Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Public Option Health Plan Looses First Battle

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tells us that his amendment to the Senate Finance Committee's health insurance reform providing for a publicly administered health insurance option failed to pass by two votes. That means a least two other Democrats* on the Committee voted against the public option. Defeat of the amendment was expected since the Chairman, Max Baucus (D-MT) does not support the option. However four out of five Congressional committees with jurisdiction over the issue have voted to include a public insurance plan among the options to be made available to Americans. Senator Schumer says that he is confident that as more people come to understand what the public option will do, a robust pubic insurance option similar to Medicare will emerge from the process. If you want effective reform that will control spiraling health care costs (65% of us do), tell your Senator to vote for a public option.

*NYT reports the two Democratic votes were Conrad(D-SD) and Lincoln (D-AK). The committee also voted down a more progressive public option amendment offered by John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) that lost 15-8.

Water Found on Moon

Scientists analyzing data from three separate space craft on missions to the Moon have concluded that water molecules are formed each day on the surface of the moon. While the water exists in tiny amounts in the soil, it is more than previously expected. A USGS scientist familiar with the findings estimated that if a ton of lunar soil was collected, as much as 32 ounces of water could be extracted. The hypothetical lunar hydrology cycle takes place during daylight when hydrogen ions arrive from the Sun and react with oxygen rich minerals in the soil to produce H2O and OH hydroxyl molecules. The molecular water is substantially evaporated by mid-day and re-formed in the evening as the lunar surface cools. But spectral analysis shows unequivocally that water is there. The implications for human colonization of the moon are immense. Scientist know now that there are valuable minerals on the moon, and the potential of water in usable amounts greatly simplifies lunar logistics and space flight to other planets in the system.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chart of the Week: The Economy on FIRE

What these two charts show is that the financial sector of the United States has grown disproportionately to the rest of the economy (l). At the same time, this growth was created by the issuance of private debt in the form of novel derivative instruments (r). The primary means used to prevent the collapse of this 'virtual' economy has been injections of massive amounts of public capital and the end of "mark to market" accounting standards. Instead of valuing securities at what the current market would pay for them, banks and other financial institutions can value their securities at whatever value their computerized economic models project. Enron pioneered this method of accounting alchemy. Without an end to mark to market standards the derivative and loan positions of sixteen of twenty money center banks (the "too big to fail" class on taxpayer support) would be insolvent. The rule change allowed Wells Fargo to report its most profitable quarter ever, and Citibank to claim a $2.8 billion loss was actually a $1.6 profit. Rather than eliminating trade in risky derivatives, the five biggest banks are again exposing themselves to risks in the derivative markets that far exceed their assets in return for big profits, and repackaging their money-losing securities into higher rated ones called "real estate mortgage investment conduits" or "re-remics". Even more bizarre behavior is the creation of "life settlements" which are life insurance policies that are packaged into bonds to be sold to investors. Essentially it is the creation of an entirely new bond market that allows firms to gamble on the lives of the sick and elderly*; Or, you could simply call it money laundering.

*Goldman Sachs, the nations largest trader in derivatives, was 44's largest private campaign contributor according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics

Friday, September 25, 2009

Federal Judge Steps Up to Protect Grizzlies

Judge Donald Malloy of the federal district court in Montana is turning into a regular defender of wildlife. Although he allowed the grey wolf slaughter to go ahead in Montana and Idaho, on Monday he ruled that the US Fish & Wildlife Service must put the Yellowstone grizzly bear back on the endangered species list. He found the Service's conclusion that Yellowstone bears would find enough food and protected habitat to survive in states surround the Park not based on the agency's own science data. He also concluded that protections authorized so far are not enforceable. The grizzly is suffering from a lack of whitebark pine seeds, a high fat food source wiped out by pine beetle infestation caused by higher temperatures. Whitebark pines grow in high, remote places so foraging bears, especially females, are kept out of harm's way. Bears die at a rate two to three times higher in years with low seed production. Malloy bluntly wrote in his decision that Service's conclusion contradict the science, therefore "the conclusions are not reasonable, and the court need not defer to the agency's decision." The agency removed grizzlies from the list in 2007. Under the exploitation policies of the Regime more than 630,000 acres of prime habitat were opened up to logging and more than 850,000 acres were opened to oil and gas operations. Another opinion on grizzly populations in the Northern Rockies is expected from a pending case in the District of Idaho.
[photo: USF&W]

