Archive for October, 2016

Follow Ups

October 29, 2016

This past week found numerous news items easily subsumed by those dealing with the run up to the election. Among these were two dealing with matters Analysis has covered recently. 10-26-16 Financial Times headlines “Renewables overtake coal as world’s largest source of power capacity Though coal still generates more electricity, wind and solar installations hit record”. Notable is: “Two wind turbines went up every hour in countries such as China, according to International Energy Agency officials who have sharply upgraded their forecasts of how fast renewable energy sources will keep growing. “We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the global energy advisory agency. Part of the growth was caused by falls in the cost of solar and onshore wind power that Mr Birol said would have been “unthinkable” only five years ago.” “Average global generation costs for new onshore wind farms fell by an estimated 30 per cent between 2010 and 2015 while those for big solar panel plants fell by an even steeper two-thirds, an IEA report published on Tuesday showed. The Paris-based agency thinks costs are likely to fall even further over the next five years, by 15 per cent on average for wind and by a quarter for solar power.” A power plant’s capacity is the maximum amount of electricity it can potentially produce. The amount of energy a plant actually generates varies according to how long it produces power over a period of time. Because a wind or solar farm cannot generate constantly like a coal power plant, it will produce less energy over the course of a year even though it may have the same or higher level of capacity. Coal power plants supplied close to 39 per cent of the world’s power in 2015, while renewables, including older hydropower dams, accounted for 23 per cent, IEA data show. But the agency expects renewables’ share of power generation to rise to 28 per cent by 2021, when it predicts they will supply the equivalent of all the electricity generated today in the US and EU combined. It has revised its five-year forecasts to show renewables’ capacity will grow 13 per cent more than its estimate made just last year, mostly because of stronger policy backing in the US, China, India and Mexico. Here in Ohio, AEP has successfully pressured the legislature to call a “time out” on a previously legislated percent requirement for energy generated from renewables. AEP has unsuccessfully obtained a consumer paid subsidy for its unneeded coal fired power plants (to be kept in service as “back ups”). Failing that, they are now in the process of try to divest ownership of these power plants (selling them). Analysis finds Tim Bubb’s embrace of this corporation for its “investment” in the County subsidized Pastakala Corporate Park to be short sighted and uninformed. In an Analysis post entitled “On An Aspirin Regimen” (9-16-16) another, this time global corporate activity, was considered. Residual amounts of glyphosate are found in much of the basic food people have available to eat – even “organic” mountain honey. Studies of this resulted from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finding glyphosate (the major toxic component of Monsanto’s Round Up) to be a likely carcinogenic. Now in true Donnie Trump style we have this Reuters exclusive “WHO cancer agency asked experts to withhold weedkiller documents” by Kate Kelland (10-25-16). In the mode of suing the sources of criticism, and historically in the foot prints of the tobacco industry’s suppression/intimidation of research on the effects of nicotine (as well as energy industries’ like behavior in regard to global warming), “The World Health Organization’s cancer agency – which is facing criticism over how it classifies carcinogens – advised academic experts on one of its review panels not to disclose documents they were asked to release under United States freedom of information laws. In a letter and an email seen by Reuters, officials from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cautioned scientists who worked on a review in 2015 of the weedkiller glyphosate against releasing requested material. The review, published in March 2015, concluded glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” putting IARC at odds with regulators around the world. Critics say they want the documents to find out more about how IARC reached its conclusion.” “Its critics, including in industry, say the way IARC evaluates whether substances might be carcinogenic can cause unnecessary health scares. IARC assesses the risk of a substance being carcinogenic without taking account of typical human exposure to it. Glyphosate is a key ingredient of the herbicide Roundup, sold by Monsanto. According to data published by IARC, glyphosate was registered in over 130 countries as of 2010 and is one of the most heavily used weedkillers in the world. Pressure has been growing on the experts who worked on IARC’s glyphosate review in part because other regulators, including in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, say the weedkiller is unlikely to pose a cancer risk to humans.” The article primarily turns on the ownership of the research and the legality of its disclosure. IARC researchers work in various institutions and facilities worldwide, some of them government affiliated (like universities). Global corporate interests are also world wide and utilize individual national laws to force disclosure of findings while sanctioning their own research results as “private”, trade secrets. “Monsanto’s vice president of strategy, Scott Partridge, told Reuters he considered IARC’s actions “ridiculous.” “The public deserves a process that is guided by sound science, not IARC’s secret agendas,” he said. Responding to Reuters’ questions about the letter and email, IARC said it had been previously informed by experts on the panel who “had been approached by interested parties, including lawyers representing Monsanto . . . and asked to release private emails as well as draft scientific documents.”” Despite the quaint attraction of Newark’s Canal Street Market, Analysis finds this news to be further indication of corporate efforts to legally obfuscate what is in food and where it comes from. Analysis finds it hard to imagine vendors like the Byrd Farm informing their buyers that “Oh, by the way, what you just bought includes a healthy dose of glyphosate.” Glyphosate free? Not.

