May 4, 2015

Scott Walker's Aversion to Wisconsin Election Law

Scott Walker governs by secret, campaigns by secret and raises money by secret.

Will raising money secretly and illegally finally kill this odious unlawful actor?

Wisconsin Stat § 11.0001(1)

"The legislature finds and declares that our democratic system of government can be maintained only if the electorate is informed. It further finds that excessive spending on campaigns for public office jeopardizes the integrity of elections. It is desirable to encourage the broadest possible participation in financing campaigns by all citizens of the state, and to enable candidates to have an equal opportunity to present their programs to the voters. One of the most important sources of information to the voters is available through the campaign finance reporting system. Campaign reports provide information which aids the public in fully understanding the public positions taken by a candidate or political organization. When the true source of support or extent of support is not fully disclosed, or when a candidate becomes overly dependent upon large private contributors, the democratic process is subjected to a potential corrupting influence. The legislature therefore finds that the state has a compelling interest in designing a system for fully disclosing contributions and disbursements made on behalf of every candidate for public office, and in placing reasonable limitations on such activities. Such a system must make readily available to the voters complete information as to who is supporting or opposing which candidate or cause and to what extent, whether directly or indirectly. This chapter is intended to serve the public purpose of stimulating vigorous campaigns on a fair and equal basis and to provide for a better informed electorate."

Scott Walker Silent on Call to Unseal John Doe Records

Scott Walker tries to stop criminal investigation
as Wisconsin Law Enforcement calls for release
of records of investigation in John Doe II.
"I invite the governor to join me in seeking judicial approval to lawfully release information now under seal which would be responsive to the allegations that have been made. Such information, when lawfully released, will show that these recent allegations are patently false."
- John Doe Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz in late April 2015 (Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Schmitz is referring to Scott Walker's slamming the bipartisan John Doe probe into Scott Walker's scheme to illegally funnel secret monies into the 2011-12 Recall elections as a "witchhunt." (Marley, Bice and Glauber, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

If Scott Walker has nothing to hide why doesn't he join Francis Schmitz in calling for the release of the John Doe records?

Anti-John Doe litigation by Walker allies has already revealed Walker secretly directed monies. (Kroll, MotherJones)

If Walker really believes himself innocent, what does Scott Walker have to hide?

May 3, 2015

Academics, Jurists Hit Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed massive trade agreement that would in the words of Noam Chomsky "maximize profit and domination and to set the working people of the world in competition with one another, to lower wages and increase insecurity, ... [and] protect at the same time ... the top wealth sector." (Orphanides, In These Times)

A group of retired judges and academics point out that the secret TPP also "departs from the justice opportunities that U.S. courts provide," effectively depriving individuals of a right to bring a case to court, among other legal faults.

Their letter is reproduced below.

April 30, 2015

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, and Minority Leader Pelosi:

We write out of grave concern about a document we have not been able to see. Although it has not been made available publicly, we understand that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement currently being negotiated includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions ISDS allows foreign investors — and only foreign investors — to avoid the courts and instead to argue to a special, private tribunal that they believe certain government actions diminish the value of their investments.

Courts are central institutions in the rule of law. Americans have much to be proud of in the evolution of our court system, which has evolved over the centuries and now provides equal access for all persons. Courts enable the public to observe the processes of development of law and to watch impartial and accountable decision - makers render judgments.

We write because of our concern that what we know about ISDS does not match what courts can provide. Those advocating using this alternative in lieu of our court system bear the burden of demonstrating why such an exit is necessary, and how the alternate system will safeguard the ideals enshrined in our courts. Thus far, the proponents of ISDS have failed to meet that burden. Therefore, before any ISDS provisions are included in the TPP or any future agreements, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), their content should be disclosed and their purposes vetted in public so that debate can be had about whether and if such provisions should be part of proposed treaties. Below, we detail the ways in which ISDS departs from the justice opportunities that U.S. courts provide.