Rare Clouded Leopards Rescued

Some good wildlife conservation news from India for a change. Two rare male clouded leopard cubs (neofelis nebulosa), whose elliptical coat patterns rival the tiger's stripes, will be released into protected forest of Assam. They have been hand reared and are undergoing a prolonged period of acclimatization before being set free. The location for the release was chosen based on criteria that enhance their survival chances. The cubs were confiscated when less than a month old from a villager who would probably have sold them into the exotic pet trade Both cubs have gained weight and now eating meat. Fewer than 10,000 clouded leopards survive in the wild. The are persecuted for their beautiful pelts, bones and the illegal exotic pet trade. They live mostly in the moist forests of the Himalayan foothills of India and Nepal. Green Kudos to Wildlife Trust of India for rescuing these adorable representatives of their kind.
[photo credit: Wildlife Trust of India]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chamber of Commerce Gas Chokes PG&E

The ultra laissez faire US Chamber of Commerce suffered a public relations blow of considerable proportion when one of its members, PG&E, a major California utility company announced it was leaving the organization. The climate denial propaganda issued by the self proclaimed 'voice of business' finally caused CEO Peter Darbee to issue a letter posted on his company's website saying he found it "dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that...the data on global warming are compelling". The Chamber went so far as to demand a public "trial" to debate the evidence that climate change is man-made. EPA demurred to the request saying its proposed findings that global warming poses a danger to public health is based on sound science. Ask the people who live in the Indian Ocean island nation of Maldives [satellite image] if climate change is fact or fiction. The sea level nation--the highest elevation is few meters above the ocean--will be some of the first atolls to be inundated when the estimated sea level changes occur. President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nashdeed, a former political prisoner, pleaded for action on climate change before the Climate Change Summit in New York, Tuesday. He told the assembly, "We cannot come out from Copenhagen as failures. We cannot make Copenhagen a pact for suicide." For anyone willing to look objectively as humanity's present situation, it is clear that our home planet can no longer afford unrestrained capitalism regardless of boucanier propaganda.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 'Good War' Gone Bad

Deep in the shadows of the Regime's ill-conceived and illegally executed "Global War on Terror" which caused the United States to topple a dictator, torture suspects and occupy a country that had nothing to do with Al Qaida, the conflict in Afghanistan was called the "good war". Perhaps the label was attached because the rationale for fighting there was much clearer and more relevant to destroying the terrorists responsible for destroying the Twin Towers. Eight years later, the exit signs are up in Iraq and our troops are packing. But the war in Afghanistan has only gotten more complicated and deadly. The recent botched election is one symptom of what is wrong there. Our commander on the ground, General McChrystal, is asking for more troops to prevent the Taliban from exercising effective control over the entire country. Bombs are going off in Kabul where a weak central government is so hopelessly incompetent that its citizens turn to a ruthless gang of Islamic fundamentalists for succor. At the crossroads of foreign empire, Afghanistan remains a backward realm[1]. Even the mighty Ghengis Khan did not subdue its mountain tribes despite his merciless slaughter of the inhabitants. Centuries later, the British and then the Soviets met defeat among the high mountain passes of the Hindu Kush. American execeptionalism is no exception in Afghanistan.

The spectacle of Hamid Karzai's theft of the national election resonates with those Americans who remember President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam--the head of a ineptly corrupt government propped up by the strength of western arms, not national acclaim. The resurgence of the Taliban, once soundly defeated on the battlefield by conventional weapons but now in control of half of the country, reminds us of the Tet Offensive. We were supposedly winning that war too--the body counts told us so. Then in January, 1968 the NVA came out of the jungles and attacked every major city in the south with force. The Unites States Army responded effectively and drove the North back, but the offensive changed America's collective mind about continuing to fight a resilient enemy so far from home for reasons becoming increasingly obscure.

