The Watering Hole: Thursday, February 28, 2013 The Suppression of Economic Recovery

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Why is Nobel economist Paul Krugman continually ignored?

The Perils of Hoarding Cash

So, I’ve had a mild-mannered dispute with the economist Joe Stiglitz over whether individual income inequality is retarding recovery right now; let me say, however, that I think there’s a very good case that the redistribution of income away from labor to corporate profits is very likely a big factor.

Take a look at the chart on corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product. Corporations are taking a much bigger slice of total income — and are showing little inclination either to redistribute that slice back to investors or to invest it in new equipment, software, etc. Instead, they’re accumulating piles of cash.

If you put money in a bank, the bank might just accumulate excess reserves. If you buy securities from someone else, the seller might put the cash under his mattress, or put it in a bank that just adds it to its reserves, etc. The point is that buying goods and services is one thing, adding directly to aggregate demand; buying assets isn’t at all the same thing, especially when we’re at the zero lower bound.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon: ‘We Actually Benefit From Downturns’

“This bank is anti-fragile, we actually benefit from downturns,” Dimon bragged to his bank’s investors at a conference on Tuesday.

And it is true! The bank definitely benefited from the last downturn. It got to buy Bear Stearns in a government-backed fire sale, getting itself a brokerage business on the cheap in exchange for shouldering only a few tiresome legal burdens. It also got billions of dollars in government handouts, from $25 billion in TARP funds to billions in savings from low-interest-rate borrowing programs to a permanent subsidy arising from the idea that the government will bail out the bank if it ever gets in trouble.

And now we’re looking at the impending sequestration which in all likelihood will further stall economic recovery.  Do politicians just not care about citizens or are they intentionally trying to keep us down?  What do they gain by keeping us afraid of impending poverty?  Just as they frightened us with the dangers of Obamacare which will actually benefit most they now say spending to stimulate the economy will destroy us with debt.  Do out of work people really believe that the national debt is more harmful to them than not having a job and losing unemployment benefits?

Why Everything Republicans Are Saying About The Sequester Is Wrong

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD.  SAY ANYTHING.

R.I.P. Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel has passed away during the night. The Holocaust survivor, member of the French Résistance, diplomat and author inspired the “Occupy” movement with his pamphlet “Time for Outrage” in his later years. I saw numerous interviews with him and greatly admired his intelligence, sense of humor and humanity. May he rest in peace.

EV

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, February 27, 2013: Vote-Rigging – The Case for Amending the Constitution

Or Why Section 1, Article 2 is suddenly in the forefront.

The Republican Party, having been stung in the past two Presidential elections have taken it upon themselves to change the rules.

Red states will continue to award electoral college votes on a winner take all basis. But in Blue state after Blue state, Republicans are introducing measures to apportion electoral college votes based on the percentage of the popular vote each party receives. The net result should guarantee that Republicans would regain the White House in 2016, even if they lost the popular vote by a landslide.

But is this Constitutional? Yes. Here’s the relevant portion of Section 1, Article 2:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

In fact, the various States could decide to appoint Electors without regard to the popular vote. That’s how broad the power granted to the State’s Legislatures is.

As of this writing, the move to rig elections hasn’t gotten much traction. But in the article linked above, it looks like the Pennslvania State Legislature could ram this through and get it to a willing Republican Governor’s desk for his signature. In these days of very few swing states, even one of them adopting such a rigging scheme could make a difference in the next Presidential election.

The Michigan GOP is eager to do the same thing. Republicans have finally figured out that the people aren’t buying what they have to sell. If our democracy applied the same market rules as Capitalism, they would be out of business. But instead of changing their product line, they want to change the rules of the game; they want a monopoly over the election process.

This, then, is the argument for amending the Constitution to call for electing the President and Vice-President based on the nation-wide popular vote. To be sure, the Ruling Class will spend hundreds of millions to defeat such an amendment.

Already too much power has been consolidated into a hand-full of elected representative who are beholden only to the very, very wealthy. They have gerry-rigged districts, safe seats, and access to virtually unlimited war chests and attack ads to defeat any challenger.

We, the people, must choose: either we change the current system through peaceful means, or it will get to a point where change will come through violence. Just know this; even in peaceful protests, people die. Those in power will, far too often stop at nothing to maintain that power. The uprisings in the Middle East foreshadow the United States’ future unless something changes.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD
HAPPY HUMP DAY!

Watering Hole: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 – Isn’t She Beautiful

You may have seen this video before.  I wanted to share it because it is one of those stories where we gain more insight with each viewing.

