Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trump - Climate Change? A Chinese Hoax...

Chicago Climate March – April 29th

Imagine your doctor deciding to remove a mass in your abdomen without benefit of an MRI or even an X-Ray.  “I’ll find it,” he says, “and we don’t need all that information anyway.  Just feel around in there.  My kind of medicine has been removing stuff for hundreds of years.” 

Or how about you airline pilot deciding to get you to California by pulling out a magnetic compass mid-flight and heading in a westward direction. 
“Attention, passengers, if you look out the right side of the plane, you’ll see north; and the left will see south.  That’s really all we need to know to get safely where we want, isn’t it?” 

Ignore science, disregard research information, and flout empirical findings at your own peril.  On the national as well as personal level.

The office of science advisor for the current occupant of the Whitehouse has not been named.  The actual title is White House Office of Science and Technology Policy or OSTP.  And the previous staff, which helped Obama craft, revise and research over 30 studies of subjects as varied as advanced manufacturing and cyber-security was the most active in our nation’s history (Atkins).

Now? The office remains empty or seriously compromised.

But President Trump promises to name a new leader for the office soon.  Very soon. So fast it’ll make your head spin. Bigly.  

Of course, this may not be good news.  Take for example Michael Pruitt, Trump’s choice to lead the EPA, an office that now disregards once held “science based decisions” in favor of pursuing “economically and technologically achievable standards” (according to Emily Atkin’s article in the New Republic).  “Among other things, the office’s mission statement no longer reads that the office provides the president with ‘accurate, relevant, and timely scientific technical advice.' Now, it just reads “advice.”’

And, the names to fill the office once held by Obama's Science Advisor John P. Holdren, previously professor of environmental policy at Harvard University, are not likely to give you any desire to inhale without concern.

One of Trump’s monetary and influential alt-right backers has been the Mercer family.  They have strongly promoted and endorsed sheep rancher/biochemist Arthur Robinson, a strong climate change denialist, according to Jane Mayer in the May 2017 New Yorker.  Trump has been coy in regards to selecting Robinson despite the influence of his alt-right backers, but Robinson has not been fully eliminated from the list – short or long.  Robison calls himself a Jesus plus-nothing – else Christian and his research includes a factory of freezers with fourteen thousand samples of human urine that careful examination will help illuminate new ways of extending our lives.  He remains skeptical of global warming and contests the Kyoto Accord. He sells a self-designed curriculum for schools (and his home-schooled children) which refutes the possibility of evolution.

Another possible choice for Science Advisor to the President (Trump) is Dr. William Happer.  Happer is an often called-upon expert for Breitbart and a retired Princeton physicist who dabbles in climate policy.  He remains infamous for his analogy that our “demonization” of carbon dioxide is little different than Hitler’s demonization of the Jews.  Attempts to have Dr. Happer flesh out his connection often end in profanities or admonishments   Happer theorizes that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is actually a benefit to our world, encouraging the growth of plants and the greening of our deserts ( a good thing).  “With our without Happer’s help, the Trump administration, like the Republican Party, is already steeped in climate denial; the Mercer family, Trump’s biggest financial backers, recently spent two days at a Heartland Institute Conference, the theme of which was essentially , “more CO2 in the atmosphere is essentially great.”  Like the Koch’s, with whom Happer is associated, he falls in line with their assessment of global warming.  Yes, it is warming, but in a very "mild, and manageable way."

Finally, and most likely, is David Gelernter, an anti-intellectual computer professor at Yale being considered as well.  Gelernter, who was injured by uni-bomber Ted Kaczynski while opening an envelope, is a hard right anti-Obama author who decries the liberal influence in government and education.  Gelernter doubts any credibility in science’s pointing to man-made climate change. He also finds the liberal elite culpable for the loss of family values and the disintegration of patriotism. He expects participation in the Science Advisor's Office as a given.   (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/01/18/david-gelernter-fiercely-anti-intellectual-computer-scientist-is-being-eyed-for-trumps-science-adviser/?utm_term=.b7e5d8831aa5)


 Meanwhile, according to NASA satellites sea ice has shrunk to its least amount at both poles. 

2016 was the third year in a row that marked global temperature increases and records.

Major storms were recorded for the last year (2016) beyond expectation and a 6% level of increased moisture in our atmosphere contributes to flooding and downpours.

Biologists are documenting multiplying numbers of mammalian species lost as many water levels rise in oceans surrounding smaller islands and land projections.

CO2 passed the 440 ppm level in our atmosphere last fall, and scientists doubt that it can return to anything less.  Have we reached the tipping point?

