Globalism & Pesticides Are Behind Massive Honeybee Die-Off, Bayer Study Confirms

Authored by Michael Hart and StockBoardAsset via StockBoardAsset.com,

Despite Big Agriculture claiming for years that their pesticides only kill pests, a report published in late June in the Journal Science proved what many people have suspected for years: the type of pesticides that Bayer pioneered, known as neonicotinoids, are responsible for diminishing numbers of honeybees.

“Two studies, conducted on different crops and on two continents … find that bees near corn crops are exposed to neonicotinoids for 3 to 4 months via nontarget pollen, resulting in decreased survival and immune responses, especially when co-exposed to a commonly used agrochemical fungicide.” the report said.

The studies even found neonicotinoid residue inside of hives where no chemicals had been used nearby. The study also noted that the presence of these insecticide residues was correlated with fewer queen bees in the hives and fewer egg cells in solitary bees nests.

This comes on the heels of the United States placing the rusty patched bumblebee on the endangered species list earlier this year.

This is especially troubling, because bees are responsible for pollinating nearly 75 percent of all crops grown for human and animal consumption worldwide.

And US honeybee colonies have been on a steady decline for the last four decades, as this chart illustrates:

However, perhaps the major contributing factor to not only the threats facing the honeybee but also many other species of plants and animals is the threat of globalization. A 2012 report in the journal Nature noted the following:

“Here we show that a significant number of species are threatened as a result of international trade along complex routes, and that, in particular, consumers in developed countries cause threats to species through their demand of commodities that are ultimately produced in developing countries. We linked 25,000 Animalia species threat records from the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List to more than 15,000 commodities produced in 187 countries and evaluated more than 5 billion supply chains in terms of their biodiversity impacts. Excluding invasive species, we found that 30% of global species threats are due to international trade.”

This map shows the species threat hotspots caused by US consumption. The darker the color, the greater the threat caused by the consumption. The magenta color represents terrestrial species, while the blue represents marine species.
Credit: Daniel Moran and Keiichiro Kanemoto

While the Donald Trump presidency has placed the spotlight on the ways in which globalist policies have harmed the economies of the US as well as many other countries in the developed world, we tend to overlook the ways in which the demand for cheaper and more goods from the developing world harm our environment.  Indeed, the Trump era has ushered in a demand not only for political decentralization, but also for the decentralization of our media, our currencies, and now our food supply as the damage of agricultural centralization becomes apparent. Our demand for 99 cent hamburgers has taken us to the edge of total ecological collapse, and at this point it is unclear if the damage is irreversable.

An interesting development over the last few years has seen large cities in the US most acutely ravaged by globalist policies, such as Detroit and Baltimore, turning derilect buildings within the city into multiacre urban farms as a solution to growing food insecurity within these deindustrialized urban centers. Urban flight from these cities over the years has facilitated the use of large swaths of the city to satiate demand for locally produced fresh produce, and has led to the growth of many year-round farmers markets that have helped to increase food security in these areas while decreasing dependence on these global agribusiness cartels. It seems that some of the Districts in our Hunger Games society are attempting to gain independence from the Capital.

Urban farms, such as this one in Baltimore, have increased food security in cities that have been hit hard by globalism and free trade.

Certainly, as we have noted before in previous columns, we are living in an era where massive change is taking place in almost every sphere of human activity. Right now is the critical juncture in which we will decide whether power will be returned to the people, or will be further consolidated into the hands of those who wish to micromanage every aspect of the human and natural world for their own private gain. The fight for control over the food supply is just one of many battlegrounds in this war for the future of the planet and our lives. Growing public awareness about the dangers of these pesticides as well as GMOs, and an increased demand for locally produced organic agriculture are signs that the public is waking up and understanding the great peril that agricultural centralization poses to not only our health, but the health and wellbeing of our entire planet.

How economics became a religion | John Rapley

Its moral code promises salvation, its high priests uphold their orthodoxy. But perhaps too many of its doctrines are taken on faith. By John Rapley

Although Britain has an established church, few of us today pay it much mind. We follow an even more powerful religion, around which we have oriented our lives: economics. Think about it. Economics offers a comprehensive doctrine with a moral code promising adherents salvation in this world; an ideology so compelling that the faithful remake whole societies to conform to its demands. It has its gnostics, mystics and magicians who conjure money out of thin air, using spells such as “derivative” or “structured investment vehicle”. And, like the old religions it has displaced, it has its prophets, reformists, moralists and above all, its high priests who uphold orthodoxy in the face of heresy.

