Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here. This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.
Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features some fooling around. Enjoy!
Little Walter - Just Your Fool
“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."
-- C.S. Lewis
News and Opinion
Yet another way that President Obama is working to build the foundations of a police state - chipping away at the First and Fourth amendments. Say goodbye to your right to express an opinion unpopular to the powers-that-be anywhere near where they might be present, you little terrorist wannabe:
Obama administration urges Supreme Court to dismiss First Amendment suit brought by anti-Bush demonstrators
The case, Wood v. Moss, reached the Supreme Court after the Obama administration appealed from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in 2012 that the demonstrators’ claims met certain legal standards and should therefore proceed to trial.
The administration has sought to prevent the case from going to trial, and so the question before the Supreme Court is whether the plaintiffs’ claims are sufficiently “plausible” to advance past the government’s request for the court to throw the case out entirely.
The outcome of the case bears important implications for the First Amendment, as shown by an examination of the case’s factual background. In October 2004—the month before that year’s presidential election—President Bush’s visit to the small town of Jacksonville sparked demonstrations, pro and anti. Two to three hundred anti-Bush demonstrators were exercising their right to free speech on Jacksonville’s main thoroughfare, while a similarly sized group of pro-Bush demonstrators gathered nearby.
When Bush decided to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant, local police and Secret Service agents began ordering the removal of the anti-Bush protesters, who, they claimed, were disturbing Bush with antiwar chants as he ate his meal. The anti-Bush demonstrators were first moved one block away, then two blocks, while the pro-Bush demonstrators were allowed to remain at their initial location close to the president.
Such efforts to arrest and sequester anti-Bush demonstrators were a regular tactic of the Bush administration, which arrested workers, students and several grandmothers for carrying signs outside of so-called “free speech zones.”
These moves—including the one at issue before the court—were made in blatant violation of the decades-old First Amendment legal concept of “viewpoint discrimination,” which prevents the government from treating individuals differently on the basis of their political viewpoint.
The Obama administration, however, is arguing that the decision to quarantine the anti-Bush protesters was necessary as a measure of “national security,” implying that peaceful anti-Bush demonstrators might have hurled a bomb or otherwise threatened the president’s life. ...
The Obama administration claimed that since “a legitimate security rationale is likely to be in every case,” and since “the Court has recognized that it is valid at times to take into account the nature of one’s speech in making arrests and other security situations,” the Secret Service would be acting within the confines of the US Constitution even if it acted without any degree of suspicion or probable cause.
In other words, the Obama administration asserts that the government can arrest or sequester protesters without probable cause on the grounds that they pose a hypothetical threat to the safety of the president entirely because of their political viewpoint.
[SCOTUS oral arguments are here. - js]
NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize
Keith Alexander’s long-time deputy just fed one of the most pro-NSA reporters in the country, the Los Angeles Times‘ Ken Dilanian, some extraordinarily sensitive, top secret information about NSA activities in Iraq, which the Times published in an article that reads exactly like an NSA commercial:FT. MEADE, Md. — In nearly nine years as head of the nation’s largest intelligence agency, Gen. Keith Alexander presided over a vast expansion of digital spying, acquiring information in a volume his predecessors would have found unimaginable.John “Chris” Inglis just revealed to the world that the NSA was–is?–intercepting every single email, text message, and phone-location signal in real time for the entire country of Iraq. Obviously, the fact that the NSA has this capability, and used it, is Top Secret. What authority did Chris Inglis have to disclose this? Should a Department of Justice leak investigation be commenced? The Post, last July, described Alexander’s “collect-it-all” mission in Iraq which then morphed into his approach on U.S. soil (“For NSA chief, terrorist threat drives passion to ‘collect it all,’ observers say”), but did not confirm the full-scale collection capabilities the NSA had actually developed. ...
In Iraq, for example, the National Security Agency went from intercepting only about half of enemy signals and taking hours to process them to being able to collect, sort and make available every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time, said John “Chris” Inglis, who recently retired as the NSA’s top civilian.
The overhaul, which Alexander ordered shortly after taking leadership of the agency in August 2005, enabled U.S. ground commanders to find out when an insurgent leader had turned on his cellphone, where he was and whom he was calling.
“Absolutely invaluable,” retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview as he described the NSA’s efforts, which led to the dismantling of networks devoted to burying roadside bombs.
