Alpha disaster.

    “Although we heard evidence it is not always done right – and I am sure it is not always done right. Nevertheless, I think the concerns are nothing like big enough to justify stopping the process,” he said.

    Mistakes will be made, but full speed ahead! If humanity is going to get any smarter this year, it sounds like we’re off to a real bad start. We never learn.

    On the bright side though, if another blowout does happen, it might take out a few of the salmon farms in the area….

  2. cometman permalink*
    January 3, 2011 1:57 pm

    As a species we may not get any brighter, but there’s hope for individuals at least. Oliver Sachs says old dogs can learn new tricks – This Year, Change Your Mind.

    While some areas of the brain are hard-wired from birth or early childhood, other areas — especially in the cerebral cortex, which is central to higher cognitive powers like language and thought, as well as sensory and motor functions — can be, to a remarkable extent, rewired as we grow older. In fact, the brain has an astonishing ability to rebound from damage — even from something as devastating as the loss of sight or hearing. As a physician who treats patients with neurological conditions, I see this happen all the time.

    Maybe I can re-learn all the math I’ve forgotten after all.

  3. cometman permalink*
    January 5, 2011 12:32 pm

    Big Brother issues, some more chilling than others –

    If you see blue lights in your rear view in Cali, better throw your cell phone out the window along with your roach – Calif. Supreme Court approves warrantless data seizures by police.

    By a vote of 5-2, the court said police may “rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer,” according to the dissenting opinion of Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar.

    Werdegar was joined by Justice Carlos Moreno in opposing the decision.

    “The majority thus sanctions a highly intrusive and unjustified type of search, one meeting neither the warrant requirement nor the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Werdegar continued. “As a commentator has noted, ‘[i]f courts adopted this rule, it would subject anyone who is the subject of a custodial arrest, even for a traffic violation, to a preapproved foray into a virtual warehouse of their most intimate communications and photographs without probable cause.'”

    The dissenting justices suggested that before rummaging through a suspect’s mobile device, police should be required to convince a judge of the likelihood that evidence of a crime would be uncovered.

    Think the Supremes might strike down this ruling? Scalia doesn’t even think the Constitution specifically protects discrimination against women – Supreme Court justice: No protection for women in Constitution.

    “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex,” Scalia told California Lawyer. “The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that.”

    Of course the Constitution doesn’t specifically protect the rights of fat white bastards of Italian descent either, but I bet Scalia would be up in arms if his kids were denied a job because the boss didn’t like swarthy people.

    Thought about using a term other than “swarthy” to describe those of Mediterranean descent (which includes myself) but decided against it as I didn’t want to give a bad impression. But in light of this next instance of revision, maybe I should have – New edition of Huckleberry Finn replaces n-word with ‘slave’.

    …a Twain scholar from Auburn University in Alabama believes he has found a way to teach Huck Finn without all the controversy about race and language: Alan Gribben is editing a new version of the classic novel that will remove all 219 instances of the “n-word,” replacing it with the word “slave.” The book will also replace the word “Injun.”

    Not sure whether Mr. Gribben is a limey, a kraut, or what, but this part greasy Greek/part frog/part limey/all cracker thinks that is fucking ridiculous. My kid’s reading the original and will learn what those type of words are all about and why they were ever used in the first place, which I’m pretty sure was Twain’s intention when including them.

  4. cometman permalink*
    January 5, 2011 1:34 pm

    A few points of interest –

    Interesting bit from this article on the ongoing sparring between the US and Venezuela – Why Washington Hates Chavez.

    In late November, Venezuela was hammered by torrential rains and flooding that left 35 people dead and roughly 130,000 homeless. If George Bush had been president, instead of Hugo Chavez, the displaced people would have been shunted off at gunpoint to makeshift prison camps–like the Superdome–as they were following Hurricane Katrina. But that’s not the way that Chavez works. The Venezuelan president quickly passed “enabling laws” which gave him special powers to provide emergency aid and housing to flood victims. Chavez then cleared out the presidential palace and turned it into living quarters for 60 people, which is the equivalent of turning the White House into a homeless shelter. The disaster victims are now being fed and taken care of by the state until they can get back on their feet and return to work.