Over time, successive economists slid into the role we had removed from the churchmen: giving us guidance on how to reach a promised land of material abundance and endless contentment. For a long time, they seemed to deliver on that promise, succeeding in a way few other religions had ever done, our incomes rising thousands of times over and delivering a cornucopia bursting with new inventions, cures and delights.

Economists work best when they take the stories we have given them, and advise us on how we can help them to come true

Related: The cult of the expert – and how it collapsed | Sebastian Mallaby

Continue reading…

Here’s How (Rich & Poor) Americans Spend Their Time

Today’s visualization comes from data scientist Henrik Lindberg, and it shows America’s favorite past-times based on the participation of people in different income brackets.

It uses data from the American Time Use Survey that is produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to break down these activities.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

 

COMMON INTERESTS

As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, while activities are all over the map, it appears that some past-times are more common across all income groups.

Team sports and solo pursuits both are represented well in the center. In fact, reading for personal interest, dancing, computer use, hunting, hiking, walking, playing basketball, or playing baseball can all be found in the middle of the spectrum, appealing to Americans in every income group.

Closer to the top and bottom of the visualization, however, we see where income groups diverge in how they spend their time. It’s probably not surprising to see that people with higher incomes spend more time golfing, playing racket sports, attending performing arts, and doing yoga than average. On the flipside, lower income Americans spend more time watching television, listening to the radio, and listening to/playing music.

CURIOUS ANOMALIES

Every data set has its own peculiarities. Sometimes these things can be explained, and sometimes they are just aberrations created as a result of how data was collected (i.e. how a survey was worded, bias, or some other error).

Here are some of the stranger anomalies that appear in this data set. We won’t attempt to explain them here, but feel free to speculate in the comments section:

  • Higher income Americans disproportionately enjoy softball – while baseball has more universal appeal across income groups.
  • While activities like boating are typically associated with higher income levels, the activity of running is generally not. Yet, running is disproportionately enjoyed by higher income Americans, according to this survey.
  • Despite playing baseball being fairly universal across the spectrum, watching baseball skews higher income.
  • Writing for personal interest has an interesting distribution: it is enjoyed disproportionately by poorer and richer Americans, but is underrepresented in the middle class.

Can you find anything else that stands out as being an anomaly?

Former Investor Says Shkreli Reminded Him Of “Rain Man”

The prosecution in the trial of former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli called more investors to testify about alleged malfeasance by Shkreli during his time as a hedge-fund manager on Monday. And while two witnesses echoed earlier descriptions of Shkreli being evasive when investors asked for their money, both ultimately admitted that they were paid back with interest.

One corroborated an earlier witness’s claim that Shkreli became evasive when asked to return clients’ money, stalling for more than a year before making investors whole with questionable payouts from Retrophin, the pharmaceutical company he co-founded, as well as grants of Retrophin stock, which is now worth $20 a share.

Another played into the portrayal of Shkreli that defense attorney Benjamin Brafman has sought to sell to the jury: That any liberties taken by Shkreli were ultimately made in good faith, but his clients’ odd behavior and personality quirks at times caused friction between him and his clients.

Schuyler Marshall, chairman of the board of the real estate company Rosewood Corp, said the former drug company executive reminded him of Dustin Hoffman's autistic character in the movie "Rain Man," according to Reuters. Though Marshall added under cross-examination by Shkreli's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, that he was not claiming Shkreli was autistic.

"'The reference here was that this was just an intensely focused, bright guy who knew his stuff,'" Marshall told jurors. Hoffman's character in the 1988 film is an autistic savant with exceptional mental abilities but difficulty relating to other people.

 

Like other investors who have testified in the trial, Marshall, who invested more than $200,000 in MSMB Capital, said that while Shkreli misled him about the fund's operations, he did not lose money. At one point, Marshall testified, he even used the phrase "no harm, no foul" in a communication with Shkreli.

 

'He paid back my investment and then some,' Marshall said.”

Shkreli is being tried on eight counts of securities fraud and wire fraud related to his time running two hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, and a pharmaceutical company he founded called Retrophin. In particular, Shkreli has been accused of falsifying investor statements, backdating documents and misleading investors about his record as a fund manager. He also allegedly misstated how much money was in the funds, according to prosecutor G. Karthik Srinivasan, who, in his opening statement, accused Shkreli of being a “con man” who managed to convince his investors that he was “a Wall Street genius.”

