B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Penokee Hills, Bad River to Be Destroyed By Scott Walker and His Team of Trolls

Watershed Polapan Blue
Watershed Polapan Blue

Wisconsin voters, here is your reward for electing Scott Walker: the upcoming destruction of Penokee Hills and the Bad River. Gee, thanks…

But now, after the recent passage of a bill that would allow for the construction of what could be the world’s largest open-pit iron ore mine, Wisconsin’s admirable history of environmental stewardship is under attack.

The mine, to be built by Gogebic Taconite (GTac), owned by the coal magnate Chris Cline, would be in the Penokee Hills, in the state’s far north — part of a vast, water-rich ecosystem that President John F. Kennedy described in 1963, in a speech he delivered in the area, as “a central and significant portion of the freshwater assets of this country.”

The $1.5 billion mine would initially be close to four miles long, up to a half-mile wide and nearly 1,000 feet deep, but it could be extended as long as 21 miles. In its footprint lie the headwaters of the Bad River, which flows into Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world and by far the cleanest of the Great Lakes. Six miles downstream from the site is the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, whose livelihood is threatened by the mine.

To facilitate the construction of the mine and the company’s promise of 700 long-term jobs, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last year granting GTac astonishing latitude. The new law allows the company to fill in pristine streams and ponds with mine waste. It eliminates a public hearing that had been mandated before the issuing of a permit, which required the company to testify, under oath, that the project had complied with all environmental standards. It allows GTac to pay taxes solely on profit, not on the amount of ore removed, raising the possibility that the communities affected by the mine’s impact on the area’s roads and schools would receive only token compensation.

(click here to continue reading The Fight for Wisconsin’s Soul – NYTimes.com.)

and, as always, follow the money:

According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a campaign-finance watchdog, GTac executives and other mine supporters have donated a total of $15 million to Governor Walker and Republican legislators, outspending the mine’s opponents by more than 600 to 1.

Your tears are wasted
Your tears are wasted

If Governor Scott Walker does in fact run for President, this issue will not play well in the minds of most. Even many Republicans don’t want to turn our great country into a wasteland worse than Mordor. It’s hard to go hunting or fishing knee deep in mining slag and asbestos…

Special interests that back loosening mining regulations for a Florida company that wants to dig an open pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin have contributed $15.6 million to the Republican-controlled legislature and GOP Governor Scott Walker who are likely to approve mining permit changes in the coming months.

The Democracy Campaign review also found the campaign contributions made by mining deregulation interests swamped those of mining deregulation opponents – environmental groups – by a ratio of $610 to $1. Environmental groups which oppose the Republican mining proposal introduced in mid-January contributed only $25,544 to legislators between 2010 and June 2012 and to the governor between 2010 and April 23, 2012.

Support for a nearly identical GOP proposal last session to reduce groundwater, wetland, waste rock disposal and other environment laws for iron ore mining and impose deadlines on the state to review mine proposals so companies can get permits faster was led by manufacturing, construction, business, banking, transportation and four other special interests, according to state lobbying records.

This array of powerful special interests support mining deregulation because they will benefit from the short- and long-term construction and operation of Gogebic Taconite’s proposed mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Gogebic Taconite is a Wisconsin-based subsidiary of the Cline Group which controls large coal mining operations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio.

Walker, who has campaigned around the state to gin up support for changing rules to attract mining projects, received $11.34 million from 2010 through April 23, 2012 from interests that support mining deregulation (Table 1) including $67,068 from the prospective mine’s owner, Christopher Cline, his employees and other mining industry executives. During the same period, Walker received only $650 from environmental groups.

(click here to continue reading Mine Backers Drill With Big Cash To Ease Regulations | Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 31st, 2014 at 8:42 am

California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience

We Are workers not criminals
We Are workers not criminals

Another big fault line in the Republican Party: the Tea Party wing is rabidly anti-immigration, and they seem to be setting policy. The Agribusiness wing just wants to harvest their crops like they always have, with sketchily documented migrant workers.

California is home to an estimated 2.5 million illegal immigrants, more than in any other state. Perhaps nowhere else captures the contradictions and complications of immigration policy better than California’s Central Valley, where nearly all farmworkers are immigrants, roughly half of them living here illegally, according to estimates from agricultural economists at the University of California, Davis.