    Housing 60 people out of 130,000 is definitely a symbolic gesture, but it sure beats telling the cops to fire at will.

    As a smoker, good to see that some people are fighting back against banning the use of a legal substance – Spanish smokers rebel against new year ban.

    A consumer group known as Facua recorded more than 800 such complaints in the first two days. The majority came from Andalucia, home province of the Guadalmina bar and grill.

    Its owner, a non-smoker himself, has called on other proprietors to follow suit and ignore what he calls an “absurd and shameful” law.

    “Tobacco is legal, it’s on sale – even in places where it’s illegal now to smoke it,” Jose Eugenio Arias reasoned in an interview on Spain’s Intereconomia TV.

    “If it’s harmful, which I don’t doubt, then it should be banned from sale like cocaine and heroin or hash,” he said, arguing that if that was not the case, he should be free to allow smoking in his restaurant.

    But don’t expect anyone to listen to common sense when there’s tax money to be made from sales and fees to be collected from smoking violations.

    And I’m not sure what to make of this one or if it even means anything – Oceanic ‘Garbage Patch’ Not Nearly as Big as Portrayed in Media.

    The studies have shown is that if you look at the actual area of the plastic itself, rather than the entire North Pacific subtropical gyre, the hypothetically “cohesive” plastic patch is actually less than 1 percent of the geographic size of Texas.

    “The amount of plastic out there isn’t trivial,” White said. “But using the highest concentrations ever reported by scientists produces a patch that is a small fraction of the state of Texas, not twice the size.”

    Another way to look at it, White said, is to compare the amount of plastic found to the amount of water in which it was found. “If we were to filter the surface area of the ocean equivalent to a football field in waters having the highest concentration (of plastic) ever recorded,” she said, “the amount of plastic recovered would not even extend to the 1-inch line.”

    If you read the whole thing, it sounds like they’re trying to say that yes, there is a lot of plastic floating around in the huge area once it’s drawn into the vortex of the Pacific gyre, but not every square inch of that huge area is covered with plastic. To which I’d add, “No shit”. But even if there are on a few square centimeters of actual plastic per square meter of water surface, large animals feeding on plankton are still going to chow down on a hell of a lot of plastic. Or small ones too for that matter.

    Any thoughts?

  5. cometman permalink*
    January 5, 2011 2:03 pm

    Heard about the blackbirds falling dead en masse a few days ago on NPR. They interviewed some guy with some research credentials or other who said that the birds they’d tested all showed signs of massive internal hemorrhaging. He discounted the thunderstorm theory saying these birds didn’t see well and didn’t fly at night when the storms in the area occurred but said that locals reported hearing loud booms like a cannon going off. His theory was that that noise spooked the birds and made them take flight at night to escape and they started running into things in the dark and died. That sounds a little shaky to me. A few frightened birds from a flock might fly into a window or a tree, but not that many.

    Here are a couple of articles on it (been busy and haven’t been able to do much searching past rawstory lately, but these have some decent links to follow) –

    On top of the bird and fish deaths reported in Arkansas, there were also similar deaths recently in Sweden and Brazil – Mass bird and fish deaths becoming worldwide phenomenon.

    And an update a day later about more deaths in the US – Birds fall from sky again, this time in Louisiana.

    My first thought on hearing the story on the radio was that it was some sort of toxic cloud they’d flown into. You’d think the someone would report it though if there was an industrial accident in the area, but after seeing how the BP blowout was covered and the feckless state of the national media, who knows if they wouldn’t try to cover it up?

    Here’s one from the feckless national media, and I think the interview is with the same guy I heard on NPR – No poison found in birds that fell on town .

    Preliminary autopsies on 17 of the up to 5,000 blackbirds that fell on this town indicate they died of blunt trauma to their organs, the state’s top veterinarian told NBC News on Monday.