A similar tipping point has been reached in Afghanistan. Taliban attacks are up 60% from October of 2008. On election day in Kunduz, considered one of the safest cities in Afghanistan, the Taliban fired fifty-seven rockets to disrupt the voting process. The war is costing Americans $4 billion a month[2]. Eight years after 9/11 the need for blood revenge is growing less urgent. Certainly Americans want to see Osama Bin Laden brought to book for his slaughter of innocents. Bin Laden recently made the point by another of his taped broadcasts that the war in Afghanistan has failed our repeatedly stated objectives: to completely destroy his allies, the Taliban, and bring him to account. The allegations of widespread vote rigging by our Afghan ally has only added to the doubts about the eventual outcome of so much sacrifice. What President Obama first called an operation to disrupt and deny the terrorists sanctuary has morphed into an open ended effort at nation building in a region that has never known an effective, long lasting national government since the Kushan Empire of the first-third centuries CE. Killing or capturing Osama Bin Laden is a specific, perhaps attainable goal. Forming a modern democratic nation from groups of illiterate, ethnically divided tribesman living in an arid mountainous terrain, and economically dependent on opium trafficking, is a goal too amorphous to achieve in a time span Americans are willing to support with the expenditure of more lives. The United States has many pressing problems at home and in the world. Building a modern nation of Afghanistan is a straw that could eventually break the camel's back.

[1]President Karzai recently endorsed a law that allows a Shia husband to deny food to his wife if she refuses his sexual demands. A law was passed that allows a rapist to avoid prosecution if the perpetrator pays "blood money". In the World Bank's scale of legal efficiency Afghanistan ranks last below Iraq and Pakistan. Azari, Counterpunch 9/25/09
[2]Rashid, New York Review
[left: the extent of Ghengis Khan's empire at his death in 1227]
[right: the sole survivor from the British evacuation of Kabul arrives at Jalalabad, 1842]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

EU Commission Backs Total Ban on Bluefin Tuna Trade

Update: A rear guard action by tuna fishing nations, notably Japan and Spain scutlled a proposal by the European Commission (the executive body of the EU) to suspend trade in bluefin tuna. Disappointed conservationists now pin their hopes on the weak International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna to take action to prevent the extinction of the fish {6.10.09}. Two months ago France's president Nicolas Sarkozy promised to support a ban, but when it came time to vote on the proposal France sided with the Mediterranean members voting to continue the disastrous exploitation.

{9.14.09} The EU Commission has given approval to a suspension in international trade in endangered Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna. The proposed ban must be approved by member nation governments. The Commission has agreed to a Appendix 1 listing of the under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES). Some members have already called for a suspension of trade. EU nations will decide on the proposal on September 21st at a meeting of the CITIES management committee. The Environmental Directorate's draft report on the condition of the species, concluded that the conditions for such a ban are met, there "being no doubt about the link between international trade and over exploitation of the species."

What the Public Option Should Be

As Senator Max Baucus maneuvers to make his bill the Senate's choice, sans a publicly provided insurance option as part of the menu of health insurance choices envisioned by 44, progressives in the House of Representatives are moving to insure that a public option is a robust one able to compete effectively with private plans and thereby influence market prices. To this end the Congressional Progressive Caucus, 80+ members of the House, are willing to use their key committee positions and votes to insure that the option is as "close to Medicare as we can get it", according to co-chair Raul Grijalva, (D-AZ). The President's lukewarm endorsement of the public option is appeasing conservative Democrats, but making reformers very nervous he will abandon the provision in the end to get a deal. Reformers see the public option as an absolutely critical means of holding down escalating health insurance costs, and as a means of achieving universal coverage if less affluent Americans are required to buy coverage. (the Massachusetts plan). The plain fact is that the Baucus bill allows insurance companies to charge older people more money for their plans. Any government subsidies paid to consumers will simply flow through to private insurers with no incentive to reduce their premiums.

According to the Progressive Caucus the public option should have the following characteristics:
  • the insurance plan should be operated by one federal government entity that sets policy and bears the risk of paying claims;
  • be available to all American citizens and legal resident aliens regardless of employment or economic status without limitation and concurrently with other plans;
  • allows patient choice of doctors, hospitals and other providers meeting defined standards, without lifetime caps on coverage;
  • has the flexibility to structure provider rates to promote quality, prevention, chronic and primary care, and public health;
  • use existing government insurance infrastructure such as Medicare to reduce overhead, maintain consumer protection and insure transparency;
  • receive a level of government subsidy no less or no more than that received by private plans to insure a level field of competition;
  • ensure premiums are at the lowest level possible to operate the system on a non-profit basis.
If the President stands firm for the public option to control exploding health care costs, he will earn the gratitude of the citizens who elected him to bring real change to America. Watch this video; you will be glad you did:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Peace Is Peace

