Month: April 2013

EU Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticides

They are cioncerned that these pesticides are causing colony collapse disorder:

Environmentalists hailed a “victory for bees” today after the European Union voted for a ban on the nerve-agent pesticides blamed for the dramatic decline global bee populations.

Despite fierce lobbying by the chemicals industry and opposition by countries including Britain, 15 of the 27 member states voted for a two-year restriction on neonicotinoid insecticides. That gave the European Commission the support it needed to push through an EU-wide ban on using three neonicotinoids on crops attractive to bees.

Tonio Borg, the EC’s top health official, said they planned to implement the landmark ban from December. “I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22bn annually to European agriculture, are protected,” he said.

Britain was among eight nations which voted against the motion, despite a petition signed by 300,000 people presented to Downing Street last week by fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett. The Independent has also campaigned to save Britain’s bee population.

Four nations abstained from the moratorium, which will restrict the use of imidacloprid and clothianidin, made by Germany’s Bayer, and thiamethoxam, made by the Swiss company, Syngenta. The ban on use on flowering crops will remain in place throughout the EU for two years unless compelling scientific evidence to the contrary becomes available.

More than 30 separate scientific studies have found a link between the neonicotinoids, which attack insects’ nerve systems, and falling bee numbers. The proposal by European Commission – the EU’s legislative body – to ban the insecticides was based on a study by the European Food Safety Authority, which found in January that the pesticides did pose a risk to bees’ health.

The argument against this is that the evidence is not sufficiently conclusive.

Hopefully, the two year ban should provide some good data, though the Wiki indicates that the pesticide can persist in the environment for more than two years.

Quote of the Day

The Republican congressional delegation — particularly the members of the House — are completely creatures of the base. They are former state legislators and state senators who got elected to those offices espousing ideas that likely were further out there than the ones they’re spouting now. In large part, they were raised within the base’s political structures, both inside and outside of government. They are the product of a closed information society, with its own history and its own science and its own truth. To borrow a line from Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail, the Republican members of the House are the fking base, motherfker. They’re not asking for permission to do the right thing, and they’re certainly not waiting for this president to provide it. They’re not posing. They are not doing what they’re told. They’re doing what they believe.

Charlie Pierce on why Barack Obama will not find common ground with the Republicans in Congress

(emphasis mine)

You know this, and I know this, but Barack Obama is unwilling to recognize reality.

Jon Stewart Has a Comedygasm

Jon Stewart was positively ecstatic last night about the whole ricin mailer thing (see video).

You remember, how Paul Kevin Curtis, the Elvis impersonator, was framed for mailing poisoned letters to President Obama and Senator Wiker? Well they have now fingered an enemy of his, Everett Dutschke, for the deed, and he is a Wayne Newton impersonator.

Remember what the Chinese say about living in interesting times?

Well, for Jon Stewart, this makes his job pretty easy.

Why am I not Surprised?

The New York Times has revealed that they delivered big sacks of cash to Afghan President Hamid Karzai:

President Hamid Karzai acknowledged Monday that the Central Intelligence Agency has been dropping off bags of cash at his office for a decade, saying the money was used for “various purposes” and expressing gratitude to the United States for making the payments.

Mr. Karzai described the sums delivered by the C.I.A. as a “small amount,” though he offered few other details. But former and current advisers of the Afghan leader have said the C.I.A. cash deliveries have totaled tens of millions of dollars over the past decade and have been used to pay off warlords, lawmakers and others whose support the Afghan leader depends upon.

The payments are not universally supported in the United States government. American diplomats and soldiers expressed dismay on Monday about the C.I.A.’s cash deliveries, which some said fueled corruption. They spoke privately because the C.I.A. effort is classified.

Others were not so restrained. “We’ve all suspected it,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah and a critic of the war effort in Afghanistan. “But for President Karzai to admit it out loud brings us into a bizarro world.”