I’ve been bullied as a child.  It took me 50 years to get to love myself and not blame myself for the words and actions of others.

That’s all I got.

This is our Open Thread.  You will not be bullied at The Zoo when you Speak Up.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 25th, 2013: Who The Fuck is Ted Cruz?

I’ve been wondering just who the fuck this junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, thinks he is. I know, everyone’s been comparing him to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, due to his disrespectful and appalling attempt to besmirch former Senator Chuck Hagel’s reputation.

The Wikipedia bio of Cruz immediately provides some clues:

Cruz served as a law clerk to William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States, and J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cruz was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.

In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Cruz assembled a coalition of thirty-one states in defense of the principle that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. Cruz also presented oral argument for the amici states in the companion case to Heller before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In addition to his victory in Heller, Cruz has successfully defended the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and the 2003 Texas redistricting plan.

Cruz also successfully defended, in Medellin v. Texas, the State of Texas against an attempt by the International Court of Justice to re-open the criminal convictions of 51 murderers on death row throughout the United States.

Cruz was endorsed by David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders; the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee; Erick Erickson, editor of prominent conservative blog RedState; the FreedomWorks for America super PAC; Princeton University professor Robert P. George; nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin; former Attorney General Edwin Meese; Tea Party Express; Young Conservatives of Texas; and U.S. Senators Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey. He has also been endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, and former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum.

Now there’s an all-star lineup of right-wing idealogues (shudder.)

Jane Mayer provides more information in her piece in the New Yorker:

Two and a half years ago, Cruz gave a stem-winder of a speech at a Fourth of July weekend political rally in Austin, Texas, in which he accused the Harvard Law School of harboring a dozen Communists on its faculty when he studied there…Cruz made the accusation while speaking to a rapt ballroom audience during a luncheon at a conference called “Defending the American Dream,” sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit political organization founded and funded in part by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Cruz greeted the audience jovially, but soon launched an impassioned attack on President Obama, whom he described as “the most radical” President “ever to occupy the Oval Office.”…He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”

In a follow-up article, Jane Mayer discusses the response from Cruz’s spokeswoman (who actually responded in an interview with The Blaze-I provided the link if you want to hold your nose and dive in, the comments are psycho, too.)

And a couple of articles from Politicus.com provide some slightly more tongue-in-cheek descriptions Cruz’s recent spotlight-hogging performances.

Unfortunately, Senator Cruz has the backing of some people with deep pockets and too much power. Maybe that’s why he seems to feel that he can say anything, regardless of the truth, with little impunity. So far, the only good thing Cruz has done is to make John McCain and Lindsey Graham look almost honorable.

This is our Open thread, what’s on your minds?

To Know War Is To Know Madness In This World – President Lyndon B. Johnson

I posted this yesterday on Pennsylvania for Change.

Chuck Hagel served in this war.  So did John Kerry.  Yet the yellow elephants that got deferments find fault with these warriors.

Here’s a few cowards that were unwilling to serve or made sure that they didn’t have to fight:

  • George W. Bush – remained in the States
  • Ted Nugent
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • Dick Cheney
  • Mitt Romney

They wear flag pins and called themselves patriots.  Yet when ‘Uncle Sam’ called them to serve, they found ways to get out of fighting in a war.   I’m sure there are more names to add to this list.

Let’s take a look at this war…

We fight differently these days.  Now the drones fly over our ‘enemies’ and someone thousands of miles away gives the command to fire off the smart bomb.   Without the close contact, our enemies are faceless and their deaths have less of an emotional impact on us.

I once had a soldier tell me that firing a gun at someone that is 100 yards away isn’t that difficult.  Killing someone with a knife is hard to do because it is up close and personal.  It’s hard to kill someone when you are looking in their eyes.

There’s no two ways about it.  War sucks.

Playing for Change:

Give me love my brother, give me love my sister, it’s just a kiss away.

Sunday Roast: February 24, 2013 – Sick Leave

 

Uuuuoooohhhh. I could use a sick leave. So please forgive me for an emergency post only.

Not enough austerity or too much of it? Great Britain has been downgraded.

Still not enough of the cavaliere or too much of him? Italy votes.

How much is too much? Switzerland has enough!

This is our Open thread, Join in!

 

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 23, 2013: Is Extremism in Denial of Liberty a Virtue?