People’s Climate March
April 29, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Federal Plaza 230 S Dearborn Chicago, IL 60601


See you there.




Sunday, April 2, 2017

Rauner & Trump

Rauner & Trump

It shouldn’t be surprising that Governor Bruce Rauner would be launching into campaign mode nearly a year and a half before the actual election.  With the financial backing of “State Solutions,” a Republican Governors fund supported by the Koch brothers, the Chamber of Commerce, and Ken Griffen's Citadel Group – Rauner once again dons the costume of workin’ guy.  The old tan canvas work vest is now a bright plaid lumberjack-like shirt.  He brandishes a roll of duct tape in one ad and peels strips of tape from the lens of the camera in the other.  Duct tape equals “easy fixes.”  The workroom backdrop suggests he’s a guy who can fix things.  So, the Governor thinks, let’s make a commercial.  After all, what else is there to do?

One might suggest “govern.”

But, after two years of witnessing the wealthy Winnetka hedge-fund manager’s unwillingness and inability to lead, most people in Illinois recognize a man who purchased an office and then remained fixed in his determination to identify scapegoats, berate rather than negotiate, and callously apply pain to the marginalized and disenfranchised to make his political points.

Like the other “business leader” on the national level who declared after only 17 days of trying to steamroll his HealthCare Plan in the Congress, “The best thing, politically speaking, is to let Obamacare explode…”  That’s leadership? And, if it did, who would suffer?

Rauner finds everyone lately coming after him: Lisa Madigan, AFSCME, the Courts, Leader Cullerton, Speaker Madigan, Susana Mendoza.  Similarly, Trump also finds fault in everyone but himself: Speaker Ryan, the Democrats, the Freedom Caucus, fake news, Obama wiretapping, bad Neimann Marcus, etc.  

Ironically, Bruce Rauner never wanted to go on the record speaking for or against Trump during the latter’s run for Presidency.  But his own administration in very many ways mirrors the struggling President’s.  And likewise their near frivolous willingness to embrace pain and discomfort for others as a result of someone else’s not doing what they wanted done.

Because they haven’t the skill or comprehension of governance, the willingness to seek middle ground or feel the weight of the populace’s needs; they revert to the character of candidacy quickly and easily.

Trump flies to places in Kentucky or Florida or North Carolina to “thank his people” and bask in sunny self-absorption.  Rauner and his combative office executives stump about the state affirming the Turnaround Agenda to responsive right-wing audiences, create multiple commercials linking Speaker Madigan to the Illuminati,  and run reconditioned “same-old” folksy campaign ads for 2018.

In Illinois, meanwhile, the “Grand Bargain” for a budget fails again, this time according to people on both sides of the aisle because the Governor delivered the poison pill and pulled back the Republican votes. 

Over two years ago, candidate Bruce Rauner while sitting next to his “Democratic” wife Diana warned, “I’m gonna drive ‘em nuts down there (Springfield). Really, I am.” 

I think it safe to say Rauner did not drive his enemy politicians “nuts,” but he has been able to steer the state’s bond rating down numerous times.  Moody’s has warned that the next downgrade will bring the State of Illinois’ Bond Rating to junk status if there is no budget accord for a third year. 

In addition, many human and social service organizations and companies have had to pull back resources or even shutter services as a result of the state’s inability to pay for assistance for the millions of poor, disadvantages, and mentally ill.

According to SEIU.org millions of Illinois children are now trying to get by without Child Care Assistance Programs. 

Senior citizens have lost over twenty home healthcare institutions, which leaves them all more likely to require institutionalization in place of personal care.

Anti-violence programs that depended on intervention and neighborhood counseling to deter violence and revenge killing in places like Chicago have seen their funds erased during the budget battles. 

An accidental oversight by the Governor’s Office resulted in the loss of funding for domestic violence programs in Illinois.

The State of Illinois now owes more than $12 billion in unpaid bills to providers of services that were promised payments despite two years of no budget.  That is nearly 1/3 of the amount of General Revenue provided before the roll back of the income tax increase. 

The interest on the unpaid balance is also adding up exponentially as the Governor prepares his next collection of commercials identifying everyone else as culpable for where we are.  How much?  Current interest on bill backlog is at nearly $80 million.

What Comptroller Susana Mendoza has characterized as the “worst fiscal crisis” in the State’s history is about to enter another year without a budget. 

Meanwhile, on the national level the markets and his loyal supporters hold every expectation that Trump will deliver on his promises despite his uncanny resemblance in behavior and political petulance to fellow business genius and political failure Bruce Rauner. 