 That reality is shaping the views of agriculture business owners here, like Mr. Herrin, who cannot recall ever voting for a Democrat. In dozens of interviews, farmers and owners of related businesses said that even the current system of tacitly using illegal labor was failing to sustain them. A work force that arrived in the 1990s is aging out of heavy labor, Americans do not want the jobs, and tightened security at the border is discouraging new immigrants from arriving, they say, leaving them to struggle amid the paralysis on immigration policy. No other region may be as eager to keep immigration legislation alive.

The tension is so high that the powerful Western Growers Association, a group based in Irvine, Calif., that represents hundreds of farmers in California and Arizona, says many of its members may withhold contributions from Republicans in congressional races because of the party’s stance against a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

“We’ve had secure borders with Mexico for the last decade; we don’t have that argument at this point,” Mr. Nassif said. “Now we want people to see the real damage of not doing anything, which is a declining work force, and it means losing production to foreign countries.”

After the 2012 presidential election, as Republicans spoke enthusiastically about the need to court Latinos, Mr. Nassif was optimistic that immigration would become a top priority. But exasperation has replaced his confidence in recent months, and he said his group could withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars in congressional races in which it has usually supported Republicans.

“I can tell you if the Republicans don’t put something forward on immigration, there is going to be a very loud hue and cry from us in agriculture,” Mr. Nassif said. “We are a tremendously important part of the party, and they should not want to lose us.”

(click here to continue reading California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience – NYTimes.com.)

Of course, if the Agribusiness wing of the GOP paid higher wages, they might be able to get some Americans to work picking crops, maybe. It is back-breaking labor, much harder than flipping burgers at the local fast food joint. And if farmers had to pay a living wage, produce would suddenly skyrocket in price, more than limes I’m guessing. Doesn’t matter anyway, the Steve “Cantaloupe” Kings of the party are opposed to any immigrant being let in.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 31st, 2014 at 8:25 am

Is the Lime an Endangered Species?

Bowl of Limes
Bowl of Limes

Are limes going to be another victim of our world’s insatiable appetites? I use a few each and every week, in soups, in cocktails, in marinades, sometimes even just in water.

A sudden and unprecedented shortage of limes has sent nationwide wholesale prices soaring from around $25 for a 40-pound carton in early February to more than $100 today, panicking lovers of Mexican food and drinks — and the restaurant and bar owners who cater to them. The culprits are weather, disease and even Mexican criminals.

In the 1970s Americans consumed an average of less than half a pound per person of limes a year, most of them grown in southern Florida. Immigration from tropical countries, and the growing taste for their foods, helped raise consumption to over two and a half pounds today. Meanwhile, low-priced competition from Mexico, the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and an eradication campaign to fight canker disease in 2002-06 wiped out the Florida groves.

Mexico is now the world’s largest producer and exporter of limes, and provides some 95 percent of United States supplies. Generally, the lime harvest is smaller and prices are higher from January through March, but in November and December severe rains knocked the blossoms off lime trees in many areas, reducing lime exports to the United States by two-thirds. California, with just 373 acres, is now the largest domestic lime source — but it produces less than 1 percent of national consumption, and its season is late summer and fall, so it’s no help right now.

Other factors may also be squeezing the lime market. Since 2009 a bacterial disease that kills citrus trees, huanglongbing (HLB, also known as “greening”), has spread across many of Mexico’s lime-growing districts. Largely because of HLB, harvests in Colima State, a major producer of Key limes (the small, seeded, highly aromatic type preferred in Mexico), have dropped by a third in the past three years.

(click here to continue reading Is the Lime an Endangered Species? – NYTimes.com.)

and of course, where there’s money, there are criminals:

As a result of high prices and rampant lawlessness in some Mexican regions, criminals who may be linked to drug gangs are plundering fruit from groves and hijacking trucks being used for export, said Bill Vogel, president of Vision Produce, a Los Angeles-based importer. A truck headed for Vision’s sister company in Texas was hijacked two weeks ago in Mexico, he said, and growers and shippers now are hiring armed guards to protect their green gold.

(click here to continue reading Is the Lime an Endangered Species? – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 31st, 2014 at 7:31 am

Posted in Food and Drink,News-esque

Tagged with ,

Boots Sox Pants Shirts was uploaded to Flickr

Army Navy Surplus store on Lincoln.

