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A bee killing pesticide is banned in Oregon (albeit temporarily)! And sadly, a memorial service for the bee deaths (explained in detail below) is to be held today, Sunday, June 30th, 2013, in what is possibly the first in history to be held for the massacre of our friends, the pollinating bees. It is surreal that in our times we have come to this; that we now find ourselves saying farewell to 50,000 dead bumblebees killed by the hand of mankind. And it is time for us all to ask ourselves, are we not all complicit? Have we done enough to hold our elected officials accountable? Can we not stop the assault on our little friends who give so much to us?

msgd1sdzm7zmilvm1qha Two recent incidents involving pesticide-induced bee deaths in Oregon, including one  (previously diaried here) in which thousands of pollinating honeybees and bumble bees were killed in a Willsonville Target parking lot, as well as another occurrence of hundreds of bee deaths in Hillsboro, has prompted the Oregon Department of Agriculture to place a 180 day ban on the use of dinotefuron, a pesticide based on neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide notoriously associated with recent annual massive honey bee die-offs related to Colony Collapse Disease (CCD). -4792002803fe5cb4

In brief, the bumblebees and honeybees were attracted to the nectar-secreting linden tree blossoms which were located in a Target store parking lot. Tens of thousands of bees were foraging on the blossoms of 55 trees when a landscaping crew sprayed the pesticide over the trees to kill aphids, and the bees thus took a direct hit of the poison. An estimated 50,000 bees were massacred, which were seen dropping from the flowers onto the asphalt parking lot. Biologists from Xerces, an environmental group whose mission includes insect pollinator conservation, were notified, who arrived on the scene to investigate.

The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.
The Willsonville incident is being called "largest event of its kind ever documented, with an estimated impact on more than 300 wild bumble bee colonies," according to Rich Hatfield, a biologist at Xerces, an Oregon Based environmental group, who estimates that over 50,000 bumble bees were killed. According to Hatfield,  
“Each of those colonies could have produced multiple new queens that would have gone on to establish new colonies next year. This makes the event particularly catastrophic.”

Safari, the brand name of the toxic pesticide, has been confirmed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture to be the cause of the bee deaths.

ODA has confirmed that the bee deaths are directly related to a pesticide application on the linden trees conducted last Saturday, June 15 to control aphids. The pesticide product Safari was used in that application. Safari, with its active ingredient dinotefuran, is part of a group of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. According to investigators, the insecticide was originally applied to control aphids, which secrete a sticky residue while feeding, and can be a nuisance to parked cars. Dinotefuran and other neonicotinoids are a relatively new group of insecticides that are long-lasting in plant tissues. Because of this, the scientists are now concerned about whether the trees will still be toxic next year when they flower again. Emergency measures to prevent further bee deaths were taken today by staff from the ODA, Xerces, and the City of Wilsonville. By the end of the day all of the trees will be covered with large nets to prevent bumble bees and other pollinators from reaching the flowers.
Licensed-pesticide operators would be in violation of the regulation if they use the pesticide during the temporary restriction. The restriction will be reassessed after the investigation of the incidents is completed, which could take as long as four months.

Scientists knowledgeable about the threats to pollinators are expressing heightened concerns about the significance of the Wilsonville bee massacre.

“The cost of losing pollinators far outweighs any value of controlling aphids on ornamental plants,” said Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Conservation Director at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “After the events of last week, and based on the overwhelming science demonstrating the harm that these products can cause, we are calling on city and county governments to immediately stop the damage.”

The University of Minnesota’s Dr. Marla Spivak, a leading global authority on bee health, echoed Vaughan’s sentiment. “The Oregon bee poisoning is a clear warning. We have to stop pesticide use in cases where human health or food security is not at risk.”

Spivak points out that neonicotinoids are now the most widely used insecticides in urban and agricultural areas. “They are long-lasting in soil and they readily move into water. If the Oregon event is an indication of what is happening more widely, we will begin to see catastrophic threats to food security and the pollination of wild plants.”

The ban, despite being quite limited in scope and duration, is a step forward, and is good news to environmentalists and beekeepers, who have been pressuring to no avail the Food and Drug Administration to ban the neonicotinoids, which have been implicated in numerous studies to contribute to Colony Collapse Disease, which has caused unprecedented yearly die-offs in bee colonies around the world. Many commercial beekeepers lost 50% of their hive inventories during the 2012-2013 winter, which is devastating to the bee industry. While the causes of the problems bees face are complex, the evidence, supported by a number of studies, points to the neonicotinoids as a major factor in declining bee populations. Beekeepers and environmentalists have filed a lawsuit against the FDA to compel them to act.

Maybe if enough states step in, the FDA will be compelled to take notice.

Meanwhile, the European Union has banned three neonicotinoid-based products for two years, while the situation is assessed. The three neonicotinoids are clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam.

“It is time to take a stronger stance on pollinator protection. The European Union has put restrictions in place on several neonicotinoids, and Ontario, Canada has gone further and banned all pesticides for cosmetic use,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society. “We need a similar response here.”
Memorial Service

A memorial service for the bees is to be held this Sunday at the Willsonville Target parking lot.

