Wolverines in the Upper Midwest

Repost from the old site.
Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Oregon, Washington, Idaho (here and here), Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. There are also five posts on the wolverine in California.

This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Rediscovered After 85 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in the Upper Midwest. Until recently, wolverines had been extinct in the Upper Midwest for 85-200 years.

However, one was photographed recently in Michigan. Furthermore, there have been some tantalizing sightings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota and even a few in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri in recent years. It is distinctly possible the wolverines may be reclaiming some of their historical territory in the Upper Midwest. If so, this is fascinating indeed.
In 2004, a wolverine was photographed in Ubly, Michigan, 90 miles north of Detroit. They were extirpated from Michigan almost 200 years ago.

DNA testing of this wolverine showed that it was from Alaska. How it got from Alaska to Michigan is anyone’s guess. On March 14, 2010, this wolverine was found dead in Sanilac County, Michigan, south of where it was originally sighted in Ubly.

There have been other sightings in Lower Michigan. In November 1958, a wolverine was seen near Cadillac, Michigan by a boy who was deer hunting. A wolverine was sighted around 1998-2000 in Tawas, Michigan.

In August 2009, a wolverine was spotted by motorists twice in short period of time just outside of Alpena, Michigan which is on the shore of Lake Huron in the far north of the Thumb near the Upper Peninsula.

In November 2009, four people spotted a wolverine outside of West Brach, Michigan in the north of the Thumb south of Huron National Forest.

These wolverines could have come down from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan because there are wolverine sightings there. Or possibly they could have come from Southern Ontario near Port Huron, though that area is densely populated. There is known to be a population in Ontario, albeit in the northern part.
The sightings on the Upper Peninsula have been in Delta County, Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the Keweenaw Peninsula. I assume that the Upper Peninsula population came from Ontario, possibly across the St. Mary’s River, if it freezes over in wintertime.

A forest road in Delta County, Michigan. This road is in Escanaba State Forest. A wolverine was sighted here in an unverified sighting sometime between 1999-2004. During this period, there was about one wolverine sighting a year in Michigan, all from the Upper Peninsula.
The forests here have been changed massively from 100 years ago, when most of the White Pine was logged off. I assume what we have here is Eastern second-growth forest coming back in after the old growth was logged off. This second-growth explosion is fueling an increase in wildlife numbers, especially deer, all over the East Coast.
Tahquamenon Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. This area is located at the far east end of the UP near Ontario. The town of Paradise is nearby, as is Whitefish Bay. If the St. Mary’s River is frozen over, wolverines may well come down from Ontario to the UP. The part of Ontario near Sault Saint Marie is pretty sparsely populated. An unverified sighting of a wolverine was reported here in 2002.

There was also an unverified wolverine sighting in the UP on November 21, 2001 at 3 PM, crossing Highway M-64 1 mile south of Silver City in Ontonagon County. In August 2008, a wolverine was spotted in the UP in the garden of the Big Bay Lighthouse on Lake Superior.

In the late 2000’s, there was rash of wolverine sightings around Babbitt, Minnesota, which is near Ely in the far northeastern part of the state near Canada. A tiny lynx population has recently also been confirmed there. The sightings around Babbitt appear to be genuine. Babbitt is surrounded by the Superior National Forest and there are frequent sightings of bears and even wolves in the area, even inside city limits.

In addition, there was one documented sighting in northeastern Minnesota in 1965, but details are lacking. In 1974 there was a report of a wolverine in a hay field in north-central Minnesota, near the North Woods. There was also a sighting on Koochiching County on the Minnesota border with Canada in 1982. That sighting was deemed credible.

In early 2008, there have been reports of dog and horse kills in and around Rollag, Minnesota lately. Certain things about the killings indicate that a wolverine may be doing this. Rollag is far to the north, getting up near the North Woods. It is east of and not far from Fargo, North Dakota.

There is also a report of a wolverine captured on a security camera in 2005-2006 at a Ford dealership in the town of Zumbrota in Southeast Minnesota. This land is very much prairie.
In 1991, a baby wolverine was seen dying by the side of the road on Highway 232 near Lake Nichols close to Cotton, Minnesota. The motorists did not know how rare it was or else they would have kept the carcass. In 1999, a wolverine was spotted by a canoeist in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota on the border of Ontario, Canada.

In November 2004, a wolverine was seen eating a gut pile from a dead deer near Askov, Minnesota.

In 2005, a wolverine was spotted in the Tamarack National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

In Summer 2006, a fisherman fishing in the Narrows between Big and Little Cut Foot Sioux Lakes in Northern Minnesota saw a wolverine. He was able to watch it for 15 minutes until it caught his scent and left.

In Summer 2008, a wolverine was spotted in the forest of Eagles Nest, Minnesota, south of Ely and north of Tower. In Fall 2008, a hunter spotted a wolverine in the Black Brook Swamp east of Camp Ripley, Minnesota.

In 2010, a deer hunter saw a wolverine in Douglas County, Minnesota. Another wolverine was photographed near there five years later. In July 2010, a wolverine was seen by a motorist at night on US 53 ten miles south of International Falls, Minnesota. In Summer 2010, a wolverine was seen outside of Chisholm, Minnesota near Superior State Park.

