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From 21st Century Wire…
It’s Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.A. and there’s another important part of history, dare we say Forbidden, that will not be televised. Lest we forget…
Retired Major General Smedley Butler was onto something in 1933, when he was recruited to be a “gangster for capitalism” by a group of wealthy Americans calling themselves the “American Liberty League”. Damn interesting, indeed.
If you know your history, you know that in 1934 there was an attempted coup in the United States that was thwarted largely due to the efforts of U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (ret.)
Look it up. The playbook is eighty years old.
Butler was only one of 19 people ever awarded the Medal of Honor twice and the only person to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor for two different actions.
After it dawned on him how his heroism and the heroism of the troops under his command had been misused, he wrote a book called “War is a Racket”, which I can guarantee you never heard about in school.
So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because you have just lived through the hottest January through April on record, and it is increasingly likely that 2015 will be the hottest year on record, possibly by a wide margin.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just predicted a 90 percent chance that the El Niño it declared in March will last through the summer and “a greater than 80 percent chance it will last through 2015.” El Niños generally lead to global temperature records, as the short-term El Niño warming adds to the underlying long-term global warming trend.
And in fact, with April, we have once again broken the record for the hottest 12 months on record: May 2014 – April 2015. The previous record was April 2014 – March 2015, set last month. The record before that was March 2014 – February 2015. And the equally short-lived record before that was February 2014 – January 2015.
As we keep breaking records in 2015, our headlines are going to sound like a … broken record. May has already started out hot, and it is quite likely next month we will report “The Hottest 5-Month Start Of Any Year On Record,” and that June 2014 – May 2015 will become hottest 12 months on record.
You are a clear and present danger to my grandchildren’s future.
When the bees are gone, in four years we will be gone.
Two new studies, both published by the journal Nature, are once again indicting the pesticide group, neonicotinoids, as having adverse affects on bee populations.
A pair of new studies published Wednesday in Nature are disturbing when taken separately, but so much more chilling when laid out next to each other: The first provides new evidence that neonicotinoid insecticides can have a negative effect on bees, adding weight to the theory that these chemicals could contribute to colony collapse disorder and endanger our food supply. In the second study, another group of researchers found that bees don’t avoid these harmful pesticides. They may actually seek them out and get addicted to them.
This class of insecticide has been highly controversial, with heated debate, but the data keeps coming in, and piling up, to the point that even the industry-coddling EPA has called for a moratorium on April 2nd, 2015, at long last joining the European Union which also placed a moratorium on the pesticide. It seems that step by step, blow by blow, the critics are being proven correct about the harmful affects of the chemical.
There’s more. You are a clear and present danger to my grandchildren’s futute.
Seven years after the financial crisis began, many of the conditions that helped cause the near collapse of the U.S. banking system—and that were used to justify the multi-trillion-dollar U.S. government bailout of mammoth financial institutions—endure, warns a new report from the Corporate Reform Coalition (CRC).
Titled Still Too Big to Fail (pdf), Thursday’s report charges that since the meltdown began in 2008, regulators have failed to make sufficient progress on key components of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or to boost transparency in political spending.
According to the CRC, which is made up of more than 75 good governance, organized labor, and environmental groups, action on both these fronts is necessary in order to prevent another financial disaster.
“The top six bank holding companies are considerably larger than before, and are still permitted to borrow excessively relative to the assets they hold,” the report states. “They are dangerously interconnected and remain vulnerable to sudden runs, because they borrow billions of dollars from wholesale lenders who can often demand their cash back each and every day.”
It goes on: “Banks can still use taxpayer-backed insured deposits to engage in high-risk derivative transactions here and overseas. Compensation incentives fail to discourage mismanagement and illegality, given that when legal fees, settlements, and fines mount, it is usually the shareholders, not the corporate executives who pay.”
And, the report warns, “[s]hould one of these giant banking firms fail again, it appears that the damage will not be contained.”
“Avoiding another meltdown depends on the will of federal regulators to use the new powers they were granted in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” said Jennifer Taub, author of the report and professor of law at Vermont Law School. “If they behave as if they are beholden to the banks, we will likely face a more severe crisis in the future.”
Taub, also the author of the financial crisis book Other People’s Houses, highlights—”in plain language”—key regulatory reforms necessary to avert another crisis, including:
- ending bailouts by requiring the largest banks to provide credible “living wills” that show how they can file for bankruptcy or be resolved by the FDIC without triggering a financial crisis;
- further reducing excessive borrowing by the top six banks;
- reducing dependence by banks and other financial firms on overnight and other short-term borrowing;
- prohibiting banks from evading derivatives regulation through use of foreign subsidiaries;
- improving bankers’ accountability through rules around incentive pay and bonuses;
- requiring corporate political spending disclosure “so as to begin to deal with the influence peddling that impacts Congress and regulators”
In a statement, Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, lauded that final recommendation. Public Citizen, a CRC member, points out that the report’s call for corporate political spending disclosure adds to increasing pressure on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to act on a 2011 rulemaking petition—which has garnerd 1.2 million signatures in support—calling on the agency to require publicly held companies to disclose political spending.