On Sunday June 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM, please join us at the site where an estimated 50,000 bees were killed by humans who sprayed the toxic pesticide, Safari. We will memorialize these fallen lifeforms and talk about the plight of the bees and their importance to life on Earth. If you are passionate, concerned, or curious about this situation, this will be a good opportunity to communicate with others.

As you may know, this is a very crucial moment for bees, as they are dying in the millions, unnaturally, worldwide. Their unnatural deaths are being caused by humans applying chemical pesticides to the earth and its plants. In addition to the injustice and brutality of this situation for the bees that are being killed, there are far-reaching effects for humans, who rely on bees to pollinate our crops. It is widely agreed that the endangerment and extinction of bees will have devastating consequences for humans and other lifeforms, which makes this an urgent opportunity to honor them and advocate for them.

Please participate in this memorial, and help us to spread the word by inviting others. Please message the event organizer, Rozzell Medina, at if you can help to coordinate the event by volunteering an hour or two during the week leading up to the event. Also, please post if you are driving from Portland, Eugene, etc. and have space available in your vehicle.

Some closing thoughts...

As an Oregonian beekeeper, this news story is particularly of great concern to me. These incidents occurred in the greater Portland area, which is where I have my bees located, and thus it demonstrates the degree to which the neonicotinoids are used in my general environment. 50% of my bee colonies perished last winter, which is a personal loss to me.

I'm a third generation beekeeper, was raised by a beekeeper father, and have been intimitely involved in bees since I was 4 years old, when my father took me up the winding forest roads of the Puerto Rican mountains to his apiaries. I grafted bee larvae into queen cell cups when I was 5 or 6, helping my father with his queen raising business.  And now, in my 50s, so many years later, I have had hopes of expanding my small inventory of hives to a commercial operation in order to have a secure income as I get older in the years to come, in a job market that doesn't promise to rebound for years, especially for older people. I await no pension, no possibility of retirement, and recently lost just about everything. So this affects me profoundly.

I have a great fondness for beekeeping and bees, and love the work, which allows me to be outdoors in a natural, stress-relieving environment, tending my bees under the coniferous trees of the spectacular Oregon countryside.  The experience of opening a hive, smelling the aroma which wafts upward, a blend of the fragrances of beeswax, floral nectar, pollen, royal jelly and brood, and the pheromones of bees, transports me to the hive's inner sanctum of this wondrous insect.

So, do we want the price of melons, berries, pears, apples, almonds, and a long list of other food crops to shoot through the roof, becoming unaffordable to average people? Will we relegate one third of our food supply to the province of the wealthy class, out of reach of the pocketbooks of the rest of us? Is that the future we want?

Haven't the 1% been indulged enough? Must the bees be sacrificed too, in the name of capitalism and profiteering? Is there not one thing on this planet we can save from corporate destruction? Can we not agree, in the name of all that we believe to be good and just, to draw the line here, if no where else?

President Obama, order the FDA to ban the bee-killing pesticide! Please fight for their survival. You're the only one who can give the order to the FDA. Please act now.
Thank Xerces for their great work in protecting pollinators by signing their Pollinator Protection Pledge

All photos credited to Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”

― Leonardo da Vinci
Recently, a diary appeared which characterized the emotional responses of critics of the current Obama Administration's policies.  This brief response is my first diary of this nature. The diarist framed the discussion around the "shock," "anger,"  "surprise," "tearing hair out," "naivete of privilege," "Obama haters," and various other emotions and motivations disparagingly attributed to Obama critics, who have been vocal about certain alarming policies of the administration.

The diarist rationalized this characterization of critics with the premise that these developments are hardly new in the long view of history, which I will get to later.

And my response is this is utter bullshit: People should be outraged, and should be responding to the horrible policies and authoritarianism with an appropriate form of protestation.


“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Responding with outrage to these events is completely normal. If we are to raise the issue of abnormality of human response, then it is fair to question, as well, the lack of normal human response to perpetual war, drone assassinations, extrajudicial rendition, torture, massive surveillance on innocent civilians, and the ever creeping erosion of civil and human rights. That there are people who incessantly refuse to acknowledge the healthy human concerns regarding these unfolding events is rather unsettling and disturbing, to say the least.

The diarist belittled these normal human responses, and even alluded to immaturity as an explanation of the "shock and outrage" that the diarist "outgrew" in her "20s," making crystal clear that she thinks these responses are beneath her, as if unworthy of a mature, normal person, thus relegating all critics to the level of pubescent, overindulged, privileged children. After infantilizing the critics, she has the unmitigated gall to call for an end to divisiveness, as if that is a province about which only she is worthy of pontificating, the rest of us being far too emotionally and intellectually underdeveloped to understand.

What's important is a healthy response that acknowledges the wrongfulness of the policies that allow these awful developments. It comes down to either responding in protest in some way, disinterest, or supporting the bad policies. People will naturally vary in temperament, but what is urgent and vital is that they protest the injustice. And if all some can manage is to attack the protestations, then I question with every fiber of my being their motivation and rationale for being more disturbed by the protestors than the policies and actions which they protest.