We live in interesting times.




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Monsanto: Butterflies, Bees, and You're Next.

See Below*
Monsanto: Butterflies, Bees and You’re Next

Fake News is one thing; but “fake scientific research” is quite another. 

The first we can heatedly argue; the latter will put an end to us.

Enter stage right, Monsanto. 

It appears that Monsanto Corporation, a company that has cornered the world market in providing herbicides, insecticides, and questionable genetic modifications, has worked for decades to produce falsified “research papers” that were ghost written by executives and officials and then handed over to legitimate scientists for editing? 

Why?  In order later to affix their names on the documents as supportive of false findings; when in fact, they were only asked to edit a section or paragraph here and there for clarification, appropriate attributions, sentence construction, etc.

Despite all the “evidence” produced over the years by Monsanto, the state of California has decided to list glyphosate - the chief active ingredient in Roundup herbicide -  as a likely carcinogen.  This follows the same designation given by the World Health organization in March of 2015.   

One trillion, four hundred million tons of Roundup are used on crops and lawns across the world annually; the United States consumes nearly 20% of the herbicide: 280 million pounds per year.  

As the CEO Hugh Grant notes in his company’s letter to shareholders this last year, “From the Earth’s deepest roots to its highest satellites, we are more connected than ever to our planet and the food it produces. At Monsanto, we believe these connections hold the key to unlocking positive potential for growers and consumers.”
And a positive potential for profits as well.  The company’s revenues exceed $15 billion annually. 
In order to keep the lid on the downsides of our carefree consumption of herbicides by large Agra and even smaller family farms and gardeners, Monsanto was able to coerce the assistance of the EPA – or at least one of the EPA’s watchdog officials: Mr. Jess Rowland. 

For some time, Jess Rowland had been running interference for the company by curtailing investigations from other EPA and investigative sub-agency groups like the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (part of Health and Human Services). 

After the World Health Organization’s identification of glyphosate as a carcinogen in April of 2015, Rowland promised to find ways to kill any investigative scrutiny by HHS, and he quipped he should “get a medal,” for his successful efforts. 

Rowland’s and the company’s ploy was to inform the HHS that a scientific review was already in process, and any duplicative investigation would be a waste of labor and government money.

While Rowland blocked or parried interests by other outside agencies, inner-company officials like the heads of toxicology and his manager Bill Heyden ghost wrote scientific reports promoting conclusions that glyphosate should not be classified as carcinogenic.

To make the falsified reports more “palatable” and “less expensive,” according to communications written by Heyden, they handed sections of the reports to scientists to review for accuracy, clarity, scientific argumentation, and other editing labors.  After that, they would pay them minimally and sign their names to the documents.  Thus, what was an in-house and slanted preparation appeared as research which was scientifically substantiated.    

For years, Monsanto also conducted research indicating that toxic levels of Roundup’s glyphosate were much lower than suggested.  While Monsanto argued that the chemical did not bio-accumulate, it in fact did.  They covered over the report’s findings that “After only 24 hours, the toxic chemical was found in the lungs and all body fluids: lymph, blood, urine, and cerebral spinal fluid.  Glyphosate also accumulated in the bone by 30 ppm and in the bone marrow by 4 ppm.”

Mexican Political Street Art
Monsanto avoided including the injurious interaction between the main chemical in Roundup and pancreas of its mammalian subjects.  After review of the research collected, two researchers from MIT believe this oversight was intentional. 

In the Monsanto Sustainability Report, CEO Hugh Grant reminds his shareholders, “Our mission is simple: Provide tools for farmers to help nourish the growing global population and help preserve the Earth for people, plants, wildlife and communities.”
In France, meanwhile, studies of rats and mice fed a Monsanto GM maize diet for an additional month, four months, just one month beyond the research distributed by Monsanto on the safety of their modified corn were disconcerting.  Gilles-Eric Seralini and his French team looked beyond Monsanto’s 3-month studies and “observed profuse cancer and tumor development developed after the 4th month of the study.”  Monsanto disregards these studies as inconclusive. 
Europe has always been more cautious of our rush to genetically modify animals, plants, and produce.  Much of the millions of pounds of Roundup used in the United States finds its way into our streams and rivers, thus the EPA (with Monsanto’s help and influence?) has developed guidelines for the amount that’s acceptable in our drinking water.  The safe level for U.S. water is set at 0.7 ug/L, a level unchanged since 1994 despite the revelations of its actual toxicity.  In Europe, the number has always been 0.1 ug/L.  (micrograms per liter)

Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant
Meanwhile, Monsanto’s CEO also reminds his shareholders and all of us that the company’s authentic ethos can be found in its “longstanding commitment to people, planet, and our company.”  Here’s what Hugh Grant promises they’ll do:

Act Ethically and Responsibly.
Advocate for Biodiversity.
Advance Product Stewardship.
Create a Great Work Environment.
Drive Modern Agricultural Innovation.
Engage Communities and Society.
Foster Collaboration and Transparency.
Improve Global Food and Nutrition Security.
Reduce Our Environmental Impact.