In July 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing Highway 232 near Lake Nichols close to Cotton, Minnesota.

On January 12, 2012, a wolverine was spotted somewhere in Southern Minnesota. Someone went out to their car late at night, and a wolverine was by the garage. Tracks were found the very next day.

On July 12, 2012, two hunters saw a wolverine while driving on the Dick’s Parkway road 13 miles south of Warroad, Minnesota. The GPS location was given as 48 42.131, -95 20.566.

On October 20, 2012 at midnight, a wolverine was seen on someone’s driveway in Ham Lake, Minnesota.

At 6 PM on On October 13, 2013, a wolverine was seen in the Superior National Forest crossing Pike Lake Road on the east side of Pike Lake between Lutsen and Grand Marais, Minnesota. This is seven miles from Lake Superior.

On June 6, 2014, a wolverine was spotted in Jordan, Minnesota in a corn and alfalfa field. It was running away from a neighbor’s elk ranch. Two men observed it for a full two minutes. The areas consists of open farm country with some random tree lines.

On June 13, 2014 at 2:30 in the afternoon, a wolverine was seen crossing Road 327 in Watowan County, Minnesota. It was seen two miles east and six miles north of Saint James, Minnesota on the Watowan River.

On April 30, 2015, two wolverines were seen running, one behind the other, just east of Rush City, Minnesota in the Saint Croix River Valley.

In May 2015, a wolverine was photographed by a trail cam in Douglas County, Minnesota. I have seen the photo and felt that it was interesting but inconclusive. I showed the photo to a wolverine expert, and he also said it could be a wolverine, but it was unclear enough so it was inconclusive.

Old State Route 52 north of Zumbrota, Minnesota. It’s hard to believe that wolverines inhabit such terrain. Wolverines are recolonizing their old habitat on the US prairie. Why?

Many have questioned whether wolverines were actually common in prairies or if prairies merely served as population sinks. It is looking more and more like prairies are a natural home for wolverines, strange as it may seem. If these reports are accurate, it means that wolverines are re-colonizing Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and possibly also Iowa, which is fantastic news!

Prairie Island (Sioux) Indian Reservation near Zumbrota, Minnesota. Is it possible that wolverines in the past preyed on the vast buffalo herds of prairie, perhaps especially on dead buffaloes?

The occurrence of the wolverine in Wisconsin is very rare but documented.

On an unknown date, a wolverine was spotted on Peshtigo Brook Fire Road where it joins Kitzinger Road near Gillett, Wisconsin.

In May 1978, a wolverine was spotted by a boy and his father while walking along the Oconto River in Oconto County eight miles west of Crooked Lake, Wisconsin. The boy was able to observe it for one minute.

As man grew up in Land O’ Lakes in Far Northern Wisconsin on the border with Michigan in an area known as the North Woods. This is an area of very thick, wild forest and swamps. There are many wolves, bears, and possibly wolverines in this part of Wisconsin.

In 1982, the man saw three wolves in his front yard. In 1990, he and his friends treed 22 different bears in a single day while training bear dogs. They also had a frightening standoff with a wolverine on that day. From about 1983-1995, when he engaged in frequent deer hunting, the man saw one or more wolverines every year.

In September 1990, a wolverine was seen several times over two weeks. The last time the man saw one was in 2006 near Rhinelander, Wisconsin. All sightings took place between 1983-2006 in the North Woods approximately between Rhinelander and Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. The bear density in this region is said to be incredible, or at least it was 10 years ago (Bangs 2009).

In the early 1990’s, a wolverine ran in front of a man’s car in Marinette County, Wisconsin.

A wolverine was photographed on top of a woodpile in Green Lake County, Wisconsin in recent years. The disposition of the photo is unknown.

There are also recent sightings in the Black River Falls area and to the north in Wisconsin from 2000-2007.

A 2003 sighting in Lafayette County in the far south of the state was regarded as credible by the the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

In 2004-2005, a wolverine was spotted in Niagara, Wisconsin in the fall on opening day of deer hunting season.

In 2010, a roadkilled wolverine was found by the side of the road in Green Lake County, Wisconsin.

In November 2010, a father and son saw a wolverine while sitting in a deer stand north of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

In March 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing Highway 53 between New Auburn and Bloomer, Wisconsin.

On July 29, 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing the highway on US 20 east of Sac City, Wisconsin.

On November 25, 2011, a deer hunter saw a wolverine run by his blind south of Gillette, Wisconsin.

In Fall 2011, a wolverine was seen twice in a one week period by two hunters in Northern Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, one mile south of Brown County. Over the next year, a wolverine, suspected to be the same one as before, was seen in area.

On November 6, 2012, a wolverine was spotted by a man and his girlfriend hunting deer on their farm in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. They observed it for half a minute. A wolverine had been seen in the area 20 years before in the early 1990’s.