    Their stomachs were empty, which rules out poison, Dr. George Badley said, and they died in midair, not on impact with the ground.

    Empty stomachs may rule out poison being ingested, but it doesn’t seem like you could rule out poison being breathed in without checking the lungs.

    An “environmental imbalance” is given as a possible cause in the Brazilian fish deaths –

    “We will wait to see what happened, but speculations suggest that fish may have died due to an environmental imbalance, dropping a fishing boat or leakage of chemicals,” Captain Edson Oliveira Avila, regional coordinator of Civil Defense in the Paraná region, told Paraná-Online.

    And here’s another possibility – Blackbird Killers Sent to Investigate Blackbird Deaths.

    Do wildlife officials feel just a little hypocritical answering media questions about the New Year’s Eve blackbird “rain” when they know they kill 200 times that amount a year as “pests”?

    In 2009 the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of USDA, says it poisoned 489,444 red-winged blackbirds in Texas and 461,669 in Louisiana. It also shot 4,217 blackbirds in California, 2,246 in North Dakota and 1,063 in Oregon according to its posted records.

    We won’t even talk about the starlings, crows, ravens, doves, geese, owls (yes owls) hawks, pigeons, ducks, larks, woodpeckers and coots our tax dollars annihilated to benefit ranchers, farmers and other private interests. Or the squirrels, rabbits, badgers, bobcats, beavers, woodchucks, coyotes, opossums, raccoons and mountain lions.

    The he-men at the Wildlife Service also shot 29 great blue herons, 820 cattle egrets and 115 white-faced ibises in 2009, despite the known dangers of approaching shore birds.

    It’s hard to know which is worse: government agencies like APHIS, Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry helping private rice farmers and landowners with our tax dollars. Or the scorched earth baiting of their rice fields with poison “until blackbird populations are depleted,” as LSU’s Rice Research Station News puts it.

    To me, this sounds a lot like that stupid “rogue missile” story that made the rounds a few weeks ago when the idiots in the media couldn’t figure out what had caused a contrail.

    I suspect there is a simple if somewhat sinister explanation for all this. Yeah, maybe a few dozen birds could get spooked and die but not thousands at a time. You’d think there would have been some sort of observed precedent if that were the case. When you see animals dropping dead in the Gulf, I’m thinking maybe people ought to start to look at the effects of all those dispersants and oil that were dumped into the water and absorbed into the air through evaporation. Or ask various government agencies what was on their latest list for culling.

  6. artemis54 permalink
    January 5, 2011 4:29 pm

    Our rapist former mayor now has both tits stuck firmly in the wringer:

    The Benton County Prosecuting attorney’s office has filed additional charges in the Linda Lusk case, based on the allegations that Lusk was not “accepting responsibility” for her actions concerning the case. In addition to the original charge of 3rd degree child molestation the new charges include; Communication with a minor for immoral purposes, and rape of a child. Lusk is facing three class c felonies, each carrying a maximum of five years in jail and up to $10,000 fine for each count.

    The nearly unanimous feeling is that this is more like what she should have been charged with in the first place. For one thing, imagine what would have happened if she were a man.

  7. artemis54 permalink
    January 5, 2011 8:57 pm

    Awful:

    Joe Bageant: I have been struck down by an extremely serious form of cancer

    • sisdevore permalink
      January 6, 2011 2:11 am

      Dammit. Murray Waas again.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 6, 2011 8:44 am

      That does not sound good at all. Been wondering if there was some other reason he hadn’t been writing as much lately. Very sad to see that’s what it is.

  8. cometman permalink*
    January 6, 2011 1:36 pm

    Answers on earlier questions about whether there is a direct link between childhood vaccines and autism. After recent outbreaks of childhood illnesses in the UK, the British Medical Journal has come out against the author of the 1998 study linking vaccines with autism and labeled him a fraud.

    More from Phil Plait.