And, sadly, this kind of false and despicably twisted pontificating will be further stimulated in a Trump Presidency where funding for the EPA (not one bad character like Rowland) will be cut by nearly a third of its original budget to protect us from poisons like glyphosate. 



Reports Reviewed:



*Above:  My friend Hector Duarte, muralist and activist in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, invited me into his gallery one afternoon to show me a work in progress.  Mr. Duarte; originally from Michoacán, Mexico; knows the insidious affects of corporate poisoning on his beloved Monarchs, the bees, and all of our peoples. The work is pictured in the banner. (Thank you TS)

Monday, March 13, 2017

How Much is that Doggie Worth to You?

Illinois SB1882 & HB2824: How Much for that Doggie?

Many of the vehicle transports at my local animal shelter travel downstate in Illinois, or they journey as far as Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, or Missouri to pick up orphaned animals scheduled for euthanasia in the next few days or hours for lack of room.  Although we’re a small “Mom & Pop” organization, when cages are empty in the “intake room,” we’ll send committed volunteers out on the road for continual driving to save animals – most usually dogs.  Still, as small as our no-kill shelter remains, we save and adopt over 1000 orphaned animals each year to loving families.  Sounds miserable, but in the end it’s good work.

But it’s puppy mills that test our endurances and resolve to believe that there is any humanity in the world.  We’ll get those calls on occasion when farm families in Ohio or Missouri decide they’ve had enough of their cottage industry in pushing out “designer” dogs – Pugs bred with Beagles, Chihuahuas bred with Malteses, teacup Poodles bred with Yorkies. 

Imagine a crazed Frankenstein who could care less about his creations, only the numbers and profits.

A couple of years ago, one of our transports raced deep into Ohio to retrieve as many breeder -dogs who were too old or finished as viable donors before the local farmers began a collective target practice on any left behind.  

Feeling squeamish?  It gets worse, so skip ahead to the blue font.

Most are kept in cages so inadequately small they cannot turn around.  They walk on open cage lattice, so their paws become splayed and unable to tread on normal flat surfaces.  Their elimination falls directly below to the cage and its occupant below and below that, and below that.  Their noses are split and scarred by the constant rubbing against the sides of the cage.  Some kept jammed in groups in smaller cages may be missing parts of limbs or toes as a result.  

When they arrive, we place the survivors in cages only 24 inches by 20 inches and 24 inches high.  To the dogs, this might as well be the Grand Canyon.  They crawl to the back corner, frightened by the expanse and the possible interaction of light and humanity. 

A recent report marked URGENT by the Puppy Mill Project as well as an editorial in the Chicago Tribune warns “the pet store lobby is trying to get its paws on the state Animal Welfare Act.”  I cannot be as pun-fully amusing as the Chicago Tribune, but I do appreciate their warning: “Industry representatives are pushing an amendment – disguised as a mandatory microchipping measure that would sweep aside local ordinances in Chicago and Cook County that ban the sale of dogs bred in puppy mills.” 

According to the Puppy Mill Project, the two bills – appealingly entitled Animal Welfare Micro-Chipping – are not at all what they appear.

At first glance, these bills appear to offer additional protections for animals – and we share and support their stated
goals of protecting consumers, increasing transparency in the sourcing of dogs and cats, and screening out inhumane
breeders. We also support the bills’ microchipping requirements. However, one section of these bills (Section 3.8) is
misguided and will be extremely harmful to consumers and animals. Section 3.8 legitimizes sourcing dogs from
inhumane breeding operations, relies on information that is no longer available for its enforcement, and prohibits cities from enacting their own laws regarding the sourcing and sale of dogs and cats in their communities.”

On the surface, the legislation appears perfectly rational and humane, like requiring breeders to hold a USDA license and clean record, just like the breeders in Ohio who tired of their “business.”

But Section 3.8 of the bill “allows pet stores to source from inhumane breeders without any means of researching those breeder.”