In July 2013, a wolverine killed a woman’s two cats at a home at in Wisconsin at Highway 53 and I-94 Highway 9 miles form Eau Claire and 6 miles form Osseo. A few days later, a neighbor came within three feet of a wolverine. Three weeks before, a nearby tavern owner said he had seen a wolverine on a county road. Around the time the woman’s cats vanished, neighbors in the vicinity started seeing their pets disappearing. Before the cats were killed, it had been eating the woman’s cat food for some time.

On August 28, 2013, a man saw a wolverine running away from a trash bin at a gas station in Elk Mound, Wisconsin.

On June 13, 2014, a wolverine was seen in a field only two miles north of Independence, Wisconsin.

There have been a few unverified sightings of wolverines in North Dakota recently.

In 1988, two wolverines were seen along the Little Missouri River in the Badlands of far western North Dakota by a very experienced fur trapper.

In 2004, there was an unverified sighting of a wolverine near Minot. The observer watched it for a good five minutes.

On June 23, 2013, a wolverine was seen in the Turtle Mountains in Far Northern North Dakota on the Manitoba border.

In February 2015, mailmen spotted a wolverine on their route near Rugby, North Dakota. That is 50 miles east of Minot and 60 miles south of the Manitoba border with Canada.

There have also been wolverine sightings in South Dakota in the past 60 years. There was a verifiable wolverine sighting in the south-central portion of the state in 1961 (Aubry et al 1967). From 1998-2016, an 18 year period, three wolverines were seen in Lake County, South Dakota. One was an adult and two were juveniles. The adult was severely mauled by people’s dogs.

On July 12, 2012, someone saw a wolverine near Nisland, South Dakota on the Belle Fourche River in Western South Dakota 25 miles from the Wyoming border. Their neighbor had seen a wolverine shortly before the sighting. People 10 miles northwest of Nisland said that they had seen a wolverine earlier.

A female wolverine was shot dead by a farmer on May 21, 1960 in a cornfield in central Iowa (Haugen 1961). No one quite knew how she ended up in central Iowa. She was infected with Trichinella spiralis, a parasite. (Zimmerman et al 1962). However, one report said that this wolverine had been transported into the state in 1960. There were reports around 1995-2000 of a “black animal” going from north to south through eastern Iowa killing dogs. It may have been a wolverine.

Five different people spotted a wolverine in Southwestern Iowa in 2008.

A wolverine was seen in Mid June 2010 near Canton, Iowa near the Maquoketa Caves.

In 2011, a bowhunter spotted a wolverine in Southeastern Iowa.

In July 2011, three people spotted a wolverine walking across County Road V68 1/4 to 1/2 mile north of Highway 3 in Fayette County, Iowa. It was headed in the direction of the Wapsipinicon River. This is 10 miles north of Fairbank, Iowa.

On July 31, 2011, a wolverine cub was seen on the deck of a house in the hills north of Sioux City, Iowa.

In mid-July 2102, a wolverine was photographed in Fonanelle in Adair Country in Southwestern Iowa; however, it is not known what happened to the photograph.

Incredibly enough, there have been a number of wolverine sightings in Nebraska in recent years.

It makes sense because wolverines are native to Nebraska, at least in the more mountainous parts to the north. In the Hall of Nebraska Wildlife in the University of Nebraska Natural History Museum, there is a mounted specimen of a wolverine that was shot on Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska in the 1880’s. That area is in Far Western Nebraska on the North Platte River only 20 miles from the Wyoming border. This part of Nebraska borders on Southeastern Wyoming, which is known to have wolverine populations.

In particular, wolverines have been repeatedly sighted in and around Antelope and Knox Counties in Far Northeastern Nebraska near the Missouri River and the South Dakota border.
This area is near Louis and Clark Lake and the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation. In this area, there have been many sightings along the Verdigre and Niobrara Rivers. For instance, in Summer 1998, a number of people spotted a wolverine near Verdigre, Nebraska. One was seen chasing a deer out of a draw in the middle of a hay meadow.

In April 2012, a fire and range ecologist spotted a wolverine running away after a cedar burn operation in a steep area near Scotia on the North Loup River. This is about in the dead center of Nebraska.

On October 29, 2014, a wet wolverine that seemed to have been swimming somewhere was seen in a pasture in Central Nebraska near Doniphan between Hastings and Grand Island. This is quite close to the Platte River where it may have been swimming. The area is between Lincoln and Platte, Nebraska.

There has also been one sighting north of Gordon in northwestern Nebraska on the headwaters of Wounded Knee Creek near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This area is east of the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, now the scene of a famous fight over selling booze to Pine Ridge Indians.

Incredibly enough, there have even been wolverine sightings very close to Missouri.

On October 28, 2011, a man spotted a wolverine emerging from a cornfield and crossing State Highway E just south of Highway 13. This is hilly farm country. This area is in Eastern Nebraska not far from the Missouri River and is close to the place where the borders of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri all meet. There are a number of good sightings in both Nebraska and Iowa, so it is possible, though bizarre, that wolverines may exist in Western Missouri.

The first Grey Wolf in 94 years was seen recently in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It was a lone male. The UP, Minnesota and Wisconsin all have healthy populations. The Black Bear and wolf populations in Minnesota have shown dramatic increases in recent years, and there is now a healthy population of over 25 lynx in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for the first time in 30 years.