And what is the diarist's entire premise used to bash the outrage? She simply states that these horrors have been ongoing for a long time:

My point is that this is nothing new.
In other words, none of us should be outraged that the violations of constitutional protections are occurring, or set our "hair on fire" over the various abuses currently going on our behalf by our elected officials. We're just over-privileged spoiled brats who get our panties in a twist over innocent people being blown to bits (you know, its a "privilege" to worry about war crimes committed in our names) or of massive intrusions by Big Bother in our private lives. Why fucking worry? After all, if we're not doing anything wrong, what is there to fear? And this has been going on for eons, anyhoo. What's the sudden shock all about (i.e., now that Obama is President) as if some of us haven't been equally shocked at all the other egregious acts during our lifetimes?

Howard Zinn, a well known historian who wrote The People's History of the United States has this to say about normal human response to historical developments:

Howard Zinn

But human beings are not machines, and however powerful the pressure to conform, they sometimes are so moved by what they see as injustice that they dare to declare their independence. In that historical possibility lies hope.”
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for offering an alternative historical view, and for honoring the ability of the people to be passionately "moved" in witnessing injustice. You knew history as well as anyone, and wrote it from the perspective of the people, rather than the elites, and you wisely understood that becoming inured to horrors of tyranny would not offer hope to changing the trajectory of human history. You didn't tell us to "calm down" or ridicule us for "outrage," or accuse us of overreaction, but instead you told us about countless moments in history in which people were not content to be complacent, and how they rose up and fought against corruption, wage slavery, racism, exploitation, illegal wars, and elitist hegemony. We miss you.
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
― Benjamin Franklin
“I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions.”
― George Carlin
“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
― Albert Einstein

"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!"

These words were shouted into the crisp, cold Chicago air on November 11, 1887 by an anarchist labor organizer, August Spies, just before he and three others of the eight fellow anarchist defendants were brutally hanged, then left to gruesomely dangle under the gallows while slowly choking to death by the nooses around their necks. After an international outcry, the death sentences of two of the eight defendants were commuted to life in prison, another was given a sentence of 15 years, while a third took his own life in his cell rather than face his execution. The three who were imprisoned served 6 years until pardoned by Governor Altgeld, who said the trial was characterized by "hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge". New Picture (1)

All eight were widely considered to be innocent of the crime they were accused of committing. During the trial, the jury were told "Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial. These men have been selected, picked out by the Grand Jury, and indicted because they were leaders. They are no more guilty than the thousands who follow them. Gentlemen of the jury; convict these men, make examples of them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society."

In the moments before their deaths, the four men to be hanged stood on the gallows platform and sang the Marseillaise, which was an anthem popular with the revolutionary workers movement at the time, especially among anarchists. It became an iconic moment around the world which was etched into the history of the worker's rights movement.

Who were these men?

For those who don't know the story, which is known as the Haymarket affair, these courageous men, all anarchists, were trade union organizers who were falsely convicted of the crime of throwing a bomb, on May 4th, 1886, into the midst of 180 Chicago police who had marched in to break up a peaceful public assembly of demonstrating workers. The explosion killed one officer, fatally wounded six others, and injured 70 more -- members of the same police force which, on the day before, on May 3rd, had shot and killed a striking worker and wounded several others during a scuffle at the picket line. After the bomb went off, the police then randomly opened fire into the crowd of workers, killing at least four and wounding countless others. These events had been sparked by a general strike called by the American Federation of Labor to demand an 8 hour workday, which occurred days before on May 1st, 1886. The strike was national, and 400,000 workers participated in the Chicago strike alone.

"Reliable witnesses testified that all the pistol flashes came from the center of the street, where the police were standing, and none from the crowd. Moreover, initial newspaper reports made no mention of firing by civilians. A telegraph pole at the scene was filled with bullet holes, all coming from the direction of the police."
The unfortunate truth of this awful event is that the eight men were convicted with no evidence other having a history of being anarchist labor organizers. Various theories exist which speculate as to whom the bomber was, with historians still arguing over the case, but most don't hold the accused responsible for the bombing. Workers around the world were glued to the unfolding events of the trial, and were aghast that these men were found guilty based on a witch hunt by authorities who admitted openly that despite lack of evidence, they wanted to set an example with a conviction.

After the Haymarket catastrophe, the enraged press and religious leaders were calling for punishment, and socialists, anarchists and labor activists were the target. Officers stormed into meeting halls, offices, and private residences, rounding up and arresting activists and even bystanders indiscriminately. Julius Grinnell, the state's attorney, publicly commented, "Make the raids first and look up the law afterwards".

They eventually arrested eight men for being "accessories to murder", the names of whom are Spies, Fielden, Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Michael Schwab, Louis Lingg and Oscar Neebe.

In the Chicago courts, juries were usually chosen by randomly drawing names from a box of prospective jurors, but state's attorney Grinnel and the Court nominated and appointed a special bailiff to hand pick the candidates. This bailiff, not even feigning impartially, publicly declared that "I am managing this case and I know what I am about. These fellows are going to be hanged as certain as death".  Despite this development, the defense counsel was disallowed by the court to present the bailiff's compromising statement as evidence.