“Why is this legislation bad for animals and consumers?
1. It will not screen out inhumane breeders. This legislation offers limited restrictions on where pet stores can source dogs and cats, requiring breeders to have a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) license and meet nominal inspection criteria – but a USDA license and clean record do not mean that a breeder is humane. USDA standards are barely survival standards. Dogs can live in cages only six inches larger than their bodies for 24 hours a day. Stacked cages, mesh or wire flooring, and unlimited breeding are all acceptable. These facilities tend to mass produce puppies and operate solely for profit. USDA licensure sounds reassuring to a consumer but in reality it accomplishes very little.
2. It does not create transparency. This legislation ties its standards to information that is no longer available.
Prior to January 2017, USDA breeder inspection records were publicly accessible through an online search tool.
However, these records have now been removed from the USDA website indefinitely. Even more troubling, the
legislation states that a pet store is considered in compliance even if the USDA records are unavailable. These
bills were introduced after the USDA search tool had been removed – rendering the bills’ purported safeguards
meaningless. There is currently no means for a consumer to research a breeder’s USDA record.
This legislation denies cities and towns in Illinois the authority to make their own laws protecting consumers and animals. These bills would overturn ordinances in Chicago, Cook County, Waukegan, and Warrenville –similar to legislation passed in more than 200 municipalities across the United States. These cities have determined that the sourcing and sale of dogs and cats is an issue of local concern for their communities and
Illinois home rule units should be able to pass their own legislation as appropriate.”

I was astounded to find my Senator Emil Jones on the list of sponsors and I contacted him immediately. 

Here are more names and directions from the Puppy Mill Project: 

“What can you do?
Contact the sponsors and co-sponsors of these bills in the Illinois House and Senate and tell them that you appreciate their efforts and concern for these issues, but Section 3.8 must be eliminated in its entirety.
Tell them that removing the home rule provision (Section 3.8(e)) is NOT ENOUGH – keeping the rest of Section 3.8 explicitly allows pet stores to source from inhumane breeders without any means of researching those breeders.
Contact your own representative and senator (even if they are not sponsors of this bill) and tell them that animal welfare is important to you and that there is dangerous legislation (SB 1882/HB 2824) pending that you do not support.
If you live in Chicago: Call your alderman. Tell him or her that there is state legislation that will invalidate a city
ordinance and deny Chicago’s home rule authority on an issue that is very important to you. Ask them to voice their
opposition to SB 1882/HB 2824 and stand up for Chicago’s right to regulate the source of dogs and cats sold in our
community. You can also do this for your Cook County Commissioner if you live in Cook County.
How to Contact your Representatives
Illinois House of Representatives Contacts:
State Representative Jerry Costello, II (representative who introduced the bill, representing the 116th District): (618)
282-7284 or staterepcostello@gmail.com
Lawrence M. Walsh Jr. (chief co-sponsor, representing the 86th District, including Joliet): (815) 730-8600 or
statereplarrywalshjr@gmail.com
State Representative Norine Hammond (chief co-sponsor, representing the 93rd District): (309) 836-2707 or
rephammond@macomb.com
Randy Frese (chief co-sponsor, representing the 94th District): (217) 223-0833 or repfrese@adams.net
State Rep John C. D’Amico (chief co-sponsor, representing the 15th District): (773) 736-0218 or johnd@ilga.gov
State Representative Margo McDermed (chief co-sponsor, representing the 37th District): (815) 277-2079 or
McDermed@ilhousegop.org
Copy & paste to email them all at once: staterepcostello@gmail.com; rephammond@macomb.com; repfrese@adams.net; johnd@ilga.gov; statereplarrywalshjr@gmail.com; McDermed@ilhousegop.org
Illinois Senate Contacts:
Michael E. Hastings (senator who introduced the bill, representing the 19th District including Joliet and other
communities): (815) 464-5431 or http://senatorhastings.com/contact-me
State Senator Jil Tracy (co-sponsor representing the 47th District): (217) 223-0837
Senator Emil Jones III (chief co-sponsor representing the 14th District): (773) 995-7748
or http://senatoremiljones.com/contact-us
Senator William R. Haine (co-sponsor representing the 56th District): (618) 465-4764
or http://www.senatorhaine.com/contact-us
New co-sponsor added, State Senator Sam McCann (representing the 50th District): (217) 245-0050 or
SenatorMcCann@gmail.com
Locate your State Senator and State Representative: http://www.elections.il.gov/districtlocator/addressfinder.aspx

For more information, contact The Puppy Mill Project at info@thepuppymillproject.org. “