I’m worried about my country. I’m worried because our open and free society has been manipulated by extremists bent on exploiting the worst in us in order to achieve their own very undemocratic, very anti-freedom, and very mentally unstable goals. The First Amendment protection of Free Speech is great and this wouldn’t be America without it, but just because you’re allowed to say something, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to treat what you say as valid, nor does it mean you have any right to demand that people do. And there has been a perversion of our Free Speech rights such that to question anyone’s right to say insane, even traitorous things, brings wrath that is, for reasons that escape me, treated as valid complaints. We have a Right Wing movement in this country so extreme that to call them “Conservative” is to misunderstood what true Conservatism is about. Barry Goldwater, in his acceptance speech as the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” A nice, patriotic sentiment, as patriotic pablum goes, but if we accept it as valid, must we also accept that extremism in the denial of liberty is no virtue? Yet this is exactly where today’s so-called “Conservative” movement has gone.

If you believe in reproductive freedom rights, then this is an area where you and the RW extremists shouldn’t even be in the same library, let alone on the same page of the same book. In 2011, “legislators in 24 states, many elected in the 2010 Republican tide, passed a record 92 laws restricting abortions“, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some Republican extremists even want to ban contraception, an issue that was decided by the Supreme Court long before Roe v. Wade. If you believe that what you and your lover do as consenting adults in the privacy of your own bedroom/hotel room is your business and none of the government’s, how could you ever support a movement that would vigorously fight to regulate that activity? Is this extremism in the defense of liberty or in the denial of it? Should we really be treating what the proponents of these anti-abortion, anti-contraception laws say as valid?

Another issue sure to invoke Right Wing extremism is that of gun control. Now, I have some serious disagreements with Gun Rights advocates that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to serve as a check against a potentially tyrannical government. I agree that allowing citizens access to their own guns for purposes of community defense and security would have the side effect of helping to keep such a government in check, but I wholeheartedly disagree that this was its primary purpose. But try telling that to the RW extremists who believe that not only was this its primary purpose, but that it was its only purpose. You never hear some of these people mention militias or the “security of a free state,” but they can sure quote the second half of the Second Amendment. And lately, their rhetoric has become so extreme that they are claiming that President Obama is raising a private black army to massacre white Americans. Well, it’s not exactly what they’re saying, but it is one of the many false premises they’re using to denounce what the evil Obama “might” be doing. You know, “If he really is raising a black army to massacre white Americans, that would be a bad thing.”-kind of thing. Or, “If he really does go door-to-door to try to take away people’s guns [something which, in fact, he has NEVER proposed], then he can expect to meet a lot of resistance.” Except none of those things are happening. Not even close. They are grossly twisting and distorting a line out of a 2008 campaign speech. It’s true that Obama said, “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” But as with many of the more extravagant claims quotes from the RW, this quote is taken out of context. According to FactCheck.org, Obama “was talking specifically about expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and the USA Freedom Corps, which is the volunteer initiative launched by the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11, and about increasing the number of trained Foreign Service officers who populate U.S. embassies overseas.” (Go to the link to see the full quote in context.) Now if people want to say these things, that’s all well and good. They’re as wrong as one can possibly be, but they do have a Constitutional right to say these nonsensical things. But what they don’t have is a right to expect us to treat them seriously and respectfully and to act upon those unfounded fears as if they have validity. They don’t.

As the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, from my own state of New York, once famously told a rival, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” The problem we face today is that facts don’t matter in our political discourse. (Even a lack of facts, such as that there is no evidence something happened, doesn’t even stop our elected officials from making outrageous claims that they did happen.) The RW does feel entitled to their own facts because they believe having an opinion is equivalent to having a valid opinion. They feel that not only do you have to respect the fact that they have an opinion (I do), but that you must respect that opinion (I don’t.) Is it any wonder, really, why our country is so divided politically?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish.

Friday Night Music – Something Silly

I heard this song on WXPN yesterday and it made me laugh because the typewriter is certainly a thing of the past.

Once again, Nonewhere was a slacker so the privilege of posting a song was dumped on  handed to me.

This is all I got.  Do whatever you want with it.

BTW – WXPN may be one of the best radio stations in the nation.  Do visit their website to learn more about ‘XPN‘.

The Watering Hole, Friday February 22, 2013; Life’s Symphonic Essesences, aka “Namasté”

Hanalei Bay dawn-3

Dawn Breaks Over Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaiian Islands.

Namasté!