“More transparency on the part of Wall Street would better serve both our economy and our democracy,” Gilbert said. “Shareholders deserve to know how companies are spending their money to influence financial policy. Without transparency there can be no accountability.”
Good bad or in different, it’s here.
I’m worried about what’s on the other side of it.
You should too, if you’re on my list. You will pay for what you have done.
Fuck us once, shame on you, fuck us twice… President Obama is scheduled to visit Nike’s Oregon headquarters on Friday to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yes, Nike – an Oregon company that grew to billions by outsourcing jobs to overseas sweatshops, an Oregon company that sets up P.O.-box subsidiaries in tax havens to avoid paying U.S. taxes, an Oregon company that uses threats to extort tax breaks from its “home” state.
Nike isn’t the solution to the problem of stagnant wages in America. Nike is the problem.
It’s true that over the past two years Nike has added 2,000 good-paying professional jobs at its Oregon headquarters, fulfilling the requirements of a controversial tax break it wrangled from the state legislature. That’s good for Nike’s new design, research and marketing employees.
But Nike’s U.S. workers make only a tiny percent of Nike’s products.
In fact, Americans made only 1 percent of the products that generated Nike’s $27.8 billion revenue last year. And Nike is moving ever more of its production abroad. Last year, a third of Nike’s remaining 13,922 American production workers were laid off.
Most of Nike’s products are made by 990,000 workers in low-wage countries whose abysmal working conditions have made Nike a symbol of global sweatshop labor.
YO! Phil, thanks for the little money you’ve spent here. Now get the fuck out.
You’re not welcome here.
Fuck the Ducks.
It appears that corn was caught yellow-handed by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers in a plot with other crops like soy to replace “millions of acres of grasslands.” But scientists named corn the ring-leader: “Corn was the most common crop planted directly on new land.”
I know you’re wondering, “since when is it illegal to replace carbon-storing grassland with the Walter White of Biofuels?” Answer: Since the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), “which requires blending of gasoline with biofuels that are supposed to be grown only on pre-existing cropland, in order to minimize land-use change and its associated greenhouse gas emissions,” as the UWM news release explains.Now if only anybody were actually enforcing the law, the anti-hero of biofuels would be perp-walked to prison for destroying the very environment it was supposed to help protect.
We last saw the evil genius called corn ethanol in a 2013 piece headlined, “Biofuels Policy Helping Destroy U.S. Grasslands At Fastest Rate Since 1930s, Boosting Threat of Dust-Bowlification.”
This new UMW study is the “first comprehensive analysis of land-use change across the U.S. between 2008 and 2012.” University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers “tracked crop-specific expansion pathways across the conterminous US and identified the types, amount, and locations of all land converted to and from cropland” during that time.
Scientists learned that crops “expanded onto 7 million acres of new land,” during those four years and replaced “millions of acres of grasslands.” Half of that was new soy and corn, which was increasingly used to make biofuels between 2008 and 2012 to meet U.S. government mandates, which included a minimum target of over 12 billion gallons of biofuels for in 2010.
What was the climate impact of this expansion? The University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded:
“The conversion to corn and soy alone, the researchers say, could have emitted as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as 34 coal-fired power plants operating for one year — the equivalent of 28 million more cars on the road.”
Corn ethanol should get its own show on HBO or AMC.
The Renewable Fuels Association, which is the “the authoritative voice of the U.S. ethanol industry,” has responded to this peer-reviewed study with a blog post by their Senior Vice President, Geoff Cooper. Cooper points out this is a very difficult calculation to do and that the dataset the authors use for this purpose has been called into question. Ideally, the RFS will put their critique through the peer-review process to publish it in a journal.
It seems not a month goes by that a study doesn’t come out condemning the fuel that now comprises some 10 percent of U.S. gasoline. “New airborne measurements downwind from an ethanol fuel refinery in Decatur, Illinois, show that ethanol emissions are 30 times higher than government estimates,” we learned just this Tuesday, for instance, when NOAA published a study on “ozone-forming compounds” generated by a corn ethanol refinery. “The measurements also show emissions of all volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include ethanol, were five times higher than government numbers, which estimate emissions based on manufacturing information.”
What will we learn in June, that corn ethanol is “behind uptick in abandoned kittens“? Okay, maybe not that, but still.
In a 2011 post titled, “The Corn Ultimatum asks: How long can Americans keep burning one sixth the world’s corn supply in our cars?” If we don’t voluntarily abandon corn ethanol, it seems inevitable that human-caused climate change and Dust-Bowlification will ultimately arrest its development:
Forty-five years ago today the Ohio National Guard gunned down thirteen students on the campus of Kent State University. Four dead. Two were simply walking between classes. I turned fifteen, and stopped being a “hippie”.
We do not forgive. We do not forget. We are here. Now.
Fuck you, “America”.