The eventual composition of the jury was farcical; being made up of businessmen, their clerks and a relative of one of the dead policemen. No proof was offered by the state that any of the eight men before the court had thrown the bomb, had been connected with its throwing, or had even approved of such acts. In fact, only three of the eight had been in Haymarket Square that evening.

No evidence was offered that any of the speakers had incited violence, indeed in his evidence at the trial Mayor Harrison described the speeches as "tame". No proof was offered that any violence had been contemplated. In fact, Parsons had brought his two small children to the meeting.

The injustice of the hangings fueled the passion that surrounds the tradition of the annual May 1st commemorations of the labor movement, known as International Worker's Day, which has been observed around the world ever since. The events which led up to the trail and hangings, known as the Haymarket affair, were instrumental in establishing May 1st as a historical date of significance.

A Brief Excerpt of the History

In Chicago the anarchists were the main force in the union movement, and partially as a result of their presence, the unions translated this call [for strikes by the AFL] into strikes [in the Chicago area] on May 1st. The anarchists thought that the eight hour day could only be won through direct action and solidarity. They considered that struggles for reforms, like the eight hour day, were not enough in themselves. They viewed them as only one battle in an ongoing class war that would only end by social revolution and the creation of a free society. It was with these ideas that they organised and fought.

In Chicago alone, 400 000 workers went out and the threat of strike action ensured that more than 45 000 were granted a shorter working day without striking. On May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of pickets at the McCormick Harvester Machine Company, killing at least one striker, seriously wounding five or six others, and injuring an undetermined number. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality. According to the Mayor, "nothing had occurred yet, or looked likely to occur to require interference." However, as the meeting was breaking up a column of 180 police arrived and ordered the meeting to end. At this moment a bomb was thrown into the police ranks, who opened fire on the crowd. How many civilians were wounded or killed by the police was never exactly ascertained.

Haymarket Martyrs Monument


In the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, a monument was erected in 1893 to commemorate the seven defendants (see photo, right). The monument is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The actual site of the incident is listed as a Chicago Landmark, where, in 2004, a sculpture was erected to commemorate the victims.  

Recognition as an International Worker's Day

In 1889, the first congress of the Second International, meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests.[5] May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891.[citation needed]

Subsequently, the May Day Riots of 1894 occurred. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on "all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace." The congress made it "mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May 1, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers."

In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups.

Why Labor Day is not held on May Day in the United States
In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. After the Haymarket Square riot in May, 1886, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus he moved in 1887 to support the Labor Day that the anti-anarchist union the Knights Of Labor supported.

Right-wing governments have traditionally sought to repress the message behind International Workers' Day, with fascist governments in Portugal, Italy, Germany and Spain abolishing the workers' holiday, and the Conservative party in the UK currently [2011] attempting to abolish the UK's annual May Day Bank Holiday.

More History Below the Fold:
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In just a few days, the time allotted for commenting to the FDA to urge it suspend use of a bee-killing pesticide will expire, after which, the EPA will likely stick to its decision to delay review of the pesticide and its role in massive bee die-offs until 2018. I implore you to please read this dairy, and take a minute or two to respond to the FDA by using the easy response form provided in a link at the end of the diary.

I grew up with bees. My father and grandfather were commercial beekeepers. I wrote about my personal stake in the well-being of bees here in this DKos diary: The bees are losing, while Atlas merely shrugs. In that diary, you will find additional links to evidence and reasons bees are vital for the ecology and food production.

I'm asking for help. Please read on, and take action. I'll tell you how. Its easy.

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New York (APN)

A thought experiment submitted recently at an international philosophy symposium has rippled around the world and caused havoc in the field of philosophy at major universities and prestigious centers of learning.

If a tree fell in the woods, and a Kossack* were not there to connect the event to presidential candidate Mitt Romney (and forthwith write a blog about it), did the tree, in fact, fall?

*Kossack is a member of the political blog, Daily Kos

One eminent professor, author, and scholar remarked, under the condition of anonymity, "This question has such far reaching ramifications in philosophical circles that it has confounded the world's most revered and respected thinkers. It's overturned the last four thousand years of philosophical theory.  I'm stunned at the significance of what this implies," he intoned, stroking his long, graying beard, his eyes wide in consternation and bewilderment.  "And I've got to go in and face my students tomorrow morning, and I cannot fathom what I'm going to tell them. How will I answer their queries? And believe me, there will be countless queries."

Most other leaders in the field refused to go on record about the question, or simply hung up the phone when called by reporters seeking comment. In uncharacteristic, unbridled candor, one of them cried out, "Of all people, why did you call me, for fucks sake? Do you think I want to ruin my career? Damage my reputation as a scholar? Call somebody else!"

Meanwhile, news of the disturbing existential question provoked riots in the streets of Paris, where students left the classrooms in a boycott and overturned police vehicles in trendy nightclub districts near universities. "This is the last straw," one of them screamed at a news camera yesterday.  "Americans! They think they have all the answers, but this shows they have once again offended the very meaning of civilization!"


First, let me tell you about myself and why I have a particularly strong interest in bees, and why their welfare is personal to me. And then I'll tell a little about one of the worst of the perils that threatens bees, and what you can do about it.

