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Einstein famously declared that when the bees go, in four years we will go.

This month’s Rolling Stone has a very good article up about just that, and why we cannot seem to keep them from dying…

Supposedly standing guard between the tiny pollinators and the agrochemical giants is the EPA. It’s the EPA’s job to parse all this, and if not to fully protect the environment, per se, then at least to make sure that one particular industry doesn’t ruin nature to such an extent that it too drastically hurts the bottom line of others. In 1972, revisions to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act placed the responsibility on manufacturers to provide the safety data for the products they make, the idea being that American taxpayers should not cover the bill for tests done to products that financially benefit private companies. In practice, what this means is that the studies provided to the EPA when a product is up for approval are, by law, generated and submitted by the manufacturer of that product. Jim Jones, the assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the EPA, maintains that compliance monitoring is designed to keep companies honest: “They have to generate the data according to good laboratory practices, and our scientists review this.” Loarie, the attorney for Earthjustice, isn’t so sure. “I think there are many, many opportunities for the data to be played with,” he says.

Also of concern then is the fact that agrochemical companies are not only responsible for reporting how much environmental exposure a pesticide might have, they’re likewise responsible for submitting to the EPA’s review the lethal dose for non-target organisms — what amount it would take to kill 50 percent of a population. “It’s the fox guarding the henhouse,” says Ramon Seidler, a former senior research scientist in charge of the GMO Biosafety Research Program at the EPA. “And the fox is the one collecting the eggs and bringing them to the regulators.”

Even if the EPA wanted to test a product itself, the agency isn’t set up that way. EPA scientists are meant to review studies conducted by others (including independent research), not to conduct studies themselves. It can take the agency two to three years to do a full review of a commercial product. “And with 80,000-some-odd of these chemicals to do?” says Seidler. “My God, it’s an impossible task.”

For this reason, regulators mainly consider a compound’s active ingredient, which, as the entomologist vanEngelsdorp explains, can be problematic. “There is data that the inert ingredients may be having a negative effect on colonies on their own,” he says. “Or that in combination with the active ingredient, they’re much more toxic than they were before.” Nor are regulators generally considering the combinations of multiple insecticides and herbicides sometimes coated on a single seed or how any of this might interact with the other agrochemicals applied to crops, a chemical bath that the program director for the Pollinator Stewardship Council, Michele Colopy, calls “meth in the field.”

“It’s the fox guarding the henhouse,” says a former EPA research scientist. “It’s corporate greed over environmental safety.”

“We do look for some obvious interactions, but you can’t test for every possible combination of chemicals that might occur out in the real world,” says Fischer. Yet it’s unclear what the agrochemical companies are testing: Because they contain “proprietary information,” the insecticides’ nonactive ingredients are not publicly disclosed.

Despite these limitations, many feel that the body of evidence against neonics is strong enough that the EPA should be taking a stand. Which raises certain questions. “Why did the Europeans put a hold on the use of neonicotinoids?” Seidler asks. “And why did the EPA look at that and stare it right in the face and say, ‘No’?” Why is the EPA not restricting neonics when another government agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announced that it would phase them out on national wildlife refuges by 2016?

In fact, just three days after the European ban was announced, the USDA/EPA National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health issued its report in which the potential harm posed by neonics was not mentioned at all in the executive summary. “That really got to me,” says Dr. Eric Chivian, founder and former director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. “There was huge international press attention that the EU banned the most widely used insecticides in the world because of concern about honeybees, and the part of the report most people read doesn’t even mention them?” At the EPA/USDA Pollinator Summit in March 2013, less than two months after the EU issued its initial neonic warnings, “Half the speakers were from industry,” says Chivian. “It would be as if the Surgeon General held a conference on the dangers of smoking and half the speakers were from Big Tobacco.”

No one is saying that what the EPA is tasked with comes easy. “Go after Congress,” Seidler says. “They are the ones who are not providing a sufficient budget for the EPA and other regulatory scientists to stay up with industry discoveries.” Indeed, the number of laboratories serving the office of the pesticide program at the EPA has dropped from a reported dozen in 1971 to two today, which means it’s very difficult for the EPA to keep pace with industry. “It’s always a challenge,” says the EPA’s Jones, who maintains that despite the difficulties, the agency is resourced and operating adequately. But according to Loarie, “They’re using 20th-century methodologies to test 21st-century pesticides. The EPA still doesn’t appreciate the extent to which systemic pesticides are different.”

With their livelihoods in the balance, beekeepers have grown frustrated with the EPA’s lack of action. “I’ve been going to Washington for years working on these issues, basically asking them to do their job, and my experience has been that generally the agencies don’t understand, and their approach doesn’t get to the heart of the problem,” says Zac Browning, a fourth-generation Idaho beekeeper who lost 50 percent of his hives in 2009. “On the ground, we’re not seeing results.”

What beekeepers are seeing, however, is that chemical companies — and their lobbyists — seem effective at fighting off tougher standards. “The problem is that industry knocks on the door and walks in,” says Doan. “Beekeepers knock on the door, and it’s like, ‘Hold on, we’ll see you in a while.’  Industry has an open door into the EPA and beekeepers do not.”

Read that last line again: Industry has an open door and beekeepers do not.”

It’s the fox guarding the henhouse, corporate greed over environmental safety.

You fucking animals are destroying the world my grandchildren are growing up in, and I think it is about time to do something about that. You really should fear me.

So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, in a speech On Why Environmentalism Is A ‘Patriotic Duty’, defined what it was to be a progressive, and why the true nationalists and patriots were progressives, and environmentalists, and you ain’t it:

Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation. …

“I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer NASA-March2015-256x171here behaves with reference to his own children,” Roosevelt explained in the speech. “That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.”