There are days during these troubled and irrational times when the overwhelming urge is to ignore the moment, to instead ponder other potential options that human existence might — maybe? please? — pursue or (at least) offer: something beyond those politically-inspired nonsensicals embraced within all of current discourse as if by mucoidal slag. Today is one of those days; the world’s global and human-inspired destructive political and dogmatic silliness and downright stupidity demand an alternative view. No politics, no dogmas, no destructions, no desolations are permitted. Not today. Instead, I wondered: why not a reflection of certain ‘lessons’ I have (accidentally to be sure) been fortunate enough to encounter over the last nearly four decades, ‘lessons’ which finally want to gel, to become ideas, maybe even concepts of that which life offers, what it “means”?

OK. So off we go. Back to the source (for me, at least), to Polynesia, to the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, and especially Kauai — via old photos, via an old poem, and via a recollection or two gathered in a Buddhist Garden . . . overall, an excursion, really, onto The Sea of life’s potential, its “meaning” — the undercurrent of the entire planet’s divine spirit, its Namasté . . . at least as seen through my own admittedly dimmed and foggy vision.

It begins with the obvious:

The Sea

Kauai Kalalau Valley

Kauai’s Na Pali Coast and the Pacific beyond, viewed from the slopes of Mt. Waialeale overlooking Kalalau Valley.

In distant view, the azure sea is calm,
Her mottled, cooling blue speaks peaceably

Of gentleness;

aerial seascape collage

L. to R. in order: Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii; Honolulu, Oahu; Kalaupapa, Molokai

And here and there soft sunlight’s tinted hues
Suggest life’s calm abode – which, with cold arms

She doth caress;

Hawaiian Sunrises

Sunrise over Wailua Bay, Kauai.                   — Breaking Wave, Hanalei Bay, Kauai.

Yet on her shores, in frenzied battery,
Great waves disintegrate with energies

Near limitless;

shattered crystals collage

L. to R. in order: Hanakapiai, Kauai; Windward Maui; Wainiha Bay, Kauai

And broken swells, like shattered crystals, fly,
Then fall and quickly wash the sands, with masked

Abrasiveness.

seacoast collage

L. to R. in order: Hanakapiai, Kauai; Ke’e Beach, Kauai; Windward Maui

**********

Byodo-In, Oahu’s Buddhist Shrine in the Valley of the Temples —

A few decades ago, I visited a special place in the Hawaiian Islands, on Windward Oahu. As the crow flies, it wasn’t far from the geographically-confined sprawl of late 20th century Honolulu, but in every other way it definitely stood a world apart.  It’s called the Valley of the Temples, and its beautiful centerpiece is a Buddhist shrine called Byodo-In, a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan.

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Arrival is ordinary; there’s the parking lot, of course, generally a small crowd coming and going, and a paved pathway into the grounds.  The scenery is impressive and eye-catching; with the fluted cliffs of the Nuuanu Pali as a backdrop, the frequent rain clouds, rainbows, and salubrious tradewinds combine to effect a very nearly idyllic rendition of an ideal tropical scene.  But once on the grounds (which are spacious and open, but still private and lush) a feeling of ‘something’ seems to gradually overcome the senses.  There are clear meandering streams, ponds of lily pads where huge gold and multi-colored Koi swim . . .

Koi collage and beyond which sprawl ‘minimalist’ gardens where tropical flowers are amazingly pervasive.

tropical flowers collageHere and there a graceful footbridge arches over a stream; there are rock gardens, and occasionally in a small corner an unobtrusive bench upon which one can sit for a spell, often in the midst of intensely fragrant flowering shrubs and/or next to a gurgling stream.  After a short while, one slowly becomes aware that things are different. Somehow. There is no ‘un-natural’ noise. One senses that he is, indeed, “Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife” as even the occasional stray voice seems muffled, barely audible.  Everything one sees or senses is perfectly placed, perfectly manicured, but nothing looks either disturbed or out of place, or even pruned or planned; it all seems and ‘feels’ completely natural in every way.  After awhile, even the temple itself – the centerpiece of the gardens – seems as if it has grown from the ground naturally, not as if it’s been constructed by humans.