Our legal system rests on the conviction that every individual, regardless of wealth or power, has an equal right to bring a case to court. To protect and uphold the rule of law, our ideals of fairness and justice must apply in all situations and equally to everyone. ISDS, in contrast, is a system built on differential access. ISDS provides a separate legal system available only to certain investors who are authorized to exit the American legal system. Only foreign investors may bring claims under ISDS provisions. This option is not offered to nations, domestic investors, or civil society groups alleging violations of treaty obligations. Under ISDS regimes, foreign investors alone are granted legal rights unavailable to others – freed from the rulings and procedures of domestic courts.

ISDS also risks undermining democratic norms because laws and regulations enacted by democratically-elected officials are put at risk in a process insulated from democratic input. Equal application of the law is another critically important hallmark of our legal system — one that is secured through the orderly development of law. Court decisions are subject to appeal, ensuring that conflicting lower court decisions are resolved by a higher authority. Judges also must follow legal precedent. The goal is uniform application of the law regardless of which judge or court hears a case. This law development allows people, entities, and nations alike to order their behavior according to well-established legal principles.

In contrast, ISDS do es not build in the development of the law. An ISDS arbitral panel’s decision cannot be appeal ed to a court. The ISDS provisions of which we are aware provide April 30, 2015 only limited — private — review through a process called annulment that does not permit decisions to be set aside based even on a ―manifest error of law. 1 Moreover, ISDS arbitrators, like other arbitrators, do not make law because their decisions have no precedential value, and ISDS arbitrators in turn are not obliged to follow precedent in reaching their own decisions.

None of the hallmarks of our court system would be possible without a fair and independent judiciary. Federal judges take an oath to uphold the Constitution and are nominated and confirmed by our democratically elected representatives. State judges likewise commit themselves to upholding the constitutional order. In contrast, ISDS arbitrators are not public servants but private arbitrators. In many cases, there is a revolving door between serving on ISDS arbitration panels and representing corporations bringing ISDS claims. Yet, although such a situation would seem to call for more — not less — oversight and accountability, ISDS arbitrators’ decisions are functionally unreviewable.

As noted at the outset, we have not been able to read the terms of the proposed ISDS chapters for the upcoming TPP and TTIP treaties. But what we know from the past gives us many grounds for concern. During the past few years, foreign investors have used ISDS to challenge a broad range of policies aimed at protecting the environment, improving public health and safety, and regulating industry. These challenges have been around the world, including under trade agreements to which the United States is a party. The publicly available information about these challenges raises serious questions as to whether the United States should be entering into more ISDS agreements with a broad array of nations.

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly’s pending ISDS proceedings against Canada provide an example of how corporations have used ISDS to challenge a nation’s laws outside the courtroom . After a Canadian court invalidated one of Lilly’s patents, the company initiated ISDS proceedings against Canada under Chapter 11 of the North Americ an Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 2 In seeking $500 million (Canadian), Lilly has challenged as violative of NAFTA the standard the nation uses for granting patents.

Although ISDS tribunals are not empowered to order injunctive relief, the threat and expense of ISDS proceedings have forced nations to abandon important public policies. In the third ISDS proceeding brought under NAFTA , Ethyl Corporation brought an ISDS proceeding against Canada for $251 million for implementing a ban on a toxic gasoline additive. The proceeding took place not in a court, but before an arbitration panel of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) . After the arbitration panel rejected Canada’s argument that Ethyl lacked standing to bring the challenge, Canada settle d the suit for $13 million . Moreover, Canada lifted the ban on the toxic additive as part of the settlement. 3

It is particularly noteworthy that the three NAFTA countries are each in the top 11 most-challenged countries under the ISDS system. This high rate of challenge in our view has little to do with a rule of law deficit in the U.S. and Canada. Instead, it represents investors taking advantage of easy access to a special legal right available only to them in an alternate legal system.

ISDS weakens the rule of law by removing the procedural protections of the legal system and using a system of adjudication with limited accountability and review. It is antithetical to the fair, public, and effective legal system that all Americans expect and deserve.