    Brian Deer’s article on BMJ is nothing short of a tour-de-force, and is a horrifying tale of how Wakefield allegedly falsified medical research deliberately while operating under a huge conflict of interest.

    And from PZ Meyers including a CNN interview with the fraud where Copper calls the debunked “Dr.” Wakefield a liar.

    Children died because of the hysteria fomented by the contemptible Wakefield. How does that guy live with himself?

    Hopefully this latest will get people to stop listening to old MTV veejays instead of people who know what they’re talking about.

  9. cometman permalink*
    January 6, 2011 1:46 pm

    Barry’s presidential commission determines that the BP disaster was due to bad management of the project and was preventable.

    In a chapter of its final report, to be published next week, the presidential commission said the failures were “systemic” and likely to recur.

    BP did not have adequate controls in place to ensure safety, it found.

    ~snip~

    “What we found was very limited oversight of these various activities and decisions, that the agency responsible in the Department of the Interior was understaffed, [and] didn’t have the inspectors and technical analysts who were up to the task fully.”

    The findings came in the final report of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which President Barack Obama convened in May to investigate the root causes of the spill and recommend changes to industry and government policy.

    Though it lacked subpoena power, the panel reviewed thousands of pages of documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, and in the autumn conducted a series of public hearings.

    In a statement released on Wednesday, Bob Graham, former Florida governor and a co-chairman of the commission, said the findings showed the blow-out was avoidable.

    “This disaster likely would not have happened had the companies involved been guided by an unrelenting commitment to safety first,” he said.

    So what’s that mean regarding any potential consequences? Not much. The problem was ‘systemic’ and it wasn’t just BP at fault but Transocean, Halliburton, and pretty much the entire oil industry. So because everybody is to blame, using government logic nobody is to blame –Gulf oil spill: BP set to avoid gross negligence charge.

    BP is more likely to escape the potentially ruinous charge of gross negligence, according to City analysts, after a powerful US commission blamed “systemic” causes for the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

    Just fucking brilliant. And the offshore drilling continues unabated.

  10. cometman permalink*
    January 6, 2011 1:57 pm

    Some notes –

    Helen Thomas returns! Woo hoo! Her latest column on the rats who’d like to slash social security.

    Glenn Greenwald on the latest US teenager being imprisoned and tortured without charges. Unconscionable.

    And some financial notes –

    The housing market isn’t at the bottom yet and there’ll be more to lose before all is said and done.

    And it appears nobody learned the lesson about handing out credit to those unlikely to pay it back. Gotta sell those cars or Barry’s “fix” of GM won’t look so hot so keep handing out that free money

    Can you believe it? Auto finance companies are lending up to “140 percent of value” of the loan to “credit-challenged” consumers? And this is going on just two years after the biggest meltdown since the Great Depression.

    Keep in mind, that the housing/credit bubble cost ordinary working people $12 trillion in lost retirement savings and home equity while the perpetrators on Wall Street have seen their profits skyrocket. Bubblenomics is not “innovation” and it certainly does not increase productivity. It merely transfers wealth from one class to another via credit manipulation.

    Consider the recent reports about improvements in the economy. While it’s true the data is looking better (retail sales, personal consumption, manufacturing, car sales etc) it’s also true that the credit cancer is spreading again. Consumer demand is still weak because unemployment is nearly 10 percent and wages remain flat. So the only reason spending is up, is because credit is expanding. But that means more lending to people who are incapable of repaying their loans which will inevitably lead to another bust.

  11. cometman permalink*
    January 7, 2011 7:23 am

    Barry decides to surround himself with even more ex-Clintonite banker types – Back to the future: Obama turns to Clinton economic team.

    Thursday, as expected, Obama named as his new chief of staff William Daley, 62, a J.P. Morgan Chase executive and former Clinton commerce secretary who’s also a member of the prominent Daley Chicago political family. Daley has headed J.P. Morgan’s Midwest operations as well as the firm’s corporate responsibility section.