I suppose I wandered there for at least a couple of hours before leaving, soon to re-enter Honolulu-bound traffic on the Likelike Highway.  I puzzled the entire trip back to ‘civilization’ but was unable to quite figure out – to put into words – just exactly what it was that I had just experienced at Byodo-In, and it wasn’t until several weeks later that it finally struck me: I had spent two hours of my life in Oahu’s Valley of the Temples, and become thereby as if an intricate part of a giant artwork.  In the metaphoric sense, the experience probably most resembled a visit to an art museum, perhaps even to a symphony concert in a renowned hall somewhere, but with one huge difference: at Byodo-In, I, the visitor, was intended, prearranged, to become part and parcel OF the artwork – a brushstroke in the Mona Lisa? a note in a Mozart symphony? – but surely not, any longer,  just an observer.  I wasn’t listening to a Beethoven sonata, I was, rather, now parcel to the score of a Beethoven sonata, and the melody implicit had subtly emerged to define my entire surround!

It’s begun to seem, to me at least, that art has many levels and it really doesn’t matter just how – or precisely where – one fits himself in; the important thing is to do so, to open the mind and allow the transition, the transcendence.  The only superlative to gazing at an artwork may well be to exist as part of it, to be surrounded by and intrinsic within whatever it is that sets the work apart from the ordinary, that which makes viewing it an experience and not just a minor event.  And therein lies the virtue of art — no matter whether the form be painting, sculpture, music, words, even an ocean sunrise. Whether natural or of human creation, all of art requires only the substance of intrinsic quality, that sum of esoteric value as expressed in one form, or another.

Perhaps that’s the point where one’s sense of existence blends with and becomes an intricate part of that far greater sum which some choose to call the Universe, the Creation – or any of a number of all-embracing ideas which emerge to define the transcendent breadth of one’s own life. And that “simple” idea is what I like to think I’ve finally come to comprehend; IT is (intensely, on occasion) implicit in the compilation of words and graphic renderings of isolated partitions of each and every place on this planet that I’ve visited over the years, and in that context IT is, in reality, nothing I might have ever brought to THEM, but what THEY have CONSISTENTLY! given to ME.

My hope is singular – that each and all might learn to seize one of THOSE moments, every now and then — a moment which allows the escape from current reality to become even the briefest of brush strokes in the art of whichever natural paradise might be at hand.  Exist there for a moment or for a lifetime – become a word in a poem or become a poem; become a note in a piano concerto or become the keyboard, the score; close your mind to the intrusions of man, and shield your eyes from man’s desecrations of the land, the sea and the sky.  Relax, become part of that which you truly are, and disavow that which you are not or should never become.

And, later, when you return to the reality of the modern world, recall from whence you’ve come; engage yourself in the fight to save that small part which remains undisturbed, to repair all which is repairable of that which has been desecrated or destroyed. And then – rejoin the beauty from which you and all of life and form have once derived.

Waimea Canyon pan

Waimea Canyon, aka “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”; Kauai

I’ve never since viewed art in the same way as I once did, nor have I ever since been able to immerse myself into an undisturbed natural expanse and not become, once again, an intricate part of each the reality AND its attendant metaphor(s). The distinctions between brush strokes, or pigments, or shapes, forms, even words in a poem or notes in a melody fade to the point where I am no longer a separate entity, but am instead part of that Song.

William Wordsworth summed it all up in his poem Ode on Intimations of Immortality:

 No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
 I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
 The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep . . .

On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:–
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!

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Sunrise over Hanalei Bay and local fisherman; Kauai.

Note what is missing in the scene just above: each and every evidence of human’s Politics, of his Greed, Power, of his perceived “Dominion” (in any sense, Biblical included), also Conquest, Authority, Money (whatever THAT is supposed to be), Dogmatic Usurpation, Pollution of Essence . . . none of that. But yet, there stands a human. How can that be?

It’s because HE stands there on that sunrise-emblazoned shore as if a note in that symphony, a word in that poem, a single brush stroke in that painting . . . and deep within, he knows he is but a PART of that universe in which he stands, HIS universe, OUR universe. He knows full well he does not own it, that he has no dominion; all he knows is that HE is parcel to it . . . and that HE is every bit as integral to its music . . . as is every aspect of his entire surround.

To him, and to all like him, I borrow from the Byodo-In, from the lingua franca implicit within The Valley of the Temples, one word:

Namasté.

This is today’s open thread. Carry forth . . . and Namasté!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, February 21, 2013: Genetically Modified Salmon Will Soon Be At A Store Near You

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Genetically Engineered Salmon Nears FDA Approval

 The Food and Drug Administration has determined genetically engineered salmon won’t threaten the environment, clearing it of all but one final hurdle before it shows up on shelves throughout the nation — and igniting a final 60-day debate on whether it poses health risks before it’s officially approved.

Although it’s been nicknamed “Frankenfish” by critics, health professionals say they aren’t worried the lab-engineered salmon will cause more allergies or other harmful effects than any other breed of fish.