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I took Boots Sox Pants Shirts on March 08, 2014 at 03:33PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 10, 2014 at 02:46PM

Written by eggplant

March 30th, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Drink Your Big Champagne and Laugh was uploaded to Flickr

Chicago

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I took Drink Your Big Champagne and Laugh on November 30, 2013 at 04:08PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 05, 2013 at 06:52PM

Written by eggplant

March 30th, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Laughter Like Rain was uploaded to Flickr

Dundas St W, Toronto

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I took Laughter Like Rain on September 07, 2013 at 11:18AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on November 05, 2013 at 03:08PM

Written by eggplant

March 30th, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Memories Are Sacred was uploaded to Flickr

Cermak and the Chicago River

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I took Memories Are Sacred on June 23, 2013 at 07:11PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 24, 2013 at 02:32PM

Written by eggplant

March 30th, 2014 at 10:24 am

WordPress Troubleshooting – cannot modify header information

y'a bon Banania
y’a bon Banania

Sorry if I make your eyes glaze over, but I had some trouble with my blog yesterday, and here is how I solved it.

Background: upgraded a WordPress plugin called Better WP Security, under its new name, iThemes Security Pro, and instantly my blog broke. I could no longer access my dashboard, could no longer make any changes to the blog, all that would happen would be an error message like this:

Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at [redacted]/wp-config.php:33) in [redacted]/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 896

 so of course I copied this error out, and Googled it. Unfortunately for me, I searched on the second phrase first, which led to instructions about fixing the code in pluggable.php

Silly me, I was too busy to read more. I opened my FTP program, opened the file pluggable.php and sure enough, the last line did not include a close tag. I added ?> and my blog was working again. I immediately went into plugins and deleted iThemes Security Pro, and as everything seemed fine, went back to my other tasks, considering the matter finished.

G3 case open
G3 case open

This morning, I noticed that the daily blog email didn’t get sent, and then noticed that my blog’s RSS feed reported an error. A few of my plugins were not working at all (such as my anti-spam plugin, Askimet, and others). Ru-oh!

I went back to the Codex WordPress FAQ Troubleshooting page, and read the entire entry:

It is usually because there are spaces, new lines, or other stuff before an opening <?php tag or after a closing ?> tag, typically in wp-config.php. 

If the error message states: Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /path/blog/wp-config.php:34) in /path/blog/wp-login.php on line 42, then the problem is at line #34 of wp-config.php, not line #42 of wp-login.php. In this scenario, line #42 of wp-login.php is the victim. It is being affected by the excess whitespace at line #34 of wp-config.php.

If the error message states: Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /path/wp-admin/admin-header.php:8) in /path/wp-admin/post.php on line 569, then the problem is at line #8 of admin-header.php, not line #569 of post.php. In this scenario, line #569 of post.php is the victim. It is being affected by the excess whitespace at line #8 of admin-header.php.

(click here to continue reading FAQ Troubleshooting « WordPress Codex.)

Doh! My error message had told me the problem was in wp-config.php, and pluggable.php was the victim. I opened wp-config.php, and sure enough, there were 2 extra blank lines after the close tag. I don’t know how iThemes Security Pro added them, nor why, but once I deleted these two blank lines, my RSS feed validated through feed burner, etc. I trust the blog daily email will go out tonight, whether or not it will contain yesterday’s information too.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 27th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Posted in blog

Tagged with , ,

You Looked On In Disbelief was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop

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I took You Looked On In Disbelief on March 20, 2014 at 07:01PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 21, 2014 at 01:44PM

Written by eggplant

March 27th, 2014 at 10:55 am

Police Keep Quiet About Stingray A Cellphone Surveillance Tool

Eye see u Willis
Eye see u Willis

Ahh, our National Security State keeps chugging along, snatching us up in its tentacles…

Police across the country may be intercepting phone calls or text messages to find suspects using a technology tool known as Stingray. But they’re refusing to turn over details about its use or heavily censoring files when they do.

Police say Stingray, a suitcase-size device that pretends it’s a cell tower, is useful for catching criminals, but that’s about all they’ll say.

For example, they won’t disclose details about contracts with the device’s manufacturer, Harris Corp., insisting they are protecting both police tactics and commercial secrets. The secrecy – at times imposed by nondisclosure agreements signed by police – is pitting obligations under private contracts against government transparency laws.

Even in states with strong open records laws, including Florida and Arizona, little is known about police use of Stingray and any rules governing it.