Bees and beekeeping have long been a part of my family. I grew up around bees. When I was just a knee-high boy, I had already begun to help my father in his beekeeping business by performing the technical skill of grafting tiny bee larvae from natural bee comb to man-made queen cell cups, as part of the process of raising new queens for commercial use by my father's beekeeper clients in the United States.  This first task was my introduction to beekeeping.

My father learned beekeeping as a youth, growing up on a Wyoming farm during the depression years, taking care of his father's 100 bee colonies. My father went on to become Wyoming's State Bee Inspector, a job which mostly entails inspecting apiaries (groups of bee hives in a single location) to identify and contain diseases. He also had his own commercial operation with several thousand bee colonies spread out over several states, including Wyoming, Nebraska, and California.

In later years, due to heart disease, he had to convert his business to a lighter form of work, which led him to move to Puerto Rico, where he founded a queen-raising business and where he produced royal jelly, a product of the hive used by bees to feed larvae.  When the substance is fed to ordinary worker bee larvae, the larvae matures into a queen, instead, hence the origin of the term.  I was three years old when we moved to the island.

And I, in turn, learned beekeeping from my father, which makes me the third generation of my family to become immersed in apiculture.

Bees shaped my life, and formed a part of my world view. As a boy, I accompanied my father, beginning at age four, to the apiaries located in the mountainous region of Puerto Rico. Bees were an integral part of my life, and signs of their presence were everywhere, with bees crawling on the windows of my father's workshops, frequent visits to my father's  various apiaries, and on the breakfast table in the form of honey for our cereal. We would head up to the mountains in my father's old pickup or his jeep, driving on dirt country roads, passing by ox-carts, old farm houses, in the back country that is now largely non-existent today. On the way back, we would stop at a private home and have a traditional Puerto Rican soup, served by a motherly Puerto Rican lady who smiled warmly at my older brother and I. This was our life.

Bees were a factor woven into the fabric of my everyday world. I grew up conceiving of bees as a source of food, of economic sustenance, as precious friends of the family. My father's respect for them rubbed off on me, and later in life, I acquired 300 colonies of my own.  The experience of beekeeping in the mountains of Puerto Rico as a child where I watched my father tend the bees, seeing the interrelationship between the tropical mountain flora, the bees, and humankind, helped form my intense respect and love for not only bees, but also for the lush green environment of the natural world.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the continued existence of bees matters to me. I cannot imagine the absence of the wondrous and productive insect that has comprised a major part of my own existence. The loss would be staggering. And yet now the existence of bees is threatened.

But never mind that. Never mind why this crisis concerning bees is personal to me. Why should my personal anecdotes matter to you?

Few people will have experienced this direct, close relationship with bees. However, bees and their survival directly affect all of us for other reasons which are of far more critical importance.

These remarkable little insects should matter to you, as well. They should matter to us all.  This isn't a matter of personal fondness for an insect due to nostalgia, but rather a matter of global environmental survival.

Okay, by now most of us have become familiar with the huge bounty of diverse crops of foods that exist only because of insect pollination, which we all love to eat, and which have enormous nutritional value and are thus of vast importance to preserve as a highly necessary and valued part of the human diet.  I don't see the need to repeat that here. And most of us have likely read about how honeybee pollination services alone account for some 15 billion dollars in our economy, not to mention how much we all benefit from the increased yields to farmers from pollination by bees.

Well, what the hell. I'll repeat it again just to remind you:

"Global Report On Bee Decline-Tip of the Iceberg"

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) released a report this week focused on the recent global phenomenon of honey bee deaths, indicating that colony disorders put pressure on an already taxed food system, and urging a shift towards more ecological farming.
Pollination is the key ecosystem service. In the U.S. alone, honey bee pollination services are estimated at $15 billion per year, and the crop acreage requiring these services stands at an all-time high – even as bee populations are declining here more precipitously than in most of the rest of the world. Each year since 2006, U.S. honey bee losses have ranged between 29% and 36%.
We often say that bees are responsible for a third of everything we eat. Achim Steiner, head of UNEP, cites an even more sobering statistic: "Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees."
Here's the link to the original UN report:


This is all true and worth mentioning. But another aspect which is alarming to ecologists about the decline in honeybees is the status of bees as a keystone indicator species.

Some species are known to have a disproportionately large role in determining the overall community structure within an ecosystem. These species are called keystone species. Removal, addition, or changes in local populations of keystone species can have significant impacts on the functioning of ecosystem processes, predatory relationships, and overall long-term stability.
If the bees disappear, the gaping hole they will leave in ecosystems could result in catastrophic consequences. In other words, as has by now so often been repeated, bees may be the equivalent of the canary in the coal mine. If bees can't be sustained in our global environment, it doesn't bode well for the environment as a whole.

This being the case, wouldn't it seem wise and prudent, then, that our government leaders, especially those charged with actually protecting the environment, come to high alert and do all that is possible to address this problem? Shouldn't they be the very first to be sounding the alarm? Isn't that the proper, sane and expected role of a functioning government?

After all, if we want good food to eat, if we want the economy to remain strong, and we care about agriculture and view it as an important industry that insures our survival as a species; if we care about the environment and global ecosystems, and if we care about mass extinction and the biodiversity crisis...