What The Hell Have You Got To Lose?

October 26, 2016

This election year in the US stands out with its, er, “unique” interpretation of democracy (As Harry Shearer says “We know how to run an election.”). Much has been said and written about the lack of empathy for the conservative GOP on the outcome of the primaries with its presidential candidate (“They got what they deserve.”). Much of that centers around non issue, non existent, non substantive quotes, talking points and headlines proffered by the self same candidate (“Well, it just may be… I don’t know”). Whether it be the overt saber rattling as an outcome of the party’s continuous active resistance to policies not embracing war, the disparagement of people of color, immigrants, “others” etc. after the party’s championing (pre-Scalia’s passing) conservative SCOTUS rulings in favor of dismantling affirmative action, voting rights, pay equity, etc. The latest is the conservative GOP’s squirming and disavowal when it comes to their presidential candidate’s claims of vote fraud; this after years of voter ID legislation, gerrymandering and disenfranchisement efforts – all based on the drum beat of (statistically negligible) “voter fraud!” The raison d’etre of this very blog is to draw the link, to follow the thread between what is large and “out there” (as news, policy, etc.) and what is local, next door, just around the block. Just as global warming is produced by individual (AEP) power plants, cars, trees being cut down (for Amazonian soy bean production), etc. so what the GOP candidate is about that has his party in a tizzy can be found with that same party and electoral process here in Licking County. In terms of leadership, the county commissioner race tops the ticket. The GOP incumbent boasts continuous leadership with the convenient alibi of being part of a troika for anything not. The county is flush with cash, businesses like Amazon are moving in with Jobs! and the courthouse renovations will include built-in Christmas lighting (that will last another 50 years!!!). Unexposed, lest their spirits haunt an otherwise fraud free election, is the lack of affordable housing implicating continuous evictions (for a county with a lower unemployment rate than the state, like working in Manhattan but can’t afford to live there), lack of fixed schedule public transportation to get to all these jobs (which fuels the evictions), lack of funding resulting in the county’s Jobs and Family Services having to “make do” with less and less (to temporarily rescue the folks affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), lack of affordable child care (for the working parent affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), as well as public health services. Most major metropolitan counties (in the US) include these matters within their county public services and provide for them – if not regionally, then locally. But shucks, we’re just a struggling rural county (there’s that city versus rural thread that dominates national analysis of the GOP presidential candidate’s popularity). What does the incumbent commissioner have to crow about? His vast real estate and business expertise, of course. As a sitting Grow Licking County board member (talk about rural! Nothing more rural than “Grow”) he knows a good buy when he sees one. And he has seen more than one. Like his party’s presidential candidate he has spent heavily on building, land, development and gambling interests. The $10 mil “gamble” spent on making private property in Pataskala “Jobs Ready” has been a shrinking violet wall flower as the dance of commerce swirls around it (not to mention the Port Authority futures’ “gamble” on the Diocesan PIME property). The commissioner’s heralding that finally a sizeable bean field of the Pataskala Corporate Park will sell to become an AEP storage facility obfuscates no real estate tax earnings for 15 years. Given the history of photography (from film to digital to smart phone and tablet), computers (from IBM main frame to PC to Dick Tracy, er, Suri wrist watch.) and telecommunications (from line phone to mobile phone to cell phones that operate globally) it is a big “if” whether AEP will be around much after that (remember IBM?). So another “For Sale or Lease. Will build to suit” sign will go up after the abatement runs out. Another savant commissioner coup is the millions spent to find a home for the homeless. No, not those homeless, but the courthouse records which got evicted from their attic roost in the, well, courthouse. They’re certainly not finding a home in the cloud (where the future would indicate they belong), rather two homes (emulating Donald’s know how that tax deductions allow for a second home. Can you say Mar-a-Lago?). Along with his party’s presidential candidate’s penchant for “private” (no, not locker room) wheeling and dealing, the incumbent LC commissioner hosted several “secret” meetings and conversations (in violation of legislation requiring openness and transparency) with the corporations that eventually landed the courthouse work without a contract (nice work if you can get it. The cost elevator clause is to die for!). Which leaves us with the one statement by the commissioner’s party presidential candidate that has had all the professional political pundits, analysts and talking heads miffed – “What the hell have you got to lose?”

