The Evening Blues - 2-26-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features one of the "Three Kings of the Blues" Freddie King. Enjoy!
Freddie King - Hide Away
"Aggression is simply another name for government."
-- Benjamin Tucker
News and Opinion
Joe Biden just dropped bombs on Syria. Here we go again.
— Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) February 25, 2021
On orders of President Biden, the United States has launched an airstrike on a facility in Syria. As of this writing the exact number of killed and injured is unknown, with early reports claiming “a handful” of people were killed.
Rather than doing anything remotely resembling journalism, the western mass media have opted instead to uncritically repeat what they’ve been told about the airstrike by US officials, which is the same as just publishing Pentagon press releases.
Here’s this from The Washington Post:
The Biden administration conducted an airstrike against alleged Iranian-linked fighters in Syria on Thursday, signaling its intent to push back against violence believed to be sponsored by Tehran.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack, the first action ordered by the Biden administration to push back against alleged Iranian-linked violence in Iraq and Syria, on a border control point in eastern Syria was “authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats.”
He said the facilities were used by Iranian-linked militias including Kaitib Hezbollah and Kaitib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
The operation follows the latest serious attack on U.S. locations in Iraq that American officials have attributed to Iranian-linked groups operating in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month, a rocket attack in northern Iraq killed a contractor working with the U.S. military and injured a U.S. service member there.
So we are being told that the United States launched an airstrike on Syria, a nation it invaded and is illegally occupying, because of attacks on “US locations” in Iraq, another nation the US invaded and is illegally occupying. This attack is justified on the basis that the Iraqi fighters were “Iranian-linked”, a claim that is both entirely without evidence and irrelevant to the justification of deadly military force. And this is somehow being framed in mainstream news publications as a defensive operation.
This is Defense Department stenography. The US military is an invading force in both Syria and Iraq; it is impossible for its actions in either of those countries to be defensive. It is always necessarily the aggressor. It’s the people trying to eject them who are acting defensively. The deaths of US troops and contractors in those countries can only be blamed on the powerful people who sent them there.
The US is just taking it as a given that it has de facto jurisdiction over the nations of Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and that any attempt to interfere in its authority in the region is an unprovoked attack which must be defended against. This is completely backwards and illegitimate. Only through the most perversely warped American supremacist reality tunnels can it look valid to dictate the affairs of sovereign nations on the other side of the planet and respond with violence if anyone in those nations tries to eject them.
To remind Iran who’s boss — rather than conduct the diplomacy he promised — Biden opts to act as ISIS’ Air Force. (That’s who “Iranian-backed militia” have long been fighting) https://t.co/9YGXnpUeyI
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 26, 2021
It’s illegitimate for the US to be in the Middle East at all. It’s illegitimate for the US to claim to be acting defensively in nations it invaded. It’s illegitimate for the US to act like Iranian-backed fighters aren’t allowed to be in Syria, where they are fighting alongside the Syrian government against ISIS and other extremist militias with the permission of Damascus. It is illegitimate for the US to claim the fighters attacking US personnel in Iraq are controlled by Iran when Iraqis have every reason to want the US out of their country themselves.
Even the official narrative reveals itself as illegitimate from within its own worldview. CNN reports that the site of the airstrike “was not specifically tied to the rocket attacks” in Iraq, and a Reuters/AP report says “Biden administration officials condemned the February 15 rocket attack near the city of Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region, but as recently as this week officials indicated they had not determined for certain who carried it out.”
This is all so very typical of the American supremacist worldview that is being aggressively shoved down our throats by all western mainstream news media. The US can bomb who it likes, whenever it likes, and when it does it is only ever doing so in self defense, because the entire planet is the property of Washington, DC. It can seize control of entire clusters of nations, and if any of those nations resist in any way they are invading America’s sovereignty.
It’s like if you broke into your neighbor’s house to rob him, killed him when he tried to stop you, and then claimed self defense because you consider his home your property. Only in the American exceptionalist alternate universe is this considered normal and acceptable.
Demockery spells out its messages in bombs.
What a curious way to deescalate a situation.
The United States has carried out airstrikes in Syria targeting facilities near the Iraqi border used by Iranian-backed militia groups.
The Pentagon said the strikes were retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a US service member and other coalition troops.