Proponents of ISDS have failed to explain why our legal system is inadequate to the task. For the reasons cited above, we urge you to uphold the best ideals of our legal system and ensure ISDS is excluded from upcoming trade agreements.

Sincerely,

Judith Resnik Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Cruz Reynoso Professor of Law Emeritus, University of California, Davis School of Law
Former Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court

Honorable H. Lee Sarokin
Former United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Joseph E. Stiglitz University Professor, Columbia University

Laurence H. Tribe Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard Law School

cc: Ambassador Froman and Chairs and Ranking Members of Finance and Ways and Means Committees

Please note: Organizational affiliation for all signatories is included for identification purposes only; individuals represent only themselves, not the institutions where they are teaching or other organizations in which they are active.

Notes

1 Impregilo S.P.A. v Argentine Republic , ICSID Case No. ARB/07/17 (Annulment Proceeding), Jan. 24, 2014, at ¶ 132. http://www.italaw.com/sites/default/files/case - documents/italaw3044.pdf (―[T]here is a difference between a failure to apply the proper law and the misapplication of the applicable law, and that the latter does not constitute grounds for annulment, even if it is a ‘manifest error of law’ ...‖) (emphasis added).

2 Eli Lilly and Company v. The Government of Canada , Notice of Intent to Submit a Claim to Arbitration under NAFTA (Nov. 7, 2012). Available at: http://italaw.com/sites/default/files/case - documents/italaw1172.pdf .

3 Michelle Sforza and Mark Vallianatos, ―Ethyl Corporation v.s. Government of Canada: Now Investors Can Use NAFTA to Challenge Environmental Safeguards, available at http://www.citizen.org/trade/article_redirect.cfm?ID=6221.

May 1, 2015

Baltimore Sun Offering Free Coverage, Suspends Paid Site

Readers looking for the best and latest coverage out of Baltimore as history-making events unfold can find it at the Baltimore Sun.

The Sun announced this morning all of its coverage of the Freddy Gray homicide and community protest will be provided free, and paid site coverage is suspended.

Kudos to the Sun.

Killer cops need the closest and most extensive press coverage.

Scott Walker Wrecked Wisconsin's Economy—On Purpose

The Milwaukee Shepherd-Express notes in late April that Scott Walker has degraded the Wisconsin economy.

What is not emphasized is Walker did this on purpose.

Walker targeted Dane and Milwaukee counties (the old I-94 Coalition), University towns, workers' wages, public schools, minorities, consumers' rights, the University System, voting rights, local control, clean water, the environment and anything Walker can get his hands on that doesn't vote Republican.

Dane County is too smart for Walker and without Dane County and its educated population and innovative industries, Wisconsin would be in worse shape.

But Walker still is targeting the people of a state as enemies to be conquered. This is sociopathic.

This is who Scott Walker is: A religious fanatic who hates macroeconomics, hates the people of Wisconsin, the vast majority who did not vote for Walker.

The American press has mostly missed the story that Walker cannot win a statewide election in a presidential year, and Walker refused to campaign on any major policy gift he gave to the Koch brothers and gloats about at Republican, out-of-state events.

Apr 29, 2015

Justices' Remarks on Same-Sex Marriage Are Foolish and Ahistorical

American University students at Court, part
of #SCOTUSmarriage! (Freedom to Marry)
Update II: See Hiltzik, Same-sex marriage: Supreme Court Justices don't know much about history.

Update: See Judge Richard Posner's opinion: on "Mindless Tradition," and "Bigotry" that struck down Wisconsin and Indiana's same sex marriage bans.
 ---
"This definition [of traditional marriage] has been with us for millennia," [Justice Anthony Kennedy] said. "And it’s very difficult for the court to say, 'Oh, well, we know better.'" (Barnes, Barbash, Washington Post) (Baker, New York Times)

The NYT's Baker notes that several justices echoed Kennedy's expressed concerns in oral argument of Obergefell v. Hodge (Question 1, Oral transcript).