A Stingray device tricks all cellphones in an area into electronically identifying themselves and transmitting data to police rather than the nearest phone company’s tower. Because documents about Stingrays are regularly censored, it’s not immediately clear what information the devices could capture, such as the contents of phone conversations and text messages, what they routinely do capture based on how they’re configured or how often they might be used.

(click here to continue reading POLICE KEEP QUIET ABOUT CELL-TRACKING TECHNOLOGY, BY JACK GILLUM, News from The Associated Press.)

Cops on Bikes
Cops on Bikes on Cellphones

Note that this works on everyone’s cellphones, regardless if you are a criminal suspect, or just a teenage girl texting your friends. Who needs warrants, right? The old United States that celebrated civil liberties as a constitution right has been superseded by 9-11 and the War on Terra.

ACLU Staff Attorney Nathan Freed Wessler writes:

It appears that at least one police department in Florida has failed to tell judges about its use of a cell phone tracking device because the department got the device on loan and promised the manufacturer to keep it all under wraps. But when police use invasive surveillance equipment to surreptitiously sweep up information about the locations and communications of large numbers of people, court oversight and public debate are essential. The devices, likely made by the Florida-based Harris Corporation, are called “stingrays,” and unfortunately this is not the first time the government has tried to hide their use.

So the ACLU and ACLU of Florida have teamed up to break through the veil of secrecy surrounding stingray use by law enforcement in the Sunshine State, last week filing a motion for public access to sealed records in state court, and submitting public records requests to nearly 30 police and sheriffs’ departments across Florida seeking information about their acquisition and use of stingrays.

As two judges noted during the oral argument, as of 2010 the Tallahassee Police Department had used stingrays a staggering 200 times without ever disclosing their use to a judge to get a warrant.

Potentially unconstitutional government surveillance on this scale should not remain hidden from the public just because a private corporation desires secrecy. And it certainly should not be concealed from judges. That’s why we have asked the Florida court that originally sealed the transcript to now make it available to the public. And that’s also why we have asked police departments throughout Florida to tell us whether they use stingrays, what rules they have in place to protect innocent third parties from unjustified invasions of privacy, and whether they obtain warrants from judges before deploying the devices.

Although secret stingray use has increasingly been exposed by the press (and by the ACLU), public details are still scant. Our new work in Florida is part of national efforts to understand how law enforcement is using these devices, and whether reforms are needed to protect our privacy from law enforcement overreach.

(click here to continue reading Police Hide Use of Cell Phone Tracker From Courts Because Manufacturer Asked | American Civil Liberties Union.)

Transformers 3 Soldier extra
Soldier on a Cellphone (Transformers 3)

via

Written by Seth Anderson

March 27th, 2014 at 9:04 am

No Frenzied Shrieking Crowd was uploaded to Flickr

alley, Loop, Chicago

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I took No Frenzied Shrieking Crowd on November 30, 2013 at 04:07PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 26, 2014 at 11:11PM

Written by eggplant

March 27th, 2014 at 8:47 am

Sock Puppets, Online Trolling and The Dead Sea Scrolls

one comment

History Books Tell It
History Books Tell It

What a strange story. Norman Golb, a professor at the University of Chicago, had some theory about the Dead Sea Scrolls, other scholars had different ones, so Raphael Golb spent a good many hours attacking his father’s rivals via the internet. I wonder if this ruling will be applied to the political realm, say, to serial aggressors like the folks at Breitbart dot com or The Daily Caller? or in the Shirley Sherrod trial? Mr. Golb was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation for doing what happens on right-wing websites and news organizations each and every day1

The ancient religious texts have much to say about the divine obligations of a son toward his father, but they are silent on the propriety of using computers, blogs, pseudonyms and Internet sock puppets to fulfill them. For this, there is only the law.

On Tuesday, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, heard arguments in Albany applying the law to Raphael Haim Golb of Greenwich Village, in Manhattan, who for three years used the electronic means at his disposal to impersonate, belittle and accuse the academic rivals of his father, a controversial Dead Sea Scrolls scholar. The law in this case dealt Mr. Golb, 54, a felony conviction and 28 misdemeanor convictions for identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment and unauthorized use of a computer.

(click here to continue reading Court Hears Appeal by Son of Scholar on Dead Sea Scrolls – NYTimes.com.)