Mr. Karzai’s comments, made at a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, where he is traveling, were not without precedent. When it emerged in 2010 that one of his top aides was taking bags of cash from Iran, Mr. Karzai readily confirmed those reports and expressed gratitude for the money. Iran cut off its payments last year after Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership deal with the United States over Iran’s objections.

I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!

I’m so not surprised that this was the guy that George W. Bush and his evil minions chose to run the country.

They wanted someone whom they could buy.

Unfortunately, they also found someone who doesn’t stay bought.

This is Repulsive

Norristown, PA has a policy of trying to evict victims of domestic violence:

Gosh. Norristown, Pennsylvania seems like it must be a real nice place to live what with its strict schoolmarm rule against “disorderly behavior.” In order to be fair, however, the rule applies not only to those who perpetrate “disorderly behavior” but also to those who might happen to be victims of it. Best legal system in the world! Watch and learn, America: The Norristown police notified a woman whose boyfriend assaulted her that she was being evicted for the crime of disturbing the peace by being assaulted too many times.

From the ACLU:

Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs’ boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, “You are on three strikes. We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”

Yes, that’s right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

Oh, well, that certainly makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, the poor police officers wouldn’t want to be dragged away from their donuts and coffee just because some broad got in a fight with her man because he didn’t load the dishwasher right or something, and then she called the 5-O on him just ’cause bitches, man, sometimes they’re like that.

After her first “strike,” Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these “strikes,” the city pressured her landlord to evict.

Seriously.  How about arresting her psycho ex-boyfriend?

BTW, if you go the the ACLU link you will find that Norristown is not alone in this.

Any number of municipalities have a policy of punishing the victim, because it is inconvenient.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

It turns out that the interrogation of  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not merely involve not notifying him of his Miranda rights.  It may also have involved ignoring specific requests for a lawyer:

Since Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody just over a week ago, the hue and cry in the public and media discussion has centered on “Miranda” rights and to what extent the “public safety exception” thereto should come into play. That discussion has been almost uniformly wrongheaded. I will return to this shortly, but for now wish to point out something that appears to have mostly escaped notice of the media and legal commentariat – Tsarnaev repeatedly tried to invoke his right to counsel.

Tucked in the body of this Los Angeles Times report is the startling revelation of Tsarnaev’s attempt to invoke:

A senior congressional aide said Tsarnaev had asked several times for a lawyer, but that request was ignored since he was being questioned under the public safety exemption to the Miranda rule. The exemption allows defendants to be questioned about imminent threats, such as whether other plots are in the works or other plotters are on the loose.

Assuming the accuracy of this report, the news of Tsarnaev repeatedly attempting to invoke right to counsel is critically important because now not only is the 5th Amendment right to silence in play, but so too is the right to counsel under both the 5th and 6th Amendments. While the two rights are commonly, and mistakenly, thought of as one in the same due to the conflation in the language of the Miranda warnings, they are actually somewhat distinct rights and principles. In fact, there is no explicit right to counsel set out in the Fifth at all, it is a creature of implication manufactured by the Supreme Court, while the Sixth Amendment does have an explicit right to counsel, but it putatively only attaches after charging, and is charge specific. Both are critical to consideration of the Tsarnaev case; what follows is a long, but necessary, discussion of why.


The primacy, and fundamental nature of the right to custodial interrogation counsel, however, was confirmed in the 1981 decision of Edwards v. Arizona, where the court held suspects have the right under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to have counsel present during custodial interrogation, as declared in Miranda, and that right cannot be invaded absent a clear and valid waiver. While it is true, under Berghuis v. Thompkins, a suspect must affirmatively invoke his right to counsel as opposed to simply standing silent, there is no authority for interrogators to simply ignore and frustrate, over an extended period, a suspect’s express request for counsel as appears to have occurred in Tsarnaev’s case.

You can be pretty sure that if the reports are accurate that Holder, and probably Obama, were aware of his request for counsel within minutes of his first request.