The warmongers on the Hill led by John McCain are already screaming bloody murder about 44's correct decision to scrap the unworkable and destabilizing missile shield for Eastern Europe. Of course the hawks are characterizing the decision as a capitulation to the neo-Soviets in the Kremlin, but it is actually a realization by the Pentagon that the Navy's ship based Aegis is an existing, superior system which actually has a chance of knocking down Iran's medium range ballistic missiles before they reach central Europe. The Russians consistently viewed the ground based ABM system as an escalation of the arms race {Back to the Future, 8.27.08}. Defense Secretary Gates chided the professional alarmists in his NY Times op-ed as having a faith in missile defense bordering on "theology". Although the Americans would never admit that Russian objections played a role in the decision not to go ahead with the ground launch system based in Poland and the Czech Republic--44 said the Russians were "paranoid" about it--the decision has brought a favorable response from Russia which announced it will scrap plans to install Iskander short range missiles in its Kalinigrad enclave that borders Poland and Lithuania. President Medvedev told CNN that chances are high the US and Russia will be able to reach agreement on replacing the START I arms control treaty signed in 1991 and due to expire in December.
[USS Decatur launches an SM-3, part of the Aegis fleet defense system, courtesy Milcom Monitoring Post]

Friday, September 18, 2009

'Toontime: Baucus on Stage

[credit: Jeff Danziger]

If you can tell US Person what the Democratic leadership of the United States Senate accomplished by allowing its Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus (D-MT), to engage in the kabuki theatre of bipartisanship for several months you are a better political pundit than I. By failing to get even one Repugnant to sign on to his bill, he made it perfectly clear that Repugnants are going to vote against any health care reform legislation worthy of the name. Democrats will have to pass reform legislation with their own majorities. Baucus did dither and dally with Senator Grassely (R-IA) long enough to say goodbye to Senator Kennedy, author of the previously pending HELP Committee bill. The HELP bill includes a public option; as expected, the private insurance friendly Baucus bill does not. (Insurance stocks gained 3-6% on Wednesday when the bill was publicly released). That was exactly the opposition's game plan--delay passage long enough to rob the reform effort of any effective momentum. If I were a Montana Democratic voter, I would be a little upset and embarrassed with my senior Senator right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'King' Titus Dies of Old Age

To die a death of old age is becoming increasingly rare for endangered mountain gorillas. But Titus, made legendary by researcher Diane Fossey and the head of his clan for almost two decades, was found dead in his night nest on the morning of September 14 by trackers from the Karisoke Research Center. He was thirty-five years old. As Titus reached advanced age, he was repeatedly challenged for leadership by his son Rano. The stress of holding onto power may have proved too much for the old silverback. Fossey noted in her book "Gorillas in the Mist" that the infant Titus seemed "underdeveloped and spindly", but over time Titus grew strong and learned gorilla politics well. He was orphaned at five when his father, uncle, and younger brother were killed by poachers. His mother and sister ran away to join another group. Titus joined a group of unrelated bachelor males. He challenged the group's leader Beetsme for the top spot repeatedly. He finally succeeded in 1991 at the age of seventeen. At first Titus needed some coaching from the females when it came to reproducing because of his all-male upbringing, but he sired more offspring than any other male studied by Karisoke. He proved to be a skillful and even tempered leader. At the high point of his reign, he maintained dominance over 25 individuals. Towards the end Titus and his small group were traveling constantly to put Rano off the track of rebellion, but without success. The group finally settled with the usurper in their midst. Ihumure, a five year old that Titus shared his nest with, seemed to be the most affected by his leader's death.
[credit: Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Deadly Germ Found on Beaches

Water samples from five public beaches around Puget Sound, the location of the Seattle metropolis have tested positive for the deadly drug resistant staphylococcus aureus. Also known as the "flesh eater bacteria", s. aureus infections have proven the bane of hospitals and nursing homes. Another form of the same bacteria can cause serious pneumonia in otherwise healthy people. The likely source is sewage {8.27.09}, but more research is needed to pinpoint the origin of the contamination. A professor of health science from the University of Washington at Seattle said Friday in San Francisco that someone digging in the sand or being completely covered with it could be at risk for contracting MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). The scientist also said that people with open wounds should also be very careful when playing on the contaminated beaches.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chart of the Week: Realty Bomb