In other great news along similar lines, an Eastern Grey Wolf, the first in 160 years, was detected in Massachusetts. It killed over a dozen lambs before the farmer shot it to death. The killing was probably justified, but it is unfortunate that the first wolf in the state in over 150 years got shot to death. There will probably be more wolves coming to the state after this one, though.

References

Aubry, K. B., McKelvey, K. S., and Copeland, J. P. 2007. Distribution and Broadscale Habitat Relations of the Wolverine in the Contiguous United States. Journal of Wildlife Management 71(7): 148-158.
Bangs, Ray. 2009. Personal communication.
Haugen, A. O. 1961. Wolverine in Iowa. Journal of Mammalogy 42: 546-547.
Zimmermann, W. J., Biester, H. E., Schwarte, L. H., and Hubbard, E. D. 1962. Trichinella spiralis in Iowa Wildlife during the Years 1953 to 1961. The Journal of Parasitology, 48:3:1, pp. 429-432.

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Wolverines in New Mexico

Repost from the old site.

This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Re-discovered After 85 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in New Mexico.

Wolverines may yet exist in New Mexico. Interviews with hunters in northern New Mexico conducted in 1864 indicated that the wolverine occurred in New Mexico at that time. An Acoma Indian interviewed in 1931 said that wolverines formerly occurred in all of the mountains of northern New Mexico.

In 1985, there was a published report of a wolverine sighting in tundra habitat on Latir Peak in the Sangre De Cristos in New Mexico.

Latir Peak in the Latir Peak Wilderness Area in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Taos, New Mexico. A wolverine was sighted in tundra here in 1985.

 

There have been several other probable wolverine sightings recently in the New Mexico Sangre De Cristos.

Lake Fork Peak in the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico. The red line indicates the route taken by mountain climbers who bagged this peak. There have been several sightings of wolverines in this rugged range in recent years, and northern New Mexico was formerly wolverine habitat.

References

Frey, J.K. 2006. Inferring species distributions in the absence of occurrence records: an example considering wolverine (Gulo gulo) and Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in New Mexico. Biological Conservation 130:16-24.

Wolverines in Colorado and Utah

Repost from the old site.

This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Re-discovered After 85 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in the states of Utah and Colorado.

Wolverines are present in Colorado on the Pike and White River National Forests and in Utah in the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains and in Sanpete County in central Utah.

 

The Pike National Forest southwest of Denver, Colorado. This forest is believed to harbor wolverines. The famous Pike’s Peak is located in this forest.
The Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah in Sanpete County. This county in central Utah is believed to harbor a wolverine population. This area is northeast of Fillmore, Utah, which is the sighting nearest to Nevada.

I recently received a report of a good, but unconfirmed, wolverine sighting in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The sighting occurred on August 20, 1989 in the Upper Escalante River Canyon at the junction with Coyote Gulch (map here). The wolverine was in the canyon chasing a beaver near its beaver dam. It also swam across the river.

The sighting was by a man with a Master’s Degree in Ecology from UC Davis. The elevation for the sighting was 4,100 feet, but wolverines are not always found at high elevations.

This is an extremely unusual place to see a wolverine, but they probably used to live here. There are place names such as “Wolverine Bench” on the map in the Escalante Canyon area and wolverines used be found into northern Arizona. If wolverines existed in northern Arizona, clearly they existed in the Glen Canyon area. Wolverines live in very similar habitat in the Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

The Upper Escalante River Canyon is in the Aquarius Plateau, which has 50,000 acres of land above 11,000 feet. That’s clearly wolverine habitat. The junction of Coyote Gulch and the Upper Escalante is a ways away from the Plateau, but it’s likely a dispersing juvenile could be found in the area. A photo of the terrain is here.

There have been sporadic wolverine sightings for decades in Colorado.

A Colorado Department of Wildlife biologist spotted one south of Trapper Lake in Flat Tops Wilderness in the mid-1960’s.

Trapper Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness. Canyon walls tower up to 1,000 feet at this late at the 9,500 foot elevation level. Fishing is very popular in this lake and it is said to be very good.

The Flat Tops is partly in the White River National Forest and partly in the Routt NF. There was another unconfirmed sighting of tracks from the Flat Tops in 2003.

A photo of Vail ski resort and the town of Vail, Colorado as seen from Red Sandstone Road, which goes north of town. A wolverine was seen on this road recently. Click to enlarge.

Recently, there was an unconfirmed wolverine sighting 4-5 miles up Red Sandstone Road in Vail, Colorado on the White River National Forest.

The famous Maroon Bells in the White River National Forest in western Colorado. Aspen and Vail are also located in this forest. I spent a week skiing in Aspen in 1978. Great place! The White National Forest is believed to harbor a wolverine population. Along with Pike NF, these may be the only populations in the state.

There was another unconfirmed sighting of a wolverine chasing a boy on a motorcycle down a road in the Routt National Forest in far northern Colorado some years ago. The Routt is near Steamboat Springs up by the Wyoming border.

There have been multiple unconfirmed wolverine sightings in Rocky Mountain National Park since 2000.

