Blogs

Bumblebees Also Disappearing, Putting Crops in Peril

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 3:30 PM EDT

bumblebee.JPGWith all the to-do about the disappearing honeybees, not much has been written about the humble bumblebee. Bumblebees, though less glamorous because they don't produce much honey, are still a crucial part of nature's chain and therefore, agriculture—they pollinate 15 percent of all domestic crops, especially greenhouse-grown plants such as tomatoes and strawberries. And like honeybees, they're becoming scarce.

A recent study blames the bumblebee's demise on the combined effects of habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, and disease. A U.C. Davis professor says the Franklin's bumblebee may have gone extinct before anyone even put it on the endangered species list, and two more bumblebee species have become rare. The combined disappearance of both the honeybee and the bumblebee spells trouble for agriculture; bumblebees pollinate different crops and at different times than honeybees.

Most recently, scientists have found that a single virus is "strongly correlated" with colony collapse disorder, and is killing both bumblebees and honeybees.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

EPA Slacking On Mississippi Pollutants

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 3:15 PM EDT

MRivDrainageBasinTN.gif The Environmental Protection Agency is asleep at the helm, says the National Research Council—at the expense of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The agency needs to take the leadership role it commands and implement the Clean Water Act immediately for water quality to return to "fishable and swimmable" status. In particular, the river needs to be evaluated as a single system. The 10 states along the corridor monitor their own water quality, but state efforts vary widely. EPA needs to coordinate them.

Many of the Mississippi's current problems stem from nonpoint pollution sources—nutrients and sediments entering the river through runoff. Nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilizers create water-quality problems in the river and an oxygen-deficient dead zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Sediments are too plentiful in the upper Mississippi, and too scarce in the lower river, robbing the coastal wetlands of southern Louisiana.

Written between the lines: EPA needs to actually do what its name mandates, protect the environment, not the destroyers of the environment.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, "The Fragile Edge," and other writings, here.

The New York Sun's Candidate (It's Not Rudy)

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 2:58 PM EDT

SUN.jpg

Garance Franke-Ruta over at TAPPED makes a pretty compelling case for Rudy Giuliani, with his bevy of Likudnik-friendly advisers, being dubbed "the New York Sun candidate"—"culturally moderate, reasonably sophisticated, socially tolerant, and a far-right Zionist hawk on matters Middle Eastern."

Problem is, that particular moniker already belongs to another man. Back in April, the Sun's editorialists explicitly named their dream candidate for '08. Who was it? One hint—the president calls him "Big Time."

—Justin Elliott

Money, It's a Gas: Grab That Cash With Both Hands and Make a Stash

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 1:45 PM EDT

Interesting notes from the presidential fundraising numbers for the third quarter that were released today:

- When identifying the corporation or other entity that gave most to a candidate, the answer usually turns out to be a finance company, a law firm, or some other major corporate interest. Hillary Clinton, for example, raised an astonishing $207,670 from employees of Morgan Stanley, $186,540 from employees of Goldman Sachs, and $96,015 from employees of Citigroup. Not Ron Paul. The oft-slighted Republican congressman from Texas raised more money from members of the U.S. Army than from anywhere else. (This is no surprise to readers of MoJoBlog.) The entity supplying the second most? Google.

- Mitt Romney is also an exception. He gets more money from employees of The Villages, a Florida retirement community, than anywhere else. Romney has loaned a whopping $17.4 million of his own money to the campaign. Meanwhile, he only has $9.2 million in cash-on-hand. Without his own personal wealth propping up the campaign, Romney is in McCain territory.

- Speaking of, John McCain is in debt (and I grow sad). The man from Arizona has roughly $1.6 million to spend in the primary, but $1.7 million in debts. Not. Good.

- Gov. Bill Richardson drew more money from New Mexico state employees than from employees of any other entity.

- Republican Duncan Hunter has yet to top $2 million for the entire campaign. Mike Huckabee, who really checks all the boxes for the Republican base, can't get it going either. He's only raised $2.3 million for the campaign. When do we get to drop-out territory?

Tobacco Industry Cover Up

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 1:22 PM EDT

Scientists know that secondhand smoke increases risk of heart disease by 30 percent, but cigarette makers are doing their darnedest to make sure we're kept in the dark.

A report in the current issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, says that the tobacco industry has repeatedly tried to suppress evidence of the detrimental effects of cigarette smoke.

Rudy Giuliani Has Advisers Who Would Bomb Iran Tomorrow

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 12:46 PM EDT

I used to believe the most dangerous thing about Rudy Giuliani was the fact that, even though he has zero foreign policy experience, he thinks he knows everything there is to know about foreign policy. That's a scary kind of ignorance.

But I was wrong. The most dangerous thing about Rudy Giuliani is his advisers. They are crazy, crazy, crazy. Too crazy to work for Bush, even. Take a look at what TPMTV has to say.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Democrats' Best-Case Senate Scenario: Filibuster-Proof Majority

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 12:18 PM EDT

Let's take a minute to indulge in best-case scenarios, shall we? Time runs down the situation in the Senate. They note that if the Dems pick up...

and they defend...