Thank You Puppet Theatre
Thank You Puppet Theatre

He is appealing, of course.

According to Mr. Golb’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby, internet trolling is no big deal as long as no money is made:

“Are you really saying this is legal, to send emails in my name, confessing to the assassination of President Kennedy or whatever?” Judge Robert S. Smith asked.

“I wouldn’t,” Mr. Kuby said. “But it would not be criminal. Would it be rude and boorish? Yes.”

What would make it illegal? Mr. Kuby was asked.

Economic benefit, he said. Merely getting “psychic joy” and “savage pleasure” did not count. “Intent to annoy, intent to be obnoxious — that, in and of itself, cannot be criminalized.”

Mr. Rivellese countered that Mr. Golb’s behavior was clearly malicious and criminal, intended to mislead recipients and damage Dr. Schiffman’s career.

Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. pushed the point with Mr. Kuby, asking whether it would be all right for someone to pretend to be Alex Rodriguez and confess to using banned steroids, which Mr. Rodriguez has denied.

“I don’t actually see a criminal problem with that,” Mr. Kuby said.

The ancient texts are silent on the question of steroids and suspensions. On the conviction for impersonating a scholar, the judges will decide.

Footnotes:
  1. and some left-wing sites too, to be fair, on a smaller scale []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 26th, 2014 at 8:51 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

The 99 Percent in Illinois Cannot Afford Bruce Rauner as Governor

End Torture in Illinois
End Torture in Illinois

And speaking of class warriors, Rachel Anspach has a good piece on the Republican One Percenter, Bruce Rauner, including:

Rauner’s stance on financial issues is in line with his own interests–Rauner’s wealth is estimated at $500 million. He made around $53 million in 2012 alone. And it is not clear where much of the income at his private equity firm in Winnetka came from; although he has run into criticism for his company’s deals with nursing homes, which were sued multiple times for patient neglect and wrongful death.

Although Rauner has flip-flopped on the issue, he originally stated that he was in favor of lowering Illinois’ minimum wage to the federal level of $7.25–a stance that is quite rich coming from someone who made over half-a-billion dollars in one year. Thus, his election could devastate the legislature’s current opportunity to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.65. At the same time as he supports further squeezing the working class, Rauner wants to lower the state’s personal and corporate income taxes, and is against a implementing a graduated income tax. Increasing the minimum wage would inject more cash into the economy, as those at the bottom of the income spectrum spend most of their income. On the other hand, lowering the tax rate on the wealthy would only put more money into their pockets while increasing our state’s budget woes.

Rauner constantly touts his business experience as enabling him to address the state’s budget issues. Yet he has offered little in the way of specifics (beyond cutting taxes, which clearly will not help budget shortfalls). A state is not a company, and the Republican claim that being a CEO prepares one to run a government has become trite and tired. The purpose of government is not just to turn a profit; it is also to govern in a way that maximizes the human rights of all.

(click here to continue reading The 99 Percent in Illinois Cannot Afford Bruce Rauner as Governor – Gapers Block Mechanics | Chicago.)

Illinois Department of Revenue
Illinois Department of Revenue

Sadly, Pat Quinn, the incumbent Democratic Governor, is in real danger of losing to this Mitt Romney clone. For the sake of Illinois, I hope that doesn’t happen, but Quinn is tepid dishwater, at best, so he might very well lose.

As mentioned by Ms. Anspach above, running a company, especially a private equity firm, has next to zero similarity to running a government. You can’t just fire your non-productive citizens, sell off your troubled bridges and other assets, and make Wall Street happy. Governments don’t work that way.

You ran one of Chicago’s biggest private equity firms, GTCR, for years. How does that prepare you to be governor? Being a successful CEO, where I’ve driven a bottom line, assembled teams, driven results, that’s a critical benefit to running the state government. A CEO’s job is leadership, problem solving, and team building. I’ve done that my whole career.

(click here to continue reading Bruce Rauner Answers 13 Questions on Running for Governor of Illinois | Chicago magazine | June 2013.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

March 25th, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Phony Class warfare theme

Class Warfare
Class Warfare

Sometimes I forget that the Chicago Tribune is a Republican-friendly newspaper. On many topics, they are decent source of non-biased news, but every so often, the visage slips. Last Friday, the print edition of the Chicago Tribune had this inflammatory headline:

“Democrats up class war ante”

The online version available today has slightly toned down the headline, but not much

Illinois Democrats went all-in Thursday with their election-year class warfare theme as Speaker Michael Madigan pitched the idea of asking voters to raise taxes on millionaires, Senate President John Cullerton advanced a minimum-wage increase and Gov. Pat Quinn compared wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner to TV villain Mr. Burns.