Seven out of ten biologists believe that we are in the midst of a mass extinction of living things, and that this dramatic loss of species poses a major threat to human existence in the next century.
{... }
Scientists rate biodiversity loss as a more serious environmental problem than the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, or pollution and contamination.
Yes, if we care about all of these issues, then we should care about bees.   


And we would fully expect that good people in office would take action to avert this alarming crisis that is occurring with our little friends, the bees, considering all that they do for us, and all that we have unfortunately done to them.


But there is a problem. Our government is not taking action, but is actually aiding and abetting the perpetrators.

Bees are, of course, under assault. Not only are bees being attacked in unprecedented degrees by disease, parasites, and various stressors that are putting their survival in grave jeopardy, of which any one of these major factors, even as a single cause, kills bees, but one of the the worst of these threats, the insidious, deleterious pesticides which are poisoning the bees, and have been linked by numerous controlled studies to be a major factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, among other affects, is being waged by a pesticide-peddling corporation with the help of the very government body that is supposed to be protecting the bees: The Environmental Protection Agency. (EPA).

A leaked memo within the agency reveals that the EPA's own scientists warned of the toxicity of the neonicotinoids to honeybees. (Note: Clothianidin is a form of neonicotinoid marketed by Bayer).

This compound is toxic to honey bees. The persistence of residues and potential residual toxicity of Clothianidin in nectar and pollen suggests the possibility of chronic toxic risk to honey bee larvae and the eventual instability of the hive.
And yet the EPA went forward with permitting the use of the pesticides, despite the warnings.


In the face of the evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are a contributing factor in the ongoing, huge economic and environmental losses stemming from mass bee die-offs and compromised pollinator health, EPA should have adopted a more protective, more rigorous stance toward the data necessary for registration. Instead, EPA loosened its oversight, allowing farmers to inundate fields with toxic chemicals before EPA has confirmed their safety. In particular, the agency continues to maintain the registration status for clothianidin despite the fact that the registrant, Bayer AG, has failed to conduct a required study satisfying EPA's standards after having more than nine years to gather the needed data. EPA has definitively stated that Bayer's belated attempt to conduct a field study of clothianidin's effects on pollinators did not satisfy the condition on registration.

Yet, the agency has never identified any alternative study that supports a finding that clothianidin does not have any unreasonable adverse effects on the environment €”including pollinators. Such a finding was, and remains, a prerequisite to conditional registration. Continuing to allow clothianidin to be marketed, sold and used when not one study meets EPA's condition for its registration is, as a matter of law, arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the mandates of FIFRA and the APA.

The environmental blog, the Grist, put it this way:
The EPA asked Bayer — the manufacturer of clothianidin — to conduct a study looking at its effects on bees and other pollinators back in 2003, but allowed Bayer to sell the pesticide under “conditional registration” in the meantime. Bayer didn’t produce a field study until 2007, and in spring 2010, clothianidin was quietly granted full registration. But later that year a leaked document revealed that EPA scientists had found Bayer’s study inadequate. “By that time, the pesticide was all over the country,” said Peter Jenkins, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety, the lead legal group on the petition. “We felt that what EPA did was illegal.”
Other countries have not been so cavalier. Germany, the home country of Bayer, the maker of the pesticides, has gone against Bayer and has banned the chemicals. And Italy and France, as well, have banned them. And there are others who have joined in the ban.

The corporate profiteering of pesticide makers and their government enablers who are complicit are waging this chemical warfare. One could consider the bees to be "collateral damage" in the onward thrust for turning a profit. They just don't give a fuck if it stands in the way of increasing their wealth and insuring their continued longevity as members of the corrupt ruling class, which has come to be known in recent times as the 1%, that tiny fraction of society which has managed to bend the world's most powerful nation to serve its insatiable, rapacious interests, to put it short and sweet and to the point.

What I can't understand is why people put up with this bullshit. One reason might be because industry scientists step into the fray, diverting attention from the pesticides to other pathogens and confusing the public with an admittedly complex subject. You see, there are, indeed, a complex array of causes which combine together to kill bees. But lets not forget that our agency's own scientists were on the side of the bees in the leaked memo. And that memo? We can thank, yet again, Wikileaks for that.

Without doubt, that leak was a source of real pain and embarrassment to not only the EPA enablers, but also to at least a few of these sociopathic captains of industry, staring down from their lofty perches in penthouses at the rest of us mere mortals, scurrying around on planet earth worrying about insignificant pests. After all, it's survival of the fittest, and the bees are losing, and never mind the fact that we'll be pulled over the brink along with them. Somewhere, Ayn Rand is smiling, and Atlas is shrugging. Her boys are making her proud.

A couple of years ago, after a long hiatus, I returned to beekeeping, and now have 35 colonies. And the chief difference I see in the world of apiculture, between now and years ago, is the difficulty in keeping the bees alive and well, capable of producing a good honey crop.

When I was a kid, you could throw a swarm of bees in a hive, put that hive in corner of your yard, leave it alone and it would usually thrive for years without any aid or intervention from its human keepers. Now, bees require constant attention to deal with all manner of parasites and infections, but there is one factor that stands out as entirely preventable; something that has been proven to harm bees, contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder, weaken their immune systems, cause queen loss, and which has been linked to bees becoming prey to several other deleterious pathogens. That factor is the use of neonicotinoids by farmers on crops.