In June 1979, a man watched a wolverine for four minutes as it approached a bear bait he had set near Parshall in Grant County. That area is southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park.

A photo of the Aspen Canyon Ranch in Parshall, Colorado. A wolverine was seen here in 1979. Parshall is not much of a town. It is really just an unincorporated collection of small homes and trailers. There are dude ranches all around here. That may be the Colorado River in the photo, as it runs through town here near its headwaters. Fishing is supposed to be great in the river here.

In June 1978, a couple photographed an adult wolverine with three cubs in the Uncompagre. In the late 1980’s, there was an unconfirmed sighting of a wolverine in the Uncompagre Wilderness on the Uncompagre National Forest. The Uncompagre is in southern Colorado and is located about 20 miles northwest of Telluride.

In March 1979, three biologists with the Colorado Department of Wildlife saw a wolverine near the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery near Rifle, Colorado in Garfield County in western Colorado.

Rifle Mountain Park, 13 miles north and just beyond the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, the largest fish hatchery in Colorado. There is great ice climbing here during the winter and mountain climbing the rest of the year. You don’t even have to worry about rain much because the cliffs catch so much of it and you can always take shelter under one. A wolverine was seen near here in 1979.

Also in March 1979, a man shot a wolverine on Highway 40, 1½ miles west of the Colorado border in Utah near Dinosaur, Colorado.

In June 1978, a man took three photos of a wolverine crossing a snow field on Trinchera Peak (13,513 feet) in the Sangre de Christo Mountains in southern Colorado.

The spectacular Trinchera Peak in the Sangre de Cristos. Bighorns roam on the top slopes of the mountain.

There have also been quite a few sightings in the San Juan Mountains north of Durango and southeast of Wolf Creek Pass.
In July 1977, a man found a wolverine skull in the East Fork of the Cinnamon River Drainage in Gunnison County. The skull was less than 10 years old.

Wolverines have also been spotted, incredibly, near Sterling on the Great Plains in northeastern Colorado, which seems very odd, but looking through all of these reports, it becomes apparent that wolverines in Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Iowa, and Minnesota may indeed use prairie habitat.


An incredible photo of a tornado over Sterling, Colorado from a storm-chaser page. Storm-chasers chase tornadoes so they can get pictures of them, or just to watch them. Pretty dangerous sport. Click to enlarge. I think it is quite clear by now that wolverines do use prairie habitat.
Even aboriginally, prairie was thought to be marginal for wolverines, but perhaps that was wrong. Pre-contact, vast herds of buffalo roamed the prairie, and there would be plenty of dead buffalo for the scavenging wolverine to eat.

References

Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Predator Conservation Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, and Superior Wilderness Action Network. 2000. Petition for a Rule to List the Wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act within the Contiguous United States . Submitted to the U.S. Dept. of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service on July 11, 2000.
Nead, D. M., Halfpenny, J. C., and Bissell, S. 1984. The Status of Wolverines in Colorado. Northwest Sci.: 58: 286-289.
Predator Conservation Alliance. 2001. Predator Conservation Alliance’s Literature Summary – Draft – January 24, 2001 – Draft Conservation Status and Needs of the Wolverine (Gulo gulo).

Health Care Reform in Taiwan and South Korea

A couple of nice articles about health care reform, and frankly national health care, in Taiwan and South Korea. The article about South Korea is rather complicated, and I did not understand all of it. It’s from the American Journal of Public Health.
The article about Taiwan is much easier to understand. Taiwan has more of a single payer system. One of the main beefs that US conservatives have about single payer is that you don’t get to choose your doctor, and the government wastes too much money and won’t spend efficiently.
Actually, it’s the private sector that is inefficient. Taiwanese health care has the lowest administrative costs on Earth, and it’s a single payer system. Medicare also has very low administrative costs, around 2%. So much for “the government wastes money” crap. And in Taiwan, sure you get to choose your doctor. Both systems are quite popular, especially the system in Taiwan.
Both are beginning to run into problems, but that’s inevitable. For an example of the sort of problems Taiwan experienced before national health care, in 1999, 50% of the population had no health care insurance whatsoever. Neoliberals are amazing people – they call that a system that is working perfectly well! They have a curious definition of “working.”
South Korean health care reform actually started in 1977, when the government began requiring companies to cover employees with health insurance. It’s pretty amazing that even this reform is apparently completely off the table in the crazy US.
This is actually closer to the Japanese model. All Japanese are covered, mostly through their work. I believe that the corporations are mandated to cover employees, but they typically covered them anyway, since Japanese corporations have a much more paternalistic attitude than the “Fuck off and die!” attitude that US corporations take towards their employees.
South Korea’s model is called “decentralized” and hence similar to that of France or Germany, but I don’t understand what that means. South Koreans have had problems with cost containment on the supply side as private hospitals, private physicians run up costs unnecessarily. There are also problems with increased outlaw for pharmaceuticals.
I am told that the physicians’ groups, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies reportedly promised Obama that they would not kill health care reform if he pushed it. He made this deal with them when he was running for President.
All the ranting and raving you hear about health care is coming from independent rightwingers and the Republican Party – the corporations have stayed out of it. That’s possibly why the arguments sound so shrill and insane. If the corporations were running this campaign, they would be a lot slicker about it.
Obviously, this was a quid pro quo. What we need to know is what Obama promised in return. I bet he promised nothing more than a public option and to declare single payer DOA.
63% of Americans still say that if we can’t have a public option, we should not pass any health care bill. That’s down from 73%, so the Republican Lie Machine is working, but not working well enough. On the other hand, an amazing 35% of Americans believe the “death panels” lie. How much you want to bet they are all White.
The US seems to be the only country on Earth where people actually protest against health care. Americans are nuts.