This is repulsive. 

These sorts of tactics are reminiscent of a police state.

Dropped from My Blogroll

Matthew Yglesias has been dropped from my blogroll.

He just wrote an article saying that it’s OK that all those people died in Bangladesh, it’s a choice made by “rational actors” to trade safety for jobs:

I think that’s wrong. Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it’s entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety standards than the United States.

The reason is that while having a safe job is good, money is also good.

Shades of Larry Summers suggesting that we ship toxic waste to Africa because they need the money.

The workers did not have a choice about safety. They knew that they, and their families, would face starvation if they got fired for not going into an unsafe building. The choice was made by their evil bosses.

This is a constant theme of his writing, and I am no interested in his faux liberal bullsh%$.

While there are people on my blogroll with who I profoundly disagree with because they provide insight into foreign view points.

Retired Maryland Republican hatchet man Joe Steffen, and Russian/Orthodox Christian Nationalist Stanislav Mishin are two such examples on my blogroll.

His view, which can best be described by the phrase, “Even the liberal The New Republic.”

It’s all about self-entitled white guys who never have to wonder about where their next meal is coming from play the Michael Kinsley counter-intuitive idiocy game in an attempt to prove how smart they are.

It’s dull, it’s predictable, it’s bereft of any real insight, and it’s off my regular reading list.

Awwww!!! Rick Perry’ Feelings are Hurt!!!!

Texas’ Business Climate in a Nutshell

So, following the fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people, Sacramento Bee cartoonist Jack Ohman accurately depicted the political-industrial of Texas, and Governor Rick Perry demanded an apology, and his butt boy/Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst demanded that he be fired.

It really does amaze me just how much the “Real Men” of the Republican Party whine like little bitches when someone makes a reasoned critique of their policies.

It’s more than wimpy, it’s stupid.

No one but a few people in central California would have known about this cartoon if he hadn’t made an issue of it, but he just couldn’t let it slide.

I should thank him.  I never would have seen the cartoon but for his foot in his mouth.


Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff when he was Secretary of State is now saying that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld knew that most of the people in Guantanamo were innocent, but kept them locked up to avoid embarrassment:

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once declared that individuals captured by the US military in the aftermath of 9/11 and shipped off to the Guantanamo Bay prison facility represented the “worst of the worst.”

During a radio interview in June 2005, Rumsfeld said the detainees at Guantanamo, “all of whom were captured on a battlefield,” are “terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, [Osama Bin Laden’s] body guards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th hijacker, 9/11 hijacker.”

But Rumsfeld knowingly lied, according to a former top Bush administration official.

And so did then Vice President Dick Cheney when he said, also in 2002 and in dozens of public statements thereafter, that Guantanamo prisoners “are the worst of a very bad lot” and “dangerous” and “devoted to killing millions of Americans, innocent Americans, if they can, and they are perfectly prepared to die in the effort.”

Now, in a sworn declaration obtained exclusively by Truthout, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell during George W. Bush’s first term in office, said Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld knew the “vast majority” of prisoners captured in the so-called War on Terror were innocent and the administration refused to set them free once those facts were established because of the political repercussions that would have ensued.


Wilkerson’s declaration was made in support of a lawsuit filed by Adel Hassan Hamad, a 52-year-old former Guantanamo detainee who is suing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Joint Chief of Staff Richard Myers, and a slew of other Bush administration officials for wrongfully imprisoning and torturing him.

I don’t expect that there will ever be any justice, either through civil action or criminal prosecution, but the recent return of Bush to polite society is an indictment of our society. (to say nothing of Cheney return as an old wise man on the Sunday shows)

H/t Naked Capitalism.