What is troubling is that none of the four statist justices—Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Roberts—expected to rule in favor of states' power to discriminate against individuals' right to simple equality in marriage have a subtle understanding of history on the matter. Thomas was silent during orals, but has demonstrated his abiding hostility towards minorities.

Marriage has changed through history, and across societies. Eighteen counties today have approved the freedom of individuals to marry. (Freedom to Marry) Criminalization of gay marriage "includes most Muslim-majority countries and much of sub-Saharan Africa," (Fisher, Washington Post) and is a mark of authoritarian and totalitarian states.

In the United States "Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition. Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female. That ended as a result of this Court's decision in 1982 when Louisiana's Head and Master Rule was struck down. And no State was allowed to have such a -- such a marriage anymore.  Would that be a choice that a State should be allowed to have?" chided Justice Ginsburg. (pp. 70,71)

In the Dark Ages and Nazi Germany the state sought to abolish gays, citing the unclean nature of gays and lack of usefulness to the state:

"On April 4, 1938, the Gestapo issued a directive indicating that men convicted of homosexuality could be incarcerated in concentration camps. Between 1933 and 1945 the police arrested an estimated 100,000 men as homosexuals. Most of the 50,000 men sentenced by the courts spent time in regular prisons, and between 5,000 and 15,000 were interned in concentration camps. ... The Nazis interned some homosexuals in concentration camps immediately after the seizure of power in January 1933. Those interned came from all areas of German society, and often had only the cause of their imprisonment in common. Some homosexuals were interned under other categories by mistake, and the Nazis purposefully miscategorized some political prisoners as homosexuals. Prisoners marked by pink triangles to signify homosexuality were treated harshly in the camps. According to many survivor accounts, homosexuals were among the most abused groups in the camps." (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

As the Dark Ages and Nazi Germany present extreme examples of animus and ignorance, one wonders if those justices foolishly using the universe of all societies through millennia as a justification for not protecting the rights of minorities mean to exclude these nonsensical and obscene states. How about Russia today?

Norman Cohn wrote of the totalitarian phenomenon as "the urge to purify the world through the annihilation of some category of human beings imagined as agents of corruption and incarnations of evil."

When Kennedy asked, "well, we know better," the answer is clear: 'Yes, we do.' Well, most of us do.

Kennedy's confusion is apparent as he is expected to rule in June for the right of Americans to marry because there is no rational basis for the state to deprive Americans from marrying another of the same sex. (Denniston, SCOTUSBlog)

There is only nonsensical hostility and injurious treatment.

Why Kennedy finds this difficult for the Court to state is mystifying.

Apr 27, 2015

Scott Walker John Doe Official: Make John Doe Docs Public

Scott Walker bashed the John Doe probe as word is out the four GOP-purchased justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are going to kill the John Doe probe, per Walker's legal and political needs. (Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) (Fischer, PRWatch)

Said Walker in a radio interview on Saturday, "They (John Doe probe official and investigators) were looking for just about anything. As I pointed out at the time, it was largely a political witch hunt."

Walker and his allies have spent considerable money to shut down and vilify the John Doe probe looking into a "criminal scheme" at the center of which is Scott Walker, (Marley, Bice and Glauber, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) as pointed out in John Doe documents made public last year.

Walker's rare comments on the John Doe probe prompted a response by John Doe Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz, and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm ((Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel):
"As to defamatory remarks, I strongly suspect the Iowa criminal code, like Wisconsin's, has provisions for intentionally making false statements intended to harm the reputation of others," Chisholm said in a statement Saturday responding to Walker's comments.

In a separate statement, Schmitz said he was surprised Walker would "speak publicly about specific issues which are now before the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a decision."

"His description of the investigation as a 'political witch hunt' is offensive when he knows that the investigation was authorized by a bipartisan group of judges and is directed by a Republican special prosecutor appointed at the request of a bipartisan group of district attorneys," Schmitz's statement said. ...

"I invite the governor to join me in seeking judicial approval to lawfully release information now under seal which would be responsive to the allegations that have been made," his statement said. "Such information, when lawfully released, will show that these recent allegations are patently false."