The Failure of the Neoliberal Model For Developing Countries

On the 60th Anniversary of Chinese Liberation post, James Schipper says that I should compare China to Taiwan and South Korea instead and see who did better.
I pointed out that a book on China by the reactionary Time-Life Corporation in 1962 at the height of the Cold War noted that Taiwanese miracle was not reproducible in China. They wished it was, but there was no way to do it.
For one thing, one thing that helped create the Taiwanese miracle was a flood of US aid. In order to China to receive a concomitant amount of aid, China would have to have received an unheard-of figure that was simply not possible to achieve at that time, or even now.
Further, there was the problem of feeding the people and rural poverty. Taiwan solved this, mostly by doing a land reform, but Taiwan is a little island, and feeding the island was not an insurmountable task.
The book pointed out that the main problem facing China was feeding the population. Only 26% of the land is even arable and the population is huge. The Taiwanese miracle was not doable in China due to differing conditions.
Everywhere on Earth, US imperialism has always fought the imposition of any kind of national health care, state involvement in the economy and especially land reform. Many nations have been overthrown by the CIA and other agents of US imperialism for attempting even those most meager reforms. Indeed, all Hugo Chavez seems to be doing is trying to create some sort of social democracy in Venezuela.
Yet in Taiwan and South Korea, the US agreed to national health care, massive land reform, trade barriers, heavy state involvement in the economy, the whole works.
This is because I believe that the US knew that all of these were necessary to develop an economy. Taiwan and South Korea were intended by imperialism to be “showcases against Communism”, to be sparkling examples of what “capitalism” could do better than say North Korea or China.
It’s really amazing how cynical imperialism is, but if imperialism has to do a bit of a socialist dance to fight Communism, then that’s what it will do.
The sad thing is that if the North Korean, Soviet and Chinese “threats of a good example” did not exist, there would be no reason for imperialism to create these “anti-Commie showcases” and the model for those countries may well have been the Philippines, Thailand or Indonesia instead.
I would like to point out a few other things, mainly that we are comparing one socialist country to another, since I consider Taiwan at least to be a socialist country and South Korea to be a partly socialist country. As I’ve said on this site, I support all kinds of socialism. The main thing is that we are not comparing a socialist China to a neoliberal capitalist South Korea or Taiwan.
Taiwan at least is a very socialist country. They did a land reform, and they have universal health care that even includes dental care! I don’t know much about South Korea, but I know that they did a land reform. It’s important to note how essential that land reform was developing those two nations. Neoliberal dumbasses never seem to figure that out.
You have to deal with the problem of feeding your people and take care of the problem of rural poverty by doing a land reform, and then you can think about becoming a developed country. Until then, the best you can hope for is some backwards clusterfuck wreck like Brazil or Equatorial Guinea.
Also, neither Taiwan nor South Korea are examples of neoliberal capitalism. Both were very heavily state-directed, state-guided and even state-involved economies. The state was pretty much setting economic policy and telling the corporations what to do. The state and the business sector were very much tied together. It was almost a “national socialism.”
Also both countries protected their budding industries with huge trade barriers until they got big enough to compete with the big guys. All developing countries need to protect their budding industries from competition with huge economies – otherwise you are never going to develop.
Of course all of this – land reform, national health care (including dental!), heavy state involvement in the economy, trade barriers to protect budding industries until they are big enough to compete – are anathema to the neoliberal agenda that holds sway over the entire world, mostly due to US imperialism.
Neoliberalism never developed one undeveloped country ever, and probably never will.