What is so extraordinary is that the NSA–at exactly the same time it is telling news organizations that disclosing its collect-it-all activities will endanger its personnel–runs to its favorite L.A. Times reporter and does exactly that, for no reason other than to make itself look good and to justify these activities. (“‘Absolutely invaluable,’ retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former U.S. commander in Iraq, said.”)
This demonstrates how brazenly the NSA manipulates and exploits the consultation process in which media outlets are forced (mostly by legal considerations) to engage prior to publication of Top Secret documents: They’ll claim with no evidence that a story they don’t want published will “endanger lives,” but then go and disclose something even more sensitive if they think doing so scores them a propaganda coup. It also highlights how cynical and frivolous are their claims that whistleblowers and journalists Endanger National Security™ by reporting incriminating information about their activities which they have hidden, given how casually and frequently they disclose Top Secret information for no reason other than to advance their own PR interests. It’s the dynamic whereby the same administration that has prosecuted more leakers than all prior administrations combined freely leaks classified information to make Obama look tough or to help produce a pre-election hagiography film.
Is Obama Covertly Expanding US Role in Syria?
Multiple sources cite expanding CIA training and potential anti-aircraft missile shipments as US seeks to repair strained relationship with Saudi Arabia
The Obama administration may green-light shipments of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles to Syrian opponents of Bashar al-Assad and expand covert CIA training and assistance in an apparent bid to repair frayed relations with Saudi Arabia. ...
President Obama is mulling over whether to okay shipments of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs), according to statements by an anonymous U.S. official cited in an Associated Press article published Friday. The Saudi government has ostensibly refrained from sending MANPADs to the Syrian opposition due to the past opposition of the Obama administration, which has shipped smaller weapons and ammunition. AP reports that the actual shipments of the missiles could come from the Saudis if Obama gives the go-ahead. ...
Meanwhile, the Obama administration "appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition," according to a report last Thursday from Washington Post writer David Ignatius. Citing unnamed "knowledgeable officials," Ignatius writes that the plan would likely include, in addition to the MANPADs, the training of roughly 600 Syrian fighters per month by the CIA and, potentially, military personnel.
The US Is Paying the Cost of Supporting the House of Saud as Cracks Begin to Appear
President Obama flew to Saudi Arabia to patch up relations with King Abdullah at the end of last week in his first visit in five years. The alliance had been strained by Saudi anger over US negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme and Obama’s refusal to go to war in Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad last year. For its part, the US is upset by Saudi Arabia covertly supporting al-Qa’ida-type movements in Syria and elsewhere.
The US-Saudi relationship is a peculiar one in that it is between a reactionary theocratic monarchy – it is the only place in the world where women are not allowed to drive – and a republic that claims to be the chief exponent of secular democracy. The linkage is so solid that it was scarcely affected by 9/11, though al-Qa’ida and the hijackers had demonstrably close connections to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis want to persuade the US to make a greater effort to overthrow Assad in Syria. ... On 3 February, King Abdullah promulgated a decree that made Saudi jihadis fighting abroad liable to 20 years in prison on their return. ... The criminalisation of the jihadis is designed in part to persuade the Americans that Saudi Arabia is not encouraging Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), both al-Qa’ida-type groups, to take over northern Syria and western Iraq. On the contrary, the Saudis say they want to fund and supply a third military force in Syria that will fight both President Assad and the anti-Assad jihadi forces.
Given that the Syrian army is on the offensive in and around Damascus, Homs and Aleppo, any Saudi and American backed “third force” operating from Jordan is not going to turn the tide on the battlefield in the foreseeable future. If the Americans go along with this plan, then they are saying, in effect, that they are prepared to conduct a long proxy war in Syria, contrary to all the hypocritical outpourings in Washington and Riyadh about ending the suffering of the Syrian people.
Russian Military ‘Buildup’ Greatly Exaggerated
Little Evidence Hysteria over Eastern Ukraine Was Warranted
Media hysteria, fueled by US hawks and Ukrainian ultranationalists, had forwarded the narrative that the Russian invasion was imminent, with claims of a military buildup of historic proportions, and Ukrainian officials claiming at times as many as 100,000 Russian troops waiting to roll into Donetsk.