Licking County Prosecutor Race

October 11, 2016

In a previous posting (Unbearable 9-2-16) Analysis covered the FED UP rally in Newark on 8-31-16. At that event the recent desired change in disposition of the municipal police department was promulgated. Newark police would attempt to consider drug addiction as a disease if the afflicted turned themselves in at headquarters and requested help to overcome their problem. Otherwise, out on the streets, it would still be handled as a criminal offense. This was heralded as a good first step. At the Newark Think Tank prosecutor race candidate forum (10-8-16) the matter again came up as a topic of difference between Bill Hayes and Chris Shook. Mr. Hayes is not keen on the Newark PD program in that, as prosecutor, he stresses following the letter of the law. He would like to see any drug protocol changes across the board so that one municipality is not arresting a suspect that another municipality would be referring for treatment. Chris Shook would like to see a distinction made within the judicial proceedings for offenders where the court recognizes this as a disease (and mediates treatment), and cases where the treatment option would not be appropriate and possession remains criminal. Mr. Hayes is the current legislative representative for southeastern Licking County in the Ohio House (and has been) while Mr. Shook is active with the court in Franklin County (where there is a drug court for those vetted as better off in rehab than jail). As mentioned in Unbearable, at the rally the Ohio legislature was lambasted for caving to the lobbying of the pharmaceutical industry in failing to mandate prescription opioid pills be only available in a form that cannot be reconstituted for injection or inhalation, but can only be ingested as prescribed. “Too expensive” was the industry position. Mr. Hayes’ background making law, as opposed to “following” it, was not questioned at the forum, nor was his legislative record considered in light of his candidacy. Governor (and former presidential wannabe) John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine have championed the elimination of pill mills (one stop prescription and dispensaries) in southern Ohio. Unfortunately the trail goes cold there with the business friendly governor and representative Hayes not wanting to ask who profits from all this. Analysis indicated that opioid addiction was “good for the bottom line” of the private prison industry (Unbearable). It is also good for the bottom line of the industry manufacturing and distributing the prescription pills. On the same day of the forum (10-8-16) Eric Eyre , Staff Writer for the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on the ongoing prosecutorial action of the West Virginia attorney general with Cardinal Health of Dublin Ohio (a major source of “Jobs!” in the central Ohio region for those of you keeping score at home). From the article headlined “Drug firm shipped 241M pain pills to WV over five years, suit alleges”: “Oxycodone (sold commercially as OxyContin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin and Lortab) are the most widely abused prescription painkillers, and contribute to more overdose deaths in West Virginia than any other drug. West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation, and the number of deaths climbed last year.” “Former West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed suit against Cardinal Health in 2012, alleging the company helped fuel the state’s prescription drug problem by shipping massive quantities of pain pills to rogue pharmacies. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who lobbied for two drug trade groups that represented Cardinal Health before he ousted McGraw, inherited the lawsuit when he took office in 2013. He later stepped aside from the case after the Gazette-Mail reported on his ties to the drug wholesaler. His wife, Denise Henry, is a lobbyist for Cardinal Health in Washington, D.C.” (“Cardinal Health has paid Morrisey’s wife’s lobbying firm, Capitol Counsel, $1.4 million since Morrisey became attorney general, according to lobbying disclosure reports. His wife has lobbied for Cardinal Health on Capitol Hill since 1999. Cardinal Health also contributed $2,500 to Morrisey’s inauguration party in 2013.”). Back on track again, the public disclosures (something representative Hayes eschews and attorney Shook favors) show clearly that the opioid addiction epidemic is certainly good for the bottom line of more than just the private prison industry. Some items to note from the Gazette-Mail article : “Between 2007 and 2012, Cardinal Health shipped 85.5 million oxycodone pills and 155.6 million hydrocodone pills to West Virginia. That’s 154 doses of hydrocodone for every man, woman and child in the state over five years, and 85 oxycodone pills for every person.” “Over five years, Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal shipped 8.8 million hydrocodone tablets and 1.8 million oxycodone pills to Logan County. Pharmacies in McDowell County, one of the poorest counties in the nation, received 3 million hydrocodone pills and 1.5 million oxycodone pills. “Cardinal distributed much of the fuel for the prescription drug problem in this state,” the lawsuit alleges.” Like with Wells Fargo’s recent massive credit service sales initiative (deemed marginally as well as outright fraudulent), there are similar reports of pharmaceutical industry giants employing like tactics in boosting sales. And the numbers show it. An American Journal of Public Health report from Feb. 2009 (The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy, Art Van Zee, MD author) gives: “When Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in 1996, it was aggressively marketed and highly promoted. Sales grew from $48 million in 1996 to almost $1.1 billion in 2000.” “OxyContin’s commercial success did not depend on the merits of the drug compared with other available opioid preparations. The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics concluded in 2001 that oxycodone offered no advantage over appropriate doses of other potent opioids.” “Purdue pursued an “aggressive” campaign to promote the use of opioids in general and OxyContin in particular. In 2001 alone, the company spent $200 million in an array of approaches to market and promote OxyContin.” Cardinal health is only one of a dozen prescription drug wholesalers operating in West Virginia. More recent statistics on sales and aggressive marketing strategy are available. Analysis indicates that separating making the law from enforcing it is not the same as being on this or that side of a curtain, as Bill Hayes would like voters to believe. Promoting a business friendly agenda (as Governor Kasich would put it) while solving a devastating social epidemic that implicates business, requires prosecuting all involved with the crime. ““This is not like you sold a broken toaster,” [WV Delegate Don] Perdue said. “You’re selling stuff that can break people. Drug wholesalers have not ever taken responsibility for this, but they’re part of the [drug] supply chain, and as part of that chain, they should be cognizant of that responsibility.” (Gazette-Mail)