Chisholm said he agreed with Schmitz's statement.

"Stripped of niceties, Mr. Schmitz is saying the governor is deliberately not telling the truth," Chisholm's statement said.

"The truth is always a defense, so let's get the truth out in a legal manner, not through lies, distortions and misrepresentations."
Scott Walker will never take Schmitz up on his offer to seek release of documents of the John Doe probe because Walker knows he would be exposed as a crook and a liar.

At the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition this weekend, Walker said that he prayed before making major policy decisions (Petroski, Des Monies Register).

One wonders if Walker prayed before illegally coordinating fundraising among rightwing money to help Walker and Republican state senators in the 2011-12 Recall campaigns, and if Walker did pray to whom did Walker pray: David Koch?

Apr 25, 2015

Detecting Wrongful Prosecutions

During the Bush-Cheney years Karl Rove turned the DoJ's US attorneys into a political hit squad, and human rights attorney Scott Horton and others at Harper's chronicled some of the worst instances of wrongful prosecutions amid the purging of US attorneys refusing to go along. (Taylor, McClathchy Newspapers; Horton, Harper's Magazine)

Horton used to conduct an annual seminar (after the break-up of the Soviet Union) for the State Department entitled "How to Spot a Political Prosecution" in a foreign land (Horton, Harper's Magazine).

Political prosecutions in former totalitarian societies of the USSR bear resemblances to malicious and wrongful prosecutions domestically, and as Horton noted elsewhere, prosecutions by Rove and US attorneys whose victims include Don Siegelman, Keith Roberts, and Georgia Thompson lack any semblance of public integrity and the rule of law.

Horton points out some of the elements that should be examined to determine if a political prosecution has been inflicted:
  • Nature of the Charges
  • Timing and Circumstances of Criminal Investigations and Charges
  • Circumstances of Investigation; Arrest and Detention; Media Dealings
  • Conduct of the Preliminary Investigation
  • Conduct of Trial
  • Interview of Prosecutors and Defense Counsel
  • State Secrecy
  • Parallel Public Campaigns
  • Media Coverage

Writes Horton, "... you should be prepared to question the motives and conduct of the prosecutor. Is the prosecutor investigating and acting on a crime, or is the prosecutor 'out to get' an individual? The latter case is per se abusive. When the prosecutor is 'out to get' an individual as part of a political agenda, the act of prosecution is an assault on democratic institutions."

Horton cites Robert Jackson—whose wisdom and humanity informs jurisprudence today—but not in Iron County Wisconsin.

An interview with Iron County District Attorney Martin Lipske would rightfully ask Lipske to explain the volatile, arbitrary and disparate sentences Lipske sought for similar (and highly dubious) convictions because Lipske's conduct would not withstand Constitutional scrutiny or an objective and thorough ethics investigation.

Moreover, many of Lipske's prosecutions bear the hallmarks of wrongful/political prosecutions that one might expect of former totalitarian countries with no tradition of Constitutional safeguards against the state.

But this is Iron County, so I guess anything goes.

Maybe. Watch this space.

Apr 24, 2015

Iron County DA Martin Lipske's Misconduct on Display Again

The volatile Iron County District Attorney Martin Lipske in northern Wisconsin has struck again.

Yesterday, John Michael Kallas of Hurley, Wisconsin was found Not Guilty of "Repeated Sexual Assault of Same Child" by a jury in a criminal trial, Price County Circuit Court Judge Douglas T. Fox presiding, (notations from the Wisconsin Court System - Circuit Court Access (1st Degree Sexual Assault).

The acquittal of Mr. Kallas for an alleged incident in 2001 illustrates the pattern of DA Martin Lipske using the district attorney's office in a capricious (and corrupt) manner—filing severe criminal charges, and then filing more spurious charges in what has become Lipske's bizarre game of playing with defendants' lives—hence defendants often exercise their right for a judicial substitution [requesting a new judge per Wisconsin statute] because Lipske is widely viewed as being in political bed with Iron County Judge Patrick Madden, and Lipske's cases often end with dismissals and acquittals when judicial substitutions are requested.