Roosevelt then immediately pointed out, “Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part.” And he was blunt about the solution:

There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done….

It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced.

Here are some more quotes that define progressivism and Teddy Roosevelt — and distinguish him from modern day wannabes:

  • The “greatest good for the greatest number” applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.
  • If in a given community unchecked popular rule means unlimited waste and destruction of the natural resources — soil, fertility, waterpower, forests, game, wild-life generally — which by right belong as much to subsequent generations as to the present generation, then it is sure proof that the present generation is not yet really fit for self-control, that it is not yet really fit to exercise the high and responsible privilege of a rule which shall be both by the people and for the people. The term “for the people” must always include the people unborn as well as the people now alive, or the democratic ideal is not realized.
  • The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.
  • The United States at this moment occupies a lamentable position as being perhaps the chief offender among civilized nations in permitting the destruction and pollution of nature. Our whole modern civilization is at fault in the matter. But we in America are probably most at fault … Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals’not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements.
  • To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them.

This is what it means to be a progressive in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt.

The bottom line is it is immoral for one generation to destroy another generation’s vital soil — or its livable climate.

You are an enemy of the American People, enemy of the American Way of Life.

And a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future.

Fear me.

You want to know why I won’t support her? Why I never supported her? Because knowing what we all know anyone who is willing to put the rest of us through this bullshit does not have best interests of the country at heart.

That applies to her supporters as well.

GISSJan-April2015So 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.

Fear me.

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).

US-FINANCE-BANKING-PROTESTTitled 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.”

Given the weather anomalies of the past few years (and the phenomena caused by them, such as wildfires), the methane “time bomb” in the Arctic (also this video), and the fact that the Arctic is our “canary in the coal mine,” one might think that our “leaders” in Washington would be preoccupied with the matter of global warming (or, as some prefer, “climate change”).

there-is-no-planet-B-photo-by-Freya-Schork-2013Especially given that the high degree of interdependence that exists in our society is a “recipe for disaster”:  It means that our society is extremely fragile, and in consequence could easily collapse with a slight “push.”  What’s ironic about that “push” is that although it would come directly from Nature, theultimate responsibility for it would be our own—our burning of fossil fuels, along with our deforestation activities.

Needless to say, our “leaders” are doing “next to nothing” about global warming; in fact, virtually everyone in our society is simply “going about business as usual,” as if nothing of significance is going on “out there.”  In short, our nation seems to be in the grip of nonchalance, and that fact is puzzling.  Or is it?  In point of fact, despite the fact that ours is the most intelligent of species, several factors help explain why we humans—we Americans in particular—are not using that intelligence.

What Is She Doing Right? Wall Street to Punish Dems over Elizabeth Warren

US-FINANCE-BANKING-PROTESTCiting sources familiar with the situation, representatives of some of the nation’s largest banks—including Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America—have actively considered putting pressure on the Democratic establishment by making a coordinated threat to withold campaign contributions unless the populist rhetoric coming from Sen. Warren and her colleague from Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown, is toned down.

You know that old canard about banksters leaping to their deaths on Black Tuesday? It’s just that, a canard, history rewrit by those who can get away with it.

They didn’t jump.

The Rude One puts the whole “atheist rape” thing in perspective: A man breaks into Phil Robertson’s house and rapes him after tying up Robertson’s wife, Kay.

darwineatsOver the next few days, the man rapes the shit out of Robertson, again and again, always in front of Kay. When Robertson’s sons try to check on him, the man grabs them and ties them up, using a nail gun to pin their dicks to their chairs. And he rapes Robertson repeatedly, even using various implements to rape him – a duck call, a model duck, a stuffed duck. He just keeps raping Phil Robertson, in the face, in the ass. Sometimes he jacks off on Robertson to mix it up a bit, all while the Duck Dynasty clan watches the rapes and hears their patriarch’s cries and moans and, yes, prayers. Finally, before he sets the house on fire and leaves, the exhausted rapist says something.

Now here in our little parable for the damned, the Rude Pundit is conflicted. He can end it with the man saying one of two things. The man could say, “How come your god didn’t stop this from happening?” But that seems too easy, not enough of a mind-rape, too easily dismissed as the madness of the atheist.

How about: Robertson, smelling gasoline, tearfully asks why this has happened.

And the man says, “Because God told me to.”

Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text

wikileaks-tpp-investment-cartoon“After more than five years of negotiations under conditions of extreme secrecy, on March 25, 2015, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was posted. Public Citizen has verified that the text is authentic. Trade officials from the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – are in intensive, closed-door negotiations to finish the TPP in the next few months.”The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of ‘trade’ negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that TPP negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms that would give foreign investors expansive new substantive and procedural rights and privileges not available to domestic firms under domestic law.”

Obama is as guilty as the rest of them.

As part of the Guardian newspaper’s recently launched “keep it in the ground” campaign, Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein appears in a new video on Wednesday in which she argues the current moment is ripe for the world to take advantage of the dramatic drop in global oil prices by kicking the fossil fuel industry “while it’s down.”

Calling on themes from her two most recent books — The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster in 2007 and the more recently published This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate — Klein says the fall in oil prices since last year should be seen as an opportunity for those concerned about both the prevailing economic order and the dangers of climate change. “Let’s turn this shock,” she says in the nearly five-minute video essay, “into the shift we need.”

Could this be the shock that we harness for our big shift?

Her list of demands include: “No drilling in the arctic… No expansion of the tar sands…  more fracking bans like the ones in New York state and Scotland,” and a call to support and broaden the calls for fossil fuel divestment worldwide while ramping up the needed and available solutions to the climate crisis.

“Sometimes capitalism gives us a gift, the sudden drop in oil prices is one.”


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