Sunday, February 27, 2011

I read the news today oh boy...

Daily Kos discusses the reason Citizens United included unions... so they could be attacked. (h/t to mahakal for the scary link.)

Koch brothers own America.

Glenn Greenwald on why the military and the media are attacking journalist Hastings for his reporting.

Think before you drink? Water?

The women of the legislature who are actually helping run the country.

How Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly are doing.

David Corn exposes Fox News' Roger Ailes' lies: Roger Ailes' Sex-and-Lies Tale: There Is Something Different About Fox

Finally. Our national attention is caught by this fact: You Have More Money In Your Wallet Than Bank Of America Pays In Federal Taxes

Friday, February 25, 2011

Defunding Planned Parenthood

And they don't care.
1.94 MILLION UNINTENDED PREGNANCIES AND 810,000 ABORTIONS ARE PREVENTED EACH YEAR BY PUBLICLY FUNDED FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES

Teabaggers and Republicans

How is it that "small government" Tea Party conservatives have so much overlap with the religious right, which wants a sniffer for every woman's panty drawer and a bureaucrat digging around in your sex life to see if you should be denied your full human rights?

Interestingly, the religious right has long had a theory that ties together their desire for a more theocratic state and the rhetoric of "small government" – or at least, ties together their anti-feminism with the small government rhetoric. The idea is that God has set gender roles for men and women, where women stay at home dependent on men. Feminists, the thinking goes, use social spending and reproductive rights to keep women from becoming dependent on men, which upsets God's plan for women. So, in order to return to the natural order of male dominance – which they currently call "complementary roles" – the government should not only deny women reproductive rights, but also cut off social spending in order to force women become dependent on men. No healthcare, no welfare, no spending on education that gets kids out of the home and allows women to work outside of it. And now, of course, no spending on contraception that allows women to delay marriage and limit family size, preserving their independence.

That cutting these programmes wouldn't do anything really to reduce spending doesn't seem to matter. All that matters is that this idea weds fiscal and social conservatism, breaking down any meaningful division between the two. The Republicans get this, which is why they are using spending cuts as a cover to give social conservatives what they want in terms of restricting contraception and abortion.

Now, if only the mainstream media would wake up and see the massive overlap between the Tea Party and the Christian right that the Republicans have always understood.

This is what democracy looks like

We Are Wisconsin from Finn Ryan on Vimeo.



(h/t to mahakal on Facebook)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monsanto

Why Monsanto always wins.
The biotech industry plays hardball in Congress as well. One week before Roundup Ready alfalfa was deregulated, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the House Committee on Agriculture, where Chairmen Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) led a charge to press the USDA to fully deregulate the alfalfa. A political action committee and individuals associated with Monsanto donated $11,000 to Lucas' campaign last year, and Lucas has received $1,247,844 from the agribusiness industry during his political career, according to watchdog site www.opensecrets.org. Since 1999, the top 50 companies holding agricultural or food patents have spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying efforts, according to a report released last year.

The USDA does invite the American public to weigh in on controversial issues like GE crops, and the CFS reports that, last spring, 200,000 people submitted letters "highly critical" of the department's draft conclusions on Roundup Ready alfalfa. "Clearly the USDA was not listening to the public or farmers but rather to just a handful of corporations," CFS Director Anthony Kimbrell said after Roundup Ready alfalfa was fully legalized. The public comments may have fallen on deaf ears, or perhaps they were just drowned out by the booming voice of a biotech industry that refuses to take no for an answer.

The rich/ poor divide

In graphs and charts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hope springs eternal

Just a reminder to read Phila of Bouphonia's Friday Hope posts. Very worth it.

Athenae* [Scout] of First Draft has a video up

From Wisconsin:



*This was done by Scout for First Draft.

Making the rounds on FaceBook

Read this if you appreciate or even hate teachers.

by Eedroj Remier on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 1:42pm

Are you sick of high paid teachers? Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - baby sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM
with 45 min. off for lunch and plan — that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children.

Now how many do they teach in day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET’S SEE…. That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 peryear. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children
X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)

Uppity wimmens

Tom Tomorrow has the latest.