Many studies have accumulated which are elucidated here, here, and here to make the case against these toxic substances.

This pesticide must be banned. Now. Please go to the link provided in the following excerpt and sign the petition to the FDA now! Sign the petition to the EPA before it's too late.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) along with CREDO other environmental and concerned groups, have filed a petition with the EPA to get these harmful pesticides removed from use. A decision by the EPA is imminent in the next two weeks, and they need to hear from us, the citizens, of our demand that action be taken to save the bees. The window of opportunity is now, and reportedly won't come again for review until 2018.

Please go the link, read the statement, inform yourselves, and then PLEASE sign the petition to the EPA asking it to act now to remove this pesticide from use by farmers.

Save the bees!

In March, PAN joined partners and beekeepers from around the country in filing a legal petition with EPA, calling on the agency to make use of its emergency powers to protect bees from Bayer's pesticide clothianidin. Sources tell us that in the next two weeks, EPA will decide whether or not bees dying off at unprecedented rates constitutes an "imminent hazard".

Since the wholesale decline of bees and other pollinators is most certainly an imminent hazard requiring emergency intervention, we want to be sure that EPA knows what's at stake and knows we are watching.

Tell EPA to take immediate action to protect bees from a pesticide that clearly poses an imminent threat.

Sign the petition here

You can also sign the petition at CREDO's web page here:
Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that's killing bees!

In the next week, the EPA is expected to issue a decision on the pesticide Clothianidin -- which scientists believe is a major factor in the alarming decline in U.S honey bee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Since 2006, one third of U.S honey bee populations have been dying off. One third. Every year. That's a terrible rate of species destruction on its own, but it's also a serious threat to our food supply. Honey bees play a crucial role by pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops, which account for 90% of the world's food supply.1

More than 125,000 CREDO Activists joined the Pesticide Action Network and other groups this March in urging the EPA to suspend its approval of Clothianidin.

The EPA will be issuing a decision soon. If the agency doesn't act, it won't review Clothianidin again until 2018 -- and by then it could be too late for the bees.

Tell the EPA: Bee die-offs are an emergency. Ban the pesticide that's killing bees. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

While the causes of Colony Collapse disorder are complex, studies are increasingly pointing to the role played by pesticides like Clothianidin.

Produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience, it is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants' pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are some of honey bees' favorite sources of food.

Shockingly, Clothianidin was approved without any independent study verifying its safety. The Pesticide was conditionally approved for use on corn -- the largest crop in the U.S. - in 2003, and then fully approved by the EPA in 2010, on the basis of only one test conducted by Bayer, which EPA scientists later said was unsound and not sufficient to be the basis of an unconditional approval of the pesticide.2

Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that's killing bees. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Clothianidin has already been banned in France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany -- the home of Bayer -- but it continues to be applied to over 100 million acres here in the U.S., at the peril of bees and our ability to produce foods like apples, blueberries, almonds, pumpkins and dozens of other vital crops.

For the EPA to take action and suspend the use of Clothianidin it must declare bee die-offs to be an "imminent hazard." With massive continuing die-offs of the species that is a cornerstone of our crop production, it's clear that is the case.

Tell the EPA to protect honey bees and our food, not pesticide makers. It's time to ban Clothianidin and save the bees.


Slinkerwink is banned. She made comment in a pie fight. I won't use this diary to judge the merits of the decision, only to give tribute to her contributions here over the years.

There goes one of the best voices for health care this site has ever known.

And one of the best female voices, one of the best young voices.

And one of the most courageous voices.

One which drew a lot of irrational fire.

One which garnered praise and scorn.

One which, because of her dissent, found enemies who wanted her gone.

She wasn't always right.

She wasn't always polite.

But in my view, she was usually sane, polite, and usually she was right.

I will miss her.

Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime.   -Jacob Bronowski
No pie fights here in this diary.Keep out criticism.

Don't criticize Kos, don't criticize anyone.

Just show some love.

Say something nice about Slinkerwink, or don't say anything at all.

I haven't been part of the pie fights for a while, and I don't want to start one here.

But it is appropriate to say goodbye to one of our talented young writers, who spoke for health care and the deaf; a hard worker who helped shape Daily Kos over the years.

If you loved Slink, say something you liked about her. If you disliked her, please have the grace to stay out, or to say something kind.


The consumer activist group, Adbusters, the people who brought you OWS (well, they sparked it off) has brought this video to their reader's attention about a culture jam which is spreading across Europe to fight back against the austerity measures. For an inspiring head rush, watch this uplifting video of people making a powerful statement about the economic hardship and the austerity measures forced upon so many by the European Union, the IMF and the banksters-that-be.

Update: More information on the I Don't Pay movement in Europe can be found here, here, on this facebook page (Spanish language), and on this facebook page (Greek language).

