We have noticed that one of the darker, more cunning tools of American politicians is regulation. Regulation can be a beautiful thing for a politician. Say, for example, a US senator writes a resolute and righteous environmental regulation suited exactly to the specifications laid out by expert scientists in the field covered by this particular draft regulation. Let us suppose that the draft is enthusiastically supported in a rare show of unity by all the environmental groups of any possible danger to our politician. Let us say that business opponents of the draft skip load tons of cash on the front lawn of one of her vacation homes in hopes of dissuading her from sponsoring this dreadful abuse of democracy and the American Way of Life. Yet, after all the public processes are duly followed and completed, suppose the new regulation, like a little salmon smolt in the Delta, is sucked up into a huge pump and disappears.Read More »
Public Health and Safety
One rainy day, sitting in a shed in an orchard, an old grower talked about pesticides.
"DDT?" he said. "Best pesticide in the world. Killed everything. Apply it every 28 days or after a rain and we got cleaner fruit than we'd ever seen. It started just after the war (WWII). You didn't have to set vinegar traps to see what kind of bugs you had in the orchard anymore. DDT killed EVERYTHING! So the younger generation of growers didn't have to learn anything about bugs because they didn't have to figure out what spray to use -- copper, arsenic, whatever. But DDT got Rachel Carsoned in the Sixties. That book, Silent Spring, started the environmental movement. Now they're trying to claim every frog, toad and minnow in the county is endangered, and they're winning. But she was right: DDT raised hell with the environment, thinned egg shells, caused cancer, poisoned fresh water and the ocean. But it wasn't as bad on bees and what replaced it.
California may not have the liesure Oklahoma has enjoyed for the last several years of denying the relationship between fracking and earthquakes.
The first good winter we have will bring this problem back with a vengeance. -- blj
Merced Sun-StarRead More »
Mad scientists are at it again, proudly announcing creation of a swine flu virus immune to human resistance in Madison, Wisconsin, not far from some of the swine-production centers of the nation.
Readers of Badlands may have forgotten a struggle several years ago to block establishment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of a Level 4 Biowarfare lab, rated even more dangerous than the Level 3 lab that produced this monster, as always, "for better research to find a cure." LLNL established a Level 3 lab instead.
It must be pointed out that distinctions between levels of biowarfare labs, although written, are fairly blurry in practice, according to lab watchers. In short, the public has little or no idea what these labs are producing and how dangerous their products are to surrounding communities.
Nevertheless, to ask a question left unasked or at least unanswered by the mad Wisconsin scientists: Who paid for this research that now poses a threat to the health and safety of Madison and surrounding towns? -- blj
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How do you deal with the moral authority of ignorance? James Lee Burke, Pegasus Descending (2006), p. 473
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Gov. Jerry Brown must be saved from himself, says the next state Senate leader. He needs to be talked out of starting the bullet train in the Central Valley boonies. "I don't think it makes sense to lay down track in the middle of nowhere," asserts Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles). It's illogical. No one lives there in the tumbleweeds." -- George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2914, "Next Senate leader Kevin de Leon wants Brown to rethink bullet train."
But lawns very much remain the norm in Southern California, and officials say it's tougher to change homeowners' outdoor watering habits than it is to get them to install low-flow toilets or water-efficient washing machines.
Human Trafficking in California
As a diverse cultural center and popular destination for immigrants with multiple international borders, California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the United States. In the two years between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012, California's task forces initiated 2,552 investigations, identified 1,277 victims of human trafficking, and arrested 1,798 individuals. -- State of Human Trafficking in California, 2012
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The greatest threat to political democracy -- from Athens to the US "war on terrorism," -- has always been elites. Since the 18th century, democracy has arisen in step with its competition and nemesis, capitalism. Today's American elite has converted political bribery and lies into "campaign finance contributions" -- the "free speech" of money -- "spin," the political descendant of advertising. However, bribery and deceit remain what they are, fatal to democracy.
Today, we offer two comments on lying, spin and propaganda, the first from politician scientist Sheldon Wolin, the second from investigative reporter Robert Parry. Both are veterans and have personal as well as scholarly perspective on the changing forms of political lying in our culture. Wolin describes the structure of the culture that is producing systemic political lying in America today. Parry paints a portrait of a practitioner of the form, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy. Perhaps viewers of "Morning Joe" will remember "Rick" when he was a top Time Magazine editor presenting the Time cover of the week. Butter doesn't melt in Stengel's mouth. -- bljRead More »
From "Major Barbara," by George Bernard Shaw:
CUSINS: By the way, have you any religion?
UNDERSHAFT: Only that there are two things necessary to Salvation.
CUSINS [disappointed, but polite]: Ah, the Church Catechism. Charles Lomax also belongs to the Established Church.Read More »
Here are four articles about Honey bee colon- collapse disorder, one Russian, one and a partial article American, one Canadian. Scientists actually seem to have found the main cause, a class of nicotinoid pesticides applied to seeds before planting so that they provide protection against later pesticide applications and, incidently, cause serious harm to the nervous systems of bees and other creatures, including humans.Read More »