The portrait of the Russian military as a Lord of the Rings-style army of evil, bloodthirsty troops just waiting for marching orders, took a major blow when NBC took the unusual step of actually going to the border and looking around.
What they saw was a calm border, with no signs of a serious military build-up, and by contrast exactly what Russia had said, evidence of a training exercise going on on the Russian side. Some troops, some heavy trucks, but no tanks or artillery.
Tour of Ukraine-Russia Border Finds No Signs of Military BuildupHeh. Here's the lighter side of the dark side:
According to dire warnings from U.S. military and intelligence officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh from his daring annexation of Ukraine’s strategic Crimean Peninsula, has concentrated tens of thousands of his forces on the border with Ukraine. Camouflaged and concealed to throw off U.S. spy satellites, the warnings say, the heavily armed combat troops and special operations forces are coiled and ready to spring across the border into restive regions of Eastern and Southern Ukraine such as Kharkov and Donetsk, where pro-Russian populations are eager to be annexed by Russia, just like Crimea.
Top Russian officials – including Putin himself – have denied any such troop concentrations near the Western border. One minor Ministry of Defense official, who didn’t want to be named because he wasn’t authorized to comment, told NBC News that there had been training exercises – war games – in the border region but, once ended, those troops and armor returned to their bases. “All of this international hype is completely unfounded,” he told us earlier in the week.
Ukraine's Darth Vader bids to lead nation to the dark side
Sith lord runs for president as candidate of Ukrainian Internet party, vowing to 'make an empire out of a republic'
As Ukraine battles to stave off dark forces of its own, the Star Wars villain Darth Vader announced at the weekend he was running for president in a bid to restore glory to the downtrodden nation.
The Sith lord, or at least an unnamed costumed protester often seen on Kiev's Independence Square flanked by his loyal stormtroopers during the winter protests, has been chosen as the official candidate of the Ukrainian Internet party (UIP) which has become known for its theatrical public stunts. ...
"I alone can make an empire out of a republic, to restore former glory, to return lost territories and pride for this country," Vader said in a party statement. ...
The UIP was registered in 2010 and aims to create an electronic government in Ukraine, transition to digital media and offer free computer courses to all citizens.
Nato plans stronger military ties to ex-Soviet states south of Russia
Nato has drawn up plans to strengthen military co-operation with the former Soviet states on Russia's southern flank after the Kremlin's seizure of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
Nato foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the alliance's response to the Ukraine crisis amid continued fears of Russia's territorial ambitions and what the Americans term a "tremendous" buildup of Russian forces on Ukraine's eastern border.
Before the meeting, a Nato committee drafted plans "for promoting stability in eastern Europe in the current context" by increasing military co-operation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova – all in Russia's "near abroad" and considered by Moscow as falling within its sphere of influence.
A confidential seven-page paper leaked to the German news weekly Der Spiegel proposed joint exercises and training between Nato and the three countries, increasing the "interoperability" of their militaries with Nato, and their participation in Nato "smart defence" operations.
The paper also proposed opening a Nato liaison office in Moldova, military training for Armenia, and projects in Azerbaijan aimed at securing its Caspian Sea oil and gas fields.
US 'may release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to kickstart peace process'
Jonathan Pollard, serving a life sentence in a US jail for spying for Israel, could be released as part of a putative "grand bargain" to breathe new life into the stalled Middle East peace process.
Speculation that Pollard's release was being seriously considered by the US re-emerged on Monday as the US secretary of state, John Kerry, flew to the Middle East for the second time in a week for urgent meetings with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, as the peace talks appeared at crisis point.
Kerry has been spearheading efforts to find a way out of the current deadlock in the US-sponsored Middle East peace process, which was restarted eight months ago, after Israel failed to release a fourth group of long-term Palestinian prisoners being held in its jails. It had previously agreed to release the group at the weekend.
Israel had been seeking a guarantee that the Palestinians would not immediately abandon the latest round of talks when the original deadline for negotiating a framework agreement expires on 29 April.
According to a US official quoted by Haaretz newspaper: "The key would be a big US concession for a big Israeli concession."
Students walk out on ‘war criminal’ Dick Cheney during American University speech
More than two dozen students walked out on former Vice President Dick Cheney last week during a speech at American University.
Some of the students called Cheney a “war criminal” Thursday as they filed out of the auditorium.
“Walk out on war criminals,” one student can be heard yelling on video recorded during the event.