The airstrikes were the first military action undertaken by the Biden administration, which in its first weeks has emphasized its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China, even as threats in the Middle East persist.
“This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with coalition partners,” the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, John Kirby, said in announcing the strikes.
“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to deescalate the overall situation in eastern Syria and Iraq.”
Weeks after President Joe Biden announced he would end U.S. support for “offensive” military operations in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a group of progressive lawmakers are asking his administration to clarify what forms of U.S. support will continue.
In his first foreign policy address earlier this month, Biden said his administration was “ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.” But he also promised that the U.S. would continue to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against missile attacks, including from Iranian-backed militias like the Houthis in Yemen. In the following weeks, his administration has yet to explain how it distinguishes between offensive and defensive forms of support.
On Thursday, 41 members of Congress sent a letter to Biden expressing support for his decision to limit U.S. backing for the war but asked him to clarify what forms of “military, intelligence, [and] logistical” support it defines as “offensive” activities and what forms of support will continue. ...
The letter was written by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.; Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif.; and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and signed by 38 others. In a phone interview Wednesday, DeFazio told The Intercept that he wasn’t aware of any formal communication between the Biden administration and Congress about their policy, and said the letter was trying to get answers.
“That raises questions that we would like to have answered,” DeFazio said. “How do you define weapons? What’s the difference between an offensive weapon or a defensive weapon? Congress has acted a number of times to block arms sales to the Saudis. So we just have a number of questions. We think it’s obviously a tremendous improvement over the position of the Trump administration. We would just like more clarification, more detail about what the shift means and also what [legal] authority they’re depending upon to continue to be involved in this conflict in any way.”
And just as Obama greenlit a mass murder campaign in Yemen to assuage Saudi anger over the Iran deal, I wouldn't be surprised if bombing an Iranian target is Biden's way of making nice with Mohammed Bone Saw for the pending release of the Khashoggi report.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 26, 2021
Joe Biden has spoken with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for the first time as president, ahead of the publication of a US intelligence report expected to implicate the Saudi crown prince in the 2018 murder of dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
A White House account of the call did not mention the report, but did say, in another context, that Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law” and that the two discussed working on “mutual issues of concern”.
The Saudi embassy in Washington said the two men “confirmed the strength of bilateral ties and discussed Iran’s malign activities in the region and ways to advance peace in Yemen”.
Biden has been far cooler to Riyadh than Donald Trump, cutting off US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and refusing to talk directly to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close Trump ally, who US intelligence believes approved and possibly ordered the killing and dismemberment of Khashoggi after he was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The CIA gave that assessment in a classified briefing to Congress in 2018 and is due to deliver an unclassified version imminently.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for shipping spare doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to allies thousands of miles away while leaving millions Palestinians in the occupied territories largely without access to the life-saving shot.
"As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for the health of all the people under its control," Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted Wednesday evening. "It is outrageous that Netanyahu would use spare vaccines to reward his foreign allies while so many Palestinians in the occupied territories are still waiting."
Earlier this week, as Common Dreams reported, began sending thousands of vaccine doses to Honduras, Guatemala, and the Czech Republic—nations that have either moved or pledged to move their embassies to Jerusalem.
The Czech Republic and Honduras confirmed Tuesday that the Israeli government promised them 5,000 doses each, and the New York Times reported that "Hungary and Guatemala would be sent a similar number."
"The donations are the latest example of a new expression of soft power: vaccine diplomacy, in which countries rich in vaccines seek to reward or sway those that have little access to them," the Times noted. "The vaccines allocated on Tuesday were given without conditions, but they tacitly reward recent gestures from the receiving countries that implicitly accept Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians consider their capital."
Meanwhile, just a tiny fraction of the populations of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have received the Covid-19 inoculation as the deadly virus continues to spread there. After weeks of needless and harmful delay, the Israeli government finally began allowing vaccine shipments into Gaza last week.
"Only several thousand doses are available in the Palestinian West Bank, and a delivery of 20,000 reported to have arrived last weekend in Gaza scarcely scratches at the surface of the needs," Matthias Kennes, a registered nurse and medical referent for the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Covid-19 response in the West Bank city of Hebron, wrote in a blog post Monday.