Lipske likes to drag out cases, the better the process harasses and injures the defendants.

Lipske's conduct cries out for an investigation by the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR).

"Martin Lipske has run his district attorney's office in a vindictive and slip-shod fashion since he got his license to practice back. [Lipske was "Suspended for Discipline" for two years under the category of "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misconduct" in 1990, Mal Contends] Real people have suffered. Something, and I don't know what, has to be done," said Joe Agostine, Councilor of the City of Ashland and an environmental activist in neighboring Ashland County. "Lipske has terrorized people and I always say, for years, he keeps getting away with it. He gives lawyers a bad name. I have lost my faith in the criminal justice system if something isn't done and he is not held accountable. I mean he is in office supposed to be protecting people not terrorizing them."

The sordid story of Lipske and his routine perversion of the judicial system is largely off the Wisconsin political radar screen as Iron County is sparsely populated and isolated. And the local press, specifically the Iron County Daily Globe, frequently covers for Lipske and the Hurley sex trade.

This site has spoken with numerous activists and residents of Iron and Ashland counties, none of whom will speak on the record for fear of retribution from Lipske and his associated political machine that is viewed as vindictive. (Mal Contends)

Said one activist in the region, speaking on background. "Lipske is a sick SOB. He does play with peoples' lives. It's common knowledge, and I want to live long enough to see Lipske meet with some legal reckoning. I don't know what that is, but it shouldn't be that hard to make people see what's going on."

Kallas' exoneration comes just weeks after new charges were piled on by Lipske against Kallas in a separate case.

This is the Modus operandi of Lipske: Inflict and intimidate disfavored defendants by use of public office for the purpose of harassment and obtaining an advantage over a defendant. It is also a clear and repeated act of abuse of process. 

GTAC Frontman

The source speaking on background above has had no legal or formal dealings with Lipske, and was contacted initially for his opposition to the now apparently defunct plan of the billionaire mining mogul, Christopher Cline, and Cline's subsidiary, GTAC, to slash a massive open pit iron ore mine, in Iron and Ashland counties.

The proposed mine owners' agents at GTAC are part of the massive Scott Walker-coordinated criminal scheme that was exposed and investigated by a bipartisan group of prosecutors in a John Doe probe (now under adjudication at the Wisconsin Supreme Court) that saw Walker's campaign, Friends of Scott Walker, engage in settlement talks with law enforcement officials last year. (Fischer, PRWatch) Lipske is roundly criticized by Wisconsin environmentalists for siding with GTAC in the few cases Lipske involved his office.

Volatility

D.A. Martin Lipske protects sex trafficking in Iron County 
Lipske is criticized as well for the all-over-the-map quality of his prosecutions.

Last year Lipske covered up for a favored defendant who engaged in sex trafficking, paying $1,300 for a 14-year-old girl to be transported over 600 miles to a hotel in Mercer in Iron County in 2013. Lipske gave the man a deferred prosecution to the shock of local residents who thought this was too much for even Lipkse. (Mal Contends)

Lipkse will often charge a defendant, and then file a felony bailjumping charge without cause.

So, Lipske gets to manipulate the lives of disfavored defendants for apparent fun, political profit, and a self-conscious use of his discretionary power to obtain a dishonest advantage over disfavored defendants in repeated violation of SCR [Supreme Court Rule] 946.12(3) and Wisconsin criminal statute, (946.12 Misconduct in public office):
(3) Whether by act of commission or omission, in the officer's or employee's capacity as such officer or employee exercises a discretionary power in a manner inconsistent with the duties of the officer's or employee's office or employment or the rights of others and with intent to obtain a dishonest advantage for the officer or employee or another
Martin Lipske ought to front every daily newspaper in Wisconsin, absent that this story must be told and this site is committed to doing so as often as necessary.

Sources in Iron County say Lipske is planning on retiring soon. With justice he ought to be criminally investigated first.