The former vice president denied to The Eagle student newspaper that the Bush administration in which he served had used torture, although he conceded that three individuals were subjected to waterboarding. ...
Cheney said the enhanced interrogation tactics implemented by the Bush administration did not fall under the scope of the 1949 United Nations Geneva Convention because those rules do not apply to unlawful combatants.
“If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” Cheney said. “The results speak for themselves.”
CIA misled public on interrogation program, newspaper reports
The Central Intelligence Agency misled the U.S. government and public for years about aspects of its brutal interrogation program, concealing details about harsh treatment of detainees and other issues, according to a report in the Washington Post. ...
At the "black sites", prisoners were sometimes subjected to harsh interrogation techniques even when analysts were sure they had no more information to give, said the report, which the Post said was based on interviews with current and former U.S. officials.
The files reviewed by committee investigators describe previously undisclosed cases of abuse, including the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan. The method bore similarities to waterboarding but never appeared on any Justice Department-approved list of techniques, the Washington Post said.
Migrants face 'living hell' in Greek detention
Migrants and asylum-seekers detained in Greece are being forced to endure deplorable conditions, often with devastating effects on their health, according to a report from aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Doctors who have attended internment camps, police stations and coastguard facilities around the country described "a living hell" for thousands of immigrants denied fresh air, natural light and basic sanitation. ...
"I did not think that such conditions were possible on European soil," said Marietta Provopoulou, who spent more than a decade working in Africa before returning to Athens to head MSF in Greece. "The main complaint of migrants is that they are not being treated like human beings, that they are being subjected to a living hell," she told the Guardian. "And they are right." ...
Greece is a major transit point for immigrants desperate to get to Europe from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Under pressure from the EU to stem the influx, Greece's conservative-dominated coalition began a "clean-up" operation in the summer of 2012, systematically detaining migrants and asylum-seekers, often indiscriminately.
White House brushes off website snags in final rush to sign up for Obamacare
President Obama's controversial effort to bring health insurance to the millions of Americans without coverage ended its first year's enrolment phase on Monday where it began: with a broken website, and postponed deadlines.
But a bullish White House shrugged off the latest “technical snags” as a sign of the popularity of its online insurance marketplace, and claimed the Affordable Care Act has made a “remarkable turnaround since the dark days of October and November”.
Nearly seven million Americans are now expected to be enrolled in one of the private insurance policies offered through state and and federal exchanges by the end of the initial sign-up period.
Many newly insured still face health coverage upheaval
As procrastinators rushed to purchase health insurance Monday by the Affordable Care Act’s official enrollment deadline, new research estimates that about half of those with subsidized coverage obtained from federal or state marketplaces will lose it within a year because of changes in their incomes or other family circumstances, such as divorce, relocation or the births of children.
The same is true for about half of new Medicaid recipients, who are likely to lose program eligibility at some point over the next year for a variety of reasons, said Benjamin Sommers, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the Harvard School of Public Health.
When people lose, drop or change health coverage for unforeseen reasons, it’s known as “churning.” It’s a common occurrence for consumers with individual coverage purchased outside the workplace, as well as for those with Medicaid, the state-federal health program for poor people and those with disabilities.
Along with being a bookkeeping headache for insurers and Medicaid administrators, churning undermines the continuity of care between doctors and patients by causing patients to miss treatments and sometimes seek new caregivers.
It also has a financial impact, as coverage lapses may lead to costly emergency room visits when primary physicians could have provided treatment for far less.
Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
FLOWERS: Well, I think this whole discussion about whether or not young people are signing up is a distraction from the real conversation that we should be having. It's an attempt to put the blame on, you know, those healthy people who aren't signing up for these insurance plans, and they're the reason that we're in this--you know, the sytem's going to fail.
The system's going to fail because it's too complex. It's designed to fail. It's really designed to protect the profits of insurance companies and not make sure that our health outcome get better. So this whole term--young, invincible--that's something that was created to make people rationalize blaming our failures on young people.
Why are they not signing up? We have outrageous college debt right now. We have a very poor job market. So many people, you know, especially young people, are not able to find jobs so that they can afford to sign up for these plans.
But I think what we need to discuss that's more important than how many people get insurance is whether people can get access to care, whether they're going to go bankrupt if they have a serious illness, and whether our health outcomes are going to improve. And those are the things that we should be talking about, not just how many people are insured.