"At a generous maximum, assuming that the 35,000 reported Sputnik and Moderna vaccines are all available, that would be around 0.8 percent of the Palestinian population," Kennes wrote.
New satellite analysis by the Associated Press of Israel's nuclear facility in the Negev desert provides fresh evidence of recent, major activity at at the site.
Israel, which has not signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), has never officially declared its nuclear weapons program but is believed to have an arsenal of an estimated 90 nuclear warheads.
The secretive facility in question is the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona.
Last week, the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) said that commercial satellite imagery it obtained and that was taken in January showed "significant new construction" at the site.
"The construction site is located in the immediate vicinity of the buildings that house the nuclear reactor and the reprocessing plant (to the southwest from the buildings, around the point with coordinates 31.000, 35.143)," said IPFM. The purpose of the construction was not clear. In its reporting Thursday the AP noted that the activity seen by IPFM followed decades of no changes to the layout at the facility. ...
In a Saturday tweet sharing The Guardian's reporting on the Dimona activity, Zarif tagged President Joe Biden, the International Atomic Energy Agency, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and wrote, "Israel is expanding Dimona, the region's only nuclear bomb factory."
"Gravely concerned? Concerned? A little? Care to comment? I thought so," tweeted Zarif.
Worth a full read, lots more at the link:
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador quietly rocked the agribusiness world with his New Year’s Eve decree to phase out use of the herbicide glyphosate and the cultivation of genetically modified corn. His administration sent an even stronger aftershock two weeks later, clarifying that the government would also phase out GM corn imports in three years and the ban would include not just corn for human consumption but yellow corn destined primarily for livestock. Under NAFTA, the United States has seen a 400 percent increase in corn exports to Mexico, the vast majority genetically modified yellow dent corn. The bold policy moves fulfill a campaign promise by Mexico’s populist president, whose agricultural policies have begun to favor Mexican producers, particularly small-scale farmers, and protect consumers alarmed by the rise of obesity and chronic diseases associated with high-fat, high-sugar processed foods.
In banning glyphosate, the decree cites the precautionary principle and the growing body of scientific research showing the dangers of the chemical, the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. The government had stopped imports of glyphosate since late 2019, citing the World Health Organization’s warning that the chemical is a “probable carcinogen.”
The prohibitions on genetically modified corn, which appear toward the end of the decree, have more profound implications. The immediate ban on permits for cultivation of GM corn formalizes current restrictions, ordered by Mexican courts in 2013 when a citizen lawsuit challenged government permitting of experimental GM corn planting by Monsanto and other multinational seed companies on the grounds of the contamination threat they posed to Mexico’s rich store of native corn varieties.
The import ban cites the same environmental threats but goes further, advancing the López Obrador administration’s goals of promoting greater food self-sufficiency in key crops. As the decree states:
“[W]ith the objective of achieving self-sufficiency and food sovereignty, our country must be oriented towards establishing sustainable and culturally adequate agricultural production, through the use of agroecological practices and inputs that are safe for human health, the country’s biocultural diversity and the environment, as well as congruent with the agricultural traditions of Mexico.”
Jayapal Warns Democrats Against Using Advice of Unelected Parliamentarian as Excuse Not to Pass $15 Wage
With the Senate parliamentarian expected to issue advice as soon as Thursday on whether increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour complies with the rules of budget reconciliation, top congressional progressives stressed that the official's decision is merely advisory and should not be used by Democrats to concede defeat on the push for a long-overdue pay raise for tens of millions of workers.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), said in an appearance on MSNBC late Wednesday that Democrats "made a promise to people across this country that we were gonna raise the minimum wage, that we were gonna put money in people's pockets." The House has included the $15 minimum wage proposal in its version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, and is expected to pass the sweeping measure on Friday.
"It's been 12 years since we've raised the minimum wage, and if we're going to make those promises, we have to be able to deliver on them," Jayapal said. "Because, I'll tell you what, in two years... when people vote in the midterms, you're not gonna be able to say, 'Well, I'm sorry, we couldn't raise the minimum wage because the parliamentarian ruled that we couldn't do it.' That's not gonna fly."
