Nel's New Day

March 20, 2020

DDT: Week 165 – Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic

With daily press briefings about the state of the country after going without them for almost a year, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is trying to appear somber, knowledgeable, and presidential. Yet he loses his temper and rants against the reporters, and he can’t get out more than one or two sentences without telling a lie. Although almost everything that happens now is tainted by the growing number of cases of covid-19 and the resulting deaths, he still has time to lead the U.S. back into the last century.

In an update from earlier this week, Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) aren’t the only members of Congress who have enriched themselves through the threat of covid-19. Others are Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Ron Johnson (R-WI). Johnson, who compared deaths from the virus to those in vehicle accidents, sold all his stock in his family’s company for between $5 million and $25 million. Inhofe has done this before when he purchased shares in the defense contractor Raytheon in 2018 after lobbying Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to increase defense spending. Once that transaction became public, he canceled it. 

George Conway points out, “There is no new Trump.” DDT is still lying to the U.S. population with only one goal—get reelected. And DDT won’t stop lying.

On Wednesday, after Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders in all three states that voted, DDT smeared Biden at a press briefing. Asked about his lack of credibility, DDT cut off a reporter and railed:

“Who are you asking that question—I see that [ratings are] very high. 95% of the Republican party. We just had a poll that was done by a very reputable group where I’m beating sleepy Joe Biden by a lot in Florida, in the state of Florida and in other states. I don’t really know who you’re talking about.”

By Thursday, DDT was delivering a long rant against the media, and on Friday, DDT attacked Peter Alexander who asked DDT for a message “to Americans who are scared.”  

DDT continued his purge of career professionals by firing Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Travers took the position last August when Joseph Maguire was moved up to director of intelligence. Maguire was recently replaced by unqualified DDT-loyalist Richard Grenell. Travers was reluctant to fire people as Grenell wanted. Acting deputy of the Center, Peter Hall, is supposedly moving back to the National Security Agency. The theory behind fewer people at the Counterterrorism Center is that ISIS and al-Qaeda are much less of a threat.

Dale Cabaniss abruptly left her job as director of the U.S. Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in charge of human resources policy and security clearances, after five months on the job because of DDT’s new head of the Presidential Personnel Office. John McEntee, DDT’s 29-year-old former body man, was fired by former chief of staff John Kelly because McEntee’s gambling habit and allegations of financial crimes caused him to fail a security clearance. Kelly is gone, and DDT-loyalist McEntee has returned into a position of power. He’s hiring his friends, including at least college seniors, to surround him.

With McEntee in control of her staffing, Cabaniss couldn’t send clear, timely messages to agency managers about responses to the health crisis. Guidance about staff teleworking was delayed and vague although health officials wanted people to work from home. Respected for her experience, Cabaniss was seen as restoring moral to her agency with a mission of administering federal health insurance policies, retirement claims, benefits, and workforce policy.

Instead of passing a new surveillance law giving DDT unwarranted spying powers, the Senate unanimously approved a 75-day reauthorization of three provisions. On recess, the House has yet to pass the bill. DDT is considering a veto because he wants to look into “the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” Two senators objected to the lack of privacy that the proposed bill sent them from the House. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened the staff and their family members of the International Criminal Court that is investigating alleged war crimes by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

The increase of restrictions around the world is leaving grocery shelves more and more empty, but the growing number of infected people isn’t the only problem that people in the U.S. will have with food shortages. Farmers warn that DDT’s limits on seasonal workers from Mexico will exacerbate the surging problem. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue’s new policy will lose 60 percent of the necessary laborers. Grain harvesting is largely automated, but farmers need fruit and vegetable pickers.

In another disaster, DDT is threatening dozens of endangered species in the Southeast by proposing genetically engineered crops on wild public lands. The increase of glyphosate and other pesticides harms bees, butterflies, and other pollinators necessary to humans’ food supply and other species in the wildlife refuges. DDT recommends pesticides on 131 refuges in ten states, the Virgin Island, and Puerto Rico—about four million acres.  

The EPA is moving farther away from science by restricting research to be used in public health protection decisions and scientific assessments. It removes thousands of scientific papers by public health scientists keeping data from being public for privacy reasons. Experts fighting covid-19 by treating patients, researching vaccines, and educating the public will have no involvement in stopping the pandemic in the U.S. Members of national health organizations will also need to stop their work with the virus to write comments of protest to the proposal because the EPA gives only 30 days for a response. The proposal covers decisions about vehicle emissions, clean air standards, and clean water protections as well as EPA’s own “state-of-science reports, technology assessments, weight-of-evidence analyses, meta-analyses, risk assessments, toxicological profiles of substances, integrated assessment models, hazard determinations, exposure assessments, or health, ecological, or safety assessments.” The idea for the proposal comes from tobacco lobbyists in the past that helped them control government decisions.