Dead Vote Casting

October 10, 2016

In a recent book review (Art beyond Itself: Anthropology for a Society without a Story Line by Nestor Garcia Canclini) Robin Adele Greeley writes “Yet it is precisely in contemporary art’s ability to capture this state of incoherence that Garcia Canclini situates its capacity to address our present condition.” Analysis finds this to be most applicable to the present condition of political discord today. To say “discourse” rather than “discord” would imply some form of coherence. After the weekend distortions of Wiki leaks, x rated audio releases and an ostensible “town hall” debate, contemporary art must find itself with a treasure trove of work. Indeed, to wish or long for a story line, one that America could look for to return to its past “glory days,” would be to desire a monolithic, totalitarian mindset; one that didn’t have to take diversity into account or deal with its consequences. Coherence would entail an all encompassing mindset immune to the plethora of difference found not only materially in people, wealth distribution and quality of lives, but also the even greater galaxy of information, data, facts, and descriptions given the “huge” array of media sources. Analysis believes any artwork would look and sound a lot like Sunday evening’s “town hall” debate where people were asking questions that weren’t being answered, giving answers to questions they weren’t being asked, ignoring the moderators, or not wishing to deal with any format at all. What may have appeared as discord and incoherence to contemporary aesthetic sensibility was actually a variety of individual all encompassing mindsets immune to diversity, unable to include what is not within their own single monolithic voice (no surprise anarchy never gets any good press!). Analysis finds it isn’t any wonder given the enormous amount of continuous imagery, descriptions, information, advertising, narratives, etc. coming from an equally dizzying array of sources. If I don’t stick to the script, bring attention to myself, then my brand identity will be lost. Analysis finds that maintaining brand identity requires continuous 24-7-365 attention. The jumble of incoherence known as contemporary politics creates an almost deafening Motown Wall of Sound, akin to white noise – present everywhere, eventually accepted as natural background, an unnatural form of silence. Closer to home, there is an almost deafening roar of silence regarding the upcoming Newark increase in income tax appearing on the ballot. The strategy, as presented by Newark Advocate reporting months ago, is for a campaign specifically targeting business and social organizations. At some point this campaign will need to come out of the closet and address those who actually vote, the residents of Newark. Though more convenient to address businesses entities and corporations, Citizens United still maintains that elections are determined by flesh and blood “persons” casting ballots (in person!). Analysis finds the dearth of campaigning for a “yes vote” within 30 days of voting, be it lawn signs, billboards, media ads, etc., to suggest that maybe those in city government not up for reelection may have already plotted a future course for the city. Business loathes the uncertainty of incoherence. The monolithic mindset is so much more convenient! Newark’s income tax increase has been relegated DOA, resulting in a kind of dead vote casting.