    Obama’s also expected to announce Friday that he’ll choose Clinton’s National Economic Council head Gene Sperling, 52, as his own new council director. Sperling is an adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and has worked for investment house Goldman Sachs.

    He used to head their corporate responsibility dept! What a fucking stand up guy he must be! Well at least he making sure both Goldman and Morgan are represented. The Morganites must have been getting pissed when it was just the Goldies getting all the plum jobs. Now it’s fair and balanced!

    And this really irks me –

    It’s hardly surprising that Obama seeks to identify his administration with Clinton’s when it comes to the economy. The Clinton years coincided with the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Gross domestic product grew by about a third. The U.S. work force expanded by more than 18 million jobs. Unemployment fell steadily, from 7.5 percent in 1992 to 4 percent in 2000.

    If you figure the American public is a bunch of rubes who can’t remember what happened ten minutes ago, then yes, it is hardly surprising that Barry would try this tactic. But if you happen to remember that all that economic activity was caused by massive deregulation which caused a huge bubble that later exploded causing all kinds of problems we still haven’t recovered from and aren’t likely to any time soon, well then those staff picks look just fucking stupid.

  12. artemis54 permalink
    January 7, 2011 10:37 am

    The onetime MP for Vancouver Island north and perennial NDP candidate Catherine Bell has thrown in the towel to concentrate on her business.

    A couple days ago, Alexandra Morton let it slip that the NDP had approached her as a possible candidate.

    Within hours, a Facebook page blossomed in support.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 10, 2011 7:52 am

      Not that familiar with Canadian politics. Is the NDP similar to the “New Labor” in the UK? Looks like they currently have the fourth most seats in the House of Commons with enough members to make their coalition have some clout.

      • artemis54 permalink
        January 11, 2011 9:32 pm

        Great in theory, in terms of platform and principles. For one thing they have pledged to abolish the (unelected) Canadian Senate if they ever get the chance. They seem to founder on questions of purity v getting anything done.

  13. cometman permalink*
    January 10, 2011 1:49 pm

    The next part in a series documenting the environmental damage done by the Cali wine industry, again well worth reading in full – The Murder of Mark West Creek.

    This one discusses one Goldman Sachs exec’s attempt to get his vanity winery built on unsolid ground. Really disturbing to see how much the whole game is rigged, just like everything else these days. Sobering words from one of the lawyers involved with the case –

    Among those who spoke at the hearing was the defense attorney Steve Krimmel. “In a sane system, those people would be looking at prison time,” Krimmel said of the Cornell project managers, as well as many of Sonoma County’s grape growers in general, on the day after the hearing.

    He continued, “In my profession, I’ve dealt with perjurious professionals and crazy people who I represented for years at a time. Before that, I worked for three years at an investment firm in San Diego, which was an experience of corporate America at its worst. But this experience involving Cornell and the Sonoma County PRMD has impacted me in terms of my concern about the future much more than anything before. What I have seen in the Cornell Winery process convinces me that we don’t have a future.”

  14. cometman permalink*
    January 10, 2011 2:07 pm

    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to piece this shit together –

    The Ber-nank says there will be no bailouts coming for state and local governments because well, he just doesn’t have the authority. Poor powerless little Ber-nank.

    Now everyone’s favorite reptilian politician is pushing for legislation that would allow insolvent states to file bankruptcy instead, allowing them to renege on their pension obligations to state workers.

    Guess people can kiss those pensions goodbye along with their social security too.

    Of course some of these situations could likely be remedied by forming state banks like North Dakota already has keeping them out of financial peril, by why help when there’s still looting aplenty to be done?

  15. cometman permalink*
    January 10, 2011 2:17 pm

    In the light of the recent shooting of Rep. Gifford in AZ, I expect an even greater crackdown on our remaining civil liberties to be the result. One is already getting started – Dem plans bill banning use of threatening imagery against politicians.

    In the wake of the tragic Arizona shooting, Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) says he plans to introduce a bill criminalizing the use of certain forms of threatening imagery against lawmakers and judges.

