$3.5 TRILLION a Year Spent to Subsidize the Fossil Fuel Industry

Dave Roberts of Grist reports on the 2011 world wide numbers from the International Monetary Fund of what governments are tossing down the toilet on 19th century energy technology. Insane.

A new report [PDF] from the International Monetary Fund tries to tally up fossil fuel subsidies around the world and finds that they add up to an eye-popping $1.9 trillion a year. That’s 2.5 percent of global GDP!

That’s $1.9 trillion in direct subsidies. and another estimated $1.6 trillion in not taxing the externalities of carbon use (i.e., air pollution, pollution related health problems, global warming, duh!).

As enviro hero Paul Hawken is fond of saying, “we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.” I can’t think of a better description of these fossil fuel subsidies. And when we use a more realistic cost for carbon damages, we get a better sense of just how much we are stealing from our descendents — trillions and trillions of dollars a year. The heedless radicalism and grotesque immorality of it are breathtaking.


Is the Background Check Issue a Firewall for Dem Activists?

Once again we reach a point where red state Dems run in fear from an issue and the rest of us have to weigh how much pressure can we put on them, how much leniency can we show them? Harry Reid busted the assault weapons ban out of the gun control bill simply because Begich, Pryor, Heitkamp, etc. do not want to go on record on that issue. Hell, neither does Reid himself. And yeah it’s cowardly, but it’s realistic too. Yada yada yada. The fear of the NRA may be irrational, but that fear may be harder to beat than the NRA itself.

Okay, so assault weapons ban, toss it.  I can see that, sure. I understand. I want to understand. I want to keep Dems in the majority in the Senate, I want the House back! I get it that the NRA is super scary because gun nuts are just that: nuts, and are single mindedest of single issue voters. They’re easy to bs and motivate, and no one wants them out in the streets with torches and AR-15s (in lieu of pitchforks). 

But there’s a whole array of measures on the table that should be voted on, and while the assault weapons ban might be a bridge too far, the low hanging fruit should be universal background checks. I think I’m in agreement with Democratic activists who believe that if you can’t support universal background checks what good are you? Draw the line there. 

(Although, I see the GOP as being in complete disconnect from the people and pretty much useless as a party. Further, anybody who joins it, at this point, disqualifies themselves from being fit for public service. So I’m not that worried about whatever crop of idiots they’ll put up in 2014 or 2016. So there’s that too. Hard to know how brave to be. It is up to each candidate to make that calculation. But complete cowardice and being a Republican in Democratic clothing is  not cool.)

The Disabled Want Sex Too

Have you seen Legit on FX? Very funny show starring Australian comic Jim Jefferies. In the 1st show of the season Jim volunteers to take his friend’s wheelchair bound brother to a brothel to have his first sexual experience. A lot of this first season has revolved around the character of Billy and his cohort at the care facility he used to live at. Quite unprecedented on American TV and it has to be good for the disabled community to finally be getting realistic depictions on TV. I mean Ironsides was great but… (yipes)!

“Sexuality doesn’t take disability into consideration. It’s in human nature,” said Pascale Ribes, vice president of the French Association for the Paralyzed, which has pressed for state approval for sexual assistance. “There are people who are deprived of access to their bodies, of their sexuality. Some can handle abstinence, but to be abstinent without choosing it is terrible.”

So as you can imagine happening in Europe (but not here, of course) there’s a debate as to whether national healthcare funds should be used to pay for sex surrogates for the disabled. It may surprise some people but selling sex is not legal in France. (So I no longer want to go.) And sex surrogacy is, no offense, a form of selling sex, is it not? Hey look, I think it should all be legal. Period. Everyone should get all the sex they want (and can pay for). Period. 

“We want a public debate. We have to ask real questions, about ethics but also about fundamental rights for the handicapped,” said Ribes, the French activist. In France, she said, “we consider people who are handicapped not people in and of themselves, but as objects of care.”