Andrew Butter has done some number crunching for readers of The Market Oracle The above bar chart shows the number of foreclosures gone to public sale annually since 2005 in the U.S. The total number of foreclosed homes represents about 1.7% of the housing stock. According to Butter there are another 2 million more homes in default status with about 100,000 more added each month. Most of these defaults will not be cured. It will take about two years to process all of the foreclosures at the current rate. Butter's worst case estimate is that about 10% of Americans will have been evicted before the credit debacle is finally over.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Grizzlies on British Columbia's Coast in Decline

Guides in the Great Bear Rainforest have noticed a significant decline in the number of brown bears. The brown bears are a major attraction to BC, responsible for millions of dollars in tourist trade. The Canadian fisheries department reports four years of extremely low chum salmon runs, a favorite grizzly food because of its high fat content and longevity in fresh water. The bears need the fish to put on weight before a long winter hibernation. Conservationists blame the Canadian government for ignoring their concerns for declining salmon numbers and allowing over fishing. They have urged the closing of the annual fall grizzly hunt and closing of all chum salmon fisheries on the central and northern coasts. In 2008 records show the lowest number of chum salmon caught since 1996. The ten year average is 106,000; in 2008 only 3,008 chum salmon were netted. This summer the Canadian government closed an additional 470,000 hectares (1,814 sq. mi.) to hunting bring the total to 1.9 million hectares (7,335 sq. mi.). In 2008 the estimate of BC's grizzly population was revised downward to 16,014, a loss of 873 bears.
[photo courtesy Muir's Tours, British Columbia]

Friday, September 11, 2009

'Toontime: It's Not Your "Howdy Doody Time"

Wackydoodle sez: " 'N wear yer tin hats for protection!"

Back in the early sixties (I know some of you were not even alive) St. Ronnie Reagan performed as a corporate shill for General Electric before he decided to run for Governor of California. In 1961 he made a record for distribution to conservative groups explaining why Medicare was a bad idea. The record was titled, "Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine". Similar to Glenn Beck and the rest of the right wing fringe's hysterical opposition to a public option health plan now, Ronnie believed that Medicare was a Trojan Horse, the real goal being the Socialist States of America. He warned against sentimental appeals for seniors receiving government sponsored health insurance: "Now, the advocates of this bill [Medicare], when you try to oppose it, challenge you on an emotional basis. They say, 'What would you do, throw these poor old people out to die with no medical attention?' That's ridiculous, and of course, no one has advocated it." Well, Ronnie, as usual was half right. There are emotional arguments being made, except they are being made by his side in this sixty year old debate. The right wingers fear government competition like a five year old fears the bogeyman. They fear uninsured Americans will choose the public option plan based on value and drive the private insurance companies out of business. Unfortunately, they may be correct in this assumption. But that is how we do things in America. If the majority opts to take out the government plan, so be it--the majority rules.

Wolves Loose the Battle But May Win the War

Bad news for wolves in the Northern Rockies: a federal judge decided Wednesday to allow the unlimited hunting of grey wolves in Idaho and Montana. The wolves were stripped of their federal protection under the Endangered Species Act by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, a former Colorado rancher. NRDC expects as many as 325 wolves out of a estimated population of 1350 to be killed. Idaho has authorized killing up to 25% of its wolf population. Montana has authorized up to 15%. Under the current 'management plan' the two states can slaughter all but 150 wolves in each jurisdiction. The last minute legal suit to enjoin the hunt failed. However, Judge Donald Molloy opined that Salazar's decision could probably be permanently enjoined since "the balance of equities tip in their [the plaintiff's] favor. They would also likely prevail in showing an injunction is in the public interest." Thirteen conservation groups joined in the effort to obtain a preliminary injunction, but were unable to convince Judge Malloy that there would be irreparable harm without it. Wolf hunts cripple recovering populations by isolating them in small groups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. Wolves in Wyoming are still under federal protection because of a previous federal court ruling that Wyoming's hunting plan would put wolves in "serious jeopardy". Courez des Grandes Tetons!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An Ocean of Trash