Monday, February 21, 2011

And more by the way...

Even with all those amazing tax breaks and bailouts and golden parachutes and bonuses....
Study says most corporations pay no U.S. income taxes

(Reuters) - Most U.S. and foreign corporations doing business in the United States avoid paying any federal income taxes, despite trillions of dollars worth of sales, a government study released on Tuesday said.

The Government Accountability Office said 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eating our oceans empty

Fewer big fish in the sea, say scientists
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Fewer big, predatory fish are swimming in the world's oceans because of overfishing by humans, leaving smaller fish to thrive and double in force over the past 100 years, scientists said Friday.
Big fish such as cod, tuna, and groupers have declined worldwide by two-thirds while the number of anchovies, sardines and capelin has surged in their absence, said University of British Columbia researchers.
Meanwhile, people around the world are fishing harder and coming up with the same or fewer numbers in their catch, indicating that humans may have maxed out the ocean's capacity to provide us with food.
The UK Independent has a plan:
Out with tuna, in with sardines – a recipe for saving the seas

Stop the Republican War on Women

Redefining rape. Attacking the right to choose. Belitting victims of violence. The Republicans are on a rampage attacking women's health and rights this year. And if we don't speak up, they'll keep going. That's why we need to raise a ruckus, and get the word out about the GOP war on women.

Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP's War on Women
1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't yet. Shocker.

2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."

3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)

4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.

5) In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.

8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

9) Congress just voted for a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.

10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).
Sign the petition.

Money talks

Koch industries orchestrating anti-union 'Tea Party' protests in Wisconsin

Thursday, February 17, 2011

China on alert for leather protein in milk supply

It must be Thursday...
BEIJING – China has warned dairy producers that inspectors are on alert for fresh milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine and another toxic substance extracted from leather scraps.
Both additives — melamine and hydrolyzed leather protein — would make dairy products made with watered-down milk appear to have normal amounts of protein. Infant formula tainted with melamine killed six children in China in 2008 and sickened more than 300,000.
Keeping track.

Robert Reich speaks about Social Security

Budget Baloney (1): Why Social Security Isn’t a Problem for 26 Years, and the Best Way to Fix It Permanently

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Glenn Beck Conspiracy Theory Generator

It all makes sense now!!

Our national discourse

One of the conservative guests then says that Paul Krugman might be right in that everyone wants cuts for everyone else but not themselves, and that to move forward, we all have to be prepared to make sacrifices. Hannity was having none of it.

"I've sacrificed enough. With all due respect, when they tell me they're going to means-test my social security and they want to, basically, they're going to legalise stealing people's social security. "Oh you've been successful. You've paid in your whole life, Hannity. You know what? Too bad. We're going to take your money." I'm telling you, I resent that. It sounds selfish, right?"

Suffice to say, even his conservative guests were blushing a little for the multimillionaire talkshow host at this point, but he stuck to his guns.

"I paid my whole life. I want my money back!"

And with that, Hannity managed to prove unequivocally the very point he was disputing. It would have made Glenn Beck proud.

China's rice found to have heavy metals

It must be Wednesday...
BEIJING (AFP) – Up to 10 percent of rice grown in China is contaminated with harmful heavy metals but little has been done to highlight the possible public health risks, a report said.
This week's edition of the New Century magazine cited studies showing that large amounts of Chinese rice have been tainted with heavy metals like cadmium due to years of pollution stemming from the nation's rapid economic growth.
Keeping track.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our new Congress ignores its own brand new rule

Of having to cite where in the Constitution the legislation applies:


Thank god for Weiner and Waxman!


Update: Didn't mean to snub Congresswoman Schakowsky either.

Brought to you by the letter B

For bastards:
House GOP Budget Cut Plan Targets Americorps, Corporation For Public Broadcasting For Elimination
House Republicans called for cuts in hundreds of programs across the face of government Friday night in a $61 billion savings package toughened at the last minute at the demand of tea party-backed conservatives.