(click here to continue reading Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme – Chicago Tribune.)

Either way, calling Democratic Party initiatives to reduce income inequality, slightly, as class warfare is offensive, and straight out of Frank Luntz’s dictionary. Circa 2008, Frank Luntz started labeling every economic-related Democratic Party position “class warfare” whether or not it actually applies.1 Raising the tax on millionaires isn’t going to bankrupt the millionaires. Increasing the minimum wage isn’t going to force Bruce Rauner to sell off one of his many, many mansions. No Democratic politician is calling for the guillotine to be rolled out, though plenty of us peons chuckle at the idea. 

As Senator Bernie Sanders has been saying for many years, the real class warfare is being waged ruthlessly by the 1% on the rest of us. Focusing on tax breaks for corporations, flat tax proposals, allowing someone like Mitt Romney (or Bruce Rauner) to pay tiny amounts of income tax; these are tools of the rich, these are actual battles of class warfare. Cutting food stamps is class warfare, cutting education assistance is class warfare, cutting Social Security is class warfare, eliminating the minimum wage is class warfare, you could make a big, long list.

“What kind of nation are we when we give tax breaks to millionaires but we can’t take care of the elderly and the children?” Sen. Bernie Sanders asked on Monday. He was reacting to a new report that more than 18 percent of Americans last year struggled to afford food. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are calling for deeper and deeper cuts in food stamps, a program that provides help mostly to children and seniors. We are living in “a very ugly moment,” the senator told the Rev. Al Sharpton.

 

Later Sen. Sanders ripped Republicans for claiming that the problem is that children get too much help from the federal government, “These are the same people who want to eliminate the estate tax, which applies to only the top three tenths of one percent of all Americans, which is the richest of the rich, then they are going after kids. The politics of this, Al, is what they are trying to do is deflect attention away from income and wealth inequality. Attention away from the fact that the rich are doing extraordinarily well, and tell their supporters that the real problem in America is that children are getting too much help from the federal government, and that’s the kind of mentality that we have got to fight back against.”

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan Quivers as Bernie Sanders Outs the Dirty Secret Behind His Poverty Propaganda.)

Of course it buys happiness
Of course it buys happiness

Speaking of wealthy class warriors, check out this list (from the Tribune, in fact) of some of the properties that the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, owns

There’s the 6,870-square-foot Rauner mansion on a half-acre lot in Winnetka; two units, including a penthouse, in a luxury high-rise overlooking Millennium Park; a waterfront villa in the Florida Keys with a 72-foot-long pool; ranches in Montana and Wyoming; and a condo in an upscale Utah ski resort.

Most carry price tags well into the seven figures. But topping the list is a penthouse in a landmark co-op building along New York’s Central Park, which property records show Rauner bought in 2005 for $10 million.

Rauner has amassed a larger stable of high-end residences than Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee whose plentiful and opulent homes lent ammunition to foes who portrayed him as an out-of-touch elitist.

Rauner dismisses any such comparison to Romney…

Rauner said he likes recreational properties where he can practice land or water conservation. He often buys and pastes parcels together in areas he thinks are beautiful to “have an investment that appreciates over a 20- to 30-year period.”

That includes his property in Wyoming, he said, where he grows barley, alfalfa and winter wheat.

When he takes his family West, they most often go to his New Moon Ranch in Livingston, Mont., near Yellowstone National Park. It sits on hundreds of acres of grazing and cropland and includes a nearly 6,000-square-foot home, according to property records. It has five bedrooms and four baths and is currently valued by the Park County, Mont., assessor at $2.2 million.

In the winter, Rauner and his wife, Diana, have their pick of both hot and cold weather getaways. For snow sports they have a condominium in the luxury Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, east of Salt Lake City, purchased in 2003 and currently valued by the assessor there at $1.75 million.

The Rauners also own an oceanfront home in Key Largo, Fla., currently worth almost $7 million, according to property records there. It has a private boat dock, four bedrooms, four baths, 5,370 square feet of ground-floor living space and a patio nearly half that size.