While labeling of genetically modified food of any type is not guaranteed and so we won’t know if we’re buying it.  And we certainly won’t know if it is harmful to ingest.  There is always a chance that it will interfere with indigenous species.  Should we have learned a lesson from the destruction the common carp has created since it’s introduction?

History of Common Carp in North America

A Fish once Prized, Now Despised
By the turn of the century, the introduction of the carp was such a “success” that both public agencies and sportsmen had come to regard the fish as a nuisance. While tons of free-swimming carp were being harvested from area waters, they were comparable in taste to neither the selectively bred pool-cultivated carp of Europe nor, it was believed, to many of the native “game” species, and were thus useless as a food source. Moreover, their rapid spread appeared to threaten both water quality and native species, as commissioners nationwide noted a deterioration of formerly clear and fertile lakes and waterways upon the arrival of carp.

Salmon Nation: Genetically Engineered Salmon

While not on anyone’s dinner table just yet, genetically engineered salmon are just a pen stroke away. GE salmon are being developed by a U.S. company called Aqua Bounty Farms and are preferred for their ability to grow two to four times faster than other farmed salmon…

Research at both Purdue University and The National Academy of Sciences points to the “considerable risks” that genetically engineered (also called “transgenic”) fish pose to nearby populations of native fish:

“Purdue University researchers have found that releasing a transgenic fish to the wild could damage native populations even to the point of extinction.”
Sigurdson, C. (2000). Transgenic fish could threaten wild populations, Purdue News.

There is little doubt that transgenetic fish will, if raised, escape to the surrounding waters. Estimates of farmed salmon escapees in British Columbia total at least 400,000 fish from 1991 to 2001:

“According to the Canadian government, in the past decade nearly 400,000 farm-raised Atlantics escaped into British Columbia waters and began competing with wild species for food and habitat. (That number relies primarily on escapes reported by fish farmers; environmentalists put the actual figure closer to 1 million.)”
Barcott, B. (2001). Aquaculture’s Troubled Harvest, Mother Jones, November/December.

There is much more on the dangers to our waterways at Salmon Nation.  Although you’d think common sense would be enough to know that this is a very bad idea.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about salmon, genetically-modified foods, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, February 20, 2013: We’re Fracked!

A new lawsuit says state regulators have allowed hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to expand in California without legally required oversight.

The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court by the Center for Biological Diversity, seeks to compel regulators to enforce existing state law that protects people and the environment from underground injections carried out by the oil and gas industry.

In a news release, the Center for Biological Diversity says the state has yet to regulate or even monitor the controversial practice of fracking.

Underneath much of Central and southern California sits one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the United States, boasting a motherlode of some 15 billion barrels of oil.”

And the Central Valley is one of the country’s biggest agricultural regions. Or, maybe, was. According to the Huffington Post, “Presently, energy producers aren’t required to tell anyone where or when they’re using hydraulic fracturing.”

But sometimes, such a secret can’t be kept a secret for long. Apparently a well near Fresno was fracked recently, with disasterous results this night.

Fracking near Fresno feed fireball.

Fracking near Fresno feeds fireball.

Fracking at a well owned by the Wesayso Corporation went disasterously wrong this evening as natural gas erupted into the atmosphere and ignited. To make matters worse, the natural gas quickly invaded the aquifer and was sucked into wells operated by FID, Fresno Irrigation District. Before anyone knew what was going on, tap water in Fresno became highly flammable and houses, businesses and apartment complexes erupted into flames as the slightest spark caused coffee pots and water heaters to explode.

Although this is a developing story, one geological engineer at the scene of the fireball who suffered only second degree burns explained. “We didn’t know that the natural gas deposits were under this much pressure. Judging by the on-going low level earthquakes, it’s likely the shale is continuing to fracture over a widespread area. It’s like when you get a crack in your windshield, and the crack keeps spreading and spreading and spreading. Only now, when it spreads, more natural gas vents into the aquifer.”

While officials at the State level are not talking, one lower-level analyst spoke on condition of anonymity. “We may be looking at the loss of the entire Central Valley acquifer.” He said. “When that goes, everyone in the Central Valley will have to evacuate….and you can forget about farming for the next few decades. God knows how long it will take to get the toxins out of the water supply.”

PART OF WHAT YOU JUST READ IS TRUE. PART IS FICTION.

DO WE KNOW WHAT THE FRACK WE’RE DOING?

OPEN THREAD TIME.