From education to job training, the environment and nutrition, few domestic programs were left untouched - and some were eliminated - in the measure, which is expected to reach the floor for a vote next week.

Among the programs targeted for elimination are Americorps and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


Photobucket

HA!

What animals are really saying:



How to make your shopping cart suck less.

Demonstrators clean-up Egypt's streets

Egyptians clean up after the protests and the parties...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ok...

Photobucket

Welcome to the party, pal!

Ask any House Republican about repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law, and you’ll get the same fiery, self-assured talking points about tearing down what Speaker John Boehner has called a “monstrosity.”

But talk to some of the 16 freshman lawmakers who have declined their government health benefits, and you’ll hear a different side of the story — about tough out-of-pocket expenses, pre-existing conditions and support for health reforms that would help those who struggle with their coverage. As they venture into the free market for health insurance, these lawmakers — many of whom swept into office fueled by tea party anger over the health care law — are facing monthly premiums of $1,200 and fears of double-digit rate hikes.
What on earth do you think we've been yelling about for years?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tell me why we trust anything we buy from China?

China’s poor treated to fake rice made from plastic:
Various reports in Singapore media have said that Chinese companies are mass producing fake rice made, in part, out of plastic, according to one online publication Very Vietnam.

The "rice" is made by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic. The potatoes are first formed into the shape of rice grains. Industrial synthetic resins are then added to the mix. The rice reportedly stays hard even after being cooked.

The Korean-language Weekly Hong Kong reported that the fake rice is being sold in the Chinese town of Taiyuan, in Shaanxi province.

"A Chinese Restaurant Association official said that eating three bowls of this fake rice would be like eating one plastic bag. Due to the seriousness of the matter, he added that there would be an investigation of factories alleged to be producing the rice," Very Vietnam noted.

Putting poisons and toxic chemicals into food.
(Reuters) - Pulverized lime, an inedible ingredient, has been added to bleaching agents widely used in flour production in China, Chinese media said.
[snip]
China has been in the spotlight in recent years over food-safety scandals, including melamine-tainted milk that sickened thousands of babies in 2008, which have damaged the reputation of the country's food exports.

Bleaching agents, usually made from cornstarch, are added to flour to shorten the time needed for whitening. Substituting cheaper and heavier lime for cornstarch cuts the cost of producing the bleaching agent, which is sold by weight.

Consumption of Pulverized lime can lead to gradual damage to the lungs and eventually the entire respiratory system.
I'll update this list:

Benjamin A Shobert writes for Asia Times:
We have become so desensitized to defective products originating in China that this week's announcement from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission about finding dangerous levels of cadmium in children's toys seemed oddly expected and has thus far ruffled few feathers.

Yet, while this particular issue may not be significant enough to upend the trade relationship between the US and China, or of such severity that it is likely to be the cause of a whole new set of import restrictions, it does add more weight to an increasing wariness and frustration with Chinese-made products on the part of American consumers.

The cumulative effect of these quality problems has the potential not only to impact the export-sensitive economy of China, but to create a systemic problem for what it means to have products of any variety sourced in China, an issue that could cause problems for an untold number of American and European consumer-product companies, as well as the retailers they serve.

In a series of television ads that started late last year with limited runs on CNN Asia, and now spreading to various media outlets around the world, Beijing seems to have acknowledged these fears, with a new ad program defending what it means to be "Made in China". The new ads go by the tag line "Made in China, Made with the World".
I mentioned this back in December but it's worth keeping track of their efforts. I believe this is a classic example of putting lipstick on a pig: don't make vigorous efforts to change the mindset of the Chinese producers, just take out ads to hide the problems.
China turns to Madison Avenue for an image makeover
How about fixing your product safety first? How about actually removing toxins and pollution from your food? How about realizing if you are going to return capitalism to the pre-FDA days of The Jungle, customers will justifiably shun your products.

Educate the Chinese people that meeting quota does not mean going cheap, being indifferent to consequences. It does mean respecting consumers, human life.