Extraordinary Measures

October 4, 2016

The 10-1-16 Newark Advocate ran a Gannett article entitled “Ohio cities target vacant houses, crime havens” by Adrian Burns. As if the association of vacant homes and crime insinuated by the headline weren’t enough, the first line of the article reads: “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” Followed immediately by “These are the sorts of things that go on inside vacant and abandoned homes – and Ohio’s cities are home to an estimated 100,000 of them.” Analysis isn’t much interested in the “640 such vacant or abandoned homes in Newark” that the census found in 2010. Rather, Analysis would like to consider how the entire article would read if instead of “vacant homes” being associated by correlation with “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” it was guns being associated by correlation with “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” One could just as glibly say “Houses don’t kill people. People kill people” as “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” After all, guns and homes share one very important aspect in common – they both are considered private property in the eyes of the law, and can be addressed as such legally. The various municipalities, land banks and conservancies described in the article bend over backwards in their legal maneuvering to employ the extraordinary measures of ridding the community of this crime associated private property. How many guns sit unused in closets, drawers, basements, etc. (originally obtained for sport purposes, self defense, etc. but over time neglected due to lack of interest)? Could municipalities, county governments and the state do more, let alone take extraordinary measures to rid the community of this crime associated property? Why haven’t they? The reluctance on the part of elected officials to do anything, let alone take extraordinary measures to deal with such private property, lies primarily with the exception made for this property as a right within the US Constitution. Something NOT given as a right within the US Constitution would be what Analysis has often referred to as “the right to look”. Though not given as a right, the “looking” aspect (through various audio/video recording devices) has created a correlation association of guns with “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” Not only that, but with those held in the public trust to protect and keep that very public from “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” Al Jazeera reports “NY man who filmed Eric Garner’s death heading to jail. Ramsey Orta took plea deal on unrelated charges but says police harassed him after filming officers killing his friend.” (Anealla Safdar, 10-2-16). “Garner, a father of six, was selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island, New York, when officers tackled him. His case was ruled as a homicide, meaning that his death was caused by human beings, but [NYPD officer Daniel] Pantaleo was not indicted.” A grand jury decided not to indict the police officers involved (including Pantaleo). “After filming Garner’s death, they [Orta’s lawyers] claim, he was increasingly harassed and targeted by police and was arrested at least eight times in fewer than two years.” Analysis finds these lines from the end of the article to be especially pertinent in light of the recent Midland Theatre reasoning re: Michael Moore’s presence in Newark – “In August, filmmaker David Sutcliffe wrote an open letter in favour of the “right to record”, which was signed by more than 100 documentarians, including Asif Kapadia, Laura Poitras and Nick Broomfield. “Armed only with camera phones, citizen journalists have shattered America’s myth of racial equality,” the letter said. “Instead of garnering Pulitzers and Peabodys, they have been targeted, harassed and arrested by members of the very institution whose abuses they seek to expose.”” In regards to exposure (of what is not to be seen) Robert Higgs, writing for Cleveland.com (Ohio Supreme Court considers lifting secrecy that shrouds grand jury process 9-29-16) reports: “The proposed rule changes would allow members of the public to petition for release of the proceedings in cases where the grand jury, a system enshrined in both the U.S. Constitution and Ohio Constitution, chooses not to indict.” Not exactly a right to look, but an extraordinary measure in the right direction.