Derrion Albert Beating Death Video

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This video shows the melee on the south side of Chicago in which groups of Black youfs from two different schools, all future NFL players, engaged in a fight in the streets which resulted in the death of Derrion Albert, a 16 year old boy said to be an honor student. The fight occurred on Thursday, September 24. The video is not that bad; it just shows a fight. After Albert goes down, his prone body is blurred out.
This sort of thing happens all the time in Chicago, but the fact that an honor student bought it this time has promoted a spate of articles.
Albert is said to be an innocent bystander who just accidentally strolled into the middle of the brawl or was accidentally caught up in it. That is certainly possible. The brawl took place as students were getting out of school and the streets were blanketed with students. When a brawl takes place in such a situation, obviously a bystander could happen to get caught up in it.
However, I have reviewed this tape extensively, and I conclude that Derrion Albert may not have been so innocent after all. Although the cellphone video is not the best and I don’t have the necessary tech to slow down videos or review frame by frame, after repeated viewings, it seems that Albert deliberately ran into the middle of the fight and then participated in some sort of fighting. The fighters on the other side seem to have retaliated against him for this. One hit him in the head with a large plank of wood.
After that, he falls to the ground, but gets up quickly. As soon as he gets up, he is immediately punched in the face and hit again with the railroad tie and goes down hard. This time he stays down. At least one person comes up and kicks him in the head several ties when he was down. Somewhere in this rain of blows, he suffered enough injuries that he was killed. Bystanders quickly surround him, keep people away from him, and then cover his prone body with some sort of a white sheet.
I don’t think this kid deserved to get killed, and he may well have been an honor student. But I’m not so sure, looking at the video, that he’s so innocent. Right before he gets hit with the board, it looks like he tries to punch a member of the opposing faction.
The fight occurred in SW Chicago in the 300 block of West 111th Street. My mother grew up around 65th Street in the 30’s and 40’s. Back then, the area where the fight occurred was White and safe, but not anymore. It’s now a heavily Black ghetto, but there seem to be a lot of Whites and Hispanics in the area too. The fight occurred around Fenger High School. This is a notorious ghetto school with tons of problems and lots of violence.
The fight was between two groups of youths from different areas, one from the Altglen Housing Project and one from an area known as the “ville.” Altglen is a notorious project. This is where Obama did some of his earlier community organizing work. His claim to fame there was asbestos removal at the project. This area is not far from where Chicago wants to host the 2016 Olympics. At this rate, they may as well call it the Gladiator Games.

60th Anniversary of the Liberation of China

Very nice article sums up very well the great changes that occurred in China on October 1, 1949. The author finds that almost every Chinese woman he meets his joyous about the Chinese Revolution. Why? It was the greatest movement for he liberation of women that has ever occurred in the history of the world.
On that day, for instance, Mao issued a decree forbidding forever the binding of feet, a practice that was rampant under Chiang’s Nationalist government. Arranged marriages were ended and women received 1/2 of their husband’s property.
As Mao put it, “China stood up.” Indeed.
Were the Revolution never to have taken place, surely Chinese women would still have bound feet, would get screwed (literally in marriage) and would suffer form arranged marriages. In the rural areas, education and health care would be rare to nonexistent, just as it is in India today.
Mao also tried to stop wife-beating, an ancient tradition in China. His methods were ingenius. Mao ordered women all across China to order the men in the villages to stop beating women. If they did not stop, there would be consequences.
Many men did not stop, so party cadres in the villages told Chinese women to gather up their farm implements and raid the houses of the beaters and beat them up with farm tools. So all across China, in 100’s of thousands of villages, women armed with hoes and shovels stormed into houses and beat up men who were beating their wives. Wife-beating quickly dropped to a low level, though unfortunately it still continues today.
The Chinese government is said to be capitalist, but that is not really true. The latest government educational decree sent teachers to all villages with over 200 residents.
In the 3rd World, capitalist countries don’t do things like that. The reigning neoliberal model says the less the state spends on education, the better, as it is regarded as a waste of society’s money that would be better spent by the public sector. Instead, private schools are encouraged.
The US “liberal”mass media cheers the closing of schools in the Third World and government issuance of nonpayable school fees. When the Sandinistas were thrown out of office in 1990, the entire US media stood up and cheered. Nearly all legislators of both US parties (the “liberal” Democrats nearly more than the Republicans) roared their approval for the defeat of the Sandinistas.
The ultra-reactionary Violeta Chamorro got down to business very quickly. One of the first things she did was to close health clinics all over Nicaragua. Next she issued a $30/year fee that parents had to pay for every student in the public schools. This was unpayable for huge numbers of parents, so swarms of students all over Nicaragua quickly dropped out of school. I assume that that’s still the case today.
It is for such things that the entire US media cheers. Floods of students being thrown out of schools all over the land because they can’t pay the bills. Countless health clinics closing all over the land, leaving poor 3rd Worlders with no medical treatment. Both parties, “liberal” Democrats and Republicans, roar their approval of such atrocities.
The World Bank and the IMF, both of which are controlled both by US imperialism and also by World Jewry, imposes similar conditions all through the 3rd World. In order to get a loan, government spending must be slashed to the bone, especially health and education spending. Subsidies to poor for anything, for food, transportation, utilities, anything, are ordered to be slashed or ended altogether.
Prices for food, utilities, transportation, you name it, rocket upward and taxes are raised on the poorest of the poor. At the same time, taxes on business and the rich are gutted or eliminated and poor country must be opened up to economic colonization by corporations from the rich nations, often US corporations.
Careful studies have shown that IMF/World Bank policies have resulted in declining education and health figures across the board. The best estimates show that these sanctions have killed millions over the past couple of decades, and possibly continue to kill millions every year. So US imperialism and World Jewry are probably deliberately killing millions every year in the 3rd World through structural adjustment alone.
So any government that massively increases education to its people in these days must be a socialist nation, since capitalist countries by their nature do not do such things.
In the US, on Wikipedia and among reactionaries everywhere, there’s a new line out: the Chinese Revolution failed. Next time someone tells you that, think again.