    “You can’t threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair,” Brady told the New York Times. He explained to CNN that his bill would also ban symbols or language that threaten “a congressman, senator or federal judge.”

    So the next time Palin says something stupid she’s heading for the pokey. Riiiiiiiight. Somehow I think this type of measure would be used to crack down on what citizens are saying amongst themselves rather than punishing any politicians who just made a “gaffe” when appearing in campaign ads brandishing an AK.

    In fact, that type of thing is already starting. As Greenwald discusses today the US government is demanding that Twitter turn over the personal records of certain users associated with wikileaks even though these people did absolutely nothing wrong under the existing law as it stands.

  16. cometman permalink*
    January 10, 2011 2:20 pm

    A small ray of niceness.

    Looks like Vermont’s new governor is serious about getting a single payer healthcare system in that state – Will Vermont’s Babies Have a Better Chance?

    From Shumlin’s January 6, 2011, inaugural address:

    “The rising cost of healthcare for Vermont’s middle class and small businesses provides an equally daunting threat to economic prosperity. Just ten years ago our little state was spending $2.5 billion a year to stay healthy. Today we spend over $5 billion. That increase represents an enormous hidden tax on families and small businesses across our state. If left untethered, the rising cost of health insurance will cripple us.

    “That’s why we must create a single-payer healthcare system that provides universal, affordable health insurance for all Vermonters that brings these skyrocketing costs under control. Let Vermont be the first state in the nation to treat healthcare as a right and not a privilege; removing the burden of coverage from our business community and using technology and outcomes-based medicine to contain costs. By doing so, we will save money and improve the quality of our care.”

  17. cometman permalink*
    January 11, 2011 3:56 pm

    Just a few links today –

    Hadn’t realized that Lockheed Martin had been given quite this much clout – Is Lockheed Martin Shadowing You? – How a Giant Weapons Maker Became the New Big Brother. Lockheed spooks, if you’re reading this, go fuck yourselves!

    Simon Johnson sees more than a little conflict of interest with Barry’s new pick for chief of staff – The Bill Daley Problem.

    If the country’s most distinguished nuclear scientists told you, clearly and very publicly, that they now realize a leading reactor design is very dangerous, would you and your politicians stop to listen? Yet our political leadership brush aside concerns about the way big banks operate. Why?

    Top bankers, including Bill Daley, have pulled off a complete snow job – including since the crisis broke in fall 2008. They have put forward their special interests while claiming to represent the general interest. Business and other groups, of course, do this all the time. But the difference here is the scale of the too big to subsidy – measured in terms of its likely future impact on our citizenship and our fiscal solvency, this will be devastating.

    Most smart people in the nonfinancial world understand that the big banks have become profoundly damaging to the rest of the private sector. The idea that the president needed to bring a top banker into his inner circle in order to build bridges with business is beyond ludicrous.

    And Barry’s farm lackey Vilsack is all set to “compromise” again, this time with Monsanto –

    Vilsack says the biotech alfalfa, developed by Monsanto Co (MON.N), is safe. An even-handed compromise among growers would better than repeat litigation over rules for biotech crops, he said. The alfalfa dispute went to the Supreme Court and a U.S. appeals court is hearing a case on biotech sugar seeds.

    ~snip~

    “Every farmer ought to be able to do what he or she wants to do on their land, so we are going to continue to have that conversation,” Vilsack said at the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). USDA held an alfalfa “stakeholder” session in December.

    Guess douchenozzle Vilsack hasn’t gotten the memo that Monsanto in many instances has NOT allowed farmers to do what they want on their own land if those farmers who don’t want Monsanto’s products find that the wind has blown them into their fields. How do these people even look at themselves in the mirror anymore?

  18. artemis54 permalink
    January 11, 2011 9:40 pm

    Morton has made her decision.