Apr 23, 2015

Highly Pathogenic Avian Virus Is Evolution in Action, and a Warning

A state of emergency exists in Minnesota; poultry
feed trucks, poultry load-out trailers, and emergency
operation equipment used for highly pathogenic
avian influenza response are empowered to
ignore load requirements (March 11, 2015
Emergency Executive Order 15-06)
Humans at Low Risk of Infection and Illness from this H5N2 Virus Strain

"The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic (contagious to animals) H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) at a commercial laying facility in Osceola County, Iowa. The facility has 5.3 million hens and is the second confirmed case in the state," notes an April 20, 2015 press release from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

The spread of H5N2 avian virus is much worse, and the spread of pathogens by Big Ag was predicted repeatedly.

One Iowa farm killed five million chickens two days ago to try help halt the disease (National Public Radio).

Today, the Wisconsin State Journal's piece on the fifth Wisconsin outbreak (in which we will not find the words "industrial" and "CAFO" [concentrated/confined animal feeding operations] and "factory farms") notes 100,000s of poultry have been killed to contain the spread of the H5N2 virus, with 100,000s more planned to be killed.

"The highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu has touched down in 16 states, particularly in Minnesota and Iowa where, respectively, more than 2.5 million turkeys and 3.8 million egg-laying hens have been lost to the virus," says yesterday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune [though the Star-Tribune (and everyone else) can not keep up the with the eradication of chickens and turkeys in this devastating outbreak].

Minnesota is the leading state producer of turkeys in the nation.

"[T]oday’s dysfunctional industrial, corporately-controlled" food systems (Ikerd, 2104) are unsustainable, and pathogens are one big reason why, notes Dr. John Ikerd. We have been warned; in fact, the CDC notes, we have been warned since 1959.

CDC Working on Vaccine

The CDC is working on a preventative vaccine for human beings though this strain has a low infection potential for human beings, the CDC says. This is an evolution thing [viruses mutate], a scientific fact on which the CDC can not afford to "punt" like Scott Walker said two months ago, displaying a dangerous level of ignorance for the governor of the state with "the second-largest U.S. incident since the bird flu started spreading earlier this year" (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).

Media Blackout

Media outlets are seemingly blacking out the words CAFO and industrial factory farming though this dangerous model of packing poultry together is a breeding ground for H5N2 and other virus strains.

"Fifteen new avian flu outbreaks were reported today, 13 in Minnesota turkeys and 2 in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin outbreaks were in chickens at a commercial egg farm and at a commercial turkey farm. Outbreaks have now been detected in five Wisconsin counties," notes the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (Roos and Schnirring).

Viruses Mix

Viruses mix among species and the results can be catastrophic, and the Big Ag-CAFO model used by pigs confined together creating the perfect vehicle to produce dangerous viruses that then can spread to other species (Mal Contends).

The major source of pathogens from CAFOs comes from animal manure, produced in abundance.

Big Ag calls CAFOs "modern agriculture" and wants more CAFOs, and are willing to spread a lot of money to Midwestern politicians such as Scott Walker (who gratefully accepts), as the H5N2 virus is spreading like wildfire among commercial flocks of turkeys and chickens.

"New technologies have allowed farmers to reduce costs, which mean bigger profits on less land and capital. The current agricultural system rewards larger farms with lower costs, which results in greater profit and more incentive to increase farm size. ... Sources of infection from pathogens include fecal-oral transmission, inhalation, drinking water, or incidental water consumption during recreational water activities. The potential for transfer of pathogens among animals is higher in confinement, as there are more animals in a smaller amount of space," notes the CDC (Hribar, CDC).

Economic Impact

The slaughter of millions of chickens and turkeys is just one of the economic consequences of this type of concentrated farming operation. Other countries such as Japan have in the past placed bans on poultry from Wisconsin and the Midwest. Diseases, such as hoof-and-mouth, among cows in Great Britain contributed greatly to the crippling of that economy.

This H5N2 virus strain is a warning to us about Big Ag's factory model and the vectoring and breeding of dangerous pathogens. Are we listening?