Early Elton John, 1969-1973

Listening to Springsteen doing This Land Was Made For You and Me, I was reminded of early Elton John. Early Elton John is not very well-known, and he was quite an underground artist at this time, but this music has weathered very well with time.
Have you ever heard the great song by the early Elton John, Skyline Pigeon? This song is off his very first album that almost no one has ever heard of, Empty Sky. The second album, Elton John, is also excellent, though also unknown. Tumbleweed Connection is great, especially the song, Country Comfort. It’s one of his greatest albums of all.
Madman Across the Water is also great, but it’s also unknown. We were listening to this stuff in the mid-1970’s, and at the time, this stuff was very underground, almost druggy, psychedelic music. It was underground hipster stoner music, not really very popular, and Elton John was a cult artist.
Tiny Dancer, Levon and the title track are all killer. Honky Château is also a killer album, along with the second album and Tumbleweed Connection, one of the best Elton ever made. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) is one of the great songs of all time and Honky Cat is also pretty cool.
Early Elton John is this wild, great music, often hard-rocking and really weird. It’s not recognized much, but you might want to check it out if you’ve never heard it.
I’m pretty certain that early Elton was borrowing from Woodie Guthrie. Although Elton is English, early Elton is very much American music in the American tradition, especially focusing on the frontier, rural life, the West and folk and country-western themes, although I’m not sure if critics discuss it much. But it seems clear as air to me.

Bruce Springsteen, "This Land is Your Land"

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A truly great video of Bruce Springsteen doing one of the greatest (or as Springsteen says, the greatest) songs about America ever written, This Land is Your Land. No matter what you think of Springsteen, I think you have to admit that this is one Hell of a killer rendition. I like it better than Guthrie’s original and a lot of the folkie renditions by Pete Seeger, Alto Guthrie and others.
The song was written by Leftist (Communist, really) Woody Guthrie in February 1940. This is one of those songs that really captures the essence of what America is really all about.
It’s a song that all real Americans, that means not only Whites but Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and any other assimilated groups, should embrace. If you can’t embrace this song because your heart is still stuck in Calcutta or Tijuana or Guatemala City or San Salvador or wherever, you’re not assimilated. That’s all there is to it.
Springsteen’s albums, especially from the 1980’s, really hearken back to a working class White American heartland that seems to be dead and gone.
Driving through California towns that have been turned by the 100’s into Tijuana or San Salvador, the last thing I want to sing is This Land is Your Land. If there was another version called This Land is Not Your Land, I would sing that instead. Increasingly, this feels like elegiac requiem from an America gone and never to return. Oh well, we still have memories, some of us do anyway.
It’s a beautiful song anyway, and it’s actually a very leftwing song (hardly anyone ever seems to recognize this), especially the “forgotten lyrics”, one stanza of which Springsteen revives for this rendition. Most Americans have never heard of the “forgotten stanzas” since they are never sung in the version taught to schoolkids.
Most people have not analyzed this song very well. In order to do so, you need to understand Guthrie’s life, for the song is actually autobiographical. It was written during WW2, but it is about events that took place 9 years earlier when he was 19 years old. Guthrie left  Texas in the midst of the Dust Bowl that laid millions of acres of prime farmland to waste.
The refugees moved West to California, in particular the Central Valley farming region, where they became known as the “Okies.” There are still many White descendants of these Okies here in the Central Valley where I live. They are sort of “redneck” and working class, but I don’t mind them that much.
There is one that lives in my apartment complex and at first I did not like him too much. I complained to a Black female friend about him, and she said, “Oh, he’s an Okie! They’re worse than niggers!
The movement of Okies to the Central Valley was not an easy one and it was memorialized for all time in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck is one of the all-time great California writers and Grapes is a fantastic American novel.
It was also made into a film but I never checked it out. But check out the book Grapes if you ever get a chance. Steinbeck also wrote some other acclaimed books, but I forget if I read them or not. They all dealt with California.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

This stanza is simply a paean to America and in particular its natural beauty.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

This stanza is about Guthrie and his young wife heading out from Oklahoma to California along the famous Highway 66, a great American highway long memorialized in many folk, country, country-rock, rockabilly, etc. songs. The golden valley was California’s Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions on Earth.

I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
Saying this land was made for you and me.

This stanza is again about the trek from Oklahoma to California. The “sparkling sands of her diamond deserts” refers to the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona that the highway passes through.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

This part is a little hard to understand. “…The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling” must refer to the wheat fields of Oklahoma and the dust clouds of the Dust Bowl. But this line, “A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting” must refer to California. There’s a lot of fog in the Central Valley of California, and there is not much fog in Oklahoma, unless maybe you are near a lake.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

This is one of the famous “missing stanzas” that (with variations) is not often played, but sometimes it is, especially by the folkies. This is obviously a Commie dig at private property rights in the US. Such rights were particularly belligerently enforced in 1930’s America, when labor and environmental laws basically did not even exist.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

This stanza is almost never heard, but it sounds pretty nice. The second half of it below is a lot more common.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

This is a very radical verse, apparently referring to the relief offices patronized by the Okies in Depression-era California. It’s interesting that almost no Americans have ever heard of these lines. This stanza is played by Springsteen, to his credit, above.

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