Jayapal's comments came after Democratic and Republican senators met with Elizabeth MacDonough—the unelected official tasked with interpreting and offering advice on Senate rules—to present arguments for and against a number of major provisions in the emerging coronavirus relief package, including the $15 minimum wage measure.
MacDonough—who was first appointed to her role in 2012 by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)—is expected to rule before the end of the week on whether the minimum wage increase qualifies under reconciliation, a filibuster-proof process that requires all provisions to have more than a "merely incidental" impact on the federal budget.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has pointed to two recent analyses by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to make the case that the proposed wage hike would have a substantial impact on federal revenue and spending, and should therefore be deemed eligible for the reconciliation process.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Sanders said, "Obviously we're a little bit biased, but we think we made a convincing case that raising the minimum wage to a living wage is consistent [with Senate rules]."
Should MacDonough advise the Senate that the minimum wage increase runs afoul of reconciliation rules, Vice President Kamala Harris—as presiding officer of the chamber—would have the power to overrule the parliamentarian, which hasn't been done since 1975.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain made clear Wednesday that the administration is opposed to ignoring the advice of the parliamentarian, saying in an interview, "Certainly that's not something we would do."
"We're going to honor the rules of the Senate and work within that system to get this bill passed," Klain added.
But progressives countered that disregarding the parliamentarian's advice would be perfectly consistent with Senate rules.
In an appearance on MSNBC late Wednesday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) noted that "there is no provision in the Constitution that says that the Senate parliamentarian has any power."
"We should just be honest with folks," Khanna continued. "If there are political reasons that the White House doesn't want to disregard the parliamentarian, for whatever reason, just come out and say that. But know that this is the decision that the White House has."
"The vice president," Khanna concluded, "has every power to disregard that decision."
Americans: $2000 checks please
Government: Sorry did you say airstrikes on Syria?
Americans: No, $2000 checks
Government: Okay, since you asked nicely here's your airstrikes on Syria.
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) February 26, 2021
Worth a full read:
On Thursday, a key Senate official advised Democratic lawmakers that the chamber’s rules do not allow them to include a minimum wage increase in President Joe Biden’s first COVID-19 relief legislation. The ruling from the parliamentarian means that Vice President Kamala Harris could decide the fate of one of the Democratic Party’s most significant campaign promises — but it remains unclear what she will end up doing.
As the presiding officer of the Senate, Harris — who has long touted her support for a $15 minimum wage — can now use the power her predecessors have used to ignore the advisory opinion and fulfill Biden’s campaign promise to boost the wage. A confidential memo obtained by The Daily Poster now circulating on Capitol Hill spells out exactly how that could be accomplished.
However, White House chief of staff Ron Klain this week declared that Harris will refuse to use that power — a decision that would effectively put the Biden-Harris administration in the position of potentially killing the prospect of minimum wage legislation for the foreseeable future. Immediately after the parliamentarian’s ruling, the White House issued a statement reiterating Klain’s comment, declaring that “Biden respects the parliamentarian’s decision.” ...
Vice presidents have ignored the parliamentarian in the past. According to Slate, "Vice President Hubert Humphrey routinely ignored his parliamentarian’s advice.” Roll Call reported last month: “Precedents for ignoring parliamentary advice include 1967, 1969, and 1975 efforts to change the Senate's threshold to end debate from a two-thirds vote to three-fifths.”
“Ultimately it’s the Vice President of the United States,” said former Senate parliamentarian Robert Dove in a 2010 interview about such matters. “It is the decision of the Vice President whether or not to play a role here… And I have seen vice presidents play that role in other very important situations… The parliamentarian can only advise. It is the vice president who rules.”
When the independent agency investigating abuse by New York police determined that an officer had held him in a banned chokehold and shocked him with a Taser 13 times, Tomás Medina thought he would get justice at last.
Seven months earlier, Medina had been playing music with friends outside the car dealership where he worked, in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan, when New York Police Department detective Fabio Nunez, responding to a noise complaint, demanded to see Medina’s identification. When he argued and tried to walk away, Nunez escalated the encounter, which was caught on surveillance camera and police body camera. The video mirrored that of the 2014 killing of Eric Garner by officer Daniel Pantaleo and sparked an outcry about the NYPD’s continued use of chokeholds, a practice that has been prohibited for decades but remains widespread.