Last week, judge Kiyo Matsumoto hit Shkreli with a partial gag order, prohibiting him from talking about his case in or around the Brooklyn courthouse after he went on a rant to reporters gathered there last week. The order leaves him free to speak with journalists and conduct his marathon livestreams on YouTube.  

Another witness on Monday, the seventh day of a trial that’s expected to last for as long as six weeks, was somewhat less charitable.

Richard Kocher, 65, told a Brooklyn federal jury Monday that his construction business saw a deal fall apart while he begged Shkreli to return his investments in a hedge fund, but the former pharmaceutical executive told him he was too busy running his new drug company, according to Bloomberg.

Kocher told the Brooklyn jury that, in one of his first forays into the hedge fund world in early 2012, he put $100,000 into Shkreli’s fund because he was assured investors could get their money back anytime. In May 2012, Kocher said he bailed out the fund, putting in another $100,000 after one of Shkreli’s employees told him it had a shortfall. Shkreli announced in September of 2012 he was closing his funds to focus on Retrophin Inc., but promising customers a full refund or shares in the startup pharmaceutical company.

 

Kocher pleaded for his money for five months but said he got a “run around” and Shkreli only offered 23,654 shares of Retrophin stock, which at the time he couldn’t sell.

When you were in trouble and needed $100,000, I wired it over to you the next day,” Kocher wrote Shkreli in a March 2013 email. “I expect to get, in addition to this (insulting) untradable stock” my money back, he wrote.

However, Kocher too was eventually paid back…with interest. Though he says it's hard to say if he ultimately came out ahead, given the opportunity costs.

“Shkreli eventually returned Kocher’s investments. Kocher also sold the Retrophin stock, after several years, making about $350,000 in total profit. But Kocher said he had to pay a lawyer, lost a business deal and lost time from his business, so he’s not sure if he ended up ahead.”

If convicted, Shkreli could face up to 20 years in prison. He has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence.
 

Pissy Rant About IPO Prices

From the Slope of Hope: OK, time to unload………

It is Monday evening, and ever since the closing bell, I’ve been seeing story after story about how that piece-of-shit company SNAP is now below its IPO price. Huge publications – – hundreds of times larger than our beloved Slope – – are making hay out of this big event, with such headlines as this:

0711-snapipo

Now, there’s no reason to single out TechCrunch in particular, but I’ll do it all the same. As you can see, I’ve highlighted a particular sentence, which seems to assert, now that the closing price is below the IPO price (by all of a penny……..) that, at last, public investors at at last lost money on this. In other words, since it came public at $17, and has been trading above it ever since, everyone has been just fine and dandy until now.

Let me share my first reaction to this: AIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Oh, and I’ll add ARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, moving on………..

The young woman who wrote the story appears to be well-credentialed – – certainly far more than me – – as evidenced by her profile (and, let’s face it, her glasses):

0711-katie

But why……..WHY………does the business press continue to press forward this canard that the “public” all bought in at the IPO price?

Let’s take the chart of SNAP as the obvious example. Here’s the chart of its entire life as a public firm:

0711-snap

Let’s all get this nice and perfectly clear: the IPO price doesn’t necessarily have ANYTHING to do with what the public pays. NOTHING! Nada! Zilch!

The first public investors in SNAP paid $24 per share, not $17. That was the opening price on its first day of launch. The investment banks were delighted, of course, because they were, in fact, the ones who enjoyed the $17 price (a little less, but we’ll keep this simple) and got to sell it to the public for whatever the public was willing to pay.

So SNAP had a good first day (high of $26.05) and a good second day (high of $29.44).

And that, my friends, was the end of the SNAP success story. From then on, it sucked whale, and since that time, it has lost nearly HALF its value in a little over four months.

So ever since the SECOND DAY of the company’s public existence, this company has been a money loser for “investors”. The losing didn’t start just today. It started almost immediately after the public offering! And yet the web is littered with ludicrous nonsense like this:

The “return from IPO” was never 60% (except for the investment bankers). We’re talking about the PUBLIC here, right? The greatest return was actually 25% for the lucky bastard (if any, which I doubt) that bought at the open and sold at exactly the next day’s high.

So I hope I’ve made my point. My own view, as I’ve expressed countless times on Slope, is that SNAP is heading for the single digits, and it might not even exist as a public entity in a couple of years. I was very ambivalent about SNAP at first, but once I saw this cover story on Time in March, I knew they were doomed beyond redemption. The “genius” of Snapchat my ass……..