    It starts off sounding very much like a manifesto:

    . . . . The way I see it the people of our communities, province-wide, are suffering from the same politics as the salmon. I have lived 26 years in an extremely small coastal town called Echo Bay and I saw how political decisions, that we were not a part of, made in Victoria and Ottawa, destroyed us. They took away a small mill from my neighbour, Bill Proctor, and they told us we could not tie our floathouses to the shores of this province, while granting this same right to the industrial salmon feedlots.

    As a result, my home is supporting foreign shareholders and not the local communities of Gwayasdums, Kingcome, Hope Town, Echo Bay, Alert Bay and Port McNeill. We have lost our residents, school and a culture is slipping away. Bureaucrats claim we were not worth the paperwork and this is wrong. I would like to fix this, because it is not good for the people, bears, whales or the salmon or the real economy. The real economy is the one that includes us, like wilderness tourism, community forests and many small businesses.

    but ultimmately it is a personal one:

    I have decided not to run for Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North because every time I spoke people would have to decide if that was the truth as I see it, or the best thing I could say to win votes, support a political party, or work with my caucus. I think my unique contribution to the home that I love is my role connecting the wet and wild world I am part of to people and government.

    I am also deeply involved with the Cohen Inquiry into DFO’s management of the Fraser sockeye. This is a powerful process that I want to see through.

    My Decision

    While many will regret it, it is hard to argue. She has seen enough that her decision is quite well-informed.

    Although it was recorded in October, one can hear in the CBC interview played last night her disgust with traditional politics.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 12, 2011 7:19 am

      If Canadian politics is anything like those in the US, which it sounds like it is, then I think her decision is the right one and she explained it very well.

      When you look at how the few good Congresspeople in the US get marginalized all the time, I think she’d be much more effective causing a ruckus than being just one vote. She does seem to be able to rally people and get a good amount of publicity for what she’s doing.

  19. cometman permalink*
    January 13, 2011 1:18 pm

    A small sampling of some of the stupidity proposed in the aftermath of the AZ shooting over the weekend –

    Looks like this was in the works before the shooting happened, but NH lawmakers are doing a lot of backslapping now that the OK has been given to pack heat in the state legislature.

    Now, the Republican says he feels even safer after legislators voted last week to overturn a ban on weapons in the State House and permit concealed weapons on the House floor and in the visitors’ gallery.

    The moves were bold symbolic statements on gun rights driven by a slate of new pro-gun Republicans in the New Hampshire House. In the aftermath of a shooting rampage in Arizona over the weekend that left a congresswoman in critical condition and six others dead, they have taken on a grim practicality for some lawmakers who say threats of violence have become a fact of elected office.

    Republicans said the shootings underscored the need for self-protection.

    “It hasn’t changed my view at all,’’ said Baldasaro, who added that the tragedy in Arizona might have been averted. “The shame is that not one person had a gun.’’

    Yes, I’m quite sure that if everybody had a loaded gun every time they went out in public, nobody would ever be shot again. Fucking retarded.

    And some other dumbass in DC wants to wrap Congress in a bulletproof bubble.

    Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) wants to enclose the House Gallery in “a transparent and substantial material” such as Plexiglas, an aide told CBS News.

    His legislation aims to keep the public from being able to throw explosives or other materials at members while they are on the House floor.

    Then there’s Peter King trying to prove he’s the biggest moron of them all –

    Another GOP congressman, Rep. Peter King of New York, is advancing a bill that would make it a crime to bring a firearm within 1,000 feet of a government official.

    No word on how King plans to inform all those who are legally packing that he’s on the way.

    There is one sane remedy in the last article, which will likely get no consideration whatsoever –

    Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), two of the most outspoken gun control advocates in Congress, were also sponsoring legislation that would restrict high-capacity ammunition clips like the one used Saturday.

    “The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “These high-capacity clips simply should not be on the market. Before 2004, these ammunition clips were banned, and they must be banned again.”

    Take some of the extremely lethal weapons away from the cops while you’re at it, and you’ve got yourself a deal.