White House ally reveals anti-working class agenda behind Obamacare
In a section near the end of his book, titled “The End of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance,” Emanuel explains that before Obamacare, some 150 million people—close to half of the US population—received their health insurance through their employer or a relative’s employer. This was despite the fact that no “employer mandate” existed requiring businesses to do so.
“The ACA changes all of that,” Emanuel writes approvingly. He states categorically: “By 2025 few private-sector employers will still be providing health insurance.” He predicts that traditional employer-sponsored coverage will be replaced by a combination of defined contributions to employees to purchase coverage on private exchanges, basically vouchers, or the elimination of insurance coverage altogether. ...
Emanuel also points to the toothless $2,000 penalty per employee to be imposed on businesses for failure to provide insurance: “For a company with 1,000 employees, their health insurance bill is probably between $7 [million] and $10 million depending on how many families they cover. With the ACA, if they drop insurance, their penalty payments will be $2 million.” In other words, dropping employee-sponsored coverage makes good financial sense for big employers.
He notes as well that given the fact there is no mandate for businesses with fewer than 50 employees to provide insurance, “why small businesses will continue to provide health insurance is hard to fathom.” He writes that “in the end, exit they will” from employer-sponsored coverage.
Report details racial gap among US schoolchildren
In every region of America, white and Asian children are far better positioned for success than black, Latino and American Indian children, according to a new report appealing for urgent action to bridge this racial gap.
Titled Race for Results, the report is being released Tuesday by the Annie E Casey Foundation, which for decades has worked to improve child well-being in the United States. ...
At the core of the report is a newly devised index based on 12 indicators measuring a child's success from birth to adulthood. The indicators include reading and math proficiency, high school graduation data, teen birthrates, employment prospects, family income and education levels, and neighborhood poverty levels.
Using a single composite score with a scale of one to 1,000, Asian children have the highest index score at 776, followed by white children at 704.
"Scores for Latino (404), American Indian (387) and African American (345) children are distressingly lower, and this pattern holds true in nearly every state," said the report. ...
The report was based on data from 2012, including census figures tallying the number of US children under 18 at 39 million white, 17.6 million Latino, 10.2 million black, 3.4 million of Asian descent, and 640,000 American Indian, as well as about 2.8 million children of two or more races. Under census definitions, Latinos can be of various racial groups.
The report described the challenges facing African-American children as "a national crisis".
Will ‘Too-Big-to-Fail’ Banks Fail Again?
Many of us have seen the reports that Citibank is in trouble. That is Citibank, the biggest enchilada of finance, the bank that provided refuge to the likes of Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert “the great deregulator” Rubin and Barack Obama’s budget director, whiz kid Peter Orzag, who has been in court lately hiding how much he made from Citi in a divorce proceeding.
Citi failed the Fed’s latest stress test designed to see if it had adequate reserves to withstand the widely anticipated next financial jolt to the economy. Washington’s Blog quotes the business news service, Bloomberg News, reporting:
“Citigroup Inc.’s capital plan was among five that failed Federal Reserve stress tests, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. passed only after reducing their requests for buybacks and dividends.
“Citigroup, as well as U.S. units of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc and Banco Santander SA, failed because of qualitative concerns about their processes, the Fed said today in a statement. Zions Bancorporation was rejected as its capital fell below the minimum required. The central bank approved plans for 25 banks.”
Washington’s Blog then adds: “In reality, Citi ‘flat lined’ – went totally bust – in 2008. It was insolvent. And former FDIC chief Sheila Bair said the whole bailout thing was really focused on bringing a very dead Citi back from the grave.
“Indeed,” Washington’s Blog continues, “the big banks – including Citi – have repeatedly gone bankrupt.”
Why didn’t I read that in the news? Didn’t Citi “pass” earlier tests? I thought they were stronger than ever.