Buying a bunch of ads won't do anything to change this list I've been keeping:
The Chinese are insulted we do not want to buy their chickens for our markets? Ignoring the whole thing about Avian (bird) flu, can we just look back for a moment and ponder just why we have cold feet about their food....

My post from November 2008:
Chinese melamine and other toxins have been in our food for years
The rampant use of chemical additives in animal feed can be traced to 1999. According to Gao Yinxiang, the research and development of high-protein feed additives was a hot field among scientists about 10 years ago due to shortage of animal fodder in the country at the time.

From that time, it's hard to define the exact role that scientists played in the evolution of the melamine scandal. Yet scientists certainly contributed to it by developing unsafe protein alternatives. Many Chinese are now calling on scientists to examine their conscience before making profits at the expense of public safety.

The CAS may not have invented melamine additives. However, it still owes the public an explanation as to why it developed - and continues to develop - feed supplements that food experts say are dangerous for human health.

The melamine saga and the reactions from relevant parties, including scientists, the government and the related companies, shows a system that continues to shirk responsibility rather than taking efforts to avoid similar incidents happening again.

Without effective supervision and sound accountability, China's food scares are far from over.
It's not just animal feed. Earlier quote in the article: (my bold)
But scientists say warnings signs were apparent as early as last year when melamine in Chinese-made pet food killed house pets across the United States.

"You can't separate the food supplies of animals, pets and people," Marion Nestle, a public health professor at New York University and author of the recent book Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, told the Washington Post. "That's an enormous warning sign that if something wasn't done immediately to clean up the food safety problem, this would leak into the human food supply."

China has used the Kjeldahl Nitrogen Determination Method to measure protein level in food, meaning the content of protein is determined by the level of nitrogen. It is an open secret in China that melamine is added to milk and animal feed to artificially boost nitrogen levels. It was not until recently, after the exposure of the tainted-milk scandal, that China make it compulsory to test the content of melamine in foodstuffs.
So what does long exposure to melamine do to humans? Kidney stones? Autism? Alzheimer's? What exactly have the Chinese been putting in its products, making our farm animals eat, making us eat?

And why should we trust anything the Chinese government promises us? They get caught repeatedly after vowing not to contaminate their products.

Just a reminder:

China saying no to inspections and destroying evidence.

Rat poison.

Wheat, corn, and rice gluten.

Pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella. Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

Excessive antibiotic and pesticide use.

What melamine is.

Poisoned chickens.

Poisoned farm fish
.

The toothpaste with diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants.

Garlic.

Highly toxic puffer fish sold as monk fish.

Fake blood protein.

Lead in toys: Thomas the Tank Engine, baby bibs, cub scout badges, wooden blocks.

Waste water forced into pigs going to market
.

Poisoned water.

Poisoned medicinal syrup.

750,000 people in China are dying prematurely every year due to high levels of air pollution and poor water quality.

Formaldehyde in candy, in baby clothing

Wild mice used for meat.

Defective tires.

Use of illegal drift nets.

Coma-inducing date rape drug in toys.

Asbestos in toys.

Fake kosher food.

Insecticide-tainted dumplings.

More than 40 percent of drinking water in rural China is unfit for drinking.

Babies being poisoned by milk and milk powder.

Poisoned chocolate
.

Tom Legg of Daai Tou Laam:
But don't expect the Chinese government to really get serious about product safety. How many product safety scares have there been in the last few years? From fake baby formula to tainted fish to fake soy sauce to tainted bean curd sheet to a bridge that collapsed because there was no steel reinforcing-bar used.

If the CCP wants to product their people from eating hormone-laden pork, then that is their prerogative. If they instead want to ban products from the US as a tit-for-tat over negative press coverage of Chinese product safety issues, it shows the Chinese government is childish and easily manipulated by foreign powers. Like a recalled Chinese toy, press the right buttons and watch the CCP leaders dance. Watch the CCP spokesperson trotted out to blame it all on the US media. (This of course is the same lap dog US media that willingly served up the story on Mattel as model Chinese operator days before the first toy recall.)