The Rauners also have a New York penthouse on Central Park in a century-old Beaux Arts style building known as The Prasada. They paid $10 million for it eight years ago. A billionaire neighbor recently put the adjoining penthouse up for sale and is asking $48 million, according to realty postings.

In Illinois, Rauner holds title to three homes in Cook County, including two condominium units on East Randolph Street. Records show Rauner paid more than $1.2 million for the smaller unit in late 2008, where one of his daughters now lives.

The Rauners bought the penthouse unit a couple of months earlier, in August 2008, for $4 million, according to county records. …

The Rauners still own their Winnetka house and consider it their primary residence. Its current market value is estimated at $3.3 million by the Cook County assessor’s office.

(click here to continue reading Bruce Rauner has many million-dollar homes and a campaign that touts frugality – Chicago Tribune.)

Footnotes:
  1. I’m not sure Frank Luntz is the first to use this talking point, but he came up with Death Tax, and other Republican “hits”, so it stands to reason []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 25th, 2014 at 10:07 am

Scientists Condemn New FDA Study Saying BPA Is Safe

The Pope gets bagged
The Pope gets bagged

The Food and Drug Organization is still beholden to the industries it is supposed to regulate, putting us, the non-corporations, needlessly at risk in order to protect profits of industry. If we had a liberal, socialist president, perhaps this could change. However…

In February, a group of Food and Drug Administration scientists published a study finding that low-level exposure to the common plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA) is safe. The media, the chemical industry, and FDA officials touted this as evidence that long-standing concerns about the health effects of BPA were unfounded. (“BPA Is A-Okay, Says FDA,” read one Forbes headline.) But, behind the scenes, a dozen leading academic scientists who had been working with the FDA on a related project were fuming over the study’s release—partly because they believed the agency had bungled the experiment.

On a conference call the previous summer, officials from the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had informed these researchers that the lab where the study was housed was contaminated. As a result, all of the animals—including the supposedly unexposed control group—had been exposed to BPA. The FDA made the case that this didn’t affect the outcome, but their academic counterparts believed it cast serious doubt on the study’s findings. “It’s basic science,” says Gail S. Prins, a professor of physiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was on the call. “If your controls are contaminated, you’ve got a failed experiment and the data should be discarded. I’m baffled that any journal would even publish this.”

Yet the FDA study glossed over this detail, which was buried near the end of the paper. Prins and her colleagues also complain that the paper omitted key information—including the fact that some of them had found dramatic effects in the same group of animals. “The way the FDA presented its findings is so disingenuous,” says one scientist, who works closely with the agency. “It borders on scientific misconduct.”

(click here to continue reading Scientists Condemn New FDA Study Saying BPA Is Safe: “It Borders on Scientific Misconduct” | Mother Jones.)

A fan of Peapod

A fan of Peapod 

reminds me of the climate change debate, and not in a positive light:

In contrast to the FDA’s recent paper, roughly 1,000 published studies have found that low-level exposure to BPA—a synthetic estrogen that is also used in cash register receipts and the lining of tin cans—can lead to serious health problems, from cancer and insulin-resistant diabetes to obesity and attention-deficit disorder. In some cases, the effects appear to be handed down, with the chemical reprogramming an individual’s genes and causing disease in future generations.

But the agencies that regulate BPA and other chemicals have largely ignored this research in favor of industry data showing BPA is safe. A 2008 investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that the FDA had relied on industry lobbyists to track and evaluate research on BPA. It also found that the agency’s assessment of BPA’s safety was based largely on two industry-funded studies—one of which turned out to have “fatal flaws,” according to leading researchers in the field. Both studies also relied on a breed of rat, known as the Charles River Sprague Dawley, that is all but immune to the effects of synthetic estrogens like BPA.

On one hand, nearly 1,000 studies saying at the minimum, there could be potential health problems associated with the usage of this plastic; and on the other finger, 2 studies, flawed in methodology, and funded by the plastic and chemical industry that claim everything is fine as it is. In a rational world, these two studies would be marginalized. Instead, the FDA uses them as a fig leaf to protect the industry from regulation. Pathetic, and troubling.

Hmm, maybe if I started a religion that said ingesting BPA was against my core beliefs, we could take this to the Supreme Court

Written by Seth Anderson

March 24th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in government,science

Tagged with , , ,