What a good economy should look like
Warren Mosler, from a talk in Chianciano, Italy, on January 11, 2014 entitled Oltre L’Euro: La Sinistra. La Crisi. L’Alternativa.I just want to say a quick word about what a good economy is because it’s been so long since we’ve had a good economy. You’ve got to be at least as old as I am to remember it. In a good economy business competes for people. There is a shortage of people to work for business. Everybody wants to hire you. They’ll train you, whatever it takes. They hire students before they get out of school. You can change jobs if you want to because other companies are always trying to hire you. That’s the way the economy is supposed to be but that’s all turned around. For one reason, which I’ll keep coming back to, the budget deficit is too small. As soon as they started tightening up on budget deficits many years ago, we transformed from a good economy where the people were the most important thing to what I call this ‘crime against humanity’ that we have today……
So what you do is you target full employment, because that’s the kind of economy everybody wants to live in. And the right size deficit is whatever deficit corresponds to full employment…
The Evening Greens
This is an excellent (as one would expect from George Monbiot) article, well worth reading in full. The excerpt here doesn't do it justice:
So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose?
Everywhere we're told that it's easier to adapt to global warming than to stop causing it. This suggests that it's not only the Stern review on the economics of climate change (showing that it's much cheaper to avert climate breakdown than to try to live with it) that has been forgotten, but also the floods which have so recently abated.
If a small, rich, well-organised nation cannot protect its people from a winter of exceptional rainfall – which might have been caused by less than one degree of global warming – what hope do other nations have, when faced with four degrees or more?
When our environment secretary, Owen Paterson, assures us that climate change "is something we can adapt to over time" or Simon Jenkins, in the Guardian today, says that we should move towards "thinking intelligently about how the world should adapt to what is already happening", what do they envisage? Cities relocated to higher ground? Roads and railways shifted inland? Rivers diverted? Arable land abandoned? Regions depopulated? Have they any clue about what this would cost? Of what the impacts would be on the people breezily being told to live with it? ...
Insurers working out their liability when a disaster has occurred use a process they call loss adjustment. It could describe what all of us who love this world are going through, as we begin to recognise that governments, the media and most businesses have no intention of seeking to avert the coming tragedies. We are being told to accept the world of wounds; to live with the disappearance, envisaged in the new climate report, of coral reefs and summer sea ice, of most glaciers and perhaps some rainforests, of rivers and wetlands and the species which, like many people, will be unable to adapt.
The butterfly effect: Do monarchs’ woes signal broader problems?
[T]he great monarch migration is in peril, a victim of rampant herbicide use in faraway corn and soybean fields, extreme weather, a tiny microbial pathogen and deforestation. Monarch butterfly populations are plummeting. The dense colonies of butterflies on central Mexican peaks were far smaller this year than ever before. ...
Scientists who are studying the monarchs’ decline cite many possible reasons, but they’re focusing now on one major one: the decline in the United States of milkweed, a lowly broadleaf plant that’s widely treated as a weed to be eradicated, doused with herbicides in farmlands and along highway shoulders. Milkweed is most common in the high-grass prairies of the Canadian and U.S. Midwest but its 70 varieties also grow along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in the Caribbean and elsewhere.
Monarchs can’t survive without milkweed.
Female monarchs lay eggs on milkweed. When they hatch, the larvae grow into caterpillars that feed on the milkweed’s leaves. Those leaves contain a poison that inoculates the monarchs from their predators. The caterpillars then form chrysalises and emerge as butterflies.
Over the past decade, U.S. fields containing milkweed have declined sharply. Orley “Chip” Taylor, a monarch expert at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, calls the loss “massive.”
“We’ve lost something like 24 million acres because of conversion of land to cropland. That’s an area the size of Indiana,” he said.
The advent of genetically modified corn and soybean varieties that can withstand herbicides has added to that loss. Now farmers employ glyphosate herbicides, such as Monsanto’s Roundup, that kill weeds with a vengeance. It’s had a huge impact on milkweed, which before could grow among crops or at the edges of fields.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
James Cotton - How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong
Ray Charles - A fool for you
Aretha Franklin - Chain Of Fools
Elmore James - I Was A Fool
Willie Mabon - You're A Fool
Roy Gaines - The Worlds Biggest Fool
Bobby Blue Bland - I Pity The Fool
Solomon Burke - When She Touches Me
Otis Redding - Mr. Pitiful
Ricky Allen - Going Or Coming
Jay Mcshann - Hootie's Ignorant Oil
Charles Brown - Fool's Paradise
Sista Monica Parker - I Been Bamboozled
Rufus Thomas - I think i made a boo boo
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - A Man Is Nothing but A Fool
David Bromberg - Will Not Be Your Fool
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
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