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No surprise, we have more bird flu in Minnesota, not only among turkey farms but now outbreaks at chicken farms.  Governor Dayton is releasing additional resources to combat the spread, up to and including making the National Guard units available to help.


Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency in Minnesota in response to the bird flu outbreak, which has claimed the lives of 2.6 million turkeys and has now spread to a chicken farm for the first time in the state.

The Star Tribune reports that the governor’s order activates “an emergency operations plan” to provide support to attempts to quell the outbreak, and also says that National Guard personnel can be mobilized if necessary.

It comes after chicken producer J&A Farms, near Detroit Lakes in northwestern Minnesota, became the first chicken farm in the state to confirm an infection of the deadly H5N2 virus, KSTP reports. The farm has 275,000 hens.

Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported the bird flu’s presence in 13 additional turkey flocks in Minnesota. That brought the state’s overall total to 44 across 15 counties.

The deadly avian flu has spread to 13 more Minnesota turkey farms, bringing the total number of birds affected to more than 2.5 million, the state Board of Animal Health announced.

…Since the outbreak of the virus in early March, 7.1 million turkeys and egg-laying chickens have been affected across the Midwest, The Associated Press reports.

Chicken operations in Iowa and Wisconsin have also been hit by the bird flu. There are 16 states now coping with the disease in commercial bird operations.


National  media is running headlines that McDonalds may experience supply problems, with ‘Chicken Mcnuggets as rare as hen’s teeth’.  I don’t eat them, but it occurs to me that might be the only silver lining of a serious global warming related economic disaster to our state and regional economies.  It is beginning to dawn on people that this will affect not only the price of turkey and chicken meat, but also the price of eggs — and presumably therefore a variety of the ‘golden starches’ breakfast menu items as well as the nuggets.
The economic impact goes far further afield than just fast food retailers.  The BBC is reporting protests against ongoing trade negotiations for US ag products to be marketed in Europe as a result of this outbreak.  As with past food safety and disease issues, such as the mad cow problems of some years back, a variety of nations are banning the shipment of poultry products while this epidemic continues.  having the reputation of unsafe or disease-ridden products is of course detrimental to the long term economic strength of our ag industry sector, and a serious concern for the entire country.


The head of the World Organisation for Animal Health tells us why this latest outbreak of bird flu has come as such a shock to US industry. Also, as the latest round of negotiations towards a new trade pact between Europe and the US get under way, we report on the opposition to the proposals, at a protest attended by Vivienne Westwood in London.


I documented here, on the 2015 celebration of Earth Day why this outbreak of avian flu is an issue of global warming, and the cause and effect link to rising temperatures and the spread of these kinds of disease, among both wildlife and domesticated animals, directly affecting our food supply and the affordability of the food we eat (not just fast food).  From the STrib


DES MOINES, Iowa — Some international trade partners are declining to buy egg and poultry products from states affected by a deadly strain of bird flu while others are excluding imports only from counties where the virus has surfaced.

Agriculture officials say the food supply is safe. But Mexico, Japan and Canada are among 33 countries declining to accept poultry products from entire states, including Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producer, and Minnesota, the top turkey grower in the U.S.

Other countries, including Hong Kong, limit the ban to counties where the virus has been confirmed.


Conservatives, who as a group receive enormous amounts of funding both directly and indirectly from fossil fuel sources, refuse to address the issue and actively obstruct others from addressing it.  Most recently we have a member of our state legislature doing exactly that, on the floor of the lege, while following the classic tactic of pretending that conservatives are somehow victims and martyrs  for believing things which are factually false – and seriously dangerous to all of us.  I would further posit that it is precisely to take positions that are factual and objective that these legislators are elected, and NOT to be faith based or phantasy driven in writing legislation, voting or formulating policy.  Hat tip to Bluestem Prairie and the Uptake for the video and news item on Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker.  This is EXACTLY what we do NOT need or want in response to the challenges of global warming.  This is the kind of failure to act and failure to think that is why we must oppose conservatives in any position of authority at any level of government, because of failing to address these issue in a manner that is rational, that is objective, that values science not religion as the basis for action.  If we wanted whining, we’d look for two year olds who missed their nap time.


Rep. Newberger grow a pair, and act your age.  You and the rest of the lege were elected to deal with these issues, to voice your opinions BASED ON FACTS NOT FAITH, and to do something about these kinds of problems on behalf of the citizens of Minnesota.  Pull up your big boy pants, buckle up your belt and if necessary add a pair of suspenders, but ditch the crap about being a victim.  DO SOMETHING about the very real problems of global warming; they are on our doorstep, right there where you live in Sherburne County.  But don’t kid yourself – something I suspect Newberger does often; the effects of this problem go much further afield than just Sherburne County, or the state boundaries, or even the national boundaries.  We can’t afford the kind of  political and ideological driven denial that we see next door in Wisconsin, courtesy of Koch brothers’ puppet Scott Walker as he trashes the state of Wisconsin, including by prohibiting any references or planning related to global warming.