While the footage leaves little doubt about what transpired between Medina and Nunez in July 2018, department officials quickly sided with the officer. A day after the incident, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan defended Nunez’s actions, saying that he “used the necessary force to take that individual into custody.” The NYPD closed its internal use-of-force investigation without taking any action. But the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the body tasked with investigating civilian allegations of some types of police abuse, including excessive force, substantiated Medina’s accusations of misconduct. It was a relatively rare outcome for an agency that reviewed nearly 5,000 allegations last year, substantiating only about 15 percent of them. ...
That ruling was two years ago this week, and Nunez is yet to face any consequences for his conduct. The NYPD has not scheduled an administrative trial against him or issued as much as a reprimand against him. He is still patrolling the same streets, where he has received additional complaints, including another substantiated allegation that he used a chokehold just two months after the incident with Medina.
During his two decades with the department, Nunez has been the subject of 46 CCRB allegations stemming from 16 different incidents. Thirty-two of those involved allegations of excessive or unnecessary force, including 19 that were substantiated, according to a database of officer disciplinary records that was made public by the New York Civil Liberties Union. Before the incident involving Medina, Nunez was cited in at least five civil lawsuits involving excessive force or false arrest, which the city settled for a total of at least $220,000, according to a different database of officer misconduct. (These settlements usually do not include an admission of liability.) Nunez has also earned a spot on a Manhattan district attorney list of officers with credibility issues for providing false testimony.
In 2016 Trump, who was assailing the Republican establishment in a nasty US presidential primary campaign, cancelled a planned appearance amid fears of boos and protests. But a year later, having vanquished Hillary Clinton, he was greeted as a conquering hero. CPAC became an annual Maga jamboree, less conservative policy shop than Trumpian cult of personality in action.
The lineup at CPAC 2021 – switched to Florida from Maryland because of coronavirus safety constraints – suggest that Trump’s dominance is entirely undiminished by his loss of the White House and Republican setbacks in Congress.
Speakers include his allies such as Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state; Ben Carson, the ex-housing secretary; Sarah Sanders, a former White House press secretary; Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota; Pete Hegseth, a Fox News host; Jon Voight, an ardently pro-Trump actor; and Donald Trump Jr, the 45th president’s son.
There are also slots for Senate Republicans including Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Cynthia Lummis and Rick Scott, and House Republicans such as Kevin McCarthy, Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan, all of whom voted to challenge Joe Biden’s victory. The “big lie” of a stolen election is expected to thrive at CPAC.
That is not least because the conference will culminate on Sunday with Trump himself. In his first post-presidential speech, he is expected to promise to back Maga candidates in next year’s midterm elections, condemn Biden’s reversal of his immigration policies and reserve particular venom for his foes within the Republican party.
New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has called for an independent investigation into the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, a day after a former aide accused the governor of sexual harassment.
In an essay published in Medium on Wednesday, former aide Lindsey Boylan described several problematic episodes with Cuomo, including an unsolicited kiss in his Manhattan office, an invitation to play strip poker on a government airplane, and an internal email from another aide indicating that the governor considered her a “better looking sister” of a rumored former girlfriend.
The governor’s press office responded to the “strip poker” element of Boylan’s allegations on Wednesday with flight records. “Ms Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” a statement read.
In remarks on Thursday, De Blasio, who has a contentious relationship with the governor, issued a call for an investigation into Cuomo’s behavior. “These allegations are really disturbing … This kind of behavior, if it’s true, is just unacceptable. We’ve got to get the truth about this,” he said.
Boylan’s allegations come as the governor, who was for much of last year hailed as a hero for his handling of the pandemic, also faces a federal investigation into claims his administration deliberately undercounted the number Covid-related deaths in New York nursing homes.
The Atlantic Ocean circulation that underpins the Gulf Stream, the weather system that brings warm and mild weather to Europe, is at its weakest in more than a millennium, and climate breakdown is the probable cause, according to new data. Further weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) could result in more storms battering the UK, more intense winters and an increase in damaging heatwaves and droughts across Europe.
Scientists predict that the AMOC will weaken further if global heating continues, and could reduce by about 34% to 45% by the end of this century, which could bring us close to a “tipping point” at which the system could become irrevocably unstable. A weakened Gulf Stream would also raise sea levels on the Atlantic coast of the US, with potentially disastrous consequences. ...