Amid all the virus noise, the media largely overlooked the rocket attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops. Two of them were seriously injured. Last week, the U.S. retaliated against militia blamed for the deaths of one British and two U.S. service members, killing a number of Iraqis. Officials in Iraq have asked the U.S. to stop its unilateral military actions and work with Iraq. Under the shelter of coronavirus news, DDT is pulling troops out of three western Iraqi bases in a retreat from the Iraqi militia. Troops left one base this week with others planned soon.

The Pentagon blames Iran for killings by Iraqi militias, and the U.S. announced more sanctions against Iran.

Early sanctions have denied Iranians medication and supplies as thousands of people are dying from the virus. Iran lacks sufficient testing kits, ventilators, antiviral medicine, and other life-saving supplies.

A major requirement for keeping a job in DDT’s administration is open admiration. VP Mike Pence displays this every day at the press briefings. Another mandate is covering for all DDT’s lies and mistakes. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gamely tried to explain away DDT’s disastrous Oval Office speech on a Sunday news show when Jonathan Karl asked him about why the market reacted negatively to DDT’s misleading and false statements.

About the market, Mnuchin said, “The stock market is going to go up, it’s going to go down.” In the last month, the Dow has gone down over 10,000 points—one-third of its value and about 650 points above its value on DDT’s inauguration day. As for all the information that DDT got wrong, Mnuchin said, “I don’t think in an Oval Office address you can address every single issue as you’re discussing it….” Asked why he got “things wrong about his own proposals,” Mnuchin replied, “I don’t think he got things wrong at all.” Mnuchin continued to spin.  

DDT is now trying to convince people that he doesn’t care about careening stock markets, but he wants to preserve his former low unemployment rate as a reelection talking point. With businesses rapidly being closed to protect people from the virus, the number of unemployment claims have skyrocketed. DDT asked state labor officials to delay letting anyone know the numbers, to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels” until next week. It’s a follow-up to DDT’s saying he wanted to leave all the people on the ship because “I like the numbers where they are.” With DDT, it’s all about numbers that make him look good. Politico calls it “scoreboard obsession”—always keeping score.

In one of the biggest monthly drops, economic confidence dropped from 41 to 22, down almost 20 points. Even the Republicans’ confidence went down 11 points.

United States covid-19 cases: 19,772 with 389 new ones today; deaths: 279 with 23 more today.

September 27, 2013

Zombie Monsanto Law Must Be Stopped

A piece of good news hiding among the lack of Cruz Control antics this week is the Senate’s decision to drop the Monsanto Protection Rider. Last March Monsanto paid Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) $64,000 to put a rider into the must-pass farm bill to protect companies that sell GMOs from any lawsuits. The Secretary of Agriculture was instructed to allow the cultivation and sale of GMO crops even though they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health. Monsanto wrote the language for the rider and then gave it to Blunt. That exemption for companies such as Monsanto, however, disappears in just four days.

The House put the Monsanto Protection Rider back into the House version of the short-term appropriations bill, the Continuing Resolution (CR) that also including the defunding of  Obamacare. But that rider was stripped from the appropriations bill that the Senate returned to the House.  Some of the Democrats who voted against the rider may be hurt in their upcoming elections. For example, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), appointed to the Senate in 2012, knows the danger that genetically-modified crops present to his state.

A new group, the New Democrat Coalition, may be more supportive of protecting Monsanto and GMOs. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) knows how bad GMOs are for his state agriculture. A member of the New Dems, Colleen Hanabusa, plans to primary Schatz and follow the group’s support of big business through lowering their tax rates, eliminating regulations, and establishing the Trans Pacific Partnership described as “the wish list of the top 1 percent.” In their advocacy of big corporations, the New Dems see biotech as the “future of the U.S.,” pushing to extend patents and give corporate welfare to the companies.

GMO companies want to keep people ignorant of the contents of their food. don’t even want to let people know what is in their food. Here’s what many people don’t know:

  • Labeling genetically engineered foods (GMOs) will not cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year.
  • Buying certified organic products does not let consumers avoid GMOs because food companies are permitted to use the term “natural” for products with GMOs.
  • Labeling laws will not result in new lawsuits against farmers, food producers, and store owners about food label terminology. It’s actually Monsanto that continually sues farmers across the country for growing their own seeds.
  • Labeling GMOs will not create a “bureaucratic nightmare” for grocers and retailers.
  • Genetically engineered do pose health safety risks. A study showed that GMO corn sprayed with Monsanto’s Round Up herbicide resulted in massive tumors, organ failure, and premature death in rats. Other studies link these foods to allergies, organ toxicity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, birth defects, high infant mortality rates, fertility problems, and sterility.
  • GE foods are not as, or more, nutritious than organic foods that contain higher levels of beta carotene, vitamins C, D and E, health-promoting polyphenols, cancer-fighting antioxidants, flavonoids that help ward off heart disease, essential fatty acids, and essential minerals. GMO corn has 14 parts-per-million (ppm) of calcium while non-GMO corn has 6130 ppm, or 437 times more. Non-GMO corn also has 56 times more magnesium and seven times more manganese than GMO corn.
  • The World Health Organization, American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences and other respected medical and health organizations do not conclude that GE foods are safe.
  • We do not need GMOs to feed the world because GE crops don’t lead to greater crop yields. Conventional plant breeding, not genetic engineering, is responsible for yield increases in major U.S. crops.
  • The creation of GE seeds is not comparable to the cross-breeding that our ancestors did to create hardier versions of heritage crops. Cross breeding is the product of guided natural reproduction, while GMOs are created in a laboratory using high-tech and sophisticated techniques. One of these techniques involves gene-splicing which is used to cross a virus or a bacteria with a plant. These untested, unnatural creations are the antithesis to what our ancestors did, and what responsible farmers do: cross-pollinate different varieties of the same plant to help naturally bring forth desirable characteristics.
  • GE crops do not reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides. In fact GE crops greatly increase the use of these toxic chemicals. According to a new study by Food and Water Watch, the “total volume of glyphosate applied to the three biggest GE crops — corn, cotton and soybeans — increased 10-fold from 15 million pounds in 1996 to 159 million pounds in 2012” with the overall pesticide use rising by 26 percent from 2001 to 2010. The use of GE crops are now driving up the volume of toxic herbicides needed each year by about 25 percent.
  • GE crops are harmful to the environment. In addition to polluting the environment with herbicides and pesticides, GE crops lead to biodiversity loss and the emergence of “super bugs” and  “super weeds” that threaten millions of acres of farmland, thus requiring the need for even more dangerous and toxic herbicides. GMO use endangers many critical species, including the honey bee, frogs, birds, fish and the Monarch Butterfly. The island of Molokai in Hawaii has had its air and water quality destroyed by Monsanto’s almost-2000-acre test facility. Worldwide, people in areas around GMO farms report horrific bloody skin rashes, an uptick in asthma, and toxic pesticides that leach into the groundwater.

A recent study shows that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment” because it damages cellular systems throughout the body. It’s also the most popular herbicide on the planet and therefore likely to be pervasive in the world’s food supply. Scientists reported “signature of sarin” in Syrians who died several weeks ago, the same signature as the contents of Roundup.

A 2012 study published in the journal Archives of Toxicology shows Roundup to be toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications. Industry regulators and long-term studies look at glyphosate in isolation, instead of looking at Roundup’s full formulation, which includes secret added ingredients. These “confidential” and unlabeled ingredients, when measured as a whole, affect all living cells, including human cells.

Genetically-engineered seeds are available for three of the four major crops in the U.S.: corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Planting GE wheat seeds is illegal, but an Oregonian farmer found GE wheat growing in his fields last June, 12 years after Monsanto stopped its field trials. That one discovery risked the possibility of wheat farmers in Oregon not being able to export any of its crops because other countries such as Japan and China don’t want GE crops. The farmers could lose up to $3 million.

This month, a broker rejected an alfalfa crop in Washington state after testing positive for the genetic presence of Roundup Ready. The fourth-most widely grown crop in the United States, alfalfa has a value of about $8 billion; exports hit a record high of $1.25 billion last year. Washington is one of the nation’s biggest export alfalfa producers. In addition to being unable to export alfalfa to many countries, farmers may not be able to sell the crop for feed to domestic livestock because of GM contaminants.

Jack Heinemann, a New Zealand scientists, thinks that people may not be able to contain GE crops. A GE rice variety never commercialized was exported to France in 2006, and GE corn unapproved for human consumption showed up in Taco Bell taco shells.

The FDA reported that Monsanto concluded the wheat it tested was safe. With the reemergence of the wheat, Monsanto assures consumers that the FDA declared the safety of this wheat over a decade ago. In essence, Monsanto told FDA that the wheat is just fine so they are now saying that the FDA says that the wheat is safe.

Another danger comes from pharma crops, those engineered to produce pharmaceuticals or a toxic industrial compound. The USDA approved almost 400 field tests of these crops starting in 1991. In 2002, stalks of corn designed to produce a pig vaccine were mixed with $2.7 million worth of Nebraska soya beans for human consumption.

Large GMO companies such as Monsanto don’t want people to know that rat poison is an ingredient in their food products, and they don’t want people to file lawsuits against them if someone accidentally finds out. The House has voted to let Monsanto put poison in their seeds with impunity. Tomorrow they will probably hold the country hostage so that GOP House members will continue to be paid for their GMO support. Monsanto also spent $4.5 million to defeat an initiative to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods—in just one state.

For the past six months, no farmer could sue Monsanto for the damage to their crops, but Monsanto was able to sue farmers if seeds accidentally migrated into their fields. This has to stop. Zombie bills are those that seem to have a life of their own, that keep rising up. The zombie bill of the Monsanto Protection Rider needs to be eviscerated–permanently.

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