Nearly half of all new IT jobs will go to guestworkers

Surprise, surprise. When you look at the immigration bill proposed by the “Gang of 8”, it allocates half of all new IT jobs to guest workers:

S. 744, the comprehensive immigration bill introduced by the Senate “Gang of Eight,” dramatically increases the number of skilled guestworker visas available to employers in information technology (IT) and other sectors. The principal IT guestworker visa is the H-1B (49 percent of H-1B holders work in IT), which under current law is capped for private-sector employers at 65,000 per year plus an additional 20,000 for foreign graduates of U.S. universities. With certain exceptions, S. 744 will raise the cap initially to 115,000 and if strong demand continues, to 180,000 per year, with an additional 25,000 reserved for foreign graduates. Thus, under the likely high-demand scenario, we would have 120,000 more H-1Bs annually than we do now, and 58,800 of them would be in IT.

We can reasonably predict, therefore, that guestworkers will fill nearly half of all IT job openings for which a college degree is required each year. In a new report, Guestworkers in the High-Skill U.S. Labor Market, Hal Salzman, Daniel Kuehn, and B. Lindsay Lowell calculate that in 2011 there were approximately 483,000 IT job openings for college grads filled in the last year (including those with advanced degrees), a third of which were filled by newly arriving guestworkers in three different guestworker programs. As the figure shows, if S.744 is enacted and the maximum number of H-1B workers were allowed to enter and work in the United States, nearly 220,000 new job openings in IT would be filled by guestworkers—almost half the annual total as of 2011.

I guess that skilled IT positions are yet another “Job that Americans won’t do”.

Seriously, if we want things like H1B and  guest workers not to completely f%$# everyone outside of the 1%, we need to make sure that they are limited to truly essential and unique skill set.

The easiest way that you do this by making it more expensive than hiring an American.  You can jack up the application fees, possibly by using an auction system and a limited supply.

H/t PP at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

She Stoopid, It Burns Us!!!!!!

Not only is CNN looking to relaunch Crossfire, but they are in negotiations with Newt Gingrich.

What on earth possessed them to try bring back that moribund franchise?

Did Jon Stewart teach you idiotic ratf%$#s anything the last time around? He literally embarrassed this show off the air.

Just the other day, he cut CNN a new on on their incompetent coverage of the Boston bombing.

Seriously, do not make him stop this car.

You do not want him to open up another can of whup ass on your flabby white asses.

Just in case you do not remember, let’s roll tape:

How Obama’s Drone War Is Hurting Us

We are creating an entire generation who hates us and wants us dead:

Americans wouldn’t normally hear about how poor Yemeni villagers reacted to a drone strike. But Wessab is the home village of Farea al-Muslimi, a 22-year-old democracy activist who is among the most pro-American voices in Yemen. “I don’t know if there is anyone on earth that feels more thankful to America than me,” he said Tuesday in testimony before a Senate committee. “In my heart, I know I can only repay the opportunities, friendship, warmth, and exposure your country provided me by being their ambassadors to Yemenis for the rest of my life.”


Despite all his reporting, he never imagined his own village, which doesn’t even register on Google Maps, could be the site of an American drone strike. “In the past, most of Wessab’s villagers knew little about the United States,” he said. “My stories about my experiences in America, my American friends, and the American values that I saw for myself helped the villagers I talked to understand the America that I know and love. Now, however, when they think of America they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads ready to fire missiles at any time. I personally don’t even know if it is safe for me to go back to Wessab because I am someone who people in my village associate with America and its values.” What American policymakers need to understand, he added, is that “Wessab first experienced America through the terror of a drone strike. What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”

Unfortunately, most of our state security apparatus cannot conceive anything beyond eternal war, eternally overpriced weapons systems, and killing brown people.

Read the rest.

Like Cthulhu With Fur

OK, you remember the kitten, right?

He’s soooooooooo kawuuuuuutttteeee!!!

Well a couple of days after we got him, he chewed through the micro-usb cable my daughter uses to charge her phone.

Well, today, it was her ear phones.

Somehow I do not think that the warranty applies.

Maybe I should name him Nyarlathotep.

Unspeakably evil, but he can appear attractive when it suits him.