  20. artemis54 permalink
    January 13, 2011 2:27 pm

    It’s all connected. CBD Executive Director Kierán Suckling remembers Judge John Roll:

    The Center for Biological Diversity brought many environmental cases before Judge Roll. He was fair, thoughtful and interested. Sometimes humorous, sometimes tough, he had a knack for getting to the core of a case quickly and making attorneys focus on that core, whether they wanted to or not.

    The Center didn’t win all our cases before him, but we always got a fair hearing. He epitomized the greatest value of the American legal system: the ability of a single, honest man or woman to ensure justice regardless of the weight of political and economic powers benefiting from injustice.

    When jaguars once again roam the remote deserts and mountains of the Southwest, it will be because Judge Roll, in a landmark 2009 decision, had the foresight and assertiveness to overrule the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had abandoned U.S. recovery efforts for North America’s largest cat. He struck down the agency’s refusal to prepare a federal recovery plan or designate and protect critical habitat areas north of the Mexican border. The agency is now in the process of developing a recovery plan and mapping out essential jaguar habitat in the United States.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 14, 2011 8:31 am

      Thanks for that one.

      Just can’t stand the hypocrisy coming from all sides so I have a hard time watching any of the coverage of the AZ shooting and hadn’t heard the specifics about who the victims were.

      RIP Judge Roll.

  21. cometman permalink*
    January 13, 2011 3:00 pm

    Various points of interest –

    Slaps on the wrist continue for those involved in banking scams.

    Add Tunisia to the list of countries where things aren’t going particularly well as high food prices and incresed cost of living cause riots.

    How is this even legal? SF Weekly reports on how the SFPD has been luring people into stealing cars to create material for some dumbass reality show.

    For several weeks in August and September, the SFPD entered show business. Police Chief George Gascón, a press-savvy leader from the media-friendly LAPD, approved the department’s participation in Bait Car, a reality show on the truTV cable network that airs alongside programs like Operation Repo and Las Vegas Jailhouse. (Gascón accepted former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s appointment as district attorney on Jan. 9.)

    Police netted more than 30 alleged car thieves, many of whom you can see in the episodes that have aired since late December. What you won’t see disclosed on TV is the special relationship between the police and the producers — the fact that Hollywood-based KKI Productions donated two specially outfitted bait cars worth $31,000 to the police’s fleet. The show won’t reveal that KKI paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to dozens of police officers. The sergeants in charge say sometimes the officers were on the clock.

    Archaeologists find the oldest wine making equipment yet discovered in Armenia dating all the way back to 4000 BC.

    And Paul Craig Roberts has a book review! Looks like a good one too on animals who get pissed off at their keepers and attack them – A Brief for Animals.

    Jason Hribal in a book just off the CounterPunch/AK press, Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance, regales the reader with tales of animal rebellion and escape from captivity. In Hribal’s account, when big cats, elephants, and orcas injure or kill their trainers and keepers they are inflicting retribution for the abuse and exploitation that they suffer.

    One of Hribal’s most convincing examples is Tatiana, a Siberian tiger in the San Francisco zoo. On December 25, 2007, Tatiana cleared the 12 foot high wall of her enclosure to decimate the teenagers who enjoyed themselves tormenting her. Tatiana ripped one of her tormenters to pieces, and, during her 20 minutes of freedom, she searched the zoo grounds for the other two, ignoring zoo visitors, park employees, and emergency responders. As Hribal puts it, “Tatiana was singular in her purpose.” She could have killed any number of people, but ignored them in pursuit of her tormentors.

    Obviously, Tatiana could have escaped from her enclosure whenever she had wished, but had accepted her situation until torment ended her acceptance.

    Another to add to the list.

  22. artemis54 permalink
    January 14, 2011 9:33 am

    RIP Richard Henry

    • cometman permalink*
      January 14, 2011 12:03 pm

      Thanks for that one too! Pretty encouraging that they were able to save these birds, at least temporarily.

      I remember you posted a link about some parrot-like and/or flightless bird a while back that I hadn’t heard of before. Is this the same species?

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