Did you really expect the CCP to clean up their own house? The folks who trashed Premier Wen's Green GDP? The folks whose tactics to combat corruption hearken back to the Ming Dynasty with the substitution of video games for the study of Confucian classics? We aren't talking about leaders with a great ability to look in the mirror and see the problems staring back at themselves.

But to really clean house would come at too steep a price for many cadres and their cronies. So the CCP's option is to keep letting Chinese die at home and face negative press abroad and hope that enough exports keep getting out to keep the currency flow positive and enough skim from IPOs and LCs to keep investment bankers like former Goldman Sachs man US Treasury Secretary Paulson happy, so that their grip on power in Beijing is kept firm.
Trader Joe's is taking some of the Chinese food products off its shelves.

And finally... after how many years of complaints, and poisonings and deaths, the FDA acts:

Federal health officials on Thursday ordered dozens of imported foods from China held at the border as possible health risks. Most are ethnic treats, including snacks, drinks and chocolates.

It's unusual for the Food and Drug Administration to put such a broad hold on goods from an entire country, not just a few rogue manufacturers. The order, which covers products made with milk, is a precaution to keep out foods contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause serious kidney problems.


crossposted at American Street
A few months later I posted this, December 2008:
Nope. Chinese businesses haven't learned yet.

Will they stop when we stop buying their products?
Hong Kong food safety authorities said late Tuesday that for the fourth time in less than two months they had found a batch of Chinese eggs contaminated with illegal levels of melamine, the industrial chemical that has sickened hundreds of thousands of children. The agency said the tainted eggs were imported from a company based in Jilin Province in northern China and were being sold to bakeries in Hong Kong.
You'd think the government would take massive steps to fix this problem immediately, right? Right?

Yet again in December of 2008:
How many babies need to die or become ill before China finally stops Putting melamine into our food?

Brussels, Belgium (AHN) - Soy-based imports from China intended for babies and young children will no longer be allowed throughout the 27-member European Union. The European Commission banned on Wednesday the entry of all foods that are soy-based after the discovery of melamine in a soybean meal in China.

Aside from the prohibition, the EC also required laboratory testing for all soy-related foods and shipments or baking powder. The tested food must contain less than 2.5 milligrams of melamine per kilogram to be allowed entry into the EU. The ban is expected to be in force by the end of this week.

And it's not just China who seems to be indifferent to causing death:
At least 34 babies have died in Nigeria after being administered with a locally made teething mixture.

Six more child deaths were recorded on Wednesday, on top of 28 reported last month in three locations after being given "My Pikin", a teething syrup contaminated with diethylene glycol, which is blamed for causing kidney failure.
And in January of 2009:
That certain piquant flavor...Is in everything:

Melamine-contaminated pet food killed thousands of dogs and cats in the United States two years ago. Melamine-contaminated infant formula recently killed six babies in China, and made hundreds of thousands of children there ill.

Now melamine has been found in some chocolate, cookies and infant formula in the U.S.!

Yet our own Food and Drug Administration says it’s OK to have a certain amount of the chemical in infant formula, even though the agency previously said it couldn’t determine a safe level for melamine. What are we supposed to believe?

Tell Congress you’re fed up with the FDA’s lax regulation of our food and drug supply.Strong leadership, more safety testing, better inspection of imports, and tough enforcement are needed to make sure no American families suffer the tragic consequences of eating contaminated food.

Now that we have an administration that hears us, sign the petition.
Are they thinking we will ignore this and eat chickens raised or processed in China? Are they kidding? There is utterly NO LEARNING CURVE illustrated here AT ALL.

Besides, I'm sure I've had my quota of melamine for life, thanks.

Update: Don't forget about the toxic drywall.
Add to this list as of 12/26/2009 flammable Christmas lights and extension cords.

Update January 12th, 2010: cadmium in children's jewelry.
More from the article on cadmium in children's jewelry:
U.S. goes after cadmium in children's jewelry
-- Federal and state watchdogs opened a new front Monday in the campaign to keep poisons out of Chinese imports, warning Asian manufacturers not to substitute other toxins for lead in children's jewelry and beginning an inquiry into cadmium found in products around the United States.