The AP reported last week that researchers from Scripps Institute, U. of California San Diego went to the region of the North Pacific Gyre in August to find the floating garbage problem much worse than expected. Debris were found scattered across a 2700km stretch of open sea. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch as it is known is a litter mass floating on the surface collected by a vortex formed by ocean and wind currents. About 1,000 miles off the California coast, most of the garbage consists of non-biodegradable plastic and glass trash including discarded fishing equipment. Plastic brakes down into small flakes that can be ingested by marine and avian life. A Japanese chemist told the American Chemical Society at its annual meeting that when plastic trash degrades, it releases potentially toxic chemicals that can disrupt endocrine systems in animals and marine life. The Patch is a horrendous example of man's lack of proper stewardship for the planet and its other life forms. NOAA estimates that 100,000 marine mammals die trash-related deaths each year, either through ingesting it or becoming entangled in the stuff. As the leader of the survey said, "It's not a pretty sight". Because the gyre is so far offshore and lies in a veritable no-man's land, no action has been undertaken by an individual nation or group of nations to clean up the mess. The gyre in the South Pacific is four times bigger, but no scientific investigation has been mounted to survey the problem there.
Project Kaisei, a sailing expedition of activists and scientists, set sail from San Francisco on August 31st to study and document the Garbage Patch with the goal of beginning a clean up and recycling operation.
[photo credit: a crab and fish larvae caught on a piece of plastic trash, Reuters]

Ted's Last Letter to Barrack

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege...
Read the full text of the May 12th letter posted at MotherJones.com by David Corn. Let us hope that Ted's confidence in the President he helped to elect is not betrayed.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chart of the Week: Recovery for Some

The chart clearly shows the absence of improvement in employment compared to historical norms. The Street of Broken Dreams, thanks to a massive government bailout of the perpetrators, has recovered but Main Street has not. If 44 and the Democratic controlled Congress allows a handful of obstructionists to block meaningful health care reform that will help unemployed Americans obtain health insurance, they will be defeated in the polls in 2010 and 2012. The Repugnants would have to run a chimpanzee, or maybe Sarah Palin or Darth Cheney, to loose the White House again.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

An Alaskan Fable

In south central Alaska, where the young Alaska range thrusts its ragged saw tooth peaks against the sky and stands as a barrier to man's dominion over the great wild tundra of the north, a placid lake colored grey green is nestled in the foothills. Fed by glacial streams it empties into an arm of the sea through Big River. Bald eagles live there surveying the lake from snags high above the rippling water, and so do loons whose lonely cries at dusk remind a human hearer that the edge of another world begins there. Big River Lake was the home of a mother bear who would go to Wolverine cove to fish the red coho and sockeye salmon crowding the shallows, made desperate to spawn by eons of their tribe's tradition of going home to the sacred gravels of their birth. So intent was mother bear on catching fish for herself and cubs that she grew indifferent to the frequent encounters with humans fishing it same place. Later other humans called "tree-huggers" by the blue-eyes with thundersticks came just to watch her leap into the water from a boulder to stun her prey with her outstretched paws. Like everything human their behavior was strange to the brown bear they called "Baylee". But the humans made no threats and kept a respectful distance from her babies. So a truce existed for fifteen years at the mouth of Wolverine creek.

One summer when fewer salmon than in past times were again laboring to lift their heavy bodies up the rock strewn creek beds, Baylee did not come back to fish in the cove. The lodge visitors did no see bears roaming the hills around the lake or fishing in the many steams pouring into Big River Lake. The bears were gone. People at the lodge wondered why the bears did not return to fish as they had for years. A biologist said perhaps a disease had spread through the tribe of brown bears around Big River Lake. Baylee was seen with a sick cub last season. Perhaps she too, had died from the infection. But Baylee was a strong and resourceful mother, experienced in the ways of the wild. Except for one chink in the armor of fang and claw nature gave her: she had lost her dislike of humans. Their strong order no longer caused her to flee. The truce of fifteen years had dulled the instincts protecting her from danger.

The human hunters of the moose tribe complained that the bears were eating all the moose. They could no longer mount the great antlers on the wall to prove their prowess, or dine on the
flavorful meat. "We must kill the bears!", they demanded to their chiefs. No hunter talked of the countless number of antlers hanging on the walls of the city, or the thick stacks of moose loin laying in the freezers. So the truce ended, and once again the thundersticks of man roared with fire and pain. Snares designed to cripple and maim an unsuspecting bear were laid down. Now Baylee is gone, and so are eighty five other brown and black bears in man's so-called "wildlife management unit" around Big River Lake. The loons still call at dusk, but their cry is even sadder now, as if morning the loss of brother bear.