Watch the video:


Instead of begging their governments for non-existent mercy, activists in major centres across Europe are taking their public services into their own hands. They are engaging in creative resistance, one that initiates instead of making demands. Transit, healthcare, utilities, you name it, nothing is out of reach. Watch and be inspired by this growing culture jam. See people living what Franco Berardi Bifo calls our new cultural task:

“To live the inevitable with a relaxed soul. To call forth a big wave of withdrawal, of massive dissociation, of desertion from the scene of the economy, of non-participation in the fake show of politics. The crucial focus of social transformation is creative singularity. The existence of singularities is not to be conceived as a personal way to salvation, they may become a contagious force.”

Adbusters describes itself:
We are a global network of culture jammers and creatives working to change the way information flows, the way corporations wield power, and the way meaning is produced in our society.
More on culture jamming tactics:
Culture jamming, coined in 1984, denotes a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising.
Culture jamming is a form of disruption that plays on the emotions of viewers and bystanders. Jammers want to disrupt the unconscious thought process that takes place when most consumers view a popular advertising and bring about a détournement. Activists that utilize this tactic are counting on their meme to pull on the emotional strings of people and evoke some type of reaction. The reactions that most cultural jammers are hoping to evoke are behavioral change and political action. There are four emotions that activists often want viewers to feel. These emotions – shock, shame, fear, and anger, are believed to be the catalysts for social change.
Here's a guy who goes through the turnstile free, ignoring the guy in the toll booth.


Wild ride in Portland Saturday night (12/4/2011). I went to an Occupy Portland march at 3 PM, which began at Salmon Springs fountain on the Waterfront, and which wound through the town, eventually ending up in Shemansky Park. The intention was to occupy the park for a limited duration of only two weeks. Other activities were held after the march, such as a town hall for Occupy Portland at a Unitarian church. After the town hall meeting, there was a General Assembly at the Park. Tents were up, people were occupying, coffee was being served.

But then the police came at 8:30 PM, decked out in full riot gear, and after a half-hour staring match, they violently pushed us out. The police announced an absurdly trumped up "emergency park closure," and that they were "closing the park early." The crowd began to shout that free speech was being oppressed, that they had the right to peacefully assemble, and there were cries of "shame, shame," and "who do you serve?"

[more below]

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At the time of this writing, there is a diary up on Daily Kos which purports to use the consensus model to make a statement about what agenda Occupy Wall Street should adopt.

In a way, You right now are a part of Occupy if you want to be.  You are are effectively a part of Occupy Daily Kos.

We're here and we plan to stay.  Nobodies making us leave.  Well, noboby except maybe Markos. That's up to him.

Ok, now that we're here - what are we going to do,eh?

Well, how about we try and tackle some of those "Solutions" our brother and sister Occupy's are having so many problems with?

While this is a laudable intent, and having spent considerable time at Occupy Portland from its inception, I am deeply appreciative of anyone who wants to support OWS, it is unfortunately seriously flawed before it even begins.

Here is why:

(continued below)

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I have no photos, no titillating videos, no baiting for pie fights, no sensational stories to share, no posturing for mojo, no arguments to make. I just have a call for help. I hope that is enough.

I am heading back down to downtown Portland for the march at 3 PM, and thus lack time to edit and present these facts in great detail, but I'd promised the homeless occupiers to post this, and so here it is:

Last night from 10:00 PM to Midnight, a candlelight vigil was held in front of Portland City Hall to commemorate the eviction of Occupy Portland from the parks, in which riot police raided the park, and forcibly and violently drove the occupiers out into the streets. Some of these occupiers became homeless, and have been increasingly harassed by police.

Since the eviction, the police have been pursuing the homeless occupiers, preventing them from getting sleep. The homeless people are desperately in need socks and jackets, and other items that were lost. Read below for details.

As the organizer of the event put it, paraphrasing,

The people who lived in the park were in the rain and cold for weeks. We are standing out here in the cold for two hours, to feel just a fraction of the exposure to weather they have endured, and continue to endure, for our movement. Exactly one week ago today the park was evicted. We will have a moment of silence at midnight to honor our brothers and sisters who now are homeless, and harassed by police.

Ironically, the towering regional headquarters of Wells Fargo is situated next to city hall where the vigil was held, making the building look tiny by comparison. The late night fog and mist swirled around the upper stories of the immense skyscraper, looking surreal and ominous, drawing the attention and commentary of the crowd. The bank clearly serves as a symbol of Wall Street to the people gathered last night.

And if you can, come to the Portland March today at 3:00 PM. Support us with your presence. More below:

Continue Reading

In this narrative, I'll describe some things I witnessed at an Occupy event that didn't make the news. Yes, there has been violence, police brutality, injustice and intolerance, but there are some poignant images that never end up on camera.  I will do my best to relate some of them to you with my narrative which follows. There is so much more to the events than the police brutality. They're a distraction.

The real story is the courage, the character, the determination of the occupiers, and their motives for protesting. Real people experiencing serious economic hardship are all part of this, and they each have a story to tell.

I hope my story provides some insight to those of you who can't physically be part of the protest. Please think of this as a portrait of a movement, or at least one perspective.

And what I describe below will be repeated again tonight in Portland on a larger scale. Portlanders, join us tonight in solidarity. You don't need to get arrested. Just stay on the sidewalks away from the park if you don't want to sit-in.

More below...

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