Congress clamped down on lead in those products in 2008, but cadmium is even more harmful.

Cadmium, which is known to cause cancer, is a soft metal that occurs naturally in soil. It's used as half of rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, but also in pigments, electroplating and plastic.

Cadmium is attractive to Chinese manufacturers because it is cheap and easy to work with. But, like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young, recent research shows.
Updating: 2/6/10 Check out the bolded print and realize how widespread this is:
A Chinese man was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a U.S. prison this week for trafficking in counterfeit Cisco Systems gear.
[snip]
Li was arrested by FBI agents on Jan. 9, 2009, in Las Vegas -- while the annual Consumer Electronics Show was taking place there. He was sentenced on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, after pleading guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods last September.

The FBI has been cracking down on fake Cisco routers since 2005. Two years ago, it claimed to have seized more than US$78 million worth of counterfeit equipment in more than 400 seizures. Counterfeit gear often contains lower-performing components that do not work as advertised. In recent years, some security experts have begun to see counterfeiting as a growing threat to the nation's network infrastructure.
It's not that this man is doing anything different than lots of other Chinese companies ... it's that he got caught. 400 HUNDRED seizures? The Chinese government has to really work hard to be that blind ....

Update 2/8/10: Misuse of antibiotics threaten food chain and world health:
Chinese doctors routinely hand out multiple doses of antibiotics for simple maladies like the sore throats and the country's farmers excessive dependence on the drugs has tainted the food chain. Studies in China show a "frightening" increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus bacteria, also know as MRSA . There are warnings that new strains of antibiotic-resistant bugs will spread quickly through international air travel and internation food sourcing.
And now 4/10: Pulverized lime to bleach flour.

How nice. And how totally ... predictable.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Krugman convinced me...

Time to get on the garden and begin restocking the pantry....
But the evidence tells a different, much more ominous story. While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we’d expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate — which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.
[snip]
Don’t let the snow fool you: globally, 2010 was tied with 2005 for warmest year on record, even though we were at a solar minimum and La NiƱa was a cooling factor in the second half of the year. Temperature records were set not just in Russia but in no fewer than 19 countries, covering a fifth of the world’s land area. And both droughts and floods are natural consequences of a warming world: droughts because it’s hotter, floods because warm oceans release more water vapor.

As always, you can’t attribute any one weather event to greenhouse gases. But the pattern we’re seeing, with extreme highs and extreme weather in general becoming much more common, is just what you’d expect from climate change.

The usual suspects will, of course, go wild over suggestions that global warming has something to do with the food crisis; those who insist that Ben Bernanke has blood on his hands tend to be more or less the same people who insist that the scientific consensus on climate reflects a vast leftist conspiracy.

But the evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we’re getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we’ll face in a warming world. And given our failure to act on greenhouse gases, there will be much more, and much worse, to come.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Bless this young man

Zach Wahls

Rush tries to defend St. Ronnie

And mangles it badly...
STARK: Why is Reagan a hero to conservatives?
RUSH: “Why is Reagan a hero to conservatives?” I don’t think you… Given what you’ve said, and I’m not trying to avoid the question, I don’t think you’d ever understand it.

STARK: Well, he’s a tax raiser, an amnesty giver, a cut-and-runner, and he negotiated with terrorists. Why is he a hero to conservatives? I don’t think you understand it.

RUSH: No, I do. Most assuredly I do. I just don’t think that you would understand it. Where did you get this silly notion that Reagan raised taxes on Social Security? What websites do you read? Where did you pick that up?

STARK: Look up the Greenspan Commission. It’s not too hard to find. I mean, it’s a matter of history.
Maybe conservatives love Reagan because he was the very best they could ever deliver, an Alzheimer's patient in the White House who allowed the inmates to party in the trough of taxpayers money....

and why they longingly search for another in Hollywood. They just need a handsome kindly face and avuncular voice, they'll supply the brains.

Edit* ... they'll supply the [LACK OF] brains...

Remembering St. Ronnie...

In all his glory.

Here.

And here.

I wonder if history books will list these 'accomplishments'....