The Louisiana seat held by Mary Landrieu,

they will have 60 seats, enough to beat a Republican filibuster. This doesn't even take into account the possibility of Alaska Senator Ted Steven's legal troubles deepening and forcing his retirement. A 60-seat majority means, for the first time, real legislation that can end the Iraq War. And a Democratic tidal wave of this nature would likely usher in a Democratic president, which means a new era of progressive domestic policies.

The races listed above all have a legitimate chance to go the Dems' way—there are 11 seats held by Democrats and 12 seats held by Republicans that I didn't even mention because the incumbent is unlikely to face a serious challenge in any of them. (For a ranking of races, see this pdf.) These races all depend, of course, on the quality of opponents and various local factors. But with so many Republicans up for reelection in states trending blue, it should be an exciting 2008.

Also of note: Which of the challengers will catch the imagination of the netroots? To use the parlance, who will the people power?

Black Macho and the Myth of the Super Predator: The PTSD connection

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 11:12 AM EDT

"Violence in our communities shows [blacks] really do hate each other."

Rush Limbaugh? Bill O'Reilly?

No, Kenny Gamble, famous co-architect of the Philadelphia Sound who's invested his retirement and his fortune in saving his inner city community. This is what's known as tough love, the only kind worth a damn.

Philadelphia, as I've written before, is struggling hard to stem the tide of violence there. Oddly, they've found that protesting racism is less productive than working to get 10,000 volunteers to stand guard over their community and try to reclaim their lost ones. They'll never pull it off without a hard look in the mirror like Gamble's because racism doesn't make you shoot people or sell drugs or drop out of school; there has to be an intervening cause, like hopelessness, a criminal record which prevents employment, an unplanned pregnancy, or internalized oppression that makes you, too, subconsciously hate black people.

Outside of the academy, black interiority is a subject that even blacks have shown little interest in except as it directly implicates racism. It's fair to go so far as to say that it's a taboo subject when it exposes problematic patterns among blacks, e.g. the common black myths that 'they' don't commit suicide or suffer from mental illness. That would be weak and only white people are weak; blacks don't roll like that. Beat your wife? Fine, but see a therapist and see how quickly you lose your street cred. A good plan if stoicism and silence actually eliminated the problems, but til then, blacks should join in the on-going excavations of their own complexity and gird themselves to have some painful discussions. I've long believed that the black community's main problem is widespread PTSD. What else explains ganster rap, the war between black men and black women, and the rage of the black middle class? Yes, I'm serious. And I'm not alone, though perhaps my fellow travelers aren't putting it quite this way.

Another 10,000 Man activist noted, "More killings in Philadelphia are the result of common disputes than over drug-turf wars. ...With the proliferation of guns and lack of training in managing anger, ordinary arguments become deadly. And why has anger not been controlled or properly channelled?"

Excellent question.

A former Philadelphia gang member "speaks eloquently about the lack of love in his urban community and the effect this has on increasing crime, lowering employment opportunities and creating a sense of desperation so deep pre-teen black kids are essentially hopeless before hitting middle school." (emphasis added)

How does racism keep minorities from loving their kids?

However oppressive and determinative racism remains in America - and boy does it - black complicity and inertia has allowed it to turn too many of them into the racist's wet dream: a caricature of disfunction, underachievement and futility. The tired arguments against supplying ammo to the enemy are just that - tired; racists are never going to run out of dirty tricks so blacks should take a page from DuBois.

In The Souls of Black Folk, he wrote, "Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word."

Blacks today should also be too busy tending to their community to participate in racism's mind games.


Ron Paul Wins Polls, Gets Repeatedly Disrespected by CNBC

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 10:54 AM EDT

ron-paul-black-white.jpg

Another debate, another post-debate poll won by an underdog candidate and then hidden by the media outlet commissioning the poll. Sounds outrageous, but it's almost becoming routine, particularly with Kucinich on the left and Ron Paul on the right.

It happened again after the recent Republican debate on CNBC. Ron Paul's supporters pounced on the post-debate online poll and gave their man a hefty lead, only to find the poll removed. CNBC.com managing editor Allen Wastler eventually "explained" himself—by saying, petulantly, that he'd do it again.

An Open Letter to the Ron Paul Faithful
You guys are good. Real good. You are truly a force on World Wide Web and I tip my hat to you.
That's based on my first hand experience of your work regarding our CNBC Republican candidate debate. After the debate, we put up a poll on our Web site asking who readers thought won the debate. You guys flooded it.

Unintended (Meaning Bad) Consequences of Promoting Democracy in Iran

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 10:31 AM EDT

haleh_esfandiari.jpg

Remember Haleh Esfandiari, the scholar who was detained for eight months on a recent trip to Iran to visit her elderly mother? She's just co-authored a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "When Promoting Democracy Is Counterproductive."

A longtime advocate of reconciliation between Iran and the United States, Esfandiari points to some unintended yet entirely predictable consequences of bellicose posturing combined with the U.S.'s recent $75 million appropriation for "democracy promotion" in Iran. U.S. policy has succeeded in nothing so much as inflaming paranoia among elements of the Iranian government—some of it justified, arguably—which has in turn contributed to what the authors term "a broad crackdown on Iran's civil society." Of course, Esfandiari learned this the hard way when she was accused of conspiring against the regime and was thrown into Iran's Evin Prison. More from the article (which requires a subscription):