Sometimes GOOD News – Clinical Trials on Humans for New Cancer Drug Begin

After successful trials in mice, the cancer drug that so far has shrunk or cured all types of tumors it has been tested against will now move to human clinical trials…

Ain’t science grand?  Fingers crossed for a big breakthrough that makes cancer the new polio.


Your Congress at Work

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) was reminiscing on a radio show about how when he was growing up on a farm in the Central Valley of California his daddy would hire 50-60 “wetbacks” to pick the tomatoes.

“Wetbacks” was the word he used. He has since apologized saying “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”

After that he asked the nice colored lady to get his coat because he had to go see his Jew lawyer.

April 29 – Confederate Memorial Day in MS, April 22 in GA and AL

Just a little practical heads up – state offices in Georgia and Alabama will be closed April 22 for Confederate Memorial Day. But Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on April 29. So don’t be confused. That’s Confederate Memorial Day. That is all.

P.S. in CA April 1 is Cesar Chavez Day and April Fool’s. They should separate those.

P.S.S. in ME and MA April 15 is Patriot’s Day. Which they treat like a second St. Patrick’s Day for obvious reasons.

Monsanto – Satan or Hitler, you decide

Okay, didn’t hear anything about this one. Monsanto gets immunity if any of its Frankenfoods turns out to make flipper babies.

Slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, which passed through Congress last week, was a small provision that’s a big deal for Monsanto and its opponents. The provision protects genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks and has thus been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” by activists who oppose the biotech giant.

The other issue is that it was a backhanded deal stuck into a bill that was vote don eagerly to avoid a government shut down. The Monsanto lobbyists must have been Mwahhhhhaing all day long that they slipped this past everybody.  On the other, because the spending provisions are temporary, the law only lasts 6 months. Time for people to act. 

About the Farmer’s protests and what you can do:


The article on Salon:


Desperate American Taliban just making it harder to get a “safe” abortion

The traditional values protecting American Taliban, from the teeny states with the inferiority complexes that they manifest by asserting moral superiority, are working their moral arrogance overtime to save women from themselves.

Joan Walsh in Salon:

Let’s be clear: These laws aren’t designed to eliminate abortion. They’re trying to eliminate safe abortion. When abortion is criminalized, desperate women still find ways to end their pregnancies, often turning to unsafe, illegal practitioners.


Can’t overemphasize that these idiots either do not understand or do not want to understand that they will never, ever stop abortion.  All they’ve ever done is make it harder for women without means to get a safe one. The women with means have always been able to deal.

Overuse of Antibiotics – NYT Op-Ed Today

I wrote two posts last week on this issue, please review if you haven’t. David A. Kessler, former Commissioner of the FDA writes an op-ed in today’s NYT.

SCIENTISTS at the Food and Drug Administration systematically monitor the meat and poultry sold in supermarkets around the country for the presence of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse.  


The FDA started testing meat and poultry for antibiotic resistant bacteria strains in 1996, the most recent report on superbugs in our meat, covering 2011, was 82 pages long.

In 2008 Congress required companies, for the first time, to tell the FDA the quantities of antibiotics they were using in agriculture (though still not which antibiotics). That report for 2011 was 4 pages long. We just don’t know enough about what the meat packers are giving the animals we eat. 

Most disturbing:

We have more than enough scientific evidence to justify curbing the rampant use of antibiotics for livestock, yet the food and drug industries are not only fighting proposed legislation to reduce these practices, they also oppose collecting the data. Unfortunately, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as the F.D.A., is aiding and abetting them. 

Of course!!!  As usual our legislators are behind on this, not because the evidence isn’t there to see, but because they’re being paid not to see it.

Gillibrand and Feinstein are leading in the Senate to fix the FDA reporting issue. Waxman and Slaughter in the House are working on this. There are good public servants and don’t let anybody tar them all. But the ones in the pockets of big business, who would compromise public health! need to be called out by name.

Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary (or campaign financing) depends on his not understanding it.”

Another subject that comes down to the need for campaign finance reform to help make government responsive to a problem and make things work the way they’re supposed to.