Thursday, February 03, 2011

This will be interesting to watch...

House Republicans Plan To Cut $32 Billion From Budget
WASHINGTON -- House Republicans announced Thursday that they plan to cut $74 billion from President Barack Obama's budget for fiscal 2011, slashing the domestic discretionary budget by $58 billion and cutting $16 billion from security spending for the rest of the year.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who announced the figures, did not specify which of the hundreds of government programs would see cuts, but promised they would not be the last in GOP leadership's effort to shrink government spending to 2008 levels.

The Republican proposal would only cut $32 billion from current spending levels for this fiscal year, however -- far lower than the $100 billion promised in the party's "Pledge to America."

[snip]

Despite proclaiming a hard-line stance on the budget, Republicans have proposed a number of measures that would increase the deficit, adopting budgeting rules allowing them to pass tax cuts that would increase the deficit.

The House GOP voted in January to repeal 2010's sweeping health care law, even though repeal would add $230 billion to the deficit over the next decade, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. The Senate voted down an amendment to repeal the law on Wednesday.

Ryan will allow the Appropriations Committee to determine where to make cuts based on his budget plan before holding a vote on specific cuts later this month. The measure will be attached to a continuing resolution to fund the government until the end of September, the end of the 2011 fiscal year.

And yes, I am being sarcastic.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fair is fair

We need to demand every elected official who votes to negate the women's right to control their reproductive processes must first issue a sworn statement that his wife (or husband) has never had an abortion, used birth control, or jerked off and destroyed sacred sperm. We need to know how many children they have, and if they are old enough, what their sex lives are like as well.

From soup to nuts....

A Guide: How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt

Egypt: The viral vlog of Asmaa Mahfouz that helped spark an uprising

Roger Ebert takes on Glenn Beck: Does Glenn Beck know less than you about Egypt?

Digby on Egypt and the wingnuts: Doubling Down on the Super Crazy

Tom Tomorrow and the teabaggers

Republicans and rape: H.R. 3 hides even bigger dangers than redefinition of rape

Mapping and analysis of new data documents still-segregated America

Anti-Choice Groups Unite To Increase Abortion Rate

Californian Republicans to Governor Brown: Nyah nyah nyah nyah.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Monster storms

Here and there and everywhere...

Australia

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US

Update: a much more impressive photo:

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Don't even THINK about coming to Southern California! We ...uh... have earthquakes!

Update: More at Bryan's excellent blog.

Tag, you're it!

From Thom Hartmann's "Rebooting the American Dream,"
The Biggest Lesson of History

As challenging as the task may seem, we’re facing nothing compared with what the Founders took on; and Franklin Roosevelt famously told us that while great wealth may hate him, “I welcome their hatred.” Presidents can lead on behalf of the people, but only when the people demand that they do so.

That’s the biggest lesson of history. It took the excesses of the Tea Act of 1773—cutting to virtually nothing the taxes the East India Company paid on tea so that it could destroy its small colonial competitors—to provoke the colonists to commit the act of anti-corporate vandalism known as the Boston Tea Party.

It took the excesses of the robber barons to provoke Teddy Roosevelt to challenge them. It took the nationwide economic destruction of the Republican Great Depression to motivate the people enough to support and encourage Franklin D. Roosevelt to institute—over three (and a fraction) presidential terms—the New Deal.

Our economy is in tatters, the result of more than 30 years of Reaganomics and Clintonomics. Our democracy is hanging by a thread, the result of 40 years of radical Supreme Court decisions steadily advancing the powers of corporations and suppressing the rights of individuals and their government. And our environment is trembling under the combined assault of the Industrial Revolution and nearly 7 billion bundles of human flesh.

It’s the perfect time. We are clearly at a nexus, a threshold, a tipping point. If the past is any indicator, things will get worse before they get better, but in that tragedy will be both the catalyst and the seeds for a very positive future.

Now is the most important time for us all to be paying attention, to show up, and to wake up our friends, family, and neighbors. Because this nation is on the edge of a radical restart, a reboot.

Tag, you’re it.