The AMOC is one of the world’s biggest ocean circulation systems, carrying warm surface water from the Gulf of Mexico towards the north Atlantic, where it cools and becomes saltier until it sinks north of Iceland, which in turn pulls more warm water from the Caribbean. This circulation is accompanied by winds that also help to bring mild and wet weather to Ireland, the UK and other parts of western Europe.
An assessment of a pesticide that the Environmental Protection Agency issued last year is fraudulent, according to a complaint the environmental group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility submitted to the EPA’s Office of Inspector General today. The complaint accuses senior managers at the agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs of omitting “known facts” and issuing false and misleading representations about the science on 1,3-Dichloropropene, or 1,3-D, which Dow AgroSciences, recently rebranded as Corteva Agriscience, sells under the brand name Telone. The complaint alleges that agency staff knowingly ignored studies showing that the pesticide causes cancer. PEER is requesting that the EPA’s inspector general investigate the matter.
The human health risk assessment of Telone, which was published in draft form on February 4, 2020, took the unusual step of downgrading the pesticide’s cancer rating. In 1985, the National Toxicology Program found “clear evidence” of the chemical’s carcinogenicity in rats and mice, which developed lung and bladder tumors after exposure. The EPA described the chemical as a probable human carcinogen that same year and went on to confirm that designation in 1996, 2000, and 2005. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of California, and the National Toxicology Program have also repeatedly found Telone to be a “likely human carcinogen.”
But the recent draft assessment characterized Telone as less dangerous. Although the number of studies linking the pesticide to cancer has grown during the intervening years, this time the agency deemed the chemical as having only “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential.”
According to the PEER complaint, the EPA reached this conclusion in part because it omitted the full name of the chemical from a search of the medical literature, using the terms “1,3-D” and “Telone” but not “1,3-Dichloropropene.” As a result, 85 relevant articles were not considered in the assessment, including a 2015 peer-reviewed study that found the chemical induced DNA damage in liver cells in rats. According to PEER, this exclusion led the EPA to incorrectly conclude that Telone is not genotoxic.
The group also accused the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee, whose September 2019 report provided the basis for the agency’s finding that Telone is not genotoxic, of inappropriately dismissing evidence that the pesticide caused lung tumors in mice. In the past, the EPA had rejected an argument put forward by Dow scientists that something other than the pesticide caused exposed lab animals to develop cancer. This time, the agency accepted a new, unsupported theory from Dow to exclude lung tumors in mice. “These are not honest mistakes and carry the earmarks of deliberate malfeasance,” said Tim Whitehouse, PEER’s executive director.
The number of monarch butterflies that reached their winter resting grounds in central Mexico decreased by about 26% this year, and four times as many trees were lost to illegal logging, drought and other causes, making 2020 a bad year for the butterflies.
The butterflies’ population covered only 2.1 hectares (5.2 acres) in 2020, compared to 2.8 hectares (6.9 acres) the previous year and about one-third of the 6.05 hectares (14.95 acres) detected in 2018, according to government figures. Because the monarchs cluster so densely in pine and fir trees, it is easier to count them by area rather than by individuals.
Gloria Tavera, the regional director of Mexico’s Commission for National Protected Areas, blamed the drop on “extreme climate conditions”, the loss of milkweed habitat in the United States and Canada on which butterflies depend, and deforestation in the butterflies’ wintering grounds in Mexico.
“The severe drought we are experiencing is having effects,” Tavera said. “All the forests in the reserve are under water stress, the forests are dry.”
“The butterflies are looking for water on the lower slopes, near the houses,” she noted. Tavera also expressed concern about the sever winter storms in Texas, which the butterflies will have to cross – and feed and lay their eggs – on their way back to their northern summer homes in coming months.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Freddy King - I'm tore down
Freddy King - Texas Oil
Freddy King - Some Other Day, Some Other Time
Freddy King & Lula Reed - Let Your Love Watch Over Me
Freddy King - Now I've Got A Woman
Freddie King - The Stumble
Freddie King - I Love The Woman
Freddie King - Key to The Highway
Freddie King Full Concert (Live in France, 1973)