We are in a desperate struggle to save our planet and ourselves, both as a species and individually, from two inter-related threats, global warming and climate change denial by ignorant crazy people who suffer from magical thinking. Magical thinking is where nutty religious zealots ignore scientifically documented cause and effect, and instead demand we all conform to religious supernatural insanity, that denies reality. Magical thinking requires us to believe that abortion and/or gay marriage in the United States are responsible for natural disasters, while denying the real causes of those problems, human use of fossil fuels and other anthropogenic carbon emissions that are related to greenhouse gases, as well as other problems such as fracking-caused earthquakes.


Their reasoning is that overall planetary global warming can’t be real if you can still make a snow ball. Because Jesus loves us and he wants us to use up finite resources while killing ourselves doing so. We are wrestling for control of who drives the bus, who controls the steering wheel, the sane people or the crazies who want to crash the bus over a very tall cliff, with the bus being a metaphor for the planet, our ‘little blue marble’ hanging in space.


It is not only extremist insane right wing evangelical and fundie religion, it is also corrupt, largely Republican and other conservatives being corrupt taking truckloads of cash, directly and indirectly from the fossil fuel special interests to act against the interests of their constituents – the American people – effectively fiddling while not only Rome but the entire planet burns.


This affects US, right here, right now, and those effects will only become more severe if we don’t succeed in stopping the dangerous right.  I generally dislike polarizing politics, the Us versus Them mentality, but in this particular area, there is no room for compromise, there is only one rational and correct side.  Democracy can only operate if those in power are sane and rational; conservatives are, as a group, NOT either.


turkeys from how stuff

From Science, August 2, 2013, review:

Climate Change and Infectious Diseases: From Evidence to a Predictive Framework

  1. Sonia Altizer1,*,
  2. Richard S. Ostfeld2,
  3. Pieter T. J. Johnson3,
  4. Susan Kutz4,
  5. C. Drew Harvell5

“Scientists have long predicted large-scale responses of infectious diseases to climate change, giving rise to a polarizing debate, especially concerning human pathogens for which socioeconomic drivers and control measures can limit the detection of climate-mediated changes. Climate change has already increased the occurrence of diseases in some natural and agricultural systems,…”


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amd_300A prominent, and admirable, organization does a “Most Endangered Rivers” list.

The St. Louis River is threatened by new copper-nickel sulfide mining in its headwaters that would destroy or degrade thousands of square miles of pristine forested wetlands and streams. The first of the new mining proposals, PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet Project, would destroy 1,000 acres of wetlands, and indirectly impact thousands more wetland acres. It would also require a complex federal land exchange resulting in the turnover of more than 6,000 acres of biologically rich lands from the Superior National Forest and the St. Louis River watershed to mining companies.
(American Rivers)

There was considerable optimism on the part of PolyMet and others that permitting and other matters would have moved along swiftly, even to the extent that they’d have their final permits in hand by now. Negative dice:



Minnesota GOP bill would sabotage clean energy

by Dan Burns on April 10, 2015 · 1 comment

Amargosa_desertIt doesn’t get much more just plain backward – indeed, downright antediluvian – than this.

One, the (GOP House) bill would repeal the quantitative state goals for reducing green house gas emissions and says the state should reduce green house gas emissions “in an affordable manner.” Whatever that means.
Two, the bill would allow either the Minnesota House or Senate to veto the plan that is now in the process of being developed by the Dayton administration to significantly reduce carbon emissions in our energy sector by 2020 and 2030. The plan is being developed in response to the EPA’s proposed rule on carbon. Since the bill would allow the House or Senate to veto any other carbon reduction plan that might be developed, the bill is not a negotiating tactic, rather it’s designed for gridlock.
This new strategy of trying to give the legislative branch veto power over an action taken by the executive branch is a product of ALEC, which gets a lot of its financial support from the fossil fuel industry.
(Rep. Jean Wagenius)

Wagenius, a DFLer who represents part of Minneapolis, goes on to note much more, if you care to click on the above.

Minnesota doctors on Wednesday connected the dots between proposed changes in Minnesota energy laws and the health of the public, particularly children suffering from asthma.
The Twin Cities Medical Society delivered a letter (see below) to every member of the Minnesota House and Senate that says emissions of power plants “are adversely affecting our environment and impacting the health of Minnesota’s communities,” and urged lawmakers to maintain the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act that Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law.
(The Uptake)

Weeks ago, I mused that perhaps Republican legislators were seeing the need to move toward the center, or at least away from the extreme. That has not been the case. There is still talk about increasing basic assistance for welfare recipients, but other than that, not much to indicate that the legislative GOP is coming to terms with present – and, even more so, future – reality.

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from Zazzle, rebel flag clothing accessories a 2016 campaign button already available for sale

The question the boring thinkers are asking are the obvious questions, which are the wrong questions.


Who does Rand Paul want to take America away from that has it, and what does he intend to do with it?  The obvious answer would seem to be the dominance of old white crabby flabby theocrats, given his previous positions on race and religion, economics and civil rights.  He wants life to be like the good old days, where those minorities and women stayed in their subordinate, subjective places, and didn’t make waves about eating at every lunch counter, or controlling their own lady parts, or that voting stuff.  That is strictly for conservative Christian white men, and right thinking corporations to run government.


And definitely none of those false religions that other people in the world believe in. No. No. No.  That would make Jesus cry, and maybe a founding father; not Ron Paul — Moses.


Definitely “no mo of the homo” either.  Absolutely no more science; we have too much of THAT already, and clearly there is a big PROBLEM with reality and all those facts leaning liberal.  Those have to go.


No, no voting or lunch counter sitting or equal pay or reproductive choice, no no no.  None of that modern stuff when Rand gets his hands on America for ‘HIS’ ‘Murikans (good Christians all, the right wing fundie Evangelical kind only).


A better question to ask is WHEN does Rand Paul want to take America back?


Would he be aiming at 1950?


Or is pro-confederacy, pro-secession, pro-white supremacy Rand Paul aiming to send us backward even further, to the 1850s?


Inquiring minds want to know, but only from curiosity.  WE do NOT want him taking America away from a broadly diverse America, with whom he and his fringie-bots do not want to share power, or to have the backward culture wars that make people second class citizens imposed on us by the delusional right wing nuts.


Rand Paul — not back to the future, just backward, and downward.


clowncarJust so we’re clear, the “troubles with the truth” in the headline aren’t necessarily lies. There can be more subtle forms of obfuscation, denialism, and even inadvertent honesty.
Or just plain old refusing to check facts that are just too convenient to not use. I’m referring here to Marco Rubio, who claimed Obama refused to comment on the fraudulent election in Iran 2009 that ignited street protests in Tehran. Obama did comment. Rubio is just flat out wrong. My guess is he wasn’t lying, but just repeating a talking point that was so good, it was best to not fact check it. Rubio is hardly the first. The Washington Post’s fact checker has Rubio’s statement and tracked the statements Obama made at the time, though he also did that thing that drives me nuts about fact-checking columns and sites, some of them anyway. They have to do their own twisting to find some way a false statement isn’t completely false, or a true statement isn’t completely true. In this case, Glenn Kessler gave Rubio just three Pinocchios instead of four (and why do fact checkers need the cutesy rating systems?) because Obama could have been stronger sooner, and Rubio would have had a point if he’d said something else. Fact checkers keep doing this. “The president didn’t say that but looking only at part of what he said, the misquoting would have been close to what he was accused of saying, and the person making it up would have been close if he had said X instead of what he actually said, so it’s therefore not completely false.” Why is this so hard for not just Kessler, but other fact checkers too? Rubio said Obama said X. Obama didn’t say X, so Rubio’s statement is false. Rubio’s staff tried to support their boss’s claim by referring to something Obama said that was related to the topic but not what they claimed he said. They should get extra cutesy icons for bogusity.

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frackingNot long ago, the commissioners for Houston County, in the southeast corner of Minnesota, seriously considered passing a ban on frac sand mining, but essentially backed off at the last minute. The Star Tribune had an article yesterday about some other goings-on over the issue. I’m noting the following take (you can click directly to the Strib here, if you like), as it has considerable additional information of value.


In Monday’s Star Tribune, Matt McKinney looks into local government mischief in “Frac-sand debate tears SE Minnesota county apart; Ethics investigation finds Houston County official threatened opponents,” and the story demonstrates why the citizenry is up in arms:

A zoning official here wielded his power to retaliate against people who opposed frac sand mining, an independent investigation found, slapping frac opponents with bogus zoning violations, threatening to tear down their house or cabin and, in one case, warning a frac opponent that she should “watch what she says” or risk getting cited.
His targets were people who had spoken out at public meetings or sent letters to the Houston County Board to complain about the encroachment of frac-sand mines, an issue that’s torn the county’s social fabric as the local government wrestles with how to manage the emerging and potentially lucrative industry.
The official, Bob Scanlan, was suspended for three days and given mandatory ethics training as a result of the investigation ordered last summer by the County Board of commissioners and conducted by Minneapolis law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen.
The findings were made public recently, when the county released a redacted version to the Star Tribune. Today, Scanlan presides as the county zoning and planning director and acts as a key official in the county’s ongoing deliberations over sand mining.

(Bluestem Prairie)


First, this:

So, now Ted Cruz joins past presidential candidate wanna-bes on the right in proposing a flat tax.  Flat taxes have been proposed by most recently Herman Cain and the Nut Gingrich, but have also been floated in the past as far back as Steve Forbes when he wanted to be the right wing nut candidate. There is a problem with the Fat Tax.  It doesn’t work, in that it does not offer the promised benefits in tax revenue or growth.
What it DOES do — and why we should expect it from the right wing, hand maidens to the wealthy, is to benefit the rich and to expand wealth and income inequality.  It also tends not to have provided adequate revenue — much the way the Bush tax cuts failed to produce adequate (much less increased) revenue and economic growth.  The flat tax also does not promote adequate revenue or optimal job growth, much the way we have seen the tax cuts in regressive states like Kansas and now Wisconsin have not produce either economic growth or job creation and increases in business growth. There has been experimentation with the flat tax, mostly in formerly eastern bloc European countries and Russia.  Many of those countries, after implementing a flat tax, DID see economic growth, but for other reasons than the flat tax, and those countries have been hit hard by the 2008 global economic recession.  And another factor not generally noted – most of the countries that have implemented the flat tax have also been widely regarded as highly corrupt, with Russia being regarded as the MOST corrupt – one of the most corrupt in the world, which should be considered in any reference to increased tax compliance. This is significant because Cruz also wants to abolish the IRS, making compliance apparently entirely on the honor system.
Yeah, like THAT is going to work.
So lets start with the famous IMF study of flat tax implementation and success/failure from 2006 — before the big global economic collapse.  At that point the range of time during which there was evidence on the implementation of the flat tax ranged from ten years to two years in the countries examined:


This Guy Wants to be President — Exxon edition

by Eric Ferguson on March 4, 2015 · 0 comments

clowncarI might as well own up right away that the headline is a bit misleading, as only one of these stories involves Exxon. Well, someone has to be in Exxon’s pocket. The Koch brothers surely can’t squeeze in everybody. Then again, the Kochs and Exxon are part of the same oil oligopoly and between them do much to keep global warming denying funded, and the subject of the second story is infamous for Koch-pocket inhabiting, so please undulge some stretching in an effort at cleverness. Anyway, New Jersey governor Chris Christie let Exxon pay $250 milion after suing for $8.9 billion in damages.

I can appreciate why, when it comes to the Christie administration, the assorted controversies can be tough to keep track of, but this story is raising questions that deserve answers.
A judge was poised to rule on damages, and New Jersey was seeking $8.9 billion – $2.6 billion to help restore the damaged areas and $6.3 billion in compensatory damages. The fact that Exxon was responsible was not even at issue anymore.
And then the Christie administration decides it’ll settle for $250 million, most of which the governor can now apply to his state budget shortfall – rather than, say, environmental recovery.

Essentially, with the lawsuit successfully fought to the point where culpability was established and they were down to the money, Christie suddenly decided his state could give up billions to the benefit of Exxon, which made roughly $32 billion in net profit last year, while his state government, like pretty much all states run by Republicans, is short of cash. I guess if the Kochs have given their affections elsewhere, Christie needs to find a sugar daddy where he can.


frackingUpdate: They did indeed reverse themselves. No ban.
Original text:

It’s unfortunate that this is not surprising.

Last week, Houston County commissioners voted unanimously to send a bill banning frac sand mining to the county attorney. However, at their meeting on Tuesday, a few commissioners appeared to rethink their position on the issue.
The county attorney discussed his findings on the ban on Tuesday with the board and said the ban could be passed and defended in court. However, some commissioners wanted to tone down the proposed ban, despite voting for the ban in the last meeting.

I’m not going to openly speculate on what kinds of pressures are perhaps being brought to bear. The following has all the background.

Grassroots organizing by ordinary citizens in a southeastern Minnesota county has resulted in a stunning vote by the Houston County Board of Commissioners to essentially ban silica sand mining for purposes other than local construction and agriculture.
It’s a stunning counterpoint to the “informational hearing” that the Minnesota House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee held in St. Paul earlier this year in which only mining interests were first invited